JPMorgan settles Epstein Virgin Islands case for $75m and reaches deal with Jes Staley

Former Barclays chief executive Jes Staley has reached a settlement with JP Morgan
Former Barclays chief executive Jes Staley has reached a settlement with JP Morgan - Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg

JP Morgan has reached a $75m (£61.6m) settlement with the US Virgin Islands to end a long-running legal battle over its dealings with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The giant American bank also said it had struck a deal to end its claims against Jes Staley, the former Barclays chief executive who had handled Epstein as its client while working as a wealth manager at JP Morgan.

JP Morgan said the terms of the settlement with Mr Staley were confidential, while a lawyer for the banker declined to comment.

The agreements come in addition to a previous $290m settlement between JP Morgan and Epstein’s victims. It preempted a trial that had been scheduled to begin in October.

The settlements bring to an end the long running legal battle over the bank’s handling of Epstein as a client, which had resulted in a series of embarrassing disclosures about the inner workings of JP Morgan and its relationship with the disgraced billionaire.

Court documents had alleged Mr Staley drank wine in a hot tub on Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean while the sex-offending financier was under house arrest for his crimes.

According to filings, Mr Staley emailed Epstein to praise his hospitality: “This is an amazing place. Next time, we’re here together. I owe you much. And I deeply appreciate our friendship. I have few so profound.”

The messages, presented as evidence, also showed the pair discussing “Disney princesses”.

The US Virgin Islands had alleged JP Morgan ignored “red flags” about Epstein and “knowingly benefited from furthering Epstein’s sex-trafficking venture” between 2006 and his arrest in 2019.

It quoted an email from Mary Erdoes, a senior executive at the bank, describing Epstein’s “nymphettes”. In emails, William Langford, its global head of compliance, said he believed JPMorgan “should exit Jeffrey Epstein as a client”. The bank closed Epstein’s accounts in 2013.

The repercussions from the case ran to the top of JP Morgan. Its long-serving chief executive and chairman, Jamie Dimon, spent a day in deposition as part of the case. He made “crystal clear” he knew nothing about Epstein’s sex crimes when the bank handled his finances.

The settlement gives $30m to support charities in the US Virgin Islands that fight human trafficking and sex crimes, and support victims.

Another $25m will go to the USVI “to enhance the infrastructure and capabilities of law enforcement to prevent and combat human trafficking and other crimes in their territories”.

JP Morgan said it “believes this settlement is in the best interest of all parties, particularly for those who can benefit from efforts to combat human trafficking, and for survivors who suffer unimaginable abuse at the hands of these criminals”.

Epstein was convicted of child sex offences in 2008 and was arrested on federal charges of sex trafficking minors in 2019. He died by suicide in a New York jail cell in 2019.

JP Morgan said in a statement: “While the settlement does not involve admissions of liability, the firm deeply regrets any association with this man, and would never have continued doing business with him if it believed he was using the bank in any way to commit his heinous crimes.

“The firm will continue to work with law enforcement to combat human trafficking and help to identify improper money movement into the global payments systems.”

After leaving JP Morgan, Mr Staley went on to become chief executive of Barclays in 2015. He was forced to resign in 2021 amid an investigation into his links to Epstein.

Lawyers for Mr Staley declined to comment.

Read the latest updates below.

06:28 PM BST

JP Morgan agrees to pay $75m settlement in Epstein lawsuit

JP Morgan has reached settlements with the US Virgin Islands (USVI) and former executive Jes Staley to resolve lawsuits over sex trafficking by the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The settlements conclude the final pieces of litigation in a saga involving women who said Epstein sexually abused them, and which embroiled some of the world’s most powerful figures in finance and business.

JP Morgan said its $75m (£61.6m) settlement with the USVI includes $30m to support charitable organizations, $25m to strengthen law enforcement to combat human trafficking, and $20m for attorneys’ fees.

Terms of the bank’s settlement with Mr Staley are confidential.

In June, JP Morgan agreed to pay $290m (£238m) to resolve claims by dozens of Epstein’s accusers.

The agreement largely resolves a scandal that has weighed on the largest US bank for months.

Epstein died by suicide in a federal jail in New York in 2019.

05:58 PM BST

US sues Amazon for e-commerce "monopoly"

The US Federal Trade Commission and 17 states have filed a lawsuit suing Amazon for illegally protecting an e-commerce monopoly.

The agency and states have accused Amazon of driving up prices, overcharging its sellers and stifling market competition.

The suit, which was filed on Tuesday, follows a years-long investigation into the e-commerce giant’s business practices and could potentially have massive implications for how consumers shop online.

Lina Khan, the chair of the FTC, said: “The complaint sets forth detailed allegations noting how Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them.”

The FTC alleges that Amazon “uses a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain its monopoly power.”

Amazon’s practices degrade quality for shoppers, stop innovation and prevent its sellers from lowering their prices, the FTC said.

In June, the FTC also filed a complaint against Amazon for “enrolling consumers in Amazon Prime without consent and sabotaging their attempts to cancel”.

John Newman, Deputy Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said: “Amazon is a monopolist that uses its power to hike prices on American shoppers and charge sky-high fees on hundreds of thousands of online sellers.”

Amazon rejected the regulator’s claims. David Zapolsky, Amazon’s general counsel, said: “Today’s suit makes clear the FTC’s focus has radically departed from its mission of protecting consumers and competition.

“If the FTC gets its way, the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses.”

05:05 PM BST

German economy will shrink by 0.6pc this year

Economists warn Germany’s economy will shrink by 0.6pc this year, as Europe’s largest economy grapples with a slowdown in global trade.

The five economic institutes that together publish Germany’s Joint Economic Forecasts expect gross domestic product (GDP) will shrink by 0.6pc in 2023 before rising by 1.3pc in 2024, according to Reuters.

The forecasts, which the economics ministry typically uses to inform its own expectations, will be published in Berlin on Thursday.

The 2023 outlook is one of the bleakest forecasts yet for Germany, as weaker economic data pushes analysts to downgrade their expectations. On Monday, S&P Global cut its forecasts for German GDP in 2023 from -0.1pc to -0.2pc.

Official data shows German GDP flatlined at 0pc this spring, after a winter recession when GDP fell for two consecutive quarters.

The institutes expect inflation in Germany will be 6.1pc in 2023, before cooling to 2.6pc next year.

04:30 PM BST

US house prices hit new record high

US house prices have hit a new all-time high as the property market bounces back from the blow of high mortgage rates.

Property prices rose by 0.6pc between June and July, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. On an annual basis, house prices rose by 1pc.

Since the start of 2023 alone, prices have jumped by 5.3pc, more than reversing the 5pc slump recorded from June 2022 and January 2023.

This drop was driven by high mortgage rates, which surpassed 7pc for the first time in more than 20 years.

Rates have since fallen only marginally, but the market has been underpinned by a shortage of supply, which has become more marked as existing homeowners have become reluctant to move and give up their existing cheap deals.

Craig J. Lazzara, Managing Director at S&P DJI, said: “The increase in prices that began in January has now erased the earlier decline, so that July represents a new all-time high for the National Composite.”

The recovery is widespread. Prices rose on a monthly basis in all of the 20 cities tracked by the index, with 10 reaching new record highs.

Chicago recorded the strongest price growth, with values up by 4.4pc year-on-year. It was followed by Cleveland and New York, which recorded 4pc and 3.8pc growth respectively.

In Las Vegas, however, prices were down by 7.2pc compared to July 2022.

04:01 PM BST

Slump in American consumer confidence

US consumer confidence has slumped to a level that signals a recession is on the way within the next year.

The Conference Board’s expectations index fell from 83.3 in August to 73.7 in September, below the 80 benchmark threshold which suggests an economic contraction is in the pipeline.

This measures consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and the jobs market.

The Conference Board said it anticipated a “short and shallow economic contraction” in the first half of 2024.

The overall consumer confidence index fell to 103, down from an upwardly revised 108.7 in August and significantly below the consensus expectation of 105.5.

Dana Peterson, chief economist at The Conference Board, said: “Write-in responses showed that consumers continued to be preoccupied with rising prices in general, and for groceries and gasoline in particular. Consumers also expressed concerns about the political situation and higher interest rates.”

The drop in confidence was most notable amongst wealthier households with incomes of at least $50,000.

03:34 PM BST

Handing over

That’s all from me today and I will leave you in the hands of the one and only Melissa Lawford.

As a parting gift, take a look at these charts showing home prices in the US climbed to a record high.

A national gauge of prices rose for a sixth straight month, increasing 0.6pc in July from June, according to seasonally adjusted data from S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller.

So far this year, the national measure has climbed 5.3pc.

This year’s gains have offset the 5pc decline in prices from last year’s peak in June 2022 to January 2023, when the market was slowing.

03:29 PM BST

Pound headed for worst month since Liz Truss' mini-Budget

The pound has fallen to a six-month low against the dollar, putting it on track for its worst month since Liz Truss’ disastrous mini-Budget last year.

Sterling has fallen for a fifth day in a row after the Bank of England surprised markets by holding interest rates at 5.25pc last Thursday.

The pound has been steadily sliding from a 15-month high in July, falling 7.1pc since hitting $1.31. It hit a low point today of $1.2168 and was last down 0.2pc on the day.

Sterling had been the standout performer among the G10 group of the world’s major currencies but has dropped 3.8pc this month, which would be its worst performance since a 4.3pc decline in September last year following Ms Truss’s announcement of £45bn of unfunded tax cuts.

Strategists at Nomura last week cut their sterling target to $1.18, pointing to the outlook for interest rates in the United States as the main justification for the likely strength in the dollar.

Goldman Sachs this week cut its forecast for the pound, predicting it will hit $1.18 in three months, compared to a previous expectation of $1.24.

Analyst Kamakshya Trivedi said: “A combination of weaker growth, high inflation, and lower real rates is a negative mix for the currency.”

RBC Europe chief currency strategist Adam Cole said: “Sterling, until very recently, has been propped up by expectations for more Bank of England hikes and that is diminishing.”

The pound is on track for its worst month since its 4.3pc fall in the wake of Liz Truss' mini-Budget
The pound is on track for its worst month since its 4.3pc fall in the wake of Liz Truss' mini-Budget - Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg

02:58 PM BST

JP Morgan's Chase app to block crypto payments

JP Morgan will block customers using its Chase UK app from making crypto-related transactions as it blamed an increase in fraud and scams related to the digital assets.

Customers will receive a declined transaction notification if they try to make a crypto-related payment from October 16.

It comes as data from Action Fraud showed that UK consumer losses to crypto fraud increased by over 40pc in the last year, surpassing £300m for the first time.

Crypto scams are part of a wider “epidemic” of fraud, which accounted for more than 40pc of all reported crimes in England and Wales last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

A Chase spokesman said:

We’re committed to helping keep our customers’ money safe and secure.

We’ve seen an increase in the number of crypto scams targeting UK consumers, so we have taken the decision to prevent the purchase of crypto assets on a Chase debit card or by transferring money to a crypto site from a Chase account.

02:37 PM BST

Wall Street slumps as interest rates expected to stay high

US markets fell at open as investors continued to grapple with the prospects of a prolonged restrictive monetary policy by the Federal Reserve and its subsequent impact on the economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 144.20 points, or 0.4pc, at the open to 33,862.68.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 24.56 points, or 0.6pc, at 4,312.88, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 90.36 points, or 0.7pc, to 13,180.96 at the opening bell.

02:24 PM BST

Tesla caught up in EU crackdown on China’s EV carmakers

Tesla has been dragged into the EU’s tussle with China over protectionism after the company was named as one of the carmakers subject to a probe by the bloc.

The electric vehicle maker will be part of the EU’s investigation into whether China’s EV market is receiving unfair subsidies, according to its most senior trade official.

Executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis told the Financial Times there was “sufficient prima facie evidence” to justify the probe into imports from China of battery-powered vehicles, which Brussels fears could overwhelm the bloc’s car industry.

Asked whether Tesla or Geely, the owner of Sweden’s Volvo, might fall under the probe, he said: “Strictly speaking, it’s not limited only to Chinese brand electrical vehicles, it can be also other producers’ vehicles if they are receiving production-side subsidies.”

Mr Dombrovskis this week accused China of the “weaponisation of trade and investment” against the EU as he conducted a five-day trip to Beijing.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk showed the Hungarian President Katalin Novak around a Tesla factory in Texas today
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk showed the Hungarian President Katalin Novak around a Tesla factory in Texas today - Gyula Bartos/Hungarian President's Press Office/MTI via AP

01:53 PM BST

Gas prices fall amid warm weather forecasts

European gas prices have backtracked after their longest run of daily advances since April after concerns were raised about supply levels from Norway.

Dutch front-month futures, the continent’s benchmark, have dropped as much as 8pc after adding nearly 30pc over the course of a five-day rally.

Warm weather is expected across the continent well into October, according to forecaster Maxar.

The potential easing of demand comes with storage sites already nearly full.

Prices had jumped after extra capacity reductions at Norway’s Troll field in the North Sea.

Gas prices have fallen below €41 per megawatt hour.

01:31 PM BST

Small music venues will shut without tax break, Chancellor warned

Britain’s smaller music venues will collapse if a business tax relief measure is taken away next year, a charity representing the sector has warned the Chancellor.

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) published an open letter to Jeremy Hunt urging him to extend the existing business rates relief for the retail, hospitality, and leisure sector next year.

The measure means that eligible businesses in the sector can get 75pc off their tax bill, capped at £110,000 per firm each year.

But the one-year support is due to expire at the beginning of April 2024.

The letter reads: “The grassroots music sector is in the middle of a full-blown crisis.”

Some 125 venues have shut their doors for live music in the last 12 months, more than 15pc of all such spaces in the UK, the MVT said.

It said that 76 of those venues have closed permanently, and the closures have resulted in the loss of 4,000 jobs.

01:15 PM BST

Free-trade deal between UK and Gulf 'progressing well'

Free trade negotiations between the UK and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council are “progressing well” and will enhance the flow of goods, the UAE’s ambassador to the UK said.

A deal between Britain and the Arab bloc would boost trade by at least 16pc according to the Government.

Total trade between the UK and the Gulf exceeded $74.7bn (£61.3bn) last year. Taken together, GCC countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the UK’s seventh-largest export market.

Mansoor Abulhoul told Bloomberg Television: “I am really encouraged by what could be achieved by deepening our trade links with the UK.”

Mansoor Abulhoul is the United Arab Emirates' ambassador to the UK
Mansoor Abulhoul is the United Arab Emirates' ambassador to the UK - Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

12:52 PM BST

Meta pays £149m to ditch London office as staff work from home

Facebook’s parent company Meta has paid £149m to break its lease at a major London office as its staff continue to work from home.

Tim Wallace has the latest:

The social media giant made the payment to landlord British Land as part of its exit from the eight-storey office on 1 Triton Place, near Regent Park, with the £149m fee amounting to around seven years of rent.

It comes as Meta rolls out a new hybrid working policy for staff, who are required to work from assigned offices just three days a week.

Meta said the scaling back of office space reflects the post-pandemic demand for flexible working, while the firm’s London office has also been hit by hundreds of redundancies over the past year.

A spokesman for the company said: “The future of work is here and we’re embracing it at Meta.”

Read which other tech companies are making the switch to hybrid working.

Meta paid a £149m fee to landlord British Land as part of its exit from 1 Triton Place
Meta paid a £149m fee to landlord British Land as part of its exit from 1 Triton Place

12:14 PM BST

Wall Street poised to slump at opening bell

US stock indexes have declined in premarket trading as investors continued to grapple with fears of a prolonged restrictive monetary policy by the Federal Reserve and its impact on the economy.

Adding to investor anxiety was the likelihood of a partial shutdown of the US government by next Sunday, which according to ratings agency Moody’s is likely to be a “credit negative”.

Megacap growth stocks including Apple, Microsoft , Meta Platforms and Tesla lost between 0.5pc and 0.7pc in premarket trading.

Amazon shares also shed 0.4pc after boosting Wall Street on Monday on its plans to invest in the high-profile startup, Anthropic.

Pressuring equities, the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield has hit a 16-year high after the Fed’s hawkish longer-term rate outlook.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 are on track to open down 0.4pc, with Nasdaq 100 futures down 0.5pc.

11:48 AM BST

Developer to demolish 80 new homes

A developer is to demolish and rebuild more than 80 new homes due to problems with their foundations.

Darwin Green, less than two miles from Cambridge city centre, is still under construction and has outline approval for 1,593 new homes.

In June, developers Barratt and David Wilson said they had “discovered issues with the design of some of the foundations” of some homes under construction on phase two of the estate.

They said in a letter to residents at the time that the foundations of 84 “incomplete and unoccupied” homes “were found to be insufficient given the geology of the next phase”.

Initially, they said that 30 homes would need to be demolished and rebuilt, and the remaining plots would “also require work to remove the foundations and any other structures that have been started”.

In documents submitted to Cambridge City Council this month the developers said that “circa 83 units” would need to be demolished.

In the letter to residents in June, the developers said that “some of the properties which require demolition had been reserved by our customers”.

11:24 AM BST

Oil follows slump in stock markets

Oil has fallen toward $92 as investors price in a prolonged period of higher interest rates.

Global benchmark Brent crude was down as much as 1.6pc in London on Tuesday. The move mirrored a pullback in stocks, with the FTSE 100 down 0.1pc.

That has stopped a crude rally driven by signs of scarce supply. Oil has surged more than 25pc since end-June on the back of supply curbs from Saudi Arabia and Russia, and is set for its biggest quarterly gain since early 2022.

Tamas Varga, an analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates said: “Oil supply is expected to underwhelm demand in the foreseeable future and therefore any weakness, even if it is achingly startling, should not last.”

US-produced West Texas Intermediate was down 0.8pc below $89.

11:03 AM BST

Bond market slumps further amid rate fears

US Treasury yields hit a peak not seen since the early tremors of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis as mounting fears of interest rates staying elevated for longer sent jitters through risk assets globally and pushed the dollar to a 10-month high.

Asian and European stock markets, including the FTSE 100, have slumped and crude oil has retreated from 10-month highs.

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose as high as 4.566pc, a 16-year peak, while a hefty pipeline of US treasury auctions this week and fears of a US government shutdown all further fed the skittish mood.

Eurozone bond yields also held near 12-year highs as the narrative that central banks will keep rates higher for longer held sway.

Germany’s 10-year government bund yield, the eurozone’s benchmark, was last little changed on the day at 2.789pc, having briefly hit 2.813pc in early trade - the highest since 2011.

The yield on 10-year UK gilts has eased one basis point to 4.3pc.

10:28 AM BST

Pound's decline deepens

The pound has continued its decline after the Bank of England held interest rates at 5.25pc last week.

Sterling has dropped 0.2pc against the dollar to below $1.22 and is down 1.7pc since inflation unexpectedly fell in August.

It has fallen 7.1pc since its peak of $1.31 in July.

The pound has also dropped 0.3pc against the euro today, which is edging closer to 87p.

10:02 AM BST

Price rises shield Irn-Bru maker from soggy summer

Irn-Bru maker AG Barr managed to increase half-year profits as sales shrugged off wet summer weather thanks to strong demand and price hikes.

The Scottish group hailed a “strong” first half, with pre-tax profits up 12.6pc to £27.8m in the six months to July 30, up 6.7pc on an underlying basis to £27m.

Like-for-like sales rose 10.4pc, which it said was boosted as its cocktail mixes proved a popular tipple, while demand was also robust for its soft drink portfolio, including Irn-Bru and Rubicon.

It said price hikes also helped drive total revenue growth - up 33.2pc to £210.4m - which comes amid “sustained price inflation” in the wider soft drinks market.

But unlike the wider market, AG Barr said it also saw an increase in sales by volume, as it reined in price hikes.

It said: “We chose not to pass on the full impact of cost inflation to customers in order to remain focused on offering consumers great value, affordable brands in an uncertain and challenging economic environment.”

The Cumbernauld-based group said that despite wet weather in the peak trading months of July and August, it remains on track for its recently hiked full-year outlook.

The results come after long-standing chief executive Roger White announced last month that he was set to retire after 21 years.

AG Barr makes Irn-Bru
AG Barr makes Irn-Bru - REUTERS/Toby Melville

09:46 AM BST

Imperial Leather maker faces hit from Nigerian economy

Soap maker PZ Cussons has said that its financial performance this year could be at the mercy of the Nigerian economy as it warned that profit will likely drop.

The business said that a recent devaluation of the Nigerian naira is expected to have a “material adverse impact” on its financial performance in the near term.

The hit from the movement in the currency would have wiped more than £100m from the Imperial Leather company’s revenue for the last financial year, had it happened a year earlier.

In the course of around a week in June, £1 went from being able to buy around 580 naira to being able to buy around 1,040 naira. It came after the government abandoned a policy which propped up the currency’s value, a move which many market watchers praised.

The business said that if the naira to sterling exchange rate had been as bad in the year to the end of May as it was between July and August this year, adjusted operating profit would have been £58.6m rather than the £73.3m that the company made.

Unsurprisingly therefore, this year’s profits are expected to be hit by the devaluation as well. Adjusted operating profit is expected to be within the range that the markets expect of between £61.5m and £68.2m, a drop of up to 16pc.

PZ Cussons shares are down about 0.3pc.

PZ Cussons manufacturers a range of soaps and toiletries
PZ Cussons manufacturers a range of soaps and toiletries - Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

09:24 AM BST

PM trying to 'control' HS2 costs, says minister

Rishi Sunak is reviewing how the cost of HS2 can be “controlled”, a minister has said as he warned the price tag of the rail project has “roughly tripled” since its conception.

Home Office minister Chris Philp insisted that no decision has been made on whether to axe or delay the rail project’s northern leg amid widespread criticism.

A growing number of senior Conservatives, as well as leaders in the North, have been warning the Prime Minister against scrapping the Birmingham to Manchester route.

Reports have suggested that Mr Sunak has been warned the price tag may have soared past £100bn, even though the Government has already scrapped the Leeds leg.

The first estimate in 2010 of the proposed high speed rail link between London and the North was £30bn, with this raising to up to £36bn in the following year’s prices.

Mr Philp said the Prime Minister and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are reviewing the project now the costs have “gone up a lot”.

“It’s roughly tripled I think since it was first conceived,” the policing minister told Sky News.

08:57 AM BST

Close Brothers drags down FTSE 250

UK stocks have declined further after falling heavily on Monday as worries of tighter macro conditions dampened sentiment.

The internationally-focused FTSE 100 has dipped 0.1pc as worries lingered about interest rates staying elevated for longer.

The more domestically-oriented FTSE 250 shed 0.4pc, weighed down by a 4.3pc loss in Close Brothers.

The banking firm revealed its operating profit dropped 20pc as it set aside higher provisions for loan losses and made lower income from its securities trading division Winterflood.

Fashion retailer Asos has hit a more than two-month low after reporting grim results and outlook.

ASOS fell 1.5pc as the online fashion retailer reported a 15pc decline in fourth-quarter sales and said second-half earnings were expected to be around the bottom of its guided range.

In a bright spot, AG Barr added 2.7pc after the Irn-Bru maker posted a rise in its first-half profit, helped by strong demand for its cocktail mixes, soft drinks and price hikes of its products.

08:37 AM BST

Ford halts work on £2.9bn US battery plant amid strikes

Ford will pause the construction of a $3.5bn (£2.9bn) electric vehicle battery plant in the US amid a high profile dispute with unions over pay.

The motor giant said it had halted works on the factory in Michigan and limited spending on it until it is confident it can be run competitively.

The site had been due to start making batteries in 2026, which would have supplied cells for 400,000 vehicles per year.

Unions called the move “a shameful, barely-veiled threat by Ford to cut jobs” at a plant that is not open yet.

It comes as the company is in the midst of national contract talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which wants to represent workers at battery factories.

United Auto Workers members walk the picket line at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant
United Auto Workers members walk the picket line at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant - AP Photo/Paul Sancya

08:26 AM BST

'We certainly don't' need HS2 to reach Manchester, says Tory MP

Conservative MP Esther McVey said HS2 is “sucking the life out of our local transport” in the north of England.

The MP for Tatton in Cheshire told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “we certainly don’t” need the high speed rail project to go to Manchester.

Ms McVey said:

Thank goodness that the Prime Minister is looking at HS2’s spiralling costs, because what might have been feasible at £37bn really is not at £120bn going northwards.

Things have significantly changed since lockdown. People will now sooner jump on a Zoom to save time and money. So it’s the right thing to do and yes, stop it as soon as possible.

The Prime Minister is saying that money, £120bn plus for High Speed 2, would go into the local infrastructure across the North, connecting the great cities of the North from Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, connecting all of those up, as well as giving better local transport, because HS2 is sucking the money and the life out of our local transport.

08:15 AM BST

UK markets fall at the open

The FTSE 100 has slipped after the open amid concerns about a possible US government shutdown and the troubled Chinese economy.

The UK’s blue chip index has fallen 0.3pc to 7600.74 after the open, while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 has fallen 1.3pc to 18,363.17 as the outlook for interest rates appears higher for longer.

07:56 AM BST

Card Factory warns of 'challenging' run up to Christmas

Card Factory has reported an 11.5pc rise in revenue in the six months to the end of July, as it warned of a tough economic climate in the run-up to Christmas.

The business said that revenue hit £220.8m in the period, with pre-tax profit rising almost 73pc to £24.7m.

Chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer said:

Our value and quality proposition and the strength of our store estate resonates with customers and positions us well to navigate the challenging economic backdrop in the run up to the Christmas trading season.

Continued leveraging of the insights gathered from our investment in customer data is enabling us to evolve and optimise our store formats and ranges across cards, gifts and celebration essentials, all underpinned by our discipline in maintaining a resilient financial position.

Card Factory chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer
Card Factory chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer - Rachel Adams

07:52 AM BST

Water companies ordered to pay back £114m to customers

Water companies have been ordered to pay out £114m to bill payers after failing to meet key targets on reducing pollution, leakage and supply interruptions while customer satisfaction continues to fall, Ofwat has said.

Thames Water was the worst affected as Ofwat hit the company with a penalty of more than £100m for the latest financial year.

It was followed by Southern Water which must pay out £43m.

Thames Water serves 15m people with water and wastewater while Southern Water serves around 4.6m.

Ofwat said none of Britain’s water utility firms had been ranked in its highest “leading” category in its first annual Water Company Performance Report.

Ten companies are in the “average” category and seven have been categorised in the lowest “lagging” field: Anglian Water, Dŵr Cymru, Southern Water, Thames Water, Yorkshire Water, Bristol Water and South East Water.

The targets we set for companies were designed to be stretching – to drive improvements for customers and the environment.

However, our latest report shows they are falling short, leading to £114m being returned to customers through bill reductions. While that may be welcome to billpayers, it is very disappointing news for all who want to see the sector do better.

Thames Water
Thames Water

07:43 AM BST

Wet weather hits sales at Asos

Online fashion retailer Asos has revealed UK sales tumbled by 16pc in its final quarter as it said wet weather in July and August knocked demand for clothes.

The group said the poor weather compounded woes amid a worsening UK clothing market, with the fourth quarter decline leaving like-for-like comparable UK sales 13pc lower overall in the year to September 3.

Total group comparable sales fell 15pc in the final quarter and 11pc over the year.

Asos warned that underlying earnings would now be at the bottom end of its £40m to £60m guidance, while it said cash flow had suffered a £60m hit from the weaker July and August trading.

It said this cash flow impact would unwind in September and October.

Asos suffered a drop in sales amid wet weather
Asos suffered a drop in sales amid wet weather - ASOS/PA

07:38 AM BST

Airport security scanner maker boosts profits

British industrial technology company Smiths Group boosted profits as demand for scanners, valves and connectors soared.

The FTSE 100 group, which makes airport security scanners as well as specialist products used in the oil and gas and hydrogen sectors, posted annual operating profit of £501m, an increase of 20pc in the 12 months to the end of July.

Bosses said they expect more growth next year helped by decarbonisation trends.

It has increased its dividend per share to 41.6p, up from 39.6p last year.

07:27 AM BST

Paris Agreement target still alive, says IEA

The window for keeping the Paris Agreement alive has shrunk but remains open thanks to the growth in clean power generation, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.

In an update to its Net Zero Roadmap published two years ago, the IEA said solar power capacity and electric car sales have increased in line with what it said is necessary to achieve the mid-century target of stopping the Earth’s climate heating 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures.

These two technologies are set to provide a third of the emissions reductions between now and 2030 while innovation has opened new possibilities and lowered costs, the IEA said.

In its 2021 report, it identified technologies that are not yet on the market as providing 50pc of the emissions reductions but this has now fallen to 35pc - a testament to the speed with which renewable technologies have been developed.

IEA analysts said however that bolder action is needed this decade to meet the 1.5C target and avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate breakdown.

Clean energy investment must grow from the $1.8trn dollars (£1.5trn) spent in 2023 to $4.5trn (£3.7trn) annually by the early 2030s, with a particular focus on developing countries.

Actions they see necessary this decade are a tripling of global renewable power capacity, a doubling of the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements, a sharp rise in sales of electric cars and heat pumps and a 75pc reduction of methane in the energy sector.

Taken together, these measures could account for 80pc of the emissions reductions needed by 2030.

Solar panels in a field near Five Oaks, West Sussex
Solar panels in a field near Five Oaks, West Sussex - Steve Parsons/PA Wire

07:18 AM BST

Good morning

The world will need to invest $4.5 trillion (£3.7 trillion) a year from the start of the next decade if it is to reach net zero by 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.

The Paris-based organisation said that record growth in clean energy technology, including solar panels and electric vehicles, means it is still possible to limit rises in global temperatures to 1.5C.

However, it would require a huge ramping up of spending. World governments and organisations are expected to spend $1.8 trillion (£1.5 trillion) on the transition to cleaner energy in 2023.

Temperatures have hit record levels this year and global averages are around 1.1C higher compared with the pre-industrial average.

That compares with the goal set by the 2015 UN Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rises well below 2C, while pursuing efforts to limit them to 1.5C to prevent the most severe consequences, such as drought, floods and increased wildfires.

In its update to its Net Zero Roadmap, the IEA said that the world needs to triple global renewable capacity, double energy efficient infrastructure, increase heat pump sales and increase EV use by 2030.

5 things to start your day

1) Nissan to go all-electric in UK by 2030 in snub to Sunak | Nissan has vowed to go all-electric in the UK and Europe by 2030 as the car giant’s chief executive said “the world needs to move on” from petrol vehicles.

2) Sunak ‘unconservative’ for watering down net zero rules, says Lord Deben | Rishi Sunak is unconservative for rowing back on Britain’s net zero pledges, says one of the Government’s former top climate adviser.

3) Ben Marlow: Sunak should go further and scrap HS2 entirely | The Project’s benefits continue to be exaggerated whilst its drawbacks are deliberately overlooked.

4) GB News owner in talks with US billionaire over Telegraph bid | The American billionaire Ken Griffin is in talks to help fund a transatlantic takeover bid for The Telegraph led by his fellow hedge fund manager Sir Paul Marshall

5) Mars shrinks size of Galaxy chocolate bars but supermarkets raise pricesGalaxy has cut the size of its chocolate bars in the latest example of so-called ‘shrinkflation’ across UK supermarkets.

What happened overnight

Asian shares mostly sank over worries about a possible US government shutdown and the troubled Chinese economy.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.6pc to 32,469.85. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.5pc to 7,042.50.

South Korea’s Kospi dropped nearly 1pc to 2,471.30. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.9pc to 17,578.90, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.2pc to 3,110.86.

On currency markets, the dollar was hovering around 11-month highs near 150 yen, putting the spotlight on authorities in Japan, whose government has warned it is willing to intervene if the moves become excessive.

However, analysts do not expect the yen to strengthen any time soon owing to the Japanese central bank’s refusal to move away from its ultra-loose monetary policy.

Investors are keeping a wary eye on developments in China as the country’s troubled property sector comes back into focus after indebted developer Evergrande said it had missed an onshore bond repayment.

Wall Street clawed back some of its steep losses from last week. The S&P 500 rose 17.38, or 0.4pc, to 4,337.44, coming off its worst week in six months.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 43.04, or 0.1pc, to 34,006.88, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 59.51, or 0.5pc, to 13,271.32.

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