Aston Martin shares surge as billionaire backer Laurence Stroll increases stake

Lawrence Stroll's Yew Tree Consortium has increased its stake in Aston Martin
Lawrence Stroll's Yew Tree Consortium has increased its stake in Aston Martin - Darren Staples/Bloomberg

Luxury car maker Aston Martin moved into the fast lane today after it revealed that billionaire backer Lawrence Stroll’s consortium has increased its stake in the business.

Shares in the Warwickshire-based car manufacturer surged by 13.1pc after Mr Stroll’s Yew Tree Consortium agreed a deal to purchase 26m more ordinary shares.

It means Yew Tree has increased its stake by 3.27pc to 26.23pc of the company.

It remains short of the 30pc threshold at which significant shareholders need to declare whether they intend to launch a takeover offer for a company.

Canadian billionaire Mr Stroll, whose son Lance Stroll is a Formula One driver, was made chairman of Aston Martin after he first invested in the company in 2020, saving it from bankruptcy.

Mr Stroll said: “This additional investment demonstrates the Yew Tree Consortium’s continuing confidence and belief in the future of Aston Martin.

“The company has delivered a major turnaround since the Yew Tree Consortium’s initial investment three years ago.”

Read the latest updates below.


05:51 PM BST

EU investigates AI chipmaker Nvidia over market dominance abuse - report

Brussels competition chiefs are reportedly about to open a competition law investigation into Nvidia, the US-headquartered computer chip maker.

Nvidia’s chips, known in industry parlance s graphics processing units (GPUs), are the unit of choice for the likes of OpenAI and other artificial intelligence (AI) market leaders.

The company’s A100 and H100 products are in extremely high demand thanks to their processing power, which is considered very well suited to training AI models of the type powering chatbots such as ChatGPT.

The European Commission has been informally collecting views on potentially abusive practices in the sector for so-called graphics processing units, to understand if there could be the need for future intervention, sources told Bloomberg.

Nvidia is the world's pre-eminent maker of computer chips used by artificial intelligence companies
Nvidia is the world's pre-eminent maker of computer chips used by artificial intelligence companies

05:15 PM BST

French satellite firm floats on London Stock Exchange

French satellite group Eutelsat has listed a portion of its shares on the London Stock Exchange after completing its merger with British rival OneWeb.

Senior tech reporter Matthew Field has the latest:

Eutelsat, the Paris-listed satellite group, applied for a secondary listing in the City following the deal, which sees the British and French governments both holding stakes in the combined business. Its shares closed up 3pc on Friday after their first day of UK trading.

Shares in France were trading at around €5.60 following the closure of its OneWeb takeover on Thursday, giving the combined business a value of just under €2.8bn.

The merger provides OneWeb, which was bailed out by the British government with $500m in taxpayer cash in 2020, with additional financial firepower to keep investing in its satellite constellation to challenge Elon Musk’s Starlink. The business has launched over 600 satellites to provide broadband to remote areas.

OneWeb, which will continue to operate out of London, was rescued by the UK - at the urging of former No.10 adviser Dominic Cummings - and Indian billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal after it collapsed into bankruptcy. The taxpayer will own roughly 11pc of the business following the takeover - meaning the government’s current stake is worth less than the half a billion dollars it invested three years ago.


05:07 PM BST

US carmakers hit by fresh wave of strikes

General Motors and Ford are the latest American automotive makers to be hit by an expanding round of strikes led by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

Around 7,000 workers are downing tools at GM’s Lansing, Michigan plant as well as Ford’s Chicago factory, union boss Shawn Fain said earlier.

“Despite our willingness to bargain Ford and GM have refused to make meaningful progress,” Fain said in a video published on Friday.

UAW members have been on strike at other sites across the US automotive sector for the past fortnight.

Around 310,000 across the US have downed tools since August, according to figures from Bloomberg.

The fresh round of strikes comes on the working day before Tesla is expected to unveil its latest production figures.

United Auto Workers (UAW) members and supporters on a picket line outside the Ford Motor Co. Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, US, on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023
United Auto Workers (UAW) members and supporters on a picket line outside the Ford Motor Co. Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, US, on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023

04:30 PM BST

Ten US stock market firms fined $79m over traders' WhatsApp use

Ten American stock market firms have been fined a total of $79m (£64.7m) after staff used WhatsApp to discuss details of upcoming trades.

The firms, including Interactive Brokers Group and Perella Weinberg, paid multi-million dollar penalties to the Stock Exchange Commission after admitting failures to follow record-keeping rules.

“The broker-dealer firms admitted that, from at least 2019, their employees communicated through personal text messages about the business of their employers, and the investment adviser firms admitted that their employees sent and received off-channel communications related to recommendations made or proposed to be made and advice given or proposed to be given,” said the SEC in a statement.

Last summer The Telegraph revealed how WhatsApp usage was costing global financial institutions hundreds of millions amid a regulatory crackdown on unofficial use of the messaging app for business purposes.

Credit Suisse was fined $200m, with total fines expected to have hit £1.6bn by the end of last year.

Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps including Whatsapp
Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to logos of social media apps including Whatsapp - Dado Ruvic/Reuters

03:50 PM BST

Social media regulation fight to enter US Supreme Court

Steering you into Friday evening on the business blog is Gareth Corfield, still reeling somewhat from Chris’ description of me in his parting post below.

Fresh from the US Supreme Court is news of a legal challenge to US states’ attempts to regulate social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook and X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

The court’s announcement, three days before the start of its autumn term, comes as its judges grapple with how laws written at the dawn of the digital age, or earlier, ought to apply to the online world.

Earlier this year the state of Montana banned TikTok, with governor Greg Gianforte saying the move would “protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Chinese-owned TikTok has consistently denied allegations that it acts as a data-harvesting front for the country’s government.


03:30 PM BST

Handing over

I’m dashing off now to catch up on the Ryder Cup action and I will hand over the reins to the startlingly pleasant Gareth Corfield.

My parting gift is these images of the September harvest at English sparkling winemaker Nyetimber, which has announced its 2023 harvest across its 865 acres will be its biggest ever.

Nyetimber said this year's harvest will be its largest ever
Nyetimber said this year's harvest will be its largest ever - James Ratchford
Nyetimber said this year's harvest will be its largest ever
Nyetimber said this year's harvest will be its largest ever - James Ratchford

03:06 PM BST

Can we really trust Britain’s economic data?

GDP data watching has become a political sport – but can we really tell who is winning?

Our deputy economics editor Tim Wallace explains what today’s numbers mean:

Fundamental to the argument Britain is failing to fulfil its potential are the charts of doom showing the country has struggled like none of its peers to bounce back to its pre-Covid size.

Alone among the G7 nations, the UK had suffered a seemingly permanent blow, frozen at a sub-pandemic level of output.

Yet what was taken as gospel just months ago now turns out to be completely wrong.

As more data has become available, the statisticians have found that Britain is not, in fact, the worst and is performing better than rivals such as France and Germany.

Read why revisions are inevitable.


02:46 PM BST

FTSE 100 to outperform US and Europe as oil surges

The FTSE 100 is on track to outperform the stock markets in the US and Europe as surging oil prices lift its energy stocks.

The UK’s blue-chip index, which is heavily weighted to oil and gas companies, has gained 0.8pc today and is on track to end the month more than 3.1pc higher.

Shell, the largest company on the FTSE 100, has gained 10pc during September, while the index’s fifth biggest member BP has jumped 10.6pc.

It comes as the price of Brent crude oil has surged by 33pc since mid-June to take it above $96 a barrel amid supply cuts from Saudi Arabia and Russia.

By contrast, markets have struggled in Europe and the US amid expectations from investors that interest rates will remain higher for longer around the world.

The DAX index in Frankfurt has fallen 3.1pc in September, with the CAC 40 in Paris down 1.8pc.

In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 2.4pc, the S&P 500 has fallen 1.8pc and the Nasdaq Composite has lost 2.2pc.

Oil companies have surged in September as the price of crude has gained, boosting the FTSE 100
Oil companies have surged in September as the price of crude has gained, boosting the FTSE 100 - Igors Aleksejevs/iStockphoto

02:35 PM BST

Wall Street jumps as inflation eases

The main US stock indexes opened higher after a fall in the closely-watched underlying PCE inflation metric kept alive hopes of a pause in the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 216.27 points, or 0.6pc, at the open to 33,882.61.

The S&P 500 opened higher by 28.48 points, or 0.7pc, at 4,328.18, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 136.43 points, or 1pc, to 13,337.71 at the opening bell.


02:16 PM BST

Fed will start cutting rates next year, economists predict

The fall in underlying PCE inflation in the US last month indicates that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting rates next year, economists have predicted.

Andrew Hunter, deputy chief US economist at Capital Economics, said that barring an “unlikely” dramatic re-acceleration “we continue to expect core PCE inflation fall well below the Fed’s 3.7pc projection for the end of this year”.

He said: “That should help ensure that the Fed’s next move will be to start cutting rates again early next year.”

Other analysts were keen to indicate that they think the data shows inflation is on its way down.


01:54 PM BST

Pound and dollar steady as US inflation falls

The pound has held its gains against the dollar after the latest PCE inflation data came in as expected, showing a fall in core price rises in the US economy.

Sterling remains 0.5pc higher versus the greenback at more than $1.22.

Bond prices have moved higher, with the yield on benchmark 10-year UK gilts down about four basis points to 4.44pc and the coupon on 10-year US Treasuries falling nearly five basis points to 4.53pc.

It is expected to deliver a boost to US stock markets when they open in less then an hour, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.6pc in premarket trading, the S&P 500 up 0.7pc and the Nasdaq 100 up 1pc.


01:39 PM BST

US core inflation falls as high interest rates take effect

Underling inflation in the US fell in September, according to a closely watched metric, easing pressure on the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates further.

The core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index - watched closely by officials at the Fed - increased by 3.9pc in August, down from 4.3pc in July, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The figure, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, sent US stock indexes higher in premarket trading as investors took it as a sign that interest rates are working at their present levels.

Headline PCE inflation ticked up fractionally from 3.4pc to 3.5pc in August.


01:13 PM BST

Aston Martin speeds ahead as billionaire back ups stake

Luxury car maker Aston Martin has revealed that billionaire backer Lawrence Stroll’s consortium has increased its stake in the business.

Shares in the Warwickshire-based car manufacturer have surged by 13.1pc after Mr Stroll’s Yew Tree Consortium agreed a deal to purchase 26m more ordinary shares.

It means Yew Tree has increased its stake by 3.27pc to 26.23pc of the company.

It remains short of the 30pc threshold at which significant shareholders need to declare whether they intend to launch a takeover offer for a company.

Mr Stroll, whose son Lance Stroll is a Formula One driver, was made chairman of Aston Martin after he first invested in the company in 2020.

Mr Stroll said: “This additional investment demonstrates the Yew Tree Consortium’s continuing confidence and belief in the future of Aston Martin.

“The company has delivered a major turnaround since the Yew Tree Consortium’s initial investment three years ago.”

Aston Martin shares have surged after Yew Tree Consortium increased its stake in the car maker
Aston Martin shares have surged after Yew Tree Consortium increased its stake in the car maker - Max Earey

12:59 PM BST

TGI Fridays opener delays restaurant openings in bid to cut costs

The owner of restaurant chain TGI Fridays has revealed a drop in earnings as it delays new restaurant openings to 2025 in a bid to save more money.

However, Hostmore said it was already benefiting from inflation of food, drink, and utility costs beginning to ease.

The group said it had committed to not opening any new restaurants until at least 2025, which will result in savings of around £15m.

It comes after it shut a loss-making TGI Fridays site, which rebranded to “Fridays” before returning to the TGI Fridays name earlier this year, at Manchester Piccadilly.

Hostmore added that it was weighing up opportunities to shed other restaurants that are losing it money and taking steps to improve the performance of 20 struggling sites.

The business said it was expecting to have made £5.8m in cost savings across the financial year, higher than its £4m target.

TGI Friday's
TGI Friday's

12:22 PM BST

Oil on track for largest quarterly gain since start of Ukraine war

Oil prices have risen further after dropping the most in eight weeks as investors took profits are its three-month rally.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, has risen 0.8pc today to more than $96 a barrel, while US-produced West Texas Intermediate has 0.9pc to near $93.

Oil is heading for their biggest quarterly gain since March 2022, when prices shot up at the start of the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine.


12:00 PM BST

Wall Street poised to jump at opening bell

US stock markets are on track to rise at the opening bell as Treasury yields eased from 16-year highs, powered gains in megacap stocks.

Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Alphabet, and Amazon advanced between 0.7pc and 1.4pc in premarket trading as two-year and 10-year Treasury yields declined.

Tim Waterer, chief market analyst at KCM Trade, said: “A move lower in bond yields has given equity markets a much-needed reprieve.”

Meanwhile investors are awaiting a crucial inflation metric to assess the outlook for the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.

With fears of high oil prices fueling inflation, investors are awaiting the US central bank’s preferred inflation metric: the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index.

It is expected to show an uptick in inflation from 0.5pc in August against a 0.2pc gain in July.

In premarket trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 had gained 0.7pc, while the Nasdaq 100 rose 0.7pc.


11:35 AM BST

Europe’s richest man under investigation for alleged money laundering

Europe’s richest man Bernard Arnault has been placed under investigation for alleged money laundering over his suspected links to a Russian oligarch and a luxury Alpine resort.

The Paris Prosecution Office confirmed it has launched a preliminary investigation into the founder, chairman, and chief executive of LVMH.

Mr Arnault is under investigation alongside Russian businessman Nikolai Sarkisov, the younger brother of billionaire Sergei Sarkisov.

It comes after French daily Le Monde reported that the 55-year old Russian billionaire had allegedly acquired 14 housing units from a single seller in 2018 for €16m in a complex deal involving companies based in France, Luxembourg and Cyprus.

LMVH was formed in 1987 through the merger of fashion house Louis Vuitton, founded in 1854, with Moët Hennessy, which was established following the 1971 merger between the champagne producer Moët & Chandon, founded in 1743, and the cognac producer Hennessy, founded in 1765.

Valued at £315bn, it was the most valuable company in Europe until earlier this year when it was overtaken by Danish pharmaceuticals giant Novo Nordisk.

Arnault’s spokesperson declined to comment to news agency Reuters. Sarkisov’s RESO-Garantia insurance company in Moscow could not be immediately reached for comment.

Bernard Arnault is the billionaire chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
Bernard Arnault is the billionaire chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton - Nathan Laine/Bloomberg

11:23 AM BST

JD Sports jumps after strong Nike results

JD Sports Fashion is the top performer on the FTSE 100 today off the back of strong results from Nike overnight.

The UK sports retailer’s shares have gained 5pc today after the US giant revealed a drop in its stockpile of stocks — a sign it is making progress in moving out older merchandise for newer, more-profitable items.

Inventory fell 10pc to $8.7bn (£7.1bn), a bigger decline than analysts expected.

Revenue of $12.9bn (£10.5bn) for the quarter to August was just short of Wall Street’s average estimate, while gross margin, a key gauge of profitability, was higher than expected.

Chief financial officer Matt Friend said: “We’re very comfortable with the level of inventory in the marketplace, in relation to the retail sales that we’re seeing.”

JD Sports
JD Sports

10:44 AM BST

Pound on track for worst month in a year

The pound has bounced back from its steep fall today but remains on track for its worst month in a year amid the weaker outlook for interest rates and the economy.

Sterling has gained 0.4pc today to head back toward $1.23 after data from the ONS showed the UK economy performed better than expected at the start of the year.

However, it has fallen 3.3pc so far this month, which would be its worst performance last September, when Britain was dealing with the chaos caused by Liz Truss’ mini-Budget.

The pound has taken a hit after the Bank of England held interest rates steady at 5.25pc, prompting markets to heavily cut bets on a further rise in borrowing costs.

Meanwhile, many economists are predicting the UK faces a mild recession as the impact of higher interest rates eat away at household spending.

Sterling has lost 0.1pc against the euro today, after inflation fell further than expected in the single-currency bloc.


10:31 AM BST

ECB 'has finished raising interest rates'

The European Central Bank will not raise interest rates again after eurozone inflation fell to its lowest level in nearly two years, according to economists.

Jack Allen-Reynolds, deputy chief eurozone economist at Capital Economics, said “inflation should continue to fall” after the ECB raised rates to a record 4pc this month.

He said: “September’s sharp drop in euro-zone inflation was largely due to base effects, but core inflation also came in below expectations.

“This reinforces our view that the ECB has finished raising interest rates. Nevertheless, we continue to think that the Bank won’t start cutting rates until late 2024.”

Neil Birrell, chief investment officer at asset manager Premier Miton, said the fall in core inflation “backs up the hints provided by the ECB on being at or very near a peak in interest rates”.

He added: “All in all, the battle is against inflation and the ECB looks to be winning.”


10:23 AM BST

Mortgage approvals fall to six month low as borrowing costs climb

The number of mortgage approvals in Britain has fallen to its the lowest level in six months as buyers struggle with high borrowing costs.

Mortgage approvals dropped from 49,500 in July to 45,400 in August, according to the latest data from the Bank of England.

Mortgage rates have jumped as the Bank of England interest rate has increased to 5.25pc, although there have been recent signs of fixed rates easing back.

The average five-year fixed deal fell below 6pc for the first time since July on Thursday.

It comes as the number of house sales fell by 16pc in August compared with the same month a year earlier, according to provisional HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) figures.

An estimated 87,010 home sales took place across the UK last month, which was 16pc lower than in August 2022 but 1pc higher than July 2023.

It was the weakest August for house sales since 2020, when the market was dealing with the impacts of the pandemic.


10:15 AM BST

Eurozone core inflation declines by largest amount since pandemic

Core inflation across the eurozone, which excludes volatile food, energy, alcohol and tobacco prices, fell to 4.5pc from 5.3pc, the biggest drop since August 2020, according to Eurostat.

These readings are likely to strengthen the ECB’s conviction that it had raised interest rates far enough to bring down inflation to its 2pc target by 2025, after being wrong-footed by a surge that started in 2021.

Core inflation is closely watched by the ECB as a better gauge of the underlying trend for price rises.

The fall in inflation, which dropped overall from 5.2pc to 4.3pc, comes as the ECB increased interest rates to a record high of 4pc this month.

Price growth briefly hit double digit last autumn amid a combination of soaring energy costs, post-pandemic snags in supply chains and high government spending.


10:06 AM BST

Eurozone inflation lowest since 2021

The annual rate of inflation in the eurozone dropped to an almost two-year low in September, the EU’s official statistics agency said, amid falling energy prices.

Consumer price rises in the single currency bloc reached 4.3pc, Eurostat data showed, the lowest since October 2021 and more than expected by analysts.


09:52 AM BST

Apple chief drops into the classroom

Not a bad teaching assistant for the day.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook dropped into the St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Battersea in London on Thursday.

The tech giant has partnered with the school as part of its Community Education Initiative, providing free coding and creativity resources to schoolchildren.

The school is just down the road from Apple’s new UK headquarters at Battersea Power Station.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook visited the  St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School in Battersea
Apple chief executive Tim Cook visited the St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School in Battersea - Apple/PA Wire

09:35 AM BST

UnitedHealth's £1.2bn Emis takeover given green light

The competition watchdog has cleared a proposed £1.2bn tie-up between two data management and software companies.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that it would allow UnitedHealth to take over Emis after finding no competition concerns.

The deal was announced in June 2022 and would combine UnitedHealth’s subsidiary Optum with Emis in the UK.

In March the regulator had warned that the deal could end up pushing up costs for the NHS by reducing competition over two types of software.

It launched a more in-depth probe, which has now concluded that this risk does not meet the higher legal standard which would be necessary should the CMA wish to block the deal.


09:17 AM BST

Denmark economy shrinks despite drugmaker surge

Denmark’s economy contracted in the second quarter instead of expanding as initially reported, as its booming pharmaceutical industry fell short of expectations.

Gross domestic product contracted by 0.3pc from the previous quarter, Statistics Denmark said in an updated estimate.

A previous reading had put this at 0.3pc growth. A decline in trade as well as financing and insurance drove the revision, the agency said.

The figures still received a significant positive boost from the drug industry, dominated by Ozempic and Wegovy maker Novo Nordisk, whose growth has prompted both the government and central bank to raise their economic forecasts for Denmark.

GDP rose by 0.6pc from the year-earlier period, but would have dropped by 1.5pc without the contribution of drugmakers.


08:58 AM BST

Markets rise amid optimism over UK economy

UK stocks ticked higher at open after data showed Britain’s economic performance since the start of the pandemic had been stronger than previously thought.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 has risen 0.6pc while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 has surged by 1.1pc.

Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter was 1.8pc larger than in the final quarter of 2019, the last full quarter before the start of the pandemic, and the growth was faster than Germany or France.

Consumer staples and discretionary stocks rose with personal goods, retailers and homebuilders shares climbing over 1pc each.

Media company Future jumped to the top of the FTSE 250 with a 12.7pc rise after it said in a trading update that operating profits would be in line with expectations.

Close behind was Aston Martin, which has risen 9pc after the luxury carmaker said chairman Lawrence Stroll’s Yew Tree Consortium further raised its stake in the firm by 3.27pc to 26.23pc.

Severn Trent shares rose 3.1pc after the water supplier said it would raise £1bn in new equity, including £500m from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.


08:52 AM BST

Train drivers begin fresh industrial action

Many of you will have faced disruption on your journey into work - and face more on the way home - as train drivers begin a ban on overtime ahead of two days of strikes.

Members of Aslef at 16 train operators in England are embroiled in a long-running dispute over pay, with no sign of a breakthrough.

The drivers will strike on Saturday and again next Wednesday, coinciding with the annual conference of the Conservative party in Manchester.

They will ban overtime today and from October 2 to 6.

Aslef said the strikes will force train operating companies to cancel all services while the ban on overtime will seriously disrupt the network.

The union said train companies have always failed to employ enough drivers to provide a proper service. Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary, said:

While we regret having to take this action - we don’t want to lose a day’s pay, or disrupt passengers, as they try to travel by train - the government, and the employers, have forced us into this position.

Our members have not had a pay rise for four years - since 2019 - and that’s not right when prices have soared in that time.

Aslef members will refuse to work overtime today in a move that union bosses say will disrupt the rail network
Aslef members will refuse to work overtime today in a move that union bosses say will disrupt the rail network - Danny Lawson/PA Wire

08:34 AM BST

Fox comments 'way past limits of acceptance,' says GB News boss

GB News boss Angelos Frangopoulos said Laurence Fox’s comments were “way past the limits of acceptance”.

He said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “That should not have happened. The way it was handled was also not the way it should have happened.”

Mr Frangopoulos issued a personal apology to Ava Evans, adding:

They did not reflect what we believe is appropriate conversation as a media company, as a part of the national conversation, it really is an apology, it was just really inappropriate.

I think Laurence Fox does sail close to the wind but he didn’t sail close to the wind earlier this week, that was way past the limits of acceptance. We are about free speech, but it is about a respectful way.

We totally respect Ofcom and we chose to be regulated. What we are doing is very different to what the normal parameters of the Ofcom code were designed for. We are reflecting a different approach, we are disruptive and that is why Britain is watching.

GB News chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos
GB News chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos - JULIAN SIMMONDS

08:30 AM BST

GB News boss 'appalled' by Fox comments

The chief executive of GB News has said he was “appalled” by comments made by Laurence Fox on Dan Wootton’s show as Ofcom launch an investigation.

In his first interview, Angelos Frangopoulos told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the broadcaster has a “process to follow”, but expects the internal investigation to be “resolved very quickly”.

The former Sky News Australia chief executive added:

I was appalled by those comments they are not in keeping with the values with us as a business and obviously we took action immediately.

I was horrified by what was said....that comment should not have gone to air.

Actor-turned-politician Fox made a series of remarks about political correspondent Ava Evans while Wootton could be heard laughing during the segment, the pair have both since apologised.

Both Fox and Wootton were suspended by GB News amid an internal investigation and a probe by regulator Ofcom, who received around 7,300 complaints about the episode.


08:26 AM BST

Business confidence slips from 18-month high

The improved assessment of the UK’s economic performance this year comes as business confidence dipped this month from an 18-month high in August, according to a survey.

Business confidence fell to 36pc in September, a five point fall from 41pc in the previous month as price expectations remain high, Lloyds Bank’s latest Business Barometer showed.

While confidence has fallen, it remains higher than the first three months of the year, when it stood at 20pc. Revised data from the ONS today shows the UK economy expanded 0.3pc during that period, compared to initial estimates of 0.1pc.

Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said:

While the gains in business confidence we saw in August have not been maintained, it’s important to see the wider trend clearly reflected in the data which paints a very different picture to this time 12 months ago, when the economy was in significant difficulties.

Despite some month-to-month movements, if you look at the year in quarterly time periods, confidence has steadily risen from 20pc in the first quarter, 26pc in the second and now an average of 27pc in the third.

Although the economic environment remains uncertain with inflation and interest rate pressures playing their part, the recent decision by the Bank of England to leave interest rates unchanged is likely to help businesses feel more upbeat about the future, which may underpin confidence in the last three months of the year.


08:17 AM BST

French inflation falls as food price rises ease

French inflation unexpectedly slowed in September as easing price rises in the food sector outpaced higher prices in the energy sector, preliminary EU-harmonised official data showed on Friday.

French consumer prices rose 5.6pc in September from a year earlier, after a 5.7pc rise in August, the INSEE statistics agency said.

Food prices rose 9.6pc in September following an 11.2pc jump in August while energy prices jumped 11.5pc after rising 6.8pc in August.


08:05 AM BST

UK markets rise at the open

The FTSE 100 has moved higher after the open as oil prices held their ground and data showed Britain’s economy performed better than expected at the start of the year.

The energy-heavy index has gained 0.3pc to 7,624.96 while the domestically-focused gained 0.5pc to 18,185.96.


07:59 AM BST

Severn Trent aims to raise £1bn in bid to reduce leaks

Severn Trent is seeking to raise £1bn to help support a transformation plan which is “expected to create 7,000 jobs” across the Midlands.

The water supplier has launched a pre-emptive equity placing to start raising funds and stressed that the firm is “maintaining financial resilience”.

The utility firm said it plans to spend £12.9bn in supporting its network over the next five-year regulatory period.

It said this will include £5bn of investment focused on improving capacity and service beyond current levels.

Severn Trent plans to invest £12.9bn over five years as part of its 'transformation plan' aimed at reducing leaks
Severn Trent plans to invest £12.9bn over five years as part of its 'transformation plan' aimed at reducing leaks

07:53 AM BST

ONS data 'gives hope recession can be avoided'

Richard Carter, head of fixed interest research at Quilter Cheviot, said bright spots in the ONS data “gives some hope that a recession can still be avoided by the UK”. He said:

There are bright spots in today’s report from the Office for National Statistics, as recession appears increasingly unlikely in 2023.

This will bring some respite to the pound, which has taken a bit of a battering in recent days as interest rates are predicted to have peaked.

Given the economic hit that was experienced from the various bank holidays in the second quarter, including the Coronation of King Charles, the Government will be pleased to see economic growth unrevised at 0.2pc.

Indeed, the first quarter also saw an upwards revision to 0.3pc, highlighting that while economic growth is challenging, it isn’t quite non-existent for the UK.

We are also seeing shoots that the cost of living crisis may be easing for households.

While expenses are still elevated compared to pre-pandemic periods, disposable incomes are beginning to move ahead, bringing relief to many households who will have struggled over the winter months and where excess savings from the pandemic have dried up.

However, given the speed of interest rate rises and the cumulative effect of the cost of living crisis, it may just be a case of the pain being delayed, with 2024 looking more challenging.


07:47 AM BST

PwC predicts UK economy to contract in third quarter

Jake Finney, economist at PwC, said the ONS data showing the economy recovered faster than anticipated “is not significant enough to change the overall picture of a flatlining economy”. He said:

Output is only 0.4pc higher than where it was at the same time a year ago.

If anything, the GDP data revisions may marginally dampen the UK’s growth prospects for 2023 and 2024 as they reduce the potential for bounce-back growth.

Ultimately we expect that growth will remain sluggish while monetary policy tightening continues to weigh on activity.

We expect annual GDP growth to remain significantly below trend this year and next.

While the surprise -0.5pc decrease in July alongside the PMI survey data suggests we may see a slight contraction in Q3.


07:37 AM BST

UK once again proves the doubters wrong, says Hunt

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said:

We know that the British economy recovered faster from the pandemic than anyone previously thought and data out today once again proves the doubters wrong.

We were among the fastest countries in the G7 to recover from the pandemic and since 2020 we have grown faster than France and Germany.

The best way to continue this growth is to stick to our plan to halve inflation this year, with the IMF forecasting that we will grow more than Germany, France, and Italy in the longer term.


07:35 AM BST

Interest rate lag means UK still faces recession, say economists

Despite the improvement in the assessment of Britain’s performance, economists said today’s release “changes very little”.

Capital Economics deputy chief UK economist Ruth Gregory said:

The final Q2 2023 GDP data release shows that the economy was a bit more resilient in the first half of this year than we previously thought.

But other indicators suggest this is now fading. We still think that higher interest rates will trigger a mild recession involving a 0.5pc fall in GDP in the coming quarters.

The data leaves the economy still only 0.6pc above its level a year ago.

It does not change the big picture that the economy has lagged behind all other G7 countries aside from Germany and France since the pandemic.

And that’s before the full drag from higher interest rates has been felt.


07:27 AM BST

Professional and scientific businesses boost UK GDP

After revising the UK growth figures, ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner said:

Today’s latest figures show the GDP growth rate is almost unrevised over the last 18 months.

Our new estimates indicate a stronger performance for professional and scientific businesses due to improved data sources.

Meanwhile, healthcare grew less because of new near real-time information showing the cost of delivering services.


07:23 AM BST

UK economy recovers stronger than France and Germany in boost for Sunak

The UK economy has performed better than France and Germany since the pandemic, revised official figures suggest, delivering a boost to Rishi Sunak days before the start of the Conservative party conference.

Statisticians now believe that the British economy is 1.8pc larger than before Covid struck, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). France is believed to have grown by 1.7pc since Covid and Germany 0.2pc.

The UK economy was previously thought to be the only one in the G7 to remain smaller than before the pandemic, but the latest figures place it in the middle of the pack.

Previous figures suggested the British economy was 0.2pc smaller than its pre-pandemic size.

The data also showed that the UK economy grew at 0.2pc in the three months to June as previously estimated.

However, the ONS has improved its analysis of the economy in the first three months of the year, suggesting GDP increased by 0.3pc compared to earlier estimates of 0.1pc.

It comes after separate data released earlier this month showed the UK economy shrank less and bounced back faster during the pandemic, after the ONS admitted its previous assumptions were too gloomy.

It said that the economy had shrunk by 10.4pc during the first year of Covid rather than 11pc, while it grew by 8.7pc and not 7.6pc in 2021.


07:20 AM BST

Good morning

Thanks for joining us. Britain’s economy has grown faster than France and Germany since the pandemic, updated estimates from the Office for National Statistics show.

GDP is now estimated to be 1.8pc above pre-pandemic levels in a boost to Rishi Sunak.

The revised data also showed that the UK economy grew by more than first thought between January and March, with gross domestic product rising by a revised 0.3pc against the 0.1pc growth initially estimated.

5 things to start your day

1) New housing starts surge to near 50-year high | Construction of 73,600 homes comes as developers scramble to beat net zero deadline

2) Keir Starmer is lesser of two evils, says Brexit-backer Duncan Bannatyne | Former Dragon backs Labour leader after Sunak’s ‘terrible’ handling of the economy

3) French and Italian borrowing costs hit highest levels in a decade | Eurozone faces concerns over big deficits and prolonged high interest rates

4) New ‘space age’ titanium iPhone 15s are overheating, customers complain | Apple’s much-lauded lightweight case gets too hot for some users to hold

5) John Lewis to raise £150m selling off Waitrose stores in turnaround push | Sale comes as troubled department store seeks fresh funding after recent run of losses

What happened overnight

Asian markets were mixed on Friday, with only a few open due to public holidays across the region.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index was down 0.3pc at 31,764.01. In Bangkok, the SET declined 0.5pc. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4pc to 7,054.40. India’s Sensex gained 0.4pc.

Markets were closed in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul.

Markets in mainland China are closed as the country starts its Golden Week holiday, which may damp trading in the region through the first week of October.

Brent crude oil, the international standard, picked up 15 cents to $93.25 per barrel.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.6pc to 4,299.70. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3pc to 33,666.34, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.8pc, to 13,201.28.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.