Putin attempting to sabotage North Sea energy assets, Netherlands warns
Russia has been secretly collecting intelligence to sabotage Netherlands’ North Sea energy infrastructure.
A Russian ship collecting intelligence on energy infrastructure was discovered at an offshore wind farm in the North Sea, according to the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service (MVID).
Dutch marine and coast guard ships escorted the vessel from the North Sea before any sabotage effort was successful, said Jan Swillens, MVID’s head general.
He said: “We saw in recent months Russian actors tried to uncover how the energy system works in the North Sea. It is the first time we have seen this.
“Russia is mapping how our wind parks in the North Sea function. They are very interested in how they could sabotage the energy infrastructure.”
Critical offshore systems – including internet cables, gas pies and windmill farms – have become the target of Russian sabotage operations.
Dutch intelligence agencies MIVD and AIVD, in a joint report published today, said: “Russia is secretly charting this infrastructure and is undertaking activities which indicate preparations for disruption and sabotage.
Further covert threats to water and energy supplies in the Netherlands are also possible, they added.
That’s all from me, see you first thing tomorrow morning.
Meta avoids £3bn consumer data class action, for now
Facebook’s owner, Meta, has temporarily avoided a multibillion-pound class action over whether the social media giant abused its dominant position to monetise users’ personal data.
Academic Liza Lovdahl Gormsen sought £3bn in damages from Meta on behalf of around 45m Facebook users across the UK, who she claims were not properly compensated for their personal data.
However, the lawsuit will be allowed to proceed until the methodology for establishing any losses suffered by Facebook users undergoes a “root-and-branch re-evaluation”, the Competition Appeal Tribunal ruled today.
The sepcialist competition court gave Ms Lovdahl Gormsen’s lawyers six months to file additional evidence establishing a “new and better blueprint leading to an effective trial”.
DS Smith becomes FTSE 100’s largest faller after shares are downgraded
The FTSE 100’s largest faller today was British multinational packaging business DS Smith.
The London-based packaging company saw its share price slump 4.92pc to 336p, following reports that the Bank of America Merrill Lynch has downgraded its shares from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’.
The US investment bank forecasted that box volumes will fall in the third quarter of 2023, as higher energy and labour costs leads to de-stocking of containers and boxes. It also estimated that DS Smith’s prices will fall next year.
Former JPMorgan banker sentenced to over seven years in prison over defrauding Libyan fund
Three City fund managers have been sentenced after being found guilty of defrauding Libya out of $8.45m (£7.02m).
Former JP Morgan banker Frederic Marino was sentenced on Monday at Southwark Crown Court, south London, to seven years and six months’ imprisonment, while Yoshika Ohmura, former Julius Baer banker, was sentenced to three years and six months. Aurelien Bessot, who pleaded guilty ahead of last year’s trial, was handed a 15-month suspended sentence of two years.
Last year, the trio were found guilty of defrauding a sovereign wealth fund established by the Libyan government to diversify sources of national income away from oil.
Undeclared finder fees from investments made on behalf of the Libyan fund were collected by an asset management company, founded by Mr Marino and Mr Bessot, and then laundered through offshore companies with the help of Mr Ohmura.
Andrew West, specialist prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service said:
These three fraudsters were calculating and opportunistic in committing offences that left the people of Libya out of pocket by approximately $8.45 million for purely selfish and greedy purposes to fund their lavish lifestyles.
They showed a complete disregard for the important position they held to make investments work for their clients who were looking to diversify away from solely oil revenues.
We would like to thank the hard work and dedication of the National Crime Agency in their diligent and determined investigation.
Britain faces tomatoes shortage as bad weather squeezes supply
Britain is facing a tomato shortage after bad weather in Morocco and Spain left importers struggling to find them.
My colleague Daniel Woolfson has the story:
Supermarket shelves have been left bare after a weak crop in key markets and the imposition of tighter restrictions on exports from Morocco.
“Difficult weather conditions in the South of Europe and Northern Africa have disrupted harvest for some fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes,” said Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the British Retail Consortium.
Britain relies on Morocco, the Netherlands and Spain for tomatoes over winter. Importers have become increasingly reliant on Morocco in the wake of Brexit, which has slowed the trade in fresh produce with Europe.
However, crops in Morocco have been poor this year after flooding and cold temperatures. Surging fertiliser prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have also hit yields.
FTSE 100 sets new closing record
The FTSE 100 finished 0.12pc higher at 8,014.31, setting a new closing record.
It’s a couple of points higher than the previous high score of 8,012.53 set last Thursday.
It marks a swift recovery for Britain’s blue chip index, having closed Friday’s trading in the red. Last week, the internationally focused index broke the closing record four days in row.
However, the FTSE 100’s intraday high of 8,020.13 remain’s lower than last week’s new record of 8,047.06.
The broad-based FTSE 250, which also ended last week in the red, closed 0.05pc higher at 20,098.41.
Russian energy sabotage operation discovered by Dutch authorities
Russia has secretly been collecting intelligence to sabotage Netherlands’ North Sea energy infrastructure.
A Russian ship collecting intelligence on energy infrastructure was discovered at an offshore wind farm in the North Sea, the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service (MVID) have announced.
Dutch marine and coast guard ships escorted the vessel from the North Sea before any sabotage effort was successful, according to Jan Swillens, MVID’s head general.
UK and EU introduce new sanctions against Iran over protest crackdown.
The European Union has introduced new sanctions on Iran over its violent handling of anti-government protestors.
Under the new measures, the EU will sanction 32 people and two entities – including the culture and Islamic guidance minister, the education minister and other politicians supporting the protest crackdown.
It brings the total number of EU sanctions up to 196 individuals and 33 entities in Iran.
Britain has also introduced eight new sanctions, which include on three Iranian judges, three members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and two regional governors.
I’m signing off for today. Adam Mawardi will keep you up to speed with developments from here.
Eurozone consumer confidence highest in a year
Consumer sentiment in the eurozone has hit its highest level in a year raising hopes that the region can avoid a recession in 2023.
The gauge of consumer confidence released by the European Commission pulled back to minus 19 in February, an improvement on minus 20.7 in January.
An unexpectedly mild winter may help the 20-nation area avoid the worst of the economic downturn triggered by the spike in energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, it has emerged the Russian economy shrank 2.1pc last year, according to the Federal Service of State Statistics.
Pound muted against dollar and euro
Sterling has clawed back some of its value after falling slightly against the dollar earlier.
The pound is trading flat against both the greenback and the euro in a quiet session ahead of data tomorrow which will give more hints on the state of the UK economy.
The pound is trading above $1.20 and is virtually unchanged against the euro at 88p.
The market is looking ahead to the Bank of England’s next meeting in March, with an 80pc chance of a 25 bps rate increase currently priced in.
Interest rates stand at 4pc after ten consecutive increases since late 2021.
Focus also remains on hints of progress toward a potential deal to revise the Northern Ireland protocol, but the news so far has had little impact on the pound, according to ING FX analysts.
Household bills to fall nearly £850 from July, says Cornwall Insight
Energy consultancy Cornwall Insight has also released its final forecast for where it thinks the Ofgem price cap will be set in April – and it is slightly more optimistic.
Analysts predict the cap will hit £3,295 – meaning the average household will pay the equivalent of £3,000 a year.
The Government will pay the extra £295 a year under its energy price guarantee.
It means bills will rise £500 from April as the government limits the cap under its guarantee from £2,500 at present.
However, they will forecast dramatically three months later. Cornwall Insight forecasts the price cap will then fall to £2,153 in July and then hit £2,161 from October.
Investec has forecast average annual bills will reach £3,332 in April before falling to £2,165 from July and £2,190 from October.
Office cubicle makes a comeback at Meta as noisy conference calls surge
Office cubicles are making a comeback at Facebook-owner Meta in response to more and more noisy video calls made to remote workers.
Senior technology reporter Gareth Corfield has the details:
Bosses at Meta are introducing new curvy-walled movable cubicles, nicknamed “The Cube” internally, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The new set-up features three soft screens made of “felt-like recycled PET plastic” that envelop a worker’s desk and block out noise.
They are being rolled out in response to the rise of disruptive video calls being made in the office.
Read what Meta’s vice president of global real estate and facilities said the company realised.
Landlords face looming arrears crisis as rising costs hit renters
Landlords face a looming arrears crisis as the cost of living crisis disproportionately hits renters, official data has suggested.
Economics reporter Melissa Lawford has the details:
Tenants are 4.4 times as likely to be experiencing financial hardship compared to homeowners amid soaring interest rates and household bills, data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.
More than half of renters said they would be unable to afford an unexpected but necessary expense of £850, the ONS said, with just one in eight outright homeowners saying the same.
The findings were based on survey responses of 18,464 adults between September 2022 and January 2023.
Read on for details on the “looming crisis in the private rental sector”.
Tesco gives store workers 7pc pay rise
Tesco will raise the hourly pay rate for store workers by 7pc from April.
Britain’s biggest retailer said the staff will get £11.02 an hour from April 2, up from £10.30 currently.
It said the investment would cost it more than £230m.
It comes after Asda announced it will give hourly-paid staff a 10pc pay rise, with rates rising to £11 per hour from April and £11.11 per hour from July.
InDrive shuns equity investment due to ‘down market’
InDrive, the second-most downloaded ride-hailing app in the world, has raised $150m (£124.7m) using an unusual debt instrument which links repayment to the company’s performance.
The California-based company, which was founded in the Russian city of Yakutsk, secured the funding from General Catalyst Group Management, a previous investor.
Chief financial officer Dmitri Sedov said that bosses shunned releasing equity as they did not want to raise money in a way that “put a price tag on the company” in light of the “down market”.
Following the invasion of Ukraine, it pulled more than 1,000 staff out of Russia, a process Mr Sedov said is nearly complete.
InDrive’s app was downloaded 61.8m times in 2022, up 45pc from the previous year, according to mobile app analytics company Data.ai.
About 60pc of its business comes from Latin America, with Mexico, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Colombia and Egypt its biggest markets.
Aldi to create 2,400 jobs and ‘almost double’ London locations
Aldi has said it will create 2,400 more jobs as part of plans to “almost double” its number of stores in London.
The supermarket giant said it will significantly grow its current estate of 60 shops within the M25 as part of its multimillion-pound expansion programme.
Aldi has rapidly grown its UK business in recent years through new store openings, taking it to almost 1,000 sites.
The group also became the UK’s fourth largest supermarket in recent weeks, overtaking Morrisons, after recording strong sales growth amid increased demand from customers facing higher household bills.
Aldi said plans to create the raft of jobs through the new London stores will be additional to its announcement last week that it will create 6,000 jobs across the UK this year through its wider growth ambitions.
The retailer said on Monday that it is targeting empty office blocks and new housing locations for potential development.
UK and EU meet for ‘intensive’ negotiations on Northern Ireland
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland minister Chris Heaton-Harris will speak to European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic today as part of “intensive” talks to try find agreement on post-Brexit trade rules with Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters the talks were part of engagement with Brussels on the so-called Northern Ireland protocol, a process which also involved regular contact with parties in Northern Ireland.
It’s clear we need to find solutions that protect Northern Ireland’s place in our internal market, safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and resolve the practical issues the protocol is causing.
But the prime minister has been clear that we have not resolved all of those issues and no deal has been done as yet.
Follow the latest on the Northern Ireland Protocol talks in our politics live blog.
Iran’s currency falls to record low
Iran’s troubled currency broke below the psychologically key level of 500,000 rial per US dollar today, as traders see no end in sight to sanctions.
The Iranian rial plummeted to a new record low of 501,300 against the dollar, according to Bonbast.com which gathers live data from Iranian exchanges.
Facing an inflation rate of about 50pc, Iranians seeking safe havens for their savings have been buying dollars, other hard currencies or gold, suggesting further headwinds for the rial.
The reimposition of US sanctions in 2018 by former president Donald Trump have harmed Iran’s economy by limiting Tehran’s oil exports and access to foreign currency.
Since September, nuclear talks between Iran and world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions have stalled, worsening economic expectations for Iran’s future.
The International Atomic Energy Agency revealed on Sunday that it had detected uranium enriched to levels just below nuclear weapons-grade in Iran, risking an escalation over Tehran’s expanding program.
German economy may shrink this year, says Bundesbank
Germany’s economy may shrink this year after companies and households started 2023 on a weak footing, according to Bundesbank.
Exports have been subdued by softer global demand, the bank said in its monthly report, adding that inflation is weighing on consumption and the construction sector is cooling.
The economy may still fare “a little better” compared to Bundesbank’s December prediction of a 0.5pc contraction this year but output had already slipped 0.2pc in the final quarter of 2022.
The forecast is more pessimistic than the one from the European Commission last week, which said Germany would manage growth of 0.2pc this year.
Oil lifts amid signs of Chinese rebound
Oil prices have risen after a weekly loss amid hopes that a rebound in China’s economy is picking up pace after it abandoned its zero-Covid policies.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, has climbed 0.8pc towards $84 a barrel, amid signs of recovery in Chinese demand.
US-produced West Texas Intermediate has lifted 0.7pc and is on its way to $77, snapping its longest run of declines this year.
Vandana Hari, founder of Vanda Insights, said:
Economic sentiment and the mood in the financial markets is likely to remain in the driver’s seat.
The Chinese reopening could spark a bout of bullishness at some point in coming weeks.
London markets flat
The FTSE 100 remains muted, trading flat as strength in mining stocks negated losses in consumer stocks.
The blue-chip index has been trading around the 8,000 point-mark it hit last week. The domestically-focussed FTSE 250 midcap index slipped as much as 0.2pc but is also now trading flat.
Frasers Group climbed 3.1pc to the top of the FTSE 100 after the sports goods retailer said it intends to commence a new share buyback programme.
Industrial metal miners rose 0.9pc as investors bet on a recovery in demand from top consumer China amid support from global mining supply disruptions.
Stuart Cole, head macro economist at Equiti Capital: “A lot of it is probably stemming from the reopening we’ve seen in China.
“The anticipation is that if we see Chinese manufacturing activity pick up, then we’re going to see increasing demand for commodities and we’re seeing it reflected in their stock prices.”
On the flip side, declines in consumer stocks such as Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser Group weighed on the FTSE 100.
On the FTSE All-Share index, Trifast plummeted 45pc after the designing and engineering company said earnings would be “significantly below” expectations.
Energy bills forecast to plunge by £800
The average household annual energy bill will plunge by more than £800 from July as gas prices continue to fall, a year after Russia first invaded Ukraine.
The price cap is forecast to fall to £2,165 from July, down from the £3,000 faced from April under the Government’s energy price guarantee, according to Investec.
It comes as European natural gas prices have fallen to their lowest levels in 18 months after a mild winter meant storage levels have remained high across the continent.
Wholesale costs for gas surged to record levels in August as Europe tried to reduce its reliance on Russian fuel after its invasion of Ukraine.
Household energy bills should stabilise later in the year, with the price cap rising modestly to £2,190 from October.
Investec’s final estimate for the price cap in April is £3,332.
It means the Government will pay £332 per household to cover its annual average energy bill from that point as it caps the price paid at £3,000, up from its present cap of £2,500.
Lush in legal row with former boss over share sale
Handmade cosmetics retailer Lush has been plunged into a dispute with an acquisition company set up by its former boss who claims that Lush has failed to transfer shares as part of a deal.
Silverwood Brands, launched by the soap maker’s former chief executive Andrew Gerrie, bought a 19.8pc stake in the company in December for £216.8m.
The stake had been owned by Mr Gerrie, who left Lush in 2015, and his wife Alison Hawksley.
However, Silverwood said today that Lush had declined to record a transfer of shares underpinning the deal, giving no reason for its decision.
The acquisition business has instructed its lawyers and is “surprised that Lush is behaving in this manner”.
Pound continues falls against dollar
The pound has slipped on a slow day of trading ahead of minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting and a reading on core inflation in the US, both due later this week.
Sterling has fallen 0.2pc against the dollar today taking it back towards $1.20.
The pound slumped 2.3pc from its high north of $1.22 on Tuesday to a low near $1.19 on Friday after data showing strong wholesale prices in the US, which raised expectations that interest rates will keep rising for longer across the Pond.
Ericsson to cut 1,400 jobs
Ericsson will cut its workforce in Sweden has the wave of job losses gripping the tech sector continues.
The company plans to axe 1,400 positions which it aims to secure through voluntary resignations.
The business is also aiming to reduce its number of consultants, shrink its number of premises and improve efficiency.
Gas prices rise as weather expected to cool
European natural gas prices edged higher on the prospect of a late-winter cold snap, after last week dropping below $50 per megawatt hour for the first time in 18 months as the continent recovers from the energy crisis.
Europe is well-supplied, with flows from Norway rebounding after recent outages and higher volumes from Russia delivered by pipelines crossing Ukraine. Still, traders are wary that heating demand may increase in early March.
Maxar Technologies said in a report: “The forecast is colder from prior, with more widespread below normal anomalies now featured in the West.”
For now, parts of Europe are seeing unseasonably warm temperatures, though cooler weather is expected to return to London and Madrid later in the week.
Dutch front-month futures, Europe’s benchmark, traded 3pc higher at €50.50 a megawatt-hour. The contract has dropped about 35pc since the start of the year.
Woodford fund managers in deal talks with regulators
Regulators are in discussions about an agreement with the managers of the defunct Woodford Equity Income Fund which collapsed in 2019 losing millions for investors.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed it is discussing a settlement with Australia’s Link Group and Link Fund Solutions (LFS), which managed the fund formerly run by star stock-picker Neil Woodford.
Link Group has said today it is in exclusive negotiations to sell its UK Fund Solutions division as the talks take place with the FCA.
Star stock-picker Mr Woodford had picked assets for the £3.7bn fund but restricted withdrawals after a plunge in value.
In a draft notice last year, the FCA had already said Link could face a potential £306.1m in redress payments over its management of the fund and a further possible £50m fine. Today, the FCA said:
We are in advanced confidential discussions with Link Group and LFS to determine whether the FCA’s proposed enforcement action against LFS can be resolved by agreement.
The FCA is focused on ensuring that consumers affected by the suspension of the Woodford Equity Income Fund (WEIF) obtain redress.
To assist a potential resolution, the FCA has provided time for Link Group to realise assets, including Link Group held assets, to meet the FCA’s concerns.
Frasers and Darktrace lead way on markets
It has been a mixed start to the week on the markets on a day when there will be no action in the US due to a public holiday.
The FTSE 100 has risen by 0.1pc to 8,015.71 while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 has dropped off 0.1pc to 20,078.59.
Frasers surged to the top of the FTSE 100, rising by 3.4pc, after it announced a share buyback programme of up to £80m.
Among the midcaps, Darktrace has led the way, rising 3.8pc, as it revealed it has appointed auditor EY to assess its financial controls in the wake of scrutiny by short-sellers.
BrewDog to expand into China
Controversial beermaker BrewDog will expand into China next month.
Its biggest-selling brands such as Punk IPA, Hazy Jane and Elvis Juice will go on sale in the world’s second largest economy after it agreed to launch a joint venture with Budweiser China.
It will use the company’s sales and distribution network to capitalise on the growing popularity of craft beer in the country, which has surged over the past decade, with production rising 10-fold by 2020.
China accounts for less than 1pc of BrewDog’s sales at present.
Founder James Watt described the deal as “a genuinely transformational partnership which is going to bring BrewDog to every corner of the world’s biggest beer market”.
He added: “By making beer closer to our customers, we’ll be giving them even fresher beer and doing it in a way which is better for the planet.”
Markets lift despite inflation uncertainty
Markets have continued where they left off after a record-breaking week despite uneasiness about inflation and the direction of interest rates.
The FTSE 100 edged up 0.1pc to 8,011.40 after markets opened and the domestically-focused FTSE 250 also rose 0.1pc to 20,106.76.
Darktrace hires EY to review financial controls after irregularities claim
Cyber security firm Darktrace said it has appointed Ernst & Young to carry out an independent review of its financial processes and controls after being accused of accounting irregularities by a US hedge fund.
Darktrace said its board and management are “confident” that its financial statements fairly represent its financial position and results. Gordon Hurst, chairman of Darktrace, said:
The board believes fully in the robustness of Darktrace’s financial processes and controls.
As a sign of that confidence, we have commissioned this independent third-party review by E&Y. We look forward to the outcome of this review.
The firm came under recent attack by New York-based short-seller Quintessential Capital Management (QCM), which published highly critical lengthy report alleging possible irregular sales, marketing and accounting practices to drive up the value of its shares before its initial public offering in 2021.
Shares in Darktrace plunged by a fifth following the report, before recovering some of the ground lost after Darktrace launched a £75m share buyback to boost investor confidence.
Airbus blames Germany for delaying exports of Eurofighter jets
Airbus’s plans to increase production of its Eurofighter jets have been held back by the German government and other countries being slow to commit to orders, its defence boss has said.
The company has been unable to scale up despite a push by Nato for output to be accelerated as the Russian war in Ukraine approaches its first anniversary.
Airbus Defence and Space chief executive Michael Schoellhorn said Berlin’s restrictive stance on arms exports outside Ukraine has played a role.
He expects an uptick in orders for jets, drones and space-based products in the coming years.
However, the absence of even a handshake deal has meant aircraft have not been made a priority.
Instead the company is focusing on ammunition and tank production for Ukraine.
Mr Schoellhorn said at the Munich Security Conference: “Currently we don’t have the orders to ramp up any further, we’re waiting for orders to reconfirm that we can keep the lines running.”
Defence exports worth several billions of euros have been held up, according to Mr Schoellhorn.
He told Reuters that orders for several products, including the A400M military transport plane, were stuck with the government in Berlin but declined to give details – although he admitted it was “worth several billions euros”.
Property asking prices increase by just £14 in a month
Asking prices of homes for sale have risen by just £14 in the last month – the smallest increase on record for this time of year.
Tom Haynes has the latest:
Property website Rightmove found the average price of a property coming to the market this month had increased by just £14, equal to 0pc, the smallest ever increase from January to February.
Prices remaining flat rather than falling could be seen as a positive sign for the year ahead, the website said, suggesting that sellers are heeding their agents’ advice and “being more realistic on price”.
The annual rate of growth slowed to 3.9pc in the 12 months to February, down from 6.3pc in January.
Read how despite the turbulent economic conditions, buyer demand is rising.
Thousands of retail jobs slashed within two months of 2023
UK retailers have slashed almost 15,000 jobs since the start of the year after a raft of collapses and restructurings on the high street, according to new figures.
Experts have warned that “the brutal start of the year” could continue as cost pressures and weaker customer spending power take their toll.
The Centre for Retail Research said that 14,874 jobs have been cut or announced since the start of 2023.
The total reflects cuts by large multiple retailers, which have 10 or more UK stores. It means overall industry job losses could be even higher once under-pressure independents are included.
The research showed 3,185 job cuts through large retailers undergoing some form of insolvency proceedings.
This included the likes of Paperchase and M&Co, which both tumbled into administration in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, a further 11,689 jobs are being shed by large retailers through “rationalisation” as part of cost-cutting programmes.
These cuts include reductions by Tesco, Asda, Wilko and New Look since the start of last month.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, at the Centre for Retail Research, said:
The process of rationalisation will continue at pace as retailers continue to reduce their cost base.
We are unlikely to see any respite in job losses in 2023 after a brutal start to the year.
It’s the start of a new work week, ambulance and border force staff are striking, and Wall Street is closed for a US holiday.
Meanwhile, experts are warning about a “brutal year” for retail, after data showed companies have already laid off 15,000 workers.
It follows the collapse of Paperchase and M&Co, plus major shake-ups at Tesco, Asda, Wilko and New Look.
5 things to start your day
1) Ethical investing is crushing Britain’s defence industry, ministers told | ‘Skin-deep’ arguments are hampering advancements in military technologies
2) Wealthy homeowners forced to dramatically cut asking prices | Six in ten sellers slash prices as housing market downturn deepens
3) Windfall taxes damaging Britain’s race to net zero, warn bosses | Levies are pushing up the cost of renewable projects by up to 50pc, industry leaders say
4) ChatGPT to be regulated under online safety laws | Tech companies could be punished when systems show harmful content to children
5) Facebook and Instagram to launch paid-for subscription services | Meta moves away from reliance on advertising
What happened overnight
Asian shares edged up as the US holiday made for slow trading ahead of minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting and a reading on core inflation that could add to the risk of interest rates heading higher for longer.
Geopolitical tensions were ever present with North Korea firing more missiles and talk of Russia ramping up attacks in Ukraine before Friday’s one-year anniversary of the invasion.
There were reports the White House planned new sanctions on Russia, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday warned Beijing of consequences should it provide material support, including weapons, to Moscow.
All of which made for a cautious start and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan nudged up 0.7pc, after sliding 2.2pc last week.
The bounce was led by Chinese blue chips which firmed 1.1pc as Beijing kept interest rates steady as expected, having already poured liquidity into the banking system in recent days.
Tokyo stocks ended marginally higher, recovering from earlier losses as investors sought fresh cues with the US market closed for a holiday.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.1pc to 27,531.94, while the broader Topix index rose 0.4pc to 1,999.71.
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/thousands-retail-jobs-slashed-within-070421296.html Putin attempting to sabotage North Sea energy assets, Netherlands warns