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Daily News Roundup: Friday, 20th October 2023

Posted: 20th October 2023


Santander issues scam warning for businesses

Santander UK has told businesses to be on "high alert" to impersonation scams after seeing the number of its customers targeted by fraudsters double last month. Criminals are using clever tricks to pose as bank employees and con people into transferring thousands of pounds into a scammer's account, the lender said. Chris Ainsley, Santander UK's head of fraud risk management, warned: "Impersonation scams are rampant and the criminals perpetrating these crimes can be particularly devious in their approach." He added: "Businesses should remain on high alert to this threat."

Virgin Money offers ‘excellent' fixed cash ISA deal

Virgin Money has taken the top spot for the highest rate on a one-year fixed Isa, which is now paying 5.52% gross/5.56% AER. The account, which is available to savers aged 16 or over with interest paid monthly or annually, has earned an Excellent Moneyfacts product rating.


Blackstone has $200bn ready to deploy after dealmaking slows

Blackstone reported a decline in profits from asset sales during the third quarter, with net profit down 36% to $259.4m. The asset manager raised $25bn from investors, falling short of forecasts of $32bn as investors grow wary about funding private equity firms. Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive of Blackstone, said the group had delivered resilient third-quarter results despite challenging markets and now had “a record dry powder of $200bn to deploy in a dislocated environment.” Meanwhile, Blackstone president Jonathan Gray warned that the recent sharp increase in long-term US government bond yields will soon hit consumers and slow the economy.


SEC drops claims against two Ripple Labs executives

The Securities and Exchange Commission has dropped its lawsuit against Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and co-founder Chris Larsen over the sale of $1.5bn worth of XRP, which the SEC claimed constituted an illegal sale of securities. Ripple was granted a partial win in the case in July when a judge found that sales of XRP on public exchanges were not unregistered securities offerings. However, the judge also ruled partly in the SEC's favour, saying the agency had shown the company's $728.9m of XRP sales to hedge funds and other sophisticated buyers had violated the law.

Deutsche Bank sets new emissions targets

Deutsche Bank’s chief sustainability officer, Jörg Eigendorf, has said the lender has set emissions reduction targets for loans to clients in the coal mining, cement and shipping sectors and now has a net-zero plan for 55% of its financed emissions. The move comes amid increasing pressure from policymakers and investors to push clients to curb climate-damaging emissions.

Nordea's profit in line with expectations

Nordea reported a rise in third-quarter operating profit on Thursday buoyed by high interest rates. Operating profit at the Finnish lender rose to €1.73bn against a year-earlier €1.28bn and a mean forecast in a Refinitiv poll of analysts of €1.74bn.


McLaren seeks further investment after losses deepen

Newly published accounts show McLaren’s losses ballooned from £135m in 2021 to £349m last year. Its Bahraini owner has pumped about £600m into the manufacturer since July last year and McLaren has said it would require further cash infusions to stay in business for the next 12 months.


London beats Paris to regain its ‘crown' as Europe's largest stock market

London has regained its position as Europe's largest stock market, surpassing Paris in market capitalisation. The combined market capitalisation of primary listings in London now amounts to £2382.47bn, slightly more than Paris's £2381.73bn. The market has outperformed recently due to rising oil prices. UK economist Julian Jessop highlighted the significance of this development, urging Remainers to take note. He stated, "London has regained its 'crown' from Paris as Europe's largest stock market. That didn't stop Remainers making a big deal when the reverse happened!" Paris is facing pressure from China's economic slowdown, affecting companies like LVMH, L'Oréal SA, Hermes International, and Kering SA. London's problems, on the other hand, are behind it, with the economy stabilising.

LSEG optimistic despite sluggish IPO market

The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) on Thursday reported an 8% increase in total income for the three quarters ending in September, putting it on track to meet the top end of its growth forecast for the year. The growth was driven by the data and analytics divisions, post-trade, and capital markets business. LSEG's data division saw a growth of 7.2%, while its capital markets business saw a growth of 6.2%. Despite a lacklustre performance in its flagship equities business, LSEG remains optimistic about its growth prospects. "LSEG delivered another quarter of strong, broad-based growth," said CEO David Schwimmer. Later in the day, the LSE suffered a technical glitch which curbed trading in hundreds of small-cap shares.

M&G suspends trading in UK property fund

M&G closed its £565m UK property fund after a wave of investors pulled their cash out. The FTSE 100 investment manager said on Thursday that it had suspended trading in M&G Property Portfolio and will gradually sell off its remaining assets. M&G said it expects it will take around 18 months to offload the portfolio given current market conditions and the money raised from the sales will be returned to customers as soon as possible.


Nokia to axe up to 14,000 jobs

Finnish telecoms giant Nokia is to axe between 9,000 and 14,000 jobs as it looks to cut costs by between €800m and €1.2bn by 2026. The announcement was made as the company reported a 20% drop in sales between July and September as its customers cut spending amid high inflation and interest rates.


Consumer confidence plunges ahead of festive season

Consumer confidence has slumped ahead of Christmas as consumers continue to suffer a cost of living crunch. GfK’s monthly measure of consumer sentiment fell by nine points to -30 in October, the weakest reading since July. Joe Staton, client strategy director at the market researcher, said: "The fierce headwinds of meeting the accelerating costs of heating our homes, filling our petrol tanks, coping with surging mortgage and rental rates, a slowing jobs market and now the uncertainties posed by conflict in the Middle East are all contributing to this growing unease." The latest data will add to concerns over the health of the economy.


Treasury urges Hunt to increase fuel duty

Jeremy Hunt is under pressure from Treasury officials to hike fuel duty for the first time in more than a decade, according to the Telegraph. The Chancellor has been told that raising fuel duty by at least 2p is needed to claw back £5bn the Exchequer is losing each year after Rishi Sunak, who was then Chancellor, cut fuel duty by 5p in March 2022. It means that duty will rise to 55p a litre for petrol and diesel. VAT is also levied on fuel duty. Raising fuel duty will likely prompt a backlash from Tory MPs, nineteen of whom have already signed a statement on Wednesday indicating they wanted the Chancellor to cut fuel duty, and 28 said they wanted another freeze.


OBR admits errors in its economic forecasts

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has admitted to making errors in its forecasts which had an impact on its predictions of tax revenues, spending and interest rates. The Government’s financial watchdog said its forecasts in March 2021 and March 2022 underestimated the inflation shock from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The errors meant the Government ended up borrowing £29.3bn more in 2022-23 than the OBR had anticipated in March 2022.

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