Recession worries weigh on markets; food prices drive up shop inflation – business live

Jasper Jolly

Jasper Jolly

The UK government has signalled it is likely to accept the £6.3bn takeover of the British defence manufacturer Meggitt, the second deal by a US buyer to receive a green light in a week.

The American industrial conglomerate Parker Hannifin told the City this morning it expected to complete the takeover within the next two months after receiving assent from the UK business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng.

Meggitt, based near Coventry, makes wheels, materials and electronics for the F-35 fighter jet and the A400M transporter, both used by the UK military, as well as civilian aircraft made by Airbus and Boeing. Meggitt employs about 2,300 workers in the UK and 9,000 globally.

The cost of living crisis in Spain has deepened, with inflation hitting its highest in decades.

Spanish 12-month inflation rose to 10.2% in June, the first time it has surpassed 10% since April 1985.

That’s up from 8.7% in the previous month, preliminary data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed, and rather higher than the 9% forecast.

This is going to hurt…

Spanish inflation unexpectedly surges to a record, signaling intensifying price pressure as the ECB gears up to raise rates a través de @markets

— Irene García Pérez (@irenegperez) June 29, 2022

On an EU-harmonised basis, Spanish inflation hit 10%, a record.

Economy Minister Nadia Calvino told parliament on Wednesday.

“The news of the last few weeks is not positive … Russia’s gas and oil export cuts are accelerating rising energy prices.”

The surge in commodity inflation and supply problems have hammered British cleaning products maker McBride.

The Oven Pride maker, reported this morning that its bank had waived debt covenant tests until September, as the loss-making group grapples with rising costs and supply chain challenges.

McBride, which has an available liquidity of about £75m as of June 28, has agreed to maintain liquidity of at least £40m and to refrain from paying dividends in order to get the waiver.

McBride told the City:

‘We are fully appreciative of the ongoing support that the banking group have and are continuing to give the group through this period of uncertainty caused by macroeconomic factors which have resulted in rapid and unprecedented rises in input costs and ongoing global supply chain challenges.

Last summer, McBride said there had been an “extraordinary” rise in the cost of raw materials such as cardboard and solvents, as a shortage of lorry drivers also hit distribution.

Ofgem pledges bills won’t rise through £21bn electricity upgrade plan

Alex Lawson

The chief executive of Ofgem has insisted that bills will not rise for consumers amid plans to plough £20bn into upgrading Great Britain’s regional electricity networks.

The energy regulator set out a £20.9bn package to upgrade the grids this morning, which includes £2.7bn of upfront funding to boost capacity.

Distribution network operators have been asked to boost the resilience and reliability of supply during extreme weather events, such as Storm Arwen. More than a million homes lost power last November as the storm wreaked havoc, bringing down trees and electricity lines.

Ofgem said the upgrade would also allow consumers to be given more control to save money through regularly updated prices for peak and off-peak demand.

More here:

UK victims lost £1.3bn in 2021 amid surge in online fraud

Jess Clark

More than £1.3bn was stolen by con artists last year, figures reveal, with authorised push payment fraud (APP), where victims are tricked into making a payment, rising sharply as pandemic restrictions eased.

The amount lost to APP fraud hit £583.2m in 2021, a 39% increase compared with 2020, according to the research from the banking industry organisation UK Finance.

It found there were 195,996 incidents of APP fraud in the UK last year, up 27% on the previous year, as people worked more from home, spent longer online and did more internet shopping which made victims more susceptible to such scams.

Nearly 40% of APP fraud losses were due to impersonation scams, where criminals pretend to be from a trusted contact to trick victims into moving their money, with an estimated £214.8m stolen using this method in total.

Here’s the full story

And here’s our guide on how to avoid falling victim to online, email and phone scams

An iPhone displaying the Moonpig logo.
Photograph: M4OS Photos/Alamy

Online greetings card group Moonpig has also been hit by a post-lockdown drop in trading.

Revenues at Moonpig tumbled 17.3% in the year to 30th April, to £304m, as customers returned to the high street after shops reopened.

This knocked adjusted earnings down by 19% (although pre-tax profits rose 25% on a reported basis).

Shares have dropped 6% to 230p. They are down 38% this year, having floated on the stock market in February 2021 at 350p each.

CEO Nickyl Raithatha insists the company can “adapt with speed and agility” to changing consumer behaviours

Moonpig Group has delivered an enduring uplift in revenue over the past two years, with a step-change in the size of our customer base, and with each of our customers purchasing more often than before.

Sales have dropped at UK discount retailer B&M, as the pandemic spending boost faded.

Like-for-like sales at B&M’s UK stores fell 9.1% over the last three months, compared with a year ago, taking its first-quarter group revenues down 2.2%.

B&M’s sales soared in the lockdown, as it was able to remain open because it sold essential items such as food and hardware. It reported last year that bestselling items included DIY, gardening kit, toys and Christmas items.

European shares have dropped in early trading, as fears about a global recession overshadowed recent optimism about China reopening

The continent-wide Stoxx 600 index is down 0.75%, following last night’s losses on Wall Street after that gloomy U.S. consumer confidence data.

Germany’s DAX is leading the declines, down 1.1%.

In London, property developers British Land (-4.6%) and Land Securities (-4%) are the top fallers, woth mining companies and travel firms also dropping.

Investors are unable to avoid the pervasive fear of a global slowdown, says Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor:

With the consumer being central to US economic growth, the recent raft of pessimistic readings has led to some concerns that sentiment could become self-fulfilling as consumers hunker down in the face of higher prices, especially fuel and food.

The Federal Reserve will of course be aware of the deteriorating sentiment, but for the moment is showing no signs of abandoning its primary objective of battling inflation head-on.

H&M, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, has bucked the gloom in the retail sector with 33% growth in quarterly profit.

Sweden’s H&M beat expectations, as shoppers returned to its stores as pandemic restrictions were lifted.

The company posted a pretax profit of 4.78 billion Swedish crowns (£385m) in the second quarter, up from 3.59 billion crowns a year earlier.

Chief Executive Officer Helena Helmersson said:

“Sales in physical stores increased substantially while online continues to do well,”

“Disruption and delays still exist in the supply chain, but are gradually being eased,”

However, H&M added that sales could fall as much as 6% in June as the war in Ukraine and supply chain snags weigh.

that rarest of things, a European retailer beating expectations. Hennes & Mauritz (HMB SS) report SEK 3.68bn vs. 3.08bn expected, and announce a share buyback:

— BionicBanker (@BrokenBanker) June 29, 2022

Low-income families facing rising financial distress

Patrick Butler

Patrick Butler

About 7 million struggling families in the UK are living through a “frightening year of financial fear”, going without food, heating, toiletries and even showering as they try to cope with the cost of living crisis, a leading charity has said.

Many people are falling deep into debt as they try to stay afloat, using credit cards or cash from loan sharks to pay for food and other basics and building up arrears on energy bills, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), an anti-poverty charity.

The extent of the crisis facing low-income households was so serious that more than 2 million households were no longer choosing between “heating or eating” because they had already gone without both, the charity said.

Katie Schmuecker, JRF’s principal policy adviser, warns:

“Our research illustrates the frightening year of financial fear low-income families are living through.

Families up and down the country have been faced with options that are simple but grim: fall behind on bills, go without essentials like enough food, or take on expensive debt at high interest. In some cases they had to do all three”.

Here’s the full story:

Recession worries weigh on markets

Recession worries are weighing on markets again today, after surging inflation hit consumer confidence in America.

Wall Street took a tumble yesterday, following data showing that US consumers’ short-term economic expectations had tumbled to the lowest level since March 2013.

The report, from the Conference Board, suggested the world’s largest economy will see weaker growth in the second half of 2022 and a “growing risk of recession by year end”.

The S&P 500 stock index shed 2%, while the tech-focused Nasdaq tumbled 3% as the recent recovery in the markets tailed off.

Hebe Chen of IG says it’s “time to face reality”.

Wall Street tumbled again last night as the US Conference Board consumer confidence data unveiled a reality that the market can’t lie to itself anymore—the current business conditions were less favourable month by month, but the worst part is almost one-third (29.5%) of consumers are expecting things just to get worse.

The Expectations Index, based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions, decreased sharply to the lowest level since March 2013.

The extremely pessimistic view just highlighted the damage that has been done by the ongoing inflation pain and further consolidated the recession concerns.

European markets are set for a lower open too, with the FTSE 100 seen down around 55 points (0.6%).

Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management adds:

The dire sentiment data suggests weaker consumer demand will intensify an earning recession that could trigger new lows.

So, the extent to which the recent US and Eurozone equity market upswing marks the cycle low or is a bear market rally depends primarily on downside earnings risks from the economy and the latest data should provide a very sobering thought.

Introduction: UK shop prices hit highest rate of inflation since 2008

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the world economy and the financial markets.

The squeeze on UK households has intensified, as prices in the shops jumped at the fastest pace since September 2008, just before the financial crisis.

Shop price inflation accelerated to 3.1% in June, up from 2.8% in May – a 13-year high, the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show.

Food inflation hit the highest in over a decade, accelerating to 5.6% in June, driven by pricier fresh food (where prices jumped 6.2% over the year, the highest inflation rate since May 2009).

UK shop price inflation
UK shop price inflation Photograph: BRC

The report highlights how surging prices for commodities, energy, fuel and transport are feeding through to the shop shelves.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

Food prices rose sharply, particularly for fresh foods such as cheese which has been affected by the spiralling costs of fertiliser and animal feed.

Dickinson warned that the government may need to provide more support:

Retailers are working to find more ways to protect their customers from the worst effects of inflation, but if costs continue to spiral, Government may need to find ways to help retail businesses support their customers.”

Supermarkets are also expanding their value ranges to offer a wider choice for customers trading down and providing discounts to vulnerable groups, Dickinson added.

Yesterday, market researcher NielsenIQ reported a jump in purchases of frozen food as shoppers tried to economise, with sales of frozen poultry were up 12% compared with a year earlier.

Sales of other cheaper products also rose: sales of rice and grains rising by 11%, while canned beans and pasta were up by 10% and 9% more gravy and stock was sold. Sales of dry pasta have climbed by 31%.

Mike Watkins, Head of Retailer and Business Insight, NielsenIQ, explains:

As inflation accelerates due to rising energy, travel and now food costs, shoppers are now more likely to cut down on out of home consumption, shop to a fixed budget, switch to cheaper private label and seek out retailers where prices are the lowest.”

The agenda

  • 10am BST: Eurozone business and consumer confidence reports for June
  • Noon BST: US weekly mortgage applications
  • 1pm BST: German inflation report for June
  • 2pm BST: Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey speaks on a panel at the ECB’s ‘future of central banking’ forum, with ECB president Christine Lagarde and Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell
  • 2.30pm BST: Treasury committee hearing on the appointment of Dr Swati Dhingra to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee


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