That’s all for today, here’s the main stories so far:
A British court has granted permission for US-based hedge fund Elliot Associates and Jane Street Global Trading to sue the London Metal Exchange (LME) for cancelling nickel trades in March, Reuters reports, citing a court document.
Elliott Associates and Jane Street are invoking the Human Rights Act and are seeking to sue the LME for a combined $472 million.
Back on 8 March, the LME cancelled all the nickel trades that took place that day as the price doubled to a record $100,000 per tonne, in frenzied trading.
The surge was due to a “short squeeze” which reportedly left a Chinese nickel tycoon facing heavy losses which could have run into billions of dollars.
Tsingshan Holding Group, controlled by Chinese tycoon Xiang Guangda, had taken a short position on nickel, and saw its losses balloon on concerns that Western sanctions against Russia would hit global supply of nickel, pushing up its price.
This prompted the LME to suspend nickel trading to protect “orderly” conditions,and to then restart with limits on the daily market moves in metals for physical delivery.
Elliott claims that the LME acted “unreasonably and irrationally”. Regulators launched an investigation back in April.
Here’s our news story on Liz Truss’s decision to name James Bowler as the new top civil servant at the Treasury, by our deputy political editor Jessica Elgot.
She points out that the government has switched tack, choosing an insider with 20 years’ experience in an apparent reversal of plans to bring in an outsider, and also emphasising this experience.
Cat Little and Beth Russell have been appointed as second permanent secretaries. Little is currently director general of public spending at the Treasury, and Russell is director general of tax and welfare, as well as head of the Darlington Economic Campus
Fitch: Deeper UK recession now likely as interest rates rise faster
Credit rating agency Fitch has warned that the UK faces a deeper recession than previously forecast.
Fitch, which last week cut the outlook on the UK to ‘negative’, has now predicted that the UK GDP will shrink by 1% in 2023, following the “extreme volatility in UK financial markets and the prospect of sharply higher interest rates.”
Last month, Fitch had forecast a drop of -0.2% of GDP next year.
Fitch has warned that rising funding costs, tighter financing conditions (including for mortage borrowers) and increased uncertainty will outweigh the impact of the government’s tax cuts next year.
Fitch sees the economy entering recession from 4Q22 as “rapid rate rises compound the impact of the energy crisis and the contraction in the eurozone”.
Fitch also predicts that the Bank of England will have raised interest rates to 4.25% by December, from 2.25% today, and up to 5% by the second quarter of 2023.
The Government says it is confident it can provide enough detail on policy for the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to publish its economic forecasts alongside the Chancellor’s financial strategy on October 31.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson told reporters today:
“There’s been discussions between the Treasury and OBR on what is possible and that is the timescale that they have agreed.
“Obviously, the work of the OBR, as you know, is iterative by its nature and informed by ongoing policy decision.
“We are confident we will be able to provide sufficient level of detail to the OBR (before) it completes that forecast.”
Asked why Kwasi Kwarteng brought forward his medium-term fiscal plan, the official said:
“I think as the Chancellor said in his letter to the Treasury Select Committee, to provide the full economic and fiscal outlook quickly, we recognise the importance of that and wanted to set out his commitment to debt falling over the medium term, and set out the detailed plans as soon as possible, and we believe that 31st is is the right time to do that.”
Veteran civil servant James Bowler has been appointed as the top official at the Treasury.
Bowler has been named as permanent secretary to the Treasury, succeeding Tom Scholar who was ousted a month ago, shortly after Kwaski Kwarteng was appointed chancellor.
There had been reports that the government had been keen to appoint Antonia Romeo, permanent secretary at the justice department, to the Treasury as part of their push to challenge economic “orthodoxy” at the Treasury.
But the Financial Times reports this morning that Liz Truss has ordered a U-turn over this plan, favouring an experienced candidate to help reassure markets.
Bowler was one of several candidates who had spent large parts of their careers at the Treasury.
Here’s our political editor, Pippa Crerar:
Recession worries have pushed the oil price a little lower today, after strong gains last week when Opec+ decided to cut output.
Brent crude has dipped by almost 1% today, to $97 per barrel.
Last werk, Brent climbed from around $88/barrel to $98/barrel, as the Opec cartel and allies including Russia decided to cut output in November by 2 million barrels per day.
US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen warned over the weekend that the cut was “unhelpful and unwise” for global economic growth.
The Post Office handled a record of almost £3.5bn in cash for customers in August, against a backdrop of bank branch closures and the cost of living crisis.
The £3.45bn in cash crossing Post Office counters in August was the highest total since it began recording volumes it handles through its 11,500 local branches five years ago. August is traditionally a quieter month for cash transactions at its branches.
“Post Office attributes the continuing high levels of cash withdrawals to the ongoing closure of local bank branches with people turning to the Post Office to support them with their cash needs,” the company said.
“As the cost of living begins to bite, people are also increasingly turning to cash to manage their budget on a week-by-week basis and often day by day.”
Mortgage rates continue to rise over 6%
Average two and five-year fixed mortgage rates are continuing to climb above 6%, according to new figures today.
Across all deposit sizes, the average two-year fixed-rate mortgage on the market on Monday had a rate of 6.31%, Moneyfacts.co.uk found. Two-year fixed rates breached 6% last week for the first time since 2008.
The average five-year fixed rate was 6.19%, having hit 6% last week for the first time since 2010.
UK government bond yields remain higher on the day, despite the Bank of England announcing new measures to protect pension funds from market turbulence, and the bringing forward of the government’s medium-term debt-cutting plan.
Full story: Kwasi Kwarteng to launch debt-cutting plan on 31 October
Kwasi Kwarteng will bring forward the date of his debt-cutting plan to 31 October after pressure from MPs over the unfunded tax and spending promises announced in last month’s mini-budget, my colleague Richard Partington writes.
The chancellor told the Commons Treasury select committee that he would use the new date to announce his “medium-term fiscal plan”, alongside the release of fresh forecasts for the economy and public finances from the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The plan to bring forward the date from 23 November follows turmoil in financial markets after Kwarteng promised more than £40bn of unfunded tax giveaways largely directed at middle and high earners last month. The OBR had been sidelined from his previous tax and spending event.
Kwarteng told Mel Stride, the chair of the Treasury committee, that he hoped the “short extra delay” in the publication of the OBR forecasts would be acceptable.
It’s been a busy morning, with:
the Treasury bringing forward its fiscal plan to 31 October, following pressure from MPs and the markets
Independent analysis from the Office for Budget Responsibility will also be published on Halloween
The Bank of England stepping up its bond buying scheme to help calm financial markets
But despite this two-pronged approach, government bond prices are weaker and the pound is little changed.
Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says:
It’s clear there is still much scepticism about the government’s plans just as Kwasi Kwarteng prepares to head to the International Monetary Fund’s annual conference where his policies are set for fresh scrutiny.
All eyes will be on the independent assessment of his spending plans, and the risk is that if the numbers don’t add up, the markets could take fright again on Halloween.’’
Here’s Professor Paul Krugman, who won the 2008 Nobel Prize for Economics, on this year’s winners:
Nobel economics prize awarded to Bernanke, Diamond and Dybvig
Just in: A former top US central banker has won a share of the biggest prize in economics.
U.S.-based economists Ben Bernanke, Douglas Diamond and Philip Dybvig have been awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, for their research on banks and financial crises.
They will share 10 million Swedish kronor (£800,000).
Diamond and Dybvig have been recognised for their work on how banks are vulnerable to rumours about their imminent collapse.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says:
If a large number of savers simultaneously run to the bank to withdraw their money, the rumour may become a self-fulfilling prophecy – a bank run occurs and the bank collapses. These dangerous dynamics can be prevented through the government providing deposit insurance and acting as a lender of last resort to banks.
Ben Bernanke shares the prize, for his academid work analysing the Great Depression of the 1930s, the worst economic crisis in modern history. That expertise helped Bernanke through the 2008 financial crisis, when he was leading the US Federal Reserve.
The citation explains:
Among other things, he showed how bank runs were a decisive factor in the crisis becoming so deep and prolonged. When the banks collapsed, valuable information about borrowers was lost and could not be recreated quickly.
Society’s ability to channel savings to productive investments was thus severely diminished.
The pound has recovered some of its earlier losses, after Kwasi Kwarteng brought forward the date of his debt-reduction plan.
Sterling is now almost flat on the day, at $1.107.
There’s not much financial reaction, as the chancellor had been expected to present the medium-term fiscal plan earlier….
…although there was confusion after he told GB News last week it would still be on 23 November.
Politics Live: Truss set for benefits climbdown, DWP minister hints
Kwarteng’s decision to bring forward the medium-term fiscal plan by over three weeks follows pressure from MPs, as well as the financial market.
Having forced a u-turn on the abolition of the 45p top rate of tax, some Conservative MPs have also been resisting the idea that benefits might only rise in line with earnings, not rising prices.
Earlier this morning, Victoria Prentis, a Department for Work and Pensions minister, gave a strong hint that Truss is backing down and giving into the demands of Tories from all wings of the party who want benefits to be uprated in line with inflation.
That would mean a larger increase for households in need (as wages are not keeping up with inflation).
In an interview with Sky News, Prentis said:
It’s really important that we make sure that we target the government resources at the most vulnerable.
Andrew Sparrow’s Politics Live blog has all the details:
Kwasi Kwarteng told the Treasury Committee in his letter that:
“Upon my arrival in office, I received preliminary analysis from the OBR, but I have since made significant policy announcements including the Growth Plan.
“It is important that a forecast includes a full and final assessment of the impact of policy measures on the economy and public finances and, as such, it would not be appropriate to publish the initial analysis that the OBR provided.
“The new forecast date on 31 October will allow the OBR to capture data releases, such as the recent Quarterly National Accounts and Blue Book revisions.
“It will allow for a full forecast process to take place to a standard that satisfies the legal requirements of the Charter for Budget Responsibility enacted by Parliament and that also provides an in-depth assessment of the economy and public finances.
“And it will provide time for the Medium-Term Fiscal Plan to be finalised. In the meantime, the Prime Minister and I met with the OBR’s Budget Responsibility Committee on Friday 30 September to discuss the economic and fiscal outlook, and we will continue to work closely together throughout the forecast process and beyond.”
Mel Stride: This could keep interest rate rises lower
Mel Stride MP, chair of the Treasury Committee, has welcomed the decision to bring forward the medium-term fiscal plan to 31 October.
Stride points out that the Bank of England is due to set interest rates three days later – if Kwasi Kwarteng calms the markets, then interest rates may not need to rise as quickly.
The market turmoil caused by the unfunded tax cuts in the mini-budget (totalling over £40bn) and the lack of accompanying independent forecasts, heaped pressure on the chancellor to act faster to set out how the government would pay for the plan, and what their long-term impact would be.
UK to publish fiscal plan and OBR forecasts on 31 October
Just in: Kwasi Kwarteng has brought forward the date of his medium-term fiscal plan, in which he will lay out the government’s debt-cutting plans, to 31 October.
The chancellor announced the change in a letter to parliament’s Treasury Select committee.
The Office for Budget Responsibility’s independent economic forecasts will also be published that day.
The medium-term plan had been scheduled for 23rd November, but Kwarteng has faced growing pressure to present his plan sooner.
Investor morale in the euro zone has fallen the third month running, to levels that signal a deep recession.
The Sentix index for the eurozone confidence has tumbled to -38.3 points this month, from -31.8 in September, the weakest since May 2020, early in the pandemic.
Sentix’s expectations index dropped to -41.0 from -37.0, hitting its lowest value since December 2008, during the financial crisis.
Sentix Managing Director Manfred Huebner said:
At the beginning of October, the sentix economic indices signal an unchanged difficult economic situation - in Europe, but also globally. At -38.3 points, the overall Eurozone index sinks to its lowest level since May 2020.
The ongoing uncertainties about the gas and energy situation in winter have not diminished due to the attack on the Nordstream pipelines. In addition to the economic worries, there is now also an increasing probability of an esca-lation of the military conflict in Ukraine. Globally, there is little reason for hope. Only China seems to be stabilis-ing somewhat at present.
With the dollar strengthening, the pound has dropped to its lowest level since the end of September.
Sterling is down 0.5% at $1.103, below its levels before the mini-budget (but still above the record low of $1.035 set two weeks ago).
The Russian rouble has hit a three-month low as fears grow that Moscow could escalate the Ukraine war, following the attack on Kyiv this morning.
The rouble has dropped to 63 roubles to the US dollar for the first time since early July, before a small recovery.
Russian stocks have also dropped, as geopolitical tensions rise, exacerbated by energy giant Gazprom’s shares starting to trade ex-dividend. The dollar-denominated RTS index has tumbled 6%, while the rouble-based MOEX is down 4%.
The UK government bond selloff is gathering pace, with the 30-year gilt now over 4.5% – up 16 basis points (0.16 percentage points) today.
Despite the Bank’s announcement, long-dated UK bond prices have opened a little lower.
The yield on 30-year UK government bonds have inched up to 4.45%, from 4.38% on Friday night.
Yields rise when prices fall. Before the mini-budget, the 30-year gilt yield was around 3.8%, but it surged over 5% in the days after Kwasi Kwarteng’s statement, forcing the Bank to act.
The Bank of England is providing liquidity support because financial stress in the UK markets remains ‘quite elevated’, explains Professor Costas Milas, of the Management School of the University of Liverpool.
The UK index of financial stress (which takes into account the rise in UK interest rate spreads as well as their volatility) remains as high as when the BoE started its intervention in late September.
Equally important, and as I explain for The Conversation, persistently high financial stress can have a depressing impact on UK GDP for as many as 20 months. So we are not out of the woods yet…
London stock indices open lower
Stocks have opened lower in the City, as worries over the global economy and the Ukraine war weigh on markets.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index has dropped by 32 points to 6958, down 0.45%.
The domestically-focused FTSE 250 index of smaller companies has lost 0.8%.
Markets are in risk-off mood, after Kiev was targeted by at least four missiles this morning, after a key Russian built bridge in the Crimea was hit by a huge explosion.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 has dropped 0.4%
Last Friday’s US jobs report, showing a continued rise in employment, has deflated investors’ hopes that the Federal Reserve would slow its interest rate rises soon.
And data over the weekend has shown that China’s services activity in September contracted for the first time in four months, as COVID-19 restrictions hit demand and business confidence.
Updated: Izabella Kaminska of The Blind Spot explains the Bank of England is trying to prevent a ‘fire sale’ of assets, by providing a new facility to help banks provide liquidity to pension funds.
The new facility could also address any shortages of collateral (assets that can be swapped for ready cash).
Why the Bank is supporting LDI pensions funds
The Bank launched its support for the pensions industry almost two weeks ago, as pensionsfunds invested in liability driven investment (LDI) were dragged close to a ‘doom loop’.
My colleague Richard Partington explains.
The funds had invested in complex derivatives, using long-dated government bonds as collateral – assets pledged as security to back up a financial contract.
In the market turmoil after the mini-budget, the value of UK government bonds fell sharply as investors began to lose faith in the credibility of the Truss administration to run a sustainable tax and spending policy. This meant a rise in yields – which move inversely to bond prices – in a reflection of the increased cost of government borrowing.
As a result pensions funds invested in LDI schemes faced rolling “margin calls” as the value of the bonds they had pledged as collateral collapsed. The funds then moved to sell other long-dated bonds they held to cover the cash demands, which in turn led to further selling pressure in the bond market in a self-reinforcing downward spiral.
The Bank says that its support will help LDI funds to…
“…address risks to their resilience from volatility in the long-dated gilt market. LDI funds have made substantial progress in doing so over the past week.
Resolution Foundation’s Torsten Bell says the Bank is telling the markets not to test its pledge to restore stability in the long-dated government bond market.
Former pensions minister Steve Webb says today’s move should reduce the risk of a ‘cliff edge’ when the Bank’s bond-buying programme ends on Friday.
Some snap reaction:
Bank of England expands support for pensions funds through crisis
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the financial markets and the world economy.
The Bank of England has announcing fresh measures to keep the UK’s financial markets functioning, following the turmoil which hit the pensions industry after last month’s mini-budget.
In a statement this morning, the Bank says it will take three ‘additional measures’ to broaden its support, as it prepares to end its emergency backstop support on Friday.
That emergency support saw the Bank promise to buy up £65bn of long-dated UK bonds – at up to £5bn per day. So far, it has only bought around £5bn, having calmed the market panic that saw bond prices slump.
But with that support ending on Friday, the Bank is pledging to increase the maximum auction size, to up to £10bn per day. That could help maintain financial stability this week, preventing bond prices tumbling and forcing liability driven investment (LDI) pension funds into a dangerous spiral again.
The Bank says:
To date, the Bank has carried out 8 daily auctions, offering to buy up to £40bn, and has made around £5bn of bond purchases.
The Bank is prepared to deploy this unused capacity to increase the maximum size of the remaining five auctions above the current level of up to £5bn in each auction.
Secondly, the BoE is launching a temporary scheme to help UK banks to ease the liquidity squeeze on liability driven investment (LDI) pension funds, who were forced to sell assets when UK government bond prices slumped.
This Temporary Expanded Collateral Repo Facility (TECRF) will..
“enable banks to help to ease liquidity pressures facing their client LDI funds through liquidity insurance operations”.
TECRF will run beyond the end of this week, providing support once the Bank’s bond-buying scheme ends. It will let the Bank accept a range of assets as collateral – including UK gilts and corporate bonds – to help pension funds facing a liquidity squeeze.
Thirdly, the Bank says it also “stands ready” to help the LDI pension industry through its regular “Indexed Long Term Repo operations”. That will also allow funds to borrow cash from the BoE in exchange for handing over assets as collateral.
Last week, deputy BoE governor Sir Jon Cunliffe explained to MPs that some pension funds came close to collapse amid an “unprecedented” meltdown in UK government bond markets after Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budged
This morning’s announcement comes as BoE governor Andrew Bailey prepares to face intense scrutiny in Washington this week, where the annual IMF and World Bank meetings are taking place.
Policymakers and investors worldwide, as well as in the UK, have been wondering whether there will be more market disorder once the the Bank’s bond-buying programme ends on Friday.
There are also concerns that by protecting the pensions industry, the Bank is also supporting the government by lowering borrowing costs.
Also coming up today
Rail passengers in Scotland face widespread travel disruption today as ScotRail workers prepare to take strike action.
Members of the RMT will take part in 24-hour industrial action on Monday over an ongoing pay dispute with the nationalised train operator. It means “a very limited number” of ScotRail services will operate on “a very limited number of routes”.
And the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences will be awarded this morning.
10am BST: Greek inflation and industrial production data
10.45am BST: Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences awarded