Time to wrap up, after a day of disappointing economic data, and warnings that the UK and Europe faces a grim winter as the energy crisis.

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The slump in UK factory activity shows that Britain’s economy remains weak, while there were outright contractions this month in the US, the eurozone, and in Australia and Japan.

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Recession fears are on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic, a day after European gas prices closed at record highs, pushing the euro below parity with the US dollar.

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And with global trade stagnating, JP Morgan predicting the pound could sink to $1.14, and pubs and brewers pleading for help with energy bills, there’s plenty to worry about.

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Here’s today’s main stories:

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Ouch. US private sector output has fallen at a faster rate this month, as American services companies are hit by weak client demand.

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Output across US companies fell at the fastest rate since May 2020 in August, according to S&P Global’s flash survey of purchasing managers.

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The reduction in output was broadbased, with manufacturers and service providers registering lower activity. Service sector firms recorded the steeper rate of decline, as activity fell sharply, while goods producers saw a modest drop in output.

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Firms were hit by a range of problems – from material shortages and delivery delays to the recent hikes in US interest rates and strong inflationary pressures which hit customer demand.

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This pulled the headline Flash US PMI Composite Output Index down to just 45.0 in August, down from 47.7 in July.

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That shows the second successive monthly decrease in total business activity.

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The service sector was notable weak, with its PMI sinking to just 44.1 (50 would show stagnation).

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The PMI report shows “further disconcerting signs” for the health of the US private sector, says Siân Jones, Senior Economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence:

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Demand conditions were dampened again, sparked by the impact of interest rate hikes and strong inflationary pressures on customer spending, which weighed on activity.

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Gathering clouds spread across the private sector as services new orders returned to contractionary territory, mirroring the subdued demand conditions seen at their manufacturing counterparts.

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Excluding the period between March and May 2020, the fall in total output was the steepest seen since the series began nearly 13 years ago.

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Lower new order inflows and continued efforts to rein in spending led to the slowest uptick in employment for almost a year. Reports of challenges finding suitable candidates started to be countered by those companies noting that voluntary leavers would not be replaced with any immediacy due to uncertainty regarding demand over the coming months.

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The UK’s energy crisis could push the pound towards the 35-year lows seen early in the Covid-19 pandemic, analysts fear.

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JPMorgan Private Bank has predicted that sterling could drop as low as $1.14, a level briefly seen as the UK headed into its first lockdown.

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Bloomberg has the story:

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Already down 13% against the greenback so far this year, the UK currency is starting to reflect concerns that higher gas prices will fan inflation as economic growth contracts, said Sam Zief, head of global FX strategy at JPMorgan Private Bank.

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A pound at $1.14 is “absolutely within reach if gas prices continue to do what they are doing,” Zief said in an interview.

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The surge in inflation, already over 10%, will hit UK household finances, while the threat of shortages could slow economic activity, with factories already struggling this month.

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Sterling hit its lowest level since March 2020 this morning, below $1.18 against the US dollar.

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Back on 20th March 2020 it dropped to just above $1.14, as the pandemic fuelled a rush into US dollars. That was the lowest level since the mid-1980s.

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energy crisis could knock pound to $1.14, JPMorgan warns","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Tue 23 Aug 2022 15.56 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Tue 23 Aug 2022 07.36 BST"},{"id":"6304d1fd8f088e8ce8eaed96","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The eurozone is “heading towards recession quickly if it’s not already in one”.

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That’s the verdict from ING today, after private sector activity fell in France, Germany and the wider eurozone this month (according to this morning’s PMI reports).

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ING’s Bert Colijn explains:

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n

The composite PMI fell from 49.9 to 49.2. Anything under 50 indicates falling business activity, so the survey is hinting at a contraction that started in the third quarter. This is consistent with our forecasts, and the colour that the survey gives on the weakness is not pretty.

n

The manufacturing output PMI ticked up a bit in August but remained deep in contraction territory at 46.5. New orders continue to fall and inventory build-up is very strong, which reflects the squeeze in demand that the eurozone economy is currently experiencing.

n

The services PMI fell rapidly in August to a level indicating stagnation in activity at 50.2. Demand also weakened for the service sector as the post-pandemic rebound in consumer spending on services is fading rapidly.

n
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An auction of a £65m superyacht of a Russian oligarch has received 63 bids.

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The 72.5-metre Axioma was auctioned by the Gibraltar government today, making it the first luxury vessel to be sold off since restrictions were imposed on hundreds of rich Russians after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Gibralter’s Admiralty Marshal’s office says 63 sealed bids were received by the deadline of midday today, adding:

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The successful bidder will be selected by the Admiralty Marshal but details of the bidder and the value of the offer will remain confidential.

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Details about the sale value of the vessel will be made available once the transaction has been completed which could take place in approximately 10 to 14 days.

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As our wealth correspondent Rupert Neate reported last week, the superyacht is not being sold for the benefit of the Ukrainian people, but for JP Morgan.

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The investment bank filed a legal claim that the yacht’s billionaire owner, Dmitry Pumpyansky, owes it more than $20m (£17m).

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JP Morgan said the fact the billionaire had been subjected to sanctions meant the terms of the loan had been breached because it legally could not accept loan repayments from Pumpyansky’s holding company Pyrene Investments. It asked the Gibraltar courts to detain and sell the yacht.

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The latest survey of UK factories by the CBI has confirmed that the sector is slowing.

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British industrial output fell over the past three months for the first time since February 2021, according to the CBI’s ‘industrial trends’ report.

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Firms also reported a drop in new business, with the order book balance hitting its lowest since April 2021.

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This mirrors the message from this morning’s PMI survey, which showed a surprisingly sharp drop in factory activity this month.

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CBI economist Alpesh Paleja says:

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“With expectations for future growth subdued, steps will need to be taken to shore-up confidence in the short to medium term – particularly supporting vulnerable firms and consumers with energy price rises,”

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The UK faces a “dramatic and catastrophic winter for customers” as energy prices soar, according to a stark warning from the head of EDF Energy’s retail business.

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Philippe Commaret, the energy firm’s managing director for customers, called for extra government intervention, including help for households to insulate their homes and a VAT cut for small businesses as prices jump to record levels.

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Prices for gas and electricity, which had already shot up around the world as economies recovered from coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, have been sent soaring by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Russia using its control over European gas supplies to try to gain political leverage.

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“We face, despite the support the government has already announced, a dramatic and catastrophic winter for customers,” Commaret told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

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“In January, half of the UK households might be in fuel poverty.”

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Here’s the full story:

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Britain’s pubs and brewers are calling for more help to handle soaring energy prices.

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A survey by industry trade title The Morning Advertiser has found that three-quarters of pub operators cannot afford the jump in energy bills; more than 65% said they’d seen their utility costs increase by over 100%.

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Heath Ball, MD of The Frisco Group, which operates three pubs across the South East of England, warns that the UK could see ‘mass pub and restaurant closures’ unless the government provides more help.

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“This energy bill crisis comes on the back of the most testing of times as businesses try and recover from the Covid crisis and I think it poses an even greater threat to the survival of pubs.

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Brits face the prospect of losing thousands of pubs if something isn’t done soon to help.”

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The brewing industry also faces soaring energy prices, alongside higher raw material costs.

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The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) have written to chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, calling for an urgent cap on energy prices for small businesses, and grants for renewable technology to help firms reduce energy use.

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SIBA chairman Roy Allkin says:

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“With energy bills soaring we are calling on Government to back British beer and help independent brewers with an energy price cap for small businesses, and to offer grants and incentives for the many businesses looking to brew with more green energy.

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It is also vital that the Governments plan to tempt people back to the pub with a new discounted draught duty rate is extended to the smaller twenty and thirty litre containers used by small brewers, or risk Global lager brands being the only ones who benefit.

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The discounted draught duty rate was announced in October’s budget, followed by a photocall with then-chancellor Rishi Sunak and PM Boris Johnson posing with 30-litre kegs that didn’t actually qualify for the saving.

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Just in: A slump in factory output has dragged the UK private sector to near stagnation this month.

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Growth in Britain’s private sector slowed to a crawl in August as factory output fell and growth in the larger services sector slowed, according to the latest survey of purchasing managers at UK firms.

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Companies reported muted customer demand as well as shortages of both labour and inputs, adding to signs that a downturn is looming.

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The closely-watched flash UK composite PMI, which tracks the private sector economy, fell to an 18-month low of 50.9, down from July’s 52.1, near to stagnation.

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UK manufacturers reported the sharpest fall in production since May 2020, when the economy was in its first Covid-19 lockdown. Factories blamed reduced customer demand, the delayed delivery of inputs and labour shortages.

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The Flash UK manufacturing PMI sank to just 46.0, a 27-month low, down from 52.1 (A reading below 50 shows activity fell).

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That will add to concerns that the UK is sliding towards recession, after the economy contracted in the April-June quarter.

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Annabel Fiddes, economics associate director at S&P Global Market Intelligence said:

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n

“The UK private sector moved closer to stagnation in August, as mild growth of activity across the service sector only just offset a deepening downturn at manufacturers.

n

Waning customer demand amid the weaker economic outlook, and shortages of both staff and inputs, were reported to have hit goods producers hard, with firms registering the quickest drops in output and new work since May 2020.

n

Excluding the initial phase of the pandemic in early-2020, the reduction in manufacturing output was the quickest seen since the start of 2009. Meanwhile, the service sector registered the weakest increase in activity since the recovery began in early 2021.

n
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The downturn in Germany’s private sector economy has deepened too.

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The Flash Germany PMI Composite Output Index has fallen to just 47.6 this month, from July’s 48.1.

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That indicates German’s private sector is contracting at the fastest rate in 26 months, with manufacturing output and services activity both dropping.

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German companies blamed the deepening downturn on rising uncertainty, high inflation and rising interest rates, all of which weighed notably on demand.

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New business fell for the third month running, while new export sales fell at the fastest rate in over two years.

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The PMI data “paint a bleak picture of the German economy”, says Phil Smith, Economics Associate Director at S&P Global Market Intelligence:

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n

Continued weakness in manufacturing is being compounded by a slowdown in the service sector, with surveyed businesses reporting a growing strain on demand from high inflation and increased interest rates.

n

“The slowdown in the economy is increasingly taking a toll on firms’ hiring activity, with employment growth easing to its weakest for almost a year-and-a-half in August. A first fall in backlogs of work for more than two years points to capacity pressures across Germany’s private sector economy starting to ease and represents a downside risk to job creation going forward.

n

“Positively, August’s data provided evidence of a further easing of both supply side constraints and cost increases, which helped to lift business confidence from July’s recent low. However, with the threat of an energy crisis still looming large, the outlook remains riddled with uncertainty.”

n
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Here’s the details (any reading below 50 shows a contraction).

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    n
  • Flash Germany PMI Composite Output Index at 47.6 (July: 48.1). 26-month low.

  • n
  • Flash Germany Services PMI Activity Index at 48.2 (July: 49.7). 18-month low.

  • n
  • Flash Germany Manufacturing Output Index at 46.4 (July: 45.0). 2-month high.

  • n
  • Flash Germany Manufacturing PMI at 49.8 (July: 49.3). 2-month high.

  • n
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The French economy contracted in August for the first time since Covid disruption hit the eurozone’s second-largest economy 18 months ago.

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Data provider S&P Global reports that French private sector activity is falling this month, driven by a downturn in manufacturing and slower service sector growth.

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Falling demand hit output, with purchasing managers at French firms reporting the biggest drop in new business since November 2020.

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High inflation and a waning post-Covid boost to demand has led businesses and consumers to cut back on discretionary spending.

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This led to a slowdown in employment growth, and knocked business confidence to its lowest in almost two years.

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Here’s the details:

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    n
  • Flash France PMI Composite Output Index at 49.8 (Jul: 51.7). 18-month low.

  • n
  • Flash France Services PMI Activity Index at 51.0 (Jul: 53.2). 16-month low.

  • n
  • Flash France Manufacturing Output Index at 44.4 (Jul: 44.6). 27-month low.

  • n
  • Flash France Manufacturing PMI at 49.0 (Jul: 49.5). 27-month low.

  • n
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Joe Hayes, senior economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, warned that high inflation is hitting France’s economy:

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n

European economies look set for a challenging run into year-end and France is no exception.

n

High inflation has squeezed purchasing power among consumers and businesses alike, although we saw further signs to suggest we have passed peak price pressures.

n

Nevertheless, inflation remains elevated and businesses reported more and more clients being deterred from placing orders due to the current price level. The downward trend in the France PMI may well persist now demand for goods and services is falling.”

n
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Japan’s private sector output has fallen for the first time in six months, as companies were hit by rising costs of energy and raw materials, and weakening global demand.

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The au Jibun Bank Flash Japan Composite PMI, which measures activity across the manufacturing and services sectors, has dropped to 48.9 this month, from July’s 50.2 final. Any reading below 50 shows a contraction.

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Activity in the services sector fell for the first time in five months, while Japan’s factory activity growth slowed to a 19-month low in August as output and new order declines deepened.

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Usamah Bhatti, economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, adds:

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n

“Business confidence eased to the joint-lowest for five months during August amid the growing economic headwinds.

n

The strongest concerns among Japanese private sector firms were the impact of the Ukraine war, inflationary pressures due to rising raw material and energy costs, and a global economic slowdown.”

n
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Britain’s second biggest airport has returned to profit, thanks to the easing of travel restrictions this year.

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And in a boost to passengers, Gatwick says it doesn’t need to extend capacity curbs beyond the end of August as it returns to its usual business operations.

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Gatwick made an EBITDA profit of £148.3m in the first half of 2022, and a profit after tax of £50.6m.

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That’s a turnaround on 2021, when Gatwick reported a £244.6m loss for first six months and negative EBITDA at -£50.2m.

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It also lifted its passenger forecast despite the travel chaos that disrupted many holidays, and now expects 32.8m passengers in 2022.

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However, Gatwick also warned that inflationary pressures on costs, and passenger demand for the winter season may impact these forecasts.

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Gatwick adds that it doesn’t plan any “further moderation of flying programmes”, having recruited over 400 new security staff to reduce delays. Back in June, it cut its summer capacity to avoid the last-minute cancellations that wrecked some holidays over the Jubilee and half-term break.

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Stewart Wingate, chief executive officer of Gatwick Airport said demand has ‘bounced back’:

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n

“We still have some considerable way to go, but strong demand has fast-tracked Gatwick’s recovery from the pandemic, particularly in the last quarter since all UK travel restrictions were removed. Air traffic volumes have reflected this strong passenger demand and have bounced back to around 75% of pre-COVID levels.

n

“The unprecedented growth in traffic lead to short term operational issues in June, however our decisive early action to limit the airport’s capacity in the crucial school holiday period of July and August has ensured passengers have experienced reliable flight timetables over the summer months.

n

We are now very much operating business as usual and do not see any reason to extend the capacity declaration.”

n
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John Healey MP, the UK’s shadow defence secretary, has warned the country is facing “economic warfare”, with the energy crisis linked to the war in Ukraine.

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He told LBC that the surge in energy prices is partly caused by the “economic warfare that Russia has been waging on Europe.”

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Healey explained:

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n

“It’s no coincidence that in the year before they invaded Ukraine, they cut the supply of gas to Europe over those 12 months by half - forcing up prices, putting on pressure and it’s part of what military specialists would say [is] a form of hybrid warfare and aggression.”

n
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The opposition Labour Party are also calling for Britain’s price cap to be frozen over the winter, rather than be lifted by an estimated 80% in October.

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Healey said:

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n

“People are facing a winter emergency crisis over the next six months ... the crisis is immediate, the need for action is urgent, and we’ve said we would freeze it over the winter so that we would stop the energy price cap rising as it will be announced on Friday.

n
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The UK’s National Grid has doubled the size of its regular emergency planning drill, at a time when fears of energy supply shortages are rising.

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The emergency gas shortage planning exercise, in which various scenarious including electricity rationing are war-gamed, will run for four days instead of the usual two, the BBC reports this morning.

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Here’s the details:

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n

The government insists there is no risk to UK energy supplies and consumers should not panic.

n

But industry say ministers need to do more to secure supplies this winter.

n

The National Grid exercise, which gets under way next month, will involve government agencies, regulators, lobby groups and major energy firms.

n

Called Exercise Degree, it will simulate scenarios in which a loss of gas supply triggers an emergency situation for the UK’s energy system.

n
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The BBC also reports that business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng does not appear to have sought any advice from government officials on the possibility of rationing energy - a BBC Freedom of Information request found he had not done so before the end of June.

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Sterling is also under pressure against the US dollar this morning.

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The pound has dropped by almost half a cent to $1.172 against the dollar, the weakest since March 2020 (when the Covid-19 pandemic rocked global markets).

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Britain’s surging energy costs and weakening economy have weighed on the pound, with families facing rocketing energy bills.

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As Jane Foley, head of FX strategy at Rabobank in London, explained yesterday:

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n

“The weak UK growth outlook continues to weigh on the pound. News that Ofgem is set to announce on Friday that UK average annual household energy bills are likely to rise to more than £3,500 pounds reinforces the headwinds facing consumers.”

n
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European gas prices are being driven higher by concerns over supplies from Russia (Gazprom has cut flows through Nord Stream 1 pipeline this summer), and also rising demand.

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On the latter point, James Huckstepp, head of EMEA gas analytics at S&P Global Commodity Insights, explains:

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n

The recent hot, dry, and relatively still (non-windy) weather is as bullish as it gets for summer gas demand.

n

This translates to high air-conditioning load, low hydro-generation (along with other nuclear and coal fired generation issues that come along with low-river levels), and then relatively low wind generation.

n

Regarding price-driven demand destruction—although it is visible both in the data and anecdotally—this may have plateaued for the time being.

n
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European natural gas prices hit new record high","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Tue 23 Aug 2022 15.56 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Tue 23 Aug 2022 07.36 BST"},{"id":"630462808f087a97c2720c41","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

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

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The euro has sunk to a fresh two-decade low as surging gas prices fuel concerns over the eurozone economy.

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The single currency has dropped as low as $0.991 against the US dollar this morning, its weakest point since 2002, as fears of a European recession and more aggressive US interest rate rises both rattle the markets.

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The euro came under renewed pressure as wholesale energy prices rocketed on Monday, after Russia announced it would halt natural gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for three days at the end of the month, for maintenance.

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Last night, the benchmark European gas price settled at its highest closing price on record, having surged during August on fears that Moscow is squeezing energy supplies.

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Europe’s benchmark electricity price jumped more than 25% on Monday to pass €700 per megawatt-hour for the first time, around 14 times the seasonal average over the past five years.

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Jim Reid of Deutsche Bank told clients that the energy crisis had intensified.

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Starting in Europe, the energy crisis intensified yet further, after news over the weekend that Nord Stream would be shut for maintenance at the end of the month introduced fresh fears it would not re-open.

n

European natural gas prices ratcheted +14.59% higher to €280/MWH, a record high. German power prices surged +18.60% to another record as well, closing at €663 and breaching €700/MWH intraday for the first time ever.

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This summer’s heatwaves have already strained Europe’s energy supplies. Such high prices will hurt households badly, while disruption during the winter months could be devastating for business activity.

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Tapas Strickland, a director of economics at National Australia Bank, says:

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“Europe’s dire energy situation suggests the peak of inflation is not here yet and the risk remains that high inflation is sticky for longer without further aggressive central bank action.

n

“No surprise then to see the dollar at near multi-decade highs against a falling euro and British pound.”

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While energy shortage fears hit the euro, the dollar is in demand. Traders are anticipating the Federal Reserve will continue to lift US interest rates to battle inflation, despite the slowdown in the global economy.

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Wall Street saw its worst day since June last night, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 2% as the summer rally fizzled out.

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Also coming up today

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The latest surveys of purchasing managers across Europe will show the damage caused by soaring energy prices and extreme weather this summer, including low water levels on the Rhine.

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August’s flash purchasing managers surveys are expected to show that eurozone factories shrank again this month, while the services sector struggled.

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Michael Hewson of CMC Markets has the details:

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n

Surging energy prices, along with sharply declining water levels on the Rhine have cut the rug out from the manufacturing sector in Germany with today’s August flash PMI expected to see a further decline from 49.3 to 48, while services activity is also expected to slip further from 49.7 to 49.

n

In France the picture isn’t any better, although the services sector is benefitting from a bit of a tourism boost, however the forest fires could well pull economic activity here down quite a lot more. In manufacturing economic activity is likely to slip to 49, from 49.5, while services could slip from 53.2 by a lot more than the 53 that is currently being forecast.

n
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In the UK, the picture is slightly better, but the PMI survey could show a slowdown in growth.

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n

With August being a slow period due to holidays, we could well start to see economic activity on the PMI level start to slide into contraction territory, from 52.1 for manufacturing in July and from 52.6 for services in July.

n
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The agenda

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    n
  • 9am BST: Eurozone flash manufacturing and services PMI survey for August

  • n
  • 9.30am BST: UK flash manufacturing and services PMI survey for August

  • n
  • 11am BST: CBI survey of industrial trends

  • n
  • 2.45pm BST: US flash manufacturing and services PMI survey for August

  • n
  • 3pm BST: Eurozone consumer confidence survey for August

  • n
  • 3pm BST: US new home sales for July

  • n
","elementId":"46583b01-ca5f-4807-8362-6b42053c8980"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1661236612000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"07.36 BST","blockLastUpdated":1661237585000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"07.53 BST","blockFirstPublished":1661236612000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"07.36 BST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"07.36","title":"Introduction: euro at two-decade low","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Tue 23 Aug 2022 15.56 BST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Tue 23 Aug 2022 07.36 BST"}],"filterKeyEvents":false,"format":{"display":0,"theme":0,"design":11},"id":"key-events-carousel-mobile"}">

Key events

A late PS: New home sales in the United States fell in July for the sixth time this year, at the slowest rate since the start of 2016. Another sign of slowing growth…

Summary of the afternoon

It’s time to wrap up, after a day of disappointing economic data and warnings that the UK and Europe face a dark winter as an energy crisis.

The collapse in UK factory activity shows the UK economy remains weak, while there have been outright contractions this month in the US, eurozone, Australia and in Japan.

Recession fears are rising on both sides of the Atlantic, a day after gas prices in Europe closed at record highs, pushing the euro below parity with the US dollar.

And with global trade stagnating, with JP Morgan predicting the pound could fall to $1.14, and pubs and brewers pleading for help with energy bills, there’s cause for concern.

Here are today’s top stories:

Richard Partington

The Bank of England could be forced to raise interest rates to 4% as early as next year to tackle soaring inflation, despite the growing risk of recession amid the cost of living crisis .

Traders in the city are betting the central bank will more than double the cost of borrowing by 1.75% in response to inflation at the highest level in more than 40 years.

In a context that will put renewed pressure on mortgage creditors, the Bank’s key rate should reach 4% by May 2023, according to the implicit trajectory of financial markets.

Here is the full story:

A key mortgage rate has already reached 4% for the first time in nine years, as we reported yesterday.

Financial data provider Moneyfacts said the new two-year average fixed rate had risen 0.14% since the start of this month and now stands at 4.09%.

Global trade growth is also stagnating, according to the latest data from the World Trade Organization.

Its global goods barometer came in at 100.0 points, showing that trade in goods is stable.

The WTO says the reading suggests that:

… global trade in goods continued to grow in the second quarter of 2022, but the pace of growth was slower than in the first quarter and is expected to remain weak in the second half.

WTO World Trade Indicator
WTO World Trade Indicator Photography: WTO

Oh oh. The US PMI composite production index signals a drop in production and falls to a 27-month low. The reduction in output was widespread, with output falling in both manufacturing and services. Much worse than expected. pic.twitter.com/vy4m1vNMRW

—Mark Magill (@MarkMagill1982) August 23, 2022

The US dollar was hit by the surprise drop in US business activity this month:

This brought the euro back towards parity with the dollar, and the pound gained 0.8 cents to $1.184.

Today’s US services sector PMI report is weaker than expected:

The drop in the S&P Global composite PMI for the United States to 45.0 in August, from 47.7, leaves it at a level consistent with a deep recession.

So says Paul Ashworth, Chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, who explains:

Based on the historical relationship, he suggests that GDP should contract at an annualized rate of 3%.

Ashworth also sees signs of “disinflationary pressure”:

Both the supplier lead time and finished product inventory indices hit 21-month highs, while the input price index hit a 19-month low.

US private sector output falls at fastest rate since 2020

Ouch. U.S. private sector output fell at a faster pace this month as U.S. service companies were hit by weak customer demand.

U.S. corporate output fell at the fastest pace since May 2020 in August, according to S&P Global’s Flash Survey of Purchasing Managers.

The reduction in production was widespread, with manufacturers and service providers seeing a drop in activity. Firms in the service sector recorded the steepest rate of decline as activity fell sharply, while goods producers recorded a modest decline in output.

Companies have been hit with a range of problems – from material shortages and delays in delivery to recent US interest rate hikes and severe inflationary pressures that have weighed on customer demand.

This brought the Flash US PMI Composite Output Index headline down to just 45.0 in August, down from 47.7 in July.

This shows the second consecutive monthly decline in total business activity.

The services sector was remarkably weak, with its PMI falling to just 44.1 (50 would indicate stagnation).

Whoa… S&P Services PMI – plummets… to 44.1 – deep in contraction territory – And why is it a problem? B/c – the US economy is 75% SERVICES. Capisce?

— Kenny Polcari (@KennyPolcari) August 23, 2022

PMI report shows ‘more disconcerting signs’ for health of US private sector, says Sian Jonessenior economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence:

Demand conditions deteriorated again, driven by rising interest rates and strong inflationary pressures on customer spending, which weighed on activity.

Gathering clouds spread across the private sector as new services orders slipped back into contractionary territory, reflecting subdued demand conditions seen in their manufacturing counterparts.

Excluding the period between March and May 2020, the fall in total production was the largest observed since the start of the series almost 13 years ago.

Falling new order intake and continued efforts to rein in spending led to the weakest employment gain in nearly a year. Reports of difficulties in finding suitable candidates began to be countered with companies noting that voluntary redundancies would not be replaced immediately due to uncertainty over demand over the next few months.

The euro against the US dollar since 2000

UK energy crisis could push pound to $1.14, warns JPMorgan

The UK’s energy crisis could push the pound towards the 35-year lows seen at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, analysts fear.

JPMorgan Private Bank has predicted the pound could fall as low as $1.14, a level briefly seen as the UK heads into its first lockdown.

Bloomberg has the story:

Already down 13% against the greenback so far this year, Britain’s currency is beginning to reflect fears that rising gas prices will stoke inflation as economic growth contracts, Sam said. Zief, head of global currency strategy at JPMorgan Private Bank.

A pound at $1.14 is “absolutely within reach if gas prices keep doing what they are doing,” Zief said in an interview.

Soaring inflation, already above double digits, will hit UK household finances, while the threat of shortages could slow economic activity, with factories already struggling this month.

The British pound hit its lowest level since March 2020 this morning, below $1.18 against the US dollar.

On March 20, 2020, it fell just above $1.14 as the pandemic fueled a run in the US dollar. This is the lowest level since the mid-1980s.

The pound against the US dollar since the 1980s
The pound against the US dollar since the 1980s Photography: Refinitiv

Wall Street opened cautiously, with major indexes fairly flat.

DOW JONES DOWN 30.41 POINTS, OR 0.09 PER CENT, TO 33,033.20 AFTER MARKET OPEN

S&P 500 DOWN 0.19 POINT, OR -0.00 PER CENT, TO 4,137.80 AFTER MARKET OPEN

NASDAQ UP 12.76 POINTS, OR 0.10 PER CENT, TO 12,394.33 AFTER THE MARKET OPEN

— OBR Investment (@obrinvesting) August 23, 2022

Investors are waiting to hear from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday at the Jackson Hole economic symposium. Powell could take a hawkish line on inflation and reiterate the Fed’s determination to keep raising interest rates to cool prices.

Shares are down in London today, with the blue-chip FTSE 100 down 46 points or 0.6% at 7487.

A Macy's department store in Doral, Florida.
A Macy’s department store in Doral, Florida. Photograph: Wilfredo Lee/AP

U.S. department store chain Macy’s has downgraded its outlook for the year as it prepares to cut consumer spending, leaving it with a glut of unsold inventory.

Macy’s beat Wall Street forecasts for revenue and profit last quarter, but also lowered its forecast for the full year.

The company fears that consumer spending on discretionary items like clothing could weaken as high inflation hits household budgets.

“The consumer is not as healthy as in previous quarters,” Chief Financial Officer Adrian Mitchell told analysts on a conference call.

“We saw lower retail traffic in areas where apparel sales are weakening during the quarter as the consumer faces higher costs for essential goods, particularly groceries.”

https://t.co/8tv8iuP9Fn

— CNBC (@CNBC) August 23, 2022n","url":"https://twitter.com/CNBC/status/1562031609527910400","id":"1562031609527910400","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"58148516-05f4-4f2e-8b62-1ed000f1d7d6"}}'>

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