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US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Benchmark S&P 500 index pushes into record territory again for first time since late July
Sterling strengthens very slightly as EU leaders confirm Brexit extension
FTSE muted asHSBC profits slumpfollowing weak performances in the UK, US and Europe
In detail:Can rudderless HSBC steer a path through jobs cuts, infighting and Hong Kong chaos?
MPs demand crackdown to stop more online banking failures causing chaos for millions
Roger Bootle:Investors should shun the star factor
4:52PM
FTSE inches its way to end higher despite HSBC pull
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Credit:
Bloomberg TV
Despite a lot of drag from HSBC, and some added pressure from a rising pound, the FTSE 100 closed up marginally.
It was a pretty weak day across European equities despite positive noises from the US on the trade-war front.
Incremental gains have been accumulating for Germanys DAX, however, which is up a chunky 4.13pc so far this month not bad, given the country is almost certainly in a recession (more on that in a couple of weeks).
In the US, with nowhere else to go, US stocks sleepwalked to new record highs, with Donald Trumps claims of an imminent trade deal and hopes of further rate cuts from the Federal Reserve putting enough fire under the index to push it forward.
Thats all for today. Tomorrow, a week of big corporate earnings in the UK will continue with results from oil giant BP. Join me then for the latest news, reactions and analysis!
4:37PM
AT&T unveils action plan after activist pressure
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

AT&T owns Time Warner, which owns HBO, which made hit show Chernobyl

Credit:
HBO/Liam Daniel
Yet more US goodness. My colleague Hannah Boland reports:

AT&T has bowed to pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, unveiling a three-year action plan which could see it sell as much as $10bn (?7.8bn) of assets.
Elliott, which has a $3.2bn stake in AT&T, has been pushing for changes at the business, which it suggested had become bloated after a $80bn takeover of Time Warner, the owner of HBO makers of hit TV series Chernobyl and CNN.
AT&T yesterday said it would be conducting a review of its portfolio, add new directors to its board, and pledged to split the chief executive and chairman roles once Randall Stephenson steps down from both. It said this would not happen until at least 2020.
Technology intelligence - newsletter promo - EOA
4:18PM
Exit the Draghi (Part II)
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Heres an instrument you can use with your hands tied

Credit:
BORIS ROESSLER/DPA
After an emotional (for the reporters at least) farewell on Thursday, Mario Draghi received his official ECB send-off today, as he hands over the central banks top job to Christine Lagarde.
Gifting Ms Lagarde a bell as a symbolic baton pass, the Italian made a final appeal for governments to take fiscal action to stimulate their economies a cry likely to be taken up by his successor.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian President Sergio Matterella all attended topraiseMr Draghi.
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

For the last time Mario, I am not going to ditch the debt brake now please stop talking over the speakers.

Credit:
ECB-POLICY/DRAGHI FAREWELL
4:10PM
Fitbit shares temporarily frozen due to volatility after takeover report
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Fitbit is one of the most popular wearable tech brands

Credit:
Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg
More American flavour for the live blog Reuters reports that google has made a bid to buy wearable device maker Fitbit. That has sent shares in the firm soaring jumping as high as 40pc before being frozen. They have now resumed, and are up about 30pc currently. Over to Reuters...

Google owner Alphabet Inc has made an offer to acquire U.S. wearable device makerFitbit, as it eyes a slice of the crowded market for fitness trackers and smartwatches, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
While Google has joined other major technology companies such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in developing smart phones, it has yet to develop any wearable offerings.
There is no certainty that the negotiations between Google andFitbitwill lead to any deal, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. The exact price that Google has offered forFitbitcould not be learned.
Google andFitbitdeclined to comment.
How it works | Fitbit
4:00PM
Boosters set: Bransons Virgin Galactic finds some lift on first day of trading
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

SirRichard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic

Credit:
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP
Over on Wall Street, where they are presumably celebrating the fresh advance into record territory, Sir Richard Bransons Virgin Galacticventure is undergoing its first day of trading.
Things seem fairly healthy so far for the space tourism company, with shares up about 4pc currently.
Heres our latest on the firm:Richard BransonsVirgin Galactic plots move into flying cars
The float comes amid a tough season for IPOs, with investors especially nervous after the implosion of WeWork last month.
Correction: Apologies, I initial said Virgin Atlantic in this post it is, of course, Virgin Galactic.
3:31PM
Special report: The electric-car revolution
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Electric cars are here to stay
Electric dreams
All this week, our reporters will be bringing you a series of special reports on electric cars: surveying the state of the industry, the big players and the challenges that lie ahead.
In the first part of the series, released today, Industry Editor Alan Tovey and tech reporter Olivia Rudgardhave taken a broad look at the big picture for the industry, starting with Tesla and sweeping over the rest of the world:
Is the world ready for EV revolution? 1
They write:

It has taken decades and hundreds of billions of dollars of investment from the worlds biggest car companies, but the age of mass electric motoring is finally dawning.
Although most experts believe the internal combustion engine will continue to dominate globally for some time to come, from Beijing to Bristol and Boston, sales of EVs are racing higher.
It is possible the switch could happen faster than some have predicted. Is the world ready?
Read their full report here:Special report: The age of mass electric motoring is here. But is the world ready?
Electric car revolution | Read more
3:12PM
Round-up: Big Four sew up FTSE 100 audits, Ferrexpo chief steps down, Boots sales drop
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Every company in the FTSE 100 has a Big Four firm looking after its books

Credit:
WayneH / SplashNews.com
Here are full reports on some of stories weve covered today:
Every FTSE 100 company is audited by a Big Four firm, research shows:Every blue chip British company is now audited by one of the scandal-hit Big Four accountants, regulators have revealed sparking demands for a sweeping shake-up.
Ferrexpo chief executive steps down to resolvelegal issues:Ukrainian billionaire Kostyantin Zhevago will temporarily step down as chief executive of Ferrexpo, the iron miner said, amid concerns about corporate governance.
Boots sales drop as it struggles with tough High Street trading conditions:Bootssales have fallen further in the UK as it struggles with brutal conditions on the high street and lower funding from the NHS, which impacts its prescriptions.
Investor newsletter REFERRAL (article)
3:00PM
Upwards curve
During Augusts stock-market bloodletting, the inverted two-year/ten-year yield curve on US bonds (meaning it was, against all market logic, temporarily better to hold short-term than long-term debt) was the wailing siren.
But after dipping its toes into inverted territory, the US market has pulled back somewhat, with its price recovery coming alongside the markets wider comeback.
Heres how that change has looked:
2:36PM
S&P record reaction: Risk wins
Reacting to that new S&P 500 price record, Markets.coms Neil Wilson writes:

Its a remarkable achievement against falteringcorporateearnings, a festering (if not quite total) trade war, and softer macro data everywhere you look. Bulls had tried their hardest Friday butsomereally positivenoises on trade nudged us over the line today.President Trump said the US and China are looking to be ahead of schedule on sign the phase one trade deal at the APECmeeting in Chile in mid-Nov. The bar on a US-China trade deal had been set so low that the market seems content with this pretty puny agreement. At least the direction is positive.
Although earnings are softer, weve seen a beat rate of about 75pc of those S&P 500 stocks reporting so far.Weve also got the Fed carrying out stealth QE in the shape of these overnight repointerventions, which it beefed up last week and increasingly dont look very temporary.When you have unlimited liquidity and can bank on the Fed coming to the rescue, risk wins.
2:33PM
Antofagasta climbs as copper price rises
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Aerial view of a copper mine in Chile

Credit:
DigitalGlobe/Getty Images Contributor
Chile-focused copper miner Antofagasta is the biggest riser on the FTSE 100 today, up 3.47pc as the price of copper which has been lingering at two-year lows increases on trade-war hopes.
The price of copper is up about 0.8pc currently, as hopes rise among investors that global demand for the metal will increase as trade tensions wane.
However, in worse news for the mining group, anti-government protestors have blockaded roads in northern Chile, including one that leads to an Antofagasta site.
2:23PM
Heres how US stock markets have performed in recent months
Deep losses in August have now been recovered.
2:11PM
Labour plans to abstain election vote, putting Government on course for defeat
Tweet just in:
NEW: Meeting of Labour shadow cabinet has just broken up. One member tells me they agreed to abstain on the election motion tonight.
But what about Lib Dem/SNP option? Gather it was discussed at length. Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) October 28, 2019
That means the Government will almostcertainly be unable to get the two-thirds majority it needs to have a new General Election ballot approved by Parliament today. Tomorrow, instead, may be the crunch day (how many of those have there been now?).
Brexit latest news: Boris Johnson to introduce almost identical bill to one put forward by Lib Dems and SNP if tonights vote fails
1:58PM
Has Wall Street shaken off its summertime blues?
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

US stocks had a poor August amid global trade worries

Credit:
AA World Travel Library / Alamy
With todays lift, US stocks look set to finally hold over their previous record high set on July 26,shortly before the August bloodbath began.
Then, fears of an economic recession prompted by trade war worries and the inversion of the US yield curve sent investors fleeing from equities, results in deep sell-offs.
Since then, the index has undergone a steady recovery to where it stands today. Recent earnings data has been a particular boon, with most companies beating expectations for their earnings in the third quarter.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq has joined the S&P at an all-time high.
Saxo Banks Peter Garnry said the continued growth of stock prices may show investors are simply unsure where else to put their money amid dwindling bond yields. He wrote:

While the earnings season has been better than expected it has been on a rather cheap backdrop given expectations are implying negative growth and the macro numbers are still negative. Nothing suggests that equities should be close to new highs.

Investors may be being strung along by hopes of a further cut to US interest rates, expected to be announced by the Federal Reserve this Wednesday. Mr Trump has been calling for deep cuts, but 0.25pc is what markets are currently expecting.
The next few quarters promise to be very interesting, with questions around central bank policy, politics and trade, and many stock markets at local highs, Barclays analysts said in a note last month. Few assets strike us as compellingly cheap; investors will need to be nimble to eke out returns.
Economic Intelligence newsletter SUBSCRIBER (article)
1:44PM
S&P hits record high as Trump says trade deal with China will be ahead of schedule
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York

Credit:
BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS
Over in the US, where stock markets opened a few minutes ago, the benchmark S&P 500 has hit a record high which is touched on Friday but failed to hold.
Investors cheered strong corporate earnings results, and fresh hopes of progress on US-China trade.
Speaking to reporters earlier today, US President Donald Trump said the two sides were close to a deal.
We are looking probably to be ahead of schedule to sign a very big portion of the China deal, well call it Phase One but its a very big portion,he said.
The President is clearly happy:
The S&P just hit an ALL TIME HIGH. This is a big win for jobs, 401-Ks, and, frankly, EVERYONE! Our Country is doing great. Even killed long sought ISIS murderer, Al-Baghdadi. We are stronger than ever before, with GREAT upward potential. Enjoy! Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2019
1:32PM
Ferrexpo falls as boss steps back
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Ferrexpo shares are down just over 3pc
Shares in scandal-hit iron miner Ferrexpo are down just over 3pc currently, putting it among the bigger fallers on the mid-cap FTSE 250.
Kostyantin Zhevago, the companys billionaire boss, has said he will temporarily step down from company while an investigation into a bank he used to own is resolved.
Chris Mawe, currently chief financial officer of the group, will take over as acting CEO.
Non-executive Chairman Steve Lucas said:

The board, including Mr Zhevago, believes that this temporary change of leadership is necessary and in the interests of all shareholders to enable Mr Zhevago to focus on on-going matters in Ukraine without impacting the companys operations. Mr Zhevago continues to have the full support of the board.
Ukrainian investigators are thought to be probing claims Mr Zhevago embezzled funds from Finance & Credit JSC, a bank that he owned until 2015.
The chief executive denied any wrongdoing in a stock exchange notice earlier this month, after reports of prosecutors interest in him surfaced on Facebook.
Heres ourlatest on the story:Ukrainian investigators seek to add billionaire Ferrexpo boss to international wanted list
1:27PM
Round-up: Just Eat shareholder criticises bid, HSBC may axe more jobs, Spotify finance chief quits
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Spotifysshares have fallen about a fifth in the past three month

Credit:
LightRocket/SOPA Images
Here are some of the days top stories:
Just Eats major shareholder alleges foul play behind Prosus bid:Just Eats bidding war has been engulfed by a row between an aggressive US hedge fund and takeaway rival Delivery Hero.
HSBC may axe even more than 10,000 jobs as profits slide:HSBC, which is preparing to cut thousands of jobs, has admitted that its previous restructuring plans are "no longer sufficient" after a difficult few months.
Music stops for Spotify finance chief as subscriber total soars:Spotify's chief financial officer has announced he is leaving early next year as the music streaming company bemoaned a slump in its share price.
Business Briefing Newsletter REFERRAL (Article)
12:24PM
Full report: Tiffany share price jumps as LMVH confirms approach
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Actress Audrey Hepburn during the filming of the movie adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffanys

Credit:
Donaldson Collection/Moviepix
We have a full report up on LVMH confirming its offer for jewellery company Tiffany. Heres an extract:

LVMH confirmed it has held discussions with Tiffany about a takeover that would expand the Louis Vuitton owners luxury empire and be Bernard Arnaults biggest takeover.
The French luxury conglomerate confirmed the talks after Bloomberg reported that LVMH has offered about $14.5bn, or $120 a share, which would be 22pc more than the October 25 closing price. Tiffany shares surged 29pc to $117.50 in premarket trading in New York on Monday.
There is no assurance that the "preliminary" discussions will result in any agreement, LVMH said.
A deal for the US jeweller would expand the French companys access to American luxury consumers and hand it an iconic 182-year-old brand known for its robins egg blue boxes and its role as a favorite haunt of Holly Golightly in Truman Capotes novel Breakfast at Tiffanys.
Read more here:Tiffany shares sparkle as LVMH confirms takeover approach
12:18PM
BBC: EY branded export of smuggled gold documentary irregularity
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

The BBC says EY watered down reports of gold smuggling

Credit:
The Royal Mint/PA
Accountancy giant EY covered up evidence of smuggling by a gang laundering drug money from the UK, the BBC has reported.
A report ahead of tonights Panorama says the audit firm recorded the illegal disguising of gold bars as silver as a case of documentary irregularities. It says:

EY failed to report suspicious activity at one of the world's largest gold refineries and then altered a compliance report to hide the crime.
BBC Panorama found the gang laundered money by selling 3.6 tonnes of gold to the Kaloti refinery in Dubai.
Both EY and Kaloti deny any wrongdoing.

The BBCs full report can be read below:
A @bbcpanorama investigation has revealed how a major accountancy firm covered up evidence of smuggling and laundering of drug money by an organised crime gang. https://t.co/rh3g1MBbkC Panorama ? (@BBCPanorama) October 28, 2019
12:03PM
Boots sales fall slightly
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Sales at Boots fell slightly

Credit:
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Sales at Boots fell slightly over the year to the end of August amid challenging retail conditions.
The beauty and pharmacy chain, which is part of the US-listed Walgreens Boots Alliance, suffered a 2.1pc sales fall, which in pinned on high-street conditions, and a decrease in NHS funding.
Across the group which includes Walgreens, the USs second-biggest pharmacy chain earnings beat estimates, with the company maintaining its short-term estimates but upping its longer-term outlook.
Chief executive Stefano Pessina said:

We are pleased to report fiscal 2019 results in line with our previously stated guidance despite a challenging operating environment.

Among highlights for the fiscal year, Boots pointed to the digitalisation of its Advantage Card, and a 14.4pc increase in web sales.
Boots is in its worst position in decades, facing cuts, staff disquiet and the hangovers from under-investment.
Read retail correspondent Laura Onitas authoritative take on the companys present situation here:Boots: the inside story of a high street giant in crisis
11:53AM
Aston Martin shares sink further as float advisor tells investors to dump shares
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Aston Martin is betting the house on the DBX, its first-ever SUV
Down near the bottom of the FTSE 250 (though not doing quite as badly as Cairn Energy), is Aston Martin Lagonda, shares has seen its share price been gradually eroded since it re-listed last year.
My colleagueAlan Tovey reports:

Embattled Aston Martin has suffered a fresh blow, with one of the banks which underwrote the luxury car makers disastrous float now advising investors to dump the shares.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) cut its rating on Aston from neutral to sell, slashing its target price from 550p to just 400p.
Aston floated a year ago with the shares priced at ?19. However, they have since tumbled after shock profit warnings, heavy losses and a bond sale to help fund the launch of the companys first SUV, the DBX, on which the car maker is effectively betting its future.
BAML analyst Kai Mueller downgraded Aston, saying he expects no underlying improvement in the companys performance.
The analyst also forecast Aston bosses will further downgrade to the companys performance, with profit margin likely to be reduced, adding they see significant increase in financial risk.

Shares in the company are down more than 7pc currently, following the cut:
11:47AM
Tweet: Government could back Lib Dem call for a December 9 General Election
Business Insiders political editor Adam Bienkov tweets:
The government is set to back the Lib Dem bill for a December 9 election if Boris Johnson loses the Commons vote on an election later. Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) October 28, 2019
Thats in line with what we reported earlier positioning the Lib Dem proposals as a Plan B for the PM. The question stands over what extra conditions the Lib Dems could now demand...
11:40AM
Number 10: No decision on Huawei this week
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

The Sunday Times reported the Government was preparing to give Huawei some access to the UKs telecoms network
The UK has not yet made a decision on whether to give controversial Chinese telecoms giant Huawei access to the UKs mobile networks, Number 10 has said.
The Prime Ministers spokesperson James Slack told reports that a decision is still expected during the autumn, but was not yet ready, following a report in yesterdays Sunday Times that said the Government was drawing closer to giving the company access to non-contentious parts of Britains telecoms infrastructure.
The decision is a potential point of contention between the UK and US, where the White House blacklisted Huawei among allegations the company may be effectively spying on US citizens due to Chinese laws that could compel it to share data with Beijing.
Huawei 5G storm | Read more
11:27AM
Burberry shares climb amid LMVH/Tiffany chatter
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Burberry shares are rising as LMVH makes a move for Tiffany

Credit:
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP
Fashion house Burberry is among the biggest risers on a weak-looking FTSE 100 today, up almost 2pc amid speculation over sector rival LMVHs offer for Tiffany (see 8:50am update).
Clearly, there is some feeling from investors that LMVHs interest is a sign of strength in the sector, or that the British company could become subject to future M&A interest.
11:16AM
CBI: Retailer stockpiling has hit a record high
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

A warehouse worker passes stockpiles for the NHS in Wales

Credit:
Ben Birchall/PA
Retailers stockpiles have hit their highest level on record according to the CBI, amid declining sales and Brexit uncertainty.
Stocks in relation to expected sales jumped to a survey record in October with wholesale stocks also spiking. Anecdote suggests that the proximity of the Brexit deadline to Christmas is leading to further stockbuilding in both sectors #DTS https://t.co/FuyEbQnoxF pic.twitter.com/2gYzVW6ksk CBI Economics (@CBI_Economics) October 28, 2019
The business group said:

The latest spike in stock adequacy (the highest since the survey began in 1983) followed another large peak seen in August. A combination of the proximity to Christmas and ongoing Brexit uncertainty is likely to have driven stocks higher, particularly with retailers stocking seasonal products earlier than usual. Notably, the survey did not show a similar spike in retailing stocks ahead of the previous Brexit deadline in March.

Rain Newton-Smith, its chief economist, said:

Retailers have also had to contend with the looming Brexit deadline, which has partly driven a record spike in stocks. The timing could not be worse: the run-up to Christmas is a crucial time of year for the retail sector, and not knowing where we will be on November 1st is adding more strain to an already beleaguered sector.
City Intelligence newsletter (SUBSCRIBER) Article
10:56AM
Big Four auditors step up fee income despite scandals
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

One of EYs offices on the south bank of the Thames

Credit:
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Despite a series of scandals hitting the sector over the past couple of years, the Big Four audit firms Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC managed to increase their fee income as rivals waned.
The Financial Reporting Council, the UKs audit watchdog, has released its latest report into the audit profession today, detailing a variety of figures including fee income breakdown and growth comparisons.
The FRC found:
The Big Four firms continued to see an increase (4.7pc) in their total fee income; however, the rate of growth has fallen compared to 2016/17. Firms outside the Big Four saw a decline in their total fee income (-8.1pc) compared to a 2.4pcincrease in 2016/17
Fees for non-audit work to audit clients for Big Four and non-Big Four firms experienced a decline by 8.4pcand 2.3pcrespectively from 2017 to 2018
Audit fee income for Big Four firms increased by 1.7pc from 2017 to 2018 compared to 5.7pc from 2016 to 2017. Audit fee income for audit firms outside the Big Four decreased by 6.3pc from 2017 to 2018 compared to a 3.0pc increase from 2016 to 2017
Their data shows that that audit is slowly waning as a proportion of the Big Fours fee income, as services such as consultancy take up an ever-greater share.
The numbers, which run up to the end of 2018, do not reflect moves taken by some of the accountancy giants to reduce or completely stop the selling of additional advice to audit clients, following criticism from MPs.
The report suggests the Big Four have managed to increase their earnings across most sector, even as their smaller rivals struggle:
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Credit:
FRC
10:31AM
Brexit extension: Small businesses trapped by more uncertainty
Reacting to the EUs confirmation of a flextension, the Federation of Small BusinessesMike Cherry says:

There will be a collective sigh of relief from small businesses that a no-deal Brexit in three daystime has been avoided. However, they will find themselves trapped by more uncertainty as Westminster fails to move beyond Brexit.
For many small firms, extensions are doubled-edged swords yes they safeguard against the damage of a no-deal Brexit but they also prolong uncertainty without actually removing the potential of a no-deal further down the road. A proper transition period remains small firms top ask, ideally for two years. This will give small businesses enough time to prepare for whatever changes are to come.
These firms have been starved of certainty, battering down the hatches for a potential no-deal that would have harmed nearly 40 per cent of our members. All this has done is cause them to stop making business decisions. They have stopped hiring staff, theyve stopped investing and theyve stopped growing.

He said MPs must use the extended time in a meaningful way to end the Brexit deadlock.
Brexit deal - for Business | Read more
10:26AM
Cairn energy shares plunge after it abandons Mexican well
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Cairn Energy shares have dropped sharply this morning
Shares in Cairn Energy are down more than 16pc, on course for their worst day since the height of the financial crisis, after the oil explorer said it was abandoning a well in Mexico.
TheFTSE 250 company said of its Atom 1 offshore operations in Mexico:

The objectives were found to be dry and the well will now be permanently plugged and abandoned.

Cairn also said a ruling on its arbitration against India overretrospective taxation was expected by next year, later than previously anticipated. It is seeking full restitution for losses of over $1.4bn.
10:05AM
Brexit vote: What lies ahead
The debate on the Governments attempt to trigger a General Election on December 12 the proposal under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act will kick off at 3:30pm, and is expected to finish up by 5pm (at which point MPs will vote), meaning stock markets will be closed by the time we know the results.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Latest columns
The vote is still broadly expected to fail: because a two-thirds majority of MPs (434 to be precise) is needed, support from the Labour Party would be required.
Explained: The pros and cons of the rival Parliamentary moves to force a December general election
Labour said it was waiting for confirmation of an extension before it could back calls for a new vote, so theoretically could offer its support tonight. However, senior figures within the party have also said they want more assurances that a no-deal Brexit will not be able to occur during the flextension period.
9:49AM
Sterling shifts slightly as extension is agreed
The announcement of a confirmed extension has pushed up the pound slightly, but it is being volatile within a very small range and has actually been higher earlier this morning. Traders are likely bracing for further uncertainty.
9:46AM
Extension sets stage for new Westminster showdown
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has said she would support a one-page bill calling for a December election

Credit:
Jonathan Brady/PA
With the EU backing an extension of Article 50 until January 31 unless a Brexit deal can be agreed by then the stage is now set for a General Election at some point in December, if Boris Johnson can secure backing from enough MPs.
Questions raised:
1. Will the LibDems and SNP still back their own plan for a Dec 9 election, given that it was conditional on Britain not being able to leave EU before Jan 31?
2. Will Labour now back an election, as they said they would once an extension was granted? Gordon Rayner (@gordonrayner) October 28, 2019
My colleague Danielle Sheridan reports:

The EU 27 Ambassadors will meet in Brussels from 9am this morning to discuss the extension, although itis possible they will hold off on the green light until tomorrow, in order to see what happenswith tonight's Westminster motion vote.
It is anticipated MrJohnson willfail to secure the support he needs for a December general election, due to Labours lack of support for the proposal.
However the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Partyhave offered Mr Johnson a way out of the deadlock.
Follow live here:Brexit latest news: EU agrees Brexit flextension in major boost to Boris Johnsons hopes of securing Christmas election
Lets focus in on the Liberal Democrats for a second. The big political story of the weekend is that the party alongside the SNP has suggested it could back an act of Parliament calling for a December 9 General Election, thereby circumnavigating the supermajority needed to trigger a ballot under the Fixed-TermParliaments Act.
The current state of the House of Commons
Read more here:Liberal Democrats offer Boris Johnson route to an election
There are several questions that remain (no pun intended) however: no least, whether the Lib Dems would make their support contingent upon certain amendments to the bill, likely to include a second referendum on Brexit itself.
The decision also means that Boris Johnson has almost certainly failed on his signature promise to leave the EU by the end of October.
UK will not be leaving the EU on October 31. Extension granted until Jan 31. This is the third delay to Brexit. Two under Theresa May (March 29, April 12). One under Boris Johnson (Do or die on Halloween) https://t.co/oZSeJ3fVUv Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) October 28, 2019
But expect that we will see the Prime Minister today somewhere, but not actually in a ditch, despite his earlier promises to the contrary Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) October 28, 2019
9:28AM
Tusk: Brexit flextension until end of January
Just in from the president of the European Council:
The EU27 has agreed that it will accept the UK's request for a #Brexit flextension until 31 January 2020. The decision is expected to be formalised through a written procedure. Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) October 28, 2019
That is a major announcement ahead of a crunch vote in Parliament later today on a General Election.
Election/Brexit timeline as of 24/10
More follows...
9:26AM
How HSBCs profit before tax has fluctuated
Illustrating just how bad the horror show fourth quarter of 2018 was...
9:13AM
HSBC: The five key numbers
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

The company said its performance in Hong Kong had been resilient despite protests

Credit:
JORGE SILVA/REUTERS
These are the most important numbers from HSBCs third-quarter results:
Net profit fell 24pc to $2.97bn
Revenues fell 3.2pc to $13.35bn
The lenders return on tangible equity (a measure of how profitable to the bank is) was 6.4pc in the third quarter, versus 10.9pc a year ago
Profit before tax in Asia rose 4pc to $4.7bn
Operating expenses rose by 2pc
9:06AM
HSBC shares set for biggest fall since February
Shares in HSBC has fallen as much as 4.2pc this morning, and are currently down about 3.8pc putting the bank on track for its worst session since February, when trade war pressure pushed it to a set of results labelled a horror show by analysts.
Read our coverage from then:Trade war fears weigh on banking giant HSBC in horror showresults
The drop that day was a touch over 4pc. If todays losses surpass that, the next biggest fall was back in February 2017, when the company also revealed a profit slump:
From 2017:HSBC faces FCA probe into anti-money laundering controls as profits plunge
8:50AM
LVMH confirms takeover talks for Tiffany
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Pedestrians pass the Tiffany & Co. store on Fifth Avenue in New York

Credit:
Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg
LVMH Group, the company behind brands including fashion house Louis Vuitton, Hublot watches and Moet & Chandon champagne has confirmed it is in talks to buy iconic US jeweller Tiffany.
The group, owned by Europes richest man, Bernard Arnault, said there were no assurances talks would result in an agreement.
Reporting on rumours of a potential sale yesterday, my colleague Russell Lynch wrote:

The billionaire Frenchman wants the company famed for its diamond engagement rings to become another addition to the host of upmarket brands owned by LVMH.
The French luxury giant is understood to have approached Tiffany at the start of October with a $14.5bn offer - a premium of about 30pc at the time.
Read more:Louis Vuitton owner aims to put $14bn ring on Tiffany
8:42AM
HSBC: What commentators are saying
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

HSBCs profit fell by almost a quarter
Those HSBC results has made a big splash on the markets today. Heres how market commentators are reacting:
CMC Markets Michael Hewson says:

The latest Q3 numbers from the UKs biggest bank HSBC appear to underline the recent decision by the bank to remove previous CEO John Flint, with the shares dropping sharply on the open, after profits and revenues fell short of expectations in Q3.

Markets.coms Neil Wilson added:

HSBC profits fell by a quarter because of weakness in Britain, Europe and the US. Asia held up ok. HSBC has well-documented exposure to emerging, especially Asian, economies, but its developed markets that are the problem. Profit before tax in Asia was up 4pcwith Hong Kong proving remarkably resilient...
...All this leads to interim boss Noel Quinn to speed up plans to remodel the business, for which read major cost-cutting and retrenchments. Remember Mr Quinn wants the job full time - hes going to be aggressive with this

There should be more detailed notes from analysts landing later in the day, after the bank holds a conference call. Ill bring you some of their thoughts then!
Business Briefing Newsletter REFERRAL (Article)
8:33AM
Weak open for Europe
Not a great start for European stock indices, with the FTSE falling amid a big downwards pull from HSBC and pressure from a slightly-stronger pound.
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

Credit:
Bloomberg TV
HSBCs shares are off about 3pc currently:
8:28AM
Whats gone wrong at HSBC?
The problems begin with the lifts, reports Banking Editor Lucy Burton:

The lengthy morning queues inside HSBCs London headquarters, known by some staff as the Tower of Doom, are so frustrating that when the lenders former investment banking co-head Matthew Westerman joined in 2016 he moved his team to a lower floor partly to avoid the wait.
HSBC | Read more
She took a deep-dive look at the state of Europes biggest bank over the weekend, uncovering the staff tensions and strategy disputes that have led to todays weak results.
Read her full piece here:Can rudderless HSBC steer a path through jobs cuts, infighting and Hong Kong chaos?
HSBC chiefs | The last 50 years
8:05AM
HSBC profits plunge
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

HSBC reported a 24pc decline in net profit in the third quarter

Credit:
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP
My colleague Simon Foy has a full report on those HSBC reports. He writes:

Net profit fell by nearly a quarter to $3 billion (?2.3bn) and revenue slipped 3.2pc to $13.4 billion, missing City forecasts.
Mr Quinn, who stood in at the top of the bank in August after the shock ousting of John Flint, said parts of the business, especially Asia, held up well in a challenging environment. But the performance in Europe and the US was not acceptable, he said.
You can read his breaking news report here:HSBC boss says banks performance not acceptableas profits plunge by a quarter
7:26AM
Agenda: Banks under the spotlight over IT failures
US stocks hit record high as Trump says China trade deal is ahead of schedule

HSBCs Hong Kong-listed shares slipped overnight

Credit:
PHILIP FONG/AFP
Good morning. HSBC hasreporteda 24pc plungein net profitforthe three months to September as interim boss Noel Quinn branded the bank'sperformance inEurope and the US as not acceptable.
Elsewhere, the Government will today make a fresh attempt to secure a General Election after MPs rejected the proposed timetable to push through Boris Johnsons EU Withdrawal Agreement.

5 things to start your day


1)Banks should face a regulatory crackdown and higher industry levies to tackle an unacceptable surge in IT failures that have caused chaos for millions of online banking customers, MPs said on Monday.
2)Europes richest man, Bernard Arnault,
See also:
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