Volkswagen (VW)

If the British people take a democratic decision to do something – in this case change the benefit system – they should be able to do so without having the prime minister scuttering around Europe asking permission…

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Democratic decisions on benefits of the EU” was written by Letters, for The Guardian on Tuesday 15th December 2015 19.32 UTC

Zoe Williams misses the point about Cameron’s negotiations with EU member states (There is no master plan. On the EU, Cameron is flailing, 14 December). Restricting benefits to EU migrants may or may not be a sensible, legal or logical way to meet the concerns of people, be they “Ukip-minded” or not. But once our PM had to ask permission to do so, the issue was completely transformed. It is no longer one of EU migrants’ access to benefits, but the far more fundamental question of who decides how British taxpayers’ money is spent. It became a question of national sovereignty. That’s why organisations such Trade Unionists Against the EU are not awaiting the outcome of “negotiations” and are campaigning to get the UK out. The issue is as simple as it is clear: if the British people take a democratic decision to do something – in this case change the benefit system – they should be able to do so without having the prime minister scuttering around Europe asking permission. This will continue to be the case while the UK remains a member of the EU.
Fawzi Ibrahim
Trade Unionists Against the EU

• David Cameron’s negotiations on limiting in-work benefits for EU immigrants appear to have won little support. One simple approach might be to limit levels of benefit to those payable in the country of origin of the European migrant. That would deter those seeking to exploit the system and could disarm politicians in other member states, who would no longer be able to claim that their emigrants were being monetarily disadvantaged. It would leave the fundamental right of freedom of movement untouched.
Ken Daly
Aisholt, Somerset

• Hans Dieter Potsch, the chairman of Volkswagen, glosses over the truth of what his company did to cheat emission tests: it wasn’t a “chain of errors”, it was a chain of liars prepared to sanction a management mindset (VW admits to ‘chain of errors’ at company, 11 December). Or is he not admitting responsibility, even though he is no doubt paid a monstrous salary on the basis of being in charge? This incident just confirms that all companies need active oversight from outside to try and stop such appalling actions. They cannot be trusted any more than managers of banks and other financial groups. This is why we need the EU and strong legislation trying to stop such abuses in companies that think they can do what they like.
David Reed
London

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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German bosses are more optimistic about future prospects but UK factories suffer as exports fall the fastest since 2012. Portuguese government bonds are coming under some pressure today as investors react to the unfolding political crisis…

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Germany shrugs off VW crisis, but UK factory orders slide – business live” was written by Graeme Wearden, for theguardian.com on Monday 26th October 2015 13.26 UTC

Portuguese bonds hit by political crisis

Portuguese government bonds are coming under some pressure today as investors react to the unfolding political crisis in Lisbon.

While most eurozone bonds have strengthened today, Portugal has gone the other way, pushing up the yield (or interest rate) on its 10-year debt from 2.37% to 2.45%.

Portuguese 10-year bond yield
Portuguese 10-year bond yield today Photograph: Thomson Reuters

The move came after opposition parties vowed to bring down Portugal’s new government in a confidence vote later this week. They’re furious that the centre-right coalition, led by former PM Pedro Passos Coelho, has been invited to form another administration despite failing to win a majority in this month’s election.

In taking this decision, Portugal’s president Cavaco Silva has enraged some certain commentators who argue that he’s “banned” the Portuguese left-wing a fair crack at power in a massive failure for democracy.

It’s a complicated situation, though. No party won an overall majority, although Passos Coelho’s group came first with 38% of the vote. The socialists came second with 32% followed by the hard left Left Bloc with 10% and the communists with 7%.

Those three left-wing parties *could* form a majority, but instead president Silva passed the mandate to Passos Coelho. Crucially, and controversially, he also warned that the far-left parties’ anti-EU views were a threat to Portugal.

Politics lecturer Chris Hanretty has written a good blogpost here, explaining why talk of a coup in Portugal is a little simplistic.

He says:

Often, there is no right or obvious answer to the question, “who won the election?”. But if Cavaco Silva’s decision is wrong, then it will be righted automatically by the actions of Parliament in less than a fortnight’s time.

If that happens, the alarmists will have been proven wrong. Unfortunately, attention will likely have moved on.

Sam Tombs of consultancy firm Pantheon Macroeconomic fears that UK factories will continue to struggle because of the strong pound.

He’s created a chart showing how exports fall after the the pound strengthens (the inverted left-hand scale, shifted forwards nine months).

And that correlation means factory orders could continue to weaken, Tombs explains:

The chart shows that the worst is not over for the manufacturing sector; sterling’s further appreciation over the last year will continue to depress export orders until mid-2016, at least.

IHS economist Howard Archer is alarmed by the drop in UK factory orders reported by the CBI:

This is a thoroughly disappointing survey through and through which indicates that manufacturers’ struggles are intensifying as a moderation in domestic demand adds to a still weakening export outlook.

Persistent and seemingly deepening manufacturing weakness is very worrying for hopes that UK growth can ultimately become more balanced and less dependent on the services sector and consumer spending.

Factory fears as UK exports fall at fastest pace since 2012

A turbine at Alstom power plant turbine refurbishment facility in Rugby.
A turbine at Alstom power plant turbine refurbishment facility in Rugby. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

More signs that UK manufacturers are having a tough time as they contend with China’s downturn and a stronger pound.

The latest survey of factory bosses by business group CBI suggests orders have dropped from both within the UK and outside. The report’s key order book balance is the weakest for more than two years.

This does not bode well for official GDP figures due on Tuesday that will give the first snapshot of UK growth in the third quarter. The consensus forecast is for quarterly growth of 0.6% in the July-September period, down from 0.7% in the second quarter, according to a Reuters poll.

The CBI’s report suggests that in the three months to October new export orders fell at the fastest pace in three years. That was possibly down to the continued strength of the pound, which makes UK goods more expensive to overseas buyers, the CBI said.

Total new domestic orders fell over the quarter for the first time since April 2013.

Manufacturing production also edged downwards during the three months to October, marking the first decline in the last two years, according to the CBI Quarterly Industrial Trends Survey.

Against that backdrop, manufacturers’ optimism about both their business situation and export prospects for the year ahead fell at the fastest pace since October 2012, according to the poll of 463 companies. But they predicted that overall manufacturing conditions will stabilise in the next three months, with a small rise in output.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director of economics, says UK manufacturers are being buffeted at home and abroad.

“Manufacturers have been struggling with weak export demand for several months, because of the strength of the pound and subdued global growth. But now they’re also facing pressure back home as domestic demand is easing.”

And here are the key figures from the report:

  • 22% of businesses reported an increase in total new order books and 30% a decrease, giving a balance of -8%, the lowest since October 2012.
  • 20% of businesses reported an increase in domestic orders, with 31% noting a decrease. The balance for domestic orders (-11%) was below the long-run average (-5%), the lowest since April 2013 (-14%).
  • 15% reported an increase in export orders, with 33% signalling a decrease. The resulting balance for export orders (-17%) signalled a faster decrease in orders than the historic average (-7%). This marks the lowest rate since October 2012 (-17%).

Germany’s central bank reckons that the country’s economy remains “quite strong”, despite signs that growth slowed in the last three months.

Peterson leaves Southwark Crown Court in London<br />Magnus Peterson leaves Southwark Crown Court in London October 14, 2014. Magnus Peterson, the founder of the $600 million Weavering hedge fund that collapsed in the wake of the credit crisis in 2009, pleaded not guilty to 16 fraud-related charges at his London trial on Tuesday. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR4A646
Magnus Peterson in 2014. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth / Reuters/REUTERS

Former hedge fund boss Magnus Peterson has just been banned from the City, over one of the biggest rogue trading scandals of recent years.

Peterson’s Weavering Macro Fixed Income Fund collapsed in 2009, costing investors around £350m. It had been marketed as a safe and secure investment, which investors could easily reclaim their funds from.

But once the financial crisis struck, Peterson embarked on a series of risky wagers on financial derivatives which failed to reverse its fortunes. He was convicted of several counts of fraud, after the high court heard how he had taken out $600m of swap contracts, which turned out to be worthless, with another company under his control.

Mark Steward, director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, says Peterson has been banned to protect consumer and markets.

“Mr Peterson defrauded investors who should have been able to trust him. Over a prolonged period he purposely used investors’ money to prop up his business, and then lied in order to cover up his deception.”

This makes little practical difference to Peterson, aged 51, right now, as he was jailed for 13 years in January.

Updated

9% hacked off TalkTalk shares after cybercrime attack

Back in the City, UK telecoms group TalkTalk is the biggest faller on the stock market after suffering a major cybercrime attack last week.

TalkTalk shares have slumped by around 9.5% this morning. Last week, the firm admitted that customers’ personal and financial details could have been stolen by cybercriminals who breached its security systems.

TalkTalk boss Dido Harding told my colleague Josh Halliday last night that it’s too early to say if the company will compensate those affected.

She also argued that TalkTalk’s security was better than its rivals, despite the breach:

“Nobody is perfect. God knows, we’ve just demonstrated that our website security wasn’t perfect – I’m not going to pretend it is – but we take it incredibly seriously.

“On that specific vulnerability, it’s much better than it was and we are head and shoulders better than some of our competitors and some of the media bodies that were throwing those particular stones.”

And despite criticism from shareholders, Harding is determined to hold onto her job:

Updated

IFO: German car industry unfazed by VW scandal

IFO economist Klaus Wohlrabe has confirmed that Germany’s auto industry is shrugging off the revelations that VW deliberately cheated on emissions tests.

Speaking to Reuters about today’s IFO report, Wohlrabe pointed out that business expectations and the assessment of current conditions in the sector had both improved this month.

That helped to push IFO’s measure of business confidence higher this month, from 103.3 to 103.8.

Wohlrabe says:

The German automobile industry appears to be unfazed by the VW scandal.

Updated

German business leaders aren’t frightened by the crisis at Volkswagen, and the slowdown in emerging markets, explains Carsten Brzeski of ING.

Here’s his analysis on today’s IFO report:

Surprised but not frightened? German businesses showed an interesting reaction to the recent series of uncertainties and turmoil. In fact, the reaction can be summarized as impressed but not frightened.

Germany’s most prominent leading indicator, the just released Ifo index dropped to 108.2 in October, from 108.5 in September. The first drop since June this year. Interestingly, the drop was exclusively driven by a weaker assessment of the current situation. The expectation component, on the other side, increased to 103.8, from 103.3, continuing its recent positive trend and actually reaching the highest level since June last year.

Of course, one should not interpret too much in a single confidence indicator but today’s Ifo reading suggests that the German business community is filing the Volkswagen scandal as a one-off and also shrugs off the risk from a possible Chinese and emerging markets slowdown. Despite these external uncertainties and regular concerns about the real strength of the German economy, German business remain highly optimistic.

There are two possible explanations for this trend: either German businesses are naive optimists or ice-cold realists, sticking to the facts. In our view, there are many arguments in favour of the latter.

Updated

The euro is slightly higher following the IFO survey:

Updated

German IFO survey: What the experts say

Today’s German business confidence survey shows Europe’s powerhouse economy remains in decent health, say City experts.

Economist Frederik Ducrozet is encouraged by the rise in business expectation this month:

Die Welt’s Holger Zschaepitz points out that confidence in the German carmaking industry rose this month:

Bloomberg’s Maxime Sbaihi points out that demand within Germany is still robust:

Updated

German business climate worsens, but expectations rise

Business conditions in Germany have fallen this month, according to the latest survey of corporate confidence in Europe’s latest economy.

The IFO thinktank has just reported that current conditions in the German economy have deteriorated this month, for the first time in four months.

But IFO also found that business leaders are more upbeat about future prospects than in September. That suggests the VW emissions scandal has not caused major trauma.

IFO’s business climate index fell to 108.2 in October, down from 108.5 in September, but rather higher than expected.

The current conditions index fell to 112.6, from 114 a month ago. That suggests that business leaders are finding life a bit harder — after seeing exports and factory orders deteriorate over the summer.

But the expectations index rose to 103.8, from 103.3, indicating that Germany PLC expects to ride out the slowdown in China and other emerging markets, and the Volkswagen saga.

I’ll mop up some reaction now…

Updated

Speaking of carmakers…Japan’s Toyota has overtaken Germany’s Volkswagen to become the world’s largest carmaker.

Toyota has reported that it sold almost 7.5 million cars in the third quarter of 2015, while VW sold 7.43m.

Does that show that the diesel emissions scandal has hurt VW? Not really — that news only broke in mid-September, giving little opportunity for it to show up in these figures.

But it does show that VW may already have been finding life tougher, even before admitting that around 11 million vehicles were sold with software to trick emissions tests.

(FILES) - The logo of French car maker PSA Peugeot is seen on a car parked in front of French Economy minstry (left) in Paris, on September 11, 2012. French auto giant PSA Peugeot Citroen’s worldwide sales in 2012 dropped by 16.5 percent in 2012 due to contracting demand in debt-crippled southern Europe and the suspension of its activities in Iran, it said in a statement on January 9, 2013. AFP PHOTO JOEL SAGETJOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Shares in French carmaker Peugeot are down 2% this morning, after reporting a 4.4% drop in sales in China and South East Asia.

That took the shine off a 3.8% rise in sales in Europe.

WPP: business leaders remain ‘risk averse’

Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP chief executive, hides his head in his hand.

Advertising titan WPP is among the biggest fallers in London, down around 2%, despite reporting a 3.3% rise in net sales in the last six months.

Traders may be discouraged by a warning that “risk averse” business leaders are reluctant to stick their necks out too far, given the current geopolitical tensions.

WPP told shareholders that:

Country specific slowdowns in China and Brazil and geopolitical issues remain top of business leaders’ concerns. The continuing crisis in the Ukraine and consequent bilateral sanctions, principally affecting Russia, continued tensions in the Middle East and North Africa and the risk of possible exits from the European Community, driven by further political and economic trouble in Greece, top the agenda.

Corporate bosses are also facing a two-pronged squeeze — from new technology rivals on one side, and cost-cutting activists on the other, WPP added:

If you are trying to run a legacy business, at one end of the spectrum you have the disrupters like Uber and Airbnb and at the other end you have the cost-focused models like 3G in fast moving consumer goods, and Valeant and Endo in pharmaceuticals, whilst in the middle, hovering above you, you have the activists led by such as Nelson Peltz, Bill Ackman and Dan Loeb, emphasising short-term performance.

Not surprising then, that corporate leaders tend to be risk averse.

European markets in muted mood

As predicted, Europe’s stock markets have fallen into the red this morning.

The FTSE 100 has shed arounds 33 points, or 0.5%, as Tony Cross of Trustnet Direct, explains:

It has been a surprisingly muted overnight session in Asia with markets showing little reaction to Friday’s rate cut news out of China.

London’s FTSE-100 is failing to find any inspiration off the back of the news either, with the vast majority of stocks mired in red ink shortly after the open.

The other main markets are also down, apart from Germany’s DAX which is flat.

European stock markets, early trading, October 26 2015
European stock markets in early trading today. Photograph: Thomson Reuters

Mining and energy stocks are generally lower, showing that concerns over global growth haven’t gone away.

Connor Campbell of SpreadEx says:

The FTSE, falling by around 25 points soon after the bell, was weighed down by (what else?) its mining and oil stocks, with investors seemingly less sure about the Chinese rate cut than they were last Friday

Larry Elliott: Why China’s interest rate cut may be bad news for the world economy

By cutting interest rates, China’s central bank risks creating further instability in a global economy that is already hooked on ultra-cheap money and regular hits of stimulus.

As our economic editor Larry Elliott explains, such stimulus measures may already be less effective too:

Problem number one is that by deliberately weakening their exchange rates, countries are stealing growth from each other. Central banks insist that this does not represent a return to the competitive devaluations and protectionism of the 1930s, but it is starting to look awfully like it.

Problem number two is that the monetary stimulus is becoming less and less effective over time. There are two main channels through which QE operates. One is through the exchange rate, but the policy doesn’t work if all countries want a cheaper currency at once. Then, as the weakness of global trade testifies, it is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The other channel is through long-term interest rates, which are linked to the price of bonds. When central banks buy bonds, they reduce the available supply and drive up the price. Interest rates (the yield) on bonds move in the opposite direction to the price, so a higher price means borrowing is cheaper for businesses, households and governments.

But when bond yields are already at historic lows, it is hard to drive them much lower even with large dollops of QE. In Keynes’s immortal words, central banks are pushing on a piece of string….

Here’s Larry’s full analysis on the rate cut:

Copper, a classic measure of the health of the global economy, hasn’t benefitted much from China’s rate cut. It’s only up by 0.2% this morning.

Chinese officials to agree next five-year plan

China is also in the spotlight today as top communist officials gather to hammer out its 13th five-year plan, setting the country’s economic programme until 2020.

Premier Li Keqiang has already indicated that slower growth is on the agenda, by declaring that Beijing will not “defend to the death” its target of 7% growth (which was narrowly missed in the third quarter of 2015).

He declared:

“We have never said that we should defend to the death any goal, but that the economy should operate within a reasonable range.”

Trade links and green issues will also be discussed, as China’s top brass try to manage the country’s economic rebalancing.

With China easing monetary policy last week, and the ECB expected to follow suit in December, it could soon be Japan’s turn to stimulate its economy again….

No jubilation in Hong Kong either, where the Hang Seng index just closed 0.2% lower.

Asian market creep higher after Chinese rate cut

Investors in Asia have given China’s interest rate cut a cautious reception overnight, but there’s no sign of euphoria.

In Shanghai, the main index of Chinese shares rose by just 0.5%, or 17 points, to 3430. Although Friday’s stimulus move has been welcomed, traders are also worrying about whether China is still going to suffer a hard landing.

Said Zhang Qi, an analyst at Haitong Securities in Shanghai, says shares got a small lift from the rate cut:

“But the market appeared to be in correction after it rose a lot in October, and some investors sold stocks on the short-lived rise from the rate cuts. So overall, the market stayed stable today.”

Japan’s Nikkei gained around 0.7%, but the Australian S&P market dipped a little despite hopes that its mining sector would benefit from Chinese stimulus moves.

Asian stock markets, October 26
Here’s the situation across Asia’s stock markets Photograph: Thomson Reuters

Updated

The agenda: Investors await German confidence figures

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

Today we’ll find out whether business confidence in Germany has been badly hit by the Volkswagen saga, and the slowdown in emerging markets.

The latest IFO survey, due at 9am GMT, is expect to show that German firms are gloomier about their prospects. That’s understandable, given the drop in German exports, factory output and orders in August.

We’ll also be mopping up the reaction to China’s interest rate cut, announced late last week.

That did give shares a boost on Friday afternoon, but European stock markets are tipped to fall back this morning, as concerns over the situation in China reemerge.

China’s rate cut came just a day after the European Central Bank hinted that it could boost its stimulus package soon, so investors have lots to ponder.

China cuts interest rates in surprise move – as it happened

In the corporate world, traders are digesting results from advertising giant WPP and French carmaker Peugeot.

And we’ll also be keeping an eye on Portugal, where the president has dramatically asked centre-right leader Pedro Passos Coelho to form another government, rather than two eurosceptic left-wing parties.

Portugal Government Fuels Debate About Democracy in Europe

We’ll be tracking all the main events through the day…..

Updated

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World markets at their highest since August as investors calculate that the US central bank won’t raise rates this month, and probably not until 2016. Eurozone inflation gauge dips back into negative territory, placing the euro under pressure…

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “World stock markets hit two-month highs as stimulus hopes build – business live” was written by Graeme Wearden (until 13.45) and Nick Fletcher, for theguardian.com on Friday 16th October 2015 13.21 UTC

US industrial production slips in September

Every piece of US data is now watched carefully to see how it might influence the US Federal Reserve in its interest rate policy.

But there is not too much to glean from the latest figures. US industrial production dipped 0.2% in September, in line with expectations. August’s figure was revised to show a 0.1% decline compared to the 0.4% fall originally reported.

Weakness in the oil and gas sector was mainly responsible for the fall.

Later comes the Michigan consumer confidence survey.

Now here’s an admission. Credit Suisse has said its clients have no idea what is going on out there in the markets. They are “lost and bearish.” The bank says:

Never have we seen so many clients who just do not know what is happening and have cashed up. US investors, in particular, were clearly cautious. European and especially Asian investors were more constructive.

Reasons for the bearishness: Global growth being at ‘growth recession’ levels, China, QE running out of steam, the rise in non-energy high yield credit spreads, the risk of the Fed policy mistake (with most clients believing, correctly in our opinion, that a December rate rise would be a policy mistake and see Yellen’s communication as being poor), US equities being expensive on ‘normalised’ earnings and the 4-week moving average of earnings revisions falling close to a 4-year low.

Two new concerns often cropped up: (i) the $0.5trn decline in global foreign exchange reserves, with this being likened to monetary tightening…[But] 80% of the decline is due to China, where the fall is largely being sterilised. (ii) The rising political tide against profits (living wage in the UK, the BEPS OECD initiative on corporate taxation).

What was not mentioned: Eurozone politics, US debt ceiling, Russia’s involvement in Syria or the UK referendum on the EU.

In sum, we think clients are focused more on risks, which are abnormally high, rather than reward, which is also high, with the equity risk premium, for example, at 5.8%. We would agree, however, that visibility is abnormally low.

Chinese investors, 16 Oct 2015.

Chinese investors appear to have regained their appetite for risk.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 6.5% this week, helped by speculation that Beijing might do more to stimulate its economy.

Some bolder traders have been borrowing more money to buy shares, anticipating that markets are going to rally this autumn.

Xiao Shijun, an analyst at Guodu Securities, explains (via the WSJ):

“Some medium- to long-term investors are betting that the market has bottomed and thus are more confident to add leverage.”

And there are signs that the authorities have relaxed their recent clampdown on lending, which was imposed to calm excessive speculation.

China’s outstanding margin financing has risen 5.6% since the start of the month and looks to have bottomed, according to IG’s Angus Nicholson.

16 Oct 2015, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China --- Chinese investors look at prices of shares (red for price rising and green for price falling) at a stock brokerage house in Nantong city, east China’s Jiangsu province, 16 October 2015.

Ever wondered what you have to do to get banned from the City?

Well, running up losses of £1.4bn through rogue trading will do the trick.

The Financial Conduct Authority – Britain’s City watchdog – has declared today that former UBS trader Kweku Adoboli cannot work in the industry again after demonstrating “a clear and serious lack of honesty and integrity.”

It added:

“In reaching its decision, the FCA has considered all the relevant circumstances and the severity of the risk posed by Mr Adoboli to consumers and financial institutions, and to confidence in the market generally.”

Adoboli was released from prison this summer, having been sentenced to seven years in 2012 for Britain’s biggest ever fraud. He is now fighting efforts to deport him to Ghana, where he was born in 1980.

Updated

The Bank of England building on Threadneedle Street in the City of London.

Kristin Forbes’ speech today highlights that the Bank of England’s interest rate-setting committee is split into several camps, even though it voted 8-1 to leave borrowing costs unchanged last week.

IHS’s Howard Archer has broken them down:

The current position seems to be that Ian McCafferty is already voting for interest rate hike from 0.50% to 0.75%, while Kristin Forbes and (seemingly still) Martin Weale both believe interest rates need to rise before long.

In contrast, Andy Haldane and Gertjan Vlieghe are clearly far off from voting for a rate hike while Ben Broadbent has also recently indicated that he is some way off from such a move.

That leaves governor Mark Carney, and deputy governors Minouche Shafik and Jon Cunliffe in the centre ground.

Updated

Bank of England’s Forbes: Emerging market doom and gloom is “overblown”

Professor Kristin Forbes joined the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England in July of 2014. http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/about/Pages/people/biographies/forbes.aspx

Professor Kristin Forbes.

Capping off a busy week for views out of the Bank of England’s rate-setting committee, Kristin Forbes is giving a speech in Brighton.

The key message for markets from Forbes is that the next move in rates is up and is not too far off.

That puts her at odds with the Bank’s chief economist Andy Haldane who has raised the prospect of the next move being down, even further below the current record low Bank rate of 0.5%.

Forbes says, however, that pessimism about the global economy is overdone.

Forbes, who is also professor of Management and Global Economics at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, told the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce that:

“Although the risks and uncertainties in the global economy have increased, the widespread pessimism is overstated.”

“Despite the doom and gloom sentiment, the news on the international economy has not caused me to adjust my prior expectations that the next move in UK interest rates will be up and that it will occur sooner rather than later.”

“Of course, if some of the potential risks to emerging markets play out – such as a sharper slowdown than expected or financial crisis of some type – then the UK economy is unlikely to be immune. But based on what has actually occurred to date, the limited direct exposure of the UK to emerging markets (even when incorporating second-round effects through other countries such as Germany), appears manageable. This is especially true when considered relative to the strength of the UK’s domestic-led expansion – which shows all signs of continuing, even if at a more moderate pace than in the earlier stages of the recovery.”

At its last meeting, the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) left rates at a record low of 0.5%. But one of the nine rate-setters, Ian McCafferty, voted for a rate rise. Perhaps Forbes will be joining him soon….

Updated

El-Erian: Fed could hike in December

Investors who believe the Federal Reserve won’t raise rates this year could be making a mistake, argues Mohamed El-Erian, the chief economic adviser at Allianz.

El-Erian, former CEO of bond-trading giant Pimco, believes that that Janet Yellen and colleagues could take the plunge at their meeting in December, given the strength of the US jobs market.

He’s written his views up for Bloomberg. Here’s the conclusion:

After a frustratingly slow post-crisis start, the U.S. economy has had an impressive run of job creation. But further progress is dependent on important structural issues that are not easily addressed by Fed policy.

Meanwhile, wage and inflation pressures are starting to build, though in a rather modest fashion. And concerns about excessive risk-taking — an unintended side effect of the central bank’s prolonged use of unconventional monetary policy — are far from settled.

Taken together, this suggests that, even though an October rate hike can almost certainly be discounted, it would be premature to entirely rule out action by the Fed in December, let alone to predict it would be postponed until March of next year. Only a lot more signs of weakness in the domestic economy, as well as a return of global financial market instability, would make that a sure bet.

World markets hit two-month high on stimulus hopes

FTSE 100 slump<br />A city worker walks past a stock ticker screen at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 25, 2015. The FTSE 100 Index bounced back above the 6,000 mark after surging by nearly 2% as it recovered following one of its worst sessions in recent years. See PA story CITY FTSE. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

World stock markets have hit their highest levels since August, driven by predictions that US interest rates are staying low for a while yet.

The main European indices have all gained nearly 1% this morning, following those gains in Asia overnight and a rally on Wall Street yesterday.

That has pushed the MSCI World Index up by 1.38% to levels not seen since August 21.

MSCI World Markets index

MSCI World Markets index Photograph: Thomson Reuters

Global markets have now gained 6% in October. So unless there’s a major reverse next week, the MSCI will post its best month since 2011.

That’s quite a bounceback from this summer’s turmoil, which saw around $11 trillion wiped off global stocks.

The prospect of more ultraloose monetary policy, plus a little more calm over China’s slowdown, are pushing shares up.

Jasper Lawler of CMC Markets says traders are anticipating more stimulus in Europe and China, rather than worrying about the Fed whipping away the punchbowl with an early rate hike:

Hopes of a delayed rate hike in the US and additional stimulus from Europe and China is helping global stock markets finish the week on a high. Shares across Asia have hit a two month high while the Shanghai Composite is setting up for its best weekly performance since early June.

Weak US inflation data, albeit above expectations, further bruised the case for a Federal Reserve rate rise. Markets are looking ahead to next week when the ECB meeting and China’s GDP report provide opportunities for the European Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China to increase stimulus.

Here’s the situation.

  • FTSE 100: up 0.8% or 49 points at 6,388
  • German DAX: up 0.86% or 86 points at 10,151
  • French CAC: up 0.8% or 38 points at 4,713
  • Japan’s Nikkei: Closed up 1.1% or 194 points at 18,291
  • China’s Shanghai Composite: Closed up 1.6% or 53 points at 3,391.

Uber is not illegal, rules High Court

Minicab-hailing app Uber has just won a victory in the high court.

A judge has ruled that its GPS technology does not break violate the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 bans private hire cars from being equipped with taximeters.

My colleague David Hellier explains:

Had it lost the case, the company would have been forced to change its service to comply with rules that protect traditional black-cab drivers.

Here’s the full story:

Eurozone back in negative inflation

It’s official, the eurozone has slumped back in negative inflation again, intensifying pressure on the European Central Bank to act.

Eurostat has confirmed that prices across the euro area fell by 0.1% in September, down from an inflation rate of +0.1% in August.

Eurozone deflation

Eurozone deflation Photograph: Eurostat

The decline is mainly due to weak energy prices. Cheaper oil is driving down the costs of fuel — good news for consumers and business, but it does drag the eurozone inflation rate further from the 2% target.

Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight explains:

This marked the first deflation since March and was down from consumer price inflation of 0.1% in August and 0.3% in May.

A marked relapse in oil prices and very weak commodity prices first undermined and then reversed the upward trend in Eurozone consumer prices that had seen it move from deflation of 0.6% in January to inflation of 0.3% in May.

The ECB has already said it could boost its bond-buying stimulus programme if needed. And with prices falling in many eurozone countries, it could be prompted to act soon:

Britain’s John Lewis has reported underwhelming sales for the last week – with takings at its department store flat year-on-year.

But within the figures, there’s a trend of customers revising the horrors delights of the 1970s, with strong demand for knitted pouffes and platform shoes. Homeowners are even painting their rooms in brown and orange, risking terrifying flashbacks for those of a certain age.

Hugo Boss shop. Shopping. Glasgow, Scotland, UK 15th February 2005 COPYRIGHT PHOTO BY MURDO MACLEOD menswear clothes All Rights Reserved Tel + 44 131 669 9659 Mobile +44 7831 504 531 Email: m@murdophoto.com STANDARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY see for details: http://www.murdophoto.com/T%26Cs.html No syndication, no redistrubution, repro fees apply.

Hugo Boss shares are being bashed this morning, after it become the latest fashion chain to suffer from the Chinese slowdown.

They fell by 8.5% in early trading, after the German fashion firm cuts its profit and sales outlook. It blamed a slowdown in China, echoing Burberry on Thursday.

Hugo Boss also revealed that sales growth in the US has dropped too, due to weaker spending by tourists. That suggests the strengthening dollar is hurting, leaving overseas visitors with less to spend.

Nestlé hit by noodles recall

Nestle Chief Financial Officer Francois-Xavier Roger addresses a news conference at the company headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland, October 16, 2015. Nestle, the world’s largest packaged food company, lowered its full-year outlook on Friday, as a Maggi noodle recall in India knocked sales and undercalculated U.S. Skin Health rebates weighed on the Swiss company’s profits. Sales dropped 2.1 percent to 64.9 billion Swiss francs ($68 billion) in the nine months through September, missing analysts’ average forecast of 65.9 billion in a Reuters poll. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Food giant Nestlé is missing out on today’s rally, after missing sales forecasts and cutting its outlook.

Shares in Nestlé are down 2% today, with investors disappointed that revenue has fallen by 2.1% in the first nine months of the year.

The Swiss firm also cut its 2015 outlook to around 4.5%, below its long-term target of between 5% and 6%.

Nestlé suffered emerging market from weakness in China, and also a major food recall in India. In June, Indian regulators slammed its Maggi instant noodle products as “unsafe and hazardous”.

Updated

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY JEAN-MICHEL HAUTEVILLE (FILES) A photo taken on March 7, 2012 shows partly built Volkswagen cars are seen traveling overhead at the assembly line for the VW Tiguan and Touran models in Wolfsburg, central Germany. German multinational automotive manufacturing group is headquartered in Wolfsburg. Three weeks after the Volkswagen pollution cheating scandal the companies supplying parts to VW and also the Association of German Metal Traders VDM are fearing consequences for their business. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSENODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

A Volkswagen assembly line in Wolfsburg, central Germany. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

The diesel emissions scandal appears to have cost Volkswagen some ground in the European auto sector.

New figures released this morning showed that car registrations rose for the 29th month running, as the industry continued to recover from the dark days of the eurozone debt crisis.

European car sales

European car sales Photograph: Thomson Reuters

Total sales jumped by 9.8% in September, but Volkswagen only sold 8.3% more cars compared to a year ago.

This cut VW’s market share to 23.3%, down from 23.7%.

That’s not a major decline – but remember that the emissions scandal only broke in mid-September, so this could be just the start….

Back in Shanghai, the Chinese stock market has hit a seven-week high as fears over its economy recede a little.

The Shanghai Composite jumped 1.4% today, suggesting traders aren’t too worried about Monday’s growth figures:

European stock markets are putting recent turbulence behind them.

The main indices are all up in early trading, with Britain’s bluechip FTSE 100 index jumping by 34 points of 0.5%. That means the Footsie has gained over 5% in October.

Here’s the situation:

European stock markets, October 16 2015

European stock markets, October 16 2015 Photograph: Thomson Reuters

European markets are now on track for their longest series of gains since April, points out Mike van Dulken of Accendo Markets.

He adds:

This remains driven by weak/mixed macro data from China, US and Europe delaying expectations for a Fed rate hike and high hopes of additional global stimulus which is considered positive for risk appetite.

Yesterday’s US inflation data is also helping to push money into shares.

Prices fell by 0.2% month-on-month in September, leaving the price of living unchanged year on year.

“Money managers are saying it looks increasingly like the Fed will not hike because the data around the world is coming in weak,” Mads Pedersen, head of global asset allocation at UBS Wealth Management, told the Wall Street Journal.

“Lukewarm data is good for equities again, just like it has been for most of this recovery.”

A flurry of weak corporate data in recent days has left most economists convinced that the Fed won’t raise interest rates at its monetary policy meeting later this month.

This week we’ve seen falling profits at Goldman Sachs, a profit warning from Walmart, and even falling demand for high end Winnebagos as US consumers cut back.

And earlier this month, the US employment figures were a big disappointment – with much fewer new jobs created than expected (just 142,000).

That doesn’t add up to the first rise in US interest rates since the financial crisis began.

David Levy, portfolio manager at Kenjol Capital Management, explains:

“Investors are reacting to the increasing likelihood that the Fed rate hike, which had been expected just a month ago in September, now likely won’t happen during the course of this year.”

There’s also talk in the markets that the Chinese government could announce fresh stimulus measures soon.

Pressure on Beijing could grow on Monday, when Chinese GDP figures are released. Economists predict that growth slowed to 6.8% in the last quarter, down from 7% in Q2.

Asian markets hit two-month highs

Asia-Pacific stock markets have hit their highest level in two months, as traders in Tokyo, Shanghai and Melbourne anticipate that the era of ultra-low global interest rates isn’t over yet.

Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1%, on hopes that the US Federal Reserve isn’t going to end the party this month. Other stock markets in the region are also showing gains:

Asian stock markets, October 16 2015

Asian stock markets right now. Photograph: Thomson Reuters

The Agenda: Markets to rally on US Fed hopes

(FILES) This May 4, 2008 file photo shows the US Federal Reserve Building in Washington, DC. The Federal Reserve kept its benchmark federal funds interest rate unchanged at near zero percent as expected July 29, 2015, providing no fresh hints on when a long-awaited rate rise might come. The Federal Open Market Committee said the US economy has expanded “moderately” in recent months and the jobs market has strengthened, but noted continued “soft” business investment and exports. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIERKAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

The US Federal Reserve Building in Washington, DC. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

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

Investors will be watching the US economy closely today, for signs that the world’s largest economy may be slowing. There are two pieces of economic data on the agenda:

  • US industrial production, at 2.15pm BST
  • The Michigan Consumer Confidence report, at 3pm BST

Economists reckon the figures might be weak, as Michael Hewson of CMC Markets explains:

Today’s US industrial and manufacturing production data for September are expected to reinforce the disappointing narrative with declines in both of -0.3% and -0.2% respectively, both of which would be negative for the second month in succession.

And negative economic data looks good for stocks right now….

…so shares in Europe are expected to rise, as traders bet that the US Federal Reserve could leave interest rates unchanged for the rest of the year.

As Hewson puts it, with the data so mixed….

…. is hard to see how policymakers can arrive at a consensus for what would be a momentous decision of being the first rise in US rates for 9 years. No-one will want to be remembered for getting a call of that magnitude wrong.

There’s also financial results from foodmaker Nestlé, French supermarket Carrefour, and UK retailer John Lewis (of which more shortly….).

Updated

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