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Pfizer abandons plans for twice-daily weight-loss pill over side effects

A worker puts tubes into dry ice at the Pfizer research and development facility in Massachusetts
A worker puts tubes into dry ice at the Pfizer research and development facility in Massachusetts - Scott Eisen/Bloomberg

Pfizer has dropped its plans for a twice-daily weight-loss pill after trials showed it caused significant side effects.

The halt of its development is a blow to the drugmaker’s hopes of capitalising on the clamour for obesity treatments in light of the success of Wegovy, developed by Danish rival Novo Nordisk.

Pfizer shares fell 5.9pc after markets opened on Wall Street after more than half of the participants in its clinical trial for the new drug dropped out over its side effects.

The company had said last year that its oral obesity pills could generate more than $10bn (£7.9bn) in future revenues.

It ended the trial of danuglipron after participants in the trial reported gastrointestinal side effects, with many reporting nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Read the latest updates below.

06:23 PM GMT

Signing off

Thanks for joining us on this live blog today. Chris Price will be back on Monday morning, covering the markets from around 7am. Hope you have a great weekend and I’ll leave you with some of our latest Telegraph Money articles:

06:17 PM GMT

Supermarket giant Walmart drops Elon Musk's X

The advertiser exodus from X (formerly Twitter) continues, with Walmart, the former owner of Asda, ditching the social media platform.

“We aren’t advertising on X as we’ve found other platforms to better reach our customers,” a Walmart spokesperson told Reuters.

Walmart workers get ready for the Christmas season in Teterboro, New Jersey, 2016
Walmart workers get ready for the Christmas season in Teterboro, New Jersey, 2016 - Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

05:53 PM GMT

"Rate hikes are now over" in eurozone says ECB rate-setter

There will be no more interest rate rises in the eurozone, a European Central Bank (ECB) rate-setter said this afternon.

Francois Villeroy de Galhau, who is Governor of the Bank of France and sits on the Governing Council of the EBC, said:

Barring any shock, rate hikes are now over. The question of a cut may arise when the time comes during 2024, but not now: when a remedy is effective, you have to be patient enough on its duration.

He also said that data indicates “a return of inflation toward 2pc by 2025 at the latest, barring external shocks”.

Francois Villeroy de Galhau, pictured last year in Davos
Francois Villeroy de Galhau, pictured last year in Davos - Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

05:32 PM GMT

London stock market is ‘structurally broken’, warns broker

The Chancellor’s Edinburgh reforms aren’t enough to jolt UK stocks out of their “doom loop”, writes Michael Bow:

An economist at a leading City stockbroker has warned that London’s market is “structurally broken” as companies trade a fifth lower than overseas rivals.

Panmure Gordon’s chief economist Simon French said reduced investment in UK stocks had created a self-reinforcing “doom loop” that left them significantly undervalued.

Mr French said the lack of attention given to the issue in the Autumn Statement meant the problem is unlikely to be fixed anytime soon.

A raft of new rules from Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, known as the Edinburgh reforms “implicitly acknowledge” the issue, said Mr French, but he added they do not go far enough.

He said: “We have got ourselves into a funk and you need some pretty dramatic reforms. Because the UK market has underperformed for a long period of time, it has become, in my view, pretty self-fulfilling.

Continue reading...

05:27 PM GMT

Too early to declare victory on inflation, says US Federal Reserve chairman

It’s too early to say speculate on when interest rates might be cut, the head of the US Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, said this afternoon.

In remarks at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, he said:

Like most forecasters, my colleagues and I anticipate that growth in spending and output will slow over the next year, as the effects of the pandemic and the reopening fade and as restrictive monetary policy weighs on aggregate demand.

The FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee, which decides rates] is strongly committed to bringing inflation down to 2 percent over time, and to keeping policy restrictive until we are confident that inflation is on a path to that objective.

It would be premature to conclude with confidence that we have achieved a sufficiently restrictive stance, or to speculate on when policy might ease. We are prepared to tighten policy further if it becomes appropriate to do so.

Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Corpay in Toronto, said:

Powell did his utmost to subtly convince markets of the Federal Reserve’s commitment to holding rates in restrictive territory for a prolonged period of time.

But we doubt this will deter investors betting on a dramatic pivot in early 2024.

The yield on 10-year US Treasury bonds has declined slightly today, suggesting that Mr Schamotta is right.

Jerome Powell at the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington DC last month
Jerome Powell at the International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington DC last month - Celal Gunes/Anadolu/Getty Images

05:13 PM GMT

FTSE closes in the green

It was a positive day for the stock market today. The FTSE 100 rose 1.1pc, closing at 7529.35.

Mining companies came top of the risers, with Anglo American up 7.89pc, Chile’s multinational Antofagasta up 6.18pc and Rio Tinto up 3.7pc - thanks to analyst upgrades. Tesco dropped 2.17pc after JPMorgan suggested its margin outlook was “grim”. Pearson, the educational publisher, also dropped, by 1.88pc, after Deutsche Bank downgraded its recommendation from buy to hold.

The FTSE 250 rose 0.96pc, closing at 18408.65. Dr Martens had a better day today, up 5.88pc, and Great Portland Estates rose 4.71pc. Ceres Power dropped 7.19pc and Digital 9, which has been experiencing a torrid time on the market for over a year, dropped a further 3.62pc.

04:56 PM GMT

Oil price steadies after 'poor communication' from Opec

The price of Brent Crude, which is the international oil benchmark, stabilised today after the market was surprised yesterday by Opec’s failure to agree a unified statement supporting production cuts.

While Saudi Arabia and Russia yesterday both committed to deepen production cuts through to March next year, Angola refused to scale back supplies further.

A lack of consensus meant countries were able to announce cuts on a “voluntary” basis.

Other countries to announce cuts were Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Algeria and Oman.

The result was that oil prices fell by more 2pc on Thursday. Today the price is up 0.9pc.

Daniel Ghali, a commodity strategist at investment bank TD Securities, told Bloomberg:

Market concerns about compliance may be overblown, but poor communication from the Opec+ meeting contributed to the downside in oil markets over the last sessions. However, as the dust settles, we estimate that the agreement may nonetheless be sufficient to skirt an expected surplus over the coming months.

Vandana Hari, founder of Vanda Insights, described the meeting as a “confusing, entangled mess” in a television interview on Bloomberg TV.

04:49 PM GMT

Google urges competition watchdog to crack down on Microsoft over cloud computing concerns

Google has urged competition regulators to crack down on Microsoft’s dominant position in the cloud computing sector. Matthew Field reports:

The US internet giant has written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over concerns that consumers are getting a raw deal due to a lack of competition.

The letter, first reported by Reuters, warned that Microsoft’s licenses make it harder for consumers to switch - which has left rivals at a disadvantage.

Google said: “With Microsoft’s licensing restrictions in particular, UK customers are left with no economically reasonable alternative but to use Azure as their cloud services provider, even if they prefer the prices, quality, security, innovations, and features of rivals.”

This comes amid the CMA’s ongoing inquiry into Britain’s cloud computing market, which is dominated largely by Amazon and Microsoft.

The CMA said in October it was “particularly concerned” about the sector, as regulators have said customers face high fees when transferring data to other providers.

However, Amazon and Microsoft previously criticised claims that their license terms locked customers into cloud deals and made it harder to switch.

The tech giants warned intervention in the market could harm investment in the UK, particularly Amazon which said attempts at reform could “considerably affect” its investment decisions.

A Microsoft spokesman told Reuters: “As the latest independent data shows, competition between cloud hyperscalers remains healthy.”

04:36 PM GMT

Abu Dhabi's Masdar and Germany's RWE invest in British wind farm

Rishi Sunak, who is at Cop28 in Dubai, has announced a major expansion of the world’s largest offshore windfarm, Dogger Bank, which is off the coast of Yorkshire.

The Prime Minister said that that Masdar, a United Arab Emirates state-owned renewable energy company, and RWE, the largest power producer in the UK, have committed to invest up to £11bn in Dogger Bank South. RWE explained:

Construction could start as early as 2025, first 800 megawatts (MW) of electricity is planned to come online in 2029 with the aim to fully commission the projects by late 2031.

The companies are already partners in other offshore wind projects, including in German waters, and Mastor has been involved in the London Array wind farm, off the coast of Kent, since 2008.

Turbines elsewhere at the Dogger Bank wind farm started producing electricity for the first time in October, by a consortium led by SSE Renewables.

Rishi Sunak speaking at the Cop28 climate conference at Expo City Dubai today
Rishi Sunak speaking at the Cop28 climate conference at Expo City Dubai today - Sean Gallup/Getty Images

04:03 PM GMT

Former Chancellor says approval process for nuclear power stations needs change

Nadhim Zahawi, the former Chancellor of the Exchequor, has endorsed a report calling for radical reform of the approvals process for new-build nuclear power stations.

He says that current rules are “running the risk of limiting the ability of privately-funded nuclear developers to build the reactors we need to meet our energy and environmental goals” and urged the Government to make it “easier to build fleets of reactors and giving business the confidence it needs to invest in nuclear power”. This, he said, would “drive down costs for taxpayers”.

The report, published today by the Adam Smith Institute, says that nuclear power station developers should be able to gain approval for a “full fleet of reactors” rather than go through the planning system on a site by site basis. It also urged policymakers to recognise other developed countries’ approvals for models of advanced modular reactors, which are smaller than existing power stations and can be built in a factory.

Nigel Hawkins, a City of London infrastructure and utilites consultant who wrote the report and formerly worked in Thatcher’s Downing Street, said:

With coal-fired generation now virtually non-existent and base-load gas-fired generation mostly uneconomic, due to soaring gas prices, the responsibility for baseload generation is increasingly falling onto the nuclear sector, whose current fleet – Sizewell C excepted – is due to have closed by the end of the decade, during which Hinkley Point C may have been commissioned. As such, a massive nuclear new-build programme is needed.

Nadhim Zahawi believes the approvals process for nuclear power is holding the sector back
Nadhim Zahawi believes the approvals process for nuclear power is holding the sector back - Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty

03:37 PM GMT

Profits at maker of Tunnock's Teacakes plung 8pc

The maker of Tunnock’s Teacakes has seen profits plunge by more than 80pc after the company was hit by an “unprecedented” jump in costs, reports Daniel Woolfson:

Sir Boyd Tunnock, head of the Uddingston-based Thomas Tunnock, said the rising cost of ingredients and energy had led to profits falling from £5.5m to £1m in the past year.

That was despite the business hiking prices by around 10pc since 2022, which has taken the cost of a six-pack of Tunnock’s Teacakes in Tesco to £1.10 – up from 99p.

Sir Boyd, who is the grandson of the company’s founder Thomas Tunnock, said in recent company filings: “These cost increases are very challenging and have impacted the company’s financial performance.”

A spokesman said Tunnock’s had chosen to absorb the bulk of its costs but the company said it predicts they will remain high.


The man who invented the Tunnock's Teacake, Boyd Tunnock, in Uddingston, 2019
The man who invented the Tunnock's Teacake, Boyd Tunnock, in Uddingston, 2019 - Press Association

03:34 PM GMT

Handing over

That’s all from me for another week. Alex Singleton will make sure you are kept informed as you head toward the weekend.

It has been a week where there was much speculation about what could happen to the price of oil once a meeting of the Opec+ group took place on Thursday.

But as this chart shows, the excitement has ultimately meant very little:

03:10 PM GMT

US factories in worst slump for two decades

Factory output in the US shrank for a 13th month in a row, a closely-watched survey has shown, as high interest rates weaken manufacturers.

The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM’s) manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) was unchanged in November with a worse-than expected reading of 46.7. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction.

The data showed that new orders have shrunk for 15 consecutive months, which is the longest streak since the early 1980s.

02:54 PM GMT

Pfizer abandons plans for twice-daily weight-loss pill over side effects

Pfizer has dropped its plans for a twice-daily weight-loss pill after trials showed it caused significant side effects.

The halt of its development is a blow to the drugmaker’s hopes of capitalising on the clamour for obesity treatments in light of the success of Wegovy, developed by Danish rival Novo Nordisk.

Pfizer shares fell 5.9pc after markets opened on Wall Street after more than half of the participants in its clinical trial for the new drug dropped out over its side effects.

The company had said last year that its oral obesity pills could generate more than $10bn (£7.9bn) in future revenues.

It ended the trial of danuglipron after participants in the trial reported gastrointestinal side effects, with many reporting nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Pfizer has ended trials of weight loss drug danuglipron
Pfizer has ended trials of weight loss drug danuglipron - Pfizer/Reuters

02:35 PM GMT

US markets fall at the opening bell

Wall Street’s main indexes edged lower at the open as investors await Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s comments that may offer clues on the next steps for US interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 36.44 points, or 0.1pc, at the open to 35,914.45.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 8.37 points, or 0.2pc, at 4,559.43, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 44.86 points, or 0.3pc, to 14,181.35 at the opening bell.

02:27 PM GMT

Macron tells G7 to end coal use by 2030

Emmanuel Macron urged G7 nations at the UN climate talks to set an example to other countries and “commit to putting an end to coal” by 2030.

Speaking at Cop28 in Dubai, the French president said investing in coal was “truly an absurdity”.

It comes after Rishi Sunak confirmed a £1.6bn commitment for renewable energy, “green innovation” and forests “because we can’t tackle climate change without nature”.

The Prime Minister praised the King as having been “at the forefront of the fight to protect our planet” for more than 60 years as he posted a picture of himself with the monarch at Cop28 on social media.

Meanwhile, Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida told the summit that his country will stop building new coal power plants that do not have emission reduction measures in place.

He said: “In line with its pathway to net-zero, Japan will end new construction of domestic unabated coal power plants, while securing a stable energy supply.”

Emmanuel Macron has called on G7 nations to end coal use within seven years
Emmanuel Macron has called on G7 nations to end coal use within seven years - Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

02:09 PM GMT

Bitcoin hits highest point this year

The price of a Bitcoin tipped over £30,500 for the first time this year today as speculators ramp up bets on the US Federal Reserve cutting interest rates.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency has rebounded about 130pc over the past 11 months from 2022’s crypto rout, outstripping investments like stocks or gold.

The rally, which has taken the digital asset to its highest valuation since May 2022, comes despite high profile legal cases against several major players in the industry, most notably the fraud conviction of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

01:51 PM GMT

Former Treasury chief joins Japanese banking giant amid Government lobbying concerns

Former Treasury chief Sir Tom Scholar has been hired by Japan’s biggest investment bank Nomura but will face restrictions that prevent him from lobbying Government officials.

Our economics editor Szu Ping Chan has the latest:

Sir Tom, who was sacked as Treasury permanent secretary on Kwasi Kwarteng’s first day as Chancellor, will join Nomura to chair its European operations.

However, a ministerial watchdog recommended that limitations to his role be imposed by Nomura to ensure he does not have any “unfair influence of access to government”.

The advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba), which assesses roles taken up by former ministers and civil servants, raised issues about the appointment in advice released today.

Read what was written in a note published alongside the announcement.

Sir Tom Scholar is to chair Nomura's European operations from next April
Sir Tom Scholar is to chair Nomura's European operations from next April

01:37 PM GMT

LVMH downgraded by Morgan Stanley after downturn in global luxury market

Shares in the luxury goods giant behind Louis Vuitton and Dior have fallen today after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock.

LVMH, one of Europe’s largest companies, fell 1.9pc in Paris after analysts at the Wall Street investment bank raised concerns about weakening demand in the premium retail sector.

Morgan Stanley reduced its price target for the stock from €860 to €790 over the next year. It is currently priced at about €693.

Analyst Edouard Aubin said he expects shares “to move sideways in the coming months given likely further industry-wide deterioration in overall demand” in the fourth quarter.

This will likely be followed by a “difficult start to 2024 for LVMH”.

Bernard Arnault is the chairman and chief executive of LVMH
Bernard Arnault is the chairman and chief executive of LVMH - LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

01:17 PM GMT

We remain open to 'constructive dialogue' with Aslef, say rail bosses

After Aslef union members voted to extend their strike action, a spokesman for Rail Delivery Group, which represents the operators that employ the train drivers, said:

Strikes called by the Aslef leadership continue to result in huge disruption for our customers, staff and the hospitality industry.

It is disappointing that after the rolling strikes and overtime ban which start today and finish on 9 December, there could be more strikes in 2024.

Our priority is finding a fair and affordable way through this dispute, so we can end the disruption to our passengers, give our people a pay rise and return the industry to a sustainable footing at a time when taxpayers are contributing an extra £54m a week to keep services running post-Covid.

We have always been clear that we remain open to constructive dialogue with Aslef to find a resolution, and that is still the case.

12:53 PM GMT

Nine Elms developer taken over over by Abu Dhabi company

An Abu Dhabi real estate business has bought UK developer London Square in a £230m deal.

Aldar Properties said it has expanded outside of the Middle East for the first time after securing the takeover of the London-based company.

London Square was founded in 2010 and is known for the Nine Elms development near to Battersea Power Station.

It said it has created a development pipeline worth over £2bn, with 3,500 homes completed and a further 930 under construction.

Aldar said the move is aimed to give the firm a “meaningful foothold” in the capital as it pushes forward with growth plans.

Nine Elms, next to Battersea Power Station, is being transformed by redevelopment
Nine Elms, next to Battersea Power Station, is being transformed by redevelopment - JASON HAWKES/REUTERS

12:19 PM GMT

December train strikes: Dates and services affected

Commuters face another wave of strikes and rail disruption starting today, as train drivers plan a run of walkouts and ban on overtime in the run-up to Christmas.

The disruption is the latest blow to travellers who have been hit with 18 months of disruption since unions began their pay dispute with the Government and train operating companies.

Here is everything you need to know about the next wave of industrial action which began today.

Aslef members have voted to extend strike action by six months
Aslef members have voted to extend strike action by six months - Jacob King/PA Wire

11:51 AM GMT

Aslef should 'do the right thing' and put pay deal to vote, says minister

Aslef members at 12 train operators in England were reballoted about continuing strike action, each returning huge votes in favour on high turnouts.

Rail minister Huw Merriman said:

Following RMT members voting to overwhelmingly accept the train operators’ pay offer, Aslef is now not just the only rail union still striking but the only union not to even put an offer to its members.

They are instead choosing to cause more misery for passengers and the hospitality sector this festive period.

The fair and reasonable offer that’s long been on the table would bring the average train driver’s salary up to £65,000 for a 35 hour, four day week.

Aslef’s leadership should follow in the footsteps of all the other rail unions by doing the right thing and giving their members a say on that offer.

11:34 AM GMT

Train drivers 'in for the long haul' in pay dispute, warns union boss

After voting to extend strike action, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said:

We are in this for the long haul. Our members – who have not had a pay rise for nearly five years now – are determined that the train companies – and the Tory government that stands behind them – do the right thing.

The cost of living has soared since the spring and summer of 2019, when these pay deals ran out. The bosses at the train companies – as well as Tory MPs and government ministers – have had increases in pay. It’s unrealistic – and unfair – to expect our members to work just as hard for what, in real terms, is considerably less.

Train drivers are fed up and frustrated that their employers failed to negotiate in good faith, making a proposal through the Rail Delivery Group which they knew – because we had told them – would be turned down and then to blame drivers for the train companies’ inability to manage services and the rail industry effectively. ASLEF members, key workers who kept our country moving through the pandemic, are simply asking for a fair and decent deal.

11:29 AM GMT

Train drivers vote to extend strike action

Members of Aslef have voted overwhelmingly to continue strike action for the next six months in their ongoing dispute over pay, the train drivers’ union announced.

11:28 AM GMT

Wall Street treads water ahead of Powell speech

US stocks were subdued in premarket trading ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell later today.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished November with their biggest monthly gain since July 2022, while the Dow Jones rallied to close at its highest level since January 2022.

Recent economic data, including Thursday’s personal consumption expenditure index, signalled easing inflation in the world’s largest economy, underscoring hopes that the Fed will no longer increase interest rates.

Traders also see a nearly 54pc chance of at least a 25 basis point rate cut in March and about 83pc chance in May, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

Tesla underperformed other megacap stocks, down 0.9pc before the opening bell, as the EV maker priced its Cybertruck above its initial forecast at $60,990.

In premarket trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1pc, the S&P 500 was flat and the Nasdaq 100 was down 0.1pc.

11:09 AM GMT

Pound rises amid hopes of US and EU interest rate cuts

The pound has risen against the dollar amid easing inflation in the US which is increasing hopes of interest rate cuts.

Sterling has gained 0.2pc to $1.26 and is up 2.1pc over the last month.

The pound has also inched 0.1pc higher against the euro, which is worth 86p.

Goldman Sachs said it now expects the European Central Bank (ECB) to deliver its first rate cut in the second quarter of next year, compared to an earlier forecast of a cut in the third quarter of 2024.

It comes after inflation in the eurozone fell sharply to 2.4pc in November.

10:51 AM GMT

Sir James Dyson loses libel claim against Daily Mirror

Sir James Dyson has lost his libel claim against the publisher of the Daily Mirror.

The inventor, 76, gave evidence at the Royal Courts of Justice over two days in a trial against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over an article published in January 2022.

In the Daily Mirror article, journalist Brian Reade referred to the engineer as “the vacuum-cleaner tycoon who championed Vote Leave due to the economic opportunities it would bring to British industry before moving his global head office to Singapore”.

Mr Reade continued: “Kids, talk the talk but then screw your country and if anyone complains, tell them to suck it up.”

Sir James brought the High Court claim against MGN, describing the allegations in the article as a “vicious and vitriolic” personal attack.

But in a ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Jay dismissed the inventor’s claim.

He said: “In the present case the Claimant cannot demonstrate that he has suffered financial loss as a result of these publications. Nor can he show that his philanthropic work, particularly directed to young people and schools, has been harmed in any way.”

Sir James Dyson arriving at the Royal Courts Of Justice this week
Sir James Dyson arriving at the Royal Courts Of Justice this week - Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

10:49 AM GMT

Miners boost FTSE 100 as China manufacturing expands

Surging shares in mining stocks has helped the FTSE 100 gain as much as 1pc.

The UK’s benchmark index rose to its highest level in two weeks after a private survey showed China’s factory activity unexpectedly expanded in November.

It helped push China-exposed miners 3.7pc higher, with Anglo American up 7pc, copper miner Antofagasta up 4.5pc, Rio Tinto up 3.9pc and Glencore gaining 3.5pc.

Antofagasta and Anglo American jumped after UBS upgraded the mining majors to a “buy” rating.

10:18 AM GMT

Oil price lower after Opec+ meeting

Oil prices have fallen in the wake of a meeting by producers that promised further output cuts but was hazy on the details.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, has was last 0.2pc to trade under $81 a barrel, after sliding 2.4pc in the previous session. US-produced West Texas Intermediate was down 0.1pc to fall below $76.

It comes after the Opec+ alliance of oil-producing nations announced roughly 900,000 barrels a day of fresh output cuts from January.

However, the curbs are voluntary and Angola has already rejecting its quota. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, said it will prolong its separate one million barrel-a-day reduction through the first quarter.

09:49 AM GMT

UK manufacturers still face 'tough times' after 16 months of decline

Britain’s manufacturing sector registered a contraction in activity for the 16th month in a row in November amid weakening demand and further job losses, according to a closely-watched private sector survey.

The rate of decline in the sector eased last month, according to the S&P Global/CIPS UK manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, which gave a reading of 47.2 compared to October’s 44.8.

However, the sector remained below the 50 mark which separate growth for contraction for the 16th straight month as companies remained cautious, leading to job losses, stock depletion and lower purchasing.

Rob Dobson, director at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said:

Although the downturn in production eased sharply in November, the latest PMI report brings little festive cheer when the finer details are considered.

With new order inflows and exports continuing to fall sharply, and clients destocking, a sustained meaningful growth revival still looks elusive.

Manufacturers are preparing for tough times ahead, with their continued caution leading to cutbacks in staffing, inventories and purchasing.

09:16 AM GMT

Manufacturing remains in decline in eurozone, survey shows

The broad-based downturn in eurozone manufacturing activity eased slightly last month but the sector remained deeply rooted in contractionary territory, according to a closely-watched survey.

HCOB’s final eurozone manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), compiled by S&P Global, rose to 44.2 in November from October’s 43.1, above a preliminary estimate of 43.8. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction in activity.

However, factories still trimmed staffing levels for a sixth straight month.

Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist at Hamburg Commercial Bank, said:

November has not been the prettiest, and this does not refer only to the weather but also to the situation in the manufacturing sector of the eurozone.

Sure, almost all the sub-indices have perked up a bit. However, the improvements are mostly timid, lacking the dynamism needed to declare an upward trend.

09:01 AM GMT

Ryanair finds suspect parts in aircraft engines, boss confirms

Ryanair has found unauthorised parts in two of its aircraft engines during scheduled maintenance checks, becoming the latest in a string of airlines to do so.

The parts were discovered during checks in Texas and Brazil over the past few months and have since been removed from the engines, the low cost carrier’s chief executive Michael O’Leary told Bloomberg News.

Aviation regulators have accused an obscure London company called AOG Technics of supplying thousands of engine parts with faked certification documents for Airbus and Boeing models, including older-generation 737s in use at Ryanair.

Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are among the carriers reportedly that found suspect parts.

The Civil Aviation Authority said in August that it has been investigating the supply of a “large number of suspect unapproved parts” through AOG Technics.

Mr O’Leary said the Irish budget airline has never done business directly with AOG, receiving the component for two engines instead via third parties.

He added the carrier remains “largely unaffected” overall by the scandal.

Airlines were told to check their stocks of spare engine parts after Bloomberg first reported about AOG earlier in the year, according to Mr O’Leary.

Ryanair’s shares were up 1.4pc in early trading.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said suspect parts have been removed from the engines of two of its planes
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said suspect parts have been removed from the engines of two of its planes - Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

08:41 AM GMT

FTSE 100 maintains rally amid hopes of interest rate cuts

The FTSE 100 rose to start December on an upbeat note after logging sharp gains in the previous month.

The blue-chip index rose as much as 0.8pc, while the more domestically-focussed FTSE 250 midcap index added as much as 0.3pc.

Both the indexes posted monthly gains in November on hopes that major central banks around the world are nearing an end of their interest rate hike trajectory.

The latest PMI data showed China’s factory activity unexpectedly expanded in November, pushing China-exposed miners 2.4pc higher.

AstraZeneca said it would discontinue two late-stage trials looking at the potential benefits of its drug Lokelma in the management of hyperkalaemia across the cardiorenal spectrum. Shares of the drugmaker were up as much as 1.8pc.

08:22 AM GMT

Gas prices tick up as fighting restarts in Gaza

European gas prices have crept higher as Israel resumed fighting against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Benchmark contracts rose as much as 3.2pc in early trading as a week-long ceasefire came to an end.

The UK equivalent contract rose as much as 3pc.

08:06 AM GMT

UK markets gain as house prices rise

The UK’s main stock indexes rose at the open as industry data showed that house prices inched upward amid falling mortgage costs.

The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 was up 0.5pc 7,487.72 as it was also helped by a drop off in the value of the pound on Thursday.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 rose 0.3pc to 18,288.92.

07:57 AM GMT

Buying and selling had been held off by rising interest rates, says Purplebricks boss

Purplebricks chief executive Sam Mitchell said his company had seen viewings and offers increase in November “which is unheard of this time of year”.

He said:

Banks are competing more aggressively on the rates they’re offering to consumers following two consecutive interest rate holds, which is driving increased activity in the housing market during a time when we usually experience a seasonal slowdown.

In November, Purplebricks has seen viewings and offers increase week on week, which is unheard of this time of year.

It is our sense that buying and selling decisions that have been held off in the face of 14 interest rate rises in a row and through the cost of living crisis will be released to fuel accelerated activity in 2024.

This will be aided by increased heat in the rental market that will continue to fuel first-time buyers’ appetite to get on the property ladder.

Such behaviour makes for a positive new year, as we pass peak inflation and this begins to filter through to improve overall confidence in the housing market.

Take a look below at that sharp reduction in the annual fall in house prices - that is, comparing November 2023 prices with November 2022:

07:50 AM GMT

House prices may surprise forecasters, say economists

Economists are rewriting their predictions for house prices next year following another surprise increase.

The consultancy Capital Economics had forecast is a further 5.5pc drop in house prices after October’s data, taking the peak-to-trough fall to 10pc.

Following the data for November, senior property economist Andrew Wishart said their outlook had been revised, with a further 4pc of falls taking the peak-to-trough drop in prices to 6pc.

He said:

We think that mortgage rates will hover around 5pc until mid-2024 which, combined with the economy slipping into recession and a modest increase in unemployment, might lead to some further slight house price falls.

Our forecast is that the peak-to-trough drop in prices will grow from 4pc now to 6pc.

But we have to acknowledge that these data suggest that house prices may surprise forecasters to the upside again in 2024.

07:29 AM GMT

Mortgage rate war is igniting property demand, say brokers

Mortgage brokers have said a battle to offer the lowest mortgage rates to buyers is behind the boost in house prices.

Britain’s six largest mortgage lenders are now all offering mortgage rates of less than 5pc after a fall in inflation.

Emma Jones, managing director at, said:

With lenders now competing ferociously for business and cutting mortgage rates across the board, there may, just may, be some light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s starting to feel like we have turned a corner. 2024 is shaping up to be a far more promising year than 2023 for the UK property market.

Steven Hargreaves of Leeds-based independent broker The Mortgage Co said: “The ongoing reduction in mortgage rates is definitely starting to make a difference in terms of demand, although during December activity levels will likely remain muted for the usual seasonal reasons.”

Katy Eatenton of Lifetime Wealth Management added: “The rate war that is raging between lenders is now really starting to ignite demand for property.”

07:22 AM GMT

Rapid rebound in house prices unlikely, warns Nationwide

After house prices unexpectedly rose between October and November, Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner said:

While mortgage rates are unlikely to return to the lows prevailing in the aftermath of the pandemic, modestly lower borrowing costs, together with solid rates of income growth and weak/negative house price growth, should help underpin a modest rise in activity in the quarters ahead.

Nevertheless, a rapid rebound still appears unlikely. Cost-of-living pressures are easing, with the rate of inflation now running below the rate of average wage growth, but consumer confidence remains weak, and surveyors continue to report subdued levels of new buyer enquiries.

Moreover, while markets are projecting that the next Bank Rate move will be down, there are still upward risks to interest rates. Inflation is declining, but measures of domestic price pressures remain far too high.

Policymakers have cautioned that it is too early to be talking about interest rate cuts. Indeed, three of the nine members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to increase Bank Rate at its meeting in early November, though the remaining six preferred to hold at 5.25pc for the time being.

07:21 AM GMT

House prices fall for third month in a row

House prices fell in comparison to the previous month for the third time in a row in November, according to the Halifax house price index.

Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner said that while this “remains weak, it is the strongest outturn for nine months”.

He said the reason for the change was the lowering of expectation for the peak of interest rates, saying:

There has been a significant change in market expectations for the future path of Bank Rate in recent months which, if sustained, could provide much needed support for housing market activity.

In mid-August, investors had expected the Bank of England to raise rates to a peak of around 6pc and lower them only modestly (to c.4pc) over the next five years.

By the end of November, this had shifted to a view that rates have now peaked (at 5.25pc) and that they will be lowered to around 3.5pc in the years ahead.

These shifts are important as they have led to a decline in the longer-term interest rates (swap rates) that underpin fixed rate mortgage pricing, as shown below.

If sustained, this will help to ease the affordability pressures that have been stifling housing market activity in recent quarters, where the number of mortgage approvals for house purchases has been running at c.30pc below pre-pandemic levels.

07:12 AM GMT

Good morning

Thanks for joining me. House prices have unexpectedly increased for a second consecutive month as mortgages come into the reach of more buyers.

The average value of a home grew 0.2pc between October and November and stands at £258,557, according to the Nationwide house price index.

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What happened overnight

Asian shares declined even after Wall Street closed out its best month of the year with big gains in November.

Oil prices continued to drop despite the latest extension of Opec’s production cuts. Even with continued cuts to output, other producers such as the US are expected to be able to make up the difference, relieving pressure on prices.

Brent crude, the international standard, dropped 29 cents to $80.57 a barrel.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.5pc to 16,950.14, hovered around a one-year low, and the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.4pc to 3,017.19.

The private sector PMI survey showed Chinese manufacturing activity unexpectedly expanded in November, marking the fastest growth in three months.

That report by Caixin contradicted one released the day before that showed weak factory demand.

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.2pc, or 55.38 points, to 33,431.51, while the broader Topix index ended up 0.3pc, or 7.59 points, at 2,382.52.

South Korea’s Kospi lost 1pc to 2,508.86. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 sank 0.2pc to 7,071.30. India’s Sensex gained 0.6pc and Bangkok’s SET fell 0.1pc.

The S&P 500 rose 0.4pc to 4,567.80, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 leading American companies rose 1.5pc to 35,950.89. Meanwhile the Nasdaq Composite, an index containing many technology companies, closed down 0.2pc at 14,226.22.

Yields on benchmark 10-year US Treasury bonds rose nearly 9 basis points, topping 4.34pc.

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