Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world:
Eurozone factory rebound in PMI data
Manufacturers in eurozone economies continued to expand in August, according to closely watched business survey data released on Tuesday.
The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) headline figure for factories in the eurozone came in at 51.7 for last month. Figures above 50 show growth and below 50 show decline.
“Eurozone factory output rose strongly again in August,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, which compiled the survey.
Output and new orders both rose at “marked” rates and led manufacturers to a second month in a row of expansion, according to the data company. Output was at a two-year high, with Germany, Italy and Ireland showing the biggest increases.
But the latest data marked a slight weakening in the pace of growth, with the headline figure down from the 51.8 recorded in July.
Manufacturing performance stagnated in Spain and France, and declined in Greece. Job losses also accelerated in Germany, France, Spain and Austria.
“In short, manufacturing is currently being buoyed by a wave of pent up demand, but capacity is being scaled back,” added Williamson.
UK manufacturing sector output grew at its fastest pace since May 2014 last month, as the easing of coronavirus restrictions prompted firms to rapidly scale up production.
A closely watched survey by IHS Markit found that the sector’s purchasing managers’ index reading came in at 55.2 in August, broadly in line with expectations.
The figure, up from 53.3 in July and well above April’s record low of 32.6, indicates the fastest pace of overall growth within the sector since February 2018.
PMIs are an indicator of private sector activity and are given on a scale of 1 to 100. Anything above 50 signals growth, while anything below means contraction.
Shares in retirement group Saga (SAGA.L) surged on Tuesday, after the company confirmed it was in “advanced” talks with the son of its founder about a potential £150m ($201m) cash injection.
Saga said in a statement to the market on Tuesday it was “at the advanced stage of a prospective £150 million equity capital raise... in order to strengthen its balance sheet, improve liquidity and support the execution of its reinvigorated strategy under its strengthened management team.”
The company said it had also rejected an “unsolicited and highly conditional” takeover bid from “a consortium of two US financial investors.” The group offered to buy the business for 33p per share, a 140% premium on Friday’s closing price.
The unemployment rate in the European Union rose marginally to 7.2% in July, even as the bloc’s member states broadly eased coronavirus restrictions.
While the figure, up from 7.1% in June, is the highest since 2018, it is markedly lower than the level seen in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Eurostat, the union’s official statistics agency, said that almost 15.2 million people were unemployed in the bloc in July, including almost 12.8 million in the eurozone, the 19-member currency area that uses the euro.
For the bloc as a whole, that represents an increase of around 336,000, Eurostat said.
Ocado began delivering Marks & Spencer products on Monday, as its partnership with Waitrose came to an end after almost two decades.
Supermarket delivery firm Ocado (OCDO.L) announced a joint venture with high street giant M&S (MKS.L) last summer, paving the way for deliveries to begin this month. Ocado had partnered with Waitrose since 2002.
M&S said in a statement it marked the first time its entire M&S Food range had ever been available to buy online, with 6,000 items on sale including 750 new products. A further 800 clothing and home lines have also been placed on Ocado’s site.
European stocks mostly rose as markets opened on Tuesday, as local factories reported a continued rebound and Chinese factories saw their fastest growth in almost a decade.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) opened 0.3% higher after ending last week up 1%.
It came after strong manufacturing data sent Chinese stocks higher overnight. Shanghai’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) closed up 0.3% after purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data for manufacturers came in at its highest since 2011 in August.