Credit Suisse accused of aiding tax evasion
Credit Suisse is continuing to help wealthy Americans hide assets from the taxman almost a decade after a unit of the Swiss lender pleaded guilty to tax evasion conspiracy, the US Senate Finance Committee has said.
The committee said it uncovered major violations of the $2.6bn (£2.1bn) plea deal the bank struck with the US Justice Department in 2014, in a further blow to the lender, which was recently bought by UBS.
Senator Ron Wyden, who chairs the committee, said: “At the centre of this investigation are greedy Swiss bankers and catnapping government regulators, and the result appears to be a massive, ongoing conspiracy to help ultra-wealthy US citizens to evade taxes and rip off their fellow Americans.”
The report cited “what may be an ongoing criminal tax conspiracy” involving nearly $100m in secret offshore accounts belonging to a family of dual US-Latin American citizens.
Credit Suisse said it does not tolerate tax evasion, adding that its new management is “actively cooperating” with the Justice Department.
It said: “Our clear policy is to close undeclared accounts when identified, and to discipline any employee who fails to comply with bank policy or falls short of Credit Suisse’s standards of conduct.”
That's all from me, see you tomorrow morning with the latest updates.
Credit Suisse withdraws certain proposals ahead of AGM
Credit Suisse has reportedly withdrawn certain proposals to the 2023 annual general meeting following its recent merger with UBS.
Credit Suisse published its the meeting agenda earlier this month which included proposals for a shareholder dividend of 0.05 Swiss Franc per registered share, alongside the re-election of chairman Axel Lehmann.
The agenda also included approval of compensation for Credit Suisse board members, such as a one time transformation award for the executive board.
The annual general meeting is scheduled for April 4.
Xi’s China will never achieve world currency domination
Arguments advancing the prospect of the yuan rivalling the US dollar completely lack substance, writes economist George Magnus:
In troubled and uncertain times, people like to explain and assert things that often lack accuracy and understanding. The 2008 financial crisis, QE, the pandemic and climate change have provided many examples.
Now, with a few banks in crisis, rather than a banking crisis as such, and the crypto world in flux, the end of the US dollar’s supremacy is getting yet another airing. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Amazon inks deal to buy enough green energy to power 310,000 homes
Amazon has agreed to buy renewable energy from ScottishPower owner Iberdrola to help reach its net zero goals.
Iberdrola will supply the online retailer with over 1.1 TWh of green energy from two of its offshore wind farms in the German Baltic Sea.
The global power purchase agreement applies to Amazon’s projects across Europe, the US and Asia-Pacific.
This is equivalent to the amount of annual electricity needed to power 314,000 European homes, said Iberdrola.
The deal will help Amazon reach its net zero target of powering its operations with 100pc renewable energy by 2025.
Iberdrola has also chosen Amazon Web Services as its preferred cloud provider, supporting its digital strategy of offering fully interconnected energy services for customers.
Heathrow Airport makes last-ditch attempt to stop security guard strikes
Last-minute talks are to be held in hopes of averting strikes by security guards at Heathrow Airport.
Over 1,400 members of Unite are due to walk out for 10 days from Friday until Easter Sunday in a dispute over pay.
Strikes will not be postponed unless Heathrow Airports improves the pay offer to union members, Unite said. Negotiations begin tomorrow.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:
The offer of new talks is to be welcomed but Heathrow's executives have to realise that the genie is out the bottle.
Workers can't be expected to accept real-term pay cuts as shareholders and bosses get richer and richer.
So, if the strike is to be averted there needs to be more real money put on the table to make a decent pay rise.
Signing Indo-Pacific trade deal could be post-Brexit victory
Joining the Indo-Pacific trade will mark a post-Brexit win for Britain, says one economist.
Martin Beck, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said:
This is going to help reorientate our trade towards other parts of the world which are faster growing, both in terms of population growth and economic growth.
It is a positive sign in terms of shifting the focus of the UK trade away from Europe.
The Government is expected to shortly announce that Britain has become the first non-founding member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Joining the partnership would give businesses easier access to markets worth a combined $10 trillion.
Economics reporter Melissa Lawford has the details...
It's unsafe to keep coal plant open for another winter, says EDF Energy boss
EDF Energy will be unable to run a coal station next winter due to safety reasons, according to its chief executive.
“There is no way of providing a safe service, so we need it to be taken out of service,” EDF Energy boss said Simone Rossi said at an event in Oxford.
He added that younger coal stations owned by energy companies should be able to step in, Bloomberg reported
EDF plans to close its West Burton plant later this year as energy heavweights wind down their coal operations across the UK.
It comes despite calls from the Government for coal plants to remain open for another year to secure energy supplies, amid concerns over electricity shortages.
Earlier this month, the National Grid told West Burton station to start warming up in response to a cold snap.
The plant is one of three that were due to close in September 2022 but have been kept online in case needed amid concern about energy security this winter.
Disney lays off Marvel boss amid cost-cutting efforts
The head of Marvel Entertainment has been laid off amid Disney's sweeping cost cutting measures.
Disney confirmed that Isaac Perlmutter, 80, will exit the business, Wall Street Journal reported.
It comes as Disney begins plans to terminate 7,000 jobs as part of an effort to save $5.5bn in costs.
On Monday, chief executive Bob Iger told Disney employees that the layoffs will take place over three stages, starting from this week.
Asda's annual profits decline by almost a quarter
Asda's profits tumbled by almost a quarter during the Issa brothers’ first full year in charge, the company has said.
Retail editor Hannah Boland has the details:
Britain's third largest supermarket said adjusted profits slipped by 24pc to £886m last year after it took a "conscious decision" to keep its prices as low as possible.
Sales at Asda fell 0.2pc across 2022 according to unaudited figures released by the company. The drop came after the cost of living crisis prompted an intense price war in the supermarket sector, triggering switching among shoppers.
After steep sales declines in the first half of the year, Asda’s co-owner Mohsin Issa said the retailer had invested “heavily to mitigate the impact of inflation".
He said: “Although this contributed to a decline in profitability, it was the right thing to do for our customers and will ultimately help to deliver long-term growth.”
Asda said it was starting to win back shoppers, with sales growing by 6.8pc in February compared to a year earlier.
FTSE 100 boosted by housebuilders and banks
The FTSE 100 has climbed 1.07pc today to close at 7,564.27, while the FTSE 250 midcap index rose 1.28pc to 18,632.81.
The FTSE 100 was lifted by British property developers Persimmon (share price up 3.08pc), Taylor Wimpey (up 3pc) and Barratt Developments (up 2.7pc).
This follows reports that mortgage approvals increased by more than expected in February, amid increasing signs that the housing market is stabilising.
Banking shares also grew by 2.23pc after the Bank of England expressed confidence in UK lenders to withstand more shocks. Risers include Barclays (up 3.38pc), HSBC (up 2.33pc) and NatWest (1.19pc).
Scottish Power signs £13bn deal for world's second largest wind farm
Scottish Power has signed a £13bn deal to buy 95 wind turbines for an offshore wind farm off the coast of Norfolk.
The deal with Siemens Gamesa will build enough capacity to supply about 1.3m homes when the wind is blowing, the company said.
The project is more than 13 years in the making and is the highest value contract ever awarded by Scottish Power, according to chief executive Keith Anderson.
The East Anglia Three wind farm will be the world's second largest and support around 2,300 jobs through its construction.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
I am delighted that Scottish Power and (parent company) Iberdrola are investing in the UK - creating thousands of jobs and crucially helping millions of families keep their homes warm with cheaper, renewable energy.
Encouraging investment in the UK is at the heart of our economic plan and we have one of the most competitive business tax regimes in the world.
Specialist civil service to strike in May and June
Specialist civil service staff will hold fresh strikes in May and June in a long-running dispute over pay and jobs.
Prospect, which represents tens of thousands of specialist, technical, professional, managerial and scientific staff, said it will take legal steps to continue with industrial action.
The union's members work in a wide range of employers, including the Met Office, Defence and Science Technology Laboratory, Health and Safety Executive, Trinity House, Intellectual Property Office, Animal and Plant Health Agency, Natural England and UK Research and Innovation.
It comes after Prospect members at 40 employers across the public sector striked earlier this month and have been undertaking other forms of industrial action.
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said:
We continue to press the Government to engage meaningfully in talks to resolve the issues on pay that have forced our members into taking industrial action.
Our members across the civil service have already shown admirable commitment on both strike action and action short of a strike. We will therefore be taking the necessary legal steps for members to take strike action in May and June.
This industrial action is entirely avoidable but the failure by Government to even start a process of negotiation is making it almost inevitable.
The Government must get its act together and engage with Prospect and the other civil service trade unions, just as it has done with other public sector workers.
I'm signing off now and will leave you in the capable hands of Adam Mawardi.
Stock markets are enjoying a rally after the banking turmoil of recent weeks sent shares spiralling.
However, as this tweet points out, the crisis has affected different sectors in very different ways:
The stock market looks frozen with fear🥶
But is it really?
The S&P 500 was up just +.03% on the month through yesterday
...yet the difference in the best and worst-performing sectors' performances has been a hefty 18 percentage points, the most in six months pic.twitter.com/OiCddQS1Ay
— Callie Cox (@callieabost) March 29, 2023
Government's green industrial strategy delayed until autumn
Another line from Jeremy Hunt's appearance in front of the Treasury select committee earlier.
The Chancellor said the Government will not lay out its response to US and EU green industrial strategies until the autumn.
Environmental analysts and business leaders are expecting a host of climate and energy policies on Thursday that would spur UK investment in green technology and decarbonisation.
But answering questions at the Treasury committee, Mr Hunt said he will not respond to similar initiatives made in the US and EU until the autumn.
When asked if there was a risk of the UK being squeezed out by the US and EU, he said:
I said in the Budget that I would return in the Autumn Statement with a fuller response and there was a reason for that, which is I want the UK to remain competitive.
And I needed to see, which I wasn't able to do at the Budget, what the EU response was going to be before we formulated our full national response. And so we will return to this and we're doing a lot of very detailed work.
Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband said yesterday that the UK is losing the "global green race" during a speech where he outlined Labour's ideas for a green industrial revolution.
Absolutely shameful. The Government's official 'Green Day' policy is now Wake Me Up When September Ends.
As other countries in the global race for clean jobs and industries speed off into the distance, the Tories are going to waste months deciding whether to tie up their laces. https://t.co/1sHeUVbsNV
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) March 29, 2023
Pound lacks direction amid interest rate uncertainty
The pound has fluctuated through positive and negative territory today with traders split on the direction of interest rates and bond markets holding steady.
Sterling is flat on the day at more than $1.23 while against the euro it is down 0.1pc to just under 88p.
Traders are split on whether the Bank of England and US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again at their next meetings in May or take a pause.
If they do not raise rates, that would be the first time in more than a year.
Glencore-backed crops trader expected to leave Russian market
Major crops trader Viterra is reportedly planning an exit from the Russian market, adding to uncertainty over the future of shipments from Black Sea ports.
Grain prices have risen following the news that the Glencore-based company will cut ties with the world's biggest wheat exporter, according to Bloomberg.
It comes after Russia said on Wednesday that top agricultural commodities trader Cargill will stop exporting its grain.
International grain traders have faced pressure to leave the market from Russian officials and the local industry, who say Russia should have control over its own market.
CBOT #wheat popping higher, supported by deteriorating US crop conditions. Additional support emerging ahead of Friday's Q1 and planting reports as well as news that Cargill will stop exporting Russian grains pic.twitter.com/sbvC362l8M
— Ole S Hansen (@Ole_S_Hansen) March 29, 2023
US markets rise at opening bell
Wall Street was higher across the board as anxiety about the global financial system began to wane following the three high-profile bank failures of recent weeks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.8pc to 32,641.31 after the opening bell while the broad-based S&P 500 jumped nearly 1pc to 4,008.94.
The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite rose 1.2pc to 11,855.00.
Binance 'hid links to China for several years'
Binance has been accused of hiding substantial links to China for several years, contradicting claims that the crypto exchange left the country after a clampdown on the industry in late 2017.
Chief executive Changpeng Zhao, known as CZ, and others in senior positions repeatedly told Binance staff to hide its presence in China, according to claims in internal documents seen by the Financial Times.
It comes as investors withdrew $1.6bn of cryptocurrency within 24 hours from the crypto exchange after it was sued by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Monday, according to blockchain data tracker Nansen.
The regulator sued Binance - the world's biggest crypto exchange - along with its chief executive and former top compliance executive, alleging that they were operating an "illegal" exchange and a "sham" compliance program.
Martin Lee, research analyst at Nansen, said that the outflows were higher than usual, but still not as high as December 13, when investors pulled $3bn from Binance as they grew nervous about the status of Binance's reserves.
Binance has said it does not agree with the characterisation of many of the issues alleged in the complaint by the CFTC.
Bitcoin rises toward $30,000
Bitcoin has renewed its climb toward $30,000 amid rising risk appetite rising across global markets and easing concerns about the fallout from Binance's legal troubles.
The largest cryptocurrency by market value rose for a second day, gaining as much as 4.9pc to $28,638 on Wednesday.
It had climbed to just below $29,000 on March 22, the highest since June.
Other tokens also rallied, with XRP jumping about 9pc, Cardano increasing 7pc and Polygon rising 4pc. Ether was up less than 2pc.
Bitcoin touched a 10-day low on Monday after Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, was sued by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission for allegedly breaking trading and derivatives rules.
Binance said it did not agree with the characterisation of many of the issues alleged in the complaint.
Shell paid £15m in taxes and fees after record profits
Shell paid around £7m in taxes last year and a further £8m in fees despite the Government's plans to tax the oil giant's record profit.
The company was able to write down its tax bill by around $42m (£34m) due to the money it is spending in Britain.
But despite the low bill, it is in fact the first time since 2017 that Shell has paid more in tax than it was able to write off.
It comes after it more than doubled its annual profit to a record $39.9bn (£32.2bn) as the oil giant's boss declared the world would be "desperately in need" of fossil fuels for years to come.
The business paid a total of just under $18m (£15m) in taxes and fees in the UK last year, it revealed today.
It is a massive jump from 2021 when the oil giant paid $10.7m (£8.7m) in fees on the one hand but on the other was handed back $132m (£107m) from HM Revenue and Customs.
The business had a negative tax and fees bill of around $100m or more in each of the years between 2018 and 2021.
Ministers to hold meetings on joining Indo-Pacific pact
Ministers will hold meetings this week with Indo-Pacific counterparts to join the region's leading trade pact, Number 10 has said.
They will discuss joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Prime Minister's spokesman confirmed.
The 11 current members of the CPTPP are expected to soon reach broad agreement with Britain on it joining the pact, according to Reuters.
The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "Negotiations have been proceeding well on CPTPP, and ministers are due to have discussions with their counterparts later this week."
He added that any update would be provided at the "earliest possible opportunity".
‘Pernicious’ Leveson-era law scrapped in victory for newspapers
A "pernicious" law that would have forced news publishers to pay the legal costs of people who sued them has been scrapped as part of an overhaul of broadcasting legislation.
Our media reporter James Warrington has the latest:
Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which was drawn up in the wake of the Leveson inquiry, would have forced newspapers not signed up to an approved regulator to pay both sides' costs in any legal proceedings, regardless of the outcome.
The punitive measures were never brought into force but were backed by high-profile supporters of the Hacked Off group, including Gary Lineker and Hugh Grant.
They were met with widespread opposition from newspaper groups and press freedom advocates, however, while the Government admitted they posed "a threat to the freedom and sustainability of the press".
Read how it has comes as part of a raft of changes under the much-delayed Media Bill.
Wall Street poised to rise at opening bell
US stock markets are expected to open higher as easing worries about a banking crisis boost optimism.
Market jitters about stress in the banking system have been soothed in recent days following First Citizens takeover of failed lender Silicon Valley Bank's assets.
In Europe, UBS has rehired its old chief executive to guide it through the complex takeover of troubled rival Credit Suisse.
The Bank of England meanwhile has expressed confidence in UK lenders to withstand more shocks.
Large US banks such as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan rose between 0.7pc and 1.6pc in premarket trading.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is on track to open 0.8pc higher, while the S&P 500 is up 0.9pc ahead of the open.
Futures contracts in the Nasdaq 100 have also risen 0.9pc.
UBS takeover of Credit Suisse 'bigger than any deal in 2008 crisis'
The chairman of UBS has said that the task of integrating Credit Suisse is bigger than any deal that was executed during the height of the financial crisis in 2008.
Colm Kelleher's comments underline the magnitude of the task facing Sergio Ermotti, who will return as chief executive of the Swiss banking giant in April.
Mr Kelleher said he could not stress enough the enormity of the work ahead for UBS to take over its biggest rival.
At a press conference announcing Mr Ermotti will take over from Ralph Hamers at UBS, he said:
This is the biggest single financial transaction since 2008.
I would argue it's bigger than any deal that was done in 2008.
That brings with it significant execution risk.
America's most powerful banker to give evidence in Jeffery Epstein lawsuit
The chief executive of the US's largest bank is expected to be questioned under oath over his bank's ties to paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan, will be deposed in connection with two high-profile cases brought by an alleged Epstein victim and the US Virgin Islands, where the late financier had a residence.
Epstein remained a JPMorgan client for five years after he pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution in 2008.
The lawsuits claim that JP Morgan benefited from human trafficking and ignored several internal warnings about its client’s behaviour.
The bank has said the claims are without merit.
A date for the sworn testimony by Mr Dimon, who has been described as America's most powerful banker, has not yet been set but a judge has ordered all depositions to be completed by the end of May, according to Bloomberg.
The bank declined to comment on Mr Dimon's deposition.
Regulators to investigate Broadcom's £49m takeover of VMware
Competition regulators will launch an in-depth review of US chipmaker Broadcom's $61bn (£49.4m) takeover of cloud-computing company VMware.
The Competition and Markets Authority said its concerns have not been addressed that the deal could increase costs for customers including banks and telecommunication firms.
It has set a deadline of September 12 to make its decision over the merger.
Broadcom's acquisition is already under scrutiny from European regulators and is also in the midst of an in-depth review in Brussels.
Broadcom makes a wide range of electronics, with its products going into everything from Apple's iPhones to industrial equipment, while VMware makes virtual software that allows users to access systems remotely.
British Gas lowers prepayment meter charges early
More than a million British Gas customers will benefit from a small fall in their bills as the company implements a plan to reduce prepayment meter charges ahead of time.
From Saturday, prepayment meter customers will pay as much as direct debit customers for gas and keep the same current discount for electricity prepayment meters, British Gas said.
It means the average customer getting both gas and electricity from one of the supplier's prepayment meters will be £59 better off per year.
The Chancellor said earlier this month suppliers will be forced to slash the "prepayment penalty" - which sees gas customers with prepayment meters pay slightly more for their energy than direct debit customers.
The change is set to come into force from July, though British Gas said it will act earlier.
The move comes as energy regulator Ofgem reviews how British Gas and others have been treating customers unable to pay their bills.
Bank of England calls for pension crackdown after mini-Budget blow-up
Pension funds holding the kind of toxic products that blew up in the wake of Liz Truss' mini-Budget should face tougher rules to prevent another market crisis, the Bank of England has said.
Economics reporter Melissa Lawford has the latest:
Funds using liability driven investments (LDIs) should be subject to new stress tests to stop a repeat of the gilt yields crisis that followed the September mini-Budget, the Bank said.
The Bank's Financial Policy Committee (FPC) has told The Pensions Regulator to urgently introduce stress testing for LDI funds to ensure they can manage a 2.5 percentage point increase in gilt yields.
Funds must also be made to hold more cash to ensure they have enough to manage daily market moves.
Read why the FPC warned of "wider contagion from the developments in the banking sector globally".
Mortgage approvals increase as property market stabilises
Mortgage approvals increased by more than expected in February amid increasing signs that the housing market is stabilising.
Lenders authorised 43,500 home loans compared to 39,600 in January, the Bank of England said.
It was the first increase since August and more than the 41,300 predicted by economists.
The figures suggest improving consumer confidence, resilience in the labour market and an easing of the cost-of-living crisis are feeding into the housing market.
The housing market has been hit by rising borrowing costs and economic uncertainty.
Mortgage rates have risen sharply since September after a string of interest rate rises and the turbulence unleashed by former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s ill-fated tax-cutting plan in the mini-Budget.
Clearly past the trough in mortgage approvals for house purchase. But still 34% below pre-pandemic average in February. https://t.co/B2wnLIRRYq
— Neal Hudson (@resi_analyst) March 29, 2023
UK must counter Biden's green subsidies, says Hunt
The Government will need to mitigate against the risks posed to investment in Britain by Joe Biden's massive package of green subsidies, Jeremy Hunt said.
The Chancellor has told MPs that it is a "good thing the United States are taking climate change seriously," adding that there is a "great deal of catch-up" in what they are doing.
But speaking to the Treasury select committee, he conceded that the $369bn of US subsidies and tax reliefs for green industries poses "risks" which the UK will need to counter.
While that does not necessarily mean matching the US measures subsidy for subsidy, it does entail ensuring the overall package to pull investors to the UK "remains attractive," he said.
Mr Hunt made his remarks the day before the Government is set to unveil a range of energy and climate change measures on what officials have billed "green day".
Hunt: Businesses need 'change in attitudes' on hiring over-50s
Jeremy Hunt has said there needs to be "a change in attitudes" among some businesses about hiring workers who are over 50 or have disabilities.
He also said the UK needs to "completely rethink our approach" to bringing long-term sick people back into the workforce.
He told the Treasury select committee: "Our understanding of the work someone with a sickness of disability can do has changed dramatically. We need to rethink that."
He added: "We need a change in attitudes amongst some businesses."
'Out of control' AI is a threat to civilisation, warns Elon Musk
Elon Musk has warned that "out of control" development of artificial intelligence (AI) could "pose profound risks to society and humanity".
Senior technology reporter Gareth Corfield has the details:
The Tesla chief and over 1000s other academics and tech industry figures have signed an open letter demanding that "all AI labs... immediately pause" work on advancing AI and called for governments to temporarily ban further research if they do not.
Mr Musk and other signatories, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and the head of the Doomsday Clock, have been alarmed by recent rapid advances in AI.
"Out of control" development by "unelected tech leaders" could lead to the development of "nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us", they warned in the letter.
Further advances "risk loss of control of our civilisation" unless proper checks and balances are put in place.
Read why concern have grown after the recent public success of ChatGPT.
There were mistakes in the mini-Budget we had to reverse, says Hunt
Mr Hunt said the Government's approach to the economy has been "more coherent than you might think" despite its several changes in chancellor but with "one exception".
He told MPs on the Treasury select committee:
There were some mistakes in the mini-Budget which we had to reverse.
In particular, it's clear you can’t fund tax cuts through increased borrowing so that is a clear thing that we changed course on.
Taking that aside, if you look at the industrial strategy, to say we are going to be the world's next Silicon Valley and we're going to be global leaders in clean energy, life sciences, digital, creative industries and advanced manufacturing, and to set out how you're going to do it in terms of creating the skills base and making sure growth is spread across the country, those are things what anyone would call an industrial strategy.
I don't think it's necessary to publish a new document. I just want to get on and do it.
The big decision made by Boris Johnson's administration at the start of the parliament to increase capital spending very significantly… we have honoured that.
We weren't able to continue the rate of increase that was originally planned but we froze the increase at its high level in cash terms.
I think that is one of the biggest changes in government economic policy in recent times.
Britain's taxes are 'far too complex', warns Chancellor
Jeremy Hunt has said taxes are "far too complex" in the UK and he wants to simplify them amid efforts to get more people back into the workforce.
The Chancellor made the commitment in a meeting with MPs despite abolishing the Office of Tax Simplification in September.
It comes after Mr Hunt used his Budget this month to abolish the lifetime allowance which caps the amount that people can save tax-free into their pension at £1.073m.
It will be cancelled entirely from April 2024, as part of the Government's campaign to lure over-50s back into the workforce.
Giving evidence to the Treasury select committee of MPs, he said:
Taxes are far too complex and there is a huge job to do to make them more simple.
I tend to be a chancellor who makes progress in simplifying the tax system during my time in office.
The abolition of the LTA [lifetime allowance] was one very major simplification in the tax system.
And I will continue to make sure, in as far as I am able, in every fiscal event to try to make progress on tax simplification.
I am happy to take that as a personal responsibility rather than have a separate group of people who are funded to do that.
He said he is asking Treasury officials to do work on tax simplification ahead of every Budget and autumn statement.
'No decision' made on fuel duty rise next year
Jeremy Hunt was asked whether he was serious about putting up fuel duty next year, during an election year.
He told MPs:
We don't know. We haven't made any decisions. I don't agree that it's a fiction [that we will put up fuel duty].
The cost of making it a permanent change would be a £4bn reduction in the headroom after four years. The headroom is only £6.5bn.
We cannot afford to make that change permanent. It has just not been an option.
Did I want to do it this year? Yes I did because inflation is running above 10pc.
Hunt to answer MPs' questions on the Budget
Jeremy Hunt has begun giving evidence to MPs about his Budget earlier this month.
The Chancellor will be joined by Treasury officials Gwyneth Nurse, director general of financial services, Sean Jones, deputy director for the Budget and Finance Bill, and Cat Little, second permanent secretary to the Treasury.
The session in front of the Treasury select committee will likely to focus on the impact of then Budget on households and businesses across the UK, as well as on inflation, taxation and economic growth.
Oil prices rise as dispute halts exports from Turkey
Oil has extended gains after an industry report signalled impending rising demand for US crude stockpiles as an ongoing dispute halts exports from Turkey.
West Texas Intermediate rose for a third session by 0.8pc toward $74 a barrel, with easing concerns over the banking crisis adding to bullish sentiment.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, has gained 0.5pc to move above $79.
The American Petroleum Institute reported crude inventories dropped by 6.1m barrels last week, according to Bloomberg.
That will be the biggest decline this year if confirmed by government figures later today.
Meanwhile, the US is urging Iraq and Turkey to resume exports from the port of Ceyhan after a dispute involving Kurdish authorities halted around 400,000 barrels a day of shipments, tightening the market and helping to boost prices.
One of the biggest oil producers in Iraqi Kurdistan, Norway’s DNO ASA, has started to lower production as the dispute drags on.
Bupa to cut 85 dental practices, hitting 1,200 jobs
Bupa Dental Care is set to cut 85 dental practices in a move that will affect 1,200 staff across the UK, amid a national shortage of dentists and "systemic" challenges across the industry.
The healthcare group said patients at the affected practices have not been able to access the NHS dental service they need.
Bupa, which provides NHS and private dental care, said the 85 practices will be closed, sold or merged later this year, bringing the total number of practices in the UK down to 365.
All the practices will remain open as usual in the meantime.
The move will affect 1,200 employed and self-employed staff, representing more than a tenth of its 9,000-strong workforce.
Gas prices rise as French strikes continue
European natural gas prices surged to their highest level in more than a week amid impending cold weather and disruption from French strikes.
Dutch front-month futures, the continent's benchmark, rose as much as 6.3pc to trade near €45 per megawatt hour as supplies are expected to be squeezed by wintery conditions.
It comes as strikes at three liquified natural gas terminals run by Elengy rumble on until Thursday.
The continent can no longer turn to Russian gas to ease supplies amid sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.
However, storage remains above usual levels for this time of the year at 56pc, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe.
Markets rise but Next falls to bottom of FTSE 100
Stock markets have risen as fears of a banking crisis ebbed after weeks of turmoil.
The start of the day tracked gains in Asian markets, which were boosted by massive gains for Chinese tech behemoth Alibaba after it announced it would split into six groups.
The FTSE 100 climbed 0.4pc to 7,513.31 while the midcap FTSE 250 also rose 0.4pc to 18,470.00.
A 0.9pc gain for HSBC has helped lift London's blue-chip. Banking stocks have risen 1.1pc.
Next fell 5.7pc to the bottom of the FTSE 100 as it warned of smaller profits in a "challenging" year ahead.
In Europe, UBS climbed 2.2pc after the Swiss bank announced Sergio Ermotti will take the helm to steer its massive takeover of smaller peer Credit Suisse.
Credit Suisse climbed 2.1pc, while the European financial services and banking indexes were up about 1pc each.
Chapel Down sales fizz as it raises prices
Winemaker Chapel Down has reported a jump in sales and profits after selling a record number of sparkling wines and bumping up its prices.
The Kent-based company said sales of traditional-method sparkling wine - which includes its Brut and sparkling Bacchus - surged by more than 50pc over 2022, as the business took steps to become a more premium brand.
It sold a record 790,000 bottles following an "outstanding" harvest during the year, which meant it produced more than two million bottles of wine in total.
Brand associations with sporting events like English Cricket at the Ashes over the summer also helped lift sales as people enjoyed a tipple during the hot weather.
The retailer said the average price of items it sold increased by nearly a fifth, partly because it focused on marketing higher-priced drinks.
Markets rise as bank worries ease
Markets have opened higher as anxiety about the global financial system began to fade following three high-profile bank failures.
The FTSE 100 has risen by 0.2pc to 7,501.86 while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 has climbed 0.3pc to 18,445.52.
UBS's crisis-era chief executive returns to oversee Credit Suisse deal
UBS has rehired its former chief executive as it works out how to navigate its mammoth rescue of rival Credit Suisse.
Sergio Ermotti was a key figure in rebuilding the banking sector after the financial crisis during his time as UBS boss from 2011 to 2020.
His immediate challenges in his second stint as chief executive will be laying off thousands of staff, cutting back Credit Suisse’s investment bank and reassuring wealthy customers that their cash is safe.
Mr Ermotti, the current chairman of Swiss Re, will take the helm from April 5.
UBS took over its troubled rival Credit Suisse for 3 billion Swiss francs (£2.7bn) earlier this month in a government-brokered deal after a crisis of confidence in the banking sector.
UBS shares moved 2.3pc higher in premarket trading on the Zurich stock exchange after the announcement that Sergio Ermotti will return as chief executive.
He takes charge weeks after UBS bought rival Swiss bank Credit Suisse in a shotgun merger engineered by Swiss authorities to stem turmoil after Credit Suisse ran aground.
That deal made UBS Switzerland’s one and only global bank, underpinned by roughly 260 billion francs ($170bn) in state loans and guarantees to underpin the new group, a risky bet that makes the Swiss economy more dependent on a single lender.
Current chief executive Ralph Hamers was a notable absentee from the announcement of UBS's takeover of Credit Suisse on March 19 - a deal backed by more than 200 billion francs ($217 billion) of state cash and guarantees engineered by the government, central bank and regulators.
Inflation will be 'more benign' than feared, says Next boss
Next has said it expects to raise its prices more slowly over the year ahead as it revealed better-than-expected annual profits.
The retail giant reported a 5.7pc rise in pre-tax profits to £870.4m for the year to January, which was higher than the £860m it had previously pencilled in.
Next said full-price sales rose 6.9pc year-on-year.
The group, which has been hiking prices to offset surging cost pressures, said price inflation is set to be "more benign" than previously thought, forecasting increases across its ranges of 7pc this spring/summer, easing back to 3pc in the autumn/winter.
It had previously expected to ramp up its prices by 8pc for spring/summer and 6pc for autumn/winter, but said it was seeing supply chain woes ease off, with sharply lower shipping costs, and as it costs less to buy stock from overseas.
The outlook for prices gives further hope to cash-strapped households that sky high inflation will start to ease back during 2023.
Next 'well-prepared' as retail business smaller now, says Lord Wolfson
Lord Wolfson said Next is "well-prepared" for the next year, despite forecasting profits to fall to £795m. He said:
Looking through next year to the longer term our prospects feel more posive than they have done for some me.
The burdens of the structural change to our industry appear to have eased, our retail business is a much smaller percentage of the group than it was eight years ago, and its rent and rates bill is slowly adjusting to reflect current levels of retail demand.
This year, the group will focus on improving its product ranges, online service levels and cost controls.
As importantly, the group is also laying the foundations for new avenues of growth to complement and leverage our heartland business.
Next warns of 'challenging' year ahead
Next has sent a warning to the retail sector as the bellwether company said it expects sales and profits to fall this year.
The firm revealed sales increased 8.4pc to £5.1bn in the year to the end of January, while pre-tax profits increased 5.7pc tp £870.4m.
Its profits were £10m higher than its previous guidance and up 16.3pc on year before the start of the pandemic.
However, it said it is budgeting for sales to be down 1.5pc next year and pre-tax profits to be below £800m.
In his review of the results, chief executive Lord Wolfson said: "The year ahead looks like it will be challenging: the combination of inflation in our cost base and top line sales which are likely to edge backwards is uncomfortable."
Shapps plots 'carbon tax' on foreign imports to protect British factories
Cheap imported products made in polluting factories overseas will be hit with green taxes to protect British manufacturers with higher standards under new plans expected to be announced this week.
Middle-income families will also be given grants to improve the energy efficiency of their homes under proposals reportedly due to be unveiled by energy secretary Grant Shapps.
The "carbon border taxes" will aim to protect UK factories from being undercut by countries with less strict environmental rules, according to The Times.
The scheme, which is expected to be unveiled on Thursday, will mirror a similar programme in the European Union and be focused initially on energy-intensive products such as iron and steel, cement, aluminium and fertilisers.
These are mainly produced in non-EU countries.
Mr Shapps' plans for "carbon border taxes" would create a "level playing field" for UK manufacturers but also encourage other countries to reduce their reliance on polluting energy sources.
It is aimed to encourage them to switch from coal power to renewables in order to avoid the tariffs.
However, the consultation on the plans is expected to say the Government wants to help establish an international approach to carbon pricing to prevent the UK being at a competitive disadvantage.
Countries with less strict environmental laws are expected to face taxes on their products sent to the UK under plans designed to protect British manufacturers.
Grant Shapps, the energy secretary, will on Thursday announce the "carbon border taxes" that will mirror a scheme in the European Union, according to The Times.
5 things to start your day
1) Net zero ban on petrol cars in chaos after Brussels climbdown | Proposals to ditch internal combustion engines face crisis following 'e-fuels' exemption in EU
2) Royal Mail strikers given 48 hours to accept pay deal amid administration fears | Company races to seal pay offer following claims UK arm could go bust
3) Michael Gove approves solar farm the size of 75 football pitches despite local objections | Divisive Shropshire project will provide enough electricity to power over 8,500 homes
4) ECB staff complain of burnout after being forced back to the office | Survey shows the proportion of staff feeling the effects of burnout doubled in 6 months
5) Black Lives Matter logo ‘violates Adidas trademark’ | Sportwear retailer argues the design creates confusion with its own three-stripe mark
What happened overnight
Asian shares jumped on Wednesday while the dollar was on the defensive as easing concerns over the banking sector revived risk appetite.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.82pc, while Japan's Nikkei rose 0.49pc.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed over 2pc, buoyed by Alibaba after the Chinese e-commerce conglomerate announced its break-up plans. Alibaba's Hong Kong shares shot up 15pc, while the company's US-listed shares closed 14.3pc higher. Meanwhile, China's CSI 300 benchmark edged up 0.4pc.
Wall Street stocks ended lower on Tuesday as investors weighed comments from Federal Reserve vice chair Michael Barr, who described the downfall of Silicon Valley Bank as a "textbook case of mismangement".
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.1pc to 32,394.25. The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.2pc to 3,971.27, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.5pc at 11,716.08.
The KBW regional banking index declined 0.2pc as the Federal Reserve official proposed tougher liquidity and capital rules to avoid further collapses.
The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasuries rose 2.8 basis points to 3.56pc, up from 3.53pc on Monday. The interest rate sensitive two-year yield was up 9.5 basis points at 4.06pc.