UK markets closed
  • FTSE 100

    +71.78 (+0.91%)
  • FTSE 250

    -65.63 (-0.33%)
  • AIM

    -2.92 (-0.38%)

    -0.0007 (-0.06%)

    -0.0104 (-0.83%)
  • Bitcoin GBP

    -3,049.71 (-5.61%)
  • CMC Crypto 200

    0.00 (0.00%)
  • S&P 500

    -75.65 (-1.46%)
  • DOW

    -475.84 (-1.24%)

    +0.43 (+0.51%)

    -12.50 (-0.53%)
  • NIKKEI 225

    +80.92 (+0.21%)

    -373.34 (-2.18%)
  • DAX

    -24.16 (-0.13%)
  • CAC 40

    -12.91 (-0.16%)

Tesla sales slump wipes $35bn off Elon Musk’s electric car giant

Elon Musk's Tesla has revealed its ifrst drop in sales since the early days of the pandemic
Elon Musk's Tesla has revealed its ifrst drop in sales since the early days of the pandemic - Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Tesla’s sales have fallen for the first time in four years as deliveries of Elon Musk’s electric cars went into reverse on the back of worsening demand for electric vehicles (EVs).

The carmaker delivered 386,810 cars to customers in the first three months of 2024, down more than 8pc on the same period last year, in a sign resurgent rivals and supply chain disruption are weighing on Tesla’s sales.

Shares in the EV maker slumped nearly 6pc as trading began on Wall Street, wiping $35bn off the value of the company after it said car production also dropped to 433,371, down from 440,808.

Tesla said the decline in volumes was “partially due to the early phase of the production ramp” of its updated Model 3 at its Fremont factory.


It also blamed the factory shutdowns “resulting from shipping diversions caused by the Red Sea conflict and an arson attack” at its gigafactory in Berlin.

The sales drop is the first year-over-year fall in quarterly sales for Tesla since 2020 and comes in well under the worst expectations of Wall Street analysts.

Tesla was forced to halt production at its European gigafactory near Berlin in February for over a fortnight after an arson attack by environmentalists calling themselves “Vulkangruppe” (“volcano group”).

In China, meanwhile, Tesla, which produces the popular Model S and Model Y electric cars, has also been grappling with the rise of domestic challengers such as BYD.

BYD’s sales of electric cars surged past Tesla for the first time in the three months ending in December after it shipped over a half a million all-electric vehicles.

However, the latest results mean that Tesla has reclaimed its crown as the world’s largest EV seller after BYD sold only 300,114 battery-electric vehicles globally.

The Chinese manufacturer, which develops the cut-price BYD Dolphin, has forced Tesla into a domestic price war to maintain its sales, which has taken its toll on Tesla’s share price.

Read the latest updates below.

07:05 PM BST

That’s all for today...

Thanks for joining us. Chris Price will be back in the morning to cover the latest from the markets but, in the meantime, I’ll leave you with a couple of our latest business stories:

07:03 PM BST

Plus500 profits drop but company says outlook is bright

Profits at investment platform Plus500 have fallen 27pc as it moves to focus on “higher value customers”.

It it told investors that profits for 2023 were $271.4m, while turnover fell 13pc to $726.2m. However, the results were in line with expectations and the shares rose 1.4pc.

Last month the business announced $175m in buybacks and dividends.

Plus500 claimed that 2023 delivered “another strong year” and cited a “lean and flexible cost base”. However, margins, according to its chosen measure, fell from 55pc to 47pc.

It added 90,944 new customers last year, down from 106,549 in 2022, but it said that the amount an average customer was investing had reached record highs.

David Zruia, chief executive, told investors that there were “compelling growth opportunities” over the medium term.

05:34 PM BST

De Beers offloads pensions

De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer, has offloaded its pension scheme as a wave of companies seek to escape the risk of managing defined benefit pensions by transferring them to insurers.

Mike Page, a fund trustee, said that it “further increases the security of scheme members’ benefits”.

The £870m deal puts the Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) in charge of the scheme.

Tristan Walker-Buckton of PIC said the move will “de-risk the scheme, removing the risk associated with the scheme from the company’s balance sheet, and providing security to all their members for the long-term”.

He added: “2024 has started strongly in the pension risk transfer market and we expect another record-breaking year.”

De Beers is 85pc owned by Anglo American, with the remaining owned by the government of Botswana.

The De Beers Millennium Star diamond, 2002
The De Beers Millennium Star diamond, 2002 - Steven Lock

05:02 PM BST

Footsie closes down

The FTSE 100 closed down 0.2pc. The biggest riser was mining company Fresnillo, up 7.6pc, followed by Anglo American, up 4.6pc. Calgon maker Reckitt Benckiser was the biggest faller, down 5.3pc, followed by gambling group Entain, down 5pc.

The FTSE 250 dropped 0.86pc. The biggest riser was electrical retailer AO World, up 3.4pc, followed by software company Kainos, up 3pc. The biggest faller was North Sea oil and gas producer Ithaca Energy, down 8pc, followed by National Express owner Mobico, down 7.3pc.

04:39 PM BST

Silicon Valley ‘unicorn’ WeWork secures rent cuts

The flexible office giant WeWork said on Tuesday it aimed to emerge from bankruptcy in the US and Canada by the end of May and had negotiated more than $8bn (£6.4bn), or over 40pc, in cuts to its rents.

The shared office space provider, once privately valued as a Silicon Valley “unicorn” at $47bn, filed for bankruptcy in November. It followed losses on its long-term leases after demand for office space plunged during the pandemic and from a shift to hybrid working.

The company said on Tuesday it had secured agreements to amend about 150 leases and was in the process of leaving another 150 leases.

In November, WeWork reached an agreement with more than 90pc of its bondholders to convert $3bn of debt into equity.

SoftBank, which currently owns about 70pc of the company, would retain an equity stake under the proposed restructuring.

Members work in a WeWork in San Francisco, 2017
Members work in a WeWork in San Francisco, 2017 - Michael Short/Bloomberg

04:37 PM BST

FTSE 100 on ‘frustrating trajectory’ despite flirting with record highs

It’s been a muddled day on the stock market today in London. Susannah Streeter of investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown explains:

The FTSE 100 has been on a frustrating trajectory, flirting with record highs earlier in the session before losing ground and slipping away from the psychologically important 8,000 mark.

Mining stocks helped boost the index in early trade, helped by more encouraging manufacturing data from China, but the index was held back as Entain and Ocado lost ground.

Pessimism has seeped back in after Wall Street’s disappointing open, with the S&P starting the second quarter on a downbeat note as investors assess sticky inflation data, adding to worries that interest rate cuts may be pushed further back on the horizon.

04:29 PM BST

Surging US debt can no longer be overlooked, top investor warns

Surging US debt and “irresponsible” government borrowing are threatening the future prosperity of Americans, one of the world’s top investors has warned. Michael Bow has the details:

Ken Griffin, founder of US hedge fund Citadel, said the country’s ballooning debt pile was a “growing concern that cannot be overlooked”.

Mr Griffin wrote in an annual letter to Citadel’s investors: “We must stop borrowing at the expense of future generations. The Western world urgently needs a significant increase in productivity growth as the burden of rising government debt and entitlement spending strains almost every major economy.”

Global debt surged to a record high of $313 trillion (£248 trillion) last year, according to the Institute for International Finance.

Read the full report...

Citadel chief Ken Griffin on the screen during the Museum of American Finance Gala in New York last month
Citadel chief Ken Griffin on the screen during the Museum of American Finance Gala in New York last month - Jeenah Moon/Reuters

04:23 PM BST

HSBC mulls selling German businesses

HSBC is considering selling several business in Germany including its wealth management division, Bloomberg has reported.

The FTSE 100 banking group is reportedly working with advisers on a review, Bloomberg’s sources said. It is understood that discussions are at an early stage. Corporate banking and trading activities are reportedly not under review.

The Telegraph has approached HSBC for comment.

HSBC is reportedly working with advisers on a review
HSBC is reportedly working with advisers on a review

04:02 PM BST

Pharma company quits London stock market over low valuation

Redx Pharma said it is quitting the London stock market over its low valuation, becoming the second British pharmaceutical company to unveil plans to delist in the past week. Hannah Boland reports:

The drug discovery company, which joined the London Stock Exchange’s junior market in 2015, said it had concluded it was in its best interests to leave Aim and re-register Redx Pharma as a private company.

It follows a collapse in its share price. Before Tuesday’s announcement, Redx was worth around 80pc less than in September 2021.

Dr Jane Griffiths, its chairman, said: “Despite completing some of the largest AIM capital raises for biotech companies in recent years, Redx is still liquidity constrained on AIM.

“As a result, we believe our current market valuation is not reflective of our track record or future potential and is not conducive to raising the level of capital required for our growing clinical portfolio.”

Dr Griffiths said Redx would be able to access a “broader universe of specialty investors” as a private company and raise more cash to help with plans to discover more treatments.

Its planned delisting comes amid a spate of exits from the London stock market, as concerns mount over the health of the UK financial markets.

Last week, C4X Discovery said it would be leaving Aim, claiming its valuation did not reflect the underlying potential of its business.

03:59 PM BST

UBS launches new $2bn share buyback

UBS is launching a new share buyback programme of up to $2bn (£1.6bn), with up to half being completed in 2024.

The scheme will begin on Wednesday, said the Swiss bank, which announced a $1bn buyback with its annual results in February.

Now, the volume of shares to be repurchased could be expanded up to $2bn in the scheme which will run until 2026.

The scheme follows a 2022 buyback, where UBS bought back 298.5m of its shares - equivalent to 8.6pc of its stock - for $5.2bn.

Rather than being canceled as initially intended, most of the repurchased shares were used in last year’s takeover of Credit Suisse.

Before the deal was announced, UBS had already repurchased nearly 1.2bn Swiss francs (£1bn) worth of its stock.

The bank said:

As previously communicated, in 2024 we expect to repurchase up to $1bn of our shares, commencing after the completion of the merger of UBS AG and Credit Suisse AG which is expected to occur by the end of the second quarter.

Our ambition is for share repurchases to exceed our pre-acquisition level by 2026 [pointing to the $5.6 billion of shares repurchased in 2022].

During buybacks, firms buy their own shares on the stock exchange, reducing the proportion of shares held by investors, offering a way for companies to return cash to shareholders - along with dividends, and often sending the stock higher as shares reduce in number.

A UBS logo at the Bahnhofstrasse, Zürich's main downtown street, in Switzerland, 2023
A UBS logo at the Bahnhofstrasse, Zürich's main downtown street, in Switzerland, 2023 - Denis Balibouse/Reuters

03:51 PM BST

American stocks down as markets worry about interest rate cuts

US stock indexes are down, dragged down by megacap stocks and health insurers as investors grew concerned about the possibility of fewer interest rate cuts than expected from the Federal Reserve in the wake of strong economic data.

Shares of rate-sensitive growth stocks including Nvidia, Microsoft and Amazon fell more than 1pc each as yields of 10-year Treasury bonds rose to their highest since late November on Tuesday’s data.

The data showed US factory orders as well as job openings beat expectations in February.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed lower on Monday after stronger-than-expected manufacturing data from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) raised doubts over the Fed’s three interest rate cuts it had outlined at the last policy meeting.

David Russell, global head of market strategy at TradeStation, said:

We had that upside surprise with the ISM and now people are getting a little bit worried about another strong number this Friday in terms of jobs.

Monthly non-farm payrolls data on Friday is likely to show job additions slowed in March although average earnings ticked higher compared to the previous month.

Russell added:

The idea of three cuts this year... that’s sort of what people are concerned about this week.

Traders are pricing in a near 57pc chance of the Fed cutting interest rates by at least 25 basis points in June, and see two more cuts in 2024, according to CMEGroup’s FedWatch tool.

03:47 PM BST

FTSE in the red despite positive morning

The FTSE 100 is slightly down this afternoon, despite encouraging gains in the morning. Victoria Scholar of Interactive Investor explains:

Despite the gloomy sentiment towards UK plc since Brexit, the FTSE 100, an outward looking index consisting of many international companies, has got off to a solid start this year, logging a gain of more than 3pc in the first quarter.

While this morning’s commodity fuelled rally looked as though the UK blue chip index was set to reach a record high, the start to the second quarter’s initial ebullience quickly faded with the FTSE 100 breaking back below the psychological 8000 hurdle, and is now on track to close the session in the red.

Nonetheless more positive news from China could help lift mining stocks while the recent upward trajectory for oil prices could catalyse further gains for BP and Shell, both of which would likely contribute to gains for the FTSE 100 towards that hotly anticipated record level from last year.

This week is quiet on the corporate and economic front after the Easter bank holiday, which could mean a lack of news stories to move the index. However lighter volume weeks typically see greater volatility, which might work in the FTSE 100’s favour.

03:41 PM BST

‘Seminal moment in the Tesla story’ as sales drop 8pc

Falling sales at Tesla are a “seminal moment”, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives has said:

While we were anticipating a bad 1Q, this was an unmitigated disaster.

We view this as a seminal moment in the Tesla story for Musk to either turn this around and reverse the black eye 1Q performance. Otherwise, some darker days could clearly be ahead that could disrupt the long-term Tesla narrative.

03:34 PM BST

Gold hits new record high amid Middle East tensions

Gold prices have hit another record high amid the prospect of interest rates falling in the coming months - and as tensions rise further in the Middle East.

The safe haven precious metal advanced as high as $2,266.85 per ounce in London deals to extend its blistering record-breaking run, driven also by the prospect of interest-rate cuts in the coming months.

Meanwhile, oil has gained more ground, with Brent crude tipping over $88 a barrel, as Iran warned Israel that it will retaliate for a deadly air strike on its consular annex building in Syria’s capital Damascus, raising fears of a spillover of the Gaza war across the region.

Rabobank analyst Jane Foley said:

Gold’s historic safe haven appeal has been re-ignited by geopolitical factors which includes the current crisis in the Middle East.

The possibility of an escalation in the Middle East given current headlines regarding Iran’s accusations of Israeli strike on a consulate building in Syria are underpinning gold prices today.

Gold prices are rising as traders anticipate interest-rate cuts by the European Central Bank, Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve in June as inflation is slowing, analysts said.

City Index analyst Matthew Weller: “When interest rates fall, gold becomes relatively more attractive compared with fixed income assets such as bonds, which offer weaker returns in a lower interest rate environment.”

With that I will head off for the day, as we hail the return of Alex Singleton after a brief period of R&R.

03:16 PM BST

US jobs market slows amid high interest rates

The number of job openings in the US was little changed at 8.8m at the end of February, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, in a sign more Americans are staying put in their jobs.

The level of vacancies remains well down from the highs of 12.2m in March 2022.

Meanwhile, the number of hires was little changed at 5.8m as the economy grapples with high interest rates.

02:44 PM BST

Wall Street slumps amid Tesla shares sell-off

The main US stock indexes opened lower as they were hurt by sharp losses in health insurers and Tesla, while investors awaited comments from Federal Reserve officials and more economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 310.58 points, or 0.8pc, at the open to 39,256.27.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 39.48 points, or 0.8pc, at 5,204.29, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 197.60 points, or 1.2pc, to 16,199.24 at the opening bell.

02:39 PM BST

Tesla sales slump wipes $35bn off Elon Musk’s electric car giant

Tesla shares have slumped by 5.6pc as stock markets opened in the US.

It means the drop in sales has wiped nearly $35bn off the value of the $558bn electric car maker.

02:28 PM BST

Tesla reclaims crown as world’s largest EV maker

Despite the sales challenges, Tesla has still managed to reclaim its title as the world’s largest electric vehicle seller.

Elon Musk’s company was surpassed by China’s BYD at the end of last year.

However, in the first quarter, BYD sold 300,114 battery-electric vehicles globally.

Tesla sold 386,810 during that time, although it was far below Wall Street expectations of 449,080.

Including hybrids and other new-energy automobiles, BYD sold 626,263 units during the period.

Tesla has reclaimed its crown as the world's largest EV seller from the Chinese manufacturer BYD
Tesla has reclaimed its crown as the world's largest EV seller from the Chinese manufacturer BYD - Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

02:23 PM BST

Tesla hit by high rates as it warns it is ‘between two growth waves’

Tesla has been struggling as high interest rates have forced some buyers to delay their purchasing plans.

The company has previously warned investors that it is “between two growth waves”.

In February, chief executive Elon Musk posted that “most people don’t love to buy cars in the middle of winter” as he offered a $1,000 incentive.

Tesla has also begun experimenting with advertising and has gone to greater lengths to educate consumers about its lineup.

Its Model 3 and Model Y make up the vast majority of its output, producing 412,376 of the models and delivering 369,783 of them during the first quarter, out of a total of 433,371 and 386,810 respectively.

02:09 PM BST

Tesla reveals first sales drop in four years

Tesla has revealed its first drop in sales since the early days of the pandemic as the electric vehicle marker loses market share to rivals.

The company, led by Elon Musk, handed over 386,810 vehicles in the first three months of the year, falling well short of Wall Street estimates of 449,080.

Its shares have fallen 6pc in premarket trading.

Tesla has revealed sales slumped at the start of the year
Tesla has revealed sales slumped at the start of the year - REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

01:49 PM BST

Rivian surprises analysts with car sales numbers

Electric car maker Rivian built and delivered more vehicles than expected in the first three months of the year, as it navigated production challenges and rising costs.

The company made 13,980 EVs in the first quarter, which was ahead of Wall Street estimates of 13,817, and handed over 13,588 to customers, also ahead of estimates of 11,893.

It comes after a shaky start to the year for the company amid job cuts and a sharp decline in its value as it said it aims to keep output flat.

Rivian delivered more cars than expected in the first quarter
Rivian delivered more cars than expected in the first quarter - AP Photo/Chris Carlson

01:18 PM BST

German inflation drops to 2.2pc

German inflation fell again in March, official data showed, as falling energy prices eased the pressure on households and businesses.

Consumer price growth in Europe’s largest economy slowed to 2.2pc, according to preliminary data from federal statistics agency Destatis, down from 2.5pc in the year to February.

Energy prices were 2.7pc lower in March than in the same month of the previous year, while food prices were also 0.7pc below the prices of the same month of the previous year for the first time since February 2015.

01:05 PM BST

Slingo maker’s profits surge as mobile gaming grows

Mobile games developer Gaming Realms has cheered a 47pc surge in annual profits after notching up record sales thanks to further global releases of its Slingo franchise.

The group, which develops and distributes Slingo games worldwide, reported pre-tax profits of £5.2m for 2023, up from £3.5m in 2022.

It saw revenues jump 26pc to £23.4m over the year but shares were last down 5.6pc.

The company’s content licensing sales lifted 26pc in North America last year, helped higher as more states allowed online gaming, while growth stood at an even higher 33pc elsewhere.

It added that 2024 had got off to a “promising start”, with sales up 20pc year-on-year in the first two months.

The group forecast further growth over 2024 as it expands globally, with 14 new partners added so far this year to operate its games, including Livescore and DAZN in the UK, Bet365 in Ontario and Entain in Spain.

It has also released three new Slingo games so far this year, including Slingo Hot Roll and China Shores Slingo.

12:38 PM BST

Microsoft to split Teams and Office software

Microsoft is to split its meeting and chat app Teams from its Office software globally after making a similar move in Europe last year.

The tech giant said it was expanding the approach worldwide to help “ensure clarity for customers”.

The decision to split Teams from Microsoft’s Office suite of apps in Europe last year came in response to an investigation from EU competition regulators after a complaint from workplace messaging rival Slack in 2020, who argued it was unfair that being able to bundle Teams within Microsoft Office gave it an unfair advantage.

Microsoft said the changes would not impact European customers already operating under the changes, which were first introduced in the European Economic Area and Switzerland in October last year.

At the time, Microsoft said it was making the changes to “address concerns that have been raised with the European Commission”.

A landmark competition lawsuit against Microsoft by the US Justice Department in 1998 saw the company loosen its control over what software could be installed on its products and has since led to a surge in the popularity of other internet web browsers.

Microsoft will split Teams and Office globally
Microsoft will split Teams and Office globally - REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

12:24 PM BST

Deloitte opens more offices two years after telling staff they could work from home forever

Deloitte has opened new offices less than two years after shutting buildings, as the post-pandemic trend of working from home fades.

Our reporter Adam Mawardi has the latest:

The Big Four accountant has rented three new floors for employees and clients within a block in Farringdon, with a fourth floor to open later this year.

The new office building is located near its New Street Square headquarters and opposite Goldman Sachs’ main London office.

The 70,000 sq ft expansion increases Deloitte’s London office footprint by nearly a fifth, the Financial Times first reported.

Deloitte’s expansion comes less than two years after it sharply reduced its UK office space in response to the shift to hybrid working.

Read where it closed offices.

11:47 AM BST

Wall Street on track to open lower amid rate cut doubts

US stock indexes are on track to dip when trading begins as investors await more economic data and comments from Federal Reserve officials to see how it might impact the timing of interest rate cuts.

Shares of UnitedHealth, CVS Health and Humana fell between 3.8pc and 8.7pc in premarket trading amid signs their margins would likely remain under pressure after the US government left reimbursement rates for providers of Medicare Advantage health plans unchanged.

The blue-chip Dow and the benchmark S&P 500 closed down on Monday after stronger-than-expected manufacturing data raised doubts over the Fed’s three interest rate cuts that it had outlined in its forecast at the last policy meeting.

Data expected today includes factory orders and job openings in February. However, the main focus is on Friday’s US non-farm payrolls data, which is expected to show job additions slowed in March although average earnings ticked higher compared to the previous month.

Traders are pricing in a 62pc chance of the Fed cutting interest rates by 25 basis points in June, as well as see two more cuts in 2024, as per CMEGroup’s FedWatch tool.

In premarket trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.3pc, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 were off by 0.2pc.

11:33 AM BST

Pound rises as manufacturing returns to growth

The pound has risen after data showed Britain’s manufacturing sector expanded in March and mortgage approvals rose in February.

Sterling was last up 0.1pc at $1.25, after falling 0.6pc on Monday as the dollar rose on the back of strong US economic data.

The euro was down 0.1pc against the pound at 85p.

British manufacturers reported their first growth in activity in 20 months in March thanks to recovering domestic demand.

Meanwhile, separate figures showed that UK banks approved the highest number of mortgages in February since September 2022, when new lending slumped due to bond market turmoil caused by Liz Truss’s mini-Budget.

Rob Wood, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “Consumer caution (is) fading in response to lower interest rates. We think households will be willing to spend more this year.”

The pound has fallen since early March as the dollar has strengthened due to better-than-expected US data and after Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey indicated that interest rate cuts are “on the way”.

Investors see a roughly 60pc chance the Bank will cut rates by June, up from 15pc at the start of March, according to derivative market pricing.

11:17 AM BST

Royal Mail hires former Heathrow executive as new boss

The owner of the Royal Mail Group has appointed Heathrow senior executive Emma Gilthorpe as the new boss of the postal service.

International Distributions Services (IDS) said Ms Gilthorpe will join the group on May 1 before becoming Royal Mail chief executive in the summer following a handover with interim boss Martin Seidenberg.

Mr Seidenberg took on the job on a temporary basis alongside his existing role as chief executive of the wider IDS group last October following the departure of embattled former Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson.

Ms Gilthorpe is currently chief operating officer at Heathrow Airport, where she has worked since 2009.

Mr Seidenberg, group chief executive of IDS, said the new boss would “bring a customer and employee-centric approach to delivering Royal Mail’s transformation for the benefit of all our stakeholders”.

Ms Gilthorpe said:

It is an exciting time to be joining Royal Mail at this crucial period for the company. Royal Mail is a great British brand with a long and proud history.

Now is the time to ensure it has a successful future too, working in partnership with our employees, customers and all our stakeholders to continue to modernise Royal Mail and deliver the high standards of service our customers rightly expect.

Royal Mail has hired Emma Gilthorpe as its new chief executive
Royal Mail has hired Emma Gilthorpe as its new chief executive - Heathrow Airport

11:12 AM BST

Gas prices fall as stockpiles left relatively untouched

Gas prices ticked lower as withdrawals from Europe’s storage sites eased after the start of spring.

Europe’s benchmark contract has fallen as much as 3pc today to below €27 per megawatt hour as stockpiles remain at about 59pc of capacity.

While some gas withdrawals are still possible this month, the stage is set for a gradual rebuilding of stockpiles ready for the next winter.

The UK equivalent gas contract has dropped as much as 4pc today to about 66p per therm.

It began the year at more than 80p, while Europe’s benchmark Dutch front-month futures have dropped from more than €32 per megawatt hour in January.

10:52 AM BST

Oil prices hit five-month high after Israeli airstrike

Oil prices have hit a new five-month high after an Israeli air strike on Iran’s embassy in Syria heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Brent futures climbed 1.6pc towards $89 a barrel after rising 0.5pc on Monday, with West Texas Intermediate breaking $85 for the first time since October.

It comes after the Israeli airstrike killed a top Iranian military commander, with Tehran saying it would respond decisively, raising concerns about risks to oil supply.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s state-run oil company Pemex plans to halt exports primarily of its Maya crude over the next few months, according to Bloomberg News.

Crude has climbed 14pc this year as production cuts by the Opec cartel and its allies offset rising supply from outside the group.

10:19 AM BST

Mortgage rate war behind increase in borrowing, say brokers

Mortgage advisers said the rate war between lenders at the start of the year was the key driver of the increase in approvals.

Banks raced to offer lower the mortgage rates to buyers at the turn of the year as money markets predicted several interest rate cuts in 2024.

Since then mortgage rates have ticked higher as the expectations for the number of rate cuts has reduced.

Katy Eatenton of Lifetime Wealth Management:

January was the busiest month in the mortgage market since before the mini-Budget debacle and, based on this evidence, the renewed confidence continued into February.

The trigger in the rise in mortgage approvals for house purchase was the rate war between lenders at the very start of the year.

Once rates started creeping up, the mortgage market started to slow down a little and the March data from the Bank of England may reflect this.

Darryl Dhoffer of The Mortgage Expert said: “After the January surge, I was expecting mortgage approvals in February to be muted due to increased mortgage rates and pricing volatility. However, first-time buyers have been notably active and I expect this to continue as we enter the second quarter of 2024.”

Shaun Sturgess, director at Sturgess Mortgage Solutions, added: “Despite the mixed messages emerging from lenders, and many lenders making rate changes without rhyme or reason, we have seen strong demand from first-time buyers in particular and that’s likely driving this data.”

10:10 AM BST

Mortgage approvals hit highest level since mini-Budget crisis

The number of mortgage approvals has reached its highest level since Liz Truss’s mini-Budget crisis sent the lending market into turmoil.

The number of mortgage approvals made to home buyers increased from 56,100 in January to 60,400 in February, according to Bank of England figures.

This was the highest level since October 2022, when mortgage rates were sent skyrocketing by the bond market slump caused by the unfunded borrowing pledges made in the ill-fated fiscal statement.

Approvals for remortgaging also increased in February, from 30,900 to 37,700, according to the Money and Credit report.

The annual growth rate for consumer credit slowed from 9pc to 8.7pc.

10:00 AM BST

Superdry shares slump as takeover by founder Dunkerton abandoned

Shares in Superdry have plunged to a fresh all-time low after its founder said he does not plan on making an offer to buy the business.

Investors reacted to an update which was shared on Thursday evening, before the extended Easter break, by the troubled fashion brand.

Co-founder and chief executive Julian Dunkerton had been in talks with US investors earlier this year about potentially buying the business and taking it private, which had initially given its share price a boost.

But shares tumbled by nearly 50pc this morning to lows of around 13p per share, in a sign that shareholders were unimpressed by the takeover talks being abandoned.

It is the lowest price since the company began trading on the London Stock Exchange in 2010.

Superdry said on Thursday that a takeover offer was “unlikely to deliver an outcome for shareholders” amid work taking place to revive the business and save money.

It stressed that it was still mulling over other actions such as potentially underwriting an equity raise, which could support its turnaround plan.

The fashion business, which employs around 3,350 people globally and runs 216 shops alongside franchised stores, has been looking at various ways to cut costs to secure its future on Britain’s high streets.

Superdry shares have plunged by nearly 50pc today
Superdry shares have plunged by nearly 50pc today - REUTERS/Toby Melville

09:47 AM BST

FTSE 100 slides after manufacturing boost

The FTSE 100 has given up a significant portion of its gains having earlier looked on track to potentially close at a new record high.

Britain’s blue-chip index has fallen back to 7,984.11 having earlier risen as high as 8,015.63, which would have been a new all-time peak if it had held until markets closed.

The sharp drop - which still represents a gain of 0.4pc on the day - comes after figures showed the UK’s manufacturing sector grew for the first time since July 2022, indicating the economy is resilient and posing a threat to inflation.

As a result, markets have cut back bets on the Bank of England cutting interest rates. The pound has now risen 0.1pc on the day to $1.25.

09:39 AM BST

Manufacturing grows for first time in nearly two years

The UK manufacturing sector grew for the first time since July 2022, according to a closely-watched survey, amid signs the economy is turning a corner.

The S&P Global UK Manufacturing PMI hit 50.3 in March, rising from 47.5 in February and above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction for the first time in 20 months.

The survey also showed that business optimism about the year-ahead outlook hit an 11-month high.

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

The end of the first quarter saw UK manufacturing recover from its recent doldrums.

Production and new orders returned to growth, albeit only hesitantly, following yearlong downturns, with the main thrust of the expansion coming from stronger domestic demand.

The upturn in demand also led to improved confidence among manufacturers, with positive sentiment hitting an 11-month high.

Some 58pc of companies expect their output to rise over the coming year.

09:23 AM BST

Government ready to step in on Thames Water, says senior MP

The Government is poised to step in if Thames Water continues to fail its customers, a senior MP has warned.

Sir Robert Goodwill, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, said that the situation at the supplier is “of considerable concern”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

They are around about 80pc geared - that is like having an 80pc mortgage on your house.

We need to ensure this company does get itself on to an even keel financially so we can move forward, but the Government is ready to step in if necessary.

The primary role of the Government is first of all to protect customers, and secondly to protect the environment.

I think we all realise that we need more investment in cleaning up our water now that we are testing those outpours and know what is going on.

On the funding for such a clean-up operation, Sir Robert said: “We do need more investment but that should not be done in a way that allows these companies to get away with the irresponsible way that many of them have been run in the past.”

09:06 AM BST

FTSE 100 breaks 8,000 as it nears record high

The FTSE 100 has risen past 8,000 for the first time since its record-breaking run 14 months ago.

The index has reached 8,014.26, within a whisker of its record closing high of 8,014.31 on February 20 last year.

Its intraday record stands at 8,047.06 reached on February 16, 2023.

08:58 AM BST

Revolution Bars shares suspended as results delayed

Revolution Bars has had its shares suspended from the London Stock Exchange as troubles brew for the chain as it mulls over restructuring plans.

The group, which owns 58 bars and 22 gastro pubs, was required to publish its interim results for the second half of last year by the end of March.

But it said it was unable to do so, which resulted in the suspension of its shares on the AIM index before trading began this morning.

The company did not give a reason for the delay but said the suspension will be lifted when results are published in “due course”.

Revolution said last week it is in talks with investors about raising new cash and could put itself up for sale as it looks to bolster its finances after coming up against tougher trading conditions

Earlier this year it had cut its annual profit outlook, saying its younger customers were being disproportionately impacted by the higher cost of living.

Shares in Revolution Bars have been suspended from trading after its accounts were delayed
Shares in Revolution Bars have been suspended from trading after its accounts were delayed

08:46 AM BST

FTSE 100 boosted by higher oil prices and weaker dollar

British shares started the second quarter of the year higher amid a rise in energy stocks and metal miners.

The globally-focused FTSE 100 was up 0.7pc, while the domestically-oriented FTSE 250 moved 0.4pc higher. Both indexes touched their highest levels in more than a year.

Precious metal miners climbed 2.9pc as the dollar rose after strong US manufacturing data raised doubts about when the US Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates.

Industrial metal miners followed with a 2.7[c uptick, as concerns of tighter raw material supplies and improved demand prospects pushed copper prices higher.

Oil and gas stocks rose 2.4pc as the price of Brent crude broke $88 for the first time since October.

Among individual stocks, HSBC gained 1.9pc following the sale of its Canadian unit to Royal Bank of Canada and the prospects of recognising an estimated gain of $4.9bn in the first quarter of 2024.

Banks more widely were up as much as 1.5pc.

08:24 AM BST

Pound slumps as traders bet on more interest rate cuts in UK than US

The pound has fallen close to its lowest level in four months as traders bet that the Bank of England will cut interest rates more than the US Federal Reserve.

Sterling has dropped towards $1.25, which it last neared in December, following the release of manufacturing data for America on Monday.

The figures showed that US factory activity expanded in March for the first time since September 2022, indicating that the American economy is performing stronger than expected and posing a threat to inflation.

As a result, traders reduced bets on the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates from their 23-year highs, pricing in just 64 basis points of cuts this year.

That compares to 72 basis points of cuts - close to three quarter of a point reductions - expected by the Bank of England.

The chances of the Bank reducing rates in June stands at 63pc according to money markets, while the possibility of the same move in the US briefly fell below 50pc on Monday.

The pound has suffered a sharp reversal in fortunes, having climbed towards $1.29 earlier this month.

08:10 AM BST

Bond markets slump as trading begins

The price of UK gilts slumped as debt markets reopened after the Easter break as strong US economic data raised doubts about interest rate cuts.

The 10-year gilt yield - which moves inversely to the bond’s price - rose by 11 basis points as trading began to a two-week high of 4.04pc.

08:05 AM BST

UK markets open higher

The FTSE 100 opened higher as higher oil prices boosted energy stocks and strong US economic data on Monday boosted the dollar.

The exports-focused index gained 0.4pc to 7,984.59 as trading began, while the midcap FTSE 250 gained 0.1pc to 19,909.31.

07:57 AM BST

Monthly house price fall is ‘blip,’ say economists

Rob Wood, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, described the month-on-month fall in house prices as a “blip”.

He said:

Forward-looking indicators continue to suggest house prices will keep rising as mortgage rates gradually tick down...

We continue to expect house prices to rise 4pc year over year in 2024.

07:44 AM BST

Northern Ireland leads house price growth in UK

Northern Ireland remained the best performing area of the UK in the first three months of the year, with prices up 4.6pc compared with the first quarter of 2023.

The biggest improvement in terms of annual price growth was in the North, where annual price growth ticked up to 4.1pc in the first quarter, making it the best performing English region.

Across England overall, prices were up 0.4pc compared with the same quarter a year earlier, while Wales saw a 1.2pc rise. Scotland saw annual price growth pick up to 3.7pc.

07:39 AM BST

Interest rates key to property market recovery, say brokers

Mortgage advisers have called for the Bank of England to cut interest rates after the dip in house prices.

Hannah Bashford, director at Model Financial Solutions, said:

There’s no doubt that the trajectory of interest rates will be key to the recovery of the property market moving forward.

If the Bank of England cut rates in the next few months, this will definitely help to stimulate the market and we’ll see more people moving again, which will help to boost house prices.

Emma Jones, managing director of, said: “Yes, activity levels remain subdued by historic standards, but sentiment is starting to improve. A base rate reduction by the Monetary Policy Committee would be welcomed and could encourage many more buyers to make their move.”

Stephen Perkins, managing director at Yellow Brick Mortgages, added: “Even if the Bank of England keeps the base rate at its current level until mid-year, when that first cut comes it could turbocharge activity levels.”

07:22 AM BST

Estate agents hail ‘notable uplift’ in sales inquiries

Estate agents have shrugged off the monthly decline in house prices and focused on the annual improvement, which ticked up from 1.2pc in the year to February to 1.6pc in the year to March.

Nathan Emerson, chief executive of estate agent body Propertymark, said:

Sellers have every reason to start feeling positive about putting their home up for sale and being able to go on to buy their next perfect property.

2024 has shown a positive trend that house prices are growing once again following three years of economic turbulence.

However the UK Government must look to make houses equally affordable for buyers and that can only be done by building more houses.

Foxtons chief executive Guy Gittins said:

The UK property market has well and truly sprung into action in recent months and we’ve seen a notable uplift in the volume of sales inquiries, viewings requests and the number of offers being submitted.

It’s fair to say that the green shoots of positivity seen since the closing stages of last year are blossoming and this is helping to cultivate positive house price growth.

07:15 AM BST

House prices fall as mortgage rates remain high

House prices suffered a decline as mortgage approvals remain below pre-pandemic levels, according to a closely watched survey.

Property values fell by 0.2pc between February and March, the Nationwide house price index showed, although they were up 1.6pc compared to the same month last year.

The average home was worth £261,142 as buyers grapple with the impact of interest rates which have stood at 5.25pc since August last year.

Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner said: “Activity has picked up from the weak levels prevailing towards the end of 2023 but remain relatively subdued by historic standards.

“For example, the number of mortgages approved for house purchase in January was around 15pc below pre-pandemic levels.

“This largely reflects the impact of higher interest rates on affordability. While mortgage rates are below the peaks seen in mid-2023, they remain well above the lows prevailing in the wake of the pandemic.”

07:10 AM BST

Good morning

Thanks for joining me. House prices unexpectedly fell last month, according to the Nationwide house price index.

Prices were down 0.2pc between February and March as mortgage approvals remained subdued.

5 things to start your day

1) Shop inflation falls below 2pc in boost for rate cut hopes | Bank of England’s target in sight as energy prices also drop

2) Prepare for chaotic rerun of Trump v Biden, City investors told | Low trust and a polarised electorate ring alarm bells

3) Why Elon Musk thinks Earth will have more robots than humans | AI boom revives hopes for Tesla billionaire’s vision

4) Energy Secretary considers axing £4bn of green levies from electricity bills | Policy costs could be holding back progress of net zero rollout

5) Social networks could quit Britain under online safety laws, Reddit claims | Burden of complying with new rules will hit smaller companies hardest

What happened overnight

Asian stocks rose while currencies stayed strong against the yen amid concerns about a possible intervention by the Bank of Japan.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was the standout, piling on more than 2pc on the first day of trading since Thursday as investors cheered data showing China’s manufacturing grew more than forecast last month.

Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Manila were in positive territory. Shanghai was slightly lower with Wellington and Jakarta.

Japan’s Nikkei was volatile. It reclaimed the 40,000 points mark in the morning session but was last flat, below the mark.

The yen was slightly weaker at 151.76 per dollar, not too far from the 34-year low of 151.975 it touched last week, with traders keenly watching for hints of intervention from Japanese authorities.

Meanwhile, expectations the Federal Reserve was close to cutting interest rates faded as data on Monday showed US manufacturing grew for the first time in one and a half years in March as production rebounded sharply and new orders increased, highlighting the strength of the economy.

The robust manufacturing data sent yields on US Treasuries higher, with two-year and 10-year yields climbing to two-week peaks, boosting the dollar.