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What to Watch: Plans for a Brexit delay, inflation rises, BMW and Bayer shares tank

Alanna Petroff
Senior Economics Correspondent at Yahoo Finance UK
Pro-Brexit demonstrators protesting outside parliament this week. Photo: Dinendra Haria/Getty Images

Here are some of the top business, market and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe and abroad:  

More details on Brexit delay

Prime minister Theresa May is expected to request a short delay to Brexit on Wednesday following her failure to get her divorce deal passed by members of parliament.

The UK pound (GBPUSD=X, GBPEUR=X) slipped on Wednesday morning as the news came out about her plan.

Britain is set to leave the European Union next week on 29 March. To secure an extension to the deadline, all 27 members of the EU will have to give the green light.

Economists and experts have warned for years about the deep damage that would be done if Britain leaves the EU with no Brexit deal and with no transition period.

Higher prices for booze, food and tobacco

The UK inflation rate ticked up in February to 1.9% from 1.8% in January, according to fresh data released on Wednesday morning by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Rising prices for booze, food and tobacco were a big contributing factor behind the first increase in the UK inflation rate since the summer of 2018.

Rising prices for food, alcohol and tobacco … produced the largest upward contributions to change in the rate between January and February 2019,” the ONS said in its inflation report.

Inflation had generally been settling down in recent months after spiking to a high of 3.1% in late 2017 following the Brexit referendum.

Bayer stock tanks over cancer court case

Shares in Germany’s Bayer (BAYN.DE) were dropping by up to 13% in morning trading after a US jury on Tuesday found that the company’s Roundup weed killer caused cancer.

This is a major setback for the company after another jury issued a $289m (£219m) verdict over similar claims in a different case.

Tuesday’s unanimous jury decision was not a finding of Bayer’s liability for the cancer of plaintiff, Edwin Hardeman. Instead, liability and damages will be decided by the same jury in a second trial phase that will begin today.

Warning from BMW

Shares in BMW (BMW.DE) are also dropping by about 5% in Germany after the car manufacturer issued a profit warning for 2019 and announced a sweeping €12bn (£10.3bn) cost savings plan. The plan is designed to help offset higher investments in technology and currency fluctuations.