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What to watch: Aston Martin 'disaster', Lloyds hit by PPI and ex-Audi chief charged

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
An Aston Martin car is seen at the production line at the company's world headquarters in Gaydon, Britain, February 14, 2019. Picture taken February 14, 2019. To match Insight BRITAIN-EU/AUTOS REUTERS/Andrew Yates

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

Aston Martin losses ‘nothing short of a disaster’

Aston Martin slid to a £78.8m ($95.8m) loss in the first half of the year before tax, suffering from lower-than-expected sales and average selling prices.

Shares in the iconic Britis car manufacturer slid 17% in early trading on Wednesday after it reported the losses, after seeing more than two-thirds of the value of its shares wiped out since last October.

Demand in Europe, the Middle East and Africa has slumped, down by almost a fifth in the first half of the year in spite of a turnaround plan launched in 2014.

“Aston Martin's latest numbers are nothing short of a disaster ... as the pre-IPO optimism of late last year has become a distant memory, with investors undergoing a significant reality check," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

It comes on the same day industry figures showed car production across Britain plunged by a fifth in the first half of 2019, with firms blaming falling demand as well as Brexit.

Ex-Audi CEO faces charges over diesel scandal

Former Audi (NSU.DE) chief executive Rupert Stadler and three others have been charged over the emissions test cheating scandal.

German prosecutors said Stadler was under investigation over his role at Volkswagen, with the four defendants charged with false certification and criminal advertising practices.

The three others are accused of developing engines used in Audi, Porsche (PAH3.DE) and Volkswagen (VOW3.DE) branded cars that used devices to cheat emissions tests.

"Stadler is accused of having been aware of the manipulations since the end of September 2015, at the latest, but he did not prevent the sale of affected Audi and VW vehicles thereafter," the prosecutor said in a statement.

An Audi spokesman said it was in its interest to clear up the issues legally, and that the accused had a presumption of innocence until the cases were resolved.

Lloyds Bank profits drop 7% after PPI hit

Lloyds Bank profits dropped 7%. Photo: Isabel Infantes / EMPICS Entertainment

Profits have dropped 7% at Lloyds Bank (LLOY.L) in the first half of the year to £2.9bn, after it faced a £550m hit linked to the payment protection insurance (PPI) scandal.

Its shares slid 5% in early trading on Wednesday, on track for their worst day in more than three years.

The £550m set aside for potential compensation to customers is far larger than the £56m that had been forecast.

“You cannot help but get the feeling that the 29 August PPI claims deadline cannot come quick enough for the big banks, especially as Lloyds has just taken an extra £550m provision to try and cover a possible final rash of compensation payments,” said Russ Mould, AJ Bell investment director.

Credit Suisse profits soar 45%

Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) saw its net profits soar 45% in the second quarter of 2019, outperforming rivals as a turnaround plan showed signs of paying off.

The finance giant also confirmed its profitability target for 2019, with its 937 million Swiss franc ($945.51m) net profit far outstripping its own forecast of 788 million francs.

“We wanted to be a leading wealth manager with strong investment banking capabilities, and we have continued to make progress on both of these fronts,” chief executive Tidjane Thiam said in a statement.

European markets flat, Asian markets lower

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was up by 0.1%, France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was flat and the Euronext 100 (^N100) was down by 0.1%.

Britain’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was down 0.3%, dragged down by Lloyds and housebuilders after Taylor Wimpey predicted a fall in annual margins, despite an upbeat forecast from retailer Next.

Overnight in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) was down 0.9%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) was down by 1.3%, and China’s Shanghai Composite index (000001.SS) was down 0.7%.

What to expect in the US

US stocks look set to open marginally higher later today. S&P500 futures (ES=F) were up 0.2%, Dow Jones futures (YM=F) up 0.3% and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) up by 0.4%.