Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:
Benchmark oil prices hit a five-month high on Wednesday, with the evacuation of hundreds of US offshore oil facilities ahead of Hurricane Laura sparking fears of shortages.
Coastal areas in Texas and Louisiana were bracing for hurricane-force winds and large waves on Wednesday night, with authorities warning of a “life-threatening storm surge” that could reach 30 miles inland and cause widespread flash flooding.
Oil producers evacuated 310 facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, shutting down 85% of offshore output in the ocean basin along the southeastern coast of the US, Reuters reports.
The news pushed widely traded oil futures contracts to their highest prices since early March.
Brent crude (BZ=F) was up 0.4% to $46.05 (£35.04) a barrel at around 9am in London, while West Texas Intermediate crude was up 0.2% to $43.43 (£33.04) a barrel.
Administrators have slashed Wirecard’s workforce in Germany by half, letting 730 out of 1,300 staff go, as part of the insolvency proceedings at the scandal-ridden payments company.
"The economic situation of Wirecard was and is extremely difficult in light of the lack of liquidity and the well-known scandalous circumstances," Wirecard’s insolvency administrator Michael Jaffe said in a statement. "The usual restructuring and cost-adjustment measures are not sufficient.”
The company‘s three remaining board members have also had their contracts terminated, including the interims chief executive, James Fries, who took over from Markus Braun, when Braun resigned after the multi-billion-euro balance sheet scandal began unfolding.
Wirecard, once lauded as a shining example of a dynamic German fintech startup, had a spectacular fall from grace in mid-June, after auditors EY refused to sign off on the company’s 2019 accounts.
Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has reportedly been lined up to become an international trade “czar” for the UK post-Brexit.
The Sun reports that Abbott will be appointed joint head of the UK’s Board of Trade, serving alongside international trade secretary Liz Truss.
Bevan Shields, the European correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, disputed this on Twitter, saying Abbott was likely to join the Board of Trade only in an advisory capacity.
Yahoo Finance UK understands no final decision has yet been taken on Abbott’s appointment.
The Board of Trade and Tony Abbott have all been approached for comment. The Department for International Trade declined to comment.
European stocks rose on Wednesday amid renewed optimism about US-China trade tensions.
Investors, who are awaiting a key speech on Thursday from US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, have been buoyed by discussions between officials from both countries.
A phone call involving Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin saw both countries renew their commitment to a trade deal on Tuesday.
What to expect in the US
Futures were pointing to a flat open for stocks in the US.
Futures on the Nasdaq (NQ=F), which also closed at a record high on Tuesday due to surging shares among tech giants such as Facebook (FB), Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) and Amazon (AMZN), rose by around 0.3%.