Brent crude has hit $80 a barrel after Opec and its allies opted to maintain their policy of modestly increasing output.
The producer alliance said it would add 400,000 barrels per day in February – sticking to its plan to gradually restore the cuts made at the height of the pandemic last year.
Opec has resisted pressure from the US to open the taps more widely to ease surging energy prices and is hoping demand for fuel will hold up despite the spread of the omicron variant.
Brent crude gained 1.9pc to top $80 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate rose 2pc.
Tecent offloads $3bn of shares in Singapore’s Sea
Chinese internet giant Tencent has sold $3bn (£2.2bn) of shares in Singaporean online gaming company Sea as it seeks funds for new initiatives and philanthropic efforts.
Less than a month ago, Tencent announced a plan to hand out more than $16bn of JD.com stock as a one-time dividend in an effort to divest most of its stake in China’s No. 2 online retailer.
The surprise move was seen as being in response to Beijing’s push to curb anticompetitive behaviour and open up closed ecosystems.
It now owns 18.7pc of Sea.
That’s all from me, thanks for following during a busy start to 2022! My colleague Giulia Bottaro will take things from here.
Southampton FC snapped up by Serbian media mogul in £100m deal
Southampton FC has confirmed it’s been taken over by a company backed by Serbian billionaire Dragan Solak in a deal worth a reported £100m.
The Premier League club said Sport Republic had acquired an 80pc controlling stake from Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng.
Mr Gao took over Southampton in August 2017 with Katharina Liebherr, who inherited the club from her late father Markus in 2010 when the Saints were in League One, holding 20pc. The club said Ms Liebherr would retain her minority shareholding.
Mr Solak, who founded cable TV operator United Group, is the lead investor behind Sport Republic. It also has backing from Rasmus Ankersen, the former Brentford co-director of football, and Henrik Kraft, a London-based investor.
Martin Semmens, chief executive of Southampton FC, said:
Over the last two years, together with the shareholders of our club, we have searched for the right partner to take the club forward. Today we have found the perfect solution for our club.
Sport Republic are experienced investors, but also experienced within the world of elite professional sports. That combination is very hard to find, and we are thrilled to have reached an agreement that secures our short and long-term future.
Mercedes reveals electric car with 600-mile range
Mercedes-Benz says it has designed an electric car capable of travelling more than 600 miles on a single charge, about three times the average range of most rechargeable vehicles.
Rachel Millard has more:
The German carmaker said its Vision EQXX prototype consumes less than 10 kilowatt hours of power per 100km due to sleeker design, greater efficiency and higher density batteries.
Most electric cars can travel just under 200 miles before needing to recharge but Mercedes-Benz said its new design puts an end to “range anxiety”. The fear of running out of power on the road is considered a key barrier to wider adoption of electric cars even though most journeys are relatively short.
Unveiling the prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Mercedes said its prototype “demonstrates just how efficient, sustainable and luxurious electromobility can be”.
US manufacturing index falls while price pressures ease
Staying with the US, a key gauge of US manufacturing fell short of expectations at the end of 2021, reflecting declines in delivery times and prices that overshadowed otherwise solid demand.
The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of December factory activity fell to 58.7, down from 61.1 in the prior month and the lowest level in a year.
The pullback in the headline figure obscures strength in the underlying components. The group’s gauges of supplier deliveries and prices paid for materials – while still elevated – both fell to their lowest levels in more than a year.
Improved delivery times and lower input prices typically indicate softer demand. However, the latest declines suggest capacity constraints are beginning to loosen.
That’s welcome progress for manufacturers who have struggled to keep up with demand because of materials shortages, hiring challenges and transportation bottlenecks.
Record 4.5m Americans quit their job in November
A record 4.5m Americans quit their job in November while openings remained high, showing high levels of churn in the US labour market.
The number of available positions fell to 10.6m from 11.1m in October, according to the latest Labor Department figures. Meanwhile, the quits rate increased to 3pc – matching a record high.
While the fall in vacancies was the largest since April 2020, they remain well above pre-pandemic levels.
The data come ahead of Friday’s monthly jobs report from the Labor Department, which is currently forecast to show that the US added 420,000 payrolls in December.
Expert reaction: Opec decision was ‘widely expected’
Caroline Bain at Capital Economics, says Opec’s decision was “widely expected”.
For now, the new omicron variant, although highly transmissible, is not leading to the same rates of hospitalisation and death associated with earlier variants. As a result, for the most part, governments have not imposed the widespread lockdowns or travel restrictions which significantly dent oil demand.
At the same time, output from Libya has fallen sharply on the back of damage caused by civil unrest and maintenance to pipeline infrastructure. With Libyan output likely to be about 500-600,000 barrels per day lower in the coming weeks, this more than offsets the planned monthly increase in Opec+ production. Indeed, if sustained, the Libyan outages could even lead to calls for larger increases in Opec+ output.
In any case, we remain of the view that as Opec+ continues to raise production in the coming months and demand growth normalises, oil prices will come under downward pressure. Our end-2022 forecast for Brent crude is just $60 per barrel, down from close to $80 today.
Iceland mulls store closures as staff shortages bite
Iceland is reportedly considering closing some stores as it battles widespread staff shortages due to self-isolation.
The supermarket chain is experiencing staff absence rates of around 11pc, which equates to roughly 3,300 workers, the BBC reports.
It says the situation has been exacerbated by Covid, though non-Covid absences have also risen.
Iceland is now considering some store closures – something it did at the height of the so-called pingdemic last year. Stores across the UK would likely be affected, but Wales is said to be particularly badly hit.
The retailer said it’s kept on temporary Christmas staff to help mitigate shortages and has increased delivery capacity as there is no significant impact on drivers. It is also prioritising orders for vulnerable or self-isolating people.
Armani cancels Milan and Paris fashion shows
Georgio Armani is cancelling its fashion shows in Milan and Paris this month due to a surge in Covid cases across Europe.
The Italian luxury fashion house said it had made the decision “with great regret and following careful reflection in light of the worsening epidemiological situation”.
The events cancelled are the Emporio Armani and Giorgio Armani men’s fall/winter 2022/23 shows, planned for the Milan Fashion Week Men’s, and the Giorgio Armani Privé haute couture spring/summer 2022 show planned for the Paris Haute Couture week.
Wall Street rises amid global rally
Wall Street has pushed higher at the open, extending gains from Monday’s record highs amid a new year rally in global stocks.
The S&P 500 rose 0.3pc, while the Dow Jones was up 0.5pc. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 1.1pc.
Apple set to break through $3 trillion mark… again
Apple looks set to top $3 trillion in market value when markets open this afternoon after the world’s most valuable company briefly broke through the record-breaking milestone yesterday.
The iPhone maker’s shares rose 0.5pc to $182.87 in premarket trading. Shares breached $182.86 in intraday trading on Monday to hit the milestone, but ended the session lower.
Apple accounts for nearly 7pc of S&P 500 index’s value, according to Refinitiv data, the highest for a single stock on the index at a time when the benchmark is perched at a peak.
Read more on this story: Apple becomes world’s first $3 trillion company
Tougher takeover rules come into force
New rules making it harder for foreign firms to buy British assets came into force today amid growing national security concerns surrounding buyouts by Chinese and US suitors.
The legislation will give ministers closer scrutiny of foreign approaches, allowing them to impose conditions on proposed deals or even block them completely.
Overseas investors and firms must now notify the government if they plan to buy any part of a UK business in sensitive sectors that could imperil national security – such as defence, energy and transport.
The new National Security and Investment Act will be enforced retrospectively to any deals made since 12 November 2020.
The move comes after US buyers swooped on chip designer arm, aerospace group Meggitt and defence firm Ultra Electronics. There’s also scrutiny over increased Chinese investment in projects such as the Sizewell C nuclear power station.
Surge in borrowing increases expectations of an interest rate rise
Households racked up the biggest rise in borrowing for more than a year and dug into pandemic savings, reinforcing expectations of a second Bank of England rate rise next month.
My colleague Russell Lynch has more:
The Bank’s latest figures for November showed households borrowed £1.2bn on credit cards and loans over the month, the highest since July 2020 when the economy reopened after the first Covid lockdown.
Households faced with rising prices and the looming Christmas season also saved much less over the month, with £4.5bn in deposits being the lowest since January 2020 and less than half the average of the previous 12 months.
The figures reflect a stronger month for retail sales – up 1.4pc during November – as shoppers began festive preparations early amid fears of empty shelves and supply shortages.
The relative resilience of consumers comes as surging energy bills are poised to push the Consumer Prices Index to a 30-year high of 6pc by April, fuelling concerns among the Bank’s rate-setters about inflation.
FTSE 100 extends gains
Time for a lunchtime update on the FTSE 100, which has extended its gains and is now trading up 1.4pc.
The blue-chip index has joined the new year rally for global stocks, with traders welcoming signs that the omicron variant is milder than originally feared.
British Airways owner IAG is still at the top of the index, surging 12pc as travel stocks lead gains. Exhibition group Informa has also jumped 6pc.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 is performing even better with gains of 1.9pc. Again it’s travel stocks that are doing the best, with budget airlines Wizz Air and easyJet up 12.5pc and 11pc respectively.
What to expect in the business world in 2022
After a tumultuous couple of years, it’s a risky business to try and predict the future, but we’ve given it a shot nonetheless.
From inflation to AI, here’s a rundown of what companies will be grappling with as the world cautiously emerges from the pandemic in 2022.
Read the full story: Six themes set to dominate business this year
Covid-19 is third largest catastrophe cost to insurers, says Howden
With losses hitting $44bn (£33bn) so far, Covid-19 represents the third largest cost to insurers of any catastrophe, behind only Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.
That’s according to London insurance broker Howden, which has highlighted the extent of the financial chaos wreaked by the pandemic.
However, it said initial projections of $100bn of Covid-related losses, which were made in the early days of the crisis, now looked “improbable”, with insurers excluding Covid-19 from many policies.
David Flandro, head of analytics at Howden, said: “There’s only so much event cancellation coverage out there, there’s only so much civil action coverage out there, and when you get to $40bn, that’s pretty much exhausting what was underwritten.”
Howden also revealed that property catastrophe reinsurance rates rose 9pc year-on-year on 1 January, marking their biggest annual rise since 2009.
Wall Street set to extend gains in strong start to 2022
US stocks are set to push higher this afternoon, building on their strong start to 2022.
Global markets are on the rise amid rising hopes that the omicron variant is less deadly than initially feared, with travel stocks the biggest winners.
Cruise operator Carnival gained 2.7pc in pre-market trading, while American Airlines was up 0.9pc. Major tech stocks including Apple, Facebook, Tesla, Netflix and Amazon all pushed higher after strong gains on Monday.
Futures tracking Wall Street’s three major indices are all up 0.4pc.
Opec set for another modest output hike
Opec and its allies are expected to maintain their practice of modestly boosting oil output as the spread of the omicron variant is yet to spark a significant dent in demand.
The production cartel has so far resisted pressure to open the taps more widely as high energy prices fuel inflation across the globe.
Opec+ drastically slashed output in 2020 as the pandemic wreaked havoc with demand. Last year the group began to step up production with modest increases reviewed each month.
Analysts expect output to increase by 400,000 barrels per day in February – as they have done in recent months.
West Texas Intermediate rose 0.7pc this morning, while Brent crude gained 0.8pc to just under $80 a barrel.
Ministers mull plan to shield companies from carbon costs
The Government could step in to cut the amount airlines, the power sector and heavy industry pay on their carbon emissions amid a protracted rise in prices.
Companies that are covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) must buy one so-called allowance for each tonne of carbon dioxide they emit into the atmosphere.
This adds extra cost to dirty fuels such as coal, and makes cleaner fuels, including natural gas, or fully green technologies more economical.
But officials said prices have been high enough for the last four months that they will have to decide whether to step in and make changes by January 18.
It’s the second time in two months that officials have triggered the so-called cost containment mechanism, which happens when the carbon price is consistently above expectations.
Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes put into liquidation
It could be the end of an era for 25-year-old Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes, which has been put into liquidation after initial attempts to find a buyer for the brand failed.
The Times reports that the tailor’s Chinese owner FTI Consulting and R&H Services as joint liquidators after attempts to secure a rescue deal fell flat.
Gieves & Hawkes was founded in 1771 and its suits have been worn by royals, Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson. It has around 60 stores in the UK, including its flagship site at 1 Savile Row.
In 2012 it was acquired by Trinity Limited, which is controlled by debt-riddled Chinese conglomerate Shandong Ruyi Technology Group.
Wildwood owner Tasty eyes restaurant sales as omicron hits trading
The company behind the Wildwood and Dim T restaurant chains is weighing the sale of several sites after reporting “considerably weaker” trading in December.
London-listed Tasty said the rapid spread of the omicron variant and tougher restrictions had left sales for the month – which is normally its strongest period – “disappointing”.
It said new work from home guidance had dented customer numbers, with a particular hit on large Christmas bookings.
Tasty has shut four restaurants out of its total estate of 54 due to predicted weaker sales and labour shortages. These are expected to reopen later this year, though Tasty said it will consider to consider the sale of two or three of these sites.
Airlines lead FTSE surge on upbeat omicron data
Airlines are still the biggest winners this morning as travel stocks lead the strong start to 2022.
The latest data continues to show that the omicron variant is less likely to cause serious illness, raising hopes that further restrictions could be avoided.
British Airways owner IAG soared as much as 11pc, as did budget rivals Wizz Air and easyJet. Other travel stocks including Tui and Canival also gained ground.
There’s further optimism after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said current Plan B measures remained the right approach. Pub stocks including Mitchells & Butlers and Wagamama owner Restaurant Group also rose.
New data watchdog begins term
John Edwards, the UK’s new Information Commissioner, has begun his term amid a raft of upcoming changes to online information laws.
Mr Edwards, who joins on a five year term, spent the past eight years as New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, and before that worked as a barrister.
He succeeds Elizabeth Denham, whose term as Information Commissioner ended last year.
The appointment comes at the start of a busy year for information rights in the UK, with the ICO in talks with the Government over the proposed reforms to the Data Protection Act and introduction of the Online Safety Bill.
Go-Ahead shares halted amid Southeastern rail scandal
Shares in Go-Ahead Group have been suspended to give the company more time to finalise its delayed full-year results as it grapples with the fallout from a scandal over the Southeastern rail franchise.
Go-Ahead said it was working with accountancy group Deloitte to get its earnings for the year to July 3 2021 published “as soon as possible”, with the results expected before the end of January.
It revealed in December it would need to push back the release of the figures following an investigation into Southeastern’s operation, which meant it would miss the six-month deadline to file annual results and must apply to suspend share trading under regulatory rules.
Shares were suspended on Tuesday at 667p.
Go-Ahead was stripped of the franchise in October, with the Government seizing control of the rail contract after the firm admitted to serious errors and failures in the way it ran Southeastern.
The firm failed to declare more than £25m of historic taxpayer funding which should have been returned.
Go-Ahead said last month that it expected the Department for Transport to impose a fine on the group, although it said the full amount was unclear at the time.
Pound nears two-year high against euro as traders bet on rate rise
The pound is closing in on a two-year high against the euro amid growing expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates next month.
Money markets are pricing in two 15 basis points increases by the Bank’s March meeting and almost a full percentage point by the end of the year, following its surprise decision to raise rates last month.
The pound rose 0.1pc against the euro to 83.69p, having earlier reached 83.65 pence – its highest level since February 2020. Against the dollar, it slipped 0.2pc to $1.35.
Consumer credit rises £1.2bn in November
Consumer credit rose by £1.2bn in November in a further sign that the economy was gathering momentum before the spread of the omicron variant.
The increase – which followed a £0.8bn rise in October – was driven largely by a £0.9bn jump in credit card loans. Household cash deposits also grew at a slower rate, suggesting stronger consumer confidence in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, mortgage borrowing rose sharply from £1.1bn in October to £3.7bn in November as the market began to stabilise following the end of the stamp duty holiday.
But Bethany Beckett at Capital Economics warned the strength in November could prove to be short-lived:
These data seem like old news now. Against a backdrop of surging virus infections, households’ willingness to borrow has probably dropped back again since November.
And, with real household disposable incomes facing a squeeze from higher inflation and higher taxes in the coming months, we suspect consumer spending may struggle to make much headway over the next few quarters.
More expert reaction: Inflation biting into productivity
Simon Jonsson, head of industrial products at KPMG, said:
It is pleasing to see that demand for manufactured goods remains robust, but inflation across a broad range of factory inputs, plus trade friction, is biting into productivity.
Supply chain challenges persist for many manufacturers, who will be hoping the impacts of omicron don’t worsen the situation further.
In the face of this challenge, manufacturers need to focus on how they can absorb, or pass on, these inflationary pressures. In 2022, productivity improvements will be key. Inflationary pressures may be the catalyst for accelerating technology investments, both on the factory floor and in the back office.
Expert reaction: Manufacturing growth still subdued
Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, said:
While the uptick in growth is a positive step, the upturn remains subdued compared to the middle of the year, as supply chain constraints and weak export performance constrained attempts to raise production further.
Manufacturers indicated that logistic issues, Brexit difficulties and the possibility of further Covid restrictions (at home and overseas) had all hit export demand at the end of the year.
Although supply chains remain severely stretched, there are at least signs that the situation is stabilising, with vendor delivery times lengthening to the weakest extent for a year in December.
This helped take some of the heat out of input price increases, but cost inflation remained sufficiently steep to necessitate the sharpest rise in factory gate selling prices on record. With restrictions and omicron cases both rising, the growth and inflation backdrops could change again in the early part of 2022.
Manufacturing upturn continues in December
The manufacturing sector recorded further growth in production, new orders and employment at the end of 2021, though supply chain challenges continued to slow the overall rate of growth.
The IHS Markit PMI rose to 57.9 in December, little changed from November’s three-month high of 58.1 but still comfortably above the neutral 50 mark.
Output rose across all sectors in December, with the overall pace of expansion improving to a four-month high. Manufacturing employment increased for the twelfth successive month in December, with the rate of jobs growth staying close to November’s three-month high.
However, new export business remained negative and inflationary pressures remained high, with a further substantial increase in average input prices.
German job market holds up despite Covid surge
German employment fell by more than expected in December, suggesting the labour market in Europe’s largest economy remains resilient despite a surge in Covid cases.
New figures from the Labour Office showed the number of people out of work fell by 23,000 to 2.4m, well above the fall of 15,000 forecast by Reuters.
The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate fell to 5.2pc – the lowest since March 2020, when Germany entered its first coronavirus lockdown.
However, officials warned that a jump in Covid-19 cases and renewed restrictions to contain the spread of the disease increased uncertainties.
This was mirrored in the fact that more companies signalled in December they could soon put more workers on furlough again.
In pictures: Japan kicks off 2022 trading
The new year stock rally has gathered pace around the world, with the FTSE and European stocks following the positive lead from Wall Street and Asia.
In Tokyo, 2022 trading kicked off with the usual ceremonial grandeur. Visits gathered to offer prayers at the Kanda Myojin shrine in Tokyo, which is frequented by worshippers seeking good fortune and prosperous business.
Poll: Inflation could top 7pc this year
While the FTSE is flying high today, the atmosphere is hardly one of unbridled optimism as we head into 2022.
Surging inflation and an escalating energy crisis have cast shadows over the economic recovery, while British households are facing a sharp cost of living crunch.
A survey of economists conducted by the Times found that inflation could exceed 7pc this year to reach levels not seen since the 1990s.
Over half of respondents expect consumer prices to rise by at least one percentage point from current levels. Prices rose by 5.1pc in the year to the end of November – the highest rate in a decade.
More than a third of the economists expect inflation to peak between 6 and 6.5pc, while 15pc predict it will surpass 6.5pc. Two economists, including a former Bank rate-setter, said inflation would top 7pc.
The Bank of England last month lifted interest rates from 0.1pc to 0.25pc in its first intervention since the start of the pandemic. More than 90pc of those surveyed said they expect rates to rise to at least 0.5pc by the end of the year.
IAG shares take off on omicron hopes
In a positive morning for trading on the FTSE, IAG is the stand-out winner.
The British Airways owner is leading the risers at the start of 2022, jumping more than 10pc to the top of the blue-chip index.
It comes amid wider momentum for travel and leisure stocks as investors pin their hopes on positive signs the omicron variant may not be as severe as initially thought.
The FTSE 100 is now up 1.3pc.
Tesla under fire for opening showroom in Xinjiang
Tesla has been lambasted by activist groups after it said it’s opened a showroom in China’s Xinjiang region, where officials are accused of abuses against mostly Muslim ethnic minorities.
Tesla last week announced the opening of its showroom in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital, and said on its Chinese social media account: “Let’s start Xinjiang’s all-electric journey!”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the electric car maker and its founder Elon Musk to close the showroom and “cease what amounts to economic support for genocide”.
It’s the latest example of a foreign company becoming caught up in diplomatic tensions over Xinjiang. The US has labelled China’s treatment of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in the region as genocide.
FTSE risers and fallers
It’s a strong start to 2022 for the FTSE 100, which has gained 1.1pc as investors take an upbeat view of the economy’s prospects in the new year.
The blue-chip index has hit fresh highs since February 2020. It’s playing catch up as trading resumed after the bank holiday, with Wall Street reaching record highs on Monday amid positive signs the omicron variant may be less severe than initially thought.
Travel stocks are leading the gains, with British Airways owner IAG gaining 9.5pc. Rolls-Royce is up 3.5pc, spurred on by the £53m sale of its Norwegian engine arm Bergen.
Commodities are also gaining ground, with BP and Shell up 3.6pc and 3pc respectively. Retailers JD Sports and Kingfisher also pushed higher.
The domestically-focused FTSE 250 has advanced 1.4pc, with travel stocks once again the major winners. Wizz Air and easyJet rose 9pc and 7pc respectively, while cruise operator Carnival jumped 8pc.
Rolls-Royce sells Norwegian engine arm for £53m
Rolls-Royce has offloaded its Norwegian maritime engine-making division in a €63m (£53m) deal, marking the group’s latest efforts to bolster its balance sheet.
The FTSE 100 company today said it’s completed the sale, which was first announced in August, to British engineering firm Langley Holdings.
It’s another step towards Rolls-Royce’s target of raising at least £2bn through asset sales as boss Warren East looks to turn around the group’s fortunes following a £4bn pandemic loss in 2020.
Bergen Engines employs more than 900 people globally and made around €200m in revenues last year.
New owner Langley has its headquarters in the UK and employs around 4,600 people, with main operations in Germany, Italy, France and Britain, alongside a substantial presence in the US.
Wizz Air flies 2.6m passengers in December
Wizz Air has revealed that 2.6m passengers booked flights during December as demand remained robust even as the omicron variant put many off travelling over Christmas.
The budget airline said this was a near-threefold increase on the 666,000 passengers it flew in the same month last year, meaning the load factor on its planes stood at 75.4pc compared with 56.1pc in December 2020.
Overall, Wizz Air flew 21.7m passengers in 2021 – up nearly a third on the 16.7m flown in 2020 when travel was hampered by numerous restrictions.
The Hungarian airline recently snapped up 15 daily slots at Gatwick as it looks to expand its routes from the London airport and take on rivals Ryanair and easyJet.
Evergrande shares rise after trading suspension
Shares in Evergrande have pushed higher following a one-day suspension after the troubled Chinese property giant was ordered to demolish dozens of buildings.
Evergrande said trading had been halted on Monday ahead of the release of “inside information”. It later confirmed it had been ordered to tear down 39 buildings at the Ocean Flower Island development in the southern Chinese province of Hainan.
Chinese authorities have said the structures were built illegally on an artificial archipelago in the tourist hub, according to local media reports.
Shares in Evergrande climbed as much as 10pc as trading resumed, before settling up around 2pc.
Read more on this story: Evergrande trading suspended as fears mount over indebted Chinese developer
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes found guilty of fraud
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has been found guilty of defrauding investors following a months-long trial that exposed the worst excesses of Silicon Valley’s culture.
Ms Holmes was convicted on four charges of investor fraud and conspiracy, but was acquitted on three charges of defrauding patients who paid for Theranos’ blood-testing kits. The jury could not reach a verdict on three other charges relating to individual investors.
Prosecutors said the 37-year-old entrepreneur swindled private investors between 2010 and 2015 by convincing them that Theranos’ small machines could run a range of tests on just a single drop of blood from a finger prick.
Ms Holmes rose to Silicon Valley fame after founding the startup in 2003 at the age of just 19 and became known for her penchant for wearing Steve Jobs-like black turtlenecks.
She attracted both high-profile wealthy investors including media mogul Rupert Murdoch and high-profile board members. Her net worth was estimated at $4.5bn (£3.3bn) by Forbes in 2015.
The Theranos founder faces up to 80 years in prison, but will likely get a much lower sentence.
FTSE set for strong open
Happy New Year!
There’s no sign of the January blues on the markets this morning, with the FTSE 100 poised to make strong gains in its first day of trading in 2022.
Futures tracking the blue-chip index have risen just under 1pc as traders take a bullish view of recovery hopes despite the continued spread of the omicron variant.
It follows record highs reached on Wall Street on Monday, while Asian stocks have also made a positive start to the year.
5 things to start your day
1) Ballooning £40.5bn trade deficit with China raises fears of British dependency Lockdown surge in demand for electronics helps drive imbalance higher
2) ‘Unconscious bias training is a fad that doesn’t work’ Meet the Old Etonian helping companies navigate the chaos of post-Covid life
3) Lenders take heed – this is the year of the big squeeze Debt is to define 2022 and will test not only struggling families hit by high prices, but the lofty promises of the buy now, pay later firms
4) Firms ‘hang on by their fingernails’ as Covid loans fall due Battered by omicron and Plan B restrictions, companies now face the challenge of paying back what they borrowed to get through the crisis
5) Traders bet £3.5bn against pound after omicron surge Fears are growing that Covid variant will hold back economy amid rising inflation
What happened overnight
Asian stocks were largely on the front foot on Tuesday following Wall Street’s record highs on its first trading day of 2022, despite worries that the widespread omicron Covid-19 variant could put the brakes on global economic recovery.
Europe and US also look poised to open up yet again with FTSE futures gaining 0.98pc and futures for the S&P 500 index 0.2pc higher.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 2pc higher with its metals and mining stocks hitting a four-month peak. Japan’s Nikkei 225 also widened morning gains to rise 1.8pc. MSCI’s gauge of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan advanced 0.4pc.
Coming up today
- Corporate: No scheduled updates
- Economics: BRC shop price index, final manufacturing PMI, mortgage approvals and consumer credit (UK); manufacturing PMI (China); unemployment (Germany); job openings (US)