Sainsbury’s is lifting its basic rate of pay to at least £10 an hour as part of a £100m investment aimed at retaining staff.
The 5.3pc rise, which comes into effect in March and also applies to Argos workers, takes the chain’s pay to above the National Real Living Wage.
Workers in central London will see their pay rise from £10.10 to £11.05, while for those in outer London it will increase from £9.75 to £10.50.
Sainsbury’s will also roll out further pay rises for drivers as the battle to attract and retain staff intensifies. It comes after Lidl said it would lift wages for around 21,000 staff members – or 80pc of its workforce.
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz raises $9bn to invest in startups
Andreessen Horowitz raised $9bn (£6.6bn) to invest in a wide range of startups, completing one of the largest fundraising campaigns in venture capital.
The money is parked in three new funds, the firm said. More than half sits in a growth fund targeting more mature startups. The rest is distributed between a general venture fund and one specializing in biotech and health.
The fundraising effort exceeds one Sequoia Capital completed in 2020 that raised about $7bn. With the new cash, Andreessen Horowitz’s total assets under management is now more than $28bn.
At 12 years old, Andreessen Horowitz is young compared with the 50-year-old Sequoia, but it faces an army of new competitors. Many are capitalising on the rush to crypto, including one from a former Andreessen Horowitz partner, Katie Haun.
Lord Rothermere gets closer to taking Daily Mail private
Lord Rothermere’s deal to take the newspaper group Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) private has taken a step closer today.
The business tycoon disclosed his consortium now owns or has acceptances from other shareholders for 97.7pc of DMGT shares as part of his takeover.
Lord Rothermere now intends to pursue compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares, which will be on the same terms as his final takeover offer.
The company succeeded in its bid to take the publisher private last month with a 270p-a-share offer, or £871m, being accepted by shareholders.
The deal led to DMGT being delisted from the London Stock Exchange for the first time in nearly 90 years.
Better times ahead for laggard FTSE 100, says Goldman Sachs
After years of lacklustre returns, things may be finally falling in place for the FTSE 100 in 2022, according to Goldman Sachs.
Higher rates will benefit value stocks over “longer-duration growth ones,” while a projected rise in prices for commodities such as oil and copper should also buoy household names in the British benchmark.
The UK’s big cap index has been a consistent laggard since the Brexit referendum, with Goldman’s team attributing only a small part of that underperformance to the UK’s separation from the EU.
A more crucial factor has been the absence of high-flying technology champions from the gauge, which is instead dominated by banks and commodities behemoths.
A looming tightening of monetary policy across developed markets to tame surging inflation means that FTSE 100’s idiosyncratic composition will be an advantage this year. Still, over the medium term, a dearth of high-growth companies will tend to hold the index back, according to Goldman.
Surging North-South wealth gap threatens Boris Johnson’s red wall
Good afternoon everyone, this is Giulia Bottaro taking over from James Warrington.
The wealth divide between the North and South of England has widened dramatically since the financial crisis, according to figures which highlight Boris Johnson’s challenge as he seeks to hold onto electoral gains in the so-called Red Wall.
Russell Lynch and Rachel Mortimer write:
Average households in the South-East were worth £503,400 in property, pension and financial wealth in March 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – up 43pc since 2006.
In contrast, wealth in the North East stands at an average £168,500 after a 17pc slide over the same period.
The figures – which came as lender Halifax reported the biggest rise in national house prices since 2007 – will heap pressure on Boris Johnson to speed up delivery following a landslide in 2019 as disillusioned voters turned to the Conservatives and Labour’s red wall of seats crumbled across the Midlands and the North.
A much-delayed White Paper on levelling up is expected to be published later this month after being put on hold by the emergence of the omicron Covid variant and a turbulent period for the Government as it was rocked by several scandals.
Citigroup to enforce no jab, no job policy
Citigroup is gearing up to confront vaccine holdouts after imposing a strict no jab, no job policy for its employees.
Staff who don’t comply by January 14 will be placed on unpaid leave and have been told they will lose their job at the end of the month, according to an internal memo seen by Bloomberg.
While some of the employees will be eligible for certain year-end bonus payments, they’ll have to sign an agreement that states they won’t pursue legal action against the company to receive the funds.
The lender said: “You are welcome to apply for other roles at Citi in the future as long as you are compliant with Citi’s vaccination policy.”
According to the report, more than 90pc of employees have complied with the rule for US staff, which allows for employees to apply for religious or medical exemptions.
M&C Saatchi confirms £222m takeover offer
M&C Saatchi has confirmed it’s received a takeover offer from tech entrepreneur Vin Murria, but said it did not reflect the value of the business.
The ad agency said it’s received a non-binding offer from Ms Murria’s shell investment vehicle AdvancedAdvT that would see it offer shareholders 1.86 Advt shares for each M&C Saatchi shares.
This values the company at around £222m, according to Bloomberg calculations.
In a statement the board said it did not think the offer represented an alternative strategy that would benefit shareholders beyond an initial change of control.
It added: “Furthermore, the proposal does not reflect the value of the business and its future prospects and would disproportionately transfer equity value from M&C Saatchi shareholders to AdvT shareholders.”
Licence fee squeeze and staff unrest to challenge incoming BBC News boss
For Deborah Turness, delivering TV news is a holy war. Confronted by a mountain of disinformation online and an ever-growing number of new media companies, the seasoned broadcasting executive praised the role of the humble TV news bulletin during the “unprecedented horror” of the pandemic.
Ben Woods looks at the challenge ahead for Deborah Turness, the ITN chief who’s just been named the new head of BBC News.
Wall Street falters after weak jobs data
Wall Street is fluctuating this afternoon after the latest jobs data fell well short of expectations.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were little changed at the opening bell, while the Dow Jones fell 0.1pc.
US private payrolls increased by only 199,000 in December, though the unemployment rate also fell to 3.9pc.
More expert reaction: Jobs miss is a positive after Fed minutes
Marcus Bullus, director at MB Capital, argues the jobs figures could be a positive after hawkish minutes from the Federal Reserve earlier this week.
Following this line of thought there is a concern that the Fed may focus on the unemployment rate coming in lower than expected at 3.9pc to fuel more hawkish discussions at their next meeting, with fears of labour scarcity fuelling wage increases and inflation.
The disparity between the nonfarm payroll miss and the lower unemployment level could suggest that Americans are taking their futures in their own hands with more going self-employed but also it is worth remembering that sampling of households against businesses isn’t always perfect – hence the revisions we see with November non-farm payroll being revised upwards.
Creating jobs is building the economy from the ground up, which is why the nonfarm payroll release can have such an effect on the financial markets, but on this occasion it does feel more backwards looking because of omicron fears at the time coupled with Christmas.
Expert reaction: Jobs report will raise investor caution
Richard Flynn, managing director at Charles Schwab UK, says December’s jobs report may heighten investor caution.
For the second month in a row, new job figures have underperformed expectations. However, falling unemployment and rising wages will be welcomed.
Labour-force participation remains low; workers are either hesitant to re-enter the workforce because of the pandemic, reassessing their work/life balance, or retiring early. The main benefit of elevated job openings and resignations is rising wages.
December’s jobs report confirms that wage growth has woken up. This is significant because strong wage growth is a key input for high inflation. Investors’ uneasiness about inflation is justified, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) well above the five-year average of its annual change.
Looking ahead to 2022, it’s too early to tell for certain the impact that omicron will have on the US economy. However, if the threat of future lockdowns fades, a more confident growth outlook may emerge, and along with it, a potential acceleration in the labour supply.
US firms add just 199,000 jobs as hiring falters
US private payrolls increased by only 199,000 in December, falling well short of expectations and signalling a slowdown in the jobs market.
The figure for nonfarm payrolls was down from 249,000 the previous month and well below estimates of 450,000.
The unemployment rate fell to 3.9pc in December, down from 4.2pc in November, while the participation rate was unchanged at 61.9pc.
The figures highlight the challenges faced by employers as they look to fill roles amid the pandemic.
BRC: Omicron ‘wiped out’ retail recovery
Restrictions rolled out to tackle the rapid spread of the omicron variant “wiped out” much of the high street’s fragile recovery in December, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said much of the progress “was wiped out in December as surging omicron cases and new work-from-home advice deterred many from shopping in-store, particularly in towns and city centres”.
The number of shoppers visiting UK stores slid 18.6pc in December compared with pre-Covid levels two years ago.
Ms Dickinson pointed out that footfall remained above the levels seen in many other European countries as Britain avoided more stringent lockdown measures.
But businesses and consumers are facing further threats in the new year amid surging inflation and a squeeze on household budgets.
Richard Branson shuns London for Spac listing
Sir Richard Branson is set to list his first European blank cheque company in Amsterdam, marking a blow for the London Stock Exchange.
Sky News reports that the Virgin billionaire is drawing up plans to float a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) on the Euronext exchange in the coming months.
It’s said the Spac will likely look to raise an initial sum of €200m (£167m), although the details are yet to be finalised.
His decision to go public in Amsterdam comes despite recent reforms to listing rules on the London market aimed at attracted more blank cheque deals.
US futures rise ahead of jobs data
US futures pushed higher this morning as traders looked to jobs data this afternoon amid speculation about the Federal Reserve’s plans to tighten monetary policy.
Futures tracking the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both up 0.3pc, while the Dow Jones gained 0.2pc.
US hiring may have more than doubled in December from the previous month to 447,000 new jobs, according to projections for the nonfarm payrolls report.
It comes after separate data that showed companies added the most positions in seven months.
However, with Fed officials preparing for aggressive rate hikes and a contraction of the central bank’s balance sheet, markets expect little chance of a change of heart even if today’s figures come in below expectations.
Fuel retailers group defends forecourts over pump prices
Fuel retailers have hit back at accusations that forecourts were failing to pass on price savings to motorists amid an escalating row over the energy crisis.
While fuel prices have dipped from record highs in November, the RAC this accused retailers of failing to cut pump prices, leading to drivers paying an additional £160m last month.
But the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) hit back at the claims, saying they had been hit by falling volumes and increased costs.
Gordon Balmer, chief executive of the PRA, told Bloomberg: “For the whole of 2021 the margin on petrol was around 10p a litre. These are the sorts of numbers our members need in order to run a profitable business.”
The PRA said petrol and diesel prices had risen due to rising ethanol and bio-diesel costs, while retailers also faced higher costs for both energy and labour.
It added that forecourts’ fuel purchases were priced on a weekly lagged basis, and reduced sales meant fuels they bought when prices were high were moving through petrol stations more slowly.
Lookers shares rise as it shrugs off chip shortages
Shares in car dealership chain Lookers have pushed higher after it said trading had been ahead of expectations, despite the impact of chip shortages.
The London-listed firm forecast record pre-tax profit ahead of consensus of £82m. It said trading in the fourth quarter had beaten expectations, driven by higher margins, cost control and growth in aftersales revenue.
However, Lookers warned the global shortage of semiconductors continued to put pressure on the supply of new and used vehicles.
Watchdog clears Admiral’s £222m Hawthorn pubs takeover
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has cleared Admiral Taverns’ £222m takeover of the Hawthorn pub business.
The regulator last year launched an inquiry into the deal, which will see Admiral take control of 687 pubs across the UK from retail property investor NewRiver.
In a statement today the CMA said it had accepted undertakings given by Admiral and so would not be referring the merger for an in-depth investigation.
Shipping firm Clarkson leads FTSE 250
Shipping group Clarkson has leapt to the top of the FTSE 250 after it said trading in December had been “stronger than anticipated”.
The London-based firm hailed a strong end to the year and said pre-tax profit for the full year would be no less than £69m.
Shares rose as much as 4.7pc following the update.
Amber Rudd joins board of British Gas owner Centrica
Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd has been appointed to the board of British Gas’ parent company.
Centrica said Ms Rudd will join as a non-executive director on 10 January and will sit on its safety, environment and sustainability committee, as well as the remuneration committee.
It’s the latest appointment for the former Cabinet member, who also served as Energy Secretary and Work and Pensions Secretary before resigning from the party over her opposition to a no-deal Brexit.
In 2020 Ms Rudd was selected as chairman of Norwegian oil giant Equinor’s international advisory group.
Scott Wheway, chairman of Centrica said:
As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber was the driving force in the UK’s participation in the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the first legally binding global commitment to reduce national carbon emissions.
She brings a wealth of real-world experience in energy, which will be invaluable as we face the challenge of delivering net zero and helping our customers live more sustainably and affordably.
Energy crisis is ‘absolute emergency’, says France’s Le Maire
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire has branded the surge in energy prices an “absolute emergency”, adding that the Government was trying to find ways to protect consumers and businesses.
France has pledged to contain the annual increase in electricity prices at 4pc, primarily using tax cuts. But the surge in wholesale costs has taken policy makers by surprise and the finance ministry is negotiating with state-controlled EDF for other fixes.
“If we don’t find a solution in the coming days, French people will see an increase between 35pc and 40pc in electricity bills,” Le Maire said. “It is an absolute emergency because the explosion in electricity prices is neither sustainable for households nor for businesses.”
Rising energy prices have been a driving force behind inflation, which now stands at 3.4pc in France – its highest level since 2008.
Le Maire also pointed to the potential social consequences from the surge in living costs.
He said: “Look at what is happening in Kazakhstan; it’s quite instructive in terms of what can happen when energy, electricity or gas prices explode. It’s politically dangerous.”
Gas rally halted by Dutch plan to boost production
The sharp rally in gas prices came to a halt this morning after the Netherlands said it may boost production at its biggest field this year.
Output from the Dutch Groningen field may total 7.6bn cubic metres in the 12 months to September, according to data from grid operator Gasunie.
This helped ease pressure on the market, which has seen prices jump by more than a third this week alone.
Benchmark European prices were little changed in Amsterdam, while the UK equivalent ticked up 0.2pc.
Ryanair to close Frankfurt base as charges rise
Ryanair will close its base at Frankfurt at the end of March in protest at increased charges at the airport.
The budget airline says it will withdraw from the German hub on March 31, adding it has reallocated the five aircraft it uses there to airports with lower fees.
Ryanair said all pilots and cabin crew based in Frankfurt received notification of the closure today.
The company said it had “no alternative in response to a decision from the airport to increase its airport fees, despite the collapse in traffic caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
It added that the increased charges had made Frankfurt “uncompetitive with European airports”.
Pressure mounts on ECB as eurozone inflation hits record high
Inflation in the eurozone rose above already record highs, defying expectations for a slowdown and piling pressure on the European Central Bank.
Consumer prices jumped 5pc in December from a year earlier after rising 4.9pc the previous month. A measure that strips out volatile elements such as food and energy held steady at 2.6pc.
Meanwhile, economic confidence in the eurozone fell by more than forecasts amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant across the continent.
The figures will put more pressure on the ECB to step in as supply troubles and soaring energy costs push up prices at the fastest rate since the common currency was introduced in 1999.
The central bank has refrained from tightening its monetary policy, insisting that the current spike in inflation is temporary.
Pound edges higher to lead G10 gains
Sterling has edged higher this morning, making it the only G10 currency to rally against the dollar this week despite economic data showing the impact of omicron on the services and construction sectors.
The pound rose 0.1pc to $1.3546. Against the euro, it was little changed at 83.51p.
Expectations of further interest rate rises by the Bank of England have driven up UK yields faster than other European nations, while traders will have an eye on a speech by MPC member Catherine Mann later today.
Expert reaction: Construction has plenty to be positive about
Jan Crosby at KPMG said the construction sector will be upbeat despite ongoing pandemic threats.
The sector has shown great resilience through the events of the past two years, remaining robust despite having seemingly endless obstacles and pressures to contend with. And it will need to keep doing so as we enter 2022, with the impact of the ongoing omicron variant, supply chain issues and skills shortages continuing to create uncertainty in the months ahead.
Along with the disruptive weather we tend to get at this time of year, any tightening of restrictions or workers needing to self-isolate will likely result in project delays or even the temporary closure of some sites.
Yet there is also plenty for the industry to be positive about. Contractors are looking to the UK Infrastructure Bank to help bolster pipelines and ongoing strong demand in the housing market is propping up prices and giving builders extra incentive to ramp up the delivery of new homes.
Construction growth eases to three-month low
The UK construction sector posted another month of solid growth in December, but the rate of expansion slowed to its lowest since September.
The IHS Markit Construction PMI came in at 54.3 last month, down from 55.5 in November and the weakest rate for three months.
Survey respondents said tighter pandemic restrictions and rising Covid cases had acted as a brake on the recovery – especially in the commercial sector.
On a more positive note, the number of construction firms reporting supplier delays dropped from 47pc in November to 34pc in December as bottlenecks eased.
Fewer supply shortages also contributed to the slowest rate of input price inflation for nine months.
Bulmers maker C&C drops as festive sales lose their fizz
Shares in beer and cider maker C&C Group fell as much as 3.6pc this morning after it warned the spread of omicron had hit sales in December.
The FTSE 250 firm, which owns brands including Magners, Bulmers and Tennent’s, said performance was behind expectations as fresh restrictions in the UK and Ireland dampened trading in the key festive period.
The downbeat comments also dragged down rivals, with Fevertree dropping 5pc and Guinness owner Diageo falling 1.7pc.
German industrial production stalls
German industrial production fell slightly in November as persistent supply bottlenecks took their toll.
The country’s dominant manufacturing sector produced 0.2pc less than in the previous month, official figures showed, following a revised rise of 2.4pc in October.
Production levels in November were 2.4pc below the same month in 2020, and lagged Germany’s pre-Covid output in February 2020 by 7pc.
While output lagged, exports from Europe’s largest economy economy rose by 1.7pc in November on the previous month – marking the second consecutive month of increases.
The value of exports hit €126bn (£105bn), with exports to other EU countries rising by 14pc year on year.
FTSE risers and fallers
After a sluggish start, the FTSE 100 has now slipped 0.2pc into the red, with investor focus firmly on US jobs data due later today.
Mining stocks including Rio Tinto, BHP and Evraz all pushed higher amid rising copper prices, helping to cap losses on the index.
The latest US jobs report is of added significance after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December meeting signalled faster-than-expected rate hikes, triggering a global sell-off in equity markets.
The domestically-focused FTSE 250 dropped 0.7pc, with drinks maker C&C dropping 2.7pc after it said omicron hit sales in December.
Aston Martin takes £15m hit from Valkyrie troubles
Aston Martin has said its profits will be around £15m lower than expected in the fourth quarter due to ongoing issues with its £2.4m Valkyrie hypercar.
The company shipped only 10 of the luxury sports cars during the three-month period as it battles electronics issues with the vehicle, which has been seen as key to returning the firm to profitability.
Aston Martin will reached its goal of selling more than 6,000 cars last year thanks to strong demand for the DBX, its first SUV.
Chief executive Tobias Moers said: “The Valkyrie programme is now running at rate for 2022 having focused on delivering with no compromises in the face of supply chain challenges and huge complexity in the production ramp-up which resulted in a timing impact for 2021.”
Aston Martin has undergone a major restructuring since it was rescued by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll 18 months ago.
The FTSE 250 carmaker said is cash balance at the end of the year was £420m – higher than previously anticipated.
Bitcoin slumps to lowest since September
Bitcoin has slumped to its lowest level since September amid a wider sell-off in cryptocurrencies.
The digital coin dropped as much as 5pc to below $41,000 – its lowest since September 29. Bitcoin has lost more than 40pc of its value since hitting a record high of $69,000 in November.
The world’s biggest cryptocurrency is notoriously volatile, but there’s been further pressure on prices recently after the Federal Reserve hinted at a more aggressive approach to digital assets.
The global computing power of the Bitcoin network has also dropped sharply this week following the shutdown of Kazakhstan’s internet amid uprisings in the country.
The fall will cast doubts over Goldman Sachs’ bullish forecasts earlier this week, when it said Bitcoin could hit $100,000.
Tim Cook earns nearly $100m after Apple’s record year
Apple boss Tim Cook’s pay soared to almost $100m (£74m) in 2021 as he completed 10 years as the iPhone maker’s chief executive.
His $98.7m pay packet marked a more than six-fold increased compared to the previous year, according to company filings. Mr Cook’s base salary of $3m remained unchanged, with the majority of the increase coming from stock awards.
It came as Apple posted record profits last year, while sales also rose to a record $365bn. The company has continued to deliver bumper results for investors, too, with shares rising about 80pc last year.
Apple said: “It’s been a remarkable decade for Apple and in 2021 Mr Cook was granted an equity award for the first time since he was promoted to chief executive in August 2011.”
FTSE 100 opens flat
The FTSE 100 has faltered at the open following Wednesday’s sell-off driven by hawkish Fed comments.
The blue-chip index inched only marginally higher to 7,450 points.
Shell to buy back £4bn in shares
Shell has vowed to buy back $5.5bn (£4bn) worth of shares “at pace” using the proceeds of asset sales as it forecast “significantly higher” profits from gas trading in the fourth quarter.
The oil giant announced the buyback last year following the $9.5bn sale of its Permian oil and gas assets. The move was approved on New Year’s Eve at the first board meeting since the company’s relocation of its headquarters to the UK.
Shell’s earnings from gas trading dropped in the third quarter due to production problems in several locations.
In an update this morning the FTSE 100 company said it had overcome the issues, with earnings set to come in much higher in the fourth quarter as it cashed in on high gas prices.
However, results from Shell’s oil trading and refining unit were weaker than expected due to extended maintenance at one of its refineries and the impact of Hurricane Ida, with the division set to post a loss.
EY: Outright fall in prices unlikely
But before prospective homebuyers get too excited, there’s a word of caution.
Martin Beck, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, says that while price growth will slow, an outright fall is unlikely.
The ingredients for any serious correction in property values are lacking. Bank of England data showed the average interest on a new mortgage falling to a record low of 1.5pc in November. So, any upward move in mortgage costs will take place from an extraordinarily low level.
Rising unemployment, what has so often been the reason for house price falls, looks to have been avoided and households, overall, are sitting on substantial unplanned savings accumulated during the pandemic.
Moreover, the delay caused by the omicron variant in returning to pre-Covid-19 normality could prolong support to housing demand and prices from pandemic-driven shifts in preferences.
More expert reaction: Market will return to normal in coming months
Gareth Lewis at property lender MT Finance, says that while prices are still increasing, “transactional flow has slowed a little, along with price growth”.
It will be interesting to see the housing market return to a level of normality over the next few months, without the government stimulation in the form of the stamp duty holiday which fuelled much of last year’s activity.
Business has been buoyant as we start the year, with plenty of enquiries coming through. January can be quite a slow month as people gradually get back to work and find their feet but there are still motivated buyers who didn’t transact last year and are keen to do so, particularly before interest rates rise further.
Expert reaction: More housing needed to meet demand
Jan Crosby at JPMG says the sector must focus on building sustainable and affordable housing.
The demand for housing continues to outstrip supply, which is underpinning house prices leading to another sharp rise this month. This is due to a combination of houses selling very quickly and the global supply chain issues with building supplies, which have existed for some time, now being exacerbated by lorry driver shortages.
Developers can’t build quickly enough to sell into the strong market – particularly for family housing with outdoor space. There are some tentative signs that sourcing building materials is becoming more straightforward, but lead times can still be very long. Labour availability and wage inflation is now also on the sector’s radar.
Not only is more housing needed to meet demand, but the focus should be on delivering sustainable, affordable housing.
Halifax: House price growth to slow considerably
Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax, said:
The lack of spending opportunities afforded to people while restrictions were in place helped boost household cash reserves. This factor, alongside the stamp duty holiday and the race for space as a result of homeworking, will have encouraged buyers to bring forward home purchases they’d maybe planned for this year.
The extension of the Government’s job and income support schemes also supported the labour market and may have given some households the confidence to proceed with purchases. A lack of available homes for sale, and historically low mortgage rates, have also helped drive annual house price inflation to 9.8pc, its highest level since July 2007.
Looking ahead, the prospect that interest rates may rise further this year to tackle rising inflation and increasing pressures on household budgets suggest house price growth will slow considerably.
Our expectation is that house prices will maintain their current strong levels, but that growth relative to the last two years will be at a slower pace. However, there are many variables which could push house prices either way, depending on how the pandemic continues to impact the economic environment.
House prices top off stellar 2021
It won’t come as a surprise, but the latest housing from Halifax show another bumper month in December, with prices gaining 1.1pc to a new record high of £276,091.
It caps off a remarkable year for the market, which defied the sombre mood in the wider economy to post ever greater growth.
December’s annual growth of 9.8pc marked the fastest pace since July 2003, while the cash gain of £24,500 across 2021 as a whole was the largest since March 2003.
Last year, the average house price reached a new record high a remarkable eight times.
But things are almost certain to change in 2002, with rising interest rates and inflation set to slam the brakes on the market’s unfettered growth.
5 things to start your day
1) Omicron grant is a ‘drop in the ocean’ for restaurants Industry leaders call the grants ‘borderline insulting’ and say they fall far short of what is needed
2) Television company duped banks for loans worth £280m, say administrators Arena Television, which worked on the Euro 2020 tournament, closed abruptly in November and the bosses are yet to be located
3) Joe Wicks-backed Gousto wins $100m investment Softbank cash injection values meal kit company at $1.7bn
4) Competition chief regarded as barrier to post-Brexit reforms steps down Andrea Coscelli may be replaced by a more radical chief executive at the Competition and Markets Authority
5) Crispin Odey’s hedge fund has best year since 2007 Odey Asset Management ended the year with a gain of nearly 54pc
What happened overnight
Asian shares snapped two days of losses on Friday, climbing as investors waited to see whether US jobs data due later in the day would reinforce the need for faster US interest rate hikes.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3pc, boosted by a 1.2pc gain in the Australian benchmark where bank stocks were to the fore, though Japan’s Nikkei gave up early gains to slip 0.66pc.
Nasdaq futures rose as much as 0.5pc in earlier Asian trading before giving up some gains to trade 0.25pc higher, and S&P 500 e-mini stock futures advanced 0.17pc.
Coming up today
- Corporate: No scheduled updates
- Economics: Halifax house price index (UK), construction PMI (UK), inflation, retail sales (eurozone), industrial production (France, Germany), non-farm payrolls (US)