FTSE 100 Live: Pound tops $1.20 as Brexit NI deal reached, new Ofgem energy price cap


Palantir to cut 2% of jobs in bid to slash costs

Software business Palantir said it planned to cut 2% of its workforce in a bid to slash operating costs, in a move that will see at least 70 jobs go.

A Palantir spokesperson said: “Our company is at an inflection point, and to continue to evolve we are making the tough choice of reducing teams in several areas.

“While less than 2% of our workforce is impacted by these changes, these are incredibly painful decisions but the right ones for the company’s future.”


FTSE closes up 56 points to 7,935.11

The FTSE 100 made gains at the end of the day’s trading session in London, climbing 56 points to 7,935.11.

The blue-chip index was relatively unchanged by news of a new Northern Ireland deal agreed between the UK and the EU, suggesting that the outcome was either priced in or carried little economic weight. Parties in Northern Ireland have yet to announce whether they support the terms of the deal.

Bloomberg chief European economist Jamie Rush said: “A yawning gap between the UK and advanced-economy peers suggests Brexit is costing as much as 4% of GDP annually.

“Monday’s deal with the European Union, which should significantly reduce trade frictions on the Northern Ireland border, won’t directly move the dial on UK GDP. But, by trimming uncertainty and unblocking avenues to a closer UK-EU relationship, the agreement could represent a landmark moment.“


City reacts to Sunak Brexit deal on Northern Ireland

Business leaders are reacting to news Rishi Sunak has agreed a new deal with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said: “Since the conclusion of Brexit, our economic and political relationship with the EU has been much more fraught than it should have been. Despite claims of Brexit being ‘done’, it has felt anything but. To thrive, businesses need stability and predictability.

“That is why we are pleased that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have agreed a new deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol and we hope today marks the start of a more collaborative relationship with our largest trading partner, one which will lead to greater shared prosperity.”

“The measures introduced to enable the free flow of trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be of significant value to businesses in England, Wales, and Scotland trading with Northern Ireland and vice-versa. However, we recognise that the result is still far from a perfect solution.

Miles Robinson, partner in the litigation & dispute resolution team at Mayer Brown, said: “The NI protocol deal will likely be a source of concern for many businesses, who will be wondering what they must do – and how – to meet the new requirements it introduces.

“Although we don’t know what the finer details of the deal are yet, what we do know is that businesses with trading links to Northern Ireland will face changes to their current procedures – and possibly increased costs of compliance. 

“Businesses will therefore be looking carefully at their existing contracts to assess how they are affected, and in particular whether there are clauses that address the impact of changes in legislation.”


Parliament will vote on deal ‘at appropriate time’

Parliament will have a vote on today’s post-Brexit deal “at the appropiate time”, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, but MPs will need to take time to go through the details.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the DUP will want to digest the detail of today’s agreement, but politics aside, the deal answers concerns of the people of Northern Ireland.

Ursula von der Leyen confirmed the European Court of Justice will have the final say on EU law and single-market issues.


Sunak: ‘We have made a decisive breakthrough’

“I’m pleased to report we have now made a decisive breakthrough,” Rishi Sunak told reporters as he stood beside Ursula von der Leyen at a news conference.

“Together we have changed the original protocol and today are announcing the new Windsor Framework.”

The prime minister said the new deal delivers smooth trade and “safeguards sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland”.

The prime minister said today’s agreement removes “any sense of a border in the Irish Sea”.

Rishi Sunak said food that is available on supermarket shelves in UK will be available also in Northern Ireland.

He also said today’s agremeent means anyone sending mail or online shopping between the UK and Northern Ireland will have to complete no customs papework.


Pound gets a lift as NI Protocol agreement reached

The pound has risen to an intraday high of $1.20 after news emerged the UK has reached a deal with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Sterling has jumped around three quarters of a cent to $1.2020 since markets opened this morning as investors welcomed the prospect of an end to political uncertainty and disruption to trade.

A source told the BBC: “An agreement has been reached. The deal is done.”

Earlier today, Rishi Sunak met with EU Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen to hammer out the final terms of a deal.

Full details of the deal are expected to be released later today.


Wall Street: Stocks to make gains after worst week since December

Stocks are set to make gains in New York today, partially reversing a bitter week for Wall street, the worst week since December.

Economic data released today shows orders for durable goods fell the most since April 2020, but when excluding transportation equipment, durable goods rose higher than expected. In signs of green shoots for the US economy, orders for business equipment at factories rose in January, suggesting firms are continuing to make capital investments rather than hoard cash.


City Comment: Small firms offer hope of an end to ‘the great chaos’

Is the great business investment drought finally coming to an end? Firms’ unwillingness to commit money to the long term during “the great chaos”— the period from David Cameron’s announcement of the Brexit referendum in February 2016 to the resignation of Liz Truss in October 2022 — has been one of the biggest factors in Britain’s recent years of miserable economic underperformance.

It is only a straw in the wind but a poll finance broker Charles & Dean releases today suggests that London’s small and medium sized businesses — a real engine room of the economy — have finally decided it is safe to invest again.

In 2022 just 59% made a significant business investment but this year 96% plan to do so. The average earmarked for investment is £316,000 — not in itself a huge sum, but multiplied across hundreds and thousands of enterprises enough to give the economy a real boost.

It makes a welcome change from businesses hoarding their cash at a time of bewildering and at times frightening uncertainty over a period that included the rancour of the Brexit fallout, the Covid pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the revolving- door changes of leadership at the top of the Government, and finally the disastrous experiment with Trussonomics.

The poll finds most businesses still do not believe the Government is doing enough to encourage investment, but that is not stopping them pressing the button on decisions that will often only yield returns years down the track.

If Britain is to have a chance of moving towards the head of the G7 economic leaderboard that trend will have to be sustained. The new era of dull stability that Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt have managed to keep going for six months now is a huge help. And is a reason why the Chancellor will do little that could risk unsettling the markets come Budget day next month.


Sajid Javid to join Centricus Asset Management: reports

Ex-chancellor Sajid Javid is set to join Centricus Asset Management, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The MP for Bromsgrove, who worked for American bank JP Morgan before joining parliament, is to become a senior adviser to the $40 billion investment firm.

In December Javid said he would not be standing as an MP at the next general election.

It follows a similar move by former chancellor George Osborne, who worked for investment firm Blackrock before joining asset manager Robey Warshaw after he left front-line politics.


Begbies eyes boom in business as firms suffer in downturn

An economic slowdown might be bad for most of us, but insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor is eyeing up more business.

It said today it is seeing “an encouraging level of new insolvency appointments across all market segments”.

The on-going administration of Paperchase is one of its deals. There are “resilient income streams and a continuing flow of new instructions”.

Sales in the third quarter are in line with the first half of the year, it reassured the market. City analysts expect Begbies to make profit for the year of around £20 million.

The shares rose 4p to 136p.

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