By any standard Wall Street trading this morning was choppy. The Dow Jones and other index dropped heavily initially then re-bounded. By late afternoon the Dow was down -0.30%, a 72-point lurch with Merck & Co, Intel and Travelers Company down -2.75% and -2.5% (both).
But the bigger falls were on the European mainland with the Dax falling -2.16% and the Paris CAC 40 -2.18% lower. The FTSE 100 saw a -1.87% fall late afternoon with Standard Life Aberdeen and Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust plunging -4%. Shares in broker Hargreaves Lansdown fell almost -4%. Earlier the FTSE 100 actually dipped below the 7,000 waterline; by close of business it was down 177 points to 7,157.
On the currency markets the pound took a -0.19% hit against the dollar, down to 1.3917 while flat against the euro at 1.1274. Earlier the US Commerce Department said the US trade deficit had hit a nine year high – wider at any point that since 2009 – helped by soaring imports. Later this afternoon it emerged that the trial of three ex Tesco execs is to be abandoned (more below).
Meanwhile the global equities rout remains very much present with the US Vix volatility index heading beyond 40 (compared to 15 before the weekend). Much of the volatility is premised on one worry only: that the very long tail of cheap money or borrowing is nearing its close.
- UK FTSE 100 7,157.82 -2.42%
- DAX 12,483.87 -1.82%
- CAC 40 5,192.68 -1.76%
- Euro Stoxx 600 376.01 -1.57%
- Dow 24,145.73 -0.82%
- S&P 500 2,648.94 -4.10%
- Nasdaq 6,906.83 -0.87%
- Nikkei 225 21,610.24 -4.73%
- Gold 1,333.00 -0.26%
- Oil WTI 63.98 -0.27%
Tesco fraud trial abandoned
The trial of former Tesco execs Chris Bush, the ex UK boss of Tesco, John Scouler, Tesco's former commercial food director plus ex finance director Carl Rogberg, is off. All men had denied the fraud charges. However earlier today it was disclosed that Carl Rogberg had suffered a heart attack.
"Mr Rogberg,” said his solicitor, “is devastated at the news that the trial has been aborted. He waived his right to attend these last stages after he had given evidence himself for many days, and had participated in the last four and half months of the trial.”
All four had been accused of false accounting and fraud by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO); earlier the SFO had claimed Tesco had over-stated profits by more than £280m. It is not clear whether the government fraud office will push for a re-trial. Tesco shares are down more than -5% in the last week and up just +0.73% in the last year.
More UK-EU transition tension
A document seen by the Financial Times suggests the EU is seeking the ability to sanction the UK on any non-compliance during the Brexit transition – which could mean cutting off access to chunks of the single market.
“Highlighting fears in Brussels over Britain wilfully breaking rules during the transition period or refusing to implement new laws, the draft treaty text calls for additional enforcement powers so that the EU can respond promptly to infringements,” the FT reported.
The likes of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have already warned on ‘vassal state’ fears. Theresa May’s government has till 22 March to reach an EU transition deal.
Breaking news: Ex Carillion chairman Philip Green says he shoulders responsibility for Carillion's collapse but says he is not completely culpable. "No question in my mind about that. Not necessarily culpability but full responsibility".