Boris Johnson has taken the podium at the CBI conference, at the InterContinental hotel near the O2 arena. My colleague Andrew Sparrow is blogging on our politics live blog.
Over the weekend, Fairbairn expressed concerns about the Conservatives’ immigration policy.
CBI sees danger on right and left
The CBI, the UK’s biggest business lobby group, has warned about a threat to businesses from both the right and the left of politics. Its director general Carolyn Fairbairn said at the group’s annual conference in southeast London:
I believe we are facing a danger that could get in the way of a bright future, and it takes the form of extreme ideology. And we see it on both sides of the political divide.
On the right we have the threat of, even a preference, for no deal as the end point of our Brexit negotiations.
She also said Labour’s nationalisation programme had sent a “chill through boardrooms”.
Several major European stock markets have turned negative. Traders are clinging to hopes of a preliminary trade agreement between the US and China, but there is precious little news. Chinese state media reported that a weekend phone call to discuss trade was “constructive”.
Sterling has risen through $1.2960, apparently boosted by comments from Boris Johnson. He said all 635 Conservative Party candidates in the general election on 12 December have pledged to back his Brexit deal, speaking to the Daily Telegraph in an interview published on Saturday. Sterling is trading at $1.2963, up 0.49% and is 0.36% higher against the euro, at 85.35p.
Some traders say that polls showing the Conservatives in the lead are also boosting the pound. The Tories lead Labour by 10 to 17 percentage points, according to four polls on Saturday, while a poll published by Good Morning Britain today showed a 14-point lead for the Conservatives.
Here are the main moves in stock markets:
UK’s FTSE 100 index up nearly 6 points, or 0.08%, at 7,308.83
- Germany’s Dax down 0.8% at 13,231.20
- France’s CAC down 0.25% at 5,924.55
- Italy’s FTSE MiB down 0.2% at 23,538.7
A survey on UK household finances shows that people reported further strain this month. The headline index from IHS Markit remained at 44.4 in November, pointing to a negative assessment of household finances.
The outlook for the year ahead also remained stuck in downbeat territory during November, although the respective index was broadly unchanged from that seen in October.
UK households retained their pessimistic view towards job security during the latest survey period. Those employed in sectors such as retail and manufacturing reported a negative outlook towards job security. Nevertheless, growth of both incomes from employment and workplace activity was registered in November.
More than one in five households still expect the Bank of England to cut interest rates, although the vast majority (79%) think its next move will be a rate hike, with 58% expecting this to come within the next year.
The index uses survey data collected by Ipsos Mori and is the first consumer survey published each month.
The prime minister is speaking at 10:40am GMT, followed by the Labour leader at 11:15am GMT at the CBI conference at the InterContinental in southeast London. Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, addresses the business group at 2:25pm GMT.
She will be followed by Ivan Menezes, the chief executive of drinks maker Diageo, who will be speaking about the UK as a place to invest, from a global perspective.
The CBI’s annual conference is getting underway in London, where the main party leaders – Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson – are due to speak.
The prime minister will announce a range of tax cuts for businesses, including tax relief for the construction and research industries, and a tax cut for small employers by raising the allowance for their national insurance bills from £3,000 to £4,000. This comes on top of a previous pledge to lower business rates. Business rates are a tax based on rental values of the properties that firms occupy.
Sterling hits six-month high vs euro
European shares have opened slightly higher while US futures are pointing to a good start on Wall Street too.
In currency markets, sterling is making the biggest gains, rising to a six-month high of 85.345p against the euro. Against the dollar, it is up 0.43% at $1.2958. China’s yuan has fallen following a rate cut by the People’s Bank of China, which triggered hopes of more stimulus.
Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, says the pound has been boosted by news that all Tory candidates in the general election are supporting Boris Johnson’s deal.
All 634 Conservative candidates in the coming December 12 election have pledged to back Boris Johnson’s deal. In the narrow context of this election, if all candidates are promising to back the deal, it makes it more believable that Boris can “get Brexit done”. The general take in markets is that a Conservative majority offers relatively more certainty on both Brexit and on business matters than Labour.
Ashik Musaddi, European insurance analyst at JPMorgan Cazenove, says Aviva’s decision is somewhat disappointing.
Aviva, following the strategic review, has reported this morning that it has decided to retain its Singapore business and China JV, which we perceive as a small disappointment, as we were expecting a sale of the whole Asia units which could generate £1.5bn-£2bn.
The UK insurer Aviva, which sells life, car, household and business insurance, has decided to hold on to its operations in Singapore and joint venture in China, despite receiving takeover offers for the Singaporean business. Both delivered double-digit growth in operating profits last year.
But the company said it is still looking at possibly selling off its businesses in Vietnam, Indonesia and Hong Kong, whose status as a major financial centre in Asia has been knocked by months of pro-democratic protests.
Aviva is continuing to explore strategic options for its operations in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia, with its respective partners in each country.