Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, financial markets, the eurozone and trade.
NatWest Group has agreed to buy back £1.2bn of shares from the UK government, in a transaction that would mean the bank is privately owned for the first time since it was bailed out during the financial crisis.
The bank, formerly known as Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), said it would make an off-market purchase of 550m shares, or 4.91% of its share capital, from HM Treasury at Friday’s closing price of 220.5p. But had agreed.
In the markets, oil prices have fallen back and Asian stocks tumbled in Shanghai as a new coronavirus lockdown hit economic activity.
Moscow Exchange will resume normal trading of Russian shares and bonds for half a day today. Last week it started limited trading. Today’s trading session will run from 7.50 am to 11.50 am. Russian shares fell for a second day of trading on Friday, with losses led by flag carrier Aeroflot.
Non-residents will still have to wait, however – they will be barred from selling stocks and Russian ruble-denominated government bonds, known as OFZ bonds, until April 1. Short selling is also prohibited.
Shanghai has asked all firms to suspend manufacturing or those working remotely in a two-phase lockdown over nine days. Brent crude fell more than $ 4 to $ 116.55 a barrel while US light crude was at $ 109.64 a barrel.
Japan’s Nikkei closed down 0.7%, while Chinese blue chips on the CSI 300 closed 0.9%, Shanghai Composite down 0.1% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 1%. European shares are expected to open slightly higher.
Gold prices fell and the dollar strengthened, as investors had hoped for the prospect of new peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Spot gold prices fell more than 1% to $1,936 on reduced demand for safe-haven assets. The dollar index has reached the highest level in more than a week.
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators will resume face-to-face talks as soon as today, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the upcoming new talks, saying he hoped they would bring peace “without delay”.
Chinese industrial firms increased profits in January to February, driven by increased profits in the energy and raw materials sectors. Profits rose 5% from a year earlier, compared to 4.2% in December, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. However, analysts at Goldman Sachs warned that the Covid outbreak in several provinces would impact industrial profits.
In the UK, Grant Shapps is writing to the chief executive of P&O Ferries Urged them to announce a U-turn on the decision to sack 800 workers without notice, as unions vowed to “intensify the fight” after a weekend of protests.
came out yesterday Russian Agents Seize Millions of Dollars of Audemars Piguet Watches in Moscow Bloomberg quoted Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag as saying in an apparent retaliation for Swiss restrictions banning the export of luxury goods.
- 11.30 a.m. BST: Treasury committee to inquire from office for budget responsibility on spring details
- 12:00 BST: Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey speaks
- 1.30 a.m. BST: US Trade in Goods for February
- 2.40 a.m. BST: Treasury committee to question chancellor on spring statement