Inventor Mister Dyson to talk about in £111m payout after vacuum company’s bumper year

Billionaire Mister James Dyson’s fortune has gotten another huge cash injection using the recent results for parents company of his business empire revealing a £111m dividend payout.

Annual makes up about Weybourne Group show it compensated £60m in ordinary dividends and £55m in preference dividends around towards the finish of December.

Weybourne will not say what amount of the business Mister James owns, saying only that he’s “the majority shareholder”, together with his family understood to carry just about all the rest of the business that was founded on Mister James’s 1978 idea for any vacuum which didn’t need a bag.

Mister James addresses staff at his company’s on-site sports hall

While huge, the dividend payout will hardly register within the fortune of Mister James and also the Dyson family, who’re believed to become worth £7.8bn, with Mister James’s personal fortune regarded as about £5bn.

The greatest compensated director at Weybourne received £4.2m in the past year, but the organization again declined to state if the was Mister James.

The prosperity of Mister James’s inventions and the organization he founded in it has permitted him to buy Britain’s largest private yacht – the 250ft Nahlin – as along with become among the country’s largest landowners. His portfolio in excess of 25,000 acres is larger compared to Queen’s 20,000 acre Sandringham estate.

The results filed at Companies House show a £773m leap in group revenues to £2.53bn around and pre-tax profits surging to £472.5m from £305.1m.

Dyson’s ‘supersonic’ hairdryer is a big driver behind the group’s surging sales Credit: PA

A spokesman for the organization stated rising interest in Dyson’s powered by batteries cleaners and also the lately introduced hairdryer were behind the more powerful performance, with “astonishing” development in demand in Asia and also the US.

The strong performance came despite purchase of R&D rising by £38m to £180m around. Mister James’s clients are a number one investor in growth and development of robotics and artificial intelligence, in addition to battery technology. It’s lengthy been rumoured that his clients are involved with developing technology for planet, however the millionaire has to date declined to become attracted about this.

Dyson has lately expanded its technology campus at its Wiltshire base, and a week ago launched its very own college to begin, which Mister James hopes will encourage more and more people to enter we’ve got the technology and engineering sectors – something the key Brexit supporter states is crucial towards the UK’s economy.

The accounts reveal that in the finish of the season, the organization had 8,721 staff worldwide, up from 6,435 the prior year.

Mister James at his Wiltshire home: he’s now among the UK’s largest landowners Credit: Andrew Crowley

The accounts also incorporate Mister James’s farming business, Beeswax, in which turnover rose 12.8pc to £14.1m and losses narrowed to £600,000 from £4.5m the year before.

The more powerful performance was related to a “good harvest, purchasing land for example through drainage, and taking advantage of new equipment for example drones for crop surveys to improve yields” with a spokesman for the organization.

This is actually the very first time the organization has filed accounts as Weybourne, getting been renamed at the beginning of the entire year from Holkam Group to prevent confusion having a business having a similar name. Based on a resource inside Dyson, the company was named Weybourne “after a village in north Norfolk where Mister James increased as a child”.

Mister James Dyson’s clients are regarded as named following the Norfolk village of Weybourne near where he was raised 

In yesteryear Mister James has faced critique over his business’s tax matters, with allegations of utilizing offshore plans – which are perfectly legal – to mitigate tax bills. Mister James has always strongly denied claims of tax avoidance, pointing to vast sums in tax compensated.

Backing this up, Weybourne’s accounts make prominent the quantity of tax compensated in the past year, saying it rose by 34pc within the year to £321m.

Following the period taught in accounts, Mister James’s business bought the previous RAF base at Hullavington, a 517-acre site close to the company’s Malmesbury headquarters.

Dyson to build technology campus on RAF baseDyson to construct technology campus on RAF base 01:09

Sir James stated at that time the acquisition was says he needed the area to attain his purpose of making his UK development and research center 10 occasions bigger, and sailed the potential of while using site to return some from the company’s manufacturing towards the United kingdom in the China.

He also revealed his ambition to purchase a chilly War-era Vulcan bomber, saying he’s a love for legendary types of British engineering, and also the ex-airbase may be the home for that giant warplane.

A Lightning fighter within the canteen of Dyson’s Wiltshire base Credit: Bloomberg

Other types of Mister James’s celebration of British engineering incorporate a working jet engine outdoors the Malmesbury research building, a Lightning fighter suspended over the canteen along with a Harrier jump jet within the carpark.

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French oil major Total in talks with Google as energy sector turns to AI

French oil company Total is within talks with tech giants Google and Microsoft to assist develop bespoke artificial intelligence (AI) within the energy sector’s race to tap digital technologies.

Engineers at Total are presently working alongside top software developers to understand more about how complex algorithms could be relevant to its operate in gas and oil.

Frederic Gimenez, the oil major’s chief information officer, stated the “complete shift” from the traditional energy activities to investigating AI and machine learning has meant the organization is dealing with different stakeholders to broaden its scope.

“We possess a strong understanding of exploration and seismic analysis. But they’re those who are the most useful in artificial intelligence. It has obliged our people to utilize different partners and also to merge our understanding to locate a new method to make gas and oil breakthroughs,” he told delegates from the Foot Digital Energy conference.

Credit: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

The supermajor grew to become the second biggest North Ocean operator at once recently having a surprise $7.45bn (£5.79bn) swoop on Danish gas and oil firm Maersk Oil including oil projects that are lucrative even at oil prices of $30 a barrel.

A spokeswoman for the organization stated Total continues to be going through the digital market before getting into any formal partnerships having a Plastic Valley company.

The digital shift is a a part of Total’s drive to adjust to changes in the market. Another is really a modest shift to cleaner powers and efficiency.

Total stated on Tuesday that it’ll get a 23pc curiosity about the renewable energy production company Eren Re by registering to a €238m (£211m) capital increase. Individually, Total announced a smaller sized purchase of GreenFlex, a French company specialising in energy-efficiency.

Mr Gimenez stated the acquisitions are simply one pillar of its strategy, with this particular part still a smaller sized focus within the organization when compared with its move towards digital transformation and its existing activities in gas and oil.

PwC United kingdom partners collect less profits despite record year

PWC’S United kingdom partners took home £54,000 less typically in profits this season despite revenues in the expertise giant hitting an archive high. The firm published profits of £822m for that year to June, lower 1pc on 2016, so it related to elevated investment, including in artificial intelligence systems to operate on audits, forensic investigations and deals.

Average distributable profits before tax per partner dropped to £652,000, falling 8pc on £706,000 the year before, partly since the final amount of equity partners elevated to 953, up from 926.

Revenues hit £3.58bn, up 5pc, as the organization enjoyed growth across the nation, specifically in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Midlands and also the South-east.

PwC partners

The solid answers are a benefit for that firm after a number of bad publicity this season, including two record multimillion pound fines for mishandling clients RSM Tenon and Connaught.

In Feb it had been accountable for mixing in the champion of the greatest picture in the Oscars, with La La Land incorrectly make the winner’s envelope, prior to the correct champion, Moonlight, was named.

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Kevin Ellis, PwC’s chairman and senior partner, was adamant the string of bad press was not harmful to business, and stated the accounting giant was on the hiring spree, with 1,000 current vacancies. “[It’s] always an issue, you do not want critique. However when you go wrong we hold our hands up,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

On Brexit, he stated: “Business stuttered slightly following the referendum. [But] regardless of the uncertainty, which we’re all watching with interest, I believe clients are making with business.”

Chips Off the Old Block: Computers Are Taking Design Cues From Human Brains

SAN FRANCISCO — We expect a lot from our computers these days. They should talk to us, recognize everything from faces to flowers, and maybe soon do the driving. All this artificial intelligence requires an enormous amount of computing power, stretching the limits of even the most modern machines.

Now, some of the world’s largest tech companies are taking a cue from biology as they respond to these growing demands. They are rethinking the very nature of computers and are building machines that look more like the human brain, where a central brain stem oversees the nervous system and offloads particular tasks — like hearing and seeing — to the surrounding cortex.

After years of stagnation, the computer is evolving again, and this behind-the-scenes migration to a new kind of machine will have broad and lasting implications. It will allow work on artificially intelligent systems to accelerate, so the dream of machines that can navigate the physical world by themselves can one day come true.

This migration could also diminish the power of Intel, the longtime giant of chip design and manufacturing, and fundamentally remake the $335 billion a year semiconductor industry that sits at the heart of all things tech, from the data centers that drive the internet to your iPhone to the virtual reality headsets and flying drones of tomorrow.

“This is an enormous change,” said John Hennessy, the former Stanford University president who wrote an authoritative book on computer design in the mid-1990s and is now a member of the board at Alphabet, Google’s parent company. “The existing approach is out of steam, and people are trying to re-architect the system.”

The existing approach has had a pretty nice run. For about half a century, computer makers have built systems around a single, do-it-all chip — the central processing unit — from a company like Intel, one of the world’s biggest semiconductor makers. That’s what you’ll find in the middle of your own laptop computer or smartphone.

Now, computer engineers are fashioning more complex systems. Rather than funneling all tasks through one beefy chip made by Intel, newer machines are dividing work into tiny pieces and spreading them among vast farms of simpler, specialized chips that consume less power.

Changes inside Google’s giant data centers are a harbinger of what is to come for the rest of the industry. Inside most of Google’s servers, there is still a central processor. But enormous banks of custom-built chips work alongside them, running the computer algorithms that drive speech recognition and other forms of artificial intelligence.

Google reached this point out of necessity. For years, the company had operated the world’s largest computer network — an empire of data centers and cables that stretched from California to Finland to Singapore. But for one Google researcher, it was much too small.

In 2011, Jeff Dean, one of the company’s most celebrated engineers, led a research team that explored the idea of neural networks — essentially computer algorithms that can learn tasks on their own. They could be useful for a number of things, like recognizing the words spoken into smartphones or the faces in a photograph.

In a matter of months, Mr. Dean and his team built a service that could recognize spoken words far more accurately than Google’s existing service. But there was a catch: If the world’s more than one billion phones that operated on Google’s Android software used the new service just three minutes a day, Mr. Dean realized, Google would have to double its data center capacity in order to support it.

“We need another Google,” Mr. Dean told Urs Hölzle, the Swiss-born computer scientist who oversaw the company’s data center empire, according to someone who attended the meeting. So Mr. Dean proposed an alternative: Google could build its own computer chip just for running this kind of artificial intelligence.

But what began inside data centers is starting to shift other parts of the tech landscape. Over the next few years, companies like Google, Apple and Samsung will build phones with specialized A.I. chips. Microsoft is designing such a chip specifically for an augmented-reality headset. And everyone from Google to Toyota is building autonomous cars that will need similar chips.

This trend toward specialty chips and a new computer architecture could lead to a “Cambrian explosion” of artificial intelligence, said Gill Pratt, who was a program manager at Darpa, a research arm of the United States Department of Defense, and now works on driverless cars at Toyota. As he sees it, machines that spread computations across vast numbers of tiny, low-power chips can operate more like the human brain, which efficiently uses the energy at its disposal.

“In the brain, energy efficiency is the key,” he said during a recent interview at Toyota’s new research center in Silicon Valley.

Change on the Horizon

There are many kinds of silicon chips. There are chips that store information. There are chips that perform basic tasks in toys and televisions. And there are chips that run various processes for computers, from the supercomputers used to create models for global warming to personal computers, internet servers and smartphones.

For years, the central processing units, or C.P.U.s, that ran PCs and similar devices were where the money was. And there had not been much need for change.

In accordance with Moore’s Law, the oft-quoted maxim from Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, the number of transistors on a computer chip had doubled every two years or so, and that provided steadily improved performance for decades. As performance improved, chips consumed about the same amount of power, according to another, lesser-known law of chip design called Dennard scaling, named for the longtime IBM researcher Robert Dennard.

By 2010, however, doubling the number of transistors was taking much longer than Moore’s Law predicted. Dennard’s scaling maxim had also been upended as chip designers ran into the limits of the physical materials they used to build processors. The result: If a company wanted more computing power, it could not just upgrade its processors. It needed more computers, more space and more electricity.

Researchers in industry and academia were working to extend Moore’s Law, exploring entirely new chip materials and design techniques. But Doug Burger, a researcher at Microsoft, had another idea: Rather than rely on the steady evolution of the central processor, as the industry had been doing since the 1960s, why not move some of the load onto specialized chips?

During his Christmas vacation in 2010, Mr. Burger, working with a few other chip researchers inside Microsoft, began exploring new hardware that could accelerate the performance of Bing, the company’s internet search engine.

At the time, Microsoft was just beginning to improve Bing using machine-learning algorithms (neural networks are a type of machine learning) that could improve search results by analyzing the way people used the service. Though these algorithms were less demanding than the neural networks that would later remake the internet, existing chips had trouble keeping up.

Mr. Burger and his team explored several options but eventually settled on something called Field Programmable Gate Arrays, or F.P.G.A.s.: chips that could be reprogrammed for new jobs on the fly. Microsoft builds software, like Windows, that runs on an Intel C.P.U. But such software cannot reprogram the chip, since it is hard-wired to perform only certain tasks.

With an F.P.G.A., Microsoft could change the way the chip works. It could program the chip to be really good at executing particular machine learning algorithms. Then, it could reprogram the chip to be really good at running logic that sends the millions and millions of data packets across its computer network. It was the same chip but it behaved in a different way.

Microsoft started to install the chips en masse in 2015. Now, just about every new server loaded into a Microsoft data center includes one of these programmable chips. They help choose the results when you search Bing, and they help Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-computing service, shuttle information across its network of underlying machines.

Teaching Computers to Listen

In fall 2016, another team of Microsoft researchers — mirroring the work done by Jeff Dean at Google — built a neural network that could, by one measure at least, recognize spoken words more accurately than the average human could.

Xuedong Huang, a speech-recognition specialist who was born in China, led the effort, and shortly after the team published a paper describing its work, he had dinner in the hills above Palo Alto, Calif., with his old friend Jen-Hsun Huang, (no relation), the chief executive of the chipmaker Nvidia. The men had reason to celebrate, and they toasted with a bottle of champagne.

Xuedong Huang and his fellow Microsoft researchers had trained their speech-recognition service using large numbers of specialty chips supplied by Nvidia, rather than relying heavily on ordinary Intel chips. Their breakthrough would not have been possible had they not made that change.

“We closed the gap with humans in about a year,” Microsoft’s Mr. Huang said. “If we didn’t have the weapon — the infrastructure — it would have taken at least five years.”

Because systems that rely on neural networks can learn largely on their own, they can evolve more quickly than traditional services. They are not as reliant on engineers writing endless lines of code that explain how they should behave.

But there is a wrinkle: Training neural networks this way requires extensive trial and error. To create one that is able to recognize words as well as a human can, researchers must train it repeatedly, tweaking the algorithms and improving the training data over and over. At any given time, this process unfolds over hundreds of algorithms. That requires enormous computing power, and if companies like Microsoft use standard-issue chips to do it, the process takes far too long because the chips cannot handle the load and too much electrical power is consumed.

So, the leading internet companies are now training their neural networks with help from another type of chip called a graphics processing unit, or G.P.U. These low-power chips — usually made by Nvidia — were originally designed to render images for games and other software, and they worked hand-in-hand with the chip — usually made by Intel — at the center of a computer. G.P.U.s can process the math required by neural networks far more efficiently than C.P.U.s.

Nvidia is thriving as a result, and it is now selling large numbers of G.P.U.s to the internet giants of the United States and the biggest online companies around the world, in China most notably. The company’s quarterly revenue from data center sales tripled to $409 million over the past year.

“This is a little like being right there at the beginning of the internet,” Jen-Hsun Huang said in a recent interview. In other words, the tech landscape is changing rapidly, and Nvidia is at the heart of that change.

Creating Specialized Chips

G.P.U.s are the primary vehicles that companies use to teach their neural networks a particular task, but that is only part of the process. Once a neural network is trained for a task, it must perform it, and that requires a different kind of computing power.

After training a speech-recognition algorithm, for example, Microsoft offers it up as an online service, and it actually starts identifying commands that people speak into their smartphones. G.P.U.s are not quite as efficient during this stage of the process. So, many companies are now building chips specifically to do what the other chips have learned.

Google built its own specialty chip, a Tensor Processing Unit, or T.P.U. Nvidia is building a similar chip. And Microsoft has reprogrammed specialized chips from Altera, which was acquired by Intel, so that it too can run neural networks more easily.

Other companies are following suit. Qualcomm, which specializes in chips for smartphones, and a number of start-ups are also working on A.I. chips, hoping to grab their piece of the rapidly expanding market. The tech research firm IDC predicts that revenue from servers equipped with alternative chips will reach $6.8 billion by 2021, about 10 percent of the overall server market.

Across Microsoft’s global network of machines, Mr. Burger pointed out, alternative chips are still a relatively modest part of the operation. And Bart Sano, the vice president of engineering who leads hardware and software development for Google’s network, said much the same about the chips deployed at its data centers.

Mike Mayberry, who leads Intel Labs, played down the shift toward alternative processors, perhaps because Intel controls more than 90 percent of the data-center market, making it by far the largest seller of traditional chips. He said that if central processors were modified the right way, they could handle new tasks without added help.

But this new breed of silicon is spreading rapidly, and Intel is increasingly a company in conflict with itself. It is in some ways denying that the market is changing, but nonetheless shifting its business to keep up with the change.

Two years ago, Intel spent $16.7 billion to acquire Altera, which builds the programmable chips that Microsoft uses. It was Intel’s largest acquisition ever. Last year, the company paid a reported $408 million buying Nervana, a company that was exploring a chip just for executing neural networks. Now, led by the Nervana team, Intel is developing a dedicated chip for training and executing neural networks.

“They have the traditional big-company problem,” said Bill Coughran, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital who spent nearly a decade helping to oversee Google’s online infrastructure, referring to Intel. “They need to figure out how to move into the new and growing areas without damaging their traditional business.”

Intel’s internal conflict is most apparent when company officials discuss the decline of Moore’s Law. During a recent interview with The New York Times, Naveen Rao, the Nervana founder and now an Intel executive, said Intel could squeeze “a few more years” out of Moore’s Law. Officially, the company’s position is that improvements in traditional chips will continue well into the next decade.

Mr. Mayberry of Intel also argued that the use of additional chips was not new. In the past, he said, computer makers used separate chips for tasks like processing audio.

But now the scope of the trend is significantly larger. And it is changing the market in new ways. Intel is competing not only with chipmakers like Nvidia and Qualcomm, but also with companies like Google and Microsoft.

Google is designing the second generation of its T.P.U. chips. Later this year, the company said, any business or developer that is a customer of its cloud-computing service will be able to use the new chips to run its software.

While this shift is happening mostly inside the massive data centers that underpin the internet, it is probably a matter of time before it permeates the broader industry.

The hope is that this new breed of mobile chip can help devices handle more, and more complex, tasks on their own, without calling back to distant data centers: phones recognizing spoken commands without accessing the internet; driverless cars recognizing the world around them with a speed and accuracy that is not possible now.

In other words, a driverless car needs cameras and radar and lasers. But it also needs a brain.

Gap between rising prices and pay widens as wage growth figures disappoint; unemployment drops to 4.3pc

Market report

Concerns that Imagination Technologies’ Apple earnings will disappear earlier than expected sent the takeover target sliding as the new iPhone’s delayed release sunk suppliers across the globe.

While some of Imagination’s intellectual property remains in the new iPhone X, Apple stated that it has designed the graphics processing unit (GPU) in the new product, hinting that the company will begin to phase-out its relationship with the Hertfordshire-based company, which had derived around half of its revenues from the Silicon Valley giant.

Nearly £470m was wiped off Imagination’s valuation overnight in April after Apple revealed that it was ditching the company and making its own GPU from 2018.

Decimated by the share price plummet, the company then put itself up for sale with Beijing-backed private equity fund Canyon Bridge Capital Partners rumoured to be in the running. It appears, however, that the world’s largest listed company has fast-forwarded its plans to take full control of its products’ GPU, weakening Imagination 7.3p, or 5.1pc, to 135.8p.

If confirmed, it would mean less per device Apple royalty payments a year earlier than expected, said Stifel analyst Lee Simpson.

The iPhone X’s delayed November release date took the shine off the tech giant’s latest unveiling with unimpressed investors dumping shares in suppliers reliant on a strong Apple sales boost in the fourth quarter of the year.

Tiny Welsh chipmaker IQE, whose share price has tripled since speculation mounted that the company would be integral to the new iPhone’s 3D-tracking technology, was one of Apple’s victims, retreating 10.3p to 136.8p.

Over in the US, Apple continued to fall, shedding another 1pc after the opening bell in New York as traders attempted to decipher the impact of the tech firm’s delayed release on earnings.

Elsewhere, industrial metal producers torpedoed the FTSE 100 as copper slipped to pull down miners Glencore and Rio Tinto 8.9p to 363.6p and 66p to £36.25, respectively.

BP and Royal Dutch Shell ‘B’ climbing 3.5p to 452.4p and 14p to £21.92, respectively, on the price of oil rallying mitigated the blue-chip index’s 20.99-point fall to 7379.70, however. Brent crude prices advanced 1pc to just under $55 per barrel after the International Energy Agency forecast higher demand in 2017 as OPEC’s production begins to ebb, encouraging traders that the oil market is finally beginning to rebalance.

Finally, newspaper publisher Johnston Press popped 0.13p to 12.8p after private equity firm Custos upped its stake in the I and The Scotsman publisher from 5pc to just over 8pc.

5:13PM

Markets wrap: Squeeze on UK households tightens as wage growth figures disappoint

High inflation and stagnant wage growth has muddied Mark Carney and the MPC’s decision 

The squeeze on UK households got a little tighter today after the ONS confirmed that wage growth lags far behind rising inflation, knocking hopes of an early interest rate rise.

While unemployment dropped to a fresh 42-year low at 4.3pc, the tighter labour market couldn’t pull up wages, which stagnated at 2.1pc in the three months to July.

Hawkish hopes of an early rate hike were ignited yesterday when inflation jumped to 2.9pc but sluggish wage growth has added another layer of uncertainty with the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee due to meet tomorrow.

Although no change in policy is expected in tomorrow’s meeting, inflation soaring well ahead of the bank’s 2pc target has cranked up the pressure on Mark Carney and the MPC with chief economist Andy Haldane deemed the most likely to jump ship to the hawks.

The pound coming off a one-year high against the dollar following the job figures couldn’t help the FTSE 100, which has been sunk by miners retreating on the price of copper slipping.

IG market analyst Joshua Mahony explained the miners’ drag on the FTSE 100 today:

“Miners provided a drag upon the FTSE 100 throughout today’s session, as the deterioration in both precious and industrial metals dragged the likes of Antofagasta, Anglo American, Fresnillo and Glencore to the bottom of the leaderboard.

“Copper was today’s big loser amongst a sea of red for metals, while a selloff in gold in the face of equity market weakness saw the precious metal finally trade like a physical commodity rather than just a safe haven asset.”

4:34PM

Hospital drugs firm Clinigen snaps up troubled rival Quantum for £150m

Clinigen supplies drugs to hospitals

One of the largest companies on London’s junior market Aim, hospital drugs supplier Clinigen, has agreed a deal to snap up troubled rival Quantum Pharma for £150m.

The news sent shares in Quantum Pharma up 18pc. However, its suitor, which has a market cap of over £1.1bn, suffered a 3pc fall as investors mulled over the tie-up.

The offer is for 37p in cash and 0.0405 new Clinigen shares per Quantum share.

Shaun Clinton, chief executive of Clinigen, told the Telegraph the move would boost its ability to supply novel drugs to clinicians and enable it to expand further into continental Europe.

He said further acquisitions could be on the cards, saying: “We would consider further bolt-on deals to add speciality pharma products or to extend our geographical footprint.”

Read Iain Withers’ full report here

4:20PM

US markets lose steam after jumping to record closes

Apple and energy shares are engaging in a tug of war in the US

After jumping to record all-time closes yesterday, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 have lost their steam slightly over in the US this afternoon.

Both indices are in flat territory with the tug of war between Apple’s 1.2pc retreat and energy stocks buoyed by stronger prices resulting in a flat finish.

Buyers are running out of steam, according to CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

He commented:

“Stock markets in Europe are experiencing low volatility as the rally that we saw at the start of the week has lost momentum.

“The bullish sentiment on the back of Hurricane Irma not being as severe as predicted, and no new tensions in relation to North Korea, has been replaced with a lacklustre attitude. You could say traders are pausing for breath, after the positive run.”

3:52PM

Blackpool Airport returns to public ownership after 13 years as Balfour Beatty sells stake

Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said today’s sale would protect the 30 people currently employed by the airport

Balfour Beatty has agreed to sell its majority stake in Blackpool Airport to the council, as the local authority looks to protect the future of the site.

Construction company Balfour agreed the deal to sell 95pc of the airport for £4.25m, saying that it “further simplifies the portfolio, in line with the group’s strategy”.

Blackpool Council had originally owned the airport until 2004, when it sold the stake to a consortium led by City Hopper Airports and Mar Properties for £13m. The council retained the remaining 5pc, while the rest was sold to Balfour Beatty in 2008.

However, falling passenger numbers and a legal dispute with operator Jet2 over the opening hours of the airport led to the site falling into administration in 2014.

Read Rhiannon Bury’s full report here

3:25PM

Jobs growth accelerates but pay disappoints in interest rate dilemma for Carney 

Unemployment tumbled to a new 42-year low in July, with more Britons than ever before in work.

Private and public hiring picked up in the three months to July with employment rising by 181,364, the fastest pace of jobs growth since 2015. More than 31.2m people are now in work, while joblessness dropped to 1.46m, or 4.3pc – a low not seen since mid-1975.

Employers appear keen to keep on hiring as the Office for National Statistics found 774,000 vacancies in August, a modest rise on the month.

The number of public sector workers also rose for the first time in a year to 5.44m.

Read Tim Wallace’s full report here

2:58PM

Galliford Try avoids large infrastructure projects as charge on legacy contracts hits profits  

Peter Truscott, Galliford’s chief executive, said that the company was remaining “cautious” about the impact of political uncertainty and the outlook for the macro economy

The developer and construction company Galliford Try has said it will no longer bid for large fixed-price infrastructure contracts after its profits were hit by a charge on legacy contracts. 

Pre-tax profits fell nearly 60pc to £59m due to the £98m charge it announced in May, relating to problem legacy contracts for the the Queensferry Crossing and part of a road in Aberdeen. But the company posted a 7pc rise in revenues to £2.7bn in the 12 months to June 30, and a 9pc increase in pre-tax profits excluding exceptional items including the charge.

Galliford added that the amount set aside was unchanged and it was making “good progress” on its target to increase profits by 60pc by 2021.

Its housebuilding arm, Linden Homes, and the regeneration division both reported stronger results, with operating profits up 16pc and 27pc respectively, but the construction side suffered, with margins on its underlying business squeezed to virtually nothing. 

Read Isabelle Fraser’s full report here

Galliford Try
2:40PM

Pound and dollar await crucial Thursday

Weak inflation is holding back interest rates rises in the US

Sterling has dipped into the red against the dollar in the last half an hour but today’s movements could be small fry compared to a big day for the two currencies tomorrow.

While sterling has the Bank of England’s Super Thursday to contend with, the US’s own inflation and interest rate hike worries will be the focal point for traders stateside.

Persistently sluggish inflation in the US has dampened hike hopes but a pick-up could reignite expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise rates for a third time in the cycle before the end of the year.

Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM, said this on tomorrow’s US figures:

“Thursday’s CPI report is a big deal, especially when considering how concerns over stubbornly low inflation rates remain one of the key culprits weighing heavily on US rate hike expectations.

“Price action suggests that dollar bears still remain in control, as investors become increasingly sceptical over the Federal Reserve’s ability to raise interest rates again before the end of the year. A soft inflation figure on Thursday that falls below market estimates is likely to dent the prospect of higher US rates, consequently punishing the vulnerable dollar further.”

2:01PM

Brent crude rallies close to $55 per barrel on upgraded demand forecast

Oil stocks have been boosted by the IEA’s upgraded forecast

Oil demand will pick-up faster than expected this year, the International Energy Agency has forecast today, boosting the price of Brent crude to close to $55 per barrel.

The IEA said that the market is beginning to rebalance as oil demand grows and production among OPEC members begins to fall.

Brent crude jumped 0.8pc to its highest level since late May after the report bumped up its demand growth forecast by 1.6m barrels per day.

Oil stocks have lagged behind crude’s rally in recent months but today the two oil giants on the FTSE 100, BP and Shell, have advanced 0.5pc and 0.6pc, respectively.

1:27PM

UK funds back DNA data miner that can diagnose disease

Sophia Genetics holds a database of 125,000 human genomes

A biotech offering artificial intelligence that can diagnose diseases by mining hundreds of thousands of patients’ DNA data has completed a $30m (£22.6m) fundraising, backed by names including UK venture capital giant Balderton Capital.

Sophia Genetics said it would use the cash to expand its network of hospital tie-ups, which already stands at 330 hospitals in 53 countries, including nine in the UK. The push will be focused on expansion outside Europe.

It will also help fund a move into cancer diagnostics, with the latest therapies from drugmakers increasingly being tailored to suit a patient’s genetic profile.

Swiss-based Sophia Genetics has already analysed the genomic profiles of over 125,000 patients, providing a database that aids doctors in diagnosing a range of conditions from cystic fibrosis and hereditary heart problems.

Read Iain Withers’ full report here

1:02PM

Halfords names Dixons Carphone software boss as new chief executive

Halfords said summer sales had been boosted by a rise in the number of Brits choosing to vacation closer to home

Halfords has appointed the boss of Dixons Carphone’s software business as it new chief executive.

Graham Stapleton has been hired to replace Jill McDonald, who is taking the reigns at Marks & Spencer’s clothing, home and beauty business next month.

Mr Stapleton, who joins the company in January, has previously served as chief executive of Dixons Carphone’s Connect World Services division. Prior to that, he was chief executive of Carphone Warehouse UK & Ireland.

Earlier in his career he held senior positions at Kingfisher and Marks & Spencer.

Read Sam Dean’s full report here

12:48PM

Lunchtime update: Squeeze on households confirmed by stagnant wage growth

The gap between inflation and wage growth has continued to widen

The squeeze on UK households got a little tighter today as the ONS confirmed that wage growth lags far behind rising inflation.

Unemployment dropped to its lowest level in 42 years but the tighter labour market failed to translate to earnings with wage growth stagnating at 2.1pc.

The fall has knocked hawkish hopes of an earlier-than-expected interest rate rise at the Bank of England and the pound has pared its early gains on the currency markets. Sterling remains at a one-year high against the dollar, however, trading at $1.3274.

The FTSE 100’s losses have eased but it is still stuck in the red, bucking the trend on markets. Miners weighed heavily on the blue-chip index as copper slipped to a three-week low while Tesco is the sharpest faller on a broker downgrade.

Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell commented on this morning’s action:

“While sterling’s slide took the edge off the FTSE’s losses it couldn’t fully lift it out of the red. Instead the index is still down 30 or so points, weighed down by its mining stocks. As for the Eurozone, the euro’s bounce against the pound meant there was little for the DAX and CAC to enjoy, instead both indices sitting flat as the morning went on.  

“Looking to this afternoon and for now the Dow Jones seems to have stalled at 22100. The index is set to start the US session flat at that level, with little on the agenda – bar the latest PPI reading – to help it on its way to a fresh all-time high.”

12:26PM

Slow wage growth a global problem

Today’s wage growth figures are proving a bit of a head scratcher for economists. The normal connection between a tight labour market and wage growth just hasn’t been feeding through into the figures recently.

Real wage growth has fallen in almost all sectors with only a handful, including finance and arts, enjoying a rise. 

Looking at the employment figures by region, Northern Ireland lags behind with just 68.2pc of its population in work compared to 79.6pc in the South East.  

Investec economist Philip Shaw points out that slow wage growth is not just a UK problem:

“Both basic economic theory and common sense suggest that pay growth is likely to be bid up as labour becomes scarcer and shortages become more commonplace.

“However, soft wage growth is not just a feature of the UK economy, but an international phenomenon, with the authorities in the US, the euro area and Japan attempting to make sense of similar developments, despite tight, or at least tightening labour markets there.”

Ashurst employment partner Crowley Woodford believes that confidence is key to sluggish wage growth:

“There is still a lack of confidence amongst employers with regards to the longer term future whilst workers still feel insecure in their jobs. This dampens the pressure on employers to offer higher pay and employee representative bodies to demand it.”

11:57AM

Apple’s iPhone X unveiling pulls down European suppliers

The iPhone X will be released in November and cost £999

Unless you’ve been living under the rock or taken a vow against capitalism, you may have noticed that Apple unveiled its new iPhone X yesterday and the markets are of course not immune to the latest release from the world’s largest listed company.

Disappointment that the iPhone X will not hit stores until November dragged down Apple shares 0.4pc last night in the US with the new £999 phone available to buy on November 3, a considerable delay compared to previous releases.

Given that Apple left its fourth quarter guidance in tact, it suggests that the tech giant expects to compensate for the delay with sales of its new iPhone 8, which will be released later this month.

Apple’s share price knock has had a read across to its suppliers with British semiconductor firm IQE falling nearly 6pc while in Europe suppliers AMS and Dialog have both retreated. Imagination Tech shares, which have plummeted since Apple announced that it would soon stop using the company’s chips, have fallen 4.5pc.

11:28AM

Markets update: easyJet jumps on new long-haul booking service

EasyJet has moved into long-haul through its ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ service

All that wage growth excitement has led me to neglect the big movers in London this morning so let’s take a quick look at the laggards and leaders.

On the FTSE 100, easyJet has been propelled to the top of the leaderboard after making the move into long-haul through a new service that allows passengers to book connecting flights on partner airlines.

At the other end, Tesco has dropped 1.9pc on a broker downgrade from Exane BNP Paribas while mining stocks are struggling as the price of copper falls to a three-week low.

On the mid-cap FTSE 250, homeware store Dunelm has popped over 7pc after it told shareholders of a strong start to its financial year while wholesale retailer Booker has retreated 2.5pc following a broker downgrade.

10:58AM

Dunelm sales drop as it warns of difficult trading climate in the UK

Dunelm like-for-like sales were down last year

Homewares retailer Dunelm has warned that it expects trading conditions to remain difficult in the UK as it reported a drop in like-for-like sales.

In its full-year results, Dunelm said like-for-like sales in its stores were down 2.4pc in the year to the start of July.

Overall like-for-like sales were down 0.5pc, and pre-tax profits fell to £92.4m from £128.9m in the previous year.

The decrease came despite an 8.5pc jump in total revenues, from £881m to £956m.  

The FTSE 250 company said the sales drop in its stores was the result of lower footfall as a result of “unusually warm weather”.

Shares jumped 40p to 650.5p, a 6.6pc increase, following the update.

Read Sam Dean’s full report here

10:48AM

Job figures reaction: link between wages and unemployment weakening

Minister for Employment Damian Hinds said today’s figures show employers investing Britain

The link between wages and unemployment is weakening, according to Deloitte’s chief economist Ian Stewart.

He said:

“Job creation is a huge UK success story. Despite Brexit uncertainties and slower growth, the UK continues to generate ever lower unemployment and ever more jobs.   “

“But the recession, and its aftermath, has weakened the link between unemployment and wages. In the past this degree of tightness in the jobs market would be pushing wages higher. Instead earnings growth has flat lined in the last couple of years.”

Here’s the reaction of the Minister for Employment Damian Hinds to today’s job figures:

“The strength of the economy is helping people of all ages find work, from someone starting their first job after leaving education, to those who might be starting a new career later in life.

“Britain’s employment success is largely about a growth in full-time and permanent work, as employers invest in Britain and offer quality job opportunities that put more money into people’s pockets.

“But there is more to do, and we will continue to build on our achievements through our employment programmes and the work of Jobcentre Plus.”

Unfortunately that extra money in people pockets is being pinched by high inflation.

10:34AM

Job figures reaction: high inflation and weak wage growth muddies BoE decision

The Bank of England is stuck between a rock and a hard place ahead of tomorrow’s monetary policy meeting after wage growth failed to keep up with inflation.

While high inflation boosts hopes that the central bank will soon take a hawkish turn, today’s poor wage growth figures in a tight labour market has added another layer of uncertainty. 

Ranko Berich, head of market analysis at Monex Europe, believes today’s figures have put the central bank in an uneviable position:

“Looking at the across the board inflation increase reported in August and low unemployment rate, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the BoE’s policy decision will be a no brainer in favour of higher rates at some stage in the next 12 months. But today’s miss on average earnings highlights the fact that this is just not the case: wage growth remains sluggish, and real wages are in deep contraction in the UK.

“The BoE is in an unenviable position heading into tomorrow’s MPC meeting, given that inflation is above target but the latest wage and investment data show that the economy is hardly going through a demand driven boom that needs an immediate monetary response.”

Wage growth failing to keep pace with inflation has muddied the decision at the Bank of England, according to ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson.

He explained:

 “At the same time inflation is exchange rate rather than demand driven and therefore expected to retreat soon enough. Hopes of a hike by year-end may well be dashed on the rocks of economic uncertainty.

“In the short-term, cable may find it hard to hold onto gains if there is no additional indications from the Bank that it is prepared to hike this year. Today’s wage growth data would appear to temper any hawkish inclination, proving bearish for sterling in the near-term.”

10:06AM

Wage growth reaction: today’s disappointing figures pull down early interest rate hike hopes

Wage growth has weakened this year despite the decline in job market slack, according to Pantheon Macro

Has today’s disappointing wage growth wounded hopes of an early interest rate hike?

The chance of an early rate rise have been dealt a blow this morning, according to Jake Trask, FX Research Director at OFX.

He said:

“Before this morning’s data, there had been some speculation that the Bank of England’s Chief Economist would switch tack tomorrow, and address above-target inflation by voting for a rate hike.

“But this morning’s sluggish reading will likely see him sit on his hands a while longer, to avoid adding pressure to consumers already facing rising prices.”

Pantheon Macro UK economist Samuel Tombs agrees that today’s job figures weaken the argument of monetary policy hawks.

He explained:

“The latest labour market data are, on balance, a setback for the hawks on the MPC arguing for higher interest rates. Admittedly, employment rose by 181K, or 0.6%, in the three months to July, the fastest growth since the end of 2015.

“But the three-month average number of job vacancies in August was 0.9% lower than in the previous three months, pointing to a slowdown in employment growth ahead.”

9:57AM

Gap between wages and inflation widens

Today’s wage growth figures will reignite concerns that the tightening labour market is still failing to feed through to wage growth.

Wage growth was expected to nudge up to 2.2pc but the figures remained steady at 2.1pc.

The figures mean that the gap between wages and inflation, which rose to 2.9pc yesterday, has widened even further to tighten the squeeze on UK households.

London Capital Group analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya believes the pound’s retreat following today’s data could be short-lived, however.

She added:

“The widening price-wage inflation gap is becoming a serious headache for the Bank of England (BoE) policymakers as lower wages require a dovish monetary policy, but only as long as the inflation allows. 

“Despite the slow improvement in wages and street protests from several sector workers, the rising inflationary pressures could encourage some Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) members to vote in favour of an interest rate hike in the coming months.”

9:44AM

Job figures key takeaways

Wage growth now lags far behind inflation

  1. Wage growth remains steady at 2.1pc, lower than expectations. The disappointing figures widen the gap between pay and rising prices.
  2. Unemployment nudges down to 4.3pc, its lowest rate since 1975.
  3. 32.14m people were in work in the three months to July, 181,000 more than the period between February to April.
  4. Pound retreats back to flat territory on the currency markets following sluggish wage growth data.
9:33AM

Wage growth disappoints; unemployment nudges down to 4.3pc

Wage growth disappoints, remaining steady at 2.1pc to widen the gap between rising prices and pay.

Unemployment nudges down to 4.3pc, a 0.1 percentage point drop.

Pound slips back towards flat territory against dollar, trading 0.1pc higher at $1.3280.

9:20AM

Pound eases off morning highs; still firmly in positive territory against most major currencies

The pound has jumped 0.3pc higher against the dollar this morning

The pound’s ascent on the currency markets has eased off a little as we approach the job figures at the bottom of the hour with sterling flirting with flat territory against the euro.

The FTSE 100 is continuing to suffer at the expense of the stronger pound, according to Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

He said:

“With the UK jobs report on the way the FTSE continued to suffer in the shadow of sterling’s September rise.   The FTSE plunged more than 50 points after the bell, swiftly falling to a 7350-grazing near one week low. The miners have all moved lower, while BP and Shell are both down half a percent.

“However, the main reason for the UK index’s decline was the pound’s latest climb. Though only up 0.2%, that takes cable to a fresh, $1.33-plus one year peak; it has also risen 0.1% against the euro, cementing a 6 week high.”

9:05AM

Job figures preview: what the experts say

Let’s have a quick round-up of what the experts are saying ahead of today’s job figures.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson believes strong figures today will lift interest rate hike hopes.

He said:

“A solid wages number could shift the calculus on the MPC further towards a rate rise with Chief economist Andrew Haldane likely to join the other two hawks Michael Saunders and Ian McCafferty in pushing for a rate rise, given recent comments he made during the summer, when inflation ticked up to the same level it is now.

“He suggested that “beginning the process of withdrawing some of the incremental stimulus provided last August would be prudent moving into the second part of the year”, though the caveat was that the data supported such a move.”  

He added that it would have been a “delicious irony” if inflation had pushed past 3pc and Bank of England governor Mark Carney had been forced to write a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond to explain why the figures had so badly missed the central bank’s 2pc target.

Many blame Mr Carney and co’s emergency monetary policy change after the EU referendum for knocking down the value of the pound and pushing up inflation.

Disappointing wage figures will only complicate matters at the central bank, according to Accendo Markets head of research Mike Van Dulken.

He commented:

“Following yesterday’s much hotter than expected inflation prints, the Bank of England will be hoping for a reciprocal surprise from wages too.

“A disappointment, however, will add yet another level of complexity to their current interest rate quandary, with policymakers hesitant to increase rates which consumers  are subject to an extended pinch on their pockets.”

8:48AM

Job figures preview: what to expect

Unemployment is expected to remain at a 42-year low

Yesterday’s jump in inflation reignited hawkish hopes of an interest rate hike before the end of the year, sending the pound soaring on currency markets.

There are concerns at the dovish end of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, however, that the UK economy is too fragile to withstand a rate rise. Could today’s figures be enough to persuade wavering MPC members, such as chief economist Andy Haldane, to back a hike?

What to expect

Wage growth is expected to nudge up to 2.2pc in the three months to July, a 0.1 percentage point rise on last month’s figures and lagging far behind inflation.

Meanwhile, unemployment will remain unchanged at 4.4pc, a 42-year low, according to economists.

8:27AM

Agenda: Pound pushes past $1.33 against dollar ahead of wage growth data

Housebuilder Galliford Try posted profits at the upper end of estimates

Lagging wage growth is the focal point for the markets this morning with the ONS’ figures expected to show the gap between pay and rising prices continuing to widen.

Average earnings growth will nudge up to 2.2pc, according to the consensus of economists, cranking up the pressure on households and marking another knock-back for real wages.

The pound this morning has built on yesterday’s post-inflation data gains against the dollar, rising 0.4pc at $1.3326, a one-year high. 

The FTSE 100 under pressure from the buoyant pound missed out on the relief rally pulling up equities globally yesterday. This morning it has lurched into the red while European stocks’ rally has stuttered with the CAC 40 in flat territory and the DAX nudging down.

Galliford Try’s full-year results are the highlight on a slightly lighter corporate calendar. The housebuilder, which was hit by a £98m provision to cover legacy contract costs earlier this year, posted profits at the upper end of estimates, pushing its shares 1.3pc higher earlier on.

Interim results: Alliance Pharma, Ten Entertainment Group, Just Group, Soco International, Gaming Realms, Ingenta, Epwin Group, SQS Software Quality Systems AG, Advanced Medical Solutions Group, Columbus Energy Resources, MyCelx Technologies Corporation

Full-year results: Wilmington, Dunelm Group, Town Centre Securities, Galliford Try, Haynes Publishing Group

AGM: Marechale Capital, Versarien, Tricorn Group, Argo Group, Games Workshop Group, Intercede Group, Hardy Oil & Gas

Economics: Unemployment Rate (UK), Claimant Count Change (UK), Average Earnings Index 3m/y (UK), PPI m/m (US), Industrial Production m/m (EU)Employment Change q/q (EU)