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Wednesday Papers: Philip Hammond signals easing of austerity

And the UK is expected to unveil new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday following the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal.

Wednesday Papers: Philip Hammond signals easing of austerity

Top stories

  • The Guardian: Philip Hammond has dropped the broadest possible hint that he will announce spending increases later this year; Chancellor’s spring statement suggests that drop in deficit may release money for services.
  • Financial Times: The UK is expected to unveil new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday following the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the city of Salisbury.
  • The Times: Britain’s financial arbiter, the Financial Ombudsman Service, came under fresh pressure last night as MPs demanded to know how many flawed judgments it has allegedly delivered and lenders called for an inquiry into its work.
  • Daily Mail: Aviva has threatened to cancel high-yielding shares – triggering sharp falls in the value of similar bonds; the insurer said it may buy back the £450 million shares, which were created in the early 1990s to raise cash – a move which will save the business £38 million a year.
  • Financial Times: Donald Trump sacked Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state on Tuesday, making the US’s top diplomat the latest casualty of a White House that has been in near-constant, open conflict with some of the president’s most senior aides.
  • Financial Times: US President Donald Trump’s move to bar Broadcom from pursuing a hostile takeover of rival chipmaker Qualcomm has sent ripples across corporate America, stoking fears that foreign nations could take retaliatory action against US companies.

Business and economics

  • Daily Express: JP Morgan’s blockchain lead Amber Baldet said the bank is planning to use its own blockchain network, Quorum to bring about collaboration across different blockchain networks.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Sandwich maker Greencore has lost almost a quarter of its value after a catalogue of problems in its US business forced it to issue a profit warning.
  • The Times: A huge diamond as big as two golf balls discovered in Lesotho earlier this year has been sold for $40 million, according to Gem Diamonds, the company which found it.
  • The Guardian: The UK will save no money from leaving the European Union over the next five years and could be paying its Brexit divorce bill until at least 2064, according to the government’s independent budget watchdog.
  • The Guardian: MPs have accused the government of a “deeply regrettable” failure to put in place strong guarantees that the UK’s green investment bank will continue to support renewable energy after its privatisation.
  • Daily Mail: Music streaming service Spotify will list on the New York Stock Exchange in April.
  • Financial Times: Fitbit has unveiled its first fitness tracker aimed at children and a new smartwatch with more features for women, as it looks to re-energise sales after losing its lead in the wearable technology market to Apple.
  • Financial Times: EU finance ministers on Tuesday unanimously approved new rules that require advisers to report “potentially aggressive” tax schemes, the latest step in European efforts to clamp down on cross-border tax avoidance.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Consumer rights group Which? has warned that the UK’s largest travel companies are failing to properly warn millions of holidaymakers about the risk of post-Brexit flight cancellations.
  • The Times: Rio Tinto’s troubles in Mongolia worsened last night, after the mining giant’s subsidiary received a request for information from the country’s anti-corruption agency.
  • Financial Times: Andrew Liveris, who is stepping down as executive chairman of DowDupont, after 14 years at the top of the group and its predecessor Dow Chemical, has been under siege for much of his time in the post.
  • Financial Times: ING has abandoned plans to award a 50% pay rise to Ralph Hamers, chief executive of the Netherlands’ biggest bank, after a political uproar.
  • The Guardian: The popularity of its light tonic and ginger beer have boosted profits at drinks-maker Fever-Tree, but its shares fell on a less sparkling outlook for 2018.
  • Financial Times: French Connection has said it received an unsolicited takeover approach by an unnamed US party last year, while also reporting its sixth consecutive annual loss.
  • Daily Mail: Larry Page’s flying taxi firm Kitty Hawk is working with the New Zealand government to develop an autonomous commercial plane.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Cairn Energy’s collaboration with two of the North Sea’s largest independent oil operators has paid off as the company returns to profit and prepares for a new phase of growth.
  • The Times: Intercontinental Hotels Group has teamed up with a property investor to participate in the £1.2 billion auction of the company behind the Principal and De Vere hotel brands.
  • Daily Mail: Profits at computer sales firm Computacenter has surged by 28% to £112 million last year; sales for 2017 rose 17% to £3.8 billion.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The Institute of Directors has named easyJet's former finance director Chris Walton as its interim chairman, to replace Lady Barbara Judge who resigned late last week amid allegations of racism and bullying.
  • The Times: The chief executive of Volkswagen enjoyed a 40% pay rise to €10.14 million even as the “dieselgate” emissions scandal rumbled on.
  • Financial Times: Active US mutual fund managers are underweight in technology stocks, while the large-cap managers who had made the biggest bets on large tech companies are cutting back on their holdings, according to research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morningstar.
  • The Guardian: Christine Lagarde has called for a crackdown on bitcoin by using the technology behind the digital currency to “fight fire with fire”.
  • The Guardian: The website selling the new millennial railcard crashed on Tuesday as commuters scrambled to buy one of the 10,000 available.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The bosses behind housebuilder Cala Homes are in line for a windfall of up to £42 million after Legal & General gained full ownership of the group.
  • The Times: A global shortage of large-scale new copper mining projects, combined with strong demand linked to the rise of electric vehicles, will ensure prices remain robust, according to the chief executive of Antofagasta.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Times (Tempus share tips): HOLD Close Brothers; BUY TP Icap.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tips): Keep buying Cobham – time is back on the side of its management and investors.
  • Financial Times: Dana, the US automotive supplier that has agreed a $6 billion deal to buy the power train business of GKN, is open to a secondary listing in London to win the support of the FTSE company’s UK shareholders as they weigh up a hostile bid for the whole group from Melrose Industries.
  • Financial Times: The Finnish government has acquired a stake in Nokia, the telecoms equipment maker, in a move to back a “nationally very important company” at a time when the sector is becoming increasingly political.
  • Financial Times: Eon has warned that its takeover of renewables company Innogy will lead to as many as 5,000 job losses in the combined group, but promised higher earnings and dividends for shareholders.
  • The Guardian (Comment): Tigger' Philip Hammond is full of bounce – but long-term outlook is gloomy.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Philip Hammond signals end to George Osborne’s austerity drive - but at what cost?
  • The Times (Comment): Morgan Stanley’s cut brings Inmarsat down to earth.

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