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UK government borrowing hits record high in April and retail sales slump – business live | Business






Full story: Borrowing surge amid crisis





Retail sales slump: What the experts say









Covid-19 fears and Hong Kong tensions hit markets





UK internet shopping hits record high









UK borrowing: What the economists say









Introduction: Government borrowing hits £62bn in April

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PMQs: Boris Johnson faces Jeremy Corbyn ahead of 2020 budget – live news | Politics


Cabinet received an update from the health secretary and the prime minister on the coronavirus outbreak. The PM wished Nadine Dorries a speedy recovery, noting that she was following official advice to self-isolate.

The chancellor set out the measures being taken to manage the impact of coronavirus, laying out details of his economic action plan that will be announced at budget.

He outlined how this plan – combined with the measures announced by the governor of the Bank of England this morning – will make the UK one of the best placed economies in the world to manage the potential impact of the virus. The chancellor added the budget will ensure businesses, the public and those in public services working on the front line against the virus get the support they need.

He said despite the impacts of the outbreak being uncertain, we have the economic tools to overcome the disruption caused by the virus and move the country forwards.

The chancellor also said that despite coronavirus being “front and centre in our minds”, the budget will implement the manifesto on which the government had been elected. He said it was vital that people know this is a budget that delivers on the promises made to the British people – investing in public services and cutting taxes for millions of hardworking people – and that there could be no delay in laying the foundations for a decade of growth where opportunity was spread equally across the UK.

The PM said that this budget starts to tackle head on the challenges facing our economy and country – addressing productivity and regional imbalances – and showing that the government is responding to the public’s desire for change. It will set the path for further action through the year.



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Stock markets rebound as Mark Carney predicts ‘large but temporary’ coronavirus shock – business live | Business














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Davos 2020: Javid, Merkel and Soros in spotlight – business live | Business






Mnuchin slaps down Thunberg’s fossil fuel concerns





Mnuchin and Javid to discuss Huawei this weekend





Ross: EU auto tariffs are still an option

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Mnuchin on US-French tax row









Introduction: Brexit and trade worries





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Saudi Aramco becomes world’s biggest listed company as shares surge 10% – business live | Business


A screen advertising Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company Aramco with Arabic reads, “promising future” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this week

A screen advertising Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company Aramco with Arabic reads, “promising future” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this week Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

It’s a massive day on the Saudi stock market as oil giant Aramco finally makes its debut — becoming the biggest listed company in the world.

Saudi Aramco is floating today, after raising $25.6bn through its sometime troubled IPO. That valued the company at $1.7trillion – even more than Apple ($1.2 trillion).

The opening auction on the Tadawul is underway as I type, so we’ll soon know if the float is a success.

If Aramco’s shares rally today, then the $2trillion valuation craved by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could be in sight again.

But it’s an usual float – just 1.5% of Aramco’s stock is actually floating. The rest is owned by the Saudi state.

That scarcity could help push the stock higher, after international investors proved reluctant to back the IPO.

Human rights concerns, the climate crisis, and corporate government concerns all forced the Saudis to rein in their ambitious plans for the float, and restrict it to Middle East investors.

As my colleague Jillian Ambrose explains:


It was originally expected to sell about 5% through a dual-listing on the Saudi market and on a major international stock exchange.

The IPO lost the support of international investors, which are sceptical of the company’s valuation. Investors are also wary of Aramco’s close ties to the Saudi regime, which is embroiled in geopolitical conflict and whose behaviour has raised human rights concerns.
Among local investors demand for Aramco shares was almost three times oversubscribed after the Saudi government encouraged Middle Eastern investors and wealthy Saudi families to support the IPO.

Aramco’s shares were sold at 32 riyals each. The stock should start trading soon, so we’ll see if it spikes or slides…..

Also coming up today

The City is becoming more anxious about tomorrow’s general election.

A closely-watched poll from YouGov showed Boris Johnson’s likely majority has narrowed – from 68 seats to just 28. A hung parliament is still a real possibility, which knocked sterling a little last night.

The pound is trading around $1.3135 this morning, having hit $1.32 last night (before YouGov hit the wires).

Plus, America’s central bank is holding its last (scheduled) meeting of 2019, but we’re not expecting fireworks.

The agenda

  • 12.30pm GMT: US inflation: Expected to rise to 2.0% per year, from 1.8%
  • 3.30pm GMT: US weekly oil inventories
  • 7pm GMT: US Federal Reserve decision: expected to leave interest rates unchanged



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