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Prices in Britain are rising twice as fast as in the US, according to official data released on Wednesday as the Bank of England prepares to raise interest rates again to cool the UK economy.
US inflation, as measured by the consumer prices index (CPI), rose 4.9pc in the year to April, down from 5pc in March, according to the US Labor department.
The decline was driven by falling food prices, including fruit, vegetables, meat and milk. By contrast, food prices in the UK continue to rise at the fastest pace in 45 years, while the headline rate remains stubbornly high at 10.1pc in March.
The tenth consecutive slowdown in US price rises will raise expectations that the Federal Reserve will pause its programme of interest rate rises just as Britain braces for more hikes.
Threadneedle Street policymakers expected to raise rates three more times this year to 5pc to bring it under control.
Policymakers are expected on Thursday to lift the benchmark rate for the twelfth straight time to 4.5pc, from 4.25pc.
Stubbornly high inflation means companies and economists are starting to express doubts about Rishi Sunak's ability to fulfil his pledge to halve the headline rate by the end of this year.
Virgin Atlantic said it expected the consumer price index to fall to 6.5pc rather than the Prime Minister’s target of 5.3pc by the end of the year. The assessment is set out in the airline’s “plan of record” for 2023 within annual corporate filings published on Wednesday.
Mr Sunak made it his first priority to half inflation in a speech in January 2023. At the time CPI was running at 10.7pc, meaning the Prime Minister had to reduce inflation to nearer 5pc by the following December.
Some economists are also starting to openly question whether inflation will fall as quickly as the Bank of England expects. The Bank forecast that the headline rate will drop to 3.9pc in the final three months of this year.
Futures tied to the US Federal Reserve's policy rate now reflect a nearly 90pc chance of policymakers leaving rates at their current 5pc-5.25pc in June. Traders had priced in about an 80pc chance of a June pause just before the report.
That's it from us! We'll back tomorrow morning with the latest.
Roblox has posted lower-then-expected earnings as the users spend less on the gaming platform.
The California-based video game company recorded $53.1m (£40.65m) in earnings before tax, depreciation and amortisation during the first quarter of 2023, down 22pc on the previous year.
This is also 18pc lower than investors’ earnings estimate of $64.89m, Bloomberg reported.
It comes as Roblox users spent $11.70 on average on in-game purchases during the first three months of the year, down from the $15 average posted during the last quarter of 2022.
The 17-year-old game developer last month revealed that active daily users had fallen by 1.1m in March from February, although they remained higher year-on-year.
Roblox is hoping to increase the average age of its player base, targeting older users who can spend more money.
Binance, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange, has attacked the Biden administration’s crackdown on the industry and said it hopes to gain regulatory approval in the UK.
Patrick Hillmann, the company’s chief strategy officer, said it was a “very difficult time” to do business in the US and that the situation had been “very confusing over the past six months”.
Meanwhile, he said the company would do “everything we possibly can” to secure approval in the UK.
Technology editor James Titcomb has more…
US law firm Dechert is cutting jobs in London as part of a global redundancy round impacting 5pc of its total workforce.
The firm is seeking to layoff 55 lawyers and 43 business service professionals globally, which includes those who have been made redundant or are at risk in London.
The redundancy consultation in Dechert's London office is ongoing.
A Dechert spokesman said: “While this was a difficult decision, we continue to execute on the firm’s strategic plan by providing world-class legal service, focusing on areas of growth, bringing high-profile clients and matters to the firm, and advancing innovation in the legal industry.”
It comes as US law firms have been hit by a slowdown in mergers and acquisitions amid higher interest rates, inflationary pressures and recession concerns.
The FTSE 100 has closed 0.42pc lower at 7,732.09.
The internationally-focused index slipped on Wednesday as strength in sterling weighed on dollar earners. Sterling rallied to a one-year high versus the dollar before shedding gains.
Fallers included Unilever (share price down 1.82pc), AstraZeneca (down 0.86pc) and British American Tobacco (down 1.55pc) which draw a significant part of their revenue overseas.
It comes ahead of the Bank of England's interest rate decision on Thursday, with investors expecting the central bank to hike rates by 25 basis points to 4.5pc, the highest level since 2008.
Fallers also included Tesco (down 2.35pc), which today announced plans to cut the price of its own-brand bread and butter as supermarkets battle to win customers amid the cost of living crisis.
Reserves held by asset-based cryptocurrency Tether reached above $80bn (£55.5bn), as investors flock to stablecoins amid the turbulence of the US regional banking crisis and a regulatory crackdown on crypto firms.
Stablecoins are digital tokens designed to keep a one-to-one value with a less volatile asset like the dollar, typically by maintaining reserves of highly liquid investments that match the amount of tokens in circulation.
Tether Holdings, the operator of world's largest stablecoin, said its reserves were worth $81.8bn at the end of the first quarter Wednesday, up around $14.8 billion from the previous quarter.
Tether's reserves include $53bn of US Treasuries, up from $39.2bn at the end of 2022. They also include $1.5bn worth of bitcoin and $5.3bn worth of loans which the group said are "over-collateralized".
The company added that it has been seeking to "reduce its reliance on pure bank deposits" and leverage the repo market instead.
A repo, short for repurchase agreement, refers to when financial institutions use US Treasuries and other high-quality securities as collateral to raise cash, often overnight.
An obsession with red tape and a move away from “free enterprise” is threatening the UK’s fight against soaring inflation, the boss of JD Wetherspoon has warned.
The pub chain’s chairman Tim Martin said:
In order to bear down on inflation, political parties should encourage free enterprise, rather than a reliance on additional regulations.
A lack of understanding, among some senior politicians, about the need to encourage a successful free market economy, presents a real threat to the future prosperity of the country.
The London-listed company also said that the benefits of free enterprise have often been taken for granted by politicians in recent years. In its latest trading update, Wetherspoon wrote:
For example, in the 1970s, problems relating to “mobility of labour”, which disincentivized people from moving around the country for employment, and difficulties in obtaining planning permission for new businesses, were two of the main factors which were identified by the London Business School, and others, as impediments to UK economic growth.
The subsequent easing of planning restrictions enabled companies like Wetherspoon to convert redundant buildings into pubs – and the creation of a larger residential rental sector made it easier for people to move towns, if needed.
It warned that political parties are now considering "a reversion towards 1970s-style rental restrictions" without regard to the likely economic circumstances.
Senior business reporter Daniel Woolfson has further details here…
Drivers of Morrisons' fuel tankers have secured a 24pc salary increase in their dispute over pay.
According to trade union Unite, a 150-member workforce employed by Fuel Transport & Logistics to deliver fuel to the British supermarket chain have received and accepted a "much-improved offer".
The pay deal includes a 13.5pc increase for 2022, a 10pc rise for 2023 and a guarantee that next year all drivers' salaries will increase to £65,000 per year.
Unite said that Fuel Transport & Logistics’ management made the revised offer after balloted union members voted in favour of industrial action.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is an excellent result. Our members voted decisively for industrial action and in doing so ensured that the employer returned to negotiations.
US inflation inched downwards last month raising expectations that the US Federal Reserve will pause its programme of interest rate rises just as Britain braces for several more hikes.
Traders have upped bets on the US Federal Reserve ending its campaign of rate increases after the US consumer prices index (CPI) rose 4.9pc in April compared to a year ago, down from 5pc in March, according to the Labor Department.
It is the first time US inflation has been below 5pc in two years and is way down from the 9.1pc peak last June.
Meanwhile, inflation remains stubbornly high in the UK at 10.1pc, with the Bank of England expected to raise rates three more times this year to 5pc to bring it under control.
Futures tied to the US Federal Reserve's policy rate now reflect a nearly 90pc chance of policymakers leaving rates at their current 5pc-5.25pc in June.
Traders had priced in about an 80pc chance of a June pause just before the report.
That's all from me today. Adam Mawardi will take things from here.
I leave you with these insights on the latest US inflation data:
🧊APRIL CPI REPORT TAKEAWAYS🧊
🧊Inflation slowed for a 10th straight month (YOY)
😮Services ex-rent slowed the most YOY since 2009
🍕Food and rent prices stalled for a second month
🧵Inflation data continues to thread the needle pic.twitter.com/KF9RJOYiiw
– Spike in used car prices will reverse; auction prices falling
– Airline fares/hotel room rates have further to fall; fuel prices down, demand slackening
– Slowing rent gains real, much further to go
– Grocery store food falling outright, more coming
Fed done. Please pic.twitter.com/ZW6JQknRiY
Inflation is slowing. How can this “immaculate” disinflation happen when the labor market is still tight? The reason can be found in long lags with which COVID supply disruptions impact inflation. Still lots of those supply chain effects coming off (blue). With @peter_orszag pic.twitter.com/nyJsn1zHer
Airbnb shares have posted their biggest-ever decline after the vacation home-rental company gave a cautious outlook for revenue, suggesting rising prices and a murky economic outlook are beginning to weigh on consumer appetite for trips.
The shares fell as much as 14pc as the market opened in New York, the biggest decline since the company went public in December 2020.
They had gained almost 50pc so far this year.
The San Francisco-based home-sharing company expects revenue of $2.35bn to $2.45bn (£1.86bn to £1.94bn) in the three months ending in June, representing an increase of 12pc to 16pc from a year earlier and its slowest pace of growth yet.
US markets have jumped higher at the opening bell after data showed inflation inched downward to 4.9pc in April.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 0.6pc to 33,752.62 after markets opened, with the broad-based S&P 500 up 0.8pc to 4,153.14 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite up 1.1pc to 12,315.11.
Dame Sharon White has suffered a rebellion from John Lewis staff who voted against the company's performance last year after it failed to pay them a bonus.
Retail editor Hannah Boland has the latest:
In what is believed to be an unprecedented vote against a John Lewis chairman, staff who sit on its council said they did not have confidence in the progress of the partnership under Dame Sharon over the past year.
The John Lewis Partnership's council, which comprises of 58 members who are elected by its staff, also were asked to vote on whether they could support her future strategy, and voted in favour.
Chris Earnshaw, president of the council, said: "The council, chairman and board will continue to work together to ensure the long-term success of the partnership and our employee-owned model".
Read on for the latest reaction and details on this breaking story.
The John Lewis Partnership will always be owned by its employees, its chairman has said ahead of a confidence vote in her leadership.
Dame Sharon White, chairman of the business which runs the department store chain and supermarket Waitrose, has faced criticism after she said the group was considering selling a stake.
The group has gathered for a two-day meeting at the Odney Club holiday retreat in Berkshire owned by the business.
Today, she told an employee forum: "There is absolutely no question of de-mutualisation."
A two-part vote will take place later on whether the council has confidence in the progress of the partnership under her and then whether it can support her to move the group forward.
The vote is non-binding but can be influential as the partnership council has separate powers to dismiss the chairwoman "in extremis", according to the firm's constitution.
Asos shares have sunk to the bottom of the FTSE after revealing a downturn in demand for online fashion as shoppers returned to the high street after the pandemic.
The retailer slumped to a hefty half-year loss amid a major restructuring and sliding sales, as cash-strapped consumers cut back on their spending.
Shares in the online fashion business have slumped more than 20pc, sending it to the foot of the FTSE 250 and the FTSE All Share Index as it reported losses of £290.9m for the six months to February 28 compared with losses of £15.8m a year earlier.
It came as sales fell 10pc on a constant currency basis to £1.8bn, but losses were also widened by stock write-offs, property impairments and the cost of warehouse closures, as well as moves to trim its office space.
Asos predicts that, assuming there is no pick-up in consumer spending conditions, sales will drop by a "low double-digit" over the full year, excluding the impact of its withdrawal from Russia.
But it said it is confident of returning to "sustainable profit" in the second half of its year.
Russell Pointon, director of consumer at Edison Group, said: "What we witnessed during the pandemic with online clothing brands the likes of Asos and its key rival Boohoo was a quick growth spurt; yet the cost-of-living crisis and – crucially – the return of shoppers to the high street has induced a sharp downturn in consumer demand for online fashion."
Consumer inflation in the United States nudged down only slightly in April, despite strong efforts to cool the economy and rein in price increases.
The consumer prices index (CPI) rose 4.9pc from a year ago, just a touch lower than March's 5pc figure but the first time in two years it has fallen below 5pc.
Inflation increased in April compared to March thanks to higher gasoline costs and rents, rising 0.4pc after gaining 0.1pc in March – although this was in line with expectations.
The annual CPI peaked at 9.1pc in the US last June, which was the biggest increase since November 1981.
It is subsiding as last year's initial surge in energy prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine drops out of the calculation.
However, fuel prices rose last month after Saudi Arabia and other Opec+ oil producers announced further output cuts.
The inflation data followed last Friday's employment report, which showed an acceleration in job and wage growth in April as well the unemployment rate falling back to a 53-year low of 3.4pc.
The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by another 25 basis points to the 5pc to 5.25pc range last week.
🇺🇸 US core CPI rose 0.41% MoM in April. Still too hot, but no big surprises that would force the Fed to hike in June. pic.twitter.com/gZ1bTPIYXD
The pound has jumped higher against the dollar after data showed US annual consumer inflation has inched down to 4.9pc.
The consumer prices index and core inflation for April both increased 0.4pc month on month, in line with expectations.
The annual rate of core inflation was unchanged at 5.5pc.
It adds to expectations that the US Federal Reserve will slow down or pause its series of 11 straight interest rate rises since last year, while the Bank of England is expected to raise rates tomorrow.
The pound has risen 0.2pc on the day against the dollar and is worth $1.26.
US #CPI in line with the headline at 4.9% (5% last) and core unchanged at 5.5%. The Dec SOFR future pops higher (rates lower) by 12 bps pic.twitter.com/tfyQoe9xqN
Catering firm Compass cheered the return of office workers and sports fans after it revealed a surge in profits over the past six months.
Shares in the world's largest caterer made gains today after it revealed that operating profits leapt 41pc to just over £1bn for the half-year to March 31.
The company also announced plans to hand £750m to shareholders through a share buyback.
The company revealed that revenues grew by 24.7pc to £15.8bn for the six-month period.
Compass said it saw "particularly strong" growth in its business and industry operation, as employees returned to the office following pandemic disruption.
It also said its sports and leisure arm, which caters for sports stadiums and other venues, was buoyed by improving attendances.
Dominic Blakemore, group chief executive, said the performance shows that outsourcing remains an attractive market despite "pockets of macroeconomic weakness".
The boss of payments firm Wise has announced plans to take a three-month sabbatical to spend time with family and look after his newborn son.
Co-founder and chief executive Kristo Kaarmann said he is "overdue" the time off after starting the business 12 years ago.
The fintech company, which operates money transfers and debit cards, offers staff a fully-paid sabbatical after four years at the firm, in addition to annual leave.
Estonian-born Mr Kaarmann will step down from September to December this year, during which Wise's chief technology officer, Harsh Sinha, will step into his shoes.
Mr Kaarmann, 42, said:
This is a fantastic time to do my part in looking after the newborn and giving some breathing room to my wife.
When I first started the company 12 years ago, it would have been unimaginable for me to take any time away from the team and our customers.
Staff at a homelessness charity will stage a month-long strike in a dispute over pay.
Members of Unite at St Mungo's will walk out from May 30 to June 26 after rejecting a pay offer.
The charity increased a 1.75pc pay offer to a "pitiful" 2.25%, the union said.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Charity workers who are on the streets helping the homeless are now prepared to go on strike for a month for a decent wage.
"This shows what they think of the way they've been treated by St Mungo's management."
A St Mungo's spokesperson said: "We have compromised and tried everything possible to reach a reasonable negotiation and avoid strike action, and we believe our new offer was fair and appropriate.
"Our lines of communication with Unite will remain open as we continue to try to resolve the dispute."
The outlook for shares on Wall Street is uncertain as investors await a key reading on inflation this afternoon to see whether the Federal Reserve's efforts were successful in cooling rising prices.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is expected to have risen 0.4pc last month after gaining 0.1pc in March, while the so-called core CPI (excluding volatile food and energy components) is expected to remain at 0.4pc in April from the prior month.
Sylvia Jablonski, chief executive and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs, said:
If CPI comes in hot, coupled with a stable market, decent earnings and stable jobs, it may not look good for the Fed's future actions.
The direction of rates seems to depend on economic data again, the quasi-banking crisis and liquidity crunch hasn't yet been an active factor that changes Fed course.
At present, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P and Nasdaq 100 are all are on course to open down 0.2pc.
Large-cap technology stocks, including Apple and Microsoft, dipped about 0.4pc each in premarket trading.
Civil servants at HMRC are "definitely up for the fight", a union said as they walked out in a dispute over pay and conditions.
PCS members at HMRC in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, and in Newcastle began targeted strike action on Wednesday which will see them down tools for 18 days between now and June 2.
They claim they have not had a proper pay rise from the Government for 13 years and are calling for a 10pc increase, saying they "will not accept being treated like the poor relation".
Union members manned picket lines outside the HMRC offices in East Kilbride and Benton Park View in Newcastle this morning.
The union said the strike will hit the employer helpline and the construction industry scheme helpline and webchat services, and it warned of a severe impact on the student loans unit.
The North Sea's biggest oil producer expects to cut 350 jobs in Britain two months after it claimed its profits were all but wiped out by Rishi Sunak's windfall tax.
The company, which pumped more than 200,000 barrels of oil and gas a day last year, is reviewing its UK operations after the government slapped the levy on North Sea producers.
Harbour Energy has said some opportunities in Britain will no longer be pursued and it will target growth abroad.
The North Sea oil producer said today it expects "a reduction of about 350 onshore positions," which would deliver annual savings of about $50m (£39.6bn) from 2024.
It faces a $15m (£11.9m) hit as a result of the job losses in this year's results.
The Government introduced a windfall tax on excess energy profits last year after oil and gas companies saw profits surge as Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent prices soaring.
Tesco has followed Sainsbury's in cutting the price of its own-brand bread and butter as supermarkets battle to win customers amid the cost of living crisis.
The UK's biggest supermarket has dropped the price of its most popular bread, Tesco Toastie white bread, from 85p to 75p.
It has also cut 10p from other own-brand loaves and from its 250g blocks of salted and unsalted butter, which have fallen from £1.99 to £1.89.
Tesco said it would continue to work closely with its suppliers to manage any further volatility in prices.
The cuts come a day after Sainsbury's announced it had dropped the price of some of its lines of bread and butter in response to falling wheat prices.
The cuts come as grocery inflation leapt by more than 19pc in March compared with a year ago, as energy and supply chain costs were passed on to shoppers.
Sainsbury's and Tesco recently cut the price of milk by at least 5p, followed by Aldi, Lidl and Asda.
Alphabet's Google is expected to unveil more artificial intelligence in its products to answer the latest competition from Microsoft, which has threatened its perch on top of the nearly $300bn (£238bn) search advertising market.
Through an internal project code-named Magi, Google has looked to infuse its namesake engine with generative artificial intelligence technology that can answer questions with human-like prose and derive new content from past data.
The effort will be the most closely watched as Google executives take the stage at its yearly conference I/O in Mountain View, California, near its headquarters.
The result could alter how consumers access the world's information and which company wins the global market for search advertising, estimated by research firm MAGNA to be $286bn this year.
For years the top portal to the internet, Google has found its position in question since rivals began exploiting generative AI as an alternative way to present content from the web.
First came ChatGPT, the chatbot from Microsoft-backed OpenAI that industry observers called Google's disruptor. Next came Bing, Microsoft's search engine updated with a similarly dextrous chatbot, which can answer queries where no obvious result existed online — like what car seat to buy for a particular model vehicle.
The European Central Bank's fight with inflation is not over and more action is still required, according to Christine Lagarde.
The outlook could face "significant upside risks" even though inflation is well down from its double-digit peak, the ECB President told Japan's Nikkei newspaper.
The ECB must be particularly attentive to wage pressures, she said.
It comes after Bundesbank chief Joachim Nagel told German radio today that "we're not yet done with rate hiking," although he said policymakers are "coming to the home stretch".
Greece's Yannis Stournaras said increases would definitely end this year.
The Bank of England makes its next interest rate decision tomorrow after the ECB and US Federal Reserve both opted for quarter of a percentage point rises last week.
Longer lorries will be allowed on UK roads next month in a bid to reduce traffic, the Government has announced.
Our transport correspondent Jack Simpson has the details:
Legislation will be laid on May 10 that will mean the legal length for lorries on UK roads can be extended to 18.5m (61ft), 2.05m longer than the current length.
The Government estimates that the extension will result in an 8 per cent reduction in lorry journeys and lead to less traffic for all other vehicles.
It also believes that the longer lorries would result in fewer potholes as there would be no change to the maximum weight of a lorry, and the way the longer vehicles are constructed would result in less surface damage.
The decision comes after an 11-year trial that has seen several companies use longer vehicles to transport goods allowed on UK roads.
Read how the Government predicts the new legislation will change Britain's roads.
The Treasury has a new chief economic adviser, as Sam Beckett replaces Clare Lombardelli, who was recently appointed as the OECD chief economist.
Ms Beckett had previously jointly held the role as head of the Government Economic Service and joins the Treasury from her role as second permanent secretary at the Office for National Statistics and the deputy chief executive at the UK Statistics Authority.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said:
I am thrilled to congratulate Sam on her well-deserved appointment and welcome her back to the Treasury.
Her economic expertise and leadership in a range of Government departments will be indispensable as we focus on our priorities of growing the economy, reducing debt and halving inflation.
Ms Beckett added she was "incredibly honoured and looks forward to joining a team aiming to "further bolster economic prosperity for the whole of the UK".
Shell has won a legal battle at the Supreme Court over one of the largest oil spills off the coast of Nigeria after judges dismissed arguments that the oil giant could still be held responsible over a decade later.
The Bonga oil leak in 2011 — said to be the largest spill in the Niger Delta for at least 20 years — was an environmental "catastrophe" that caused billions of dollars of damage, a group of almost 28,000 Nigerians had argued.
Lawyers for two of the Nigerian claimants said that the spill of some 40,000 barrels of oil, which happened during a transfer of oil between two vessels, could be considered a "continuing nuisance" allowing for statutory time limits to legal action to be extended.
However, the panel of five judges have rejected those arguments. Judge Andrew Burrows said: "The leak was a one-off event or an isolated escape."
Shell said the ruling brings an end to the claims in England. It said in a statement:
It was clear from the start that these claims were unfounded and brought entirely out of time.
While the 2011 Bonga spill was highly regrettable, it was swiftly contained and cleaned up offshore.
The case had the potential for broader ramifications for other lawsuits, with the judges considering whether oil giants can be held responsible for spills at sea until the oil has been cleaned up.
Influential MPs have written to a series of lenders asking them to explain why interest rates offered to savers are lower than the Bank of England's base rate.
Nationwide, Santander, TSB and Virgin Money have each received communications from the Treasury select committee asking how they determine the level of interest rate increases they pass on to customers.
The letters ask whether the lenders inform their loyal customers that higher alternatives may be available.
Chairman Harriett Baldwin said: "We would like to know why savings rates offered by banks and building societies are so much lower than the current base rate."
The Bank of England has raised interest rates 10 consecutive times to 4.25pc in its battle against inflation and reveals its next decision tomorrow.
Ryanair has won a European Union court challenge which cancels regulatory approval for a €6bn (£5.2bn) cash injection for rival airline Lufthansa amid the pandemic.
The EU General Court in Luxembourg has annulled the European Commission's decision from June 2020 to recapitalise the airline, saying its assessment included "several errors".
It added that it was wrong to consider that Lufthansa "was unable to obtain financing on the markets for the entirety of its needs".
Ryanair also won a separate bid to topple the EU's 2020 approval of similar aid to SAS Airlines.
The commission in June 2020 approved the Lufthansa measures, saying a government plan to take a 20pc stake in Europe's largest airline was in line with the bloc's state-aid rules and would prevent the carrier's collapse.
The EU approval covers the German government's plan to pay €300m euros for a 20pc stake and make two so-called silent participations of €4.7bn and €1bn in the company’s capital.
National Express, the coach giant whose name was immortalised in a hit by the Divine Comedy, has announced it will change its name this summer.
The business will become known as Mobico Group from early June after the board decided the name better reflect's the company's international nature and its shift towards mass transit.
The National Express name will still be used on the UK coach network and some other businesses.
All "significant" brand names used across the group's global operations including Alsa, WeDriveU, Peterman and Durham School Services will also be retained.
The company will adopt a new stock ticker, "MCG", but will continue trading under the existing "NEX" ticker until a further announcement is made.
Chief executive Ignacio Garat said:
Whilst National Express is a highly valued consumer brand, Mobico better represents our multi-modal operations, global reach and future ambitions.
We remain focused on providing best-in-class services and delivering our Evolve strategy, with the intent of establishing Mobico Group as the world's premier shared mobility operator.
JD Wetherspoon shares have gained as much as 9.1pc, hitting the highest since April last year and topping the FTSE 250, after the pub operator said it expects profit this year to be at the top end of expectations.
The company said like-for-like sales increased by 12.2pc in the third quarter compared to the previous year, helped by an exceptionally strong May Bank Holiday weekend.
The company enjoyed its busiest-ever Saturday, although the Coronation weekend was slightly less strong.
Like-for-like sales in the 13 weeks to April 30 were up 9.1pc compared to the same period in the last full financial year before the pandemic.
The company expects to pay record high taxes in the current year as sales are likely to be at record levels.
Chairman Tim Martin said:
Lockdowns and associated restrictions have had more profound and longer-lasting consequences than most economists, politicians and commentators predicted.
Sales in the last quarter have continued their positive momentum, although inflation, especially in labour, energy and food costs, remains a more intractable issue.
Stocks were flat as investors refrained from making big bets ahead of inflation data in the United States, while aerospace company Melrose rose to its highest in more than three years after forecasting sales in-line with expectations.
Melrose Industries said it will continue as a pure-play aerospace company after the recent spin-off of its automotive unit, sending its shares 5.8pc higher.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 remains little changed, with rate-sensitive banks adding 0.6pc.
Investors now eye April consumer inflation data in the world's largest economy, due at 1.30pm UK time, which could impact rate-cut expectations by the Federal Reserve this year.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 has lost 0.1pc, with Asos the top loser.
The retailer swung to a first-half loss, hurt by a squeeze on household budgets and elevated product returns, sending its shares 8.7pc lower.
Oil has fallen ahead of a critical US inflation report, while investors digested a mixed report on supplies from an industry group.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, has slipped 0.5pc to just above $77 a barrel.
West Texas Intermediate sank 0.5pc toward $73 a barrel after jumping 7.5pc over the previous three sessions as the White House said it would begin purchasing crude to replenish the emergency reserves after maintenance work later this year.
The US consumer price inflation data later Wednesday will be closely watched for a read on the Federal Reserve's likely interest-rate path in the second half as the economy shows signs of a slowdown that could hurt energy demand.
Crude has retreated this year as worries over Fed tightening and a potential US recession outweighed a solid physical market and supply cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies.
The boss of the John Lewis Partnership is set to face a confidence vote on her future after criticism of the leadership of the retail giant.
Dame Sharon White, chairwoman of the business which runs the department store chain and supermarket arm Waitrose, has faced criticism after she said the group was considering selling a stake.
Industry leaders such as Mary Portas criticised the potential move, which would stop the company being entirely owned by its employees.
Dame Sharon has also come under scrutiny after the business said it would not give an annual bonus to staff for only the second time since 1953 and cautioned over potential job cuts in March after falling to a £234m loss.
The group has looked to diversify its operations, such as expanding into rental flats, as part of a radical strategy to return the business to long-term profitability.
On Wednesday Dame Sharon will provide an update to the John Lewis Partnership council, a 61-member group of staff elected by its workforce.
It has been a mixed start for the markets ahead of US inflation figures later and the Bank of England's interest rate decision tomorrow.
The FTSE 100 is flat at 7,775.69 while the domestically-focused FTSE 250 has risen 0.2pc to 19,306.25.
German power provider Eon warned that Europe may not have seen the end of turmoil in its energy markets and the situation could still take a turn for the worse.
Chief financial officer Marc Spieker warned "the crisis is not over yet" amid warnings from analysts that a sudden rebound in demand and increased competition from Asia could send energy prices skyward again.
He was speaking as the company revealed it expects adjusted earnings to remain broadly in line with last year's results.
Mr Spieker said this "factors in the possibility of a further deterioration in the remainder of the year".
Eon sees results "towards the upper end" of its guidance of €7.8bn to €8bn (£6.8bn to £7bn) this year.
The company said it nearly doubled results from its consumer-facing Customer Solutions business in the first quarter compared to a year ago, helped by falling commodity prices and higher end prices.
Utilities initially struggled to pass on higher costs to consumers last year.
After Asos suffered a loss in the first half of its financial year, Wealth Club's quality shares portfolio manager Charlie Huggins said:
This is a weak sales performance from Asos with revenue down significantly in the second quarter and further weak trading in March and April.
It shows that the operational turnaround plan won't be a quick fix, with Asos having a mountain to climb to rediscover its former glory.
The weak sales are due to two reasons. First, the trading backdrop remains exceptionally challenging, with customers having cut back on online purchasing as economies have reopened following the pandemic.
The second reason is due to ASOS' own actions of prioritising profit over revenue.
For too long, ASOS has had all the wrong priorities. The biggest problem was that it cared more about sales than the bottom line. This is now changing under new chief executive José Antonio Ramos Calamonte.
In summary, ASOS is off the operating table, but it remains in intensive care. It will be some time before the success of the recovery can be judged.
Asos slumped to a half-year loss as it tried to cut its stock levels and excessive discounting in a bid to turn around its performance.
The fast-fashion business said sales dropped by 8pc in the six months through February and operating losses widened to £272.5m.
Chief executive Jose Antonio Ramos Calamonte said the business has made progress in its turnaround despite "some very challenging conditions".
It is nearly a year since Mr Ramos Calamonte took the reins and the Spaniard is seeking to convince investors that his plan will return the business to profit by reducing stock, cutting spending and slowing automation.
The benefits of the turnaround are expected to come through in the second half, with Asos generating cash once more.
However, Asos forecast a sales decline of low double digits for the second half and adjusted earnings before interest and tax of £40m to £60m, compared with a loss in the first half.
The shares have lost about half their value over the past year.
Toyota said that its full-year net profit beat expectations while projecting better sales and revenue for the year ahead in a sign supply chain disruptions may be easing.
The Japanese firm reported 2.45trn yen (£14.3bn) in net profit for the fiscal year, down 14pc from a year earlier but still beating its projections of 2.36trn yen.
It said it expects full-year net profit to increase five percent for the year ahead to 2.58trn yen on "improvements in semiconductor supply and the efforts of production sites".
The carmaker retained its top-selling crown for the third year in a row in 2022, but like much of the industry has battled pandemic headwinds and the effects of a global chip shortage.
Chief executive Koji Sato said: "In a word, it was a very tough year for us to produce and deliver vehicles to our customers."
Outsourcing firm and government contractor Capita has revealed it will take a hit of up to around £20m from the recent cyber attack that saw a breach of its customer, supplier and colleague data.
The group, which holds public sector contracts worth billions of pounds including enforcing the BBC licence fee, said investigations into the incident suggests that some data was accessed, but that this was from less than 0.1pc of its server estate.
It said it has taken "extensive steps" to recover and secure the customer, supplier and colleague data contained within the impacted server estate, and to "remediate any issues arising from the incident".
It expects the bill to reach between around £15m and £20m for the cyber attack, covering specialist professional fees, recovery and remediation costs, as well as investment to reinforce its cyber security defences and strengthen its IT security.
The US banking sector made record profits in the first three months of the year, helped by the turmoil that rippled through the sector following the collapse of the likes of Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse.
About half the increase in profits across the industry came from one-time gains recorded by First Citizen and Flagstar.
They bought what was left of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank respectively after they were seized by regulators in March and sold off at a discount.
In all, US bank profits reached an all-time high of about $80bn (£63.4bn) in the first quarter, up 33pc from the same period a year ago.
Only 197 out of America's 4,400 banks made losses in the first three months of the year according to data provider BankRegData, which collates quarterly reports given to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation by US lenders.
JPMorgan Chase, the nation's largest bank by assets which this month bought the failed lender First Republic, had the highest profit of $11.7bn (£9.3bn).
Troubled lender PacWest, which has been the subject of a record selloff of its shares amid investor jitters, lost more than any other lender, down $1.2bn.
The bumper profits experienced by the sector in the first quarter may not last.
The figures from BankRegData show that aggregate interest expense for all banks jumped by 10 times to $85bn (£67.3bn) in the first quarter compared to a year earlier.
Banks have needed to pay higher rates to depositors amid the US Federal Reserve's programme of increasing interest rates.
Banking turmoil in the US sent customers racing to withdraw their deposits – but going by the numbers it was not a bad period for the financial industry.
America's banking industry booked record first quarter profits this year, thanks in large part to the worst crisis in the sector since 2008.
US bank profits reached about $80bn, with about half of the increase coming from one-time gains recorded by First Citizen and Flagstar, which bought up assets from failed lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank after they were seized by US regulators and sold at a cut price in March.
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Asian shares declined in muted trading as investors awaited an upcoming report on inflation in the United States today, an important indicator for where interest rates and global growth might go in the coming months.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.4pc to end at 29,122.18, while the broader Topix index trimmed 0.6pc to 2,085.91.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 inched down nearly 0.1pc to 7,257.60. South Korea's Kospi slipped nearly 0.1pc to 2,508.04.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.6pc to 19,746.67, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.9pc to 3,326.31.
Market watchers are also worried about any signs of economic woes in China after recent data showed imports were lagging, even as exports continued to grow, although at a slower pace than before.
Wall Street stocks closed lower on Tuesday as investors grew more cautious ahead of the emergency meeting between Joe Biden and congressional leaders to discuss the unresolved debt ceiling crisis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 56.88 points, or 0.17pc, to 33,561.81. The S&P 500 lost 18.95 points, or 0.46pc, to 4,119.17 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 77.36 points, or 0.63pc, to 12,179.55.