What to Watch: Global stocks sink, Tesco and Metro Bank chiefs quit, and construction woes

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Global stock markets have fallen on poor manufacturing data. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Global stock markets sink as manufacturing troubles deepen

European shares slid to a one-month low on Wednesday and US stocks looked set to sink, after poor manufacturing data across Europe and the US deepened fears over a slowdown in global growth.

Britain’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) led the declines, down 1.4% at around 10am in London. It looked set for its worst day since August 14, when the inversion of the yield curve on US treasury bonds for the first time since 2007 spooked the markets.

Poor construction figures on Wednesday and concerns over potential EU opposition to UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal proposals saw the FTSE hit harder than other indices.

It came after declines in major stocks on Tuesday after a string of alarming figures for manufacturing performance in the UK, the eurozone and the US on Tuesday.

The Euronext 100 (^N100) slid 1.3% on Wednesday in early trading, while the French CAC 40 (^FCHI) plummeted 1.4% and the German DAX (^GDAXI) index was 1% lower.

US stocks also looked set for a drop on the opening bell, with Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) falling 0.6%, Dow Jones futures (YM=F) down 0.4% and S&P500 futures (ES=F) 0.5% lower.

Japanese and Chinese stocks also suffered overnight, with Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) down 0.5% and China’s Shanghai Composite index (000001.SS) down 0.9%. But the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index (^HSI) was flat.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis to leave after turnaround

Tesco (TSCO.L) chief executive and Dave Lewis is to step down next year, the supermarket announced on Wednesday.

“It is with regret that I have accepted the resignation of Dave Lewis as Group CEO of Tesco, who has decided that he wants to leave the business in the summer of 2020,” Tesco chairman John Allan said in a statement.

Tesco shares fell 1.5% at the open in London following the announcement.

Lewis said: “I believe that the tenure of the CEO should be a finite one and that now is the right time to pass the baton.

“Our turnaround is complete, we have delivered all the metrics we set for ourselves. The leadership team is very strong, our strategy is clear and it is delivering. The Tesco brand is stronger and customer satisfaction is the highest it has been for many years.”

Lewis cited personal reasons for his departure and said he was not leaving to take up another position.

Flutter and The Star Group to form ‘world’s biggest online betting giant’

Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter announced a new deal with The Star Group. Photo: PA

Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter (FLTR.L) has announced plans to merge with Canadian rival The Stars Group, saying the deal would create the world’s biggest online betting and gaming firm.

The company, previously known as Paddy Power Betfair, said the new group will be based in Dublin, listing on the London Stock Exchange with a secondary listing on Euronext Dublin.

Shares in Flutter surged on the news, up 17.9% at around 10.15am in London.

Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment has agreed a deal to buy Canadian rival The Stars Group to create the world’s largest online betting firm with combined annual revenues of £3.8 billion.

Flutter – previously called Paddy Power Betfair – said the merged group will be headquartered in Dublin and listed on the London Stock Exchange as well as on Euronext Dublin.

‘Devastating’ downturn in UK construction

The UK construction industry is stuck in a “devastating” downturn, with new figures showing the sector’s output shrinking further in September.

The sector saw its second-fastest decline in building activity in more than a decade, with employment levels and new orders both sinking as Brexit deters investment in building work.

The headline figure in the latest purchasing managers’ index (PMI) in construction was 43.3 for overall output, down from 45 in August.

Figures below 50 indicate a decline in trading conditions on the index, compiled by IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS). Readings above 50 indicate growth.

It comes a day after figures showed UK factory production shrank for a fifth month in a row in September.

Metro Bank founder and chair to quit after grim year

Metro Bank (MTRO.L) has confirmed chairman Vernon Hill II will step down from the company’s board at the end of December.

The struggling lender said on Wednesday that Hill, who founded the bank in 2010, will resign his role as chairman on 31 December to make way for an independent chair. Metro Bank had previously announced that Hill would step down but had not set a firm date.

“Vernon is the inspiration behind Metro Bank, the first high street bank to open in the UK in over 100 years,” Sir Michael Snyder, senior independent director at Metro Bank, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The Board shares Vernon's view that Metro Bank has now reached a point where an independent Chairperson is appropriate to oversee the next stage of our journey."

Hill’s departure comes after a dreadful year for the bank that has seen its share price fall by over 90% since January.