What to Watch: UK budget delayed, WPP soars, Barclays PPI hit

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
The UK budget due on 6 November has been ditched. Photo: AP Photo/Frank Augstein


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

Budget scrapped as UK government ‘goes on strike’ in Brexit stand-off

The UK’s budget day next month has been shelved as a stand-off escalates between the government and opposition MPs over a general election.

The Treasury said in a statement to the BBC the government was calling for an election, “so we won’t be delivering the budget on 6 November.”

Chancellor Sajid Javid said the government would push “again and again” in parliament for an election, hoping rival parties will cave in despite their fears that current election timelines could allow a no-deal Brexit.

Comments by a spokesman for the prime minister on Thursday have been widely interpreted as an extraordinary threat by the government to effectively go on strike.

“Nothing will come before parliament but the bare minimum. We will pursue a general election every day from then [Monday] onwards and do everything we can to get it,” said the spokesman.

A source told PA the government could even pull its own Brexit legislation in parliament if opposition parties fail to back an election.


Barclays counts the cost of PPI

A surge in late claims for PPI dented an otherwise good quarter for Barclays (BARC.L), the bank said on Friday, but the bank’s CEO warned conditions were “unquestionably more challenging.”

Barclays beat analyst forecasts on an underlying basis with its third-quarter results released on Friday, as Yahoo Finance UK’s Oscar Williams-Grut reports. But it slipped to a loss attributable to shareholders when litigation and conduct charges were included.

The bank warned in September that it would have to set aside up to £1.9bn to cover an unexpected spike in PPI claims around the August deadline. Barclays said it eventually took a £1.4bn charge in the quarter.

WPP returns to quarterly sales growth

The advertising giant WPP has returned to quarterly growth for the first time in a year, according to its latest trading update.

The company reported ‘organic’ growth of 0.7%, with strong performance in Europe and in spite of analyst predictions of decline.

It comes after it faced the enormous upheaval of losing its founder Sir Martin Sorrell, who had been the highest-paid chief executive on the FTSE 100 until his resignation last year.

The exit of the titanic figure in the advertising industry shocked many, coming in the middle of a storm as he faced an investigation into alleged personal misconduct, which he denied.

European markets lower

European stocks sunk on Friday, with Britain’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) and the Euro Stoxx 50 (^STOXX50E) 0.5% lower, the German DAX (^GDAXI) 0.3% lower and French CAC 40 (^FCHI) 0.2% lower at 11am in London.

Asian stocks were mixed overnight, with the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index (^HSI) falling 0.5%, China’s Shanghai Composite index (000001.SS) up 0.5% and Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) rising 0.2%.

What to expect in the US

US stocks also looked set to rise on the open, with Dow Jones futures (YM=F) flat, S&P 500 futures (ES=F) up 0.1% and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) up 0.2% at around 6am eastern time.