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Business news - live: Pound gives up gains after DUP says it will oppose freshly agreed Brexit deal

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Ben Chapman
Thursday 17 October 2019 10:25 BST
Arlene Foster warns Boris Johnson over Brexit concessions

The pound soared against the dollar and euro after the EU and UK agreed a Brexit deal this morning.

Sterling surged 0.9 per cent to $1.29 after Jean-Claude Juncker confirmed that the two sides had reached an agreement after talks went down to the wire. However, the pound later gave up the gains after Boris Johnson's DUP allies quashed his hopes of progress by declaring they will oppose the plan.

Elsewhere, WHSmith agreed a $400m deal to buy US travel retailer Marshall and RBS boosted its Brexit contingency fund to £8.2bn.


Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of business and economics events.

WHSmith has agreed to buy US retailer Marshall for $400m, Asda has cut fuel prices and the pound is down against the dollar after the DUP said it could not support Boris Johnson's Brexit deal as it stands.

ben.chapman17 October 2019 08:44

Domino's UK to quit four overseas markets amid falling sales

The British arm of Domino's is to exit Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland because of declining sales.

"We have concluded that, whilst they represent attractive markets, we are not the best owners of these businesses. The board has therefore decided to exit the markets in an orderly manner," said outgoing chief executive David Wild.

In the UK, Domino's is in the midst of a long-running battle with store operators who are angry at the declining share of profits they take.

Mr Wild said: "Normal working practices continue to be impacted by our franchisee dispute.

"As we said at our interim results, this situation is complex and we expect a resolution to take time, certainly into 2020. We remain committed to working with our franchisees to agree sustainable win-win solutions."

ben.chapman17 October 2019 08:50

WHSmith snaps up US retailer

WHSmith has continued its march into the US by snapping up North American retailer Marshall Retail for $400m (£3122m).

Bosses said they had first started watching the business around four years ago when they made an active decision to pursue the 3.2 billion dollar US travel market.

The previous owners of Marshall launched a sales process over the summer as WHSmith came out on top.

It means the retailer now has a further 170 stores in North America, including 59 in airports, with the remaining in busy tourist hotspots including Las Vegas.

Incoming chief executive Carl Cowling, who starts the new job in November, said: "We've known the business for about four years. We've been watching the market for years trying to think of the best ways to break in."

The deal comes a year after WHSmith bought travel accessories business InMotion for £155m.

Press Association

ben.chapman17 October 2019 08:52

Asda cuts fuel prices

Asda is cutting petrol and diesel prices by 2p and 3 p respectively.

Motorists will pay no more than 121.7p per litre for petrol and 125.7p per litre for diesel, Asda said.

The RAC said other fuel retailers were failing to pass on falling wholesale prices to drivers.

Simon Williams, fuel spokesperson for the RAC, said: "Drivers are losing out badly, paying around 7p a litre more for petrol than they should be.

"This means a driver filling up a 55-litre family car is paying £3.85 too much.

"For some reason, in the last year or so our biggest retailers haven't been as transparent with their pricing as they have been in the past, which means motorists all over the country lose out as a result of them taking more margin than they have previously."

ben.chapman17 October 2019 08:56

Pound latest

-0.2847% against the euro - €1.1542

-0.2758% against dollar - $1.2783

ben.chapman17 October 2019 09:15

Three mobile customers are having difficulty getting signal.

Three has admitted on Twitter that there is an "issue" affecting "some users" and that it was working to solve it, after initially denying there was any network-wide problem.

"We do have an issue which is impacting voice and data services for some customers at the moment," it wrote to affected users that complained to its Twitter account. "We're working hard to get everything back to normal as soon as we can."

It had initially been suggesting that the problem is with individual devices or SIM cards – despite the fact the problem is being reported everywhere.

No error message or alert was given about any outage, leaving people unable to get an internet connection, text messages or phone calls, and without any notification that there is a problem.

ben.chapman17 October 2019 09:17

BREAKING: A senior EU official has said there will be no Brexit negotiations with Boris Johnson at the two-day leaders’ summit beginning today in Brussels, according to Reuters.

The bloc has not yet received the text of an agreement, the official said.

ben.chapman17 October 2019 09:25

UK retail sales flat in September

UK retail sales were flat in September compared with August, a slightly better performance than a 0.2 per cent dip forecast by economists. Compared with a year earlier, sales rose 3.1 per cent.

On the three-month measure, which strips out some of the typical volatility in the figures, sales inched up by 0.6 percent from the April-June quarter.  

ben.chapman17 October 2019 09:43

RBS boosts Brexit contingency fund by a third

RBS has increased a support fund for small businesses by more than a third to help them deal with Brexit disruption.

The bank - which has a less-than-stellar reputation with Britain's SME's after it was found to have pushed many to the wall and sold off their assets to repair its own balance sheet - has added an extra £2.2bn to the fund, taking it to £8.2bn

The state-backed lender said it had already committed £5.6bn of the fund.

Paul Thwaite, commercial banking managing director at RBS subsidiary NatWest, said: “We are very much open for business and want to be the bank that supports the UK’s businesses through this uncertain time.”

ben.chapman17 October 2019 09:44

“Retail sales in September show a small degree of growth, despite very poor weather for much of the month. This growth is despite the turbulent times and uncertain future. It appears that consumers are starting to stockpile in anticipation of a no-deal Brexit,” said Duncan Brewer, retail expert at Oliver Wyman.

“We expect consumers to tighten their purse strings in the coming months. Our research shows that households will be worse off by £810 annually in the case of a no-deal Brexit, even including the government’s planned no deal tariff schedule.”

He added: “As retailers have been trying to weather the Brexit storm, they haven’t been able to make structural changes that are needed for long-term survival on an ever-more competitive high street.”

ben.chapman17 October 2019 09:47

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