IEA blames Saudi Arabia and UAE for oil price surge 


Good morning.

There’s some (much-needed) positive data to kick off your Friday, after the latest GDP figures showed the UK economy posted its strongest growth since the Second World War last year.

GDP grew 7.5pc in 2021 – the biggest rise in 80 years. It also means Britain has pulled ahead of other major economies in the post-pandemic rebound.

While the economy contracted 0.2pc in December as a result of omicron, this was a less severe hit than had been expected. For the fourth quarter, GDP grew 1pc.

5 things to start your day 

1) Taxman ‘rolled over’ on £4bn Covid loans fraud, say MPs  HMRC’s efforts to claw back stolen taxpayer funds dubbed ‘unambitious’ 

2) Britain to import 70pc of gas as North Sea reserves run dry  Reliance on foreign fuel will raise fresh questions over country’s strategic independence 

3) Andrew Bailey attacks Brussels over plans to cut City off from European banks  Bank of England governor says such a move would ‘fragment international system’

4) AstraZeneca ready to tweak Covid vaccine as it finally draws a profit  Pharma giant working with Oxford University to tackle new variants

5) Credit Suisse ‘failed to freeze cocaine-smuggling wrestler’s bank account’  Accusation from former employee comes as bank reveals £1.6bn loss

What happened overnight 

Asian markets fell on Friday after a sell-off on Wall Street in response to a forecast-busting jump in US inflation that fanned expectations the Federal Reserve will embark on a more aggressive campaign of monetary tightening. Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Wellington, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta all fell into the red, though Singapore inched up. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

Coming up today

Corporate: British American Tobacco (Full-year results); Lancashire Holdings, Tate & Lyle, Victrex (Interims); Electrocomponents (Trading update)

Economics: GDP (UK), industrial production (UK), manufacturing production (UK), trade balance (UK), consumer price index (Ger), Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (US), Fed monetary policy report (US)


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