FTSE LIVE: Paddy Power slapped with fine; Scottish Power goes for wind

Paddy Power Betfair has been slapped with a £2.2million fine for 'failing to protect customers and stop stolen money being gambled'.  
Scottish Power is set to become the first of the big energy firms to rely solely on wind power as it sells its gas and coal power stations to Drax for £702million.    
And the boss of upmarket housebuilder Bellway said today he was 'mindful' that Brexit 'could pose a threat to consumer confidence' during the critical spring selling season next year.
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Emily Hardy
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12:13
Footsie down 0.23 per cent at 7,012.99
12:07
Aldi and Lidl continue to gain market share
Jack's fails to do Tesco any favours as the UK's biggest supermarket loses ground to discount rivals Aldi and Lidl.
Read the full story here >>>
12:01
John Lewis introduces private shopping with a £10,000 price tag
John Lewis is launching a private shopping experience to allow customers the exclusive use of one of its stores after hours - for a minimum spend of £10,000.
The department store said the experience would allow customers - either individuals or groups - to book the whole of its Cheltenham store after doors have closed to the public for the day.
The service includes a team of staff on hand to create the 'ultimate bespoke shopping experience'.
11:25
Watchdog will 'consider' Aldi and Lidl in its probe of Sainsbury's-Asda
The competition watchdog has today confirmed that it will take Aldi and Lidl into account in its probe of the proposed mega-merger between Asda and Sainsbury's.
In a document outlining how its in-depth investigation would work, the CMA said: 'The level and impact of competition presented by newer or growing retailers – including Aldi and Lidl – will be considered alongside these issues.'
This could have a huge impact on the number of stores (if any) Sainsbury's and Asda may have to close in order for the takeover to gain clearance.
What could prevent the merger going through? Read more here
10:56
Audi fined €800m over diesel emissions
German car maker Audi - a division of Volkswagen - has been fined €800million (£703million) as some of its diesel engines did not meet emissions standards.
Audi has accepted responsibility and said the fine will hit profits.
'Considering these special items the Audi Group will significantly undercut major financial key performance indicators forecasted for the fiscal year 2018,' Audi said in a statement.
Volkswagen, its parent company, said its profits will also be affected.
10:46
Investment giant makes its move into cryptocurrency
US investment giant Fidelity Investments has launched a new company to offer institutional clients trading and storage of digital assets such as Bitcoin and Ether.
Fidelity Digital Asset Services LLC will electronically buy and sell cryptocurrencies on behalf of hedge funds, family offices and other financial institutions, it said.
It will source the assets from large over-the-counter crypto trading firms and hold them in offline "cold storage" for safekeeping.
The company will initially offer its services for the two largest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and ether, but plans to broaden the range.
Fidelity's new company could play an important role in helping the marketplace for the emerging asset class mature as traditional financial institutions enter the fray.
10:27
More views from the City on those strong wages and jobs numbers
Mike Jakeman, senior economist at PwC-
"There were some encouraging details in the labour market data for the three months to August, with year on year regular pay growth at 3.1%, the strongest since late 2008.
'This suggests that employers are having to offer better financial packages to workers to retain their staff. Employees remain in short supply: unemployment remained at the very low level of 4%, as low as it has been since the mid-1970s.
"It is still a little too soon to be sure that worker scarcity will continue to drive wage growth upwards over a longer period, but initial signs are encouraging. There were also some less impressive details: the employment rate fell slightly from the previous three months, while the number of those that are economically inactive also grew. And in real terms, wage growth was much slower, at 0.4% year on year. The increase in workers' bargaining power should enable continued household spending, supporting economic growth in the second half of this year.
"The Bank of England will pay particular attention to the potential inflationary impact of faster wage growth, but it is unlikely to make any sudden moves on interest rates, given the considerable Brexit-related uncertainty that is hanging over the economic outlook."
10:12
British American Tobacco shares go up in smoke
Cigarette company British American Tobacco (BAT) issued a trading update this morning cutting its full-year revenue target for next-generation products leading to a fall in the share price.
Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, explains what the news means for investors:
'The trading update follows last week's fears of a crackdown on cigarette regulation as the US Food and Drugs Administration highlighted research that discovered that cutting nicotine by as much as 96% would improve public health.
'BAT is a share with an excellent long-term track record but it has come under pressure this year and hit a 4-year low last week. But overall the group stated that it continues to perform well.
'As Western governments keep the pressure up on tobacco companies, investor focus will increasingly be on its new products, a number of which are set to be launched in the coming months.
"The group generates significant steady cash-flow which helps with dividend payments; but the long-term plan by the US authorities to reduce nicotine addiction presents a challenge so the shares are recommended at no more than a 'hold'.'
09:44
An 'interesting shift' in the battle of the supermarkets
AJ Bell investment director says that the latest Kantar Worldpanel data suggests an 'interesting shift in the battle of the supermarkets'.
Co-op continues to show impressive sales growth - the latest figures suggesting that previous investment in stores and a revised loyalty scheme in 2016 is now paying off. And Morrisons continues to edge higher too.
'We're now heading into the all-important Christmas period where supermarkets go all out to try to get one up on the competition with big offers and new products. As such, Tesco's board may not be best pleased with its momentum going into the seasonal push.
'The latest 12 week figures show a 0.6% percentage point decline in Tesco's market share. The result is somewhat surprising given how much publicity Tesco generated with its Jack's discount concept launch in late-September.
'Less surprising is Sainsbury's mere 0.6% sales growth over the latest 12 week period. The business has been having major issues with stock availability in its stores with countless pictures on social media showing empty shelves, meaning shoppers visiting its stores weren't able to buy everything they wanted. That's an awful situation given the wealth of competitors who would be happy to cater for these shoppers."
Shore Capital
09:43
Pound climbs on strong jobs numbers
David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB -
'There's been more gains seen in sterling this morning with the market jumping back above the $1.32 handle following the release of the latest employment data from the UK.
'The wage figures for August in particular are supportive of the pound with average earnings ex-bonus unexpectedly rising to 3.1% in annualised terms, from 2.9% previously. This is the highest pace of growth in wages since January 2009 while the unemployment rate held at a 43-year low in what is an all round solid report for the pound.
'There has been an underlying strength in sterling this week despite negative developments no the Brexit front as far as reaching a deal is concerned, with the pound recovering steadily after starting the week on the back foot. Comments this morning from a German official that talks are on track to meet a November timeframe are another pleasing development but there remains some significant hurdles to jump first.
'Economic releases on inflation (Weds) and retail sales (Thurs) could provide further good news for the pound, but the main driver remains Brexit negotiations and unless there's positive news on this front in the coming days then the upside appears to remain limited.'
09:38
Brits are already going mad for mince pies
Shoppers have already spent £4m on mince pies and that's in September alone according to latest Kantar figures ??????
— Hannah Uttley (@huttleyjourno) October 16, 2018
09:36
BREAKING: UK unemployment falls
Unemployment fell by 47,000 between June and August to 1.36 million, said the Office for National Statistics.
Average earnings increased by 2.7% in the year to August, up from 2.6% in the previous month. The number of people in work fell by 5,000 to 32.39 million.
09:34
Mobile operator Three to make job cuts
A major tech overhaul at Three UK will result in a raft of job cuts for the telecom firm's 4,500-strong workforce following the roll-out of a new platform next year.
Three UK chief executive Dave Dyson told the Press Association that the number of staff would inevitably shrink as updated tech infrastructure results in further automation and demand for skills that current employees may not have.
He said the company had 'not said anything' yet regarding the number of jobs potentially at risk, but that the total tally of 'back office, head office-type staff' was 'more likely to go down than go up'.
Three UK, which is ultimately owned by Hong Kong's CK Hutchison Holdings, currently employs around 2,000 head and back office staff, and a further 2,500 in its 330 retail stores across the country.
Dyson stressed that the job cuts would be gradual over the next few years.
09:25
Discounters gobble up more grocery market share
The latest Kantar Worldpanel grocery market share numbers are out, and they don't make pretty reading for 3 of the UK's Big Four supermarkets.
Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda all saw their share of the grocery market decline in the 12 weeks to 7 October year-on-year.
Tesco's share fell from 28% to 27.4%, Sainsbury's was down from 15.8% to 15.4% and Asda was down from 15.5% to 15.3%.
Discounters Aldi and Lidl, however, both notched up gains. Aldi rose from 6.8% to 7.6% and Lidl rose from 5.2% to 5.6%.
Morrisons held steady at just over 10% of the grocery market.

Aldi and Lidl have both accelerated growth on latest Kantar; I wonder did customers over spend in that long hot Summer for the football etc? Now pulling back ahead of Christmas?
— Steve Dresser (@dresserman) October 16, 2018
09:20
Paddy Power saddled with £2.2million fine
Paddy Power Betfair has been fined £2.2million after the Gambling Commission found it failed to protect customers and stop stolen money from being gambled.
The Commission said its investigation revealed 'significant' amounts of stolen money was being gambled with the group, through its betting exchange as well as online and in betting shops.
It said Paddy Power Betfair failed to adequately interact with customers who were displaying signs of problem gambling and failed to adequately carry out anti-money laundering checks.
Richard Watson, executive director of the Gambling Commission, said: 'As a result of Paddy Power Betfair's failings significant amounts of stolen money flowed through their exchange and this is simply not acceptable.
'Operators have a duty to all of their customers to seek to prevent the proceeds of crime from being used in gambling.'
09:10
And next up... the latest jobs report
Later this morning comes the jobs report, and all eyes will be on the wage growth reading.
Analysts are expecting the average earnings index to hold at 2.6 per cent, while the unemployment rate is set to remain at 4 per cent, with the claimant count change dropping from 8.7k to 4.5k.
09:08
The latest with the pound... sterling nudges higher
SpreadEx analyst Connor Campbell says...
'Despite the week's flare-up of intense Brexit uncertainty, with Theresa May facing a manic scramble to try and get the pieces in place for a deal ahead of Wednesday's EU summit, the markets got off to another relatively calm start on Tuesday.
'Sterling, which eventually overturned Monday's losses, nudged a bit higher after the bell. Against the dollar it rose 0.3%, sending cable back above $1.319, while against the euro the pound rose 0.2%, allowing it to push towards €1.138.
'This left the FTSE unable to build any momentum of its own, the UK index slipping 0.1% to sit at 7020.'
09:04
Footasylum disappoints
'It appears that investors were sold a pup in the IPO a year ago' says retail analyst Nick Bubb, 'and after two profit warnings the share price of the beleaguered Footasylum is a shadow of its former self, with the market cap down to just £34million'.
Today's interims make 'grim reading', he adds, with an adjusted loss before tax of £4million, versus a profit of £2.3million a year ago.
The embattled former JD Sports veteran Barry Bown, the executive chairman, says: 'While we are pleased to be reporting good top line growth…our profitability has been impacted both by a lower overall gross margin from higher clearance activity in stores, as well as the extensive investments that are being made to position the Company for future growth'.
Bubb adds: 'There is some reassurance in the news that current trading is 'in line with the FY19 expectations that were rebased at the time of the trading update of 3 September', although shareholders may be concerned that 'in order to preserve the balance sheet, given the lower expectations for profitability in the near term, from FY20 the company will scale back its targeted store expansion programme to two new stores and two upsizes per annum'.'
08:59
Coming up later today... Netflix
08:54
Volvo skids 9% to a 12-month low
Volvo shares have fallen 9 per cent since the open after the carmaker warned of an emissions component problem on some of its lorries which could cause them to emit higher than legally allowed levels of nitrogen oxide.
The cost of remedying the problem could be in the millions of kroner, and with no accurate estimate of how many vehicles the problem may affect the shares have dropped to a one year low.
08:47
Madame Tussauds owner Merlin shares fall 7%
Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor explains why investors have reacted badly to Merlin Entertainment's mixed trading update today...
'Whilst Merlin is not yet providing the magic, this update reflects largely positive demand for its various theme parks and attractions.
The terrorist attacks in London and poor weather which led to a profits warning a year ago have thankfully not been duplicated. Even so, a return to normality in visitors to London is a long time coming. Meanwhile, the dividend yield is certainly not an attraction, coming in at just 2% despite the recent hike.
There are signs that growth is achievable. Resort Theme Park revenues have spiked 9%, benefiting from product investment and favourable weather, whilst growth at its Legoland operations continues apace, with revenues up 6.4%.
Unfortunately, however, for the moment Merlin remains a 'jam tomorrow' stock, and the share price is likely to remain in the doldrums until some prolonged stability is seen. Today's dip in early trade reflects this sentiment and adds to a decline of 18% over the last year.'
08:41
Bellway warns over Brexit threat
Housebuilder Bellway shrugged off easing property prices and surging costs today to post a 14.3 per cent hike in profits, but cautioned over a Brexit risk to the peak selling season.
The Newcastle-based firm reiterated warnings that house price growth has 'moderated' and Brexit could hit demand.
Jason Honeyman, Bellway's newly appointed chief executive, said: 'The board are mindful that the forthcoming exit from the EU in March could pose a threat to consumer confidence during the busy spring selling season.'
In its full-year results, the group said that this, together with higher costs, was taking its toll on profit margins, while demand has been 'less pronounced at the higher end of the market'.
08:37
Scottish Power switches to 100% wind
Scottish Power has become the first UK energy company to switch completely to wind power after selling its last remaining gas plant to Drax Group.
Drax unveiled a deal on Tuesday to acquire a portfolio of Scottish Power's assets for £702million.
'This is a pivotal shift for Scottish Power as we realise a long-term ambition,' said chief executive Keith Anderson.
'We are leaving carbon generation behind for a renewable future powered by cheaper green energy. We have closed coal, sold gas and built enough wind to power 1.2 million homes.'
08:32
Three things to look out for today...
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK...
1) Today's European focus in likely to be on Italy where the Italian government is set to approve the new budget for 2019, and draw the ire of the European Commission. The EU will need to tread carefully given that the budget appears to be popular, and won't want to be seen to be heavy handed, thus risking a backlash from its third largest economy.
2) The latest German ZEW survey for October is expected to reflect a more pessimistic outlook for economic sentiment given recent declines in the German stock market as well as weaker economic data, with expectations of a fall to -12.6 from -10.6.
3) And, while the pound continues to whip around on the back of every Brexit related headline, we could see some more headlines when the UK cabinet sits down today to mull over the breakdown in Brexit talks over the weekend.
It is highly unlikely that Prime Minister May will be able to coalesce a range of differing opinions about how to proceed next. The Irish border backstop continues to be the Gordian Knot that can't be unravelled and will in all likelihood scupper any prospect of any sort of agreement this week. The divisions are simply too great, given the party and parliamentary arithmetic, which means the can will likely get kicked further if she wants to keep her cabinet intact.
08:27
FTSE in the red
The footsie opened in the red today, losing a handful of points - 0.1 per cent - to land at 7,021.81.
'There is still an element of caution prevailing in the market at the moment,' says Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
'European markets managed to buck the trend of a weak Asia and US session, closing higher yesterday, however the move up was on pretty low volume and as such needs to be treated with an element of caution.'
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