The secretary-general of the OECD, Angel Gurria has warned that the Labour party's planned energy price freeze could bankrupt energy investors leading to chaos in Britain's energy market.
Speaking to BBC's Panaroma due to broadcast on Monday night, he said:
If you freeze the price of energy and the international price of energy rises, it means there's going to be a very big difference to pay.
Who's going to pay the difference? Well, are you going to ask the investors to take the difference? Well, you know they'll probably go bankrupt. How are you going to get people to come in and invest to get their money back in 30, 40 years' time, when you are saying there's going to be a freeze? I think this is simply not consistent, not economically objective.
Ed Miliband certainly made waves at the Labour party conference with his announcement of a price freeze. However, a heavy price has been paid for the Labour leader's populism, with close to £6.7bn being wiped off the value of energy companies since the announcement, according to Liberum Capital.
The chief executive for Npower, Paul Massara who was also interviewed by the BBC said:
In  we made about a 3.5% margin. That is hardly excessive. Unfortunately, the political dialogue right now means that with rising bills they want someone to blame and the suppliers are the easiest thing to shoot at.
The Labour party's slide back to the interventionism of the 1970s has been slammed by both the government and a host of economists. As well as interference in the energy market Labour has championed caps on the cost of payday loans which the government recently adopted as a matter of policy.
The deleterious consequences of price controls can be seen in whichever good or service they are applied to. Economists fear that the cap on the cost of credit from legal payday lenders will simply drive those are poorest and with the worst credit ratings into the hands of illegal loan sharks. With criticism now coming from respected international bodies Labour's policy of legislating away problems of scarcity seems to hold less and less credibility.
A positive start to the week's trading is expected today, with a very thin macroeconomic calendar ahead of us for Monday.
Analyts forecast that the FTSE will open higher on momentum from Friday's US session, record highs on India's Sensex stock index, and the better than expected Chinese inflation data published this morning.
Morning all. #FTSE is called 30 higher this morning after some further gains on Wall Street on Friday after hours. Held 200 SMA last week...
— FuturesTechs Updates (@FuturesTechs) December 9, 2013
— Brenda Kelly (@BrendaKelly_IG) December 9, 2013
- Eurozone Sentix investor confidence for December at 9.30am. Expected at 10.4 from 9.3.
- German industrial production for October at 11.00am. Expected at 0.8 per cent from -0.9 per cent.
Troubled pawnbroker Albermarle & Bond (A&B) won't be feeling much better today.
The company has been hit by multiple setbacks - most recently announcing on the 30 September that falling gold prices have created uncertainty over its future.
Its final results for the financial year ended 30 June reveal that performance is markedly worse on the same period last year. Profit before tax is down from £21.4m to £4.9m. Revenues have slipped from £117.7m to £107.1m. Net debt is up from £43.4m to £46.2m.
The company's new CEO only showed up on 7 October, so we've got some comments from non executive chairman Greville Nicholls:
The Group's financial year ended 30 June 2013 was a particularly challenging one for pawnbroking and gold buying markets in which it operates. We were disappointed that the extent of the fall in the gold price added an additional and unexpected challenge for the business.
This weekend is emerged that rival pawnbroker H&T is considering a takeover offer for A&B, which put itself up for sale last week. Other suitors for A&B may include Jon Moulton’s Better Capital, US debt investor Apollo Global Management and A&B investor EZCorp.
A&B appointed Canaccord Genuity last week to help find a buyer for the company after a spate of troubles, including the resignation of much of its board and a nosedive in profits.
In the last two years A&B shares have fallen off a cliff, then another, and another.
It's not news that Chinese megacities are suffering from some pretty terrible smog, such as Beijing, pictured above as early as 2008.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) raised it as one of their concerns for the 2008 games. Since then, it's been getting much worse, and many are worried about the health impacts.
But it has huge advantages - according to reports from China's official Global Times. That haze will apparently help to defend against military attacks.
Here's a rough translation from an article posted today:
It will make a lot of surveillance equipment, the effect of greatly reduced, but also make some of the sights are not allowed to target missiles for the air force is dependent on the weather, haze and more is the enemy.
However, on the battlefield, but also conducive to haze the defensive side of military operations.
Apparently the haze will stop the US military being able to see anything on the ground. It's certainly true that satellite images of China are obscured by clouds of smog.
Apparently that thick haze is the perfect defence against US reconnaissance:
It is said that the United States "Scan Eagle" UAV can see the smoke on the ground coffee cup heat. However, in the presence of haze, will all these reconnaissance equipment failure, when the haze caused visibility to 1,000 meters, most of the visible light reconnaissance loses its meaning. The visibility of tens of meters currently frequent haze, it is so visible photographic reconnaissance all the failures.
As well as cruise missiles:
Cruise operations may also be affected by haze. Early adoption terrain matching plus the end of the cruise scene matching guidance system. Terrain matching performed using radio, so little effect.
But when the final blow to implement precise, the need for the target to take pictures, then the bomb and the target satellite photos stored comparison, matching, if for haze enveloped target, it may cause not found, identify the target resulting fall short.
Of course, this is a good thing for the defense side. Kosovo war, the Yugoslav army artificial haze by burning scrap tires and other ways to avoid the NATO bombing.
A report released on Friday by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has found that increasing use of shale gas can massively reduce some of the world's deadliest air pollution.
As well as slashing carbon emissions and providing enticing economic prospects the findings of the report should present a compelling case for those who value the environment to embrace fracking.
Reduce deadly PM2.5
PM2.5 are microscopic dust particles created from burning fuel. These tiny particles can penetrate the lungs where they are absorbed into the blood and lead to cardiorespiratory disease and are one of the major contributors to air pollution.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that PM2.5 is responsible for about 75,000 premature deaths per year in the US. The use of coal for energy is a major source of rising levels of PM.25.
In the US, shale gas production has grown by a factor of 17 over the past 13 years. Shale now supplies 35 per cent of US natural gas. Compared to coal, shale gas results in a 400-fold reduction of PM2.5, a 4,000-fold reduction in sulphur dioxide, a 70-fold reduction in nitrous oxides, and more than a 30-fold reduction in mercury. Air pollution is still major killer globally with the Health Effects Institute estimating that air pollution led to 3.2m deaths in the year 2010.
Slash CO2 emissions
While shale gas is a fossil fuel, most of the increases in CO2 are coming from increasing coal use in developing countries. The CPS report estimates if their increased energy needs could be met from natural gas instead of coal, global warming could be slowed by a factor of two to three.
This would mean that instead of having 30 to 50 years before the world reaches twice the preindustrial carbon dioxide levels the we may have 60 to 100 years. If developing countries continue to use coal their PM2.5 and greenhouse emissions will also continue to grow.
The authors also highlight the need for energy conservation, especially in China. However, they emphasise that this will be far from sufficient to tackle the enormous environmental challenges facing the planet.
Europe and China both pay a high price for imported natural gas, typically paying $10m (£6m) British Thermal Unit. With such high prices Europe and China are in a strong position to exploit vast deposits of shale gas at greatly reduced cost compared to natural gas imports.
The report suggests that Europe could be the testing and proving ground where innovative technology can be trialled and improved while still profitable. If the same technology and expertise is brought to developing countries they can also enjoy a more environmentally friendly energy mix.
The report also addresses many of the objections to fracking such as the increased frequency of earthquakes and the dangers to water supply. It documents how these concerns have been wildly exaggerated and in some cases are wholly spurious.
The report was written by Richard Muller, professor of physics at the University of California Berkeley since 1980 and Elizabeth Muller, co-founder of Berkeley Earth a non-profit working on environmental issues.
US unemployment has fallen way faster than expected in November. For once that good news is good news to Wall Street.
The headline unemployment rate dropped from 7.3 per cent to seven per cent. Analysts had predicted a fall to 7.2 per cent.
You might think that this is unambiguously good news for the US economy - but recently traders have been petrified that as the economy improves, the Fed will begin tapering quantitative easing and reducing available liqudity.
After yesterday's bout of strong US data - upwards revisions to third quarter GDP and lower than expected jobless claims - investors got scared that the Federal Reserve would pull away monetary support and stocks closed down.
Data this good would usually scare markets who've become hooked on so many asset purchases from the central bank. But apparently they can't make their minds up - US equities are up after the data.
Inflation still remains lower than the Fed's target, but the seven per cent number is the lowest since November 2008. A previously unthinkable taper in December now seems less ridiculous.
Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics, says that this report "gives the Fed all the evidence it needs to begin tapering its asset purchases" at this month's meeting.
There's other importance piece of data in this jobs release - the participation rate has risen to 63 per cent.
Natwest is having more trouble with its website this afternoon, and has blamed a cyber attack for the problems. If you're having problems accessing your account, this link may work for you.
Here's the update it released this afternoon:
Due to a surge in internet traffic deliberately directed at the NatWest website, customers experienced difficulties accessing some of our web sites today.
This deliberate surge of traffic is known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. We have taken action to restore the affected web sites. At no time was there any risk to customers.
We apologise for the inconvenience caused.
Natwest and RBS had problems with their IT systems earlier in the week, too. Thousands of customers were affected by the glitches, which happened to come on Cyber Monday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Cath Kidston is to be put on the market for more than £250m next year, reports Sky News' City editor, Mark Kleinman.
The successful retailer, known for its floral, spotty and generally colourful homeware, is considering a new year sale that could see its eponymous founder net at least £50m.
The store has confirmed that it's hired UBS to "assess the options to take company to next stage in its evolution".
Cath Kidston has gone from strength to strength, opening a new flagship store on London's Piccadilly just yesterday. It has 143 shops worldwide, including a new one in Shanghai.
The sale is expected to attract a number of private equity firms, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and other retailers.
Cath Kidston is being sold by equity firm TA Associates, which bought 60 per cent of the British store three years ago. Sky News says it is not yet established whether Ms Kidston intends to sell any of her shares or whether TA will be the only investor to part with its stake.
UK energy supplier E.On has announced a rise in its average duel fuel bill of 3.7 per cent effective from January 2014.
E.On said the increase in the dual fuel tariff would amount to an extra £48 being added to customers bills. Those on electricity only variable tariffs will also see a 3.7 per cent rise in their bills amounting to £20.
Consumers using variable gas tariffs will see a rise of 4.6 per cent or £37.
E.On is the last of the big six energy companies to announce planned price rises for 2014.
The company said in statement:
For the second year running E.ON has announced an increase later than any other major supplier and has once again shown it is working hard to limit the impact on its customers by announcing a lower average percentage rise than any other major supplier.
E.On confirmed that the government's change to the how the green levy is charged will help to stabilise prices.
Chief executive Tony Cocker said:
Whilst there can be no guarantees, the likelihood of further price rises over the next 18 months caused by an increase in the cost of social and environmental obligations has receded due to the recent action taken by the Government.
Other energy companies have responded to the government's change of policy in a similar fashion.
Said it will cut the average dual fuel bill by £53 - £41, plus a £12 customer rebate for the government's Warm Home Discount scheme. Will take effect from 1 January.
Will be cutting the typical duel fuel bill by around £50 and will take effect from April.
Will freeze prices before 2015.
Has said that it will not raise prices any more unless wholesale costs go up.
Later today, the most important data on the global economic calendar will be released: US nonfarm payrolls. The jobs report will be the most obvious sign yet as to whether - and when - the Fed will begin tapering its $85bn per month quantitative easing programme.
The timing of a stimulus cut has preoccupied markets for six weeks now. US Treasury bonds yields have risen to their highest level since mid-September, when the potential for an imminent taper was thought to be priced into the market.
The Fed has held off tapering, soothing financial markets. But yesterday, US third quarter GDP numbers jumped an unexpected 3.6 per cent - the latest in a string of positive numbers for the economy. It also showed that, contrary to George Osborne's declaration in the Autumn Statement, the UK is not the rich world's fastest growing economy.
Analysts are forecasting that 180,000 people were added to nonfarm payrolls in November. Last month, with plenty saying that October's numbers would be affected by government shutdown, 204,000 were created. The estimate was 120,000.
The surprise speeding up in nonfarm payroll numbers last month caused a big sell-off in the Treasury market, as investors re-assessed the advent of tapering. Today's report could be the vital confirmation many are looking for.
And while the prospect of a January taper looks more and more likely, some haven't entirely written off the December possibility, either.