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Microsoft Takes LSE Group Stake in Cloud Tie-Up: The London Rush

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The blanket of snow that fell over the country last night caused today’s power prices to surge to record levels, a cause of concern for energy officials fighting to keep lights and heating on. Some relief comes in the form of slightly warmer-than-expected GDP figures, although the tepid economic growth is unlikely to lift the gloom over the UK. Meanwhile, watch LSE Group today after it reported that Microsoft will buy a 4% stake in the company.

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(Bloomberg) — The blanket of snow that fell over the country last night caused today’s power prices to surge to record levels, a cause of concern for energy officials fighting to keep lights and heating on. Some relief comes in the form of slightly warmer-than-expected GDP figures, although the tepid economic growth is unlikely to lift the gloom over the UK. Meanwhile, watch LSE Group today after it reported that Microsoft will buy a 4% stake in the company.

Here’s the key business news from London this morning:

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In The City

London Stock Exchange Group Plc: Microsoft will buy an equity stake of about 4% of the company’s shares as part of a 10-year strategic partnership that will see the companies collaborate on data and analytics and cloud infrastructure solutions.

  • The tech giant will buy shares from a group of companies including Blackstone and Thomson Reuters, and Microsoft will name a non-executive director to LSE Group’s board

Silverwood Brands Plc: The Aquis-listed investment company will conditionally buy a nearly 20% stake in high street cosmetics retailer Lush, and a majority of Japan-based skincare manufacturer Sonotas.

Home REIT Plc: The Social Housing landlord’s auditor is carrying out enhanced audit procedures, in light of a short-selling report that has impacted it shares.

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  • The company also announced a slew of other updates, including adding a new non-executive director with experience in property and ESG matters, and warned that it might not be able to publish its year-end accounts in time

UK GDP: The UK economy expanded in October as businesses recovered output lost following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

  • Gross domestic product rose 0.5% from September, which included an extra public holiday for the queen’s funeral and a period of national mourning. Economists were expecting an increase of 0.4%

In Westminster

Rishi Sunak’s government is planning for military staff and civil servants to cover for striking workers at air and sea ports as Britain braces for industrial action set to cause major disruptions in the coming weeks. The measures are among contingency plans due to be discussed at an emergency Cobra meeting today. 

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UK power prices for Monday jumped to record levels as freezing temperatures are set to cause a surge in demand, just as a drop in wind generation causes a supply crunch. 

Elsewhere, Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch is traveling to New Delhi to start off a sixth round of free trade agreement talks with India. During her visit, Badenoch will also meet with business leaders as a number of UK companies, including Pret a Manger, Revolut and Tide, are planning to expand in India.

In Case You Missed It 

UK home-sellers cut their asking prices at the quickest pace in four years after soaring interest rates made buyers more hesitant, Rightmove Plc said. While sellers usually offer discounts in December to help complete sales before Christmas, Rightmove said the reduction was larger than usual for this time of year.

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Meanwhile, Britain’s manufacturing sector shrank by more than 4% this year, with predictions of another sharp decline in 2023.

Looking Ahead

The world’s biggest central banks, including the Bank of England, will this week wrap up the most aggressive year for interest-rate hikes in four decades with their fight against inflation still not over even as their economies slow. 

Labour market data tomorrow will be closely watched for further signs of a cooling UK market. Bloomberg economists expect the unemployment rate to pick up slightly to 3.7% in the three months to October, but still see wage growth outpacing the rate that’s consistent with the BOE’s inflation target.

For a news fix when the day is done, sign up to The Readout with Allegra Stratton, to make sense of the day’s events.

—With assistance from Kwaku Gyasi.

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