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What to Watch: Flybe woes, Nissan-Renault 'solid', Huawei tensions

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
EXETER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18: A Flybe airline flag is pictured at Exeter Airport near Exeter on October 18, 2018 in Devon, England. The value of shares in the Exeter-based airline Flybe, have fallen dramatically recently after the company issued another profit warning, blaming poor demand, a weaker pound and higher fuel costs.(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Flybe could be helped by the UK government. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Here are the top business, market and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

UK government ‘plans Flybe rescue package’

UK government ministers are understood to be planning urgent talks over a potential rescue package for the airline Flybe.

The leading regional airline, which has more than 2,400 staff, is widely reported to be on the brink of administration after a difficult winter. It said on Twitter it does not “comment on rumour or speculation.”

Chancellor Sajid Javid will meet business secretary Andrea Leadsom and transport secretary Grant Shapps for emergency talks to thrash out a government response, according to Sky News.

But prime minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday it was “not for the government to step in and save companies that simply run into trouble.”

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US lobbies UK to ditch Huawei on 5G

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, speaking in the Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast, whilst on a visit to meet the leaders of the restored powersharing government.
Prime minister Boris Johnson is under pressure from the US over Huawei. Photo: PA

The US is stepping up its lobbying campaign to convince the UK not to let Huawei work on its 5G infrastructure, Yahoo Finance UK’s Oscar Williams-Grut reports.

The Guardian and the Financial Times both reported that top US officials this week delivered a dossier to the UK detailing new security concerns about Huawei.

Both papers quoted an unnamed official as saying it would be “madness” for the UK to allow Huawei to work on 5G, the next-generation telecoms infrastructure.

Renault chair dismisses rumours of rift with Nissan

The chair of Renault (RNO.PA) has denied the French carmaker’s alliance with Nissan (NSANY) is on the rocks, amid rumours the car companies were on the verge of severing their 20-year partnership.

In an interview with Belgian newspaper L’Echo published on Monday, Jean-Philippe Senard said the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance was “solid, robust, anything but dead.”

There has been much speculation about the future of the alliance, which ramped up after former chairman Carlos Ghosn dramatically jumped bail from house arrest in Tokyo in December and fled to Lebanon.

Ghosn attacked Nissan in his lengthy press conference in Beirut last week, accusing the company of plotting a coup against him in collusion with the Japanese prosecutor.

Recruiter slashes jobs as UK vacancies dry up

A leading recruiter has slashed its staff numbers as UK employers’ hiring has slowed, according to its results.

PageGroup (PAGE.L) said Brexit uncertainty and disruption had hit confidence among its clients in the UK, with a knock-on effect on employers’ recruitment spending.

It said in its latest trading update on Tuesday it expects Brexit uncertainty to be “ongoing” in 2020, and to continue to make trading harder.

A report last week said Britain’s tight labour market, with official figures showing employment at record highs, had also significantly limited the number of workers looking to switch jobs.

UK gambling firms hit by credit card ban

Gambling giants have been hit by a UK government crackdown on the use of credit cards on betting from April.

Britain’s Gambling Commission has announced the ban to tackle problem gambling after separate reviews of the industry by the commission and the government.

Shares in William Hill (WMH.L) were down 1%. Ladbrokes and Coral owner GVC (GVC.L) and Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter (FLTR.L) shares also dropped on the announcement but swiftly recovered.

European markets tread water

European markets were largely treading water on Tuesday, with significant attention on the first phase of a US-China trade deal expected to be signed in Washington on Wednesday.

It will be followed by talks between US and EU trade officials on Thursday. “Markets are not too sure about how these negotiations will develop, there's a lot of tension between the Atlantic partners," Teeuwe Mevissen, senior market economist at Rabobank in Amsterdam, told Reuters.

The FTSE (FTSE) was up 0.2% in London, the German DAX (^GDAXI) was up 0.1%, the French CAC 40 (^FCHI) was flat and the Euro Stoxx 50 (^STOXX50E) was down 0.1%.

Overnight in Asia, the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index (^HSI) fell 0.2%, the Nikkei (^N225) leapt 0.7%, while China’s Shanghai Composite index (000001.SS) was 0.3% lower.

What to expect in the US

US stocks looked set for a lower open after fresh record highs on Monday, with Dow Jones futures (YM=F) down 0.1%, S&P 500 futures (ES=F) and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) both down 0.2%.

"You had some good news in terms of China coming off the list of currency manipulators and so you would have expected bond prices to extend losses," said Andy Cossor, a rates strategist at DZ Bank in Frankfurt.

He told Reuters: "So, I think it might be a case that people got ahead of themselves yesterday and are covering short positions."