US markets fall again as jobs recovery loses pace

Jobs
A man wearing a face mask walks past a sign in Virginia Credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Wall Street stocks are solidly lower today, with tech shares again tumbling, shrugging off data showing the US unemployment rate dropping much more than expected in August. 

The jobless rate fell to 8.4pc, the first reading below 10pc since the pandemic struck, while the economy added 1.4m jobs last month, the Labor Department report showed.

But stocks remained under pressure following a series of records in August, with Amazon, Facebook and other tech giants losing more than 3pc.

European equity markets were pulled into the red by tech-led declines in the US, with the FTSE 100 closing 0.89pc lower.

Blog wrap

With stocks on Wall Street seeming to have settled slightly (albeit in the red) we are closing up the blog here for the weekend. Louis Ashworth will be back on Monday bright and early.

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 are both currently down 1pc while the tech-heavy Nasdaq is more than 2pc lower.

It's just position squaring ... not surprising since we've seen a pretty sizable run up in the tech space in the last three or four weeks," said Jack Janasiewicz, portfolio strategist at Natixis Investment Managers in Greater Boston Area.

  • Earlier in the day, the Labor Department's closely watched employment report showed jobless rate fell to 8.4pc from 10.2pc in July, steeper than economists' forecast of 9.8pc.
  • Nonfarm payrolls, however, increased less than expected last month.
  • The data added pressure on the White House and Congress to restart stalled negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package to lift the economy out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
  • Technology, communication services and consumer discretionary indexes posted the steepest percentage declines among the major S&P sectors.

Thanks for following along!

Colombia orders Google to comply with data protection rules

Colombian regulators on Friday ordered Alphabet Inc's Google to clearly ask each user whether the world's largest search engine can use their personal data which is being captured without authorization.

Non-compliance could lead to investigations, sanctions and fines equivalent to 1.76 billion pesos, the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce said in a statement.

"The decision was taken ... after determining that the information treatment policy used by Google LLC, located in the United States, does not comply with 52.63% of the requirements demanded by Colombian regulation."

SoftBank accussed of being ‘Nasdaq whale’ that stoked tech rally

The Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank has been accused of being the “Nasdaq whale” that has pumped up the United States stock market with massive financial bets.

Laurence Dodds writes from San Francisco...

According to the Financial Times, SoftBank has bought billions of dollars worth of options linked to its prolific tech investments over the past month in what one anonymous banker described as a “dangerous” gamble.

SoftBank is famous for its high-profile and occasionally disastrous bets on risky tech firms such as Uber and WeWork that lose money for years but promise a long-term revolution.

This spring it bought nearly $4bn (£3bn) of shares in tech giants including Amazon, Netflix and Microsoft, and took a new stake in Tesla, helping to drive a remarkable stock market rally.

But sources told the Wall Street Journal that it also made a massive options trade that will only come good if financial markets swell to a certain point. Other sources suggested it has made bets linked to its new investments.

Sunak poised to reject banks' appeal for help collecting Covid debts

Rishi Sunak is set to snub a post-Covid action plan put forward by a group of bankers that calls for the government to take responsibility for tens of billions of pounds of toxic business loans, my colleague Lucy Burton writes.

The City had proposed the creation of a state-backed organisation that would refinance soured coronavirus loans. But sources have told the Financial Times that the Treasury thinks banks should be the ones dealing with the cost and reputational risk of chasing borrowers that default. 

Financiers including Lloyds chairman Norman Blackwell, a former policy chief to Margaret Thatcher and John Major, put forward the plan earlier this year amid concerns about the debt burden facing businesses. The proposals were put together by a taskforce led by trade body TheCityUK and accountant EY. 

State support has been a lifeline for many businesses that have been unable to operate during the lockdown. The taxpayer covers up to 100pc of losses if a bank is unable to recover cash doled out through various lending schemes.

More market commentary...

Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Securities said that he relatively better performance of financial shares today was evidence of a rotation in the market,

"Today is the Friday before a long weekend," he said. "People are selling and ignoring the macro news."

Some analysts have described the stock market as divorced from economic fundamentals, with unemployment still at historically high levels even with Friday's better-than-expected data.

"The markets were due for a sell-off - let's be honest," TD Ameritrade's JJ Kinahan said in a note late Thursday following the rout.

Amazon to add 10,000 jobs in Seattle suburb

More on job creation...

Amazon plans to add 10,000 permanent jobs to a suburb of the west coast US city of Seattle in the coming years in the tech company's latest expansion near its headquarters.

The jobs will be based in Bellevue, 10 miles east of Seattle, an Amazon spokesman said. The company did not specify how many of the jobs were entirely new to the US, but told AFP the figure included "a combination of new roles and teams from Seattle."

The move comes as upheaval from the coronavirus accelerates growth at Amazon, which recently reported a 40 percent rise in quarterly revenues to nearly $89bn.

The jobs are on top of 15,000 new Bellevue positions announced in February.

Britain's Co-op to create 1,000 jobs in stores expansion

Britain’s Co-operative Group said that it would open over 65 new and extended stores this year, creating up to 1,000 jobs, as it seeks to capitalise on the popularity of local convenience shopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

The owner of the country’s sixth-largest supermarket chain said the new stores were part of a £135m investment programme.

It said up to 12 more Co-op franchise stores would also open this year.

Business groups hail HS2 launch despite Covid uncertainty

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the HS2 Solihull Interchange building site in the West Midlands on Friday

Business groups have hailed the formal beginning of construction on HS2 despite the uncertainty around Covid-19 raising questions about whether the controversial infrastructure project is needed in post-pandemic Britain. 

Bosses at the country's biggest business groups welcomed the official start of the project, which could cost the taxpayer as much as £106bn when complete. 

Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at the CBI, said: "Much has changed since the CBI welcomed HS2 ambitions as proof of government commitment to its promised ‘infrastructure revolution’ back in February – but the case for HS2 has not.

"As the government looks to build back better after Covid-19, delivery of HS2 in its entirety will be more relevant than ever."

On Friday, Boris Johnson insisted that HS2 would be "crucial for our country" as he marked its formal launch. 

Read Simon Foy's full article here

FTSE closes 0.89pc lower

London's benchmark index closed 0.89pc lower today to 5,799.08, with the FTSE 250 slipping 0.6pc, as European equity markets were pulled into the red by tech-led declines in the US.

The FTSE 100 did manage to hold up better than its continental peers, however, thanks to a copper rally boosting mining stocks like Anglo American, Glencore and Antofagasta.

Barratt Developments, Persimmon, and Taylor Wimpey were some of the biggest fallers after it was reported the Competition and Markets Authority are investigating them over allegations of unfair practices in relation to leasehold agreements.

David Madden of CMC Markets said:

Stocks were showing modest gains on the back of the US non-farm payrolls report, but the bearish moves in the US rocked confidence over here. The headline reading showed that 1.37 million jobs were added last month, and keep in mind that economists were expecting 1.4 million, so it was basically in line with forecasts.

Apple slips as much as 7pc before recovering

Until recently, stocks such as Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Tesla and Netflix were the darlings of the market, however today is the second consecutive day of big losses.

Apple tumbled as much as 7pc today before recovering slightly.

It is now 2.5pc lower at $117.85.

Market commentary: 'the easy gains have now been had'

Hinesh Patel of Quilter Investors, said:

The employment numbers coming from the US may paint a picture of an economy in recovery but dig down and you see the fundamental situation remains an unhealthy one.

The government was the major contributor to the addition of jobs, so this is something to watch out for going forward as it simply isn’t sustainable for the economy if private businesses are not hiring.

What the numbers do highlight, however, is that the easy gains have now been had and the hard work starts now. Participation rates and temporary leavers are down to a level where we can infer that the bulk of re-hiring has been done.

Capital & Regional profits slip after virus hits rent

Shopping centre owner Capital & Regional said losses widened in the first half of the year after the pandemic weighed on its rental income and property prices.

The company, which owns seven UK shopping centres, posted a £115.5 million pre-tax loss after its property valuations tumbled 16pc. It also reported that rental incomes slumped to £16.2m from £25.2m in the same period last year.

It said the decline in rents was "largely a result" of the pandemic, adding that it has collected only 76pc of rent for the first half of the year, with collections for the third quarter currently at 54pc.

FANG+ constituents

It seems that only the US dollar got any lift from the jobs update today, rising half a percent against the pound and the euro.

Wall Street, on the other hand, has totally abandoned its pre-open rebound. Here's a quick snapshot of the FANG+ constituents...

  • Apple 114.65 -5.14%
  • Amazon 3173.57 -5.76%
  • Alibaba 270.43 -4.27%
  • Baidu 120.51 -0.77%
  • Facebook 275.55 -5.35%
  • Google 1565.4 -4.74%
  • Netflix 495.84 -5.69%
  • Nvidia 482.99 -7.2%
  • Tesla 383.77 -5.71%
  • Twitter 39.23 -5.74%

Handover

With only a few minutes until the European close, it’s time for me to hand over to my colleague LaToya Harding, who will keep track of the latest bout of Wall Street drama. Thanks for following along today!

European markets sink

Stock market sentiment across the continent turned sour shortly after the US open – Europe’s indices have joined Wall street’s in the red.

Big tech groups lead losses

Once again, it’s big tech companies that are leading the drop – Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook have all fallen, taking the Nasdaq down more than 5pc at one point.

US markets flip negative

Here we go again? After an upbeat start, US markets have flipped negative, with a second wave of sell-offs led by the tech-heavy Nasdaq. 

Credit: Bloomberg TV

US jobs data reaction: A ‘critical juncture’

Oxford EconomicsLydia Boussour says August’s US jobs report “confirms that the labour market has entered a frustratingly slower second phase”, at a “critical juncture” for the economy:

With one in two laid-off workers still unemployed and Congress unable to pass urgently needed fiscal aid, slower and more volatile job growth represents a significant risk for the economy.

She warned:

The fact that employment is settling into a trend of slower, grinding growth is worrying for the broader recovery and points to increased scarring effects from the crisis.

Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Ian Shepherdson concurred, saying:

The need for a further stimulus package remains acute, given the loss of household income since the expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits and the deep uncertainty facing small consumer-dependent businesses.

Malaysia drops criminal charges against Goldman Sachs after it paid $3.9bn to settle 1MDB scandal

Malaysia has dropped criminal charges against Goldman Sachs following a massive fraud in which the country’s sovereign wealth fund was allegedly raided to buy Picasso paintings, jewellery and a mega-yacht. 

My colleague Lucy Burton reports:

The Malaysian National News Agency, Bernama, has quoted a High Court judge saying the three Goldman units accused of misleading investors have officially been discharged. Charges against a number of Goldman bosses, including its top banker in Europe, Richard Gnodde, are also understood to have been dropped. 

The move was widely expected after Goldman agreed to pay $3.9bn (£3.3bn) to Malaysian authorities in July, a settlement that ended a long-running investigation over Goldman’s role raising money for the scandal-hit 1MDB fund in 2013. 

1MDB was set up to fund infrastructure projects in Malaysia and turn Kuala Lumpur into an Asian financial hub, but instead huge sums were allegedly looted to buy luxury items. US authorities allege that some of the proceeds were laundered through real estate assets and even funded Hollywood movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street, where actor Leonardo DiCaprio starred as a corrupt trader.

Wall Street gains on strong jobs report 

US stocks have opened in the green following Thursday's rout after a better-than-forecast jobs report boosted sentiment.

Credit: Bloomberg 

All groups see unemployment rate fall

Once again, the fall in unemployment rates was pretty secular during August, with the rate among young people – initially hit hardest by the virus – dropping at the fastest rate. 

Temporary layoffs continue to fall

The gap between Americans reporting they were on temporary layoffs and those saying they had lost their jobs for good continued to narrow in August – a sign that many people initially laid off have managed to get back into work.  

Worryingly, however, the number of permanent losses have continue to rise.

Jobs return to 2014 levels

August’s gains have put the total non-farm payrolls count back at levels last seen six years ago. Given the pace of gains is slowing, it’s hard to see when they will return to pre-pandemic heights. 

Unemployment rate falls

The US employment rate continued its declining, dropping to 8.4pc in August – a bigger fall than had been expected. 

US added 1.4m jobs in August

Just in: The US added 1.4m jobs in August – slightly beating expectations. 

​Virgin Atlantic to axe almost half its staff

Virgin Atlantic has been battered by the pandemic Credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

 Virgin Atlantic has finalised a £1.2bn rescue after the coronavirus pandemic took Sir Richard Branson’s 36-year-old airline to the brink of collapse. 

My colleague Oliver Gill reports:

Almost half of the carrier’s workforce will be axed under a radical restructuring designed to combat the fallout from the crisis in the coming years. 

Boss Shai Weiss said: “We have achieved what many thought impossible.”

The airline announced 3,150 job cuts four months ago after services were grounded following a travel lockdown.

While restrictions have been eased subsequently, rolling quarantines, imposed amid fears of a second spike in the virus, continues to dash recovery hopes.

Jobs figures could surprise in either direction

Non-farm payrolls figures have repeatedly proved a source of surprises over recent month. As this compilation of economists’ estimates shows, nobody’s quite sure what to expect, despite the overall consensus for 1.35m jobs added. 

Coming up: US non-farm payrolls

At 1:30pm, we’ll get the latest date on the change in US non-farm payrolls. Economists are expecting an increase of 1.35m – continuing a streak of gains, but leaving overall employment well below its pre-pandemic levels. Polling suggests the unemployment rate will drop to 9.8pc from July’s 10.2pc.

The last batch of figures showed 1.8m jobs were added during July – a sharp slowdown from June’s gains.

This could be the last monthly climb we see: the seasonal adjustment process that the figures undergo means that a sharp rise in employment during the run-up to Christmas is expected. As Bloomberg explains:

While the pandemic impacted the back-to-school shopping season, online classes at home, even if partial, may mean that fewer teachers, school bus   drivers and cafeteria workers are needed. With seasonal hiring peaking in October, the next couple of months may weigh on the labor market recovery. Failure to return to in-class schooling will push many parents to the sidelines, preventing them from seeking employment.

Full report: Electric car sales double despite overall downturn

My colleague Simon Foy has a full report on this morning’s car sales data. He writes:

Electric car sales doubled in August despite the overall car market declining by more than 5pc. 

The number of battery electric cars jumped by more than three-quarters to 5,589 compared to 3,147 for the same period last year.

Sales of plug-in hybrids also soared by more than 220pc to 2,922, according to official data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This meant that electric powered vehicles accounted for one in 10 new cars sold in the UK in August. 

Market moves

Despite that rough start, European equities are looking fairly healthy today – with Germany’s DAX lagging the pack. Focus will be growing on the upcoming US jobs report, which is in just over an hour.

Pret boss sees long-term shift to home working

The boss of Pret a Manger has said he sees a long-term shift to home working as the coffee and sandwich chain prepares for life with fewer people in city centres.

My colleague Simon Foy reports:

Pano Christou, Pret’s chief executive, said the company needed to adapt itself to changing consumer patterns as workers shun the office for the comfort of their own homes. 

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “I think there’s no doubt that workers will come into the office less often than they had done beforehand, and I think from Pret's perspective very early on we said: ‘This is not for us to decide.’

“Pret needs to adapt itself to the changes of customer patterns and that's where we've been very focused.”

It comes a week after the chain axed 2,800 jobs, with 10 years of growth being wiped out by the pandemic. 

Weaker growth could be ‘very costly’

Mr Saunders warned monetary policy alone “cannot prevent the significant structural adjustments to the economy and individual sectors that may result from Covid-19”.

He added:

As discussed, my hunch is that risks lie on the side of weaker growth and a longer period of excess supply than forecast in the August MPR, and hence of a more persistent inflation undershoot. Moreover, a downside scenario would be very costly

Saunders: Uncertainties ‘unusually high’

Mr Saunders says “the uncertainties in the [economic] outlook are unusually high at present”, warning: “My own view is that, relative to the August MPR forecasts, risks are on the side of a slower recovery over the next year or two”.

He added:

A lingering or persistent Covid scenario might not produce a renewed national lockdown. But it could well result in a long period of rolling local lockdowns of varying sizes, some geographic, some sectoral, or on certain demographics. Local lockdowns are unlikely to produce anything like the dramatic decline in GDP seen in Q2.

However, the resultant health uncertainties probably would also imply continued economic uncertainty. In particular, unlike the national lockdown, local lockdowns have not so far been cushioned by large additional fiscal support. 

He warned a “persistent” pandemic presence would have profound long-term effects that would result in a “considerable amount of losers”:

A persistent Covid scenario also would probably imply greater structural changes in the economy that could keep uncertainty high. 

For example, the airline and restaurant sectors might shrink markedly. Working from home might remain the norm in some jobs, either for the whole week or part of it. This would cut demand for office space and limit spending in city centres. It might imply downward pressure on pay and job security in some sectors, by widening the available pool of labour for a job to include those who (perhaps for geographic or personal reasons) cannot work at a specific location every day.

Such structural changes might create some winners, but would create a considerable number of losers.

Saunders’ key points

These are the key points Mr Saunders flagged in his speech (my bolding):

  • The economy’s faster-than-expected rebound in the last few months has reflected a benign window in which large fiscal support has coincided with the relaxation of lockdown measures and low infection rates. This window may now be closing.
  • Unemployment is likely to rise significantly in coming quarters as the furlough scheme winds down and workforce participation recovers.
  • The strength in money growth is an indication of the exceptional level of fiscal and monetary policy support in recent months. It is unlikely to translate into excess spending given the economic impact from Covid-19.
  • Looking forward, I suspect that risks lie on the side of a slower recovery over the next year or two and a longer period of excess supply than the forecast in the August MPR. If these risks develop, then some further monetary loosening may be needed in order to support the economy and prevent a persistent undershoot of the 2pc inflation target.

BoE’s Saunders: Likely someadditional monetary policy easing will be ‘appropriate’

Just in: In an online webinar speech, Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee members Michael Saunders said he believes Threadneedle Street will need to further ease policy to hit its inflation goals:

I consider it quite likely that additional monetary easing will be appropriate in order to achieve a sustained return of inflation to the 2pc target.

He said the BoE must “ lean strongly against downside risks at present”, adding that “there is no automatic time limit on our willingness to maintain a loose monetary policy stance”.

Pound rises

The pound has risen slightly today, ending two days of drops against the dollar. 

UK construction growth slows

The recovery in UK construction activity suffered a setback in August as a subdued order book held back output.

IHS Markit’s construction PMI came in at 54.6 last month, missing economists’ expectations for a reading of 58.3pc. A reading above 50 indicates growth on the previous month.

It said:

Higher levels of activity have been recorded in each of the past three months, but the latest expansion was the weakest over this period. All three broad categories of construction provided a weaker contribution to the headline index in comparison to those seen in July. 

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Total new business volumes increased for the third month running
  • Supply chain disruption persisted across the construction sector
  • Despite reporting subdued new business intakes since the start of the pandemic, construction companies reported an improvement in their business expectations for the year ahead
  • An expected rise in business activity could not prevent a further drop in staffing numbers. The rate of job shedding eased only slightly since July and remained among the fastest seen over the past decade

Tim Moore, IHS Markit’s economic director, said:

 The latest PMI data signalled a setback for the UK construction sector as the speed of recovery lost momentum for the first time since the reopening phase began in May. House building remained the bestperforming area of construction activity, with strong growth helping to offset some of the weakness seen in commercial work and civil engineering activity.

The main reason for the slowdown in total construction output growth was a reduced degree of catch-up on delayed projects and subsequent shortages of new work to replace completed contracts in August. 

New car registration down 5.8pc in August

UK new car registrations were 5.8pc lower last month  compared to August 2019, during what is usually the quietest month of the year.

Private car demand remained “relatively steady”, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, while fleet and business purchases dropped by a “more substantial” 5.5pc and 57.9pc respectively.

For the year to date, sales are down 39.7pc.

 Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said:

The decline is disappointing, following some brief optimism in July. However, given August is typically one the new car market’s quietest months, it’s important not to draw too many conclusions from these figures alone. With the all-important plate change month just around the corner, September is likely to provide a better barometer. As the nation takes steps to return to normality, protecting consumer confidence will be critical to driving a recovery.

Money round-up

Here are some of the day’s top stories from the Telegraph Money team:

Eurozone construction remains in decline

Europe’s construction sector recorded another month of declining activity, according to the latest purchasing managers’ index data.

 IHS Markit’s gauge for total construction activity across the bloc came in at 47.8 in August, down from July’s 48.9, amid a drag from France. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

IHS Markit said:

Survey data showed a broad-based downturn in output across the three sectors, with the sharpest decline recorded in civil engineering activity, followed by commercial building output. The level of work undertaken on home construction projects in the eurozone was marginally lower during August.

Mild growth in housing construction activity in Germany and Italy was insufficient to offset a solid decline in home building activity in France.

Berkeley: Trading supports our guidance

Trading levels over recent months support Berkeley’s expectations of £500m in pre-tax profit for the full year, the housebuilder said.

The FTSE 100 group said it expects to be able to proceed with a £280m programme of shareholder returns following a “resilient” performance. It added:

We now anticipate a more even split of profit between the first and second halves of the year, reflecting levels of production that have been better than initially anticipated and our decision not to furlough staff. 

Berkeley said its efficiency levels are back at 90pc of normal levels, despite the impact of modified working practices and new health and safety measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. The group said:

The value of underlying sales reservations for the first four months of the year is around 20% below the annualised run rate for last year, which is supportive of forward sales remaining around the year-end position of above £1.8 billion.  This is a strong position, providing good visibility over the next two years of earnings.

It said it is sitting on net cash in excess of £1bn ahead of next week’s dividend payment, which it confirmed will proceed as previously announced.

Markets flat

After dropping at the open, European stocks have quickly flattened out amid gains for cylical stocks such as banks. 

Credit: Bloomberg TV

CMA launches investigation into major housebuilders

The UK’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into four of Britain’s biggest housebuilders, over claims of “potentially unfair terms concerning ground rents in leasehold contracts and potential mis-selling”.

The Competition & Markets Authority said Barratt Developments, Countryside Properties, Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey may have broken consumer protection law, misleading buyers and unfairly treating leaseholders.

It outlined the following areas of concern:

Mis-selling

Ground rents: developers failing to explain clearly exactly what ground rent is, whether it increases over time, when increases will occur and by how much.

Availability of freehold: people being misled about the availability of freehold properties. For example, the CMA found evidence that some people were told properties on an estate would only be sold as leasehold homes, when they were in fact later sold as freeholds to other buyers.

Cost of the freehold: people being misled about the cost of converting their leasehold to freehold ownership. When buying their home, the CMA found evidence that some people were told the freehold would cost only a small sum, but later down the line the price had increased by thousands of pounds with little to no warning.

Unfair sales tactics: developers using unfair sales tactics – such as unnecessarily short deadlines to complete purchases – to secure a deal, meaning people could feel pressured and rushed into buying properties that they may not have purchased had they been given more time.

Unfair contract terms

  • The use of unfair contract terms that mean homeowners have to pay escalating ground rents, which in some cases can double every 10 years. This increase is built into contracts, meaning people can also struggle to sell their homes and find themselves trapped.

The CMA said it would also be looking into the use of the controversial retail price index as a basis for rent increases, warning it is concerned about the use of the under-review measure.

Andrea Coscelli, the watchdog’s chief executive, said:

t is unacceptable for housing developers to mislead or take advantage of homebuyers. That’s why we’ve launched today’s enforcement action.

Everyone involved in selling leasehold homes should take note: if our investigation demonstrates that there has been mis-selling or unfair contract terms, these will not be tolerated.

Treasury: 100m meals claimed under Eat Out to Help Out 

Brits claimed over 100m discount meals under the Government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ meal voucher scheme, the Treasury says.

Under the programme, which ran on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays throughout August, people could claimed 50pc discounts of up to £10m a meal per head at participating restaurants.

In total, £522m was claimed under the scheme by midnight on Monday, working out at an average £5.22 per claim. The Treasury noted the numbers are likely to grow, with restaurants having until the end of September to claim.

The final day of the scheme proved the most popular, with booking up 216pc compared to the same day in 2019 according to OpenTable data. Those figures are likely to have been flattered by when the Bank Holiday fell.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

Today’s figures continue to show Eat Out to Help Out has been a success. I want to thank everyone, from restaurant owners to waiters, chefs and diners, for embracing it and helping drive our economic recovery.

German factory orders rose 2.8pc in July

Factory orders increased just 2.8pc in Germany during June, the Bundesbank has said –  falling short of an expected 5pc rise and leaving volumes still decently below pre-pandemic levels.

Overall, orders during the month were 7.3pc below the same level last year.

Agenda: FTSE set to slide 

Good morning. The FTSE 100 is set to slide following Thursday's US tech sell-off.

Wall Street stocks suffered steep declines yesterday, giving back some of the gains from August as investors took profits amid worries about bubble-like valuations.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index led the market lower following a sell-off in tech shares, ending at 11,458.10, down 5pc.

5 things to start your day 

1) Virgin Atlantic to cut another 1,000 jobs as Ryanair taps investors for €400m: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, which he founded in 1984, is battling the collapse in international travel. The airline already axed 3,150 roles less than four months ago, as well as the closure of its Gatwick Airport base.

2) Oil industry 'risks losing £400bn' as demand for plastics slumps: Plastics account for 95pc and 45pc of the central forecasts of BP and the International Energy Agency, according to Carbon Tracker, as the industry looks for ways to offset falling demand from transport and heat from decarbonising societies. 

3) City centre shops remain deserted as office workers stay away: The latest figures for footfall in August showed high streets are bearing the brunt of consumers' nervousness to return to shops, seeing 41.7pc fewer visitors than the same month last year.

4) A council-owned energy supplier whose clients include former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is in talks to sell its customer accounts after falling into heavy debt. Robin Hood Energy has hired Deloitte to oversee the sale of its book to an unnamed buyer.

5) British Gas snaps up Jeremy Corbyn’s energy supplier Robin Hood: The company, which has fallen into heavy debt, has made more than 250 employees redundant as a result, company sources say. Staff were told on Thursday afternoon that they no longer had jobs.

What happened overnight 

Hong Kong stocks tumbled on Friday following the painful sell-off on Wall Street. The Hang Sang Index sank 1.35pc, or 338.80 points, to 24,668.80. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.43pc, while the Shenzhen Composite Index on China's second exchange dived 1.93pc.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has dropped criminal charges against Goldman Sachs over its role in the 1MDB scandal, a lawyer for the bank said on Friday morning. Goldman Sachs last month paid a $3.9bn settlement in relation to the case.

Coming up today

Economics: SMMT car registrations, construction PMI (UK); nonmanufacturing orders (Germany); non-farm payrolls, unemployment, average earnings (US)