Good morning! Here’s what you need to know on Thursday.
1. Britain goes to the polls on Thursday, after a turbulent few weeks which have shifted the political ground and been marred by terror attacks. Polls open at 7 a.m. BST at more than 40,000 polling stations across the country, with counting starting once voting ends at 10 p.m. BST.
2. The fired FBI chief, James Comey, has publicly revealed how Donald Trump put pressure on him to shut down an investigation into a senior adviser’s links to Russia on Wednesday, the Guardian reports. Comey’s statement for the record was released on Wednesday ahead of his eagerly awaited appearance before the Senate intelligence committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
3. Investors expect a cut in inflation forecasts when the European Central Bank (ECB) meets to discuss monetary policy on Thursday at 13.30 p.m. BST (8.30 a.m. ET). The European Central Bank is likely to keep the money taps fully open at the meeting.
4. Elis, the French laundry services group, has reached a preliminary agreement to take over its UK rival Berendsen in a deal that values the target at about £2.2bn, the FT reports. A statement from the companies on Wednesday evening said the two had agreed “in principle” on a deal that would create a European leader in the sector.
5. UK economic growth will slow sharply next year before Britain leaves the EU in 2019 without a trade deal, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The gloomy forecast is driven by the OECD’s assumption that Britain will leave the EU without a trade deal and fall back onto restrictive World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs.
6. RBS has reached a £200 million settlement with a majority of shareholders who invested in the bank for its £12 billion 2008 rights issue and lost most of their money. The RBS Shareholders Action Group voted to accept an 82p a share offer, which is significantly less than the 200 to 230p that the investors paid in 2008.
7. Some 13% of Royal Bank of Scotland shareholders have still not accepted the offer, however, according to an FT report. The High Court heard that 87% of investors by value had agreed to settle their legal case with RBS over its 2008 rights issue, but the remaining investors were undecided.
8. Japan’s Nikkei share average hovered in positive terrain on Thursday, with the yen moving away from recent highs and Wall Street edging up, but market participants were on guard ahead of Thursday’s key events: the UK vote, Comey’s testimony, and the ECB meeting. The Nikkei was up 0.1%t at 19,993.97 at the end of morning trade, Reuters reports.
9. Gold edged lower early Thursday after Comey’s written testimony was seen to contain a few fireworks. Spot gold was down 0.1%, to $US1,285.20 per ounce at 2.05 a.m. BST, Reuters reports.
10. The collapse of BHS cost Sir Philip Green’s retail empire £26.4 million and declining sales at its High Street outlets, such as Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, led to writedowns of £100 million, according to accounts filed with Companies House this week.