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  • Daily business and finance update 18th March 2024

Daily business and finance update 18th March 2024

Economy ticks up

Good morning. Today we're talking about the UK’s positive economic start to the year, Metro Bank’s operational changes and updates to the inflation basket.

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Economy ticks up

The UK economy rose 0.2% in January following a 0.1% decline in December. The growth was driven by a jump in high street and online spending. The data has boosted hopes that the recession the country entered into at the end of last year could be short-lived. The news will be especially welcomed by the government as it comes one week after the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, delivered the budget in which he announced that the economy had turned the corner after a period of high inflation had led to slower growth. However the recovery is likely to be modest and analysts expect the UK to trail every other G7 country (apart from Germany) for another year.

Metro cuts back

Metro Bank announced a cost-cutting overhaul, including job cuts and the end of Sunday banking hours. Facing financial pressure, the bank wants to save £50m through redundancies and reduced branch opening times. This move comes after Metro Bank, launched in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, initially built its reputation on longer weekday and weekend hours compared to traditional banks. Most branches will now operate five days a week, with a smaller selection open six days. While Sunday service ends entirely, Metro Bank emphasised remaining competitive by offering longer weekday hours than some rivals.

Inflation’s retro update

For the first time since 1992, vinyl records have returned to the basket of goods used to calculate UK inflation. It reflects years of steadily rising sales – in 2023, 5.9m records were sold in the UK, the highest level since 1990. Other items added to the basket by the Office for National Statistics this year include air fryers, pumpkin seeds and gluten-free bread; products that have been removed include popcorn, draught stout and hand sanitiser.


Offer withdrawn: Chinese retail giant JD.com has joined Waterstones owner Elliott in confirming that it will not be making an offer to buy Currys.

Bonus back out: The John Lewis Partnership has cautioned over possible job cuts in the year ahead as part of an overhaul as the group revealed it would not hand out a staff bonus once again despite returning to profit.

Deal cancellation: The government plans to ban foreign governments from owning British newspapers and magazines - effectively blocking an Abu Dhabi-led takeover of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph.

Italian sell off: Vodafone is selling its Italian business to Swisscom for €8bn cash and plans to return €4bn to shareholders.

Grocery glitch: "Technical issues" that affected Sainsbury's in store contactless payments and online delivery services have been resolved after causing chaos for shoppers.

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Number of the Day

9.2 million

The number of people aged between 16 and 64 in the UK who are not in work nor looking for a job, it represents over a fifth of working age adults.

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