Good morning. It is still unknown whether the Credit Suisse brand will be continued after its dramatic takeover by rival UBS on Sunday but there is a growing market for the failed bank’s merchandise. Credit Suisse-branded hats, bags and tiny gold bars are up for resale as collectors look to snap up a piece of Swiss financial history.
UK inflation unexpectedly jumped to 10.4% last month from 10.1% in January, more than the 9.9% forecasted by analysts. It was the first rise in four months and dampens hopes that inflation has peaked from the 40-year high. The rise was driven by price increases at restaurants along with soaring grocery bills that are at their highest rate for 45 years. There was some offset by the falling price of recreational activities and petrol. The surprising news means that inflation is still rising at more than five times the Bank of England’s target of 2%. It also increases the chances that the Bank will hike interest rates from 4% later today despite growing fears over the turbulence in the global banking system caused by the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and the emergency rescue of Credit Suisse.
Google’s new chatbot
This week Google opened limited public access in the UK and US to its artificial intelligence chatbot Bard, a competitor to OpenAI's ChatGPT, whose underlying technology also powers a new version of Microsoft's search engine Bing. The rollout is Google's debut into a recent rush by tech companies to leverage generative AI—software that creates new content from input prompts. Unlike Microsoft, Google has started Bard as a standalone application rather than integrating it into its search engine. The company says it wants users to think of Bard as complementary to Google Search. Google, in a blog post, said it will expand access to Bard to more countries and languages over time as its underlying technology improves. Like ChatGPT and its newer model GPT-4, Bard uses reinforcement learning from human feedback.
US rates rise
Yesterday the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the ninth time in a row and indicated there may be more hikes to come. The US central bank voted unanimously to increase rates by a quarter percentage point to a range of 4.75% to 5%, the highest since September 2007, when rates were at their peak on the eve of the global financial crisis. Officials are making a calculated risk that, while the recent banking turmoil will likely slow the economy, it won’t escalate into a broader financial meltdown.
Man U race heats up
The race to own Manchester United took an unexpected turn last night when the deadline for improved offers was extended at the last minute. Bidders were originally asked to submit second round offers by 9pm but this has been moved to tomorrow. It’s believed that the only two public interested bidders - British chemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al Thani – did not submit bids yesterday but others did. Current owners, the US Glazer family, reportedly want up to £6bn but insiders say bids are in the region of £4.5bn, a figure that would smash the record £3.7bn paid for a sports team.
Not growing old: The government have reportedly delayed plans to bring forward a rise in the state pension age amid falling life expectancy in the UK.
Winning Windsor: The government has won support in parliament for part of its new Brexit deal known as the Windsor Framework, despite a rebellion from some of its own MPs.
Controversial bonus: The boss of British Gas’s parent company has angered consumer groups by accepting a £4.5m pay package.
PM taxes: Rishi Sunak paid more than £1m in UK tax over the last three years, details of the prime minister's financial affairs show.
Walking out: Striking Amazon UK workers have vowed to step up industrial action following an "insulting" new pay rise.
Encouraging signs: The RMT has suspended rail strikes due to be held next week following further discussions between the union and the Rail Delivery Group in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.
9 essential travel items from a solo travel expert
The best (and worst) ways to quit your job
Where in the world you can and can’t drink the tap water
Number Of The Day
The proportion of UK flights delayed in 2022, up from 25% in 2019, the last year before the pandemic.