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Daily business and finance update 25th March 2024

Inflation continues to cool

Good morning. Today we're talking about the UK’s falling inflation, Unilever’s ice cream decision and Reddit’s stock market debut.

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Inflation continues to cool

UK inflation was at 3.4% in February, a notable decrease from 4% in January thanks largely to falling food prices. The figure was below economists predictions and the lowest level in almost two and a half years. Most economists think consumer prices are on track to reach the Bank of England’s 2% target by next month driven by the decrease in the energy price cap, although there is some debate about where it will then pick back up again later in the year. Following the inflation report the Bank of England left interest rates on hold, as expected. However analysts believe there are signs that interest rate cuts could begin as early as June.

Unilever ditches ice cream

In a major shake-up, Unilever is offloading its ice cream business, which includes iconic brands like Ben & Jerry's and Magnum. The move, most likely a demerger creating a separate listed company, comes alongside a significant cost-cutting effort with 7,500 job cuts. This decision by CEO Hein Schumacher, who took the helm last year after pressure from activist investor Nelson Peltz, aims to revive growth at the company. Unilever has been grappling with challenges within its ice cream division, particularly with Ben & Jerry's. The socially conscious brand has clashed with Unilever over political stances, even suing the company over the sale of its Israeli subsidiary. This divestiture would be a way for Unilever to streamline its operations and avoid such internal conflicts in the future.

Reddit pops on stock market debut

Shares in Reddit jumped 50% on its first day as a public company. The site is the first major tech stock market debut of the year and the first social media company to go public since Pinterest in 2019. Boasting over 70m daily active users, the platform enjoys a passionate and engaged user base. However the company is not yet profitable as it faces a key challenge - how to effectively monetise its massive audience while preserving the unique community-driven culture that has fuelled its success. But Reddit could benefit from the rise of AI. It recently began striking licensing deals with companies looking to train AI models on its trove of user-generated data.


Off sick: The number of people leaving the workforce due to long term sickness is at its highest since the 1990s, a report suggests.

Pub profits: JD Wetherspoon hopes to soon open its 1,000th pub in the UK after reporting another leap in profits.

In trouble: The company behind fashion retailer Ted Baker, which employs nearly a thousand people, has fallen into administration.

Branding wars: Tesco is to drop the blue and yellow logo used to promote its Clubcard loyalty scheme after losing an appeal against a ruling that it had copied a design by Lidl.

Mobile concerns: The proposed merger of Vodafone and Three could lead to "higher prices" and "reduced quality" for customers, the UK's competition watchdog says.

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The UK’s highest student loan, the graduate is known to have studied "multiple courses".

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