Daily business and finance update 26h January 2023
Amazon workers down tools
Good morning. In case you needed reminding how out-of-control UK housing affordability has become — last year, 63% of all first-time buyers bought their home in two or more names, up from 43% in 2014. The average first-time buyer is now 32 years old, two years older than a decade ago.
Amazon workers down tools
Yesterday around 300 Amazon workers staged their first-ever strike in the UK at the online retailer’s depot in Coventry. The protest is over pay and working conditions. Staff have been offered a 50p an hour wage increase, equivalent to 5% and well below the current rate of inflation of 11%. Workers have also claimed they are too closely monitored by management even having their bathroom breaks timed. Amazon insists that the company is “proud to offer competitive pay” and “only a fraction of 1%” of British employees were involved in the dispute.
Yesterday Easyjet’s share price jumped 10% after announcing that it expected to beat full year profit expectations thanks to a surge in summer bookings this month. The low cost airline has been lossmaking since 2020 when pandemic restrictions decimated the travel sector. But the company is confident that it can return to profit in 2023 due to strong consumer demand to travel despite the cost of living squeeze. Easyjet is forecasting 50% growth for its holidays business compared with a year earlier, well ahead of the 30% growth it expected last year.
Microsoft slows down
This week the tech giant reported its slowest quarterly revenue growth since 2016 and warned that its cloud and business software divisions were slowing down. The news comes a week after it announced it would slash 10,000 jobs in preparation for a cooling economy as the remote-work boom wanes. Microsoft is the first of the Big Tech Five (Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Meta) to report. In 2021, they achieved record earnings but this year will be a different story. The remaining four are also expected to release lower quarterly earnings as demand slows, recession fears grow and layoffs rise.
Media mogul ditches merger plans
Yesterday 91-year-old media billionaire Rupert Murdoch scrapped plans to reunite Fox Corp and News Corp almost a decade after demerging them in 2013. Through a family trust, Murdoch controls about 40% of both companies. Fox Corp is the home the cable network Fox News and Fox Broadcasting Network. News Corp is the owner of the Times, Sun, Wall Street Journal newspapers. Announcing the change in plans Murdoch said that proposal to remerge the companies was ‘not optimal’ for shareholders with reports that several top investors opposed the idea.
Prize winning: The number of wins of some Premium Bond prizes will increase from next month, pushing the prize fund rate to its highest level for 14 years.
Hitting the brakes: UK car production fell to its lowest level since 1956 last year, according to industry figures showing that the global shortage of parts continued to drag on performance.
Strike avoided: The Bank of England has headed off a potential strike after agreeing to a 3.5% pay rise for its 4,200 staff.
Electric high: Electric carmaker Tesla posted record profits last year despite cutting prices.
Prime property: A record number of mansions were sold in London in 2022, in signs the capital’s super-rich are shrugging off an economic downturn.
Global outage: Microsoft is investigating an outage that has hit users of its products worldwide including Teams and Outlook.
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Number Of The Day
The number of minutes the average worker around the world saved in commute time every day by working from home in 2021 and 2022, per a new study — 40% of workers just used that time saved to work more.