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Today's business and finance round up 12th July 2021

🎆Billionaire space race lifts off

12th July 2021

Good morning England, penalties and heartbreak, sadly it's an all too familiar story. But congratulations to the team for giving the nation something to smile about these past few weeks and well done to Italy for winning the tournament. Think we could all still do with the extra bank holiday after last night.

Today's stories

  • Billionaire space race lifts off

  • Calls for changes to boost business confidence post Covid

Friday's market moves

FTSE 100  +1.3%  7,122 FTSE 250 +1.1% 22,909

It was a volatile week in the markets with inflation and the spread of the Delta variant weighing down on investor sentiment. But on Friday the markets bounced back as investors took advantage of the buying opportunity.

TRAVELBillionaire space race lifts off

What’s going on?Branson 1 Bezos and Musk 0. Yesterday Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson became the first of three billionaires in the race to go into space.He’s beaten fellow billionaire, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, who’s space trip is next week, and Tesla founder Elon Musk whose SpaceX launch is scheduled for later this year.

Why is this important?

Yesterday the Branson, the British entrepreneur behind the brands like Virgin Trains and Virgin Atlantic, safely returned to earth after blasting into space with three other Virgin Galactic employees and two pilots on the VSS Unity.The 21st Century space race is different from the competition between the US and Soviet Union governments to get to the moon in the 1960s. The modern race is primarily about private companies commercialising space travel.Although all three billionaires plan to take tourists into space, Bezos and Musk have other goals:

  • Bezos wants to reduce the cost of access to space and eventually move manufacturing there.

  • Musk wants to get to Mars and is working on reusable rockets.

Space tourism is likely to become a growth industry but at the moment it’s reserved for the super-rich. Virgin Galactic reportedly has a waiting list of 700 space tourists (including Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio) ready to pay $250,000 each for a 15 minute ride to space. But for those without that sort of money, after landing back on terra firma Branson did announce a competition to win a seat on a Virgin Galactic space ride next year.

TakeawayThe space industry is expected to be worth $1tn by 2040 and the companies breaking in early could gain a longer-term advantage. But given the size of the prize you can expect the competition to continue to heat up between the world's richest people.

BUSINESSCalls for changes to boost business confidence post Covid

Yesterday the UK’s largest business body, the CBI, called on the government to provide greater clarity over Covid rules as the country comes out of lockdown.The CBI represents over 190,000 businesses which together employ nearly 7 million people.Next week Monday is so called ‘freedom day’ when most Covid restrictions will be lifted in England. However changes to self-isolation rules are not due to be removed until 16 August. The CBI says that this is causing staff shortages in businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector, when workers have to isolate after coming into contact with a Covid infected person.The trade body says that businesses need confidence to avoid an anxious transition from lockdown rules. They’re calling for the following actions to enable this:

  • Bringing forward the date to end self-isolation rules to 19 July.

  • Keeping mask wearing on public transport under review.

  • More research into the impact of improved ventilation on the risk of air transmission in the workplace, cleaning workspaces and hand-washing.

  • Continued government funding of workplace testing beyond the end of July.

Stat of the day

Italy and England will each receive €7m for reaching the Euros final, and the winner will cash in an extra €3m bonus

Other stories to keep you in the loop

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