9th March 2022
Bite-sized business news from the UK and beyond
Good morning Last night Apple unveiled a suite of new products including an updated version of its budget smartphone the iPhone SE. The surprise announcement was that the company will begin showing Major League Baseball games on its Apple TV+ service in the UK and other markets as it dips its toe into the lucrative live sports market.
Energy wars – West weans itself off Russian energy
Hiring on fire – Recruiter posts record profits
RUSSIAWest weans itself off Russian energy
What’s going on?
The UK, US and EU have announced plans to reduce the level of Russian oil and gas they import in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Why is this important?
Since the war in Ukraine began the West have insisted that they can crank up the pressure on Russia without military involvement by using sanctions. Yesterday they announced that Russian oil and gas would now be targeted. The UK will phase out Russian oil by the end of the year. The US will impose a complete ban on Russian oil, gas and coal imports, and the EU will reduce its imports by two-thirds.Oil and gas are hugely important to the Russian economy. Oil makes up 44% of Russian exports and 17% of government tax income so banning Russian energy imports would be a major way to hurt the economy.But the pain would be felt on the other side. The EU gets 40% of its gas from Russia and although the US and UK are much less dependent, restricting the level of available supplies means that already elevated global energy prices will rise even further.Russia had already threatened to cut off gas to Europe and warned that any ban on its oil would see prices rocket to $300 per barrel (currently at around $130).
So where else can the West get its energy? As the world’s largest oil producer eyes will turn to Saudi Arabia to pick up the slack. It’s already been asked to increase production but has been reluctant as this would reduce the price. Finding gas alternatives could also be tricky as gas pipe distribution networks are difficult to reroute. All this means that energy bills for UK consumers will likely rise again in October when the next regulator price cap is set, putting further pressure on household finances.
RECRUITMENTRecruiter posts record profits
The ‘great resignation’, labour shortages and record level vacancy rates may be a pain for employers but are great for recruitment agencies. It’s in this backdrop that London-based recruiter Robert Walters recorded its best year in 2021 with a 3% increase in revenues to £971m and a 265% increase in profits to £54m.The company said that the speedy rollout of the Covid vaccine and the recovery in the economy post lockdown had given businesses the confidence to restart hiring after the pandemic.The good news for jobseekers is that there’s fierce competition for talent across the world, driven by a shortage of skilled professionals and the pandemic’s impact on people’s ability to move around. The legal, tech and finance sectors had the highest staff shortages. All this has led to strong wage inflation for new recruits, with candidates securing as much as a 20% pay rise.But there are possible clouds are on the horizon. The global economy is dealing with spiralling energy costs, decades high inflation and rising interest rates, all of which could put a dampener on growth and hiring.
Stat of the day
The price of copper, aluminium, nickel and zinc have all reached a record high in the past week
Other stories to keep you in the loop
Unilever to suspend its Russian imports, exports
Shell says sorry for buying Russian oil
McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Pepsi suspend Russian operations
Greggs sausage rolls set to cost more than £1 for first time
Premier League suspends broadcast deal with Russia
Amazon launches Clubhouse rival, Amp, which lets you play DJ
Made.com losses more than double on higher freight costs
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