FTSE and European markets fall amid forecast of UK recession and insolvencies

How major markets are performing on Monday

People stand at Greenwich Park, with the Canary Wharf financial district in the distance, in London
High interest rates are expected to trigger a wave of firms collapsing. Photo: Kevin Coombs/Reuters

Markets in the UK and across Europe pulled back on Monday, as business group CEBR predicted the strain of heightened interest rates are set to trigger a higher volume of insolvencies in the UK in 2024.

The FTSE (^FTSE) was down 0.2% by the end of the trading day, having lost momentum, while Germany's Dax (^GDAXI) fell 0.3% and France's Cac (^FCHI) pulled back 0.4%.

"Today’s initial gains have been tempered somewhat by caution that the rally in Asia might be largely a knee jerk response to a narrow rebound in housing sales in two Chinese cities, with the bigger test set to come tomorrow with the return of US markets," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

There were more than 6,700 insolvencies in the second quarter of this year, double what was seen in a typical quarter in the pandemic, the CEBR report said. The number of quarterly insolvencies averaged 4,100 between 2015 and 2019.

CEBR's models suggest that there could be 7,000 insolvencies per quarter on average across 2024. The group also forecast a recession in the UK, with two consecutive quarters of contraction in GDP in Q4 2023 and Q1 2024.

Insolvencies previously peaked in 2009 during the financial crisis.

"Even if we take account of the fact that some of the more recent insolvencies are businesses that might have collapsed in 2020 and 2021 (if there had not been pandemic-induced government support) insolvencies are reaching worrying levels," the report added.

Read more: UK house price growth in August weakest since 2009

Many businesses took on debt during the pandemic to survive and are still repaying that now. Food services appears to be the sector in the most trouble, according to CEBR data.

Markets are closed in the US today for Labor day.

Follow along with us for live updates:

Live updates
  • Lucy Harley-mckeown

    Here's Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets' take on what's happening today:

    Today’s gains have been tempered somewhat by caution that the rally in Asia might be largely a knee jerk response to a narrow rebound in housing sales in two Chinese cities, with the bigger test set to come tomorrow with the return of US markets.

    The biggest movers have been led predominantly by the likes of Glencore and Rio Tinto, while the travel sector is also enjoying a solid day after Ryanair and Wizz Air reported a strong increase in August travel numbers from the same period a year ago.

  • Lucy Harley-mckeown

    Trending ticker: Glencore (GLEN.L)

    Mining giant Glencore appears to be making a bit of a comeback today, having seen its stock fall over 4% on Thursday.

    Three weeks ago it was revealed that the miner's profits have been halved due to falling commodity prices. Last week, the news broke that its investors are seeking damages over what they described as "untrue statements" in prospectuses, per the FT.

    Almost 200 funds are making the complaint, including some managed by Fidelity, Vanguard, Legal & General, HSBC, Abrdn and Invesco.

    The complaints allege they “suffered loss” as a result of “untrue statements” and omissions in Glencore’s 2011 prospectus for its listing on the London Stock Exchange as well as its, prospectus for its merger with Xstrata in 2013.

  • Lucy Harley-mckeown

    Trending ticker: Novo Nordisk (NOVO-B.CO)

    Danish pharma giant Novo Nordisk's stock was up 1.5% on Monday, as it rolled out its weight loss drug Wegovy in the UK.

    The weekly injection will be available in the United Kingdom "through a controlled and limited launch," the company said in a statement.

    The drug has been shown to help patients reduce body weight by around 15% when used along with exercise and lifestyle changes. It is so far available in the United States, Norway, Denmark, and as of late-July, Germany.

    In recent months, surging demand for the drug, and the company's diabetes drug Ozempic, have bumped Novo's shares and earnings to record highs.

  • Lucy Harley-mckeown

    The pound appears to be making a bit of a comeback against the dollar this morning, rising 0.3% in early trade, having fallen to as low as $1.258 on Friday.

    Year-to-date, GBPUSD. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK

    It still has a ways to go to regain its year-to-date high of $1.31, though.

  • Lucy Harley-mckeown

    Some export data that could be moving German markets this morning:

    The Dax is up about 0.6% this morning.

  • Lucy Harley-mckeown

    Some more red flags arising for the UK's rental sector this morning, from Goodlord. Here's what they had to say:

    Average cost of rent surges past £1,300 for first time

    In July, the average cost of rent in England hit £1,367 per property. This is the highest level ever recorded by the Index and is 9.4% higher than the previous record, set in September 2022, of £1,249.

    July’s average cost of rent was, at £1,367, 19% higher than June’s averages, when rents sat at £1,148 per property. This is a huge month-on-month increase: the average month-on-month increase in rent during the year to date has been 1.3%.

    Goodlord experts believe the volume of larger, more expensive properties being let to groups of students in July ahead of the new academic year contributed to this rapid rise in average costs, as well as ongoing pressures to rental stock across the country.

  • Lucy Harley-mckeown

    Movers and shakers in the FTSE

    Propping up the FTSE 100 this morning are housebuilder Persimmon (PSN.L), Rio Tinto (RIO.L), and Prudential (PRU.L). They're all up between 1.4% and 1.8% this morning.

  • Lucy Harley-mckeown

    Overnight in Asia

    Markets posted strong gains in Asia on Monday, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng (^HSI) 2.4% higher, the Nikkei (^N225) in Japan up 0.7% and the SSE Composite (000001.SS) rising 1.2% by the close of the session.

    The good mood was stoked by a new set of measures revealed by the Chinese government in order to stimulate demand for property. More than a dozen Chinese cities said they would relax rules around mortgages in order to stoke demand.

    Employment figures in the US have also supported markets as expectations of further rate rises ease.

    In terms of individual stocks that were on the up, property developer Country Garden (2007.HK) came to an agreement with creditors to restructure its debt due. Shares rose 15.8%.

  • Lucy Harley-mckeown

    Good morning! Hope you've all enjoyed the weekend. It's time to get going on another day of markets blogging here in London.

    Elsewhere in the world, leaders are meeting for the Asean Business Summit in Jakarta to discuss business and investment in the Pacific region. British PM Rishi Sunak will address the cohort and lay out foreign policy goals.

    Christine Lagarde is also due to speak at the European Economics and Financial Centre at 2.30pm UK time.

    It's Labor day in the US, meaning our friends the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq have a day off.

Watch: Leap in numbers seeking debt breathing space - as corporate insolvencies hit highest since 2009

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