Crunch meeting to decide whether Russia has defaulted

Good morning. 

There’s yet another reminder of the cost-of-living crisis this morning, with the latest ONS figures showing wage growth is lagging well behind surging inflation.

While average earnings excluding bonuses rose 4.1pc in February from a year ago, when adjusted for prices they dropped 1.3pc – the biggest fall since 2013.

There were also signs the labour market recovery could be running out of steam. While unemployment dropped to 3.8pc in the quarter to February and vacancies remained at a record high, payrolls increased by just 35,000 in March – well below expectations.

The figures highlight the cost-of-living crunch that’s expected to hit demand and growth for the rest of the year. On top of rising prices and lagging wages, households are also grappling with recent energy bill and tax rises.

5 things to start your day 

1) How Britain is fighting to become a lithium powerhouse  Inside the race to mine and refine vital car battery ingredient in the UK 

2) War in Ukraine sparks surge in food stockpiling  Customers race to buy tinned tomatoes, tea and pasta as threat of conflict looms 

3) Heathrow faces pressure to drop rise in landing fees  Some 4.2m passengers used London’s hub airport in March, the highest level since the start of the pandemic 

4) Brussels backs £6.3bn foreign takeover of defence behemoth Meggitt  Sale of Typhoon parts maker moves a step closer after backing from EU regulator

5) M&S slashes the price on everyday essentials amid cost-of-living crisis  Marks & Spencer will lower prices across everyday staples including milk and bread

What happened overnight 

Asian markets dropped lower today as Japanese and Hong Kong shares plummet. The Nikkei 225 is sitting at -1.36 per cent, while the Hang Seng is down 0.64 per cent.

Coming up today

  • Corporate: Asos, easyJet (interims), Liontrust Asset Management,, Pennon Group (trading statement)
  • Economics: BRC retail sales (UK), unemployment rate (UK), claimant count change (UK), average earnings (UK), consumer price index (US, Ger), ECB Bank Lending Survey (EU), monthly budget statement (US)

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