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Royal eviction: Prince Harry, Meghan lose home on royal family’s estate

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan in Manchester, northwest England, on September 5, 2022. They are being evicted from Frogmore Cottage, their home on the British royal family’s Windsor estate, leaving them without a UK base, reports said on March 1, 2023.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are being evicted from their home on the British royal family’s Windsor estate, a spokesperson said Wednesday, leaving them without a UK base.
The use of Frogmore Cottage was a wedding present from the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2018, and they refurbished it at a reported cost of £2.4 million ($2.9 million).
It has now been offered to Prince Andrew, King Charles III’s disgraced brother, according to reports in The Sun and Daily Telegraph.
“We can confirm the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been requested to vacate their residence at Frogmore Cottage,” a spokesperson for the US-based couple said, without providing further details.
Harry and Meghan were reportedly told to vacate the property in January, just days after the publication of the prince’s tell-all memoir “Spare”.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
Harry’s father Charles, who has long favoured a slimmed-down monarchy, has been undertaking an overhaul of family finances since his mother’s death in September.
A possible axing of Andrew’s annual grant of £250,000 a year could see him forced out of his current residence, the 30-room Royal Lodge, also on the Windsor estate, because of its huge upkeep costs.
Harry and Meghan’s unofficial biographer Omid Scobie, quoting a source, wrote on Yahoo News that the couple had “until early summer to vacate”.
“Initially they were given just weeks, but now they have at least until after the coronation” in May, Scobie wrote, adding that the couple had not yet heard if they will be invited to Charles’s crowning.
Scobie also quoted a friend of the couple as saying, “it all feels very final and like a cruel punishment”.
“It’s like (the royal family) want to cut them out of the picture for good.”
Harry and Meghan moved to California in 2020 after dramatically quitting royal life.
They have since taken part in a string of projects — from an interview with Oprah Winfrey to a Netflix documentary — airing grievances about their experiences as royals.
“Spare” smashed sales records when it was published in January, but also saw Harry’s popularity ratings slump on both sides of the Atlantic.
Andrew, meanwhile, was forced out of public life over his friendship with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Last year, Andrew settled a US civil case for sexual assault with accuser Virginia Giuffre. – by AFP

SGR trains fully booked, airfares double ahead of Xmas

Travellers from Narobi arrive at the Mombasa SGR terminus.
The standard gauge railway (SGR) passenger service from Nairobi to Mombasa is fully booked ahead of Christmas, forcing holidaymakers to seek expensive alternatives like air travel that has seen a more than double rise in fares.
The bookings register shows that the trains are fully booked on December 23, with only a few seats left on second-class coaches on December 24 set to be snapped up in the coming days.
This is set to boost bus companies and airlines like Jambojet and Fly540 as families retreat to the coastal town of Mombasa for the Christmas season festivities.
Airlines have also increased fares for early bookings for Nairobi to Mombasa and Malindi flights more than a month before Christmas and the ticket prices are expected to rise further in the coming weeks.
Jambojet is currently charging passengers traveling to Mombasa from Nairobi on December 24 up to Sh16,300 on one-way air tickets from Sh7,000 it is charging today.
Tickets to Malindi from the capital for December 24 flights have shot to Sh17,300 from the current Sh7,000.
Carriers reckon that flights to the coastal towns of Malindi and Mombasa will this year cross the Sh25,000 mark on the expected jump in demand.
This means that Kenyans intending to book flights close to December 25 will pay more, promising to boost revenues of the carriers that were hit hard by tight travel measures imposed by the State to curb Covid-19.
“Passengers have finally mastered the art of booking the SGR train early. It’s the only way out to enjoy the service bearing in mind that we normally have huge demand, especially around the Christmas period,” Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) managing director Philip Mainga told the Business Daily.
Increased bookings have also been witnessed days to Christmas, an indicator that more people will opt to travel to the coast, way before December 25.
For instance, on December 22, the SGR train has a few seats available, mainly in economy coaches as the first-class section is fully booked.
Passengers in the economy class pay Sh1,000 while first-class tickets go for Sh3, 000.
Children below three years are not charged any fee to take a ride on the train, while those aged three to 11 pay half the fares for adults.
The surge in December bookings to the Coast is a boon for hoteliers who have faced one of their worst years and are hoping the visitor numbers in December will grow.
Tourism earnings more than doubled to Sh167.1 billion in January to August from Sh83 billion in the same period a year ago.
The earnings were a result of a 91 percent rise in the number of international visitors to 924,812, partly due to a recovery from the pandemic.
The SGR booking portal shows that traffic on bookings eases from December 26 and December 27 with availability in economy class and a few seats in first class.
Ticket prices for early plane bookings between December 22 and 24 have increased by a substantial margin on some routes compared to reservations made a month ago with airlines expecting demand for air travel to go up in the coming few weeks.
Those booking now to fly to Mombasa on December 23 on Jambojet are paying up to Sh10,100 on a one-way air ticket, up from about Sh7,000.
The carriers’ main challenge has been convincing Kenyans to book early, which is vital to the low-cost model.
“We expect to see more bookings in December, especially during the festive season,” said Jambojet digital marketing and communications manager Cynthia Otoro. –

Trouble for Cytonn as furious investors take war to Parliament

Cytonn Investments boss Edwin Dande. Three petitioners have expressed fears that the company has financial problems since there is no progress on construction of ‘The Ridge’ housing project.
Three petitioners want Parliament to investigate Cytonn Investments over a Sh7.8 million a unit housing project, dubbed ‘The Ridge’ on Kiambu Road, which they say has never kicked off, sparking fears that the investors are on the verge of losing their money.
Ms Josephine Awuor, Ms Caroline Atieno and Mr Omondi Abonyo, through Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi, say that investors had paid in excess of Sh3.9 million each but that the company keeps on telling those who invested that they are finalising the project.
The three petitioners have expressed fears that Cytonn Investments has financial problems since there is no progress on construction of the project.
The Public Debt Committee now has 60 days to consider the petition and report back to the House.
The petitioners say that investors made an initial instalment of 10 percent of the sale value plus booking fee of Sh50,000.
After initially expressing alarm over the slow progress of the project, the petitioners told MPs that investors then started demanding refunds but were told they would incur a mandatory 10 percent loss on their deposits.
“In September 2019, when many investors began seeking refunds, the company announced that it would put the money in its substituent platform called Cytonn High Yield Solution for one year to earn interest at 18 percent and then start refunding,” the petitioners say.
The petitioners say that to their dismay, in 2020, the company began blaming the Covid-19 pandemic for interruptions on the project and promised to refund the investors in 2021, during which time they kept sending statements to show interest was being earned.
“Later, an administrator was appointed and the company continued to experience financial difficulty, and to-date nothing has come to fruition with regards to investors’ money, nor has The Ridge project taken off,” the nvestors say.
“Notwithstanding this debacle, the company has ostensibly kept their posts alive on social media platforms on investment analysis to dupe the investors and unsuspecting Kenyans that it is liquid and in optimum operational capacity,” reads the petition.
The petitioners expressed fear that the company has been trying to sell off some of its properties in vain and might thus dissolve with depositors’ money.
The petitioners now want MPs to engage Cytonn and its partners to clarify how they intend to fulfil their agreement with investors of The Ridge project.
They also want the lawmakers to hold CEO Edwin Dande responsible for alleged mismanagement and refund of investors’ money.
Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo said the committee on Public petitions should look into the matter so that Kenyans’ hard-earned money is saved. –

Kenyans to get faster, safer internet through new investment

From left: CA Director General Ezra Chiloba, State Department of Broadcasting and Telecommunication PS Esther Koimett, ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo, ICANN President and CEO Göran Marby and TESPOK CEO Fiona Asonga during the unveiling of Africa’s first Root Server cluster in Nairobi.
Kenya has received a boost in its internet connectivity allowing users to have faster access to online services and better protection from cyberattacks.
This follows the launch of a new Managed Root Server (MRS) cluster in Nairobi by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The cluster helps improve Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure in any country, territory, or region of the world.
It is important in stimulating Internet access and strengthening Internet stability. The cluster will also reduce the impact of potential cyber attacks across Africa.
One of the most common types of attacks is distributed denial-of-service attacks which work by overwhelming servers with a flood of queries or Internet traffic.
MRS clusters provide higher bandwidth and data processing capacity to alleviate some of that traffic.
It also ensures that Internet queries can be answered within the region, which limits its dependence on networks and servers in other parts of the world.
“Improving users’ access to the Internet in Africa, and their safety while using it, is part of ICANN’s mission to help make the Internet more secure, stable, and resilient across the world,” said Göran Marby, ICANN President and CEO.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo noted the installation of the new cluster was in line with the government’s plan to digitise the nation.
Technical community
“The installation of the IMRS cluster aligns with our mission to digitally transform not only our own country but the entire continent, through regulation, partnership, and innovation. We are proud to help bring a more resilient Internet to a larger audience in Africa,” Mr Owalo said.
Mr Marby lauded the government for its support noting the project is the result of years of collaboration between the local and regional technical community as well as ICANN.
“The installation of this new cluster would not have been possible without the participation of the local community. We are grateful to the Kenyan government for its support and commitment to advancing Internet accessibility across Africa,” he added.
A Digital Quality of Life Index (DQL) report in September ranked Kenya’s internet quality at 106th which was 34 per cent worse than the global average.
Communications Authority Director General Ezra Chiloba said setting up of the server in the country is instrumental in improving internet connectivity and quality.
“It is an honour for ICANN to have chosen to host the servers in Kenya especially when you look at the increased demand for internet across the world.”
There are five MRS clusters in the world, two in North America, one in Europe, one in Asia, and now the newest one in Africa. The company hopes to install three more clusters in the next two years. – nation.kenya.

London loses position as most valuable European stock market

A man walking in front of a downward-pointing stock market graphic
Britain’s stock market has lost its position as Europe’s most-valued, with France taking the top spot, data shows.
A weak pound, fears of recession in the UK and surging sales at French luxury goods makers are thought to be behind the shift, according to data from Bloomberg.
It’s the first time Paris has overtaken London since records began in 2003.
It comes as the UK is expected to fall into recession this year, although the French economy is also under pressure.
The combined value of British shares is now around $2.821 trillion (£2.3 trillion), while France’s are worth around $2.823 trillion, Bloomberg calculates.
It marks a huge reversal of fortunes for the London Stock Exchange, which was worth about $1.4 trillion more than its Parisian rival back in 2016.
France has been catching up for some time but shares in the UK’s medium sized companies have been doing particularly badly this year, as consumers cut back their spending and businesses struggle with higher costs.
London’s FTSE 250 share index – which is made up of medium sized companies focused on the UK – has slumped by almost 17% in the last 12 months.
One of the biggest fallers has been pub chain Mitchells and Butlers, which lost over 37% of its share value in the past year. Gambling company 888 has fallen 70% and retailer Marks & Spencer is down 40%.
UK firms have also been hit by a fall in the pound since Liz Truss’s mini-Budget, which has made it more expensive to import goods and raw materials.
The euro has also fallen against the dollar but less sharply than the pound. The French stock market has also been boosted by its luxury goods makers, which have seen a bounce-back in demand from China.
Shares in LVMH, which owns fashion brand Louis Vuitton, have surged 22% in the last six months, while Hermès is up 37%.
Chinese shoppers accounted for around 35% of global demand for luxury goods before the pandemic, according to Bloomberg data.
“London’s loss of the top spot by stock market valuation to Paris will be seen as a blow to the City’s prestige,” Russ Mould from AJ Bell investors told the BBC.
“Since the [Brexit] vote in June 2016, Paris’ CAC-40 index is up 47% and London’s FTSE 100 has advanced by just 16% – but the gap is not down to Brexit alone. The London market is more heavily exposed to unpredictable sectors such as miners and oils; ones that have struggled in a zero-interest rate environment such as banks and insurers; and ones which can be seen as dour plodders, such as utilities and telecoms,” Mr Mould added.
Recession looms
As in other countries, energy and food prices have soared in the UK this year in part due to the war in Ukraine.
Many British homeowners have also seen a sharp rise in mortgage rates after the mini-Budget drove up UK borrowing costs.
It has put pressure on consumer spending and added to existing problems in the economy, experts say, including weaker trade since Brexit. The UK is the only G7 nation whose economy is still smaller than it was before the pandemic.
Between July and September, the economy shrunk by 0.2% and the Bank of England has warned the country faces its longest recession since records began.
Last year Amsterdam ousted London as the largest financial trading centre in Europe, although this was based on the total value of traded shares rather than companies.
“International companies, which make up the bulk [value] of all major exchanges, choose where to list and can vary that choice swiftly and with little apparent reason,” Brian Tora, consultant to wealth managers, JM Finn, said in a note to the BBC.
“The future will depend more on London retaining its edge in professional services in terms of money raising and attracting international businesses to list in London. The jury, post Brexit, is still out on that.”

Kenyan Safari firm-Twiga Tours named the best in the world

Participants during the World Travel Awards (WTA), 2022 held in Muscat, Oman on Saturday night.
Twiga Tours is basking in glory after it was named as the World leading Safari company during the World Travel Awards (WTA), 2022 held in Muscat, Oman on Saturday night.
The Kenyan company emerged the best among other world best hospitality industries during the 29th anniversary Grand Tour – an annual search for the finest travel and tourism organisations in the world.
Founded in 1980, the firm which prides itself on offering highly personalised African Safari experiences in Kenya and the East Africa region, has stood the test of time, winning prestigious awards in the global arena.
“This is a great achievement for the company and the entire team. Winning this award on a global level is a testament to what our company stands for-quality and unique experiences. We take this opportunity to thank our amazing guests and partners across the globe for their confidence in us,” the company’s Chief Executive Officer Minaz Manji told the Nation.
” It has been a hard journey since our company’s inception 42 years ago but sheer hard work, dedication and the passion to create and provide the highest level of personal service has seen the growth of the company. We are proud of our achievements on the global platform,” he added.
Other winners in the ceremony include Maldives which claimed the ultimate honour of ‘World’s Leading Destination’ with Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) taking the title of ‘World’s Leading Tourist Board’.
Vietnam also claimed the headlines winning five major honours:. ‘World’s Leading City Break Destination’ went to Hanoi, ‘World’s Leading Nature Island Destination’ was presented to Phu Quoc, ‘World’s Leading Town Destination’ was won by Tam , ‘World’s Leading Regional Nature Destination’ was awarded to Moc Chau, with Vietnam winning ‘World’s Leading Heritage Destination’.
Other big destination category winners included Jamaica which took a hat-trick of honours, winning ‘World’s Leading Cruise Destination’, World’s Leading Family Destination’ and ‘World’s Leading Wedding Destination’.
Abu Dhabi won ‘World’s Leading Sports Tourism Destination’ and Oman claimed top honors for ‘World’s Leading Nature Destination’. ‘World’s Leading City Destination’ went to Porto with the exciting title of ‘World’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination’ being awarded to Batumi.
Speaking during the award ceremony World Travel Awards founder Graham Cooke told all the winners and hospitality industry to continue raising the benchmark in the industry.
Voting audience
“I would like to personally thank all of the winners tonight. You have been recognised by our global voting audience as the leaders of tourism excellence. I know that your commitment to becoming the very best will in turn serve to drive up standards across the industry and will raise the collective benchmark.” Mr Cooke said.
In the aviation sector, Qatar Airways was named as the ‘World’s Leading Airline’ while Emirates took the title of ‘World’s Leading Airline Brand’ together with ‘World’s Leading Airline to the Middle East’, ‘World’s Leading Inflight Entertainment’ and ‘World’s Leading Airlines Rewards Programme.
Oman Air claimed the awards for ‘World’s Leading Airline – Business Class’, ‘World’s Leading Airline Lounge – Business Class’, and ‘World’s Leading Airline – Customer Experience’.
‘World’s Leading Airline – Economy Class’ was presented to Etihad Airways which also won the prize for ‘World’s Leading Airline Lounge – First Class.’ Oman Airports claimed a double honour by taking the awards for ‘World’s Leading Regional Airport 2022 (Salalah Airport), and World’s Leading Airport – Customer Experience (Muscat International Airport).
Sandals Resorts International were once again crowned ‘World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company’ with Beaches Resorts awarded ‘World’s Leading All-Inclusive Family Resort Brand’. The title of ‘World Leading All-Inclusive Resort’ went to Sandals, Grenada. –

President Ruto, Raila clash over process to replace IEBC chair Chebukati

President William Ruto standing next to his deputy Rigathi Gachaua receives a certificate from Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati at the Bomas of Kenya Tallying Centre in Nairobi on August 15, 2022.
A new bill by the ruling coalition seeking to alter the process of recruiting electoral commissioners has kicked up a fresh political clash pitting President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga.
Lawmakers allied to Mr Odinga yesterday vowed to shoot down the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2022 sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu).
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition MPs while questioning the timing of the proposed changes described the bill – that seeks to change the composition of IEBC selection panel – as an attempt by Dr Ruto to “capture” the electoral commission ahead of the 2027 General Election.
But Kenya Kwanza Alliance lawmakers insisted that they will fast-track the proposed amendments to cure the biases created by the current law in a bid to ensure an inclusive process in the pending recruitment of replacements for IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu – who are set to retire on January 17.
The ruling coalition lawmakers claimed that the current IEBC Act was bulldozed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to lock out other political players in the recruitment of vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang’aya in the run up to the August 9 polls.
The bill that awaits to be introduced on the floor of the House for the First Reading is seeking to reduce the current allocation of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), which nominates four out of the seven members of the panel.
The bill proposes that PSC nominates two members down from the current four while donating the other two slots to the Political Parties Liaison Committee and the Public Service Commission (PSC).
The Law Society of Kenya and the Inter-religious Council of Kenya will retain their one and two nominees’ slots, respectively, in the proposed amendments.
“The principal object of this bill is to amend the first schedule to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission No 9 of 2011 to change the composition of the selection panel that oversees the filling of vacant positions in the commission,” states the Bill.
“The selection panel shall consist of a man and a woman, nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission, one person nominated by the Public Service Commission, one person nominated by the Political Parties Liaison Committee, One person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya and two persons nominated by the Inter-religious Council of Kenya,” it proposes.
Mr Ichung’wa told the Saturday Nation that bringing on board of Political Parties Liaison Committee will ensure the inclusion of all political players in the recruitment of IEBC commissioners.
He said that the current Act has made the process an exclusive affair for only parliamentary parties with members in the PSC. This, he said, has locked out many political players in the hiring of commissioners.
National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed kicked up the storm over the proposed changes by terming them as “real state capture and 2027 elections”. Mr Mohammed told the Saturday Nation that the current Act was put in place after wide consultations that involved all players in the political field. He questioned why there was a rush to make the amendment when Mr Chebukati was about to exit the poll agency. –

Nairobi adds another star, beats London in luxury property gains

Buildings along Waiyaki Way viewed from the Nairobi Expressway on May 13, 2022.
Nairobi has been ranked ahead of London in a global index that tracks price movements in the top five percent luxury residential properties across 45 cities in the world, raising the status of Kenya’s capital as a favourite investment destination in Africa.
The Prime Global Cities Index by realtor Knight Frank, which listed Nairobi as the only African city listed among 45 global cities that recorded annual growth in the third quarter of 2022, shows that the city’s ranking has moved up seven places to 29 in the 12 months to September from 35 in the same period last year.
This was two positions ahead of London, which ranked 31, and one position behind Geneva.
The jump in Nairobi’s position comes after luxury houses registered a 2.9 percent price growth in the period from 1.3 percent over a 12-month period to September 2021- a time when Kenya was reeling from setbacks presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.
London recorded a 2.7 percent price rise while Geneva at 3.2 percent over the period.
Nairobi is a favourite destination for expatriates and companies who want to set up on the African continent. It hosts the UNEP headquarters and is a regional hub for multinationals that want to expand into the region, driving up the demand for luxury houses.
Luxury house prices soared amid persistent demand for properties in high-end areas even during the electioneering period.
“There is a strong desire from buyers to find good value properties. There has not been much certainty over the last two years with Covid and elections. With that all behind us buyers are keen to transact,’’ said Tarquin Gross, head of residential agency at Knight Frank Kenya.
“Sellers at the beginning of 2022 were willing to take up to 15 percent less than their asking price and although sellers aren’t now willing to take as much as 15 per cent they are still open to offers.’’
The index tracks nominal prices in local currency and targets high-end areas such as Karen, Muthaiga, Kitisuru and Runda.
Houses in Nairobi posted a change of 0.4 per cent in the last six months and 0.5 percent over the last three months.
The rise in prices of prime properties in Nairobi comes at a time when the global price of prime properties dipped for a consecutive quarter.
Of the 45 cities tracked, 19 saw prime prices decline between June and September 2022, up from seven in March 2022.
Dubai had the fastest-rising prime price in the period at 88.8 percent.
The surging in prices in wealthy suburbs could also indicate that investors were looking at real estate at a time when equities share prices dipped.
Investors and buyers were expected to be conservative in the market during the electioneering period, which was seen as causing a shaky economic environment and a correction in property rates.
The growth means expected capital gains on investors’ investments.
“For developers, it means there is an appetite to buy again from buyers. We are already seeing interest from developers looking for good value redevelopment sites,” Gross added.
“Now that the election is over, we are seeing expatriates returning to Kenya and foreign companies growing their operations, which means rental demand is increasing.”
HassConsult property index for the period ended September that showed strong house price movements for the detached housing segment -townhouses and villas- — in upper suburbs where demand for units is high due to ample spacing.
The excessive demand for the units has been on the back of increasing prices in line with inflation.
Transaction volumes are expected to rise within Nairobi with the National Land Information Management System (Ardhisasa), a digital platform easing processing of property searches. –

Safaricom half-year profit drops to Sh30.2 billion

From Left: Safaricom Plc chairman John Ngumi, chief executive officer Peter Ndegwa and chief finance officer Dilip Pal during the telco’s announcement of its half-year results at the Michael Joseph Centre in Nairobi on November 11, 2022.
Safaricom has reported an 18.4 percent drop in profits in the half year to September, attributing the fall to heavy costs incurred during its entry into the Ethiopian market, a review of the Mobile Termination Rate (MTR) this year and the introduction of Excise Tax on SIM Cards.
During the release of the April to September financial results, Safaricom announced that its profits after tax dropped from Sh37 billion to Sh30.2 billion.
This was a Sh6.8 billion drop and becomes the lowest profits the telco has reported in a half-year period over the past four years.
“We’ve only had a two months’ impact on MTR because the new rate was introduced in August. If you annualize that, it will be Sh3 billion impact on our business. It has a substantial impact on our business,” Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said as he blamed the move by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to review MTR charges in the country.
Safaricom said as a result of lowering MTR from Sh0.99 to Sh0.58 per minute in August, it lost Sh470 million in revenues.
MTR refers to charges telcos impose on each other when customers make calls across different networks, to facilitate the connection.
Revenues grew marginally
Safaricom’s revenues, however, grew marginally from Sh146.368 billion in the first half of 2021 to Sh153.4 billion in the six months to September, a 4.8 per cent growth.
M-Pesa revenues grew by 8.7 per cent to Sh56.86 billion constituting 39.3 per cent of the company’s service revenues, mobile data revenues by 11.3 per cent to Sh26.3 billion and Fixed Line and Wholesale Transit Revenue by 23 per cent to Sh6.7 billion.
Voice revenues, however, dropped by 3.8 per cent, from Sh41.46 billion during a similar period last year to Sh39.88 billion.
Safaricom heads also blamed the poor performance on costs the group has incurred investing in Ethiopia, even as it projects that the Ethiopian investment will break even after about four years. –

Global stock markets surge as US inflation drops to 7.7%

A trader monitors the screen on a trading floor in London. Stock markets were up on Thursday
Global stock markets rose as the US inflation figure was down from 8.2% in September, and cooled more than economists had expected. Photo: Stefan/Reuters
Wall Street and European stock markets reversed their losses in afternoon trade on Thursday, surging on news that US inflation slowed down more than expected.
Inflation eased last month to 7.7%, the lowest since January 2022, as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to get a grip on prices that have surged at a historic pace.
This figure was down from 8.2% in September, and cooled more than economists had expected.
During October alone, prices rose by 0.4%, while annual core inflation dropped to 6.3%, down from 6.6%.
In London, the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was 1.3% higher by the end of the session, after starting the day in the red, while the CAC (^FCHI) climbed 1.9% in Paris, and the Frankfurt DAX (^GDAXI) was 3.3% higher.
It also came as UK firms have cut back on hiring new workers for the first time since the COVID lockdowns in February 2021, as they struggled to find staff members.
Permanent placements fell in October, the first decline in 20 months, according to the latest report from KPMG and REC.
The data found that starting salary inflation slipped to 18-month low, as the jobs market cooled.
Separately, consumer confidence tumbled to its lowest point since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, after the mini-budget knocked optimism.
The latest consumer confidence report from YouGov and Cebr has found that people are the most pessimistic since the first lockdowns in April 2020.
Across the pond, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) surged 4.3% by the time of the European time, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) advanced 5.8%. The Dow Jones (^DJI) edged 2.8% higher.
Stuart Clark, portfolio manager at Quilter Investors, said: “Inflation in the US has once again fallen, giving some momentum to the idea that the worst is now behind us. The rate is lower than expectations and this will provide some relief to consumers and the wider market, however it is worth noting food and shelter is still increasing, so not completely out of the woods yet.
“Inflation also remains stubbornly high, however, and as such the Federal Reserve is going to remain in a hawkish mood for some time to come.
“The jobs market remains strong, so for as long as inflation is this elevated and the economy doesn’t completely grind to a halt, the market will have to wait for any indication of a pivot or pause from the central bank.”
Meanwhile, Seema Shah, at Principal Asset Management, said: “A 0.5% hike, rather than 0.75%, in December is clearly on the cards but, until we have had a run of these types of CPI reports, a pause is still some way out. Let the market enjoy today, it still has another 100bps or so of tightening to commiserate.”
The pound (GBPUSD=X) surged 2.5% against the dollar immediately after the inflation figures, while government bond yields across the globe fell sharply as investors cut their bets on future rate rises.
Sterling is now on track for best day against dollar since March 2020.
Asian markets pulled back overnight, with the Nikkei (^N225) falling 1% on the day in Japan, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) slumped 1.7%, and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) dipped 0.4%.
FTX, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, is on the verge of collapsing after talks with its main rival about an emergency bailout fell apart.
Binance said in a statement: “Our hope was to be able to support FTX’s customers to provide liquidity, but the issues are beyond our control or ability to help,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
FTX’s founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, has reportedly told investors that the firm needs funding of up to $8bn after a surge in withdrawal requests from customers. –

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