Monday, 18 June: A sea of red littered price screens as investors feared over potential trade wars between the US and China after US President Donald Trump approved tariffs of 25% on around $50bn of Chinese goods on Friday. Asian equities were mixed over night, although China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were absent due to holidays. The Nikkei in Japan closed three quarters of a percent lower while Oceanic countries trading more positively. Chinese officials have vowed to fight back, themselves announcing levy penalties on the US goods. London started lower where it remained for most of the day, albeit marginally at the close (-0.03%) as oil stocks prevented the index being punished more so. US indices followed suit as the two biggest economies look to haggle trade discussions out, the S&P and Dow Jones down 0.31% and 0.64% respectively at the time of writing.
In the UK, the deal between Virgin Bank (-2.17%) and CYBG (-0.72%) looks set to have been wrapped up, with the former accepting a £1.6bn all share offer from the owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank. Virgin Money shareholders will hold a 38% stake in the combined businesses with the Virgin Money brand continuing to be used after a £12m agreement with Sir Richard Brandon. Around 1,500 jobs are expected to be cut. The new combined group will have around 6 million customers and a lending book of £69.5m.
It may not come as a surprise but today the banking trade body UK Finance has revealed debit card payments has overtaken cash payment usage for the first time with a total of 13.2bn debit card payments made in 2017. The 14% rise comes against a 15% fall in cash use, although this still stands at a modest 13.1bn. The annual report also revealed the frequency of contactless payments almost doubled to 5.6bn payments last year, accounting for 15% of all payments. The full report can be found at https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Summary-UK-Payment-Markets-2018.pdf.