Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
The car industry is reeling from a double-dose of bad news this morning.
In the UK, workers at Ford’s Bridgend engine factory are heading to work to learn the future of their plant – and the omens are not good.
Ford officials have flown over from America for a company meeting, and are expected to announce the closure of the plant. It employs more than 1,500 people, with many more jobs in the local economy and supply chains also dependent on it.
Bridgend’s future has been in doubt for some time — Ford cut investment last year, and recently began a voluntary layoff programme.
Losing a key engine contract to supply engines for Jaguar Land Rover was another blow, while uncertainty about Britain’s future relationship with the EU has also hurt the sector.
My colleague Jasper Jolly explains what’s gone wrong:
The British car industry is facing a series of difficulties including a steep fall in demand for diesel vehicles and falling sales in China, previously a key growth market. At the same time, Brexit uncertainty has cast a pall over the industry, with the threat of tariffs on cars and parts travelling to and from the UK.
And in another auto twist, the proposed merger between US-Italian carmaker Fiat Chrysler and French rival Renault has just collapsed.
Fiat-Chrysler has blamed France’s politicians (Renault’s biggest shareholder) for thwarting the deal.
It has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully.
The merger would have created a powerful new force in the car industry, at a time of dramatic and volatile change. It would have let the two firms share the cost of developing cutting-edge technologies such as self-driving vehicles and electric cars.
More to follow….
Also coming up today
It’s a busy day in the economic world – the European Central Bank is setting interest rate, and pondering what more it can do to support the eurozone economy.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney speaks in Toyko in a couple of hours, at the Institute of International Finance spring meeting.
Trade tensions and geopolitics will be in focus too, as China’s president Xi visits Russia. America is releasing new trade figures too, which may show
We’ll also have an eye on Arcadia, after Sir Philip Green was forced to delay a creditors’ vote after some landlords refused to back his rescue plan.
- 10am BST: Eurozone GDP for Q1 2019 (second estimate)
- 10am BST: Bank of England governor Mark Carney speaks in Tokyo
- 12pm BST: Chinese president Xi Jinping speaks at St Petersburg International Economic Forum
- 12.45pm BST: European Central Bank interest rate decision
- 1.30pm BST: US trade figures for April