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ECB leaves rates at record lows in 2% inflation push; US jobless claims rise – as it happened | Business

Time to recap.

The European Central Bank has pledged to maintain its record low interest rates until eurozone inflation is firmly at its new 2% target. At its first meeting since its strategy review, the ECB said it would maintain “persistently accommodative monetary policy stance” to hit its goals.

ECB president Christine Lagarde also warned that the delta variant of Covid-19 could hold back the recovery, with some restrictions expected to remain in place for the rest of the year.

More Americans have filed new claims for unemployment support, raising concerns that the US recovery is being hurt by rising delta cases. There were 419,000 ‘initial claims’ for jobless help last week, a rise of over 50,000.

The UK government has outlined plans to cut its majority shareholding in NatWest bank.

The trading plan, otherwise known as a “drip” sale, means the Treasury could end up selling up to 15% of the average amount of NatWest shares usually traded over 12 months. That could net the government a maximum £1.2bn based on the current share price, which would be on top of any additional bulk share sales the government chooses to launch over the next year.

However, the Treasury stressed it would only sell shares at a price that represented value for money for taxpayers. The government is expected to take a loss on any sale, having paid 502p a share as part of the bank’s bailout in 2008.

Consumer good giant Unilever has warned that the rise in raw material, packaging and transport costs is hitting its profit margins, sending its shares down almost 6% today.

UK factories have reported a surge in orders and output, and escalating fears that shortages of parts and labour will hurt growth.

Bank of England deputy governor Ben Broadbent has weighed into the heated debate on UK inflation, arguing that many of the factors driving up prices this year are temporary, and unlikely to create longer-term inflation pressures.

Bankers and advisers are in line for a £275m payday from the proposed takeover of the British supermarket Morrisons, according to newly published documents.

British Gas has more than doubled its profits for the first half of the year after cold weather prompted customers working from home to turn their heating up, and small companies began to reopen for business after Covid-19 lockdowns last year.

A Chinese billionaire has been granted planning permission to construct an eight-storey, 5,760-sq metre (62,000-sq-ft) private palace overlooking Hyde Park, central London.

Goodnight. GW

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