Europe

Sports Direct, the British sportswear retailer controlled by founder Mike Ashley, reported a 22 per cent rise in first-half core earnings, as it stemmed losses in its premium unit which includes fashion store Flannels and House of Fraser, The Irish Times reported. The group also repeated its belief that it would not be on the hook for any “material liabilities” from a €674 million bill it received from Belgium’s tax authority in July.

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The eurozone's stagnating economy has suffered its worst performance for six years with uncertainty over Brexit partly to blame, economists said today. A survey by global data providers IHS Markit said manufacturing and job creation had slumped with 'gloomy prospects for the year ahead,’ the Daily Mail reported. Chris Williamson, the London firm's chief economist, said Brexit was a factor in the EU's difficulties.

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The Italian government will create a state investment bank for the nation’s underdeveloped south, in a bid to rescue yet another failing lender that’s laid bare the divisions in the ruling coalition, Bloomberg News reported. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s administration late Sunday approved a decree that will inject as much as 900 million euros ($1 billion) into state entity Banca del Mezzogiorno-Mediocredito Centrale, or MCC.
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Hundreds of international and domestic flights in Italy were cancelled Friday as air transport workers held a nationwide strike to protest feared firings and salary cuts at troubled national carrier Alitalia, the Associated Press reported. Attempts to find a buyer for the airline, run by state-appointed administrators since it declared bankruptcy in 2017, fell apart last month. Last week, the Italian government agreed to grant Alitalia a new 400 million euros ($445 million) to keep it afloat until a buyer can be found.
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Nynas AB, owned by Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA and Finland’s Neste Oil, on Friday filed for company reorganization at a Swedish court as the refiner failed to extend loans as it dealt with the fallout of U.S. sanctions, Reuters reported. Swedish Nynas’ business has suffered as the United States in October introduced changes to a license that had allowed it to import Venezuelan oil despite sanctions imposed on its owner PDVSA.
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Boris Johnson’s general election victory, and the likely departure of Britain from the European Union next month, will bring relief to most European governments: Now they can focus on other pressing issues facing the bloc, the Wall Street Journal reported. Yet Brexit was a rare point of unity for the remaining 27 members and life beyond it could expose divisions among them. It isn’t clear, for example, how cohesive those left in the bloc can be as they confront issues after Britain’s departure—including negotiating new trade relations with the U.K.
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A decisive victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party in the British election sent investors scrambling to buy U.K. stocks and pushed the pound to its highest level against the dollar since May 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported. The FTSE 100 index, which tracks the U.K.’s largest companies, rose 1.9 percent, marking its biggest gain since February. The rally was led by gains in stocks such as house builder Taylor Wimpey PLC and Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC.

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Mothercare Plc said today that it had agreed to supply baby care and other products exclusively to Boots UK stores, keeping its goods on British shelves after the collapse of its retail network in its home market, Reuters reported. Shares in the company, which called in administrators for its UK business last month and is set to close all of its British stores with the loss of at least 2,500 jobs, jumped 10.4 percent to 14.9 pence in response to the news.
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that airline industry profits will come in lower than forecast this year as passenger numbers and cargo volumes are held back by slowing economic growth and global trade wars, Bloomberg News reported. With less than a month left in 2019, the trade body lowered its annual profit estimate to $25.9 billion -- $2.1 billion less than it predicted in June, and almost $10 billion down from forecasts published a year ago.

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British voters are headed to the polls today in an election that will likely determine whether the U.K. will leave the European Union at the end of next month or hold another Brexit referendum, the Wall Street Journal reported. The election is the most crucial, and divisive, the country has faced in a generation. Opinion polls put Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead with an average 10-point lead over opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, with more than 40 percent of the vote. That would translate into a healthy majority in Parliament for his Conservative Party.

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