Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
With the Brexit deadline less than 15 days away, British businesses are adopting the brace position.
Some are stockpiling vital goods in case of long queues at the ports, while others are frantically brushing up on exports rules so they can keep shipping goods and offering services across the channel.
But however much preparation they put in, disruption may be inevitable — especially in a disorderly no-deal Brexit.
This morning, NatWest Bank has warned that thousands of its customers are particularly vulnerable to the fog of Brexit uncertainty enveloping the UK.
The bank, part of Royal Bank of Scotland, is boosting its support fund by another £2.2bn to protect UK firms from Brexit damage. That raises the pot of funding to £8.2bn.
“Through its on-going Brexit Customer Outreach Programme, NatWest has identified several thousand customers who may be the most impacted by the Brexit uncertainties, and has committed to proactively contacting those customers to help with their needs.”
The bank is also pledging to “support customers through Brexit” — which hopefully means some understanding and leniency if a firm’s cashflow suddenly clogs up, or sales take a dive.
NatWest is also holding events around the country for nervous business leaders to discuss their concerns about Brexit (and other issues too, of course).
That £8.2bn is billed as a “Growth Funding” package — speak to business leaders, and many will point out that Brexit is the biggest factor holding back growth and investment.
Paul Thwaite, NatWest’s managing director for Commercial Banking, says there’s “a lot to do” to get ready for Brexit:
“During a time of such uncertainty, it is imperative that we do all we can to support our customers. Our business customers are extremely busy, and there is a lot to do. This is why we wanted to go to them offering our support in a proactive way.
We are very much open for business and want to be the bank that supports the UK’s businesses through this uncertain time.”
The pound remains highly volatile, as traders try to assess the chances of a deal. It hit a five-month high of $1.2875 last night, but has fallen by over a cent since, as the government struggles to persuade the DUP party to support it.
With EU leaders gathering for a crucial summit in Brussels today, sterling will surely be highly volatile today…
- 9.30am BST: Bank of England Bank credit conditions Surveys
- 9.30am BST: UK retail sales figures for September:
- 1.30pm BST: US weekly jobless figures
- 2.15pm BST: US industrial production for September: