Germany has reluctantly given the green light to an EU ban on Russian oil imports after weeks of resisting the move.
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said his country “won’t stand in the way” of sanctions against the Kremlin’s energy sector, adding that it had made progress in reducing reliance on Moscow.
Mr Habeck told German media: “This won’t come without pain. But we will no longer experience a national catastrophe.”
Germany, which is heavily reliant on Russian imports, has previously warned energy sanctions would put thousands of jobs at risk and plunge Europe into recession.
Despite the apparent easing of this position, Mr Habeck said he was still sceptical about the move, arguing it would allow Russia to sell its oil to other countries for an even higher price.
NatWest profits hit £1.2bn on rising interest rates
NatWest’s profits have doubled over the last three months as the bank benefited from higher interest rates and a post-lockdown boost.
The pre-tax profits lend of £1.2bn in the first quarter, up from £573m in the final three months of 2021 and ahead of analysts’ expectations.
This was driven by strong growth in its mortgage division and favorable movements in the bond market. Retail banking also improved as consumer spending levels recovered following the end of Covid restrictions.
NatWest released £38m from its provisions for failing loans, though it warned the outlook was set to darken as the cost-of-living crisis hits households.
Chief executive Alison Rose said: “The world has changed significantly during the last three months… We are also very aware of the challenges and concerns the cost-of-living crisis is causing for many of our customers up and down the country. “
It comes after the Government finally gave up majority control of NatWest for the first time since the financial crisis, selling down its stake to 48pc.
House prices in longest winning streak since 2016
UK house prices rose for a ninth consecutive month in April as the market continue to shrug off the escalating cost-of-living crisis.
The average price of a home rose 0.3pc to a new record high of £267,620, according to the latest figures from Nationwide.
That’s up 12.1pc from a year ago and marks the longest streak of gains since 2016.
A supply shortage is continuing to underpin demand, but Nationwide warned rising interest rates, surging inflation and a huge jump in energy bills were almost certain to bring the boom to an end.
April’s growth was behind the 0.8pc expected by economists, while annual growth slowed from the 14.3pc recorded in March.
Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide, said:
We continue to expect the housing market to slow in the quarters ahead. The squeeze on household incomes is set to intensify.
Germany says it won’t block oil ban
After weeks of resistance, Germany appears to have dropped its opposition to sanctions on Russian oil.
Europe’s largest economy has long tried to block a ban on the Kremlin’s energy, warning such a move would spark recession across the continent.
But Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck has now said Germany “won’t stand in the way” of new sanctions. He added that the country had cut its reliance on Moscow, meaning it would no longer experience a “national catastrophe” if an embargo were imposed.
But Mr Habeck still appeared sceptical about the move, and there was no mention of sanctions against Russian gas.
5 things to start your day
1) US raider poised to take over British nuclear submarine supplier Government exploring ways to sanction £2.6bn Ultra Electronics sale despite national security concerns
2) Kremlin earns record profit from Gazprom Surging energy prices boost Russia’s coffers amide split in Britain over windfall tax
3) Europe’s unity fractures as Putin tightens the screws on gas New era already unraveling as EU countries yield to Russia’s demand to be paid in roubles
4) Insurance firms poised to pour billions into energy security following post-Brexit overhaul Chancellor launches a consultation aimed at radically changing the rulebook governing British insurers
5) Slash red tape and taxes to give the City a Brexit boost, say bankers ‘Anti-competitive’ tax regime could jeopardise London’s status as Europe’s leading financial center
What happened overnight
Equity markets in Asia mostly rose Friday following a positive lead from Wall Street but optimism remains at a premium as traders operate under the shadows of war, soaring inflation, US interest rate hikes and China’s lockdowns.
Coming up today
Corporate: AstraZeneca, NatWest (interims); Computacenter, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Smurfit Kappa, Pearson, Reckitt Benckiser, Rotork, Travis Perkins (trading update)
Economics: GDP (EU)Nationwide house price index (UK)personal income (US)personal spending (US)Chicago PMI (US)Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (US)