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Britain’s GDP fell 0.1 per cent in August from the previous month – the first drop since April – after an upwardly revised 0.4 per cent rise in July, official data showed. The figures put the economy on track for a modest expansion in the third quarter, after a surprise contraction in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, homeowners are increasingly shunning the property market because of heightened uncertainty about Britain's future, research has found.

The number of new homes coming to the market slumped to a three-year low in September while buyer demand also fell, a poll by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors found.

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Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of business and economics events in the UK and beyond. 
 
GDP data for August is due at expected at 9:30 which economists predicting it will show the economy flatlined. 
 
There was new evidence this morning that Brexit is dragging on the housing market. The number of new of new homes coming to the market slumped to a three-year low in September while buyer demand also fell, a poll by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors found.
Poverty and disease rife on farms supplying big supermarkets, Oxfam says
 

Low pay and harsh working conditions are common on farms and plantations that supply global supermarkets including Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, according to new research by Oxfam.

Interviews with 510 workers on 50 tea plantations in Assam in India revealed that half of those questioned receive ration cards meant for people below the poverty line, because their pay is too low. 

Although Indian tea estates are legally obliged to provide decent housing and working conditions, Oxfam found that toilets were dilapidated or non-existent and most workers do not have access to safe drinking water, meaning that cholera and typhoid are common. 

Meanwhile, women regularly clock up 13 hours of “back-breaking” work a day, the organisation said. 

Oxfam finds poverty and disease on farms supplying big supermarkets

Charity finds links with Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco
US and China ramp up rhetoric ahead of trade deal talks
 

The White House has been ratcheting up its rhetoric towards China as the two countries enter a thirteenth round trade talks today.

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has slammed China's trade practices 

"China has refused to change its behavior," he said. "In fact, its global trade practices have only gotten worse.

The FT is reporting that the latest prong of attack being considered by Washington is an executive order that would increase inspections on parcels from China to detect any contraband.

Peter Navarro, the White House trade advisor, said yesterday that a “disturbingly high” proportion of goods sent to the US from China contained deadly drugs like fentanyl or counterfeit goods. 

For it’s part, China has accused the US of harassing Chinese scholars, students, entrepreneurs and scientists by delaying, denying and revoking visas.

Housing market hit by 'endless wrangling around Brexit'
 
(Press Association) The flow of homes coming on to the market is at its weakest level in three years as "endless wrangling about Brexit" continues, according to surveyors.

An overall net balance of 37 per cent of surveyors reported the supply of homes being put up for sale decreasing rather than increasing in
September - the weakest reading since June 2016 - the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.
 
Average stock levels on estate agents' books therefore remain near record lows, its UK housing market survey found.
 
The number of new inquiries from buyers and agreed sales is also falling back.
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Wrightbus faces 'decision day'
 
The UK's last bus maker, Wright Bus faces a decision on its fate this morning. The builder of "Boris Buses" went into administration last month with the loss of 1,200 jobs but a potential sale could rescue at least part of the business.
 
North Antrim MP Ian Paisley and trade union officials said the deadline for a deal to be agreed is 10am.
 
Jo Bamford, son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, is thought to be the only potential bidder.
 
Controversy surrounds Wrightbus's collapse, with particular anger focusing on millions of pounds of donations to the church while the company was in financial trouble.
 
Mr Paisley told BBC Radio Ulster: "There's no second chances here - you can't do this again on Friday or Saturday - this is the decision day.
"Either it's the continuation of the building of the best buses produced in the world, or it's the end of bus building in Ballymena.
BREAKING: UK economy shrinks 0.1% in August
 
Over the latest three-month period the economy grew 0.3 per cent.
Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Invest in a windfarm
 
Stuck for something to put on your wedding list? Need a novel idea for a Christmas present? Why not buy someone – or yourself – a wind turbine? Now you can, thanks to Sarah Merrick, founder and CEO of Ripple Energy, which has won the prize for Startup of the Year 2019, awarded by equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs.
 
Merrick, 41, has always worked in energy. She studied economics at UEA and got a job on graduating with the trade association for electricity producers. “I had no idea my job even existed,” she says. The electricity producers included nuclear and gas, but a feeling for the way the wind was blowing led her to put the emphasis on renewables.

Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Invest in a windfarm

Ripple Energy is putting wind in the sails of onshore turbine farms with their ‘unique’ approach to green energy. CEO and founder Sarah Merrick tells Andy Martin why now is the best time to act on climate change
The services sector - which accounts for most of the economy - grew over the last three months but manufacturing unexpectedly contracted by 0.7 per cent.
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The ONS on those GDP numbers:
 
The main contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the three months to August 2019 was the services sector, which grew by 0.4%. This was driven by widespread strength across the services industries in June and July, following a period of largely flat growth in the previous three months.
 
Meanwhile, the production sector fell by 0.4% in the same period, while construction output grew by 0.1%.
 
Manufacturing the biggest drag on economy
 
Recession fears 'banished' for the time being
 
Andrew Wishart, UK Economist at Capital Economics thinks the UK will avoid a recession.
 
 
"While GDP fell by 0.1% m/m in August as we had expected (consensus 0.0%), the fact that growth in July was revised up from 0.3% m/m to 0.4% m/m means fears that the economy is already in recession have been banished.
 
"In fact, the August GDP data suggest the economy might grow by 0.4% q/q in Q3, up from our previous estimate of 0.3% q/q.

"The fall in GDP in August was due to a 0.7% m/m drop in manufacturing output.
 
"There were hopes that car plants would stay open in August when they usually shut for maintenance, having already shut down in April in case there were a no deal Brexit, and provide a boost to the sector. But in the event car production rose by just 0.7% m/m in August."
 
Southern Water fined £126m over 'serious environmental failings and deliberate misreporting
 
Southern Water will pay £126m in penalties and rebates to existing and former wastewater customers, the biggest payment ever imposed by Ofwat.
 
The regulator's investigation found Southern Water failed to invest enough into its sewage works or to properly invest in them.
 
"Southern Water’s failures led to equipment breakdowns and unpermitted spills of wastewater into the environment," Ofwat said. 
 
The Environment Agency is currently investigating whether any environmental impact may have been caused by the company’s failures.
 
The £126 million package will see Southern Water:
  • Return £123 million to former and existing customers. 
  • Pay a fine of £3 million on top - in recognition of the serious and significant breaches of its licence conditions and statutory duties
 
 
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After an $8bn verdict against Johnson & Johnson, here’s why America’s runaway juries might be a good thing
 
"It’s the sort of verdict the size of which even John Grisham might think twice about including in one of his legal thrillers," writes The Independent's chief business commentator, James Moore.
 
"Johnson & Johnson was hit with an $8bn (£6.5bn) penalty by a real-life “runaway jury” over its marketing of an antipsychotic drug, Risperdal, which has the unfortunate potential side of effect of causing male users to develop breasts."

After an $8bn verdict against Johnson & Johnson, here’s why America’s runaway juries might be a good thing

Such punitive damages are designed to punish corporate wrongdoing. Those with bad products need to be encouraged to think twice before marketing them to the public, writes James Moore
 
Subdued growth in construction sector
 
The UK construction sector eked out 0.1 per cent growth the three months to August.
 
CliveDocwra, managing director of construction consultants McBains, was less than impressed:
 

These latest figures show minimal growth overall but no-one in the industry will be getting too excited. 
 
The trends show that the industry is experiencing a mixed profile of monthly growth, with falls in March, April and June largely offset by increases in May, July and August.  There was also a month-on-month decrease in new work of 0.2% in August.
 
This fall in new work reflects the industry being at a crossroads as the Brexit situation remains unclear, with the longer-term picture one of investor restraint and a weakness in the housing market translating into a fall in the numbers of homes.
 
 
Dunelm hails rising sales 
 
(Press Association) Dunelm has hailed a "particularly strong" first quarter after it boosted sales on the back of new store openings and online growth.
 
However, shares in the company sank in early trading after it warned that trading in September was "mixed" due to a "softer homeware market".
 
The retailer posted a 7.5 per cent rise in total sales to £262.6 million for the three months to 28 September, while like-for-like sales increased by 6.4% to £255.6 million over the period.
 
New £20 note featuring painter Turner unveiled
 
The Bank of England has unveiled the design of the new £20 note, featuring JMW Turner.
 
And they have released it with a piece of artwork of which England's most famous painter would no doubt have been proud:
 
 
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Brexit and global economy hurt Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown says it was hit by "weak investor sentiment" in the past three months due to fears about Brexit and the future of the global economy.

Sentiment will no doubt also have been damaged by the fiasco that saw almost 300,000 of Hargreaves’ customers and £1.6bn of their assets trapped in Neil Woodford’s struggling investment fund.

Despite the debacle, Hargreaves hailed a "solid start" to the financial year.

The fund supermarket reported a 6 per cent rise in net revenue to £128.1m for the three months to 30 September. New business also increased, up to £1.7bn from £1.3bn.

'Deeply regrettable': Wrightbus rescue talks fail as JCB heir pulls out
 
Last-ditch talks to save Northern Ireland's Wrightbus have ended without a deal, prompting an impassioned statement from the firm's former owner Jeff Wright.
 
He hit out at Jo Bamford, son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, who was in the frame to buy Wrightbus but has now walked away.
 
Also under fire is North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley.
 
Death of the high street? Not so, says HMV
 
HMV says it has taken a step towards a revival with a new 25,000 sq ft store in Birmingham.
 
The purveyor of CDs, DVDs and LPs, claims the new store will be the biggest music and entertainment retail space in Europe.
 
HMV is taking the fight to Amazon with an experience the online giant can't offer (not at the moment anyway):
 
Alongside music, film, books and fashion merchandise, the store will offer a specially-designed performance space, inviting both local artists and international musicians to perform in-store.
 
The store’s Friday launch will see a performance by Liam Payne, with chart topper James Arthur set to perform on Saturday.
 
Unite union is saying that talks on Wright bus are still alive but "hanging by a thread", the BBC reports.
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