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What to Watch: Britain abandons Davos Brexit plea and markets muted despite growth fears

Lianna Brinded
Head of Finance, Yahoo Finance UK

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

Britain abandons Brexit plea to Davos

UK prime minister Theresa May and chancellor Philip Hammond were initially going to tag team on Thursday to try and get business leaders and worker representatives — the unions — on board with May’s Brexit deal.

Hammond was set to deliver a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying the UK “is a great place to do business” and that Britain is “determined… to make sure it remains that way” after it leaves the European Union. However, the FT have reported that Hammond has pulled out of the event.

He was also meant to have lunch with the industry lobby group CBI, which represents 190,000 businesses in Britain, at the Swiss event to drum up further support.

This is in light of a number of officials, like the chief of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, who have warned a no-deal Brexit will not only be a threat to the UK economy but will have serious repercussions to global growth.

READ MORE: May and Hammond in desperate bid to sell Brexit deal to unions and big business

Markets muted despite global growth debate

European markets are muted on Thursday despite some of the world’s biggest business leaders musing about the global growth slowdown.

In early trading, Britain’s FTSE (^FTSE), Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI), and France’s CAC (^FCHI) are flitting by less that 1% on the upside and downside. 

Share traders start their trading systems Photo: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

The same morning, the IHS Markit’s Flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index revealed that business activity across the euro zone barely expanded at the start of the year. The index dropped to 50.7 — its weakest since July 2013, from a final December reading of 51.1.

Meanwhile, the world’s business elite at Davos remain divided over whether economic growth is slowing.