The head of the International Monetary Fund has urged countries to cut debt and slash red tape to revive growth as she warned the world was becoming more vulnerable to economic shocks.

Kristalina Georgieva invoked wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill as she urged governments to prepare for the next global crisis.

“There is plenty to worry about,” she told reporters at the IMF Spring Meetings in Washington.

It came as Megan Greene, a policymaker at the Bank of England, warned that Threadneedle Street risks plunging the UK back into recession if it cuts interest rates too soon.

Ms Greene, who echoed comments earlier in the week by the IMF, said a “stop-start” approach to setting interest rates “doesn’t tend to end well”.

The IMF said “backpedaling” on rates would potentially be more damaging for financial markets and the wider economy.

Ms Greene added that interest rates in the UK were likely to remain at 5.25pc “for a while”.

She said: “Do I think it’s worse to do too much or too little [on interest rates]?

“I think doing too little is the bigger risk because you end up having to hike rates even higher and could end up triggering an even bigger recession.”

Ms Georgieva urged countries to rebuild their rainy day funds and get debt down as she warned that the medium term prospects for global growth were at their lowest in decades.

She said: “In a world where crises keep coming, countries must urgently build fiscal resilience.”

She added: “In a world of more frequent shocks, we know we will be tested again.”

Quoting Churchill, she added: “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”

Churchill made the comment in a speech in 1940 during the Second World War.

Ms Georgieva warned that global debt levels were far higher than before the pandemic and compared the trajectory of global growth to a “Swiss ski slope” with prospects dimming every year.

Ms Georgieva said countries should do more to boost growth, including “foundational reforms, strengthening governance, cutting red tape, increasing female labour market participation, and improving access to capital. They’re all essential for growth and even more so, our productivity.”

Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, Ms Greene said she believed inflation risked proving “more persistent” in the UK than other rich economies.

UK inflation fell to 3.2pc in March, and Andrew Bailey, the Bank of England Governor, has said he expects a “strong drop” next month.

However, Ms Greene said UK wage growth of between 6pc to 7pc and strong services-inflation, which remains at 6pc, was still too high.

“The numbers we’re seeing in terms of wage growth and services inflation just aren’t consistent with a sustainable 2pc inflation target, which we’re trying to hit.”

Thanks for joining us today. Chris Price will be back in the morning with all the latest markets news. But I’ll sign off with some pictures from Shanghai and Shenzhen in China, where Huawei’s has launched its brand-new Pura 70 smartphones as it ramps up its challenge to Apple.

According to a Bloomberg report, the device was announced with little marketing. But it quickly trended on Chinese social media after a post on the WeChat app.

06:09 PM BST

European Central Bank reiterates intention to cut interest rates in June

The European Central Bank has made it clear today that an interest rate cut is coming in June but policymakers continued to differ on moves thereafter or how low interest rates can go before once again starting to stimulate the economy.

The ECB put a June rate cut on the table last week and has spent the past week reinforcing that guidance, despite rising oil prices, a weaker euro and bets that the US Federal Reserve would delay its own rate cuts.

ECB vice president Luis de Guindos said:

French central bank chief Francois Villeroy de Galhau said there was “a very large consensus” for a cut in June and even Klaas Knot, the hawkish chief of the Dutch central bank and Joachim Nagel, the Bundesbank president, were on board.

Daniela Hathorn, senior market analyst at, said:

Investors voted down a resolution at Nestlé’s AGM yesterday which had urged the maker of KitKats and Nesquik to cut its reliance on “less healthy foods” such as chocolate.

Only 11pc of shareholders voted for the motion, while 88pc were against and 1pc abstained.

After the vote, Simon Rawson, of campaign group ShareAction, said he expected “investor support for such resolutions at food companies to increase.”

A Nestlé spokesman said that it disagreed with “the idea of deliberately limiting growth in specific areas of our portfolio, as this would create opportunities for competitors without yielding public health benefits.”

The resolution had been backed by Legal and General Investment Management, which warned of increased healthcare costs and lower productivity from poor diets having “significant negative consequences on our clients’ assets”.

05:22 PM BST

Deliveroo shares rise after takeaway orders return to growth

Takeaway app Deliveroo said today that customers were spending more, despite an “uncertain consumer environment” in the UK and Ireland.

In the first quarter of 2024, sales by gross transaction value – a key measure for the sector – rose by 6pc across the two countries. But the number of orders were flat at 39.7m, compared to 39.6pc a year earlier.

Deliveroo trades in 10 countries and said that overall it had returned to growth in order numbers in the quarter. Orders increased by 2pc against a 3pc fall over 2023 as a whole. It said France, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong were fuelling the improvement.

This helped overall revenues rise 2pc to £514m in the first quarter. Shares rose 4.5pc.

The FTSE 100 closed up 0.37pc. British Airways owner IAG was the biggest riser, up 5.7pc, followed by Prudential, up 4.4pc. The biggest faller was Rentokil Initial, down 7.6pc, followed by Spirax-Sarco Engineering, down 2.9pc.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 rose 0.67pc. The biggest riser was Hipgnosis Songs Fund after takeover news. It closed up 30.5pc. Wizz Air rose 6.6pc. The biggest faller was Dunelm, down 7.3pc, followed by Country Life magazine owner Future, down 4.4pc.

04:37 PM BST

Bank of England warns over return to recession if it cuts rates too soon

The Bank of England risks plunging the UK back into recession if it cuts interest rates too soon, a top policymaker has warned. Our economics editor Szu Ping Chan reports:

Inflation will reach 2pc within the next few months, the Bank of England’s Megan Green has said, and there are indications that the UK has come out of recession.

The strong dollar has implications for the British economy, the Bank of England’s Megan Green has warned in an interview. She said that the UK will import inflation as a result.

04:13 PM BST

Bank of England’s Megan Green says interest rate cuts not imminent

Monetary Policy Committee member Meghan Greene is giving an interview in Washington DC in which she has warned over the persistence of UK inflation.

She said: “We know we’re in restrictive terrirtory and we’re going to need to stay there for a while.”

She said that she don’t think rate cuts are “immienent” and that stop-start monetary policy does not work well.

03:56 PM BST

AI company Stability to lay off staff amid signs boom is running out of steam

A British artificial intelligence (AI) start-up has sacked one in 10 workers amid signs investors are seeking to stem losses in the industry after a year of booming interest. Matthew Field reports:

03:52 PM BST

Business Secretary criticises City regulators over woke rules

Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary, has attacked plans by regulators to force City firms to publish gender and ethnicity data, according to reports.

The minister wrote to the Financial Conduct Authority last month criticising its plans for attempting to gold plate the Equalities Act.

In her letter, seen by CityAM, she wrote:

The FCA has been approached for comment. CityAM quoted the organisation saying: “We have received the letter and will respond.”

03:37 PM BST

Lord Hague joins secretive intelligence firm founded by ex-spies

The former Conservative party leader William Hague has joined a corporate intelligence firm founded by a group of ex-MI6 spies after the Cold War. Lucy Burton reports:

Network Rail has offered a 3.5pc pay rise to thousands of its employees, including signallers and maintenance workers.

The company was embroiled in a dispute last year over pay and conditions which led to industrial action by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).

With that, I will hand over the reins of the live blog to Alex Singleton, who will keep you updated with the latest news until the end of the day.

03:21 PM BST

Co-op Bank agrees £780m takeover by Coventry Building Society

Coventry Building Society has agreed a potential takeover of The Co-operative Bank for up to £780m, the companies have announced.

Steve Hughes, chief executive of Coventry Building Society, said:

Sales of existing homes in the US pulled back in March, according to industry data, as the number of transactions was bogged down by high mortgage rates.

Existing home sales fell 4.3pc from February to a seasonally adjusted 4.19m rate, said the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The figure was in line with analyst expectations.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said: “Though rebounding from cyclical lows, home sales are stuck because interest rates have not made any major moves.”

The association added that from a year ago, home sales were down 3.7pc.

According to home loan finance firm Freddie Mac, the popular 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.9pc as of April 11, up from the prior week

Mortgage rates have risen over the past two years after the Federal Reserve rapidly hiked interest rates to 23-year highs to tackle surging inflation.

02:55 PM BST

Tortilla boss to run marathon between London shops

The new boss of restaurant chain Tortilla is to run a marathon across London in a bid to visit its shops across the capital.

Andy Naylor, who was appointed chief executive officer of the Mexican brand last month, said he had planned to run Sunday’s London Marathon but just missed the ballot entry deadline.

However, he decided he would instead cover the distance and check into its raft of high street shops at the same time.

On Friday, Mr Naylor will run slightly over the marathon distance, a total of 28.1 miles, from Camden around central London and then to Islington, popping into its 21 Tortilla and Chilango restaurants in the area.

He told PA that he hopes the run will help to spark extra enthusiasm across the group’s workforce. He said:

Wall Street’s main indexes opened higher as some chip stocks rebounded.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 93.90 points, or 0.3pc, at the open to 37,847.21.

The S&P 500 opened higher by 9.31 points, or 0.2pc, at 5,031.52, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 22.32 points, or 0.1pc, to 15,705.70 at the opening bell.

02:33 PM BST

US billionaire Telegraph suitor to dramatically expand London office

Telegraph bidder and US billionaire Ken Griffin is dramatically expanding the size of his hedge fund’s London headquarters.

Our reporter Adam Mawardi has the details:

Read how Citadel’s new headquarters is the latest purchase in Mr Griffin’s record-breaking real estate buying spree.

The number of Americans filing for jobless benefits remained constant last week, official figures show, as the jobs market continues to defy efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool hiring.

Unemployment claims for the week ending April 13 were unchanged from the previous week’s 212,000, according to the Labor Department.

The four-week average of claims, which softens some of the weekly volatility, was also unchanged at 214,500.

Weekly unemployment claims are considered a proxy for the number of US layoffs in a given week and a sign of where the job market is headed.

They have remained at historically low levels since the pandemic purge of millions of jobs in the spring of 2020.

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark borrowing rate 11 times beginning in March of 2022 in a bid to stifle the four-decade high inflation that took hold after the economy rebounded from the Covid recession of 2020.

The Fed’s intention was to loosen the jobs market and cool wage growth, which it said contributed to persistently high inflation.

Ukraine needs $42bn (£33bn) in budgetary support this year as it continues to fight against Russia’s invasion, the head of the International Monetary Fund said.

Kristalina Georgieva said she still expects that global support for Ukraine will remain firm.

She said Russia’s war against Ukraine needed to end, calling it both a human tragedy and a drag on growth prospects for the global economy.

01:48 PM BST

Europe must do more to unleash innovation, says Georgieva

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday that Europe had more work to do to unleash the power of innovation to boost growth as it lags behind the U.S. economic performance.

Georgieva told a press conference at IMF and World Bank spring meetings that the US economy had done better at turning technology innovation to business activity and had benefited from abundant labour and energy supplies.

She pointed to how “easy it is for innovation to be turned into business development” in the US.

By contrast, she joked that you “only have to look at the cost of a patent” in the US compared to Europe to see why the continent has work to do to improve the nurturing of innovation.

01:29 PM BST

Global growth like Swiss ski slope, warns IMF boss

Kristalina Georgieva has urged countries to lower borrowing and slash red tape to revive growth as she warned the world was becoming more shock-prone than ever before.

IMF boss invokes Churchill as she warns of impending shocks

IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva invoked Winston Churchill as she urged Governments to prepare for the next shock to their economies with fiscal consolidation.

She said: “In a world of more frequent shocks we know we will be tested again.”

Quoting the former British prime minster, she added: “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”

IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva has begun a press conference in Washington as part of its spring meetings.

She told reporters “there have been plenty of turbulence in the world economy for you to cover” but added “you also have the opportunity to cover remarkable resilience”.

She pointed to growth “in firmly positive territory” but warned there is “plenty to worry about” as “inflation is down but not gone”.

She added that medium term growth prospects “are the lowest in decades”.

Wholesale gas prices have held firm after a 20pc surge in recent days amid heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Europe’s benchmark contract has risen as much as 2.7pc today, with traders preparing for increased volatility since Iran’s attack on Israel at the weekend.

Dutch front-month futures are trading at more than €31 per megawatt hour, having sunk below €23 in February as the continent emerged from the mild winter with record stockpiles for the time of year.

12:32 PM BST

Czech Royal Mail suitor should face fit and proper person test, says Sir Vince Cable

The Czech billionaire vying to buy Royal Mail should face a fit and proper person test, the architect of the postal service’s privatisation has said.

Wall Street on track to rise as chip stocks recover

US stock markets are on track to rise at the opening bell as some chip stocks recouped losses after a sell-off.

Advanced Micro Devices, Nvidia and Applied Materials gained between 0.3pc and 0.7pc in premarket trading.

Micron Technology advanced 1.7pc after a report that the memory-chip maker is set to get more than $6bn in grants from the US Commerce Department to help pay for domestic chip factory projects.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, which dropped over 3pc on Wednesday, was down nearly 13pc from the record high levels seen last month.

Also easing some pressure off equities, Treasury yields fell slightly from the elevated levels seen earlier in the week, with the yield on the 10-year note last at 4.58pc.

All three major indexes closed lower on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq logging their fourth straight day of losses as investors remained jittery about the Fed’s interest-rate outlook.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said she expects price pressures to ease further this year, allowing the central bank to reduce borrowing costs, but only when it is “pretty confident” about inflation heading sustainably to its 2pc goal.

Money market participants see a 46pc chance of the Fed cutting interest rates in July, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

In premarket trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were up 0.2pc, while the Nasdaq 100 had gained 0.3pc.

11:48 AM BST

Telegraph readers: ‘Economic reality’ hitting on electric cars

Our comment section below is awash with debate about the demand for electric cars and whether they are practical.

Grosvenor casino owner shakes off post-pandemic woes

The owner of Mecca Bingo has said more people have visited its bingo clubs and spent more money as it shakes off its post-pandemic woes and enjoys a boost in online players.

Rank Group, which also owns casino chain Grosvenor, reported a 6pc jump in net gaming revenue to £182.3m in the first three months of the year, compared with the same period a year ago.

Sales at Mecca venues leapt 12pc on a like-for-like basis, which excludes the effects of club closures and openings that could skew the comparison.

It said this surge was driven by a 5pc rise in customer visits and a 7pc increase in spend per visit, meaning both the volume and value of sales went up.

Mecca has more than 50 bingo clubs across the UK, and also runs online bingo rooms.

The improved performance comes after the chain saw a slow recovery from the pandemic, with its older customers more reluctant to return to the venues.

It shut a number of sites after falling to a heavy loss last year, but has since bounced back to report a profit.

Sales at Grosvenor Casinos, which has about 50 venues across the UK and offers sports betting as well as dining and experiences, were up by 3pc with a 5pc rise in visitor numbers.

11:12 AM BST

Germany likely avoided recession, says Bundesbank

The German economy may well have avoided a recession at the start of the year after all, according to the Bundesbank, despite earlier predictions that Europe’s largest economy faced a downturn.

Germany’s central bank warned just a month ago that output probably shrank for a second consecutive quarter between January and March.

However, today it said the first three months of the year may well have seen a “slight increase” in GDP, Bloomberg reported.

Norway’s wealth fund posts £86bn gain in three months

The world’s biggest investor posted a gain of more than $100bn in the first quarter amid the global stock market recovery.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund had a return of 6.3pc in the first three months of the year.

The $107bn (£86bn) gain brought the fund’s total value to a dizzying 17.7 trillion kroner (£1.3 trillion) at the end of March, or more than £233,000 for each of Norway’s 5.5m inhabitants.

The fund’s deputy chief executive Trond Grande said: “Our equity investments had a very strong return in the first quarter, particularly driven by the tech sector.”

Shares, which accounted for 72.1pc of the fund’s portfolio, saw a 9.1pc return in the first quarter, buoyed by a stock market rally amid the prospect of falling interest rates.

The oil fund – as it is commonly known since it is fuelled by the Norwegian state’s oil and gas revenues – has stakes in some 9,000 companies around the globe and represents 1.5pc of the total market capitalisation.

Google has sacked 28 employees who protested the technology giant’s work for the Israeli military by staging sit-ins at the company’s US offices.

Oil prices fall as Israel holds back on retaliation against Iran

Oil prices have fallen back to their lowest level this month as Israel holds back on its response to an attack by Iran at the weekend.

Israel appears unlikely to carry out a retaliation attack on Iran before the end of Passover, according to ABC.

The Jewish holiday begins on Monday evening and runs until nightfall on April 30.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, has fallen by 0.4pc below $87 a barrel after falling by 3pc on Wednesday.

Saxo Bank analysts said traders had been “forced to dial back a geopolitical risk premium” placed on oil prices after Iran’s assault.

They said prices also fell after data showing US crude stocks have risen to a 10-month high, according to the EIA, while the reinstatement of sanctions against Venezuela and potential new US action against Iranian oil “only helped stabilise prices”.

Taiwanese chipmaking giant TSMC has revealed rising profits amid increasing demand for AI-related products.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company – whose clients include Apple and Nvidia – controls more than half the world’s output of silicon wafers, used in everything from smartphones and cars to missiles.

The company said its net profit increased 8.9pc in the first three months of the year to NT$225.4bn (£5.6bn) compared to NT$206.9bn (£5.1bn) in the same period last year.

It comes as their customers – and governments concerned about critical supplies – have called for the company to make more chips off the island.

Self-ruled Taiwan is claimed by neighbouring China, which has in recent years ramped up political and military pressures against Taipei.

In February, TSMC launched a new fabrication plant in the southern Japanese island of Kyushu – a coup for Japan as it vies with the United States and Europe to woo semiconductor firms with huge subsidies.

TSMC also said this month it would build a third semiconductor factory in Arizona, raising its total investment in the United States to $65bn. It already had plans to build two plants in Arizona, and another one in Germany.

The boss of Dunelm has said consumer spending “remains under pressure” despite the homewares retailer revealing growth over the past quarter.

Shares in Dunelm Group have fallen by 3.8pc in early trading after the company highlighted the “challenging sales environment”.

The retailer, which has 183 UK stores, told investors that sales grew by 3pc to £435m over the 13 weeks to March 30, with growth accelerating from the previous quarter.

Nick Wilkinson, chief executive officer of the Leicester-based firm, said:

Dunelm added that the homeware and furniture markets continue to be “challenging”.

The pound has gained against the dollar as doubts emerge about how fast inflation will fall in Britain.

Sterling was up 0.1pc versus the greenback at $1.247 a day after the consumer prices index came in higher than expected at 3.2pc in March.

Meanwhile, Bank of England official Megan Greene warned the world could face a new era of higher interest rates as she spoke at an event in Washington on Wednesday. She will be speaking at another event later today.

The pound was flat against the euro, which is worth 85p.

09:01 AM BST

BP boss leaves his mark as he restructures management team

BP has restructured its top management team as new chief executive Murray Auchincloss reshapes the oil and gas giant.

Its executive leadership team will be reduced to 10 members in an effort to reduce duplication and complexity in reporting lines.

William Lin, who was previously head of regions, corporates and solutions, will replace Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath, who is retiring as the leader of natural gas and low-carbon energy.

Emeka Emembolu will now run BP’s technology division, taking over from Leigh-Ann Russell who is leaving the company, according to the statement.

Mr Auchincloss said the changes will help BP “deliver as a simpler, more focused and higher value company”.

FTSE boosted by wave of positive company results

UK stock markets have risen after a string of strong corporate results.

The FTSE 100 has gained 0.6pc while the midcap FTSE 250 has climbed by 0.3pc.

Shares in easyJet rose 3.2pc to lead the gains on the FTSE 100 after the airline cut losses despite taking a £40m hit from the Middle East conflict.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund surged 31.5pc to the top of the FTSE 250 after Concord Chorus said it would acquire the music investor for $1.4bn (£1.1bn).

AJ Bell rose 5.8pc after the investment platform reported record assets under administration.

Deliveroo climbed 5.6pc after the takeaway delivery company revealed its gross transaction value increased in the first quarter.

On the flip side, Dunelm fell 5.5pc to the bottom of the FTSE 250 after the home furnishing retailer missed third-quarter sales estimates.

Investors will be watching out for comments later today from Bank of England policymaker Megan Greene to gauge the outlook on interest rates.

Iran is exporting more oil than at any time in the last six years, new data show, boosting its economy as it gears up for fresh sanctions after its attack on Israel.

Tehran sold an average of 1.56mn barrels a day during the first three months of the year, according to data company Vortexa.

Iran’s economy has been boosted by $35bn a year as a result, according to the Financial Times, as production reached its highest level since the third quarter of 2018.

The FTSE 100 has begun the day higher as bond markets steadied after doubts were raised about interest rate cuts in the UK and US this week.

The UK’s flagship stock market has gained 0.4pc to 7,881.15 while the midcap FTSE 250 has risen 0.2pc to 19,371.87.

07:58 AM BST

Deliveroo takeaway orders flat as consumers face ‘uncertain’ times

Takeaway giant Deliveroo has revealed weaker trading across the UK and Ireland at the start of the year against an “uncertain” consumer backdrop.

The group said UK and Ireland order numbers remained flat in the first quarter, having risen by 1pc in the previous three months.

Sales by gross transaction value (GTV) – a key measure for the sector – rose by 6pc across the region, down from growth of 7pc in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Founder and chief executive Will Shu said the UK and Ireland consumer environment “remains stable but uncertain”.

Overall, Deliveroo said it returned to growth in order numbers group-wide in the first quarter, with a 2pc increase against a 3pc fall over 2023 as a whole.

Group GTV also lifted 6pc on a constant currency basis, up from 4pc growth in the previous three months, thanks to a better performance across France, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.

Music royalties giant Hipgnosis has agreed to a £1.4bn (£1.1bn) takeover by Alchemy Copyrights.

The fund, which owns the back catalogues for artists including Justin Bieber and Shakira, launched a strategic review last year to assess a potential sale and other options.

It comes amid an increasingly intense relationship between the board of Hipgnosis and its investment adviser, Hipgnosis Song Management Limited (HSM).

Today it confirmed that Alchemy, trading as Concord, had struck the takeover deal to buy the business for the equivalent of £0.932 per share.

Robert Naylor, chairman of Hipgnosis, said: “The acquisition represents an attractive opportunity for our shareholders to immediately realise their holding at a premium, mitigating the risks we see ahead to achieving a material improvement in the share price.

“At the same time, the board is confident that Concord, one of the world’s leading independent music companies, is the right owner to take on the Hipgnosis catalogue and manage it in the interests of composers and performers.”

07:41 AM BST

EasyJet cuts losses despite £40m hit from Israel-Hamas conflict

EasyJet has suffered a £40m hit from the the Israel-Hamas conflict after suspending flights to the region.

However, the discount airline revealed that first-half losses are expected to narrow by more than £50m after this year’s early Easter helped offset the blow from the Middle East crisis.

In an update on its half-year performance, the group said it is on track for headline pre-tax losses of £340m to £360m in the six months to March 31, against losses of £411m a year earlier.

The airline said demand has bounced back since late November, with half-year figures also boosted by the start of the Easter holidays falling in March this year.

It comes in spite of a “direct impact” of around £40m in the six months to the end of March due to the war between Israel and Hamas.

This relates to the suspension of flights to Israel and Jordan, alongside a softening of demand for trips to Egypt since the conflict began in October.

EasyJet said earlier this week that it is suspending flights to Tel Aviv for the next six months after Iran’s missile and drone attack against Israel at the weekend.

Between October and March, passengers numbers were up 8pc year on year, while average fares paid increased by 9pc.

Seasonal demand for air travel means airlines often record losses in the winter and profits in the summer.

Electric car sales plummeted across Europe last month as demand dried up despite the EU’s push to ban petrol and diesel vehicles by the middle of the next decade.

Sales of battery-powered cars dropped by 11.3pc as demand in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, plunged by 28.9pc, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

There were also heavy falls in the significant markets of Sweden, down 33.7pc and Norway, down 48.7pc.

Only 13pc of new registrations were electric, down from 13.9pc in March last year and down from 14.6pc for all of 2023.

Sales of electric cars have stalled despite Europe’s plans to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine cars by 2035.

Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla have all reported falling electric vehicle sales in the first three months of the year.

It came as new vehicle registrations overall fell by 5.3pc across the European Union to 1m last month.

The ACEA has blamed the fall in sales in March on the early Easter holidays.

Hybrid cars accounted for 29pc of the market in March, up from 24.4pc in the same month a year ago.

Petrol vehicle sales also decreased by 10.2pc, with notable reductions in France, Spain and Germany.

The downturn in the diesel market was even more severe, with an 18.5pc drop in March.

Thanks for joining me. Electric vehicle sales plunged in Europe last month as demand particularly dried up in Germany.

Sales of battery-powered cars dropped by 11.3pc, with sales in Europe’s largest economy plummeting by 28.9pc, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

5 things to start your day

1) Royal Mail faces foreign ownership threat after Czech billionaire’s takeover bid | Daniel Kretinsky is aiming to assume full control of postal service’s parent company IDS

2) Hunt vows to go ‘further and faster’ on bringing down benefits bill | Chancellor warns against unsustainable rise in welfare costs amid worklessness crisis

3) Newspaper state ownership rules to be watered down | Chancellor warns against unsustainable rise in welfare costs amid worklessness crisis

4) Bailey predicts ‘strong drop’ in inflation next month | Britain faces just one rate cut this year as price rises fail to cool quickly enough

5) Lord Mandelson nets £10m in deal with former Obama aide | Former minister rules out a return to politics after selling 20pc stake in lobbying firm

What happened overnight

Asian shares advanced even after sinking technology stocks sent Wall Street lower in the S&P 500’s worse losing streak since the start of the year.

Oil prices have risen slightly, with global benchmark Brent trading above $87 a barrel after slumping by 3pc on Wednesday.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 climbed 0.3pc to 38,090.87 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 1.5pc to 16,489.59.

The Shanghai Composite index added 0.6pc to 3,089.93 but South Korea’s Kospi led the region’s gains, surging 1.8pc to 2,631.15.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 500 rose 0.6pc to 7,651.30.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1pc, to 37,753.31, the S&P 500 lost 0.6pc, to 5,022.21 and the Nasdaq Composite index dropped 1.2pc, to 15,683.37.

The yield on benchmark 10-year US Treasury bonds dropped to 4.58pc, from 4.66pc late on Tuesday.

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