Irelands impressive recovery from its financial crisis has continued, with growth surging in the last quarter.
The Central Statistics Office has reported that GDP rose by 1.5% in the second quarter of 2014, defying the stagnation in the wider eurozone. That means it has grown by a stonking 7.7% over the last year.
The CBI survey shows that Britains manufacturing sector is losing momentum after a strong few months, reckons Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.
He agrees that geopolitics is probably hurting factories:
It may well be that the increased uncertainty resulting from current heightened geopolitical tensions particularly related to Russia/Ukraine are causing some big-ticket manufacturing orders to be delayed or even cancelled.
In addition, weak Eurozone activity is clearly having a limiting impact on foreign demand for UK manufacturing goods, while the strength of the pound has not helped UK manufacturing exports.
By acute political uncertainty at home and abroad, the CBI is presumably citing Scotlands future and the Ukraine crisis; other geopolitical issues such as the Middle East could also have hurt confidence.
Britains factory sector has suffered a nasty setback, according to CBIs latest survey of industrial trends.
Firms reported that total order books have fallen below normal levels, and export order books worsened significantly, and are now at their weakest since January 2013.
Against a backdrop of acute political uncertainty at home and abroad, exports orders for UK manufacturers are faltering, which is disappointing.
However, its encouraging that output growth has remained solid and firms expect production to rise strongly in the next quarter.
UK CBI factory orders balance at 21-month low of -4 (+11 in Aug), export orders balance at -24 (-3 in Aug, series average: -20).
GBP : Shocker of CBI trend order at -4 v +9 expected ,,,, selling prices at +1 v -1
Intéressant... the French government is denying that Moodys has given it advance warning of a downgrade tomorrow....
le denial. Vive l'esprit du crise! MT @meganmurp: French finance ministry says it has not received notice from Moody's of possible downgrade
A Moodys downgrade would be another blow to president Francois Hollande:
Moody's will downgrade #France and has informed gov't, according to @Lopinion_fr. News comes in ahead of Hollande's presser this afternoon.
MOODY'S TELLS FRENCH GOVT OF DOWNGRADE, L'OPINION SAYS. S&P is already there though. Rather a catch up of Moodys...still not bullish for EUR
There are reports in the French media that rating agency Moodys has downgraded Frances credit rating.
According to LOpinion, Moodys has told the Paris government that it is lowering the rating by one notch, from Aa1 to Aa2.
*MOODY'S TO CUT FRENCH RATING TO AA2 FROM AA1: L'OPINION
#TLTRO always seemed dumb to hold 1st TLTRO ahead of AQR results, ECB just made another rod to beat themselves with; QE chatter 2 reescalate
Oh dear. The European Central Bank has only lent around 82.6bn to eurozone banks in its new TLTRO lending operation.
Thats rather less than experts had predicted, and suggests that the TLTRO programme will only have a limited impact on boosting credit availability in the euro area, stimulating growth and fighting deflation.
82bn! terrible number..
#ECB TLTRO uptake: 82.602bn to 255 bidders. A very low number, much lower than expected. #euro
So below the market estimates of 100 to 300 bio - ECB can increase the amount in the second auction to compensate if needed.
Heads-up. The European Central Bank is due to announce any moment how much money it has lent to eurozone banks in new, low-cost four-year loans to encourage them to offer credit to small businesses.
The ONS reports that average store prices fell in August 2014 by 1.2% compared with August 2013, the largest fall since July 2009.
The slowing of prices at petrol stations, down 5.0%, provided the main contribution to this fall. It is worth noting that prices at food stores fell by 0.1%, the first annual fall in prices at these stores since December 2004 when it also fell by 0.1%.
Greeces jobless rate has fallen, but remains painfully high with more than one in four people out of work:
Switzerlands central bank has declared that it will immediately take action to prevent the Swiss franc appreciating any higher.
The SNB voted to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.0%, but also warned that economic conditions have worsened.
The economic outlook has deteriorated considerably. The Swiss franc is still high. With the three-month Libor close to zero, the minimum exchange rate remains the key instrument to avoid an undesirable tightening of monetary conditions. The SNB will therefore continue to enforce the minimum exchange rate with utmost determination.
For this purpose, it is prepared to purchase foreign currency in unlimited quantities. If necessary, it will take further measures immediately.
Talk of negative Swiss rates isn't followed up with action...for now at least. No policy change from SNB, Swiss franc rises.
Overnight, the International Monetary Fund has warned that the global recovery is precarious.
It told G20 finance minister and bank chiefs that excessive risk taking and geopolitical hazards pose new threats to the global economy, and cut its growth forecasts for this year.
Bloomberg also reports that the gold price was hit by the Feds forecast that rates will rise more rapidly in 2015 and 2016 (even if theres a considerable pause before the first hike)
Higher rates are becoming a reality, Chris Gaffney, the senior market strategist at EverBank Wealth Management in St. Louis, said in a telephone interview. The sentiment is turning very very bearish.
Gold tumbled to its lowest in 8-1/2 months on Thursday as the dollar index jumped to a four-year peak after the Federal Reserve signalled that a faster hike in U.S. interest rates might be on the horizon.
The Fed on Wednesday renewed its pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a considerable time, but also indicated it could raise borrowing costs faster than expected when it starts moving.
Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the financial markets, the world economy, business and finance.
The US dollar is rallying this morning after the Federal Reserve signalled last night that US interest rates will rise faster than expected, once the hiking begins.
In commodities, Gold has taken another dive to $1217/oz, its lowest since January, after the US Fed increased its interest rate projections, spurring USD gains which made the safehaven more expensive.
GLOBAL MARKETS-Yellen comments boost U.S. stocks; gold falls
The labor market is still struggling to recover, Yellen said to reporters on Wednesday. There are too many people who want jobs but cannot find them too many people who are not searching for a job but would be if the labor market were stronger.
The message that Hardouvelis is sending to Germany and Greeces other creditors in an interview to be published on Thursday in German newspaper Handelsblatt is that the country is able to refinance its requirements by itself.
Just a few days before a meeting between the Greek and German heads of government, Antonis Samaras and Angela Merkel, Hardouvelis argued that Greece does not need a third bailout package, noting that the country is able to borrow from markets at a cost below that of the loans from the International Monetary Fund....
Scotland Yard has said 41-year-old Arnis Zalkalns is a suspect in the disappearance of teenager Alice Gross, who went missing last month.
Police say Zalkalns had a murder conviction in his native Latvia, where he was jailed in 1998 and served a seven-year sentence. They say in 2009 he was arrested in connection with an indecent assault on a teenage girl in the Ealing area of west London but the case was dropped.
Lots of readers of this liveblog will know very well how we got here. For others, the imminent possible break-up of the United Kingdom has come out of the blue. For those people, heres a quick rundown of several hundred years of Scottish history (with apologies for the inevitable gaps). So, how did it come to this?
The Guardians economics reporter, Katie Allen, is at the Scottish chambers of commerce in Glasgow:
Businesses in Scotland will need the country to unite around whatever decision it wakes up to tomorrow if they are to continue to shake off the downturn, says Garry Clark from the Scottish chambers of commerce..
The head of policy and research at the organisation told the Guardian its members saw both opportunities and risks in independence but most importantly they needed clarity.
My colleague Esther Addley is on the island of Unst, at Scotlands most northerly polling station:
Have counted at least 5 union jacks on main road in Unst, some w/ Shetland flag. No saltires yet #indyref#shetland
Brief pause at Unst's famous bus stop, decorated in tribute to Mandela with comfy chair, small library #shetland
The Guardians Scotland reporter, Libby Brooks, is in Govan, Glasgow, hanging out with voters:
Standing outside the polling station with their bags of shopping at their feet, Angela Colquhoun and Helen-Marie Tasker say they are absolutely gobsmacked because polling day has come and they have still not decided how to vote.
Ive watched all the debates but you get no answers, says Colquhoun, 41, a nursing auxiliary. She raises concerns about currency and pensions. One of the upsides of being independent is the oil money, but that wont last forever.
Tasker, 33, a working mother, is likewise uncertain. Its been going on for two years and nobody can give you a straight answer. I think David Cameron shouldve been telling us the positives of staying in the UK. I do wonder if its just scare stories, but theres no going back after this.
Colquhoun says shell spend another few hours thinking about it and come back to vote later. People are scared about whats going to happen. They might vote no to stick with the known, but thats not a good enough reason.
The campaign has been fought just as much across social media as it has been with placards and meetings. And its a campaign that the yes supporters seem to have clinched.
The campaign for an independent Scotland currently has more than twice the number of followers (95,600) as its opponent Better Together (41,200). Yes Scotland also has 307,960 Facebook likes to Better Togethers 210,335.
To put this in perspective though, the two campaigns combined would only make up 1.7% of the 8m plus follower base of Russell Brand, who has recently weighed into the debate himself.
Our political editor Patrick Wintour is reporting signs of a backlash against prime minister David Cameron regardless of the result of the referendum. He writes:
Claire Perry, the rail minister, has become the first Conservative front bencher to join the growing rebellion over promises to give Scotland more powers regardless of todays referendum result by warning against promises of financial party bags.
She attacked the pledge made by the three main parties to maintain the current level of funding for Scotland and devolve local tax raising powers as hardly hardly equitable to the situation in England.
Scottish Green party co-convener and a lead yes campaigner Patrick Harvie is still waiting to cast his vote. He doesnt seem too downhearted about having to stand in line:
I'm queuing to vote. *Queuing*!
Alistair Darling, former UK chancellor and leader of the Better Together campaign, has cast his vote in Edinburgh:
A reader who goes by the name of silentglow undaunted by the communications problems that have hampered our own reporter on the northerly Shetland island of Unst sends us this snap of divided neighbourly opinions:
Even in Scotland's remote reaches of Unst, in the Shetland Islands, opinion is divided although the Shetland flag often waves in place of a Scottish flag
Esther Addley is outside North Unst public hall, the northernmost polling station in Scotland. It took her a while to get there, there is hardly anyone to be seen, the scenery is bleak and beautiful, but the comms means its hard to send pictures. She tells us this:
To reach the island of Unst from Shetlands capital Lerwick, you drive north, passing the huge oil refinery of Sullom Voe, then take a short ferry crossing to Yell and, having crossed that island, on to the most northerly inhabited island in what is still, for now, the United Kingdom.
Unsts scenery is spectacular huge, open moorland valleys and rugged coastline, with scattered small settlements and farms. It is grey and drizzly here today, and islanders are wrapped in sensible macs as they head out to vote.
Libby Brooks is at Kelvinbridge polling station in Glasgow and has been talking to first-time voter Flora McGuigan, 17:
My colleagues in the Guardian video team have stitched together this round-up of the mornings voting highlights so far:
Ewen MacAskill, who has been following pro-independence Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond through the campaign for us, has written this very brilliant reflection on the referendum debate so far.
The Scottish National Party lifted much of Barack Obamas election playbook for the referendum campaign. Watching the final rally in Perth on Wednesday night was like a scaled-down version of the early Obama ones.
The most striking comparison was when the hundreds in the Perth hall began chanting Yes We Can, the slogan chanted the length and breadth of America during Obamas campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Another is the little blue and white yes cards distributed to the crowd to wave at key points in the speech.
Steven Morris has been talking to voters at the Mill of Mains primary school polling station in Dundee:
Ben Quinn was with first minister Alex Salmond as he cast his vote this morning; you can catch his Vine of that here. Ben writes:
Alex Salmond cast his vote in his home village of Strichen this morning before coming out of the polling station to declare that tennis player Andy Murray had hit another winner this morning.
The comments appear to be a reference to a tweet made by Murray late last night in which he said: Huge day for Scotland today! no campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. excited to see the outcome. lets do this!
Gordon Brown the man who, according to some elements of the press this morning, might have single-handedly saved the union with a speech yesterday has cast his vote. Not sure what hes indicating in this picture: perhaps what he thinks will be the gap between yes and no votes
Im seeing some fantastic pictures of Scottish voters at polling stations this morning, including, cheeringly, young voters this is the first vote in which 16- and 17-year-olds are eligible to have their say. Here are some of the best:
My colleague Ben Quinn is in Strichen, where first minister Alex Salmond has just cast his vote for yes, accompanied by two first-time voters: Natasha McDonald and Lia Pirie.
Voting goes on until 10pm BST tonight, though anyone still in the polling station queue at that cut-off time will get the chance to put their cross on the ballot paper.
Counting starts immediately after that, with the first results expected around 2am, with Eilean Siar, North Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, Orkney, East Lothian, Perth and Kinross, and Moray vying to be the first local authority to declare.
Our reporters out and about in the drizzle at polling stations across Scotland say voters are turning out in good numbers and good humour:
My colleague Aisha Gani has put together this compilation of 11 10 is so last-election highlights of the referendum campaign. Sky News presenter Kay Burley calling a yes supporter a bit of a knob is in there, naturally. Did you miss it? Here it is again:
Love UK..love the Royals..but it's time for Scotland to stand on its own 2 feet and control their own destiny.
Scotland is full of smart talented hard working humble people. Have faith in them to run our country successfully.
My colleague Steven Morris is hanging out with voters in Dundee and sends this dispatch:
Tom Dumphie, 59, was first in the queue at the Mill of Mains primary school polling station in Dundee. I was surprised there were five or six in the line by the time I voted. This is going to be important not just for us but our kids and grandkids. But the atmosphere is friendly. I dont think therell be tensions here.
What a delightful atmosphere, peace and love all round! Lots of children too. People are so positive about Scotland's future in the yes crowd. They played "the times they are achanging" and it just sounded true!
Incredible queues at the Polling station at 7am. I doubt I'll ever see the likes again. #ivotedyes
My colleague Helen Pidd is in Ecclefechan, in the south of Scotland, talking to early voters on their way to the polling station:
The polling station at Ecclefechan community centre in Dumfries and Galloway was doing brisk business from the off. The first voter, a man in his 60s, looked ecstatic, refusing to give his name but saying simply: This is history in the making Ill no see the benefit of it, mind.
Factory worker Scott Stewart, 24, followed. On his way in, he said he was a yes: I think we will be better off on our own. But for those who are hoping that apathy has died in Scotland with the referendum, Stewart added: This is the first time Ive ever voted and it will be the last. I dont understand politics.
Scott Stewart, 24, a yes: "This is the 1st time I've voted & it will be the last." Apathy won't die with independence pic.twitter.com/A214rqz03M
Theres a full list further down this liveblog (see here) of the Guardians #indyref team if you want to track them through the day, and night, on Twitter, you can follow them via this handy list.
It wouldnt be polling day without a weather report. Press Association files this:
Scotland will have start off largely dry in many places, although rain is expected to push into western Scotland during the day, but it is expected to remain mostly dry to the east with some hazy sunny spells.
Overnight, it looks as if one of Scotlands biggest stars has in a slightly roundabout way endorsed yes. Former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, who does not live in Scotland and thus does not have a vote, tweeted this as the clock ticked into polling day:
Huge day for Scotland today! no campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. excited to see the outcome. lets do this!
Theres been no shortage of words/pictures/videos published in recent days and weeks on the referendum. Im aware that some readers of this liveblog will be steeped in the debate, and some will not know their Salmonds from their Saltires.
Fortifying ourselves with tablet and enthusiasm, the Guardians team in Scotland will be covering polling day from beginning to result and beyond. Clicking on their names will show you their tweets, but well also be showing off their contributions in this liveblog.
Its joyful and cathartic, but mastering this classic 1970s dance high kicks and all is serious business. Read on for soul nights round the UK
Like any good student, I am telling my teacher how I think something should be done differently. How about, I say to my northern soul dance instructor, Sharon Sullivan, I miss out the tricky shuffle part of this dance step youre trying to show me and just slide my foot along the floor instead its basically the same thing, right?
No, cries Sharon in horror. Thats dad dancing! And if I catch you dad dancing on a northern soul dancefloor, Ill track you down and slap you!
Security officials say Shia rebels have reached a suburb of Yemen's capital, Sana'a, where they are fighting Sunni militias and besieging a university run by one of the nation's best-known Sunni radicals.
The officials say Thursday's fighting in Shamlan has forced thousands to flee their homes, but they have no word on casualties. They say the rebels, known as Houthis, are surrounding the Iman University, an institution long viewed as a primary breeding ground for militants.