Mr Kipling maker Premier Foods slid to a £42.7 million annual loss as it was hammered by pension charges and restructuring costs.

The food manufacturer slipped to a pre-tax loss for the year to March 2019 from a £20.9m profit the previous year.

The food group, which also produces Ambrosia custard and Bisto gravy, saw profitability particularly impacted by an anti-discrimination ruling on women's pensions by the High Court last year.

Profits were also dented by a £30.6m impairment charge related to its Sharwood's and Saxa brands.

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Full-year revenues rose 0.6 per cent to £824.3m, as it was buoyed by 12% sales growth for Mr Kipling.

It also hailed "strong performances" by Ambrosia, Batchelors, Sharwood's and its Soba noodles joint venture with Japanese food giant Nissin, the largest shareholder in Premier.

Nationwide Building Society has won a £50 million share of a fund aimed at boosting competition in the business banking sector.

The building society said the award will help fund its launch into business banking and pledged to match it with £50 million of its own funding over the next five years.

The Co-operative Bank and Investec Bank also secured smaller awards of £15 million each in the second round of a £775 million programme funded by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to increase competition in business lending.

The fund was launched as a condition of RBS's £45 billion bailout at the height of the financial crisis.

Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide, said: "This is good news for small businesses."

China has announced it is raising tariffs on 60 billion dollars (£46 billion) of US goods in retaliation for the latest hike in American tariffs on its exports.

The finance ministry said the new penalty duties of 5% to 25% on hundreds of US products, including batteries, spinach and coffee, will take effect on June 1.

With investors worried about the potential economic damage on all sides from the escalating trade war, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 617 points, or 2.4%, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq plunged 270 points, or 3.4%, in its biggest drop of the year. Earlier, stocks fell in Europe and Asia.