Apple is set to unveil updates to several key products ahead of the critical festive shopping season as it seeks to maintain its strong sales performance through the pandemic. 

In an online event broadcast from its headquarters in Cupertino, California, the global tech giant will this afternoon showcase the newest features on devices such as its Apple Watch and iPad. How well the new products sell in western markets between now and Christmas will largely define how the company performs for its entire financial year, which started this month.

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The company has already said that its iPhones – still its biggest seller – will be delayed by several weeks, eating into the number of days shoppers have to buy them before the holidays. Further news on the iPhone is expected in October. 

Part of Apple’s task today will be to make the case that products like the Apple Watch help keep customers in the Apple ecosystem, even if they do not buy the flagship iPhone as a holiday gift. 

Private sector pay is set to decline further in the third quarter as employment levels continue to fall, according to a new analysis from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). 

Looking at figures published this morning by the Office for National Statistics, NIESR noted that average weekly earnings, including bonuses, declined at an annual rate of 1 per cent during the three months to July. In real terms, taking account of inflation, wages were 1.8% lower. 

The construction sector was hit the worst with pay declining by 7.5%. On the other hand, public sector pay growth is at its highest since 2006 at 4.5%.

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Apart from the public sector, nearly all sectors suffered reduced average pay. Growth declined by 3.2% in wholesaling, retailing, hotels and restaurants, and by 1.7% in manufacturing. 

Looking ahead, NIESR predicts that weekly earnings will be down by 0.8% for the three months to the end of September, or 1.6% in real terms, when compared to a year ago. 

“The UK labour market is entering a very difficult phase with unemployment going up and wages declining in the private sector,” NIESR senior economist Cyrille Lenoel said. “As the effect of the pandemic lingers on, more Government support may be required to prevent the long-term scarring from a surge in unemployment.” 

The UK Government is scrutinising the $40 billion (£31.2bn) cash and shares acquisition of Cambridge-based technology star ARM by US computing giant Nvidia. 

John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, told parliament today that “the Government is taking a very close interest in this transaction”. 

“It is pleasing to see yesterday that parties close to the transaction said that their headquarters would remain in Cambridge,” he added. “It’s a matter that we are engaging very closely in.”

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ARM co-founder Hermann Hauser said the pledges made by Nvidia were “meaningless unless they are legally enforceable”, citing the precedence of US firm Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury in 2010 in an interview with the BBC. 

Concern over the deal has also been raised by Prospect, the union for technology workers, which described the takeover as a “worrying development for the UK tech industry and for the talented workforce at ARM, despite the assurances given by Nvidia about the future of the company”.