Why is Texas suffering power blackouts during the winter freeze? How did oil- and gas-rich Texas – the biggest producer of energy in the US – get there, asks Lauren Aratani, one of our US reporters.

Texas is unique among the 48 contiguous US states in that it relies on its own power grid. The other 47 states are all part of the two power grids that service the eastern and western halves of the country.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, known as Ercot, manages the state’s power grid. Ercot is technically a non-profit corporation, and while it functions independently from the state’s government, the corporation is overseen by a state agency called the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Members of the commission are appointed by the state’s governor…

Parts of Texas are not serviced by Ercot. El Paso at the western tip of the state gets power from the Western Interconnection, which is why the city has been saved from the most brutal effects of the power outages.

Here is our full story on Moonpig, which recorded its strongest week of sales in its history in the run-up to Valentine’s Day as it benefited from online spending during the latest lockdown.

The company, which floated on the stock market on 2 February, said it was on track to double its annual revenues as Covid restrictions drive greater demand. Revenues last year were £173m, my colleague Jillian Ambrose reports.

Consumers have flocked to the site to buy cards, and many are also choosing gifts, which has raised the average amount spent on each Moonpig order. Moonpig sells flowers, bubbly, wine and beer gift sets.

The company was founded two decades ago by Nick Jenkins, a former commodities trader and Dragon’s Den contestant. Moonpig’s name stems from his schoolboy nickname.


A man looks at his iPhone which displays the Moonpig logo.

A man looks at his iPhone which displays the Moonpig logo. Photograph: M4OS Photos/Alamy

Here is our full story on the Barclays results.

Barclays has paid its chief executive Jes Staley £4m and handed larger bonuses to its bankers despite a 30% drop in annual profits during the Covid crisis, reports our banking correspondent Kalyeena Makortoff.

Pre-tax profits fell to £3.1bn for 2020 from £4.4bn a year earlier, with earnings hit by a jump in bad debt provisions. The bank put aside a total of £4.8bn to cover a potential surge in loan defaults linked to the coronavirus outbreak, slightly lower than the £5bn that analysts had expected.

However, the bank highlighted the strong performance of its investment bank, which performed better than expected thanks to a jump in trading due to market volatility last year.


A branch of Barclays, in central London.

A branch of Barclays, in central London. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

However, in a stark reminder of the damage wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, another report shows that almost 2 million people in Britain have not worked for more than six months during the pandemic, amid growing risk to workers from long-term economic damage caused by the crisis.

The Resolution Foundation said up to 1.9 million people in January had either been out of a job or on full furlough for more than six months, revealing the lasting impact on employment caused by Covid and multiple lockdowns, writes our economics correspondent Richard Partington.

Business confidence in the UK has jumped to its highest level in five years as firms look ahead to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions easing and a bounce in sales during 2021, according to a leading barometer of corporate activity.

Companies are also preparing to increase exports and employment in the second half of the year in a clear signal that they expect a strengthening economic outlook after a successful vaccination programme, the Guardian’s economics writer Phillip Inman reports.

The business confidence index, compiled by the ICAEW accountancy body from a survey of 1,000 firms, showed confidence for the year ahead rising from -19 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to +10 in the first quarter of 2021.

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