Here are the business stories making the headlines in Scotland and across the UK this morning.

Mortgages: Barclays and Santander cut rates as competition intensifies

Competition has intensified among mortgage lenders for people who are searching for a new deal, bringing some relief to those facing higher bills.

Brokers say that some lenders now have better options for those remortgaging than for those buying a property.

This will help people whose relatively cheap fixed-rate deal is coming to an end and are looking for a new one.

Two major lenders, Barclays and Santander, have announced further significant cuts.

The firms said they would reduce rates on some of their products on Wednesday by up to 0.82%.

Britain to borrow record £206bn from private investors this year as election looms

Britain is on track to borrow a record £206b from private investors this year as Rishi Sunak embarks on a debt binge ahead of the general election.

Economists at Nomura have forecast that the Government will be forced to rely heavily on financial markets to fund borrowing this year and next as the Bank of England reverses bond buying which was carried out under its quantitative easing (QE) programme.

George Buckley, economist at Nomura, estimated that the private sector is being asked to fund £206bn of borrowing this year and £237b next year, a record high.

Mr Buckley said: “In those two years there is going to be more for the market to [buy] in gilts than there has been over the previous nine years [combined].”

However, experts warned that aggressive borrowing risked forcing up interest rates as Labour and the Tories seek to win election votes with pledges to cut taxes or increase spending.

We didn't mean to rip people off at the pump, say Asda owners

The co-owners of Asda have insisted the grocery chain did not intend to make a bigger profit on fuel prices, after an investigation last year found it had bumped up fuel margins during the cost-of-living crisis.

Bosses also doubled down on assertions that there are no gaps in the company’s finances, although admitted there could be confusion over how the business is structured.

TDR Capital, the private equity group which co-owns Asda with billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, was probed by MPs during a Business and Trade Committee session in Parliament.

Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis said Asda was found by the UK competition watchdog to be “one of the leaders in bumping up the price” of fuel, leading competitors to do the same and meaning people were being “ripped off at the pump”.

Gary Lindsay, the managing director of TDR, said: “There wasn’t a particular strategy to bump the price of fuel or to make a larger profit on fuel.”

‘We are serving 600 people a day and it’s still not enough’: Haig’s owners ‘heartbroken’ as Aberdeen food hall closes

The owners of Aberdeen food hall Haig’s have opened up on the “heartbreaking” decision to close the business.

James and Julie Haig have run the Schoolhill premises for 12 years.

It has its own butchery upstairs, and sells a range of quality meats and prepared meals.

A recent £200,000 expansion was completed to capitalise on the lunchtime rush, with a new ice cream counter added alongside hot dishes.

And the couple say the venue is managing to attract a healthy 500 to 600 customers every day, including dozens of school pupils.

But soaring power bills and costly rates have left them unable to turn a profit.

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