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NEWS - BUSINESS & ECONOMY

NEWS - BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Bank of England keeps interest rates flat

August 11 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Bank of England keeps interest rates flat

Officials at the Bank of England have opted to keep interest rates the same yet again.

Debate is continuing to rage over when the right time will be to increase interest rates, but one thing is certain –it won’t happen this month.

The Bank of England (BoE) has decided to keep the base rate at 0.5 per cent yet again this month, marking 65 months in a row at this historic low. The existing quantitative easing programme is also set to stay the same at £375 billion.

This may not come as much of a surprise to commentators and analysts, but the really interesting question is whether the central bank still has a consensus on how to handle interest rates.

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UK to investigate Bitcoin role in the economy

August 08 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

UK to investigate Bitcoin role in the economy

George Osborne has announced that the government plans to investigate the role of digital currencies like Bitcoin in the economy.

UK chancellor George Osborne has announced that the government will explore the role that digital currencies such as Bitcoin play in the British economy, and especially in its financial system.

In a speech given in the capital’s Canary Wharf on 6 August, Mr Osborne said the Treasury will study the benefits and drawbacks of digital currency and consider whether or not they should be regulated.

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Skills shortage could hinder UK economy recovery

August 08 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Skills shortage could hinder UK economy recovery

A new report from The Prince’s Trust says that the UK is perilously close to a recruitment crisis owing to a serious skills shortage.

A serious skills shortage is expected to take hold in the UK in the next few years, according to a new report from The Prince’s Trust and HSBC.

The Skills Crunch report finds that as many as 73 per cent of UK businesses believe a skills crisis is going to take hold in the country in the next three years. Worryingly, some 43 per cent even suggested that this would happen in the next 12 months, which suggests many are already feeling the pressure.

What’s more, the implications of these shortages could be serious for the UK economy.

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UK small manufacturers see even more growth

August 07 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

UK small manufacturers see even more growth

New CBI data shows that small manufacturers in the UK have seen a year of continual growth.

The past few months have seen wave after wave of data showing that the outlook for UK manufacturing is bright. Now, new figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) indicate that growth is even being felt among the smaller businesses in the sector.

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British services sector surpasses expected growth levels

August 07 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

British services sector surpasses expected growth levels

New purchasing managers’ index data shows that the British services sector surpassed expectations in July 2014.

Lots of attention has been paid to growth in the British manufacturing sector recently, perhaps because it was hit so hard during the financial crisis. But Britain has long been an economy rooted heavily in the service industries, and new data shows that this side of the economy is performing strongly too.

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Mayor Boris Johnson announces huge London infrastructure plans

August 01 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Mayor Boris Johnson announces huge London infrastructure plans

A huge new plan to improve London’s infrastructure has been put out to consultation by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

It’s no surprise that London continues to grow – as the centre of some of the UK’s key industries it attracts people from around the country and all over the world who come to visit, live and work. But that expansion has to be supported by the right infrastructure, and the Mayor of London clearly believes that the capital could start to lag behind its global peers without huge investment.

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‘Ramadan rush’ boosts UK retail sales

July 31 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

‘Ramadan rush’ boosts UK retail sales

Ramadan is becoming an increasingly important element of the British retail calendar with brands such as Primark and Harrods reaping rich rewards.

As religious holiday of Eid-al-Fitr comes to a close and gifts are exchanged, some UK retailers are likely to be enjoying a considerable boost from higher spending during Ramadan.

A report in the Wall Street Journal finds that the holy month has brought shoppers into high-end stores across the UK, and especially in London, for some time. Indeed, luxury stores like Harvey Nichols tell the news provider that they bring in top stylists from key markets in Islamic countries such as Dubai and Kuwait to help UK staff understand the specific needs and preferences of these customers. Harrods offers cultural training and Arabic-speaking sales assistants.

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UK leads developed world on growth, reveals IMF report

July 28 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

UK leads developed world on growth, reveals IMF report

International Monetary Fund data puts Britain ahead of the rest of the developed world in terms of economic growth.

Positive news continues to flood in for Britain’s economy, and businesses and households are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, the UK’s economic growth is ahead of every other country in the developed world, according to new calculations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In an update to the World Economic Outlook it published in April, the IMF revised its projections for UK growth by 0.4 percentage points. That takes the total up to 3.2 per cent this year – faster growth than in any other developed nation.

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UK manufacturing witnesses boom as orders continue to rise

July 24 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

UK manufacturing witnesses boom as orders continue to rise

New Confederation of British Industry statistics show that manufacturers are continuing to feel positive about their performance.

Manufacturing in the UK had something of a poor reputation for many years and was especially hard-hit by the financial crisis. Since then, the government has been attempting to rebalance the economy towards production and exports rather than importing from abroad.

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Record foreign investment pours into UK

July 24 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Record foreign investment pours into UK

Foreign investment into the UK hit record levels in the last financial year, new figures show.

The UK has long been competitive place to do business, and as the economy recovers more and more companies are considering the nation as a destination for investment. In fact, according to new figures published by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the nation has managed to attract the highest number of investment projects since the government began recording data in the 1980s.

In the 2013-14 financial year, the data shows that the UK attracted 1,773 new investment projects – 14 per cent more than it did in the previous 12 months. The economic impact was also clear – 66,390 new jobs came from foreign investment, representing the highest figure since 2001.

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UK economy to grow at fastest rate in G7

July 24 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

UK economy to grow at fastest rate in G7

This year will see the UK economy expand faster than any other country in the G7, a new report finds.

Positive news keeps coming for the UK economy, which it seems is finally shaking off the effects of the financial crisis. New figures from the EY ITEM Club on 21 June show that the UK will not only continue to grow in 2014, but will outstrip some of its biggest global rivals.

In its latest Summer Forecast the body predicts that gross domestic product (GDP) will grow at a rate of 3.1 per cent in 2014. That will be the strongest rate of any economy in the G7, with Canada expecting growth of two per cent of 1.8 per cent anticipated in Germany.

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UK employment rate rises to record high

July 18 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

UK employment rate rises to record high

The UK has experienced a record-breaking annual rise in employment, with close to a million people now in work compared to a year ago, official figures from the government have revealed.

According to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the past 12 months have seen a rapid increase in the number of people now in employment, which is equal to the record high of 2005.

There are now 30.6 million people in work, 1.8 million more than in 2010, when the current government came into power. MPs in the coalition were quick to explain this upsurge as testament to its commitment to tackling unemployment and making real progress.

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UK government is owed £22 billion, reveals Public Accounts Committee

July 16 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

UK government is owed £22 billion, reveals Public Accounts Committee

The UK government’s Public Accounts Committee has revealed that the government is owed a remarkable £22 billion.

Around £15 billion of this total needs to be paid to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), while the rest is largely owed to the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice.

According to the committee’s report, the government is falling short of getting back what it is owed, resulting in higher borrowing and, consequently, holding it back from making real and lasting changes across all its departments.

For example, with £22 billion, it would be possible to build 1,500 new schools. It is also equivalent to a fifth of the total public funding that goes into the nation’s healthcare system.

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UK retail prices report biggest fall since 2006

July 10 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

UK retail prices report biggest fall since 2006

British retailers have reported their biggest annual decline in prices since June 2006, according to a new survey.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that overall shop prices experienced deflation for the 14th consecutive month, falling by 1.8 per cent last month, the “deepest” since its index came into existence.

Another record was achieved with food inflation, which fell to an astonishing 0.6 per cent in June. Meanwhile, non-food items experienced a quickening in deflation, recording 3.4 per cent last month (it was 2.8 per cent in May).

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Euro strength needs to be reduced, ECB told

July 10 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Euro strength needs to be reduced, ECB told

The European Central Bank (ECB) is being urged to make a concerted effort to reduce the strength of the euro.

Fabrice Bregier, president and chief executive officer of Airbus, believes that an increasingly strong euro is hampering the ability of the eurozone to grow and thrive.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he called on decision makers within the European Central Bank to focus their attention on cutting the “crazy” strength of the euro.

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Graduate recruitment in UK returns to pre-recession high

July 09 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Graduate recruitment in UK returns to pre-recession high

A new report from research firm High Fliers shows that the graduate recruitment market has returned to pre-recession levels.

Graduates have faced some fairly testing times in the years since the financial crisis took hold. Employment prospects slackened for a while, but a recent flurry of positive data has suggested that the market is getting back on its feet. In fact, a new report from research company High Fliers shows that the UK’s graduate job market is actually back at its pre-recession peak.

The Graduate Market in 2014 shows that organisations that appeared in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers rose by 2.5 per cent in 2013 from the previous year. That more than reversed the 0.8 per cent decline seen in 2012 and left graduate opportunities performing strongly overall.

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Germany introduces new national minimum wage

July 07 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Germany introduces new national minimum wage

Germany has introduced a minimum wage for the first time in the country’s history.

Members of the German parliament approved plans to set the least amount of money a person can earn at €8.50 (£6.80) an hour. The Christian Democrats, led by chancellor Angela Merkel, will work alongside the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in a power-sharing deal to place this new policy in place.

Nations such as the UK and US already have a minimum wage in place but Germany’s €8.50 an hour rate is higher than both of these countries. The UK’s rate was revised in 2013 to £6.31 an hour while the US’ Federal government set the nation’s lowest minimum wage at $7.25 (£4.22) an hour. However, a large number of states including California, Florida and New York have a much higher rate.

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Escalating house prices ‘a risk to UK economy’

July 03 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Escalating house prices ‘a risk to UK economy’

Sir Jon Cunliffe has warned that the biggest risk to the UK is the housing market, claiming that rising prices, which are escalating upwards faster than people’s incomes, is a particular cause for concern.

The Bank of England’s deputy governor told BBC Radio 5 Live that such a situation is problematic because it leads to “a big increase in the amount of debt in the economy” and equally, the “amount of debt that mortgage holders have”.

Therefore, if left unchecked, it could create the conditions necessary for a financial crisis to unfold, which would be hugely damaging to the UK and, in turn, the rest of the world.

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UK businesses told to adjust to flexible working hours

July 02 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

UK businesses told to adjust to flexible working hours

Every employee in the UK now has the right to request flexible working, and staff and businesses alike are having to adapt.

As workforce demographics change and technology makes it easier to work in different ways, more and more employers have allowed some level of flexibility for their staff.

But on 30 June, the right to formally request flexible working was extended to every employee in the UK, instead of just those with caring responsibilities. That means 20 million more people can now ask for the opportunity to work flexibly, and their request must be considered in a “reasonable” manner. Only one request can be made in any 12-month period.

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Global M&A deals hit 7-year peak

July 01 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Global M&A deals hit 7-year peak

Mergers and acquisitions deals volumes at a global level are at a seven-year peak.

Appetite for striking huge corporate deals is returning, as it has emerged that international mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals are at their highest level for seven years.

The value of M&A deals around the world in the first half of 2014 stood at $1.75 trillion – an impressive 75 per cent increase on the same period last year, and the highest level in seven years. Yet the actual number of deals actually fell slightly, indicating a rise in the prices being set on target companies.

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From the world of business: June 2014 highlights

July 01 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

From the world of business: June 2014 highlights

Here’s our guide to all the major business news from June.

Welcome to our business news round-up for June 2014. In this round-up of the most important business news stories from around the world, we point you to some of the biggest news stories that have had people talking during the past month.

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UK consumer morale hits nine-year high

June 30 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

UK consumer morale hits nine-year high

Morale among UK consumers is at a new record high, according to a GfK poll.

Consumer morale in the UK is at its highest level in nine years, a new poll from research company GfK has found.

Its monthly consumer confidence index rose to +1 in June, up from zero in in the previous month and the highest rate since March 2005. A Reuters poll forecast suggested the figure could have been as high as +2, but the figures continue an upward trend that points towards growing confidence in the UK economy.

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Business magnate Warren Buffett ‘not buying Coca-Cola’

June 26 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Business magnate Warren Buffett ‘not buying Coca-Cola’

A brief flurry of concern emerged when rumours suggested that Warren Buffett could buy out Coca-Cola, but he claims not to be interested.

Warren Buffett has an established reputation as a major investor, and he isn’t new to going after large targets. But when Coca-Cola shareholder David Winters said last week that he was concerned Mr Buffett would mount a takeover bid for the giant company, more than a few eyebrows were raised among analysts.

The rumours emerged last week when Mr Winters told Fox Business Network that he suspected Mr Buffett, whose investment company Berkshire Hathaway owns nine per cent of the drinks giant, and 3G Capital might work together to take Coca-Cola private. He added that he had written a letter to the board warning them off such a move, reminding them that they have a “duty to all shareholders”.

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Sainsbury’s takes on discount supermarkets by bringing Netto back

June 24 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Sainsbury’s takes on discount supermarkets by bringing Netto back

Sainsbury’s is entering the discount grocery market in a joint venture with Danish brand Netto.

Sainsbury’s has been attracting criticism recently for not doing enough to protect its market share from the rising tide of the discount supermarkets. Under pressure from Waitrose at the top end of the market and being squeezed by discount brands at the bottom, sales have been suffering in recent months.

As part of a plan to secure its place, the supermarket is stepping into Aldi and Lidl’s territory – by teaming up with Danish discounter Netto.

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General Motors recalls 3 million more vehicles

June 18 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

General Motors recalls 3 million more vehicles

General Motors has suffered huge losses in both money and reputation over technical problems with millions of vehicles – and today, another three million have been recalled.

General Motors (GM) has had a bad few weeks to say the least. Millions of the US manufacturer’s vehicles have been recalled so far this year – and yesterday (17 June), the financial and reputational losses have grown even further with news that another three million cars will have to be recalled.

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