LSBF Blog - Global Matters

US stimulus nears end but rates stay low

September 19 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

The US will end its quantitative easing programme next month, but it is not yet clear when interest rates will rise.

US monetary policy has been decidedly loose since the financial crisis. The Federal Reserve has been buying bonds for the past six years and interest rates have remained low over that same period. With more than $4 trillion Treasury and mortgage bonds reportedly purchased by the Fed since 2008, it is finally due to end its asset purchase programme next month.

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Business backs Scotland’s ‘No’ vote in independence referendum

September 19 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Businesses and investors have reacted with confidence to Scotland’s decision to stay as part of the UK.

Scotland’s decision to remain part of the United Kingdom marked a watershed moment in the nation’s political life. But it also sent ripples throughout the business and finance landscape, as the world reacted to a vote that ended months of uncertainty. That relief has been reflected in an influx of votes of confidence in the Union this morning, although in some respects the markets are already calming down again.

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Malaysia growth fastest in Asia-Pacific after China

September 19 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Malaysia’s economy is the fastest-growing in its region, credit ratings agency Moody’s has said.

Malaysia has been seen as one of Asia’s highest-potential markets for some time, and its efforts to boost its economic prospects have largely borne fruit. Yesterday, credit ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service said that despite fiscal consolidation acting as a drag on growth, the nation is still performing strongly. In fact, it’s doing better than any other economy in the region, with real gross domestic product (GDP) having grown by 6.3 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2014.

With a rate of growth that outstrips all the major countries in Asia-Pacific except China, Malaysia is clearly taking positive steps to boost its economy.

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M&S branches out to Nordic countries

September 18 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

Norway and Finland are about to become the next countries to open M&S outlets.

Marks and Spencer (M&S) has been one of the UK’s most recognisable brands for decades, and it is using that legacy to fuel expansion into new markets overseas. The classic British retailer is about to launch into another promising European market as is plans to open stores in the Nordic countries.

On top of its 160 outlets in Europe, the company is pushing towards its target of having 250 overseas stores by 2016 by setting up 15 new stores in Norway and Finland as part of a franchise agreement. A flagship clothing and food shop in Helsinki will open next month, followed by its counterpart in Oslo in November.

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UK job market continues to grow as unemployment drops by 146,000

September 18 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Unemployment in the UK has fallen once again, according to new ONS figures, with 146,000 more finding jobs in the three months to July this year.

By now it’s almost dull to hear more positive news about the labour market, but the UK’s economic recovery is showing no signs of slowing down if employment is anything to go by.

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Alibaba ups share price ahead of highly anticipated IPO

September 17 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

E-commerce giant Alibaba’s share price has been increased to $66-68 ahead of its highly anticipated IPO.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has been one of the dominant forces in online trading for years, so it’s no surprise that its upcoming initial public offering (IPO) in New York is among the most hotly anticipated flotations this year. That excitement is rising even further now that the firm has upped the price range of its shares ahead of the IPO.

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Google launches $105 Android One smartphone in India

September 17 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Google is taking smartphones to the masses in emerging markets like India with the new Android One device.

Google has been onto a winner with its Android operating system in the past few years. It’s the biggest rival to Apple’s iOS and used on a wide range of devices by different manufacturers, and it’s associated with lower costs than rivals running Apple’s software. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that Google is using Android to gain a foothold in emerging markets.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers revenue grows to £2.8 billion

September 16 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Revenues are up five percent to £2.814 billion at PricewaterhouseCoopers as clients become more optimistic about the economic outlook.

Most recent data has pointed to a marked upturn in the UK’s economic fortunes as the business world looks forward to better trading conditions in the next few months and years. It makes sense that one of the touchstones of this success would be the professional services sector – after all, improvements in other sectors will have knock-on effects for the firms that provide services to them.

This became apparent at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) yesterday, 15 September, as the company announcedthat revenues have risen on the back of encouraging improvements in client confidence.

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Firms head back to the City of London

September 16 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Occupancy rates in the Square Mile are rebounding as firms look back to London as a finance hub.

London’s position as a finance hub has never really been in doubt. But in the midst of the financial crisis, a number of companies began to look elsewhere in favour of more affordable, and perhaps more competitive, locations.

It seems the capital is recovering from the effects of that shift, with a new report showing that companies are moving back to the City.

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UK signs more China trade deals

September 15 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

The UK moves to develop stronger links with China have continued with a new wave of trade deals.

The UK has been going out of its way to consolidate and tighten its bonds with China. Just a few months ago, deals worth more than £14 billion were signed during the visit of Chinese premier Li Keqiang to British shores, covering everything from oil to securities.

As China vice premier Ma Kai came to London and met chancellor George Osborne as part of the annual UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue summit, another fresh wave of trade deals are expected to be finalised.

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Japan PM Abe calls for greater female participation in workforce

September 15 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has been trying to get more women into work to boost the nation’s economy.

Japan’s working environment is known for many things, but flexibility and work-life balance are not among them. Punishing working hours and a culture of unpaid overtime have ensured that the country has a reputation for being tough on working parents.

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Bank switching rises with 7-day service

September 12 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

More and more people are switching bank accounts since a seven-day switching system was introduced.

Last September, moves were finally made to simplify the process of switching bank accounts. As part of a move to increase competition and make life easier for consumers, the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) was launched to ensure that customers could switch their accounts within seven days.

Direct debits and credits would also be changed over for them without any extra charges. According to new Payments Council figures published today, the scheme has been fairly successful so far.

This two-year project will see a total of £750 million invested in the design, building, testing and launch of the service by the time it ends. However, it is already being well used – in fact, the data shows that in just under a year since the launch, over 1.1 million switches have been made.

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Amazon to double number of UK employees with new London office

September 12 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Amazon’s new office opening in London in 2017 will see the company more than double its UK workforce to 5,000 employees.

Amazon is increasing its corporate presence in the UK after it was confirmed that the company has made an agreement to open a huge new office, right next to the heart of the capital’s tech industry.

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Hong Kong raises $1 billion through Islamic bonds

September 11 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Hong Kong has reported a highly successful first foray into Islamic ‘sukuk’ bond sales by raising $1 billion in sales.

Since Islamic nations around the world have begun emerging as powerful economic forces, it is hardly surprising that so many authorities and institutions have started looking into the world of Islamic finance. Not to be outdone, Hong Kong has just announced its first successful attempt at an Islamic bond sale.

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has published the details of its first sukuk – bonds that are structured to comply with Islamic law and investment principles.

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Kingfisher fifth FTSE 100 firm with female CEO after Véronique Laury appointment

September 11 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

Kingfisher will become one of just five companies in the FTSE 100 with a female chief executive when Véronique Laury takes the helm.

Recent moves to improve female representation in the business world have focused heavily on getting women into the boardroom. That’s where the targets are and that’s where the world is watching. In contrast, the top job of chief executive has received far less attention – but DIY retailer Kingfisher has bucked a trend today by appointing Véronique Laury as its new chief executive.

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Germany and France to kick-start €300 billion European investment push

September 10 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

In line with plan outlined by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Germany and France are joining forces to push towards a European investment programme.

The eurozone’s struggles have been well-documented over the past few years since the financial crisis, but a new push from France and Germany could see a renewed period of investment across the European Union.

Bloomberg reports that government officials have confirmed that France and Germany are working together on proposals to involve the European Investment Bank (EIB) in granting loans to businesses. Apparently, the initiative is due to be presented to a meeting of finance ministers from across the bloc’s member states on Friday, 12 September.

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UK emerging as a ‘graduate economy’, claims OECD

September 10 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

The UK is turning into a “graduate economy”, OECD says, but skills shortage needs to be addressed

More and more people in the UK are obtaining degrees, transforming the economy – but basic skills are not rising at the same rate.

These are the findings of the latest Education at a Glance report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which shows the UK is increasingly developing into a “graduate economy”.

More people are now likely to have a degree than to have achieved only school-level qualifications, the report finds – a significant milestone on the road towards a true graduate economy.

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iPhone 6 and watch launch a new era for Apple

September 10 ,2014 | by Sarah Parkin

Two new phones, a payment system and wearable tech: Apple pulled out all the stops on 9 September.

Brand fans and tech lovers have never stopped looking forward to Apple product announcements. But the past few years have seen the tech giant accused of losing some of its innovative streak, especially since the death of co-founder and chief executive Steve Jobs in 2011. Yesterday’s new announcements, live-streamed online, were not necessarily aimed at the critics, but went a long way towards trying to prove them wrong.

Two new iPhones, a payments service and a smartwatch later, everyone’s talking about the new ideas at Apple. So what’s involved and where could it lead?

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Interest rates in the UK will rise in Q1 2015, says CBI

September 09 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

The Confederation of British Industry has said that it now expects interest rates to go up as early as the beginning of 2015 in Q1.

Last week (September 5th) saw the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) surprise nobody with the news that interest rates would remain flat for another month.

After more than five years at the record low of 0.5 per cent as the central bank has attempted to promote and then safeguard economic growth, it is going to take compelling evidence to encourage MPC to increase the cost of borrowing.

But the attitudes of policymakers have been shifting in the past few months, and minutes from last month’s meeting indicated that for the first time in three years the decision was not unanimous. Two members of the committee had actually voted to increase interest rates, although nine consented to keep the rate flat.

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UK challenges EU over bonus cap for bankers

September 08 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

The UK is mounting a legal challenge to new rules that limit the bonuses bankers can be awarded.

The UK government is due to present a legal challenge today (September 8th) to new EU legislation that limits the bonuses that can be paid to bankers.

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Why are tech startups moving to the megacities?

September 08 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

Silicon Valley might be the global hub of the tech world, but more and more new firms are looking to big cities elsewhere.

When you think of technology hotspots, the chances are that Silicon Valley springs to mind. It’s been the world leader for decades and still sees more investment than virtually anywhere else in the tech world. But the next generation of tech startups don’t seem as interested in isolation as the Apples and Facebooks – instead of famously remote locations, they’re looking more often towards big cities elsewhere.

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Bank of England keeps interest rates at 0.5%

September 05 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has announced that it is to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.5 per cent for another month, despite the fact that the UK’s economy is in robust shape.

In making the announcement, the BoE also revealed that it would be maintaining the size of its economic stimulus programme at £375 million.

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Barclays introduces finger vein technology

September 05 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

Barclays has launched a pioneering service that may transform the way people access banking and usher in a new age of state-of-the-art security.

Currently, the usual practice involves users having to type in a number of passwords and numbers, which can be a somewhat laborious process.

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UK construction sector experiences 7-month high

September 04 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

The UK construction sector continues to deliver outstanding results, with the latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).

The construction boom in Britain is substantial, with the rise in output between August and July – from 62.4 to 64.0 – the largest monthly increase one of the biggest ever recorded during the survey’s 17-year history.

It is also the largest monthly rise since January of this year. Attributing to these successes include another marked rise in house building, and upsurges in commercial activity and civil engineering.

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Ecuador to launch national digital currency similar to Bitcoin

September 04 ,2014 | by Thiago Kiwi

Ecuador intends to launch its own national digital currency similar to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

Ecuador has revealed more details about its intentions to create what it has described as the world’s first digital currency to ever be issued by a country’s central bank.

According to President Rafael Correa, the aim of the digital currency, which has yet to be given an official name, is to help people in Ecuador who cannot afford traditional banking.

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