BBC.- A revamped loan fund for ailing firms hit by the coronavirus lockdown will have an immediate impact, RBS has said. RBS chairman Sir Howard Davies admitted there had been problems but expects to see a “sharp increase” in lending to small firms in the next few days.
BBC.- Self-employed workers can apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits to help them cope with the financial impact of coronavirus, the chancellor has announced.
BBC.- The UK’s top share index is facing its worst day since the financial crisis after it fell sharply, wiping billions off the value of major firms. The drop follows global falls as a row between Russia and Saudi Arabia saw oil prices plunge by more than a fifth.
BBC.- Retail sales improved in January, increasing by 0.9% on the previous month, official figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the amount of goods sold in Great Britain rose by 0.9%, after falls in the previous two months.
BBC.- Average weekly wages in the UK have reached their highest levels since before the financial crisis. Weekly pay reached £512 in the three months to December, which – adjusting for inflation – is the highest since March 2008.
BBC.- The UK’s planned ban on sales of new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars could start as early as 2032, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.
Bloomberg.- The U.K. government asked its citizens to leave China, while Hong Kong reported a death from the coronavirus, confirming the second fatality outside the mainland. More than 20,600 cases have now been reported, an increase from about 17,000 the previous day.
BBC.- The sale of British Steel to Chinese firm Jingye could be scuppered by French intervention. Jingye agreed in November to buy the collapsed business for £50m and save about 4,000 jobs. However, the approval of the French government is required because British Steel has a plant in France that is considered a strategic national asset. Now French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has threatened to veto the deal, as first reported by Sky News. Mr Le Maire told Chancellor Sajid Javid of his intentions last week during a meeting in Brussels, government sources confirmed to the BBC. The Anglo-French…
BBC.- The Bank of England has held interest rates at 0.75% amid early signs of a pick up in the UK and global economies. In Mark Carney’s final interest rate meeting as governor, the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted 7-2 to keep rates unchanged.
BBC.- The UK’s largest business, trade and education bodies have set out their priorities for a post-Brexit immigration system. They called for flexibility for skilled workers to enter the UK through a points-based system, and a reformed sponsorship process.
BBC.- Sales volumes fell by 0.6% from November, the fifth month in a row without growth, the Office for National Statistics said. It comes amid worries about economic growth and forecasts that the Bank of England could cut interest rates soon.
BBC.- The national living wage is to rise by 6.2% in what the government says is “the biggest cash increase ever”. The rise is more than four times the rate of inflation and takes hourly pay for people over 25 to £8.72 from April.
BBC.- Andrew Bailey has been appointed as the next governor of the Bank of England. Mr Bailey, aged 60, is currently chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the City watchdog.
BBC.- UK unemployment fell to its lowest level since January 1975 in the three months to October this year. The number of people out of work fell by 13,000 to 1.281 million, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show.
BBC.- The economy suffered its worst three months for more than a decade after official figures revealed output failed to grow once again in October. Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed the economy flatlined month-on-month in October, after two months of declines.
BBC.- Investors shaken by the suspension of withdrawals from a leading UK property fund pulled nearly £100m from similar investments in the subsequent two days. M&G froze withdrawals from its property portfolio fund on Wednesday, after it was unable to sell assets fast enough to meet investors’ demands for money.
BBC.- Neither the Conservatives nor Labour are offering “credible” spending plans ahead of the general election, an influential research group has said. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said it was “highly likely” the Tories would end up spending more than their manifesto pledges.
BBC.- The Conservative Party manifesto contained no rabbits out of the hat, no huge tax cut – but a promise not to raise them – and no big new spending item. It has been designed as a “steady as she goes” modest effort – the equivalent of a rather low key Budget, with some targeted help.
MarketWatch.- Electoral campaigns are the moment when political parties remember that there are more poor than rich voters, and in most western democracies, this is the time when promises to raise the minimum wage flourish. In the U.S., Democratic candidates for their party’s presidential nomination all seem to agree on the need to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, either right away or over time.
BBC.- Planned cuts to corporation tax next April are to be put on hold, Boris Johnson has told business leaders, with the money being spent on the NHS. The rate paid by firms on their profits was due to fall from 19% to 17%.
BBC.- The Labour Party has vowed to close the gender pay gap by 2030 if it wins the election. The difference between men’s and women’s average pay would take another 60 years to close under a Conservative government, the party said.
BBC.- Britain’s economy has grown at the slowest annual rate in almost a decade, according to official figures. Year-on-year growth in the three months to end-September slowed to 1% from 1.3% in the second quarter, the Office for National Statistics said.
BBC.- Both major political parties have dropped a key target that would see the national debt falling over time. The move will allow tens or even hundreds of billions more in investment spending on hospitals, schools, housing and public transport.
BBC.- Government spending is likely to head back towards 1970s levels over the next parliament whichever party wins the general election, research suggests. Think tank the Resolution Foundation said both Labour and the Conservatives were planning big increases in the size of the state.
BBC.- City centres across the UK will be transformed in the coming weeks as wooden stalls are erected and visitors from Europe arrive to bring a continental flavour to our streets. Christmas markets have quickly become a familiar sight in many cities, but the uncertainty around Brexit means they have faced extra challenges this year.
BBC.- An internal UK government memo on the consequences of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal renegotiation singles out the removal of the word “adequate” from the UK-EU Political Declaration to describe mechanisms for enforcing common social, environmental, and labour standards after Brexit.
BBC.- The UK budget deficit is £1-£1.5bn less than what had been previously reported after a statistical error, the Office for National Statistics has said (ONS). Britain’s official statistics agency reported earlier this week a year-to-date budget deficit of £40.3bn, excluding public-sector banks.
BBC.- Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is “acceptable” and the country should push ahead with it, leading banker Sir Ian Cheshire has said. Sir Ian, chairman of Barclays’ UK operations, told the BBC that business leaders wanted to see certainty.
BBC.- The UK should not expect that its “special relationship” with the US means it will get more favourable terms when it comes to trade. That was the warning from former US trade chief, Michael Froman, talking exclusively to the BBC.
BBC.- Productivity in the UK fell at its fastest annual pace in five years in the April-to-June quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics. The figure – measured by output per hour – fell by 0.5%, after two previous quarters of zero growth.