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November 3, 2011

NS&I to cease selling via Post Office

by Kay Mitchell
From November 28, National Savings and Investments (NS&I) will cease selling its accounts via the Post Office. It has been announced that the Government-backed NS&I will no longer sell investment or easy access savings accounts over the counter at the Post Office. NS&I runs Premium Bonds and a variety of savings products. However, from the end of the month, its savings accounts will ...

November 1, 2011

Scope launches £20m bond programme

by Kay Mitchell
Disability charity Scope is to launch a £20 million bond programme to produce a new source of funds for its charitable activities. The move will see the charity become one of the first in the UK to enter the capital markets. The charity will team up with Investing for Good, a specialist social finance intermediary, in order to pilot the scheme. As ...

Nationwide: House prices rise 0.4% in October

by Kay Mitchell
The latest house price index from the Nationwide Building Society has revealed prices rose by 0.4% in October on a monthly basis. On an annual basis, house prices are now 0.8% higher than this time last year – representing the first yearly rise in six months – with the average UK home costing £165,650. However, when comparing prices in the three months ...

Australia cuts interest rates to boost growth

by Kay Mitchell
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has today elected to cut interest rates by one quarter of a percentage point to 4.5% in a bid to bolster growth. The move, which was widely expected, comes as the global economy slows and unemployment rises (currently at 5.2%). It was the first time in two-and-a-half years that the RBA has cut rates. The Australian ...

UK manufacturing activity contracts in October

by Kay Mitchell
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS)/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) has today revealed UK manufacturing activity contracted last month. The closely-watched CIPS/Markit manufacturing PMI sank to 47.4 in October from September’s reading of 50.8. Today’s survey means the index has fallen below the crucial 50 mark – which separates growth from expansion. Furthermore, the index is now at its lowest ...

UK third quarter GDP surprises

by Kay Mitchell
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today revealed the UK economy expanded by a better-than-expected 0.5% in the July to September period. This compares with a 0.1% growth rate for the second quarter and was better than the 0.3% expected by most economists. The better performance was attributed to production sector output, which rose 0.5% in the three month period, versus a 1.2% ...

October 31, 2011

ILO: Global economy on brink of jobs recession

by Kay Mitchell
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned that the world economy is heading towards a new jobs recession, which could trigger social unrest in some countries. The recent slowdown in the global economy is “dramatically” affecting labour markets and it is expected to take at least five years for employment in developed economies to return to pre-crisis levels, according to ...

Mortgage approvals fall, house sales down

by Kay Mitchell
The Bank of England has today revealed mortgage approvals fell in September for the first time in six months. According to the Bank, there were 50,967 loans approved in the month – down 3% on August’s figure. However, September’s figure was broadly in line with forecasts and suggests the UK mortgage market will remain subdued for some time to come. Approvals still ...

Cost-cutting boosts Barclays profits

by Kay Mitchell
In an interim management statement today, banking giant Barclays said profits climbed 5% in the third quarter – boosted by cost-cutting measures. For the three months to the end of September, the bank said pre-tax profits were £1.34 billion, versus £1.27 billion for the same period a year earlier. However, revenues for the three month period were down 3% at £7 billion, as a ...

October 29, 2011

Occupational pension contributions fall to 54-year low

by Kay Mitchell
According to a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of people paying into an occupational pension has slumped to a level not seen since 1956. Last year, there were 8.3 million people contributing to an occupational pension (3 million in the private sector and 5.3 million in the public sector). This represented the lowest figure for 54 years ...

Rising cost of heating is big concern for Britons

by Kay Mitchell
A survey by Incahoot.com has revealed Britons would rather risk hefty heating bills than turning up the heat in the bedroom. The phrase “no sex please, we’re British” appears to be true after a survey by the collective buying website found that 90% of UK consumers would rather turn up the radiators than have sex with their partner to ...

US consumer spending up in September

by Kay Mitchell
Official figures have revealed consumer spending in the US improved last month. According to the Commerce Department, consumer spending rose 0.6% to $68.7 billion (£42.7 billion) in September and follows a 0.2% rise in August. The figures will be a welcome boost for the economy which looked set to be heading towards a double dip recession just a few weeks ago. Consumer spending ...

October 26, 2011

Euro crisis: Leaders gather for emergency summit

by Kay Mitchell
EU leaders are travelling to Brussels for an emergency summit – the 14th in 21 months – designed to tackle the euro zone debt crisis. The summit will also see leaders discuss Greece’s second bailout, as well as boosting the €440 billion rescue fund. There are still growing fears that Greece’s debt crisis could spread to weaker nations, such as Italy and ...

US consumer confidence slumps in October

by Kay Mitchell
US consumer confidence slumped in October, the Conference Board has reported. The closely-monitored Consumer Confidence Index from the Conference Board dived to 39.8 this month from September’s reading of 46.4. Not only was the reading less than forecasts of a level of 46.0, it was the lowest since March 2009, when the US was in recession. Furthermore, the index remains far away from the ...

October 25, 2011

BoE Governor: QE may not boost lending

by Kay Mitchell
Mervyn King, the Bank of England’s Governor, has confessed that the latest round of stimulus is not guaranteed to boost lending to SMEs. The ongoing lack of credit to SMEs has been a major concern for the Government as these companies are the key to job creation in the UK and are expected to be one of the main drivers of ...

India lifts interest rates further to combat inflation

by Kay Mitchell
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has today raised key interest rates for the thirteenth time since March 2010, in a bid to tame stubbornly high inflation. The central bank lifted its main rate to 8.5% from 8.25% as inflation soars on the back of higher food and fuel prices and the measures were widely expected. Figures recently revealed India’s wholesale ...

October 24, 2011

Markit: Household finances continue to be squeezed

by Kay Mitchell
The Markit Household Finance Index (HFI) has today published a gloomy report as families’ finances were slightly worse in October than in September. Meanwhile, Markit’s HFI, which measures prospects for finances over the coming year, dived to 34.5 this month, from September’s reading of 42.2. The reading represented the lowest in the survey’s history and remains way below the 50 level which ...

LSL: Rents reach record high in September

by Kay Mitchell
A survey by LSL Property Services has revealed rents in England and Wales continue to surge, with the average rent hitting a further record high last month. September represented the eighth consecutive month that the average rental cost rose. Lenders’ deposit requirements, together with unaffordable house prices, has meant the rental sector has been in high demand and this has driven up ...

October 21, 2011

UK Public Sector Borrowing lower than expected in September

by Kay Mitchell
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today revealed UK public sector net borrowing fell last month. According to the ONS, public sector net borrowing came in at a lower than expected £14.1 billion in September, boosted by tax receipts. Analysts had expected borrowing to total £14.5 billion. Furthermore, the ONS revised down the borrowing figure for August by £2 billion ...

Nationwide: UK consumer confidence slips further in September

by Kay Mitchell
The latest survey from the Nationwide Building Society has revealed a fall in UK consumer confidence for the month of September. The building society’s consumer confidence index fell for the fourth consecutive month, falling by 3 points to 45 in September – hovering dangerously close to the all-time low of 41. Furthermore, it is 10 points lower than this time last ...