This is London: The £240,000 garage There is ample room for an Aston Martin - as long as your other car is not much larger than a Mini. But regardless of size, this ordinary garage has just netted one couple £240,000.
FT.Com: Britain’s vacant shop space increases by 45% The amount of empty shop space in Britain has jumped by 45 per cent in the past year, according to research by one of the country's top retail property agencies. The rise in voids will add to concerns about the consumer slowdown that began about a year ago. Void rates have increased from an average of 3.1 per cent in the late 1990s to 3.8 per cent last year. They have since risen to 5.5 per cent, according to Donaldsons property consultants. Donaldsons described this as a “relentless increase”.
Reuters: August consumer confidence slumps despite rate cut Consumer confidence deteriorated sharply to its lowest level in nine months in August, dragged down by a more pessimistic assessment of Britain's economy, a report showed on Wednesday. Consultancy GfK Martin Hamblin said its confidence barometer fell to -4 from -1 in July. That was the lowest since a reading of -4 in November and confounded expectations for stablisation at -1 thanks to August's Bank of England interest rate cut.
SkyNews: CONSUMER CONFIDENCE DIPS Consumer confidence fell sharply in August, hitting its lowest level in nine months. The barometer of confidence fell to -4 from -1 in July as Britons' assessment of the country's economic situation slumped, said consultancy GfK Martin Hamblin.
TimesOnline: 60% admit to ignoring their bank statements Research suggesting that three quarters of consumers are more likely to read the back of cereal packets than information sent to them by their financial service providers has led to calls for a simplification of financial correspondence.
Economist.com: Counting the cost Had you been told in late 2001—not long after that September's terrorist attacks, and when stockmarkets had been tumbling for 18 months or so—that the price of crude oil would more than triple within four years, you might well have predicted global economic meltdown.
Economist.com: The damage that Katrina could still wreak Hurricane Katrina is already known to have killed dozens along the Gulf of Mexico coast, with the death toll expected to rise as rescuers reach more affected areas. Besides its devastating cost in lives, Katrina could push the American economy—maybe even the world economy—into recession
Sky News: OIL PRICES EYED UP Analysts are eyeing up the cost of oil after prices raced ahead to a record high $70.80 a barrel. The rise came after fears about the possible effect of Hurricane Katrina. There were initial concerns that the hurricane could do lasting damage to US Gulf Coast oil production and refining equipment, straining an industry already working nearly flat-out. However, BP later reported that its massive Thunder Horse construction appeared to have escaped unscathed, calming the market.
ThisisMoney: Car costs double in ten years THE cost of running a car has passed the £2,000-a-year mark for the first time, a survey has revealed. The average annual cost of motoring has doubled in the past ten years and is now around £2,053, excluding interest repayments on loans and depreciation of the cost of the car. With petrol and diesel prices soaring - the £4 gallon having become the norm - the biggest cost is fuel.
Telegraph: Payback time for credit card spenders Shoppers are spending far less on their credit cards, the Bank of England said yesterday, as they switch to less expensive forms of debt. The Bank said borrowing on plastic rose by £312m in July - less than half the average amount of £655m over the previous six months - while bank loans gained in popularity.
Independent: Mortgage lending hits a three-year low Hopes of a revival in consumer spending took another blow yesterday from figures showing that mortgage lending hit a three-year low last month, while retailers suffered another gloomy trading session over the key bank holiday weekend.
TimesOnline: Buy-to-let available, minimum investment of just £1 TO LOCALS in the Leeds suburb of Horsforth, No 5 Back Clarence Road is a cute-looking, stone-built one-bedroom terraced cottage perfect for a first-time buyer. To 65 web-surfing investors who have just snapped it up for £104,000 without setting foot in it, it is LS184JZ1 plc, a company with tradeable shares. Welcome to the pioneering world of internet-based buy-to-let investment, where investors can become micro-landlords for a fraction of the cost of buying an entire property
TimesOnline: Hurricane 'will force consumers to reduce fuel use' OIL prices soared to record levels yesterday as nervous traders ignored pledges of additional supplies from Saudi Arabia and instead worked feverishly to calculate the impact of Hurricane Katrina. The price of a barrel of US light crude touched $70.85 a barrel, five cents higher than Monday’s peak, while Brent in London jumped $3.55 to $68.42 when trading resumed after Bank Holiday Monday. Gas prices in the United States also rose sharply.
ThisisMoney: Mortgage lending continues to slide UK mortgage lending grew at its weakest rate in more than three years last month while consumer credit also rose less than expected, according to figures released by the Bank of England. The 12-month growth rate in house prices fell to 10.4% in July, down from 10.8% in June and the weakest increase since June 2002.
BBC NEWS | Business | UK borrowing slowdown continues Mortgage lending in the UK is rising at its slowest rate since January 2002, according to the Bank of England. Lending in July rose at a yearly rate of 10.4%. Last month bank and building society lending rose £6.45bn, the lowest cash increase for a little over three years.
FT.Com: UK mortgage lending rise weakest in 3 years The amount of outstanding mortgage debt rose at its slowest pace in three years last month while unsecured consumer credit also increased more slowly than expected, Bank of England data showed on Tuesday.
FT.Com: Clues from other times and places For the government and the Bank of England, the dream scenario on the housing market is a soft landing: a period of stable prices during which affordability improves as earnings catch up. As residential property values come off the boil, experts are turning to historical and international comparisons in search of clues to what the future holds.
Reuters: Retail sales fall in August - CBI Retail sales volumes fell again in August, dragging the underlying trend to its weakest in at least 22 years, an industry survey signalled on Tuesday. The Confederation of British Industry's distributive trades survey showed 27 percent of retailers reported sales volumes up on the year in August but 45 percent said they were down.
Reuters: July mortgage lending rise weakest in 3 yrs Mortgage lending saw its weakest monthly rise in more than three years in July while consumer credit also increased less than expected, official data showed on Tuesday. The Bank of England said mortgage lending rose by 6.451 billion pounds last month, compared to a forecast for 7.1 billion pounds and following a 7.064 billion rise in June. That was the weakest rise since June 2002.
Reuters: Sterling falls to 3-week low vs dollar after data Sterling fell to its lowest level in three weeks against the dollar on Tuesday after Bank of England data showed the lowest rise in mortgage lending in three years in July. Mortgage lending rose by 6.45 billion pounds last month, compared with June's 7.06 rise and forecasts for a 7.1 billion increase. Net consumer credit also rose less than expected.
SkyNews: PEOPLE CLUELESS ON DEBT A new financial education service has beern launched after research showed many people do not have a clue when it comes to mortgages and debt. A survey of 1,000 people for the Prudential found that more than half did not know how much debt or credit they had. A similar number did not know what a repayment mortgage was.
SkyNews: GLOOM HITS HIGH STREET Shops on the High Street are at their gloomiest since 1983, according to the latest survey from the CBI. A third of retailers believe the situation is going to get worse while one in five businesses believe overall business outlook will deteriorate in the next quarter. That is the first time in seven years that firms have been more despondent than hopeful about prospects.
ThisisMoney: Earn £70k a year as a brickie A SHORTAGE of skilled builders and a boom in Government spending on construction have ushered in the era of the £70,000-a-year bricklayer. A jump in public-sector building work has triggered a scramble for craft workers that has sent pay spiralling. Earnings could get another hefty upward shove when building work starts on the 2012 London Olympics complex, say industry sources.
TimesOnline: Retail slump to deepen after dismal summer AFTER a miserable summer, trading conditions on Britain’s high streets are going to deteriorate further, according to new sales figures from the CBI, the employers’ organisation, which show the worst trend for 22 years. Hopes that consumer spending was about to pick up have been dashed by the CBI’s quarterly survey, which shows little sign of any recovery for retailers threatened by the housing slowdown and the new quotas on imports of Chinese clothing.
TimesOnline: Hurricane Katrina whips oil price to a record high OIL soared to record levels yesterday as Hurricane Katrina forced the shutdown of half of the Gulf of Mexico’s crude output and more than two thirds of its natural gas production.The price of a barrel of US light crude leapt to $70.80 in overnight trading as oil companies scrambled to move personnel from offshore rigs and platforms. Reports that the hurricane had weakened caused oil to pull back from its early gains to end at $67.20, up $1.07 on Friday’s close.
BBC NEWS | Business | Dreary summer on the High Street Retailers have suffered one of their worst summers on the High Street in years - and the situation is set to remain bleak, according to the CBI. One in five retailers expect trade to worsen in the next quarter, the group said, against 13% who expect a rise.
BBC NEWS | Business | Oil close to highs as storm rages The price of oil has stayed close to record levels as Hurricane Katrina batters the US southern coastline. A barrel of light crude was trading at $68.48 in New York, before falling back slightly to $68.45 in Singapore. On Monday, the price surged to a record of $70.80 on concerns that Katrina would damage refining and extraction operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Reuters: Oil leaps above $70 as Katrina rips through US Gulf Oil prices surged to a record above $70 a barrel on Monday as one of the biggest hurricanes in U.S. history disrupted oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. The region is home to a quarter of total U.S. oil and gas production. U.S. crude oil futures jumped nearly $5 a barrel in electronic trade to touch a peak of $70.80 a barrel, the highest front-month price since the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) began trading the contracts in 1983.
Telegraph: B&Q struggling as housing slowdown puts brake on DIY B&Q, the country's biggest DIY retailer, is being hit harder than its arch rival Homebase in the worst trading year for the industry. The DIY and gardening sector is expected to see its first ever decline in consumer expenditure this year, according to research published today by Verdict.
Independent: Inflation may run out of control - King The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that inflation could spiral out of control if economic shocks such as an oil price spike jolted consumers' faith in stable prices. Addressing other central bankers, Mervyn King said monetary policy in the UK and US was vulnerable precisely because of its own recent success.
Guardian: 14th month of house price falls House prices fell for the 14th month in a row and show no signs of recovery in the near future, a survey shows today. Hometrack said national house prices fell by an average of 0.1% this month compared with July and have declined by an average of 3.7% over the past year. The national average price is £161,000, down from a peak of £167,000 in June last year.
Guardian: What I learned from Alan Greenspan - Mervyn King I want to describe the three important lessons that I have learned from Alan Greenspan [as chairman of the US Federal Reserve] during my time at the Bank of England. First, to be a successful central banker requires an extraordinary degree of objectivity. The key is to recognise that economics tells you how to think, not what to think. It is not a set of settled conclusions about issues. Above all, it is vital never to confuse the world with a model. The whole point of a model is to abstract from a wide range of factors in order to think clearly about one particular issue.
TimesOnline: Rate cut fails to put spark into housing market THE quarter-point cut in interest rates made at the beginning of this month made no immediate impact on Britain’s stagnant housing market. Instead of potential buyers being enticed back to the market, more have stayed away. According to Hometrack, which follows housing market trends through a network of estate agents, the number of new buyers edged down again, by 0.5 per cent.
SkyNews: MANY HOUSES NEEDING CASH English homes need £48bn of repairs and improvements, with a third of private properties failing to meet even basic standards, research has shown. Nearly seven million homes in England, including five million private houses, fall below the standards of decent accommodation, says mortgage lender Halifax.
Independent: Woolwich dismisses fears of property market crash Woolwich, the British bank owned by Barclays, became the latest organisation to dismiss fears of a crash in the UK residential property market yesterday, forecasting that the average house price will in fact more than double over the next 20 years, to around a third of a million pounds.
Bloomberg: Greenspan Says Housing Boom to `Simmer Down,' Prices May Fall The U.S. housing boom is sure to end eventually, slowing spending and possibly leading to a drop in home prices, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said. The housing boom will inevitably simmer down,'' Greenspan said in the text of a speech at the close of a two-day Kansas City Fed symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. ``As part of that process, house turnover will decline from currently historic levels, while home price increases will slow and prices could even decrease.''
SkyNews: SPENDERS NOT SAVERS People in their 40s and 50s would rather spend their money now than save towards their retirement, a survey has claimed. Three out of 10 people in this age group say enjoying their cash now is a bigger priority for them than investing for their future, according to Insight Investment.
In2Perspective: House prices still stagnating Hometrack's August survey of the national housing market reports a fall of -0.1%, following last month’s fall of -0.2%. The group says house prices have now been falling for 14 months and show little sign of imminent recovery.
Guardian: Households rein in their spending Spending by British households fell to the slowest rate for a decade as consumers tightened their belts in the face of higher borrowing costs, more expensive energy and a cooling housing market.
The Observer: Playing the percentages The decision by the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee to reduce the base rate by 0.25 per cent to 4.5 per cent this month should have come as welcome news to those with home loans.
smh.com.au: A mortgage belting for Sydneysiders Home loan affordability remains at "scary" levels in Sydney even though property prices continue to fall across the city, and it will weigh heavily on the economy for years to come, the housing industry has warned.
Guardian: Gate Gourmet beefs up its redundancy offer Some 2,000 catering workers - including 670 sacked staff - are to be offered enhanced redundancy payments by Gate Gourmet if they agree next week to quit the troubled company, which was at the centre of the dispute that crippled Heathrow a fortnight ago.
TimesOnline: US heading for house price crash, Greenspan tells buyers WALL STREET shuddered yesterday after Alan Greenspan, the United States’ central banker, warned American homebuyers that they risk a crash if they continue to drive property prices higher. He said that the US house-price spiral had become an economic imbalance, threatening stability like the country’s trade gap or its budget deficit.
SkyNews: SHOPPERS STALL FURTHER The rise in consumer spending for the second quarter of the year was at its lowest annual rate in more than 10 years. Consumer spending rose by 0.2% after increasing by 0.1% in the first quarter, said the Office for National Statistics.
Guardian: Job cuts at toilet paper maker The maker of Velvet toilet tissue has warned that its UK workforce could bear the brunt of a restructuring set to cost 3,600 jobs. Svenska Cellulosa employs some 7,000 staff at 30 sites across the UK including in Edinburgh, London, Northampton, Darlington and Portsmouth. It said Britain, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands would be hardest hit.
WesternGazette: TOWN FACES FRESH BOUT OF JOB LOSSES The spectre of job losses cast a fresh shadow over Yeovil this week, following a shake-up at two of the town's largest employers. Honeywell Aerospace, which employs around 800 staff in Bunford Lane, confirmed 50 local jobs have been axed as part of a global streamlining process to cut five per cent of staff worldwide.
Times Online: Economic growth dampens rate cut hopes Economic data published today has prompted one prominent analyst to question the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee's decision to cut interest rates by 0.25 per cent last month, and suggest that inflationary pressures will prevent any cuts in the short- to mid-term.
ThisisMoney: First-time buyer joy - in 2025 FIRST-time buyers only have 20 years wait before they will be able to step on the property ladder, according to new research. Unlike today's troubled youngsters, first-time buyer in 2025 will benefit from a plethora of small starter homes built from Government subsidies and earnings growth outstripping property price rises.
ThisisMoney: Second-home plan under attack PLANS to let pension savings be used to buy a second home came under fire last night. Chancellor Gordon Brown's proposed changes could mean sizeable tax breaks for some wealthy buyers. There are fears that this will trigger sharp house price rises in rural areas, forcing locals out of the property market.
Guardian: Lloyds TSB to move 125 jobs to India Staff at Scottish Widows were told yesterday that 125 jobs are to be outsourced to India by the parent company Lloyds TSB to cut costs. The news shocked the 4,000 workers at the Edinburgh-based insurer, according to union officials at Amicus, who pledged to fight compulsory job losses.
Guardian: Diesel 'could cost £1 a litre by Christmas' The price of a litre of diesel could reach £1 before Christmas if oil prices continue to rise, analysts have warned. The average price of diesel is now 95.3p a litre, compared with unleaded petrol at 91.6p. Diesel costs are rising more quickly than petrol because of constraints in refining capacity, said Ray Holloway of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent filling stations.
TimesOnline: Crude politics to keep oil price rising This week the price of a barrel of oil surged towards $70 a barrel, up more than 65 per cent on the start to the year and near the inflation-adjusted price last seen in 1980, shortly after the Iranian revolution.
Money Week: The Future for UK Interest Rates It is self-evident from the voting figures — a 5:4 majority for a rate cut with the Governor voting against the 25bp reduction to 4.5% — that the decision made by the Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England on August 4 was, as we had always expected, very finely balanced.
ThisisMoney: Second homes boom predicted OR thousands of Britons, buying a second home has meant looking at places such as Spain, the Dordogne in France and Tuscany in Italy.In the UK, there was the West Country or the Cotswolds. Now, however, would-be buyers are turning their attentions to slightly less obvious areas - such as Bradford and the East End of London.
Sky News: FACTORY ORDERS FALTER Factory order books fell at their sharpest pace in nearly two years in August, a survey for the CBI has shown. However, companies still expect to raise output in the coming months. The Confederation of British Industry said its monthly manufacturing order books balance fell to -29 in August, its lowest since October 2003.
SkyNews: MORTGAGE DEALS FALL OFF Mortgage approvals for home purchases fell 6% in July. However, that was at a much slower rate than in previous months. Approvals - the number of loans agreed but not yet made - fell to 65,611 in July from a 12-month high of 70,750 in June, said the British Bankers' Association.
Guardian: Oil prices top $68 a barrel Crude oil prices broke through the $68 a barrel mark for the first time today after China reported a surge in oil imports in July. Storms that could damage production in the Gulf of Mexico also contributed to the latest bounce in prices. Gulf production accounts for around 30% of US output and refineries have shut down as a precautionary measure against hurricanes.
Telegraph: Surging oil price forces bosses to wield axe There was a sharp jump in the price of oil yesterday, as the CBI said British factories had slumped because of high energy prices. The employers body said it was "energy, not wages" that is biting into manufacturers, who are firing 20,000 to 25,000 staff every three months.
ICWales: Fears over 800 job losses in Pontypool FEARS that the Welsh automotive industry is about to take another blow grew last night as reports circulated that the future of the TRW plant in Pontypool is in doubt. Local politicians reacted with dismay to claims that the major employer in Pontypool yesterday started negotiations with workers over potential job losses. TRW, a global car parts manufacturer, employs 800 people in its Pontypool car brakes factory.
Telegraph: 'Shoemaker to the stars' files for bankruptcy Charles Jourdan, shoemaker to the world's rich and famous for the past 80 years, filed for bankruptcy yesterday after collapsing under €9m (£6m) of debt. The company's 432 employees have been warned that they will lose their jobs unless a buyer can be found for parts of the business in coming days.
ThisisMoney: Ombudsman reports hike in IFA complaints THE Financial Ombudsman Service has reported a spike in the number of endowment mis-selling complaints involving Independent Financial Advisors. The FOS said 13% of all endowment complaints concerned IFAs last year, but it expects that figure to rise significantly during the current.
Guardian: Property market slowed in July Selling a property became harder in July, with the number of viewings before a sale up 50% on June's figure, estate agents said today. A survey by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) revealed that July lived up to its reputation as a traditionally quiet month for buying a home. Its members reported falls in the number of buyers on their books, the number of properties available and the number of sales agreed.
ThisisMoney: Fixed rate deals edge up BORROWERS looking to fix their mortgage are being urged to get a move on as some of the best buy products on the market disappear. Despite interest rates falling this month, lenders have started to raise their rates on fixed deals following a shift in sentiment over the future of the economy.
Times Online: Tough times for buy-to-let novices The buy-to-let boom is over, for the time being at least. Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show that the number of new loans fell by 4% in the first half of the year. This follows an 18% decline in the second half of last year.
Times Online: Inflation rate is now slave to oil prices SHOULD Britain be starting to worry about inflation? After the stream of inflationary news stories last week, it is tempting to think so. On Monday, the oil price shot up to more than $65. On Tuesday, the official measure of inflation jumped to its highest level for eight years. Then on Wednesday came the most disconcerting development: Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, tried to warn the Monetary Policy Committee that a cut in interest rates could jeopardise the inflation outlook, but found himself outvoted for the first time in the history of the MPC.
ThisisMoney: Tough financial times for young Britons SO what is the problem with the youth of today? It is hardly a new question, but rarely has there been more cause to ask it. There are disturbing and concrete signs that the younger generations are in a serious quandary - and not just the 'happyslapping' hoodie wearers.
ThisisMoney: UK jobs threat after shipping firm takeover ERMAN travel giant TUI's £1.2bn purchase of Anglo-Canadian shipping company CP has raised the spectre of job cuts at the Gatwick-based firm. TUI may target jobs there in its quest to rationalise as its Hapag-Lloyd line becomes the world's fifth biggest containershipping business.
IC Wales: Bankruptcies prompt consumer debt fears THE number of consumer debtors resorting to bankruptcy, when compared to entrepreneurs and business people, has hit a new high. The proportion of bankruptcy cases represented by those whose debts are mainly personal loans and credit card balances rose by 70% in the year 2004/05, according to new figures.
Reuters: Property transactions fall in July-UK tax collector The number of property transactions in England and Wales edged down in July, Britain's tax collector said on Monday, but activity remained well above a low at the start of the year. Transactions fell to a seasonally adjusted 122,000 in July from 123,000 in June, HM Revenue and Customs said. That was down on 151,000 a year ago but above a low of 107,000 this January.
Scotsman: Don't bank on more interest cuts THE latest inflation figures and the minutes of the last Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting showing the governor voting against a cut in interest rates have brought us to a critical juncture in monetary policy. Britain could now be close to an economic 'worst of all worlds'. It is one that combines slowing growth, subdued consumer spending, rising unemployment, a housing market dead in many areas, rising inflation, pending tax increases and interest rate setters deeply divided as to what the response should be: rate cuts, no cuts - or even an increase.
Times Online: Move fast to snap up cheap home loans FIRST-TIME buyers and homeowners looking for a new loan were urged this week to act fast to grab the best deals as lenders moved to increase the rates on fixed-rate mortgages. The trend for more expensive fixed-rate deals comes despite the Bank of England’s decision to cut the base rate to 4.5 per cent.
Financial Times: Housing wealth falls for first time in a decade British net housing wealth has declined for the first time in a decade because of rising mortgage debt and falling house prices, according to an analysis by the Financial Times. In the second quarter, the net wealth tied up in British homes dropped by over £60bn. This was because falling house prices wiped close to £40bn off the value of the housing stock and total mortgage debt rose by over £20bn. The last time net housing wealth fell was in the fourth quarter of 1995.
Guardian: Manufacturing share has fallen 30% The manufacturing sector's share of the economy has fallen by almost 30% since Labour came to power in 1997 and now contributes only half as much to output as financial and business services, the government said yesterday.
BBC NEWS | England | Staffordshire | Group meets to discuss RAF losses A task force which was set up following the announcement of hundreds of job losses at RAF Stafford has met for the first time. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said 280 redundancies at the storage depot are planned by 2007. The task force is to press the MoD to let JobCentre Plus give early help to workers affected.
BBC NEWS | England | Cumbria | Threat to textile printing jobs Up to 62 jobs at a textile printing firm could be lost after plans for a major restructuring were announced. Staff at Stead McAlpin in Carlisle, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership, were told about the plans on Thursday. The company said changes were needed to secure the company's future, which had been in some doubt because of a period of difficult trading conditions.
Reuters: Do retailers' tales of woe reflect reality? Have consumers really lost their appetite for shopping or are retailers just complaining needlessly? Britain's shopkeepers have loudly lamented a slowdown in spending -- the British Retail Consortium said July sales were the weakest in a decade -- as consumers faced soaring fuel bills and higher mortgage payments over the last year.
Sky News: Are You Part Of The New Billion-Pound Pensions Scandal? If you're on of the 7.5 million people who opted out of the State Second Pension (formerly SERPS) you are likely to find a recent report from consumer group Which? very interesting. Essentially, the study has found that, due to high investment charges and poor performance in many private funds, millions of us would have been better off simply staying put.
Sky News: AA TO CUT MORE JOBS The AA motoring organisation is planning to cut 100 jobs from two of its call centres. The AA - owned by two private equity firms following a £1.8bn takeover in October - said the job losses at Newcastle and Cardiff involved mainly management and administrative roles. The AA recently announced that a site at Maidstone in Kent, which employs 154 staff answering emergency breakdown calls, will close.
ThisisMoney: Shutters go up at Barkers after 135 years BARKERS, the iconic Kensington department store, is to close after 135 years of trading. Its trademark designer clothing and Le Creuset saucepans could be replaced with lentils and mung beans as the front-runner to take up the premises is US-based Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods is best-known in the UK for its upmarket Fresh & Wild organic stores, which it bought in January 2004.
ThisisMoney: Take shelter, taxpayers HIGHER taxes are looming as the economy produces less than Government forecasts. The knock-on effect is a shortfall between the Government's spending plans and money coming into the coffers. Here, Sylvia Morris looks at where you can shelter your money to make the most of the tax breaks on offer.
ThisisMoney: Controversy over 'flat tax' THE Treasury was accused of a cover-up last night over whether Britain would benefit from the adoption of a flat tax - a radical proposal favoured by some Tories. Arguments in favour of the policy, the direct opposite of Gordon Brown's complicated regime, were said to have been cut out of a briefing paper released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Guardian: Economists expect tax rises next year Bumper tax receipts last month failed to stem criticism from analysts and opposition parties about the state of the public finances. The Office for National Statistics said public sector net borrowing last month registered a surplus of £2.9bn, the highest since records began in July 1980. Current receipts grew by 9.1% to £43bn.
Times Online: Personnel Boss Axes His Own Job MATALAN’S human resources director has cut 300 jobs — including his own. Anthony McDaniel is one of about 90 staff to leave the discount retailer’s head office in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, as part of cost cutting in the face of a tough trading period.
Reuters: Mortgage lending slows sharply Mortgage lending slowed sharply in July to its weakest since December 2001, the British Bankers' Association said on Thursday, while consumer credit remained weak.
Reuters: EU ministers say trade limits will hit European jobs The European Union must ease curbs on Chinese clothing imports or risk job losses and bankruptcies across the 25-nation bloc, four EU ministers said in an article published on Thursday. Writing in the Financial Times newspaper, the ministers accused Brussels of sticking to an outdated view of international trade which could harm the EU economy.
BBC NEWS | England | Humber | High-tech steel centre costs jobs Steelmaker Corus has unveiled plans for a £10m automated distribution centre in Scunthorpe which will mean the loss of about 20 jobs. The new unit will allow steel sections to be moved automatically from the medium section mill to a computerised stacking system and onto transport.
Sky News: BENEFIT CLAIMS INCREASE The number of people out of work and claiming unemployment benefit rose 2,800 in July, the sixth rise in a row. Although the figure was less than predicted, the rise still marks the longest stretch of increases since the economic slump of 1992. The total number of people out of work - including those not claiming benefits - rose by 27,000 to 1.4m.
Sky News: MORTGAGE LENDING SLOWS Mortgage lending eased during July with total mortgage lending reaching £25.2bn during the month. That was 2% less than during June and 13% below the same time last year, said the Council of Mortgage Lenders. The figures appear to show the housing market stabilised while people waited for August's widely-anticipated interest rate cut.
Guardian: Borrowers opt for fixed mortgages Half of all mortgages taken out in July were fixed-rate deals, as the average price of these loans fell for the ninth consecutive month, figures showed today, but lending was down on the previous month.
Sky News: Bye, Bye, Buy-To-Let? Although the buy-to-let (BTL) bandwagon continues to roll, it's fairly clear that the brakes are being applied in some areas. In the first half of this year, mortgage lenders lent £9.9 billion to buy-to-let investors. Although this is 1% up on the second half of 2004, it's down more than a sixth (17.5%) on the first half of 2004. The number of new BTL loans has decreased even further, down from 119,900 in the first half of 2004 to 93,400 in H1 2005, a fall of about two-ninths (22%).
ThisisMoney: City's high-fliers face huge tax clampdown Thousands of wealthy City financiers face a new Governmentled purge of their pay arrangements. International banks with hubs in the Square Mile and Canary Wharf are running scared over concerns that they will be a hit with massive backdated bills for unpaid tax for dealmakers on their UK books.
ThisisMoney: Postal charges to soar The cost of posting some letters and parcels will rise by more than 50% under changes to Royal Mail's pricing structure. But the company says it will become cheaper to send other items. From September next year, postal charges will be determined by an item's size and shape, as well as its weight.
Guardian: Bank governor voted against cut in rates The most serious schism in the Bank of England's monetary policy committee since it was granted operational independence in 1997 was laid bare yesterday after it was revealed that the governor, Mervyn King, led a faction opposing this month's cut in base rates.
SMH (AUS): Boom, crash; it's a property opera When John Howard romped home in last year's election, the know-alls professed no surprise. The value of people's homes had been soaring - why on earth would they be in a mood to toss out the Government?
Housing Outlook: The UK Housing Market Outlook August 2005 The latest data from the Halifax estimate that house prices rose by 0.2% in July with year on year growth of 2.3%. The Nationwide data present a similar picture, with a rise of 0.2% in February and 2.6% growth over the year. Hometrack reported the prices had been falling for 13 months, with a monthly fall of 0.2% in July.
ThisisMoney: Sellers ditch agents for the web HOMEOWNERS are increasingly sidestepping estate agents to avoid hefty fees and attempting to sell their property online. Around 70% of consumers said they feel comfortable about marketing their property over the internet, while buyers are also logging on to search for homes.
Telegraph: Bank governor's problems are numbered on the petrol pumps We have feared a minor inflationary shock for nearly two years, ever since Gordon Brown effectively loosened the inflation target, by ditching the trusty old retail prices index, and replacing it with the euro-friendly consumer price index. At the time, this passed most people by as it was lost amidst the Chancellor's manoeuvring to keep us out of the single currency.
Guardian: Carpet retailer's sales fall 7% Britain's biggest carpet retailer Carpetright yesterday blamed weak consumer spending and disruption caused by the London bombings for a sharp fall in sales over recent weeks. Revenues were down 7.5% in the first 15 weeks since end-April, but the company said it expects business to recover in the autumn.
Guardian: Inflation hits eight-year high The prospect of further cuts in interest rates receded sharply yesterday after government figures showed soaring oil prices and less generous summer sales pushing inflation to its highest level since Labour came to power.
Sky News: BUY-TO-LET MARKET SLIPS Lending to buy-to-let investors slowed further during the first half of 2005 as house price growth stalled. A total of £9.9bn was advanced to people through buy-to-let loans during the first six months of the year, said the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
Telegraph: Retailers go braless for autumn EU curbs on imports of Chinese clothing have left Europe's retailers facing an autumn stock crisis, blocking millions of garments in ports and warehouses while shelves go empty in the shops.
BBC NEWS | Business | C&W to buy Energis and cut jobs Cable & Wireless has said it is to buy business telecoms provider Energis for an initial £594m ($1.1bn) in cash. The deal will lead to 700 job cuts, part of plans to cut costs by at least £80m within three years.
ThisisMoney: Property prices on the slide HOUSE prices are falling as the number of properties entering the market increases, figures revealed yesterday. Pressure on sellers to lower their expectations was borne out by a drop of 0.2%, or £367, in the average asking price in England and Wales during the past month.
The Citizen: HAS THE HOUSING BOOM ENDED? New figures show that the county's housing boom could be over after a 45% fall in house sales in Gloucestershire. Details released by the Land Registry show that between April and June this year property sales fell county-wide with 2,352 homes changing hands - compared to 4,275 in the same period last year. The slump has provoked speculation the frenetic market may finally be beginning to slow down.
ThisisMoney: Thousands face debt ruin The personal debt crisis has escalated to the point where six out of ten borrowers would default on loans and credit cards within three months of losing their job, a report warned yesterday.
FT.Com: Purchasers 'have to buy smaller homes' A quarter of homebuyers are forced to buy smaller properties than they desire because new homes are too small, according to the website Propertyfinder.com. It says that developers, constrained by government policy that encourages high density development, have created an over-supply of one and two-bedroom homes and a shortage of three and four-bedroom properties.
Reuters: House prices fall in latest month -survey Buyers continued to have the upper hand in the property market in August as homeowners further lowered their asking prices to achieve a sale and agents' books remained full, a survey showed on Monday.
Guardian: How high can the oil price go? How high can it go and when will it start to hurt? This may sound like something the actress should ask the bishop but the question is, in fact, about oil. Black gold, as it is also known, smashed through the $66 a barrel level last week, its highest ever, and has risen 10% this month alone.
Telegraph: Guardian Media plans 407 sackings Guardian Media Group, the publisher of the left-wing national newspaper, has been secretly considering plans to fire 407 staff in a cost-cutting operation designed to improve its profits.
ThisisMoney: Mis-selling: The inside story COMPLAINTS are flooding in at 25,000 a month from homeowners who believe they were mis-sold mortgage endowment policies, according to a unique survey by Financial Mail. But the leading providers and sellers of endowments - Norwich Union, Prudential and Standard Life among them - insist they are coping with this unprecedented barrage.
Times Online: No news is good news for UK banks MERVYN KING’S latest Bank of England Inflation Report is the antidote to hysteria. Reading it should provide the equivalent of a course of beta-blockers for investors biting their nails over bank shares.
Times Online: Banks quick to take their cut SAVERS are fearful that their returns could slump by more than last week’s quarter-point cut in the base rate after two savings institutions reduced some of their rates by half a percentage point or more.
Herald: Fish farms plead for aid to survive SCOTTISH fish farmers meet for crisis talks today in an effort to win the government cash they say is necessary for survival, with fears of imminent company closures and job losses in some of the most remote parts of Scotland.The independent sector of the industry, which employs about 4000 people, mostly in small communities throughout north-west Scotland, says it is facing an unprecedented cash crisis.
Scotsman: Knitwear jobs axed A WORLD famous textile firm yesterday announced 35 job losses. Pringle of Scotland said it hoped to keep the number of compulsory redundancies at their outlet in Hawick, Roxburghshire, to a minimum.
Flintshirestandard.co.uk Fears over job losses UNION leaders say it is too early to say how many jobs will be axed at a Deeside food firm. Workers fear that up to 500 jobs are at risk, but Greencore said that will not be the case, admitting only that the redundancies will be “substantial.”
FT.Com: House prices fall for fifth month House prices fell for the fifth month in a row in July, bringing price levels back to those last seen in December, according to the FT House Price Index, the most accurate guide to the real trends in residential property prices.
ThisisMoney: Nationwide borrowers miss out NATIONWIDE, the UK's largest building society, has disappointed borrowers after reducing its base rate mortgage by only 0.1% following last week's cut in interest rates.
ThisisMoney: Endowment shortfalls on the rise The size of the average shortfalls in homeowners endowment policies is on the up with a difference of £7,057 between the maturity value of a property and the mortgage it needs to repay.
Reuters: Oil extends record-breaking streak above $66 Oil prices climbed above $66 a barrel on Friday, setting a fifth record high in as many days as robust U.S. economic growth keeps refiners straining to meet demand and friction over Iran's nuclear programme jangles nerves.
Guardian: Iranian stand-off pushes oil to fresh high Refinery problems add to pressure as petrol threatens to hit £1 a litre. Oil prices shot up to yet another record yesterday, driven by Iran's stand-off with the west over its nuclear plans and by more refinery trouble in the United States.
Telegraph: Young renters shun the property ladder Young adults are opting for renting in fashionable areas close to their social circles rather than commit themselves to a mortgage - which smacks of having children and getting married, claims a new study.
Money Week: How to avoid slipping on oil The soaring oil price is bad news for the global economy, but how high does it have to go before it really starts to cause trouble? Annunziata Rees-Mogg reports
Money Week: Will US Housing Rust or Bust? Until early this year, I steadfastly argued that US housing markets were far from bubble territory, supported as they were by strong fundamentals and buttressed by what I saw as attractive ‘valuations,’ at least by my admittedly crude metrics.
ThisisMoney: Countrywide's profits collapse COUNTRYWIDE today unveiled an 89% collapse in profits as its core estate agency division suffered a loss for the first time in a decade.Pre-tax profits in the six months to 30 June fell to £3.5m from £30.7m a year earlier. Chairman Christopher Sporborg said the housing market appeared to have stabilised but confidence could easily be knocked off course by external events.
ThisisMoney: Young reject buying to rent SPIRALLING house prices have spawned a new breed of 18- to 34-year-olds who have no interest in buying a property and are at the heart of a move towards Continental-style renting.
BBC NEWS | Business | Dairy firm Arla in profits alert Milk supplier, Arla Foods UK, has seen its shares fall 9% after it issued a profits warning. The firm's chief executive Tim Smith told Reuters that the steep increase in diesel prices and in plastics for packaging had hurt it the most.
ThisisMoney: Car insurance hike on the cards INSURANCE companies face a staggering £800m loss on car policies this year as stiff competition means premiums have failed to keep up with the spiralling cost of claims, influential research predicted today.
Telegraph: OFT to survey bailiffs' behaviour The Office of Fair Trading is asking consumers to comment on whether debt collectors are physically or psychologically harassing them, with findings which will show how its guidance has changed behaviour in the sector.
Telegraph: Scot Power chief warns of rising cost Ian Russell, chief executive of ScottishPower, yesterday forecast high power prices for another 12 months and suggested that a $9.4billion sale of its underperforming US business PacifiCorp to billionaire Warren Buffett could be completed earlier than expected.
Guardian: Bank chief widens rift with Brown The division between the Treasury and the Bank of England over the health of the public finances widened yesterday when the Bank's governor, Mervyn King, openly questioned Gordon Brown's interpretation of the so-called golden rule.
Money Week: UK House Prices Remain Overvalued The housing market correction may have a long way to go. Near term, the outlook for house prices, for transactions levels and for mortgage lending is significantly cooler than we have seen over the past five years. In our view, UK house prices probably remain overvalued, perhaps significantly so.
FT.Com: Gilts dip as UK rate-cut hopes fade Short-dated gilts fell as hopes of another UK interest rate cut this year faded on the back of a relatively hawkish quarterly inflation report from the Bank of England released on Wednesday.
ThisisMoney: Parents shoulder burden of student debt PARENTS are being forced to bear the brunt of soaring levels of student debt, a study has revealed. Growing numbers are forking out thousands of pounds to cover their offspring's tuition fees and living expenses while studying.
Times Online: Rightmove hires in IPO managers Rightmove.co.uk, the online property website, has hired Swiss-American investment bank UBS to help prepare it for a stock market listing that could see it valued at more than £200 million.
Guardian: Britons have their 'head in the sand' over savings The majority of Britons would be unable to cope financially in the event of a minor household emergency, research revealed today. Of the 2,300 people questioned for Alliance & Leicester, just 28% said they had money put aside which could be used to replace household appliances, such as a cooker or fridge.
Guardian: Fears of £1 a litre for petrol as world prices reach high Petrol prices at the pump set yet another record yesterday after world oil prices touched an all-time high for the second day running. Analysts said £1 a litre for petrol and even more for diesel were now a possibility but added that it was likely oil prices would fall back again in the autumn.
Economist.com: Perils at the pump Oil prices have hit yet another record, on fears of political instability in the Middle East and refining problems in America. So far, the world economy has managed to chug along without much ill effect. But how long can consumers go on paying ever more at the pump without cutting back elsewhere? And why aren’t high prices bringing new supplies to market?
Forbes.com: Wall Street's Fate Caught Up With Housing Of course, a lot can change quickly on Wall Street. And the current climate carries special risks. We’re not talking about oil recently hitting a record $62 per barrel, or Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan’s new warning of more rate hikes ahead, or even China’s revaluation of the yuan against the dollar this week. We’re talking about the growing danger from real estate.
New York Times: That Hissing Sound This is the way the bubble ends: not with a pop, but with a hiss. Housing prices move much more slowly than stock prices. There are no Black Mondays, when prices fall 23 percent in a day. In fact, prices often keep rising for a while even after a housing boom goes bust.
ALL BOOMS BUST: Words of Caution from Robert Kiyosaki Lately, I have been asked if we are in a real estate bubble. My answer is, "Duh!" In my opinion, this is the biggest real estate bubble I have ever lived through. Next, I am asked, "Will the bubble burst?" Again, my answer is, "Duh!"
Guardian: Factories hit by fall in orders Confidence among manufacturers has fallen in all regions for the first time in two years while property price inflation has hit its lowest level for nearly a decade, according to surveys released today.
Guardian: Hold on, this could get bumpy You may think that the housing market, whose foundations having been looking increasingly shaky over the past year, would be shored up by last week's interest rate cut from the Bank of England.
Guardian: Are consumers living on borrowed time? As if to underline the urgency of the Bank of England's first cut in interest rates for two years last week, Britain's lenders have issued a string of warnings that their debt-ridden customers are beginning to struggle.
Independent: House prices slow but industry picks up speed House price inflation slowed to its annual lowest growth rate in almost a decade last month, a survey showed yesterday, just a day after the Bank of England cut interest rates in response to sluggish consumer spending. But the manufacturing sector showed some signs of revival
Times Online: Bad debt 'over the worst' ALL OF Britain’s main banks are showing the effects that rising interest rates have had on consumers. The number of people in arrears on payments on home loans, credit cards and personal loans has risen rapidly during the first half, and is substantially higher than the same period last year.
Sky News : Manufacturing Output Slightly Higher There are encouraging signs that the slowdown in the UK economy may not be as bad as had been feared.The better news comes with figures showing that manufacturing output rose 0.2% in June.
ThisisMoney: Petrol set to hit £1 a litre Motorists today faced the threat of pump prices soaring to £1 a litre as the cost of crude oil rose to a record high. Some garages are already charging up to 95p a litre for petrol and only fractionally under £1 a litre for diesel.
Sky News: House Price Inflation Hits Nine-Year Low The annual rise in house prices has slowed to its lowest level for more than nine years, the latest Halifax survey shows. It says house prices rose by 0.2% in July, while the three-month annual rate of increase slowed to 2.3% - the lowest since April 1996.
Every Investor: There's too much new-build property already. If Prescott concretes over the south of England to build thousands more homes, your house could plummet in value. Cutting base rates may ease the pressure on house prices. But the old-fashioned law of supply and demand still points to flat or falling prices.
Reuters: Economists see strong chance of further rate cut The Bank of England is likely to follow up Thursday's interest rate cut with a further reduction, probably by the end of this year, according to a Reuters poll. The poll of 42 economists, surveyed after the Bank cut its benchmark rate to 4.5 percent from 4.75, gave mid-range forecasts for rates to end this year and next at 4.25 percent.
Reuters: Rate cut seen as no remedy for retail slowdown While a quarter-point rate cut from the Bank of England was just the medicine many retailers were calling for, analysts said it was far from being a panacea for the ailing sector. "I really don't think this is going to make much difference to consumer behaviour for quite some period. For most families, the issues are at least as much increases in costs like utility bills and indirect taxes," said Simon Irwin at JP Morgan.
Times Online: Interest rates: more cuts to come? The City and business has applauded the Bank of England's 0.25 per cent cut in interest rates. But the debate has already moved on to what's in store next month. By Graham Searjeant, The Times Financial Editor
Gitterdammerung (The Twilight of the Gits) Or the coming cataclysmic property crash - and its even more cataclysmic consequences. The current global property price boom is the biggest bubble in history - we are headed for a truly cataclysmic property crash
Guardian: Savers losing interest According to the analysts, an interest rates cut is on the cards tomorrow. Hilary Osborne talks to providers and industry experts to find out what this means for your savings
Telegraph: Brown's burden of debt could grow by £60bn The Office for National Statistics yesterday classified over £4billion of obscure liabilities as government borrowing - the first step in a move which could see Gordon Brown forced to add £60billion to his official borrowing numbers.
Sky News: Why A Rate Cut Won't Help If the MPC does cut the base rate by a quarter-point to 4.5% this week, it will be at the same level as it was in July 2004. However, there are several reasons why this rate reduction will have little positive impact on household budgets. Here are four to think about:
ThisisMoney: Trail-blazer ING drops the baton CRITICS warned it was a ploy when ING bank launched its flagship savings account with a chart-topping interest rate. Customers would be lured, they said, then the rate would be cut.
ThisisMoney: Docklands in the doldrums A STOCK of upmarket flats worth £80m is sitting empty and unsold in Docklands.The jittery property market has hit smart developments aimed at well-paid City workers particularly hard.
Reuters: First-time buyers priced out of countryside First-time buyers are finding rural England increasingly unaffordable as house price growth has outstripped the rises seen in urban areas and local wages have failed to keep pace, according to a survey by the Halifax
Times Online: Time is nigh for giving spenders a fillip Is the great British consumer dead? Or is he (or she) merely resting? This week the Bank of England looks set to put these questions to the test with an interest rate cut that will attempt to spark renewed life into a nation of unusually quiescent shoppers.
Times Online: Bad loan losses jump at HSBC HSBC, Britain's biggest bank, has reported a hefty increase in its provisions for bad loans in the first half of the year, adding to fears that a consumer downturn has taken root in the UK.
Money Week: August Rate Cut is No Sure Thing The outlook for the UK economy is fluid - terrorist events, major data revisions, the potential fallout from China’s currency revaluation/currency regime change and even London’s Olympic bid success all add a significant degree of uncertainty to the monetary policy outlook.
Money Week: Debt, Delusion, and Deception Due to higher inflation, higher short-term rates and compound interest, ever-increasing amounts of credit are required to maintain their effects on spending and asset prices.