Friday, March 31, 2006 

YorkshirePost: Fears for 550 jobs as store quits depot HUNDREDS of jobs are being axed at a supermarket distribution centre in Yorkshire in an area already hard hit by pit closures. As many as 550 jobs will go following the withdrawal by supermarket chain Somerfield from the DHL Exel supply warehouse in Sherburn-in-Elmet, near Selby.
The supermarket sold its chain of 171 Kwik Save stores last month and announced plans to stop using the distribution centre, which serves the north of England.
The redundancies are the latest blow in the area, which has already been hit by massive job losses following the shutdown of the Selby coalfield two years ago.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:10 PM 3 comments

TheJournal: Workers told they will lose their jobs More than 250 workers received notice that they are to lose their jobs after two North-East companies announced redundancies. Electronics company Saia-Burgess announced yesterday that 215 jobs are to go at its Gateshead factory as it moves production to Poland and China.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:06 PM 0 comments

EADT24: Major job losses expected at firm STAFF at a Suffolk town's major employer are bracing themselves for mass redundancies after the beleaguered company went into administration. Community leaders last night spoke of their concern over the future of Workspace Office Solutions, in Haverhill, and the possibility of more than 300 jobs being axed.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:03 PM 1 comments

BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Job losses as company collapses Some 105 jobs have been lost after a greetings card company based in Greater Manchester went into administration. Distinctive Cards Ltd, which will cease trading on Friday, blamed the rise of a number of new card retailers selling highly discounted products. The collapse of the company, based in Bury, has led to the closure of 18 stores, mainly across the north of England and Scotland.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:01 PM 0 comments

FT.Com: Talk of the property bubble was overblown, say house price analysts House price inflation rose back above 5 per cent in March, according to the Nationwide building society, in the latest indication that the housing market is beginning to fizz again. Even though mortgage activity fell back in February, over the past 12 months the acceleration in prices has turned sentiment in the housing market around. The air is filled with the sound of analysts performing hand-brake turns.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:48 PM 16 comments

Reuters: Consumers surprisingly pessimistic Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in March as people became more pessimistic about both their personal finances and the economic outlook, a survey showed on Friday. GfK NOP's monthly consumer confidence barometer slipped to -7 this month, when Chancellor Gordon Brown presented his annual budget, from -4 in February.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:45 PM 1 comments

Independent: UK banks make £4bn a year from overdrafts Britain's biggest banks are making more than £4bn a year from interest charges and penalty fees on overdrafts, according to a report to be published today by uSwitch. The price comparison service will say that 3.5 million current account customers are permanently overdrawn, while the average overdraft among 14 million customers who are regularly overdrawn is £677.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:43 PM 0 comments

TimesOnline: Brown blames Europe for adding £10bn to UK gas bill ANTICOMPETITIVE practices by some companies and countries in Europe were blamed by Gordon Brown yesterday for the surge in gas prices hitting Britain’s businesses and consumers. The Chancellor told the Commons Treasury Select Committee that the recent leap in the cost of gas was “the most obvious example” of the impact of this restrictive behaviour within the EU, and that it was probably boosting Britain’s gas costs by £10 billion.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:41 PM 2 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Gas and power prices rise again Scottish & Southern Energy (S&SE) is putting up its gas and electricity prices for the second time this year. From 1 May, its domestic customers will see their gas bills rise by 16.5% and electricity bills by 9.4%.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:40 PM 1 comments

Thursday, March 30, 2006 

Telegraph: NHS advisers 'cost £200m' as key jobs go The Government has spent £52.5 million in six years on management consultants for the health service, it emerged last night. Frank Dobson, the former health secretary, who obtained the figures, said the sum was "the tip of the iceberg" because it represented only what the Department of Health had spent on outside consultants.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:02 PM 8 comments

Guardian: TV jobs face Indian outsourcing threat Two of India's biggest corporate names launched a joint venture yesterday to offer editing, post-production and archiving services to the world's media companies. The news television network NDTV - New Delhi Television - and the huge outsourcing specialist Genpact, which was started and is now 40% owned by America's General Electric, said media groups could cut costs by at least a fifth by outsourcing the work to India.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:58 PM 1 comments

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Scottish Enterprise job cut fears Union leaders have warned of more than 100 job cuts at Scottish Enterprise as the economic development agency seeks to address financial difficulties. BBC Scotland revealed last week that Scottish Enterprise could be heading for a £60m overspend.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:56 PM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | England | Staffordshire | Trust cuts 150 jobs at hospitals A hospital trust in Staffordshire has become the latest to announce job cuts in an effort to save costs.
Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust is to cut more than 150 jobs to make savings of £10m next year.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:55 PM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | England | Shropshire | Jobs lost 'due to energy prices' Fifty jobs at a Shropshire aluminium rolling mill have become the latest victims of rising energy prices, according to bosses. Bridgnorth Aluminium is ceasing supplying some markets with aluminium coils as they are unprofitable.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:54 PM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | England | London | Hundreds of council jobs are axed Some 250 jobs are to be axed by a west London council over claims of a £5.3m shortfall in asylum seeker grants. Hillingdon borough, home to Heathrow airport, has a statutory duty to care for 900 unaccompanied young people.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:53 PM 1 comments

TimesOnline: Barratt builds an iPad for the iPod generation FIRST-TIME buyers and couples frustrated by sky-high house prices are being targeted with new mini-apartments by Barratt Homes. The “Barratt iPad” is just 380 sq ft — 25 per cent smaller than an average 500 sq ft one-bedroom flat, but larger than a studio apartment. The one-bedroom version, which includes a small lounge, dining area, fully fitted kitchen, double bedroom, fully fitted bathroom and balcony, will sell for between £80,000 and £120,000. This is below the new £125,000 threshold at which buyers must pay stamp duty.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:52 PM 8 comments

Firstrung: High street banks and mortgage companies in responsible credit initiative High street banks and mortgage companies are to join forces with credit reference agency Callcredit to launch a responsible lending initiative which looks at consumer indebtedness. HBOS, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and RBS are involved in the initiative which is designed to improve lenders' understanding of their customers' indebtedness and ability to repay.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:50 PM 19 comments

Firstrung: Borrowers choose discounted variable rate mortgage in anticipation of interest rate cuts The number of borrowers choosing a discounted variable-rate mortgage has increased, indicating that consumers are anticipating an interest rate cut in the near future, according to research by independent mortgage broker Hamptons Mortgages. The figures show that demand for a two-year variable-rate mortgage rose by 9.7% in a month, from 19.27% in February 2006 to 29% in March. In contrast, the number of home buyers choosing a two-year fixed-rate deal fell by 16% over the same period.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:49 PM 12 comments

ThisisMoney: Property soars in spring boom BRITAIN'S housing market is in the grip of a spring boom, the country's biggest building society said today. Nationwide said the average price of a home has shot up by 1.1% to £162,083 in March after stagnating in February. The fresh surge has pushed the year-on-year rate of increase up to 5.3%, the strongest for 10 months.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:44 PM 3 comments

Independent: Tax burden on working families in UK rising as it falls in Europe The tax burden on working families in the UK has risen over the past four years in contrast to a fall across the rest of Europe, new figures showed yesterday. An analysis of taxes on the earnings of an average household showed the burden had risen in the UK but fallen across the European Union.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:42 PM 1 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | House prices see 'spring bounce' House price inflation has continued its recent pick up, according to the latest survey from the Nationwide. The building society said prices rose by 1.1% in March, pushing the annual rate of inflation back up to 5.3%. The average property now costs £162,000.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:40 PM 3 comments

Reuters: House prices jump in March LONDON (Reuters) - House prices jumped 1.1 percent in March, taking the annual increase to its highest in almost a year, a closely-watched report showed on Thursday, suggesting a housing recovery is firmly back on track.
posted by Han  @ 9:30 AM 17 comments

Independent: Housing recovery fades as retail sales and mortgage loans decline Hopes that a sustained rebound in the housing market would feed through to consumer spending faded yesterday, as figures showed a drop in retail sales and new mortgage approvals. The volume of high street sales fell for the third month in a row in March, according to a survey by the CBI, the employers' group. A balance of 16 per cent of retailers said sales were lower than a year ago, dashing hopes in February's survey of an improvement in March.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:33 AM 1 comments

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 

Firstrung: Why are UK savings low? Because life is so expensive The recent strong performance of UK shares is finally drawing private investors back to the stock market. The man in the street has missed out on about 80% of gains since the Footsie hit its nadir in March 2003. But small investors are now clamouring to get back into the market - sales of equity-based Individual Savings Accounts in February were up about 60% on last year at £131m.
posted by Johnny  @ 7:56 PM 3 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | UK trade gap hits record in 2005 The UK's trade gap soared to an all-time high of £31.9bn ($55.3bn) in 2005, reawakening concerns about the health of the economy. Imports for both goods and services outweighed exports last year, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
posted by Johnny  @ 7:52 PM 3 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Cold snap keeps shoppers at bay High Street shops continued to struggle in March, the CBI has said, with sales down for the third month in a row. The dip in year-on-year sales in March was greater than expected and forecasts for April were no better, according to the CBI's distributive trades survey.
posted by Johnny  @ 7:48 PM 2 comments

Telegraph: Bloom or bust? Traditionally this is the season when the housing market picks up, but do reports of rising prices in some areas really represent the green shoots of recovery, or a false dawn, asks Ross Clark. When they suffer a shortage of punters coming through their doors, estate agents usually blame "negative media comment". But they certainly won't be able to use that excuse this year, should the property market get into problems. The headlines have been anything but downbeat: "February surge in prices"; "Buy-to-let buyers back" and "City boys snap 'em up" are a few of the headlines which appeared last week alone. Either a lot of journalists must be moving - or they have tired of writing that house prices are set to crash.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:53 PM 3 comments

BBC NEWS | England | Humber | Factory shuts with 200 job losses Two hundred people are to lose their jobs with the closure of a frozen desserts factory in Bridlington. The Global Cake Company on the town's Carnaby industrial estate has announced it is to close at midnight on Friday after failing to find a buyer. The business was put on the market last month amid tough trading conditions.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:51 PM 13 comments

Reuters: Retail sales weaker than expected Retail sales volumes fell more sharply than expected in March, as cold weather kept consumers away from the shops, an industry survey showed on Wednesday.

The Confederation of British Industry's distributive trades survey monthly sales balance improved to -16 in March from -18 in February.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:50 PM 0 comments

Guardian: Mortgage lending dips The number of homebuyers taking out mortgages fell in February, after a strong start to the year, official figures showed today. The Bank of England said 115,000 mortgages had been approved for house purchases over the month, compared with 122,000 in both January and December. This is the first time the number of approvals has fallen since November 2004, although it remains at the level seen in April and May that year, when the housing market was booming.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:48 PM 0 comments

Telegraph: Job losses increase as NHS trusts cut spending Another major hospital trust announced hundreds of job losses "across the board" yesterday in its plan to cut spending by £21.3 million in the new financial year. This brings job cuts announced by NHS trusts in England to more than 4,700 as the consequences of the financial crisis in the health service bite deeper. Other trusts have yet to announce what measures they will take to cut deficits.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:51 AM 7 comments

Reuters: Barratt says H1 profit up Housebuilder Barratt Developments (BDEV.L: Quote, Profile, Research) reported a 4-percent rise in half-year profit on Wednesday and said it has seen some improvement in buyer confidence, with an encouraging sales trend.

"Whilst the market remains competitive, there have been positive signs in the first weeks of 2006 tht buyer confidence is improving with encouraging recent sales trends," the company said in a statement.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:37 AM 0 comments

ThisisMoney: Water bills reach 17-year high AVERAGE household water bills are set to hit their highest levels in 17 years, a price comparison service warned today. Customers in England and Wales will see above-inflation increases of around 5.5% after price hikes come into force on April 1, according to uSwitch. It will take the average household bill to £294 per year - the highest level since 1989. The price rises come as water companies lose around 3.6bn litres of water a day due to leakages, uSwitch said.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:35 AM 0 comments

Independent: King warns of risk to inflation from surging gas prices Soaring gas prices will push inflation above the Government's target over the coming months, Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, warned yesterday. Mr King told MPs the rise in gas prices was a "concern" and launched an attack on the lack of competition in the European energy market.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:34 AM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Woolworths sees tough times ahead Retailer Woolworths has unveiled a drop in annual profits as competition on the High Street continues to bite. The Christmas spending spree did not continue into the new year, it warned, and consumer spending was expected to remain depressed in months to come.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:31 AM 1 comments

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 

Reuters: Bank signals no hurry to move rates Bank of England policymakers signalled on Tuesday they are in no hurry to move interest rates in either direction as risks to inflation are balanced and the overall outlook remains benign. Governor Mervyn King said the Monetary Policy Committee expected inflation to stick close to its 2.0 percent target and growth to remain steady, even though energy prices posed the biggest risk to the outlook.
posted by Johnny  @ 7:55 PM 0 comments

ThisisMoney: Homes boomlet may subside HERE is a puzzle. Why is the housing market looking so strong when families are weighed down with record levels of debt? What can be safely said is that residential property is in the middle of a boomlet. In the London suburbs, where I live, barely a day passes without one of those 'come on' letters from estate agents popping through the letter box temptingly telling me that the firm has a number of buyers on its books. No one apparently bothered to warn them about Terminal 5.
posted by Johnny  @ 7:53 PM 0 comments

ThisisMoney: Fifth of bankrupts are under 30 ONE in five bankrupts is now under the age of 30 as student debt and the consumer spending splurge starts to bite. The proportion of bankruptcies among the 18 to 29-age group has jumped from 7.9% in 2001 to 18.7% last year. The average age of a bankrupt has fallen from 43 to 41 in the last four years but female bankrupts tend to be younger than male bankrupts.
posted by Johnny  @ 7:51 PM 1 comments

TimesOnline: Mini-boom in house prices may be over THE mini-boom in property prices may be past its peak already, analysts said yesterday, after mortgage approvals data suggested the first drop in lending since the end of 2004. Figures from the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) showed that the number of approvals for house purchase, which often is seen as a leading indicator of the health of the housing market, rose to 57,600 in February, from 45,000 the previous month. That represented a 22 per cent increase in the year to February.
posted by Johnny  @ 7:47 PM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Energy hikes 'threaten inflation' Bank of England governor Mervyn King has said continuing high UK energy prices will force up inflation, and could pose a threat to the economy. He said recent rises in UK prices would push short-term inflation, erode the buying power of household incomes and slow the growth of consumer spending.
posted by Johnny  @ 7:45 PM 6 comments

Allsopps fable of house sharing The Conservatives suggest that shared ownership is the key to helping first time buyers on to the property ladder.
posted by Paul  @ 2:02 PM 7 comments

Monday, March 27, 2006 

BBC NEWS | Business | Dewhurst butchers shuts 60 stores Dewhurst, the UK's biggest chain of butchers, has closed 60 outlets and called in administrators to help it sell its 35 remaining stores. Administrators BDO Stoy Hayward said it had to close 60 unprofitable stores in order to try to secure a sale of the rest of the group.
posted by Johnny  @ 7:28 PM 5 comments

Reuters: Feb mortgage approvals up The number of loan approvals for home purchase rose by 22 percent in February from a year earlier, but the rise was weaker than previous months, suggesting the housing market recovery is moderating. British Bankers Association data on Monday showed mortgage approvals -- the number of loans agreed but not yet completed -- totalled 57,585 in February. That was up from the 45,039 loans approved in January and compared with the 47,084 loans agreed a year earlier.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:48 PM 3 comments

Guardian: Property drought drives up prices House prices in London have risen by 1.1% in March, driven by a lack of new properties coming on to the market, new figures showed today. Increases in the capital pushed the average rise across England and Wales to 0.5%, according to property information company Hometrack - the highest monthly increase since the summer of 2004 and the fourth consecutive monthly rise.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:46 PM 2 comments

Reuters: House prices rise on year-Hometrack House prices rose on a year ago this month for the first time since January 2005, according to property consultant Hometrack's monthly survey published on Monday.

It said that prices rose by 0.5 percent in March, the fourth consecutive monthly increase, which left the cost of the average house up 0.1 percent on a year earlier -- the first annual increase since the start of 2005.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:24 AM 0 comments

TimesOnline:US rate rise may spark sterling sell-off CURRENCY markets are steeling themselves for a threatened fall in the pound’s value against the dollar this week after warnings that a rare rise in American interest rates above Britain’s could trigger a sell-off in sterling. Tomorrow, the US Federal Reserve, under Ben Bernanke, its new Chairman, is set to order a fifteenth consecutive quarter-point increase in American interest rates, lifting these to 4.75 per cent, which is higher than the 4.5 per cent level of base rates in Britain.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:18 AM 26 comments

Sunday, March 26, 2006 

Firstrung: Fifty year mortgages, could they help the first time buyer climb onto the first rung? As 40-year mortgages become common place in the US, the UK could follow suit as securities issuers are upping the ante, talking about possible amortization schedules of up to 50 years, according to industry professionals. Could these products be of particular benefit to first time buyers limiting their initial outlay in the early crucial years?
posted by Johnny  @ 5:15 PM 16 comments

Guardian: Nationwide warns that house prices have hit 'turning point' Britain's housing market is close to a 'turning point,' as the boost from last summer's rate cut wears off and high prices begin to bite, the Nationwide warns. As the building society prepares to release its monthly house-price index this week, it says the winter mini-boom, which has seen five successive months of price rises, will fade before the summer.
posted by Johnny  @ 4:58 PM 7 comments

ThisisMoney: Fuel bills could rise by another £200 ENERGY regulator Ofgem has warned suppliers in a confidential briefing that energy prices could go up by more than 20% next year. The stark forecast comes only weeks after record price rises sent average yearly energy bills to more than £1,000 per household. Now they may rise by a further £200.
posted by Johnny  @ 4:56 PM 1 comments

ThisisMoney: Spanish eyes on holiday homes MANY of us love the idea of a place in the sun. And despite surveys regularly claiming that Bulgaria, Romania or Estonia are the place to be, it's Spain where most Brits still opt for a holiday home. Thanks to Spain's popularity and easy access, for many there has been the added bonus of being able to rent out the property to friends or holidaymakers and make some spare cash.
posted by Johnny  @ 4:38 PM 0 comments

TimesOnline: More jobs in the City than during the dotcom boom years THE soaring stock market and the boom in mergers and acquisitions has pushed the number of City jobs to record levels, new figures show. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) says the number of “City-type” jobs, in financial and professional services, rose to 327,600 last year, up 11,600 on the previous year. This beat the record established at the height of the dotcom boom. The CEBR predicts a further rise this year and next. A separate CEBR report to be published this week says the jobs boom will help fuel a rise in house prices in the capital of up to 7%.
posted by Johnny  @ 4:36 PM 3 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Your Money | House buyers 'making sacrifices' Britons are taking on extra jobs or cancelling holidays to be able to buy their first home, a survey suggests. The research, carried out by broker Purely Mortgages, also claims more than a quarter of people are entering the property market without a deposit.
posted by Johnny  @ 4:32 PM 3 comments

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Moneybox | Budget move imperils 2,000 jobs Two thousand people could lose their jobs after the government pulled the plug on a scheme to help employees get a home computer. The Home Computing Initiative was set up to help lower-paid workers afford their own PC and introduce them to information technology.
posted by Johnny  @ 4:31 PM 0 comments

Friday, March 24, 2006 

ThisisMoney: Campbells auctions off major brands THOSE staples of the student kitchen - Batchelors Cup a Soup, Super Noodles and Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie - were put under the hammer today. Campbell Soup has put up for sale its UK and Irish business, whose brands also include Homepride sauces, Oxo cubes and Erin soups and sauces.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:08 PM 3 comments

YahooFinance: Calverley hints at bubble and squeak as housing market hits all-time high AFTER Bill Jamieson reported on Tuesday how the Edinburgh property market is still merrily booming, and Gordon Brown gave a boost to property investment on Wednesday, along came a man with a big bucket of cold water to throw on Bill, Gordon, and all you. John Calverley, chief economist and strategist at American Express Bank, gave the RBS (LSE: RBS.L - news) annual economics lecture. He is an expert on "bubbles" - when the price of something inflates way above realistic levels and then bursts, leaving people who bought in at the wrong time a lot poorer.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:02 PM 4 comments

Thursday, March 23, 2006 

BBC NEWS | Wales | Airline to end scheduled flights Air Wales has announced it is to stop running scheduled passenger flights from next month. Up to 80 jobs will be lost as the Cardiff International Airport-based company moves to charter flights and freight transport only.
posted by Johnny  @ 10:30 PM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | England | Hundreds of health jobs face axe Hundreds of health jobs are facing the axe because of falling patient numbers, health chiefs have revealed.
County Durham and Darlington Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said up to 700 posts, including nurses, will go over the next three years. North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust revealed 74 of its jobs were "at risk."
posted by Johnny  @ 10:28 PM 0 comments

Independent: PC sales to plummet after glitches delay Microsoft's Vista launch Microsoft's decision to delay the launch of its new Windows operating system into next year could wipe billions of dollars from global PC sales over the Christmas period, investors fear. The software giant said that it needed more time to iron out glitches in the new Vista system, sending shares in PC makers lower, and having a knock-on effect on confidence in components manufacturers.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:36 PM 3 comments

Telegraph: Interest rates 'on hold until 2007' The Bank of England looks set to leave interest rates on hold for the foreseeable future, economists predicted after it emerged that only one member of the Monetary Policy Committee supported a cut in borrowing costs this month.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:34 PM 5 comments

TimesOnline: NHS sheds 2,000 jobs in a week TWO more hospitals last night joined the list of NHS trusts forced to cut services because of their debts, taking the number of job cuts to more than 2,000 in less than a week. The Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London, and Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, southeast London, became the latest to announce cuts despite six years of unprecedented government funding for the NHS.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:32 PM 26 comments

Reuters: March factory orders highest in a year Factory orders fell at their slowest pace in a year in March, while manufacturers' expectations for output were their most upbeat in over 12 months, a survey showed on Thursday. The Confederation of British Industry said its monthly manufacturing order books balance rose to -16 in March after -18 in February, exactly as economists had forecast.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:25 PM 0 comments

Guardian: BBC doubles planned job cuts The pain for BBC staff will only increase in the next year, with the target for post closures as part of Mark Thompson's cost cutting drive nearly doubling to almost 2,000. As part of the director general's plan to cut or outsource up to 6,000 BBC jobs to save £355m annually by 2008, 1,045 posts are due to go by the end of the corporation's current financial year at the end of this month.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:20 PM 0 comments

Guardian: DIY RIP We used to be a nation of avid home improvers, eager to clamber up a stepladder at the first sign of a bank holiday. But now the hardware giant B&Q has reported a huge slump in profits. Could our days of stippling the bathroom ceiling really be over? Laura Barton reports
posted by Johnny  @ 1:18 PM 0 comments

Reuters: Next expects tough year Fashion retailer Next (NXT.L: Quote, Profile, Research) revealed on Thursday a big slide in sales in the last few weeks and said the year ahead looked set to remain very tough as it reported modest profit growth for 2005. "We believe the competitive and economic environment will remain very challenging in the year ahead," said Chief Executive Simon Wolfson. "We are still budgeting on the basis of negative like-for-like retail sales for the year."
posted by Johnny  @ 8:36 AM 0 comments

ThisisMoney: Budget boost for new buyers A BOOST to shared equity schemes designed to cut the cost of getting on to the housing ladder was announced by the Chancellor this afternoon. Another £970m is to be made available for shared equity schemes to help an additional 35,000 first-time buyers. A pilot scheme is to be launched which will require home buyers to be responsible for financing just 25% of the cost of a property, with housing agencies providing the balance.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:35 AM 0 comments

Guardian: Brown plans £50bn sale of national assets The government is to sell off assets including most of the state-owned nuclear industry, the Tote, public spectrum airwaves and Ministry of Defence firing ranges as part of plans which could raise up to £50bn for public spending. Chancellor Gordon Brown said he would consider the sale of the government's 65% stake in atomic generator British Energy even though this £6.5bn holding is amassing cash to pay for future nuclear liabilities.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:31 AM 2 comments

TimesOnline: Economist who left Britain is appointed to MPC post AN ECONOMIST who left Britain for the United States 17 years ago was named yesterday as the latest member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee. David Blanchflower, an Ivy League labour market expert whose research includes the link between sex and happiness, will become a Monetary Policy Committee member on June 1, Gordon Brown announced in the Budget. Professor Blanchflower was born in Britain, but took American citizenship after securing an academic post at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire — where he is Professor of Economics — in 1989.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:27 AM 7 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Morrisons posts first annual loss Supermarket group Morrisons has reported its first annual loss after the costs of integrating Safeway pushed it into the red. Bradford-based Morrisons posted a loss of £312.9m ($547m) for the year to 29 January, after costs of almost £375m for the merger with Safeway.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:26 AM 3 comments

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

Reuters: Borrowing forecast raised The government will borrow 37 billion pounds this fiscal year and 36 billion next, Chancellor Gordon Brown forecast on Wednesday as he presented his 10th annual budget to parliament. This year's forecast was unchanged from the estimate he made in the pre-budget report (PBR) three months ago but the forecast for 2006/07 was 2 billion pounds higher than in December.
posted by Johnny  @ 9:24 PM 2 comments

ThisisMoney: Please release me AN Englishman's home used to be his castle. Now it has to serve as his pension. With the surge in house prices, many retired homeowners who want to maintain their lifestyle or are struggling to make ends meet are tapping into the wealth tied up in their property. Equity release allows homeowners to cash in on bricks and mortar without having to move - and the market is growing quickly. But once started, it can be difficult, expensive or even impossible to undo these plans.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:38 AM 0 comments

Telegraph: Barker warns of inflation threat waiting in wingsA top Bank of England figure last night warned that the Bank's existing economic growth forecasts are over-optimistic, and that inflation could come back to haunt the UK in coming months.The comments from Kate Barker, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, followed news that inflation has risen from 1.9pc to the Bank's 2pc target for the first time in eight months.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:36 AM 1 comments

Guardian: The disappearing petrol station Oil companies are shutting petrol stations and even outsourcing accountancy services to Poland in a drive to cut costs despite making record profits. Eleven forecourts a week are now being closed and the number owned by oil companies - rather than supermarkets or other retailers - fell by more than 300 last year, figures from the Energy Institute show. Its retail marketing survey reveals that Britain now has fewer forecourts than in 1914 - even though combined diesel and petrol sales set a record last year.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:33 AM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Profits slide at Comet owner Kesa Profits have continued to decline at Comet-owner Kesa, despite rising demand for hi-tech gadgets. Pre-tax profits dropped by almost a fifth, 19.4%, in the year to 31 January to £143.3m ($251m).
posted by Johnny  @ 8:27 AM 2 comments

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 

BBC NEWS | Wales | South West Wales | 250 jobs to go at car audio plant A company which makes audio speakers for cars is to shut its factory at Port Talbot with the loss of 250 jobs. Staff at the Panasonic Electronic Devices were told on Friday that increasing competition and price pressure had led to significant losses.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:26 PM 2 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | UK inflation edges up in February UK inflation edged higher in February, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Consumer price index (CPI) inflation rose to 2.0% from 1.9% in January, hitting the Bank of England's target.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:17 PM 3 comments

Telegraph: Soaring public debt threatens tax hike Gordon Brown has suffered a setback barely hours before tomorrow's Budget, as experts warned he is set to miss his borrowing target. The Chancellor will borrow some £3bn more this financial year than he predicted only three months ago, economists said, after Treasury figures showed the public finances unexpectedly deteriorating in February.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:33 AM 5 comments

Guardian: Unexpected dip in mortgage lending, despite market strength Britain's housing market showed the first signs of renewed weakness last month with an easing in demand for home loans, according to figures out yesterday. Amid a spate of surveys indicating prices have started to pick up, City analysts said the unexpected dip in mortgage lending suggested that property was becoming too expensive for many buyers and that activity in the market was starting to suffer as a result.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:30 AM 7 comments

Guardian: Brown may struggle to meet targets after shortfall hits £2.3bn Gordon Brown's budget preparations received a last-minute setback yesterday when a jump in government spending and slower growth in tax receipts led to the biggest deficit in the public finances for a February since Labour came to power. Following the record surplus piled up by the Treasury in January, the size of last month's £2.3bn shortfall surprised the City, with most analysts predicting that the chancellor would now struggle to keep the annual deficit to the £37bn predicted in the pre-budget report last December.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:29 AM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | UK | 'Unscrupulous' estate agent probe Unscrupulous practices by estate agents, including misleading surveyors about property prices and faking signatures, have been uncovered. Agents put forward false offers to vendors and took backhanders, reporters for BBC One's Whistleblower found.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:27 AM 4 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Sharp UK downturn hits Kingfisher Profits at B&Q owner Kingfisher have more than halved amid a "sharp downturn" in UK spending.Pre-tax profits after one-offs sank 64.2% to £231.8m ($406m) for the year to 28 January, from £647.7m last year.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:25 AM 9 comments

Monday, March 20, 2006 

BBC NEWS | Business | Dell to double Indian workforce Computer giant Dell plans to double its Indian workforce to 20,000 over the next three years. Chairman Michael Dell said there was a "fantastic opportunity to attract talent" in India. Dell is planning to open a new production facility in India, to add to its four call centres and two testing and development units.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:09 PM 4 comments

Reuters: Mortgage lending growth eases Underlying mortgage lending growth continued to ease in February, moving further below its recent average, the British Bankers' Association aid on Monday. Underlying mortgage lending rose by 4.4 billion pounds in February, down from a 4.6 billion pound rise in January and lower than the average of 4.8 billion over the previous six months, the BBA said.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:42 PM 0 comments

Reuters: Public borrowing double expectations The government borrowed more than double analysts' forecasts in February as spending surged, official data showed on Monday, just days before Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown delivers his 2006 budget. The Office for National Statistics said on Monday that public sector net borrowing, the government's preferred measure of the public finances, was 2.266 billion pounds in February, above the 1.1 billion pounds predicted by analysts. That was the highest February total since Labour took power in 1997 and left the cumulative PSNB for the fiscal year, which ends at the beginning of April, at 31.737 billion pounds compared with Brown's forecast of 37 billion for the full year made in December.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:41 PM 0 comments

Firstrung: No shock for first time buyers as house prices remain static Once again the first time buyer is faced with news that house prices have not fallen in line with their expectations. However, these very small percentage movements, which constantly stream from various data suppliers, indicate that the massive house price inflation witnessed as recently as summer 2004 and once running at 23 per cent, is now history.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:34 AM 0 comments

FT.Com: Britain’s economic divide deepens The gap between private-sector growth in the south-east of England and the rest of the UK has grown so wide since 1997 that surging public expenditure has not stopped the overall north-south economic divide deepening.A Financial Times investigation of the latest official regional economic activity figures shows that output growth in predominantly government sectors of health, education and public administration has been much higher in poorer regions of the UK.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:31 AM 0 comments

ThisisMoney: Stamp duty net traps 80% MORE than four out of every five home buyers face a huge tax bill on top of their mortgage, experts warn today. Research into Britain's soaring house prices reveals only 16 per cent of buyers will avoid paying stamp duty of at least £1,200. Last year, Chancellor Gordon Brown declared he intended to help first-time buyers by doubling the stamp duty threshold to £120,000.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:28 AM 0 comments

Telegraph: Families are failing to save up Half of all UK households - 49pc - have either no savings or a maximum of only £1,500 in their savings account, the Department for Work and Pensions has found. The figure, revealed in a survey, will fuel fears about how prepared households are for financial difficulties, such as rises in unemployment. The survey coincides with figures showing that seven out of 10 families receive benefits from the government.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:25 AM 1 comments

Guardian: House prices in the capital top £300,000 mark Average house prices in London have topped £300,000 for the first time as buyer interest has returned to push the capital's prices up for the third month running, says property website Rightmove. It says the average asking price for a house in London rose 1.7% this month, the biggest rise since November and one that takes it to £300,719. That represents an increase of 5.8% on March last year and leaves prices in London 50% higher than the average for the rest of the country.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:23 AM 3 comments

TimesOnlin: Public’s view of inflation poses threat for rates PROSPECTS for a further cut in interest rates will be dealt another blow this morning by news that the public’s assessment of existing inflation in the economy and its likely future level has leapt upwards since November. The Bank of England’s regular quarterly survey of attitudes to inflation across Britain, released this morning, reveals that Britons believe that price pressures are running at levels much higher than the reality, and that this trend will persist over the coming year. The findings of the Bank’s poll by NOP will inflame anxieties on its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) that the surge in the cost of oil and gas has triggered an excessive view of inflation among the public.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:21 AM 14 comments

Sunday, March 19, 2006 

Telegraph: High street retailers' sales suffering from the cold snap The late arrival of warm spring weather has lead to a fall in clothing retailers' sales in recent weeks, according to industry figures seen by the Sunday Telegraph.For the week to last Monday, high street sales fell by 4.2 per cent compared to the previous year, according to sales figures from a group of 23 high street retailers.
posted by Johnny  @ 4:19 PM 10 comments

Independent: Unit trusts and pensions hurt as Brown targets tax avoiders Savers are to be hit by another stealth tax from Gordon Brown, dressed up as an anti-avoidance measure. The Chancellor will remove so-called "seeding relief" on stamp duty in the Budget on Wednesday, hitting unit trusts investing in property and many self-invested personal pensions (Sipps). The relief is given so the trusts do not have to pay stamp duty when they buy commercial property. Typically, the duty is 4 per cent of the price, so on a £250m building it would be £10m.
posted by Johnny  @ 4:08 PM 1 comments

Independent: OFT raids five building firms over price rigging Officials from the Office of Fair Trading have raided the offices of a subsidiary of Morgan Sindall in the past month as the competition watchdog widens its investigation into the construction industry. The raid follows a recent un-announced swoop on two offices of Mowlem, the construction group owned by Carillion, as part of the same investigation.
posted by Johnny  @ 4:03 PM 0 comments

TimesOnline: Taxes hit all-time high GORDON BROWN is about to raise Britain’s tax burden to its highest-ever level, raking in nearly £1m a minute. An analysis by the accountants Ernst & Young, based on the Treasury’s own figures, shows the chancellor will match the record high for the tax burden this year and rise above it next year. That means it will be higher than in the 1970s under Denis Healey, when the top rate of income tax was 83%, and the early 1980s, when it was 60%.
posted by Johnny  @ 3:53 PM 10 comments

Friday, March 17, 2006 

Money Week: What's really going on in the property market The UK property market "has turned the corner" - or so the property Pollyannas like to imagine. But MoneyWeek economist James Ferguson has been looking at the numbers and he isn’t so sure...
posted by DavidG  @ 10:25 PM 11 comments

Gazumping is so last year, this years fashion? Gazundering One in three people have had a property purchase fall through, with more than 3 million househunters being victims of gazumping, a recent research has claimed.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:38 PM 5 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | FTSE breaks through 6,000 barrier The FTSE 100, London's premier stock index, has broken through the 6,000 level for the first time in five years.
posted by Webmaster  @ 1:27 PM 3 comments

What's propping up house prices? Thin air? The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says that house prices rose again in February. The gains were driven mainly by an improvement in the London market. Surveyors were at their most positive since June 2004.
posted by Webmaster  @ 12:07 PM 2 comments

ThisisMoney: The home information pack get rich quick scheme Here's a tip if you want to make some money – become a home information pack inspector. The Government has published its timetable for the introduction of home information packs, which it says will help prevent the misery of housing sales falling through and the property industry says won't.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:37 AM 2 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | PC maker Lenovo to cut 1,000 jobs Lenovo, the Chinese computer maker which bought IBM's personal computer arm last year, is to cut 1,000 jobs. The redundancies, accounting for about 5% of Lenovo's global workforce, will affect ex-IBM employees in the US and other staff in Europe and Asia.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:35 AM 1 comments

BBC NEWS | England | Staffordshire | Hospital to cut up to 1,000 jobs Staff at a Staffordshire hospital have been told 1,000 jobs could be lost as managers try to reduce debts of £17m. It is thought three quarters of the redundancies at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke-on-Trent could be compulsory.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:33 AM 0 comments

Telegraph: Unreliable figures could rock BrownGovernment statisticians have thrown a spanner into the works for Chancellor Gordon Brown days ahead of the Budget, admitting that the public spending figures that it has been producing since last year have been considerably more unreliable than usual.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:28 AM 8 comments

Guardian: Heavy discounting helps high street sales show modest gain Retail sales staged a modest recovery in February, official data showed yesterday, but the upturn was not enough to make up for January's sharp fall, which was revised lower. Economists said the figures, which showed the underlying pace of retail sales at its slowest for five months, meant the weakness of consumer spending would drag the whole economy back in the first quarter of the year.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:25 AM 0 comments

Thursday, March 16, 2006 

Firstrung: CML "nothing dodgy with these HIPS" Perhaps the most persistent rumour constantly surrounding the imminent introduction of the HIPS initiative has been that most lenders would insist on their own valuation and report, over and above the one organised by the vendor.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:16 PM 0 comments

Firstrung: The mis-selling scandal of the decade In the region of 85,000 people have lost a massive chunk of their savings and been condemned to an impoverished retirement. And all because of bad financial advice.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:16 PM 7 comments

ThisisMoney: Bank warns of debt doom if rates rise BRITAIN would face a return to the debt crunch of the early 1990s when tens of thousands lost their homes if the Bank of England raised rates to 8.5%. Most economists consider that unlikely, but a hike to just 6% would result in family finances looking 'poorly,' according to a new ' borrowing thermometer' from the Alliance & Leicester.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:42 PM 6 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Tough start to year for retailers Growth in UK retail sales has fallen back in the early part of 2006, according to government figures. The data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) provides more evidence that the consumer slowdown of 2005 has carried over to 2006.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:40 PM 1 comments

ThisisMoney: Lenders under debt pressure BANKS and credit card companies are being forced to write off increasing levels of bad debt because of their over-zealous lending policies.According to market analysts Datamonitor, the UK's debt mountain has increased by 20% since July 2004 to stand at £1.2 trillion - £1,200bn. Its report said that lenders are beginning to feel the strain of the high levels of debt consumers have taken on.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:26 AM 0 comments

Independent: Homebuyers beware: the sealed bid is back The rebound in the housing market in London has led to the return of the sealed bid - a classic sign of a speculative bubble - a survey shows today. House prices rose at the strongest pace for two years in February, according to a poll of the UK's biggest estate agencies and surveyors' firms. The biggest upturn was in the capital, where more than two-thirds of respondents saw a rise in prices, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:22 AM 6 comments

Guardian: Survey eases fears of 'debt meltdown' Britain is not on the verge of a "debt meltdown" despite the fact that debt levels have trebled over the last 15 years, new research from Alliance & Leicester claims today. The report, dubbed the "borrowing thermometer", says interest rates would have to double from their present level of 4.5% to produce the same kinds of debt stress and negative equity as during the recession of the early 1990s.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:20 AM 14 comments

Guardian: Unemployment rises at fastest rate since 1990s The number of people drawing unemployment benefit has risen at its sharpest rate since the recession of the early 1990s, figures revealed yesterday. The figures, which provide the latest indication of a softening labour market, came a week ahead of Gordon Brown's 10th and possibly final budget. They provide an uncomfortable backdrop for a chancellor who has made the restoration of full employment a key plank of policy and follow news that economic growth in 2005 came in at its lowest since 1992.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:19 AM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Housing market 'gathering pace' The housing market recovery gathered pace in February, according to the latest survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics). It found that 17% more of its estate agent members in England and Wales saw house prices rise last month, compared to those that reported a fall.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:17 AM 15 comments

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 

BBC NEWS | England | Suffolk | Hundreds of jobs go at food plant Almost 400 workers are to lose their jobs with the closure of a food processing factory in Suffolk. The 380 staff have been told Grampian Country Foods' Harris factory in Elmswell near Bury St Edmunds is to close at the beginning of June. The company blames a crowded market place and rising costs for the closure of the pork processing plant.
posted by Johnny  @ 9:05 PM 1 comments

BBC NEWS | England | West Midlands | Jobs threat after pension failure A manufacturing firm employing 450 people has called in receivers after failing to reach a settlement over its pension fund deficit. The Armstrong Group said it inherited a debt of £36m and for the past two years has been in negotiations with the trustee of its pension fund. The firm said it was unable to pay the amount but had tried to avoid insolvency and protect jobs.
posted by Johnny  @ 9:03 PM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Jobs hit by Lloyds TSB cost cuts High Street bank Lloyds TSB is to cut 566 jobs as it attempts to reduce costs in its back office operations. Posts will go in London and Tonbridge in Kent and will also see three offices close in Glasgow, Chorley in Lancashire and Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.
posted by Johnny  @ 9:02 PM 0 comments

TimesOnline: Axa and Abbey cut 2,000 call centre jobs Two of Britain's biggest financial institutions are to cut 2,000 jobs in a black day for Britain's call centre industry. Abbey National and the insurance giant Axa are both moving parts of their call centre operations to India. The exodus of call centres to India has accelerated since Christmas as companies seek to take advantage of cheap labour costs.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:58 PM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | BA announces call centre job cuts British Airways is cutting 400 jobs as part of changes to its direct sales operation, the company has said.
posted by Webmaster  @ 4:11 PM 2 comments

Reuters: Unemployment shows biggest jump since 1992: The number of Britons out of work and claiming benefits in February rose by its biggest amount since the economic slump in 1992, official figures showed on Wednesday.
posted by Bullish Bear  @ 1:09 PM 6 comments

This is Money: Lenders under debt pressure BANKS and credit card companies are being forced to write off increasing levels of bad debt because of their over-zealous lending policies
posted by Bullish Bear  @ 1:05 PM 6 comments

NZ Herald: Fed's Bernanke concerned about US deficit Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he was concerned about the US budget deficit, noting in a letter released today that the ageing of the population will increase the pressure on the budget.
posted by Webmaster  @ 1:04 PM 0 comments

Firstrung: 12.9million people expect their property to form at least part of their pension Research from the Prudentail revealed today that nearly 13 million people are relying on their property to provide them with an income during retirement.
posted by Webmaster  @ 11:12 AM 5 comments

National Statistics: Labour market statistics Mar 06 (PDF) This month's figures show falls in the number of people in employment and in the employment rate. The number of unemployed people, the unemployment rate and the claimant count have all increased.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:44 AM 1 comments

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 

Telegraph: Home bills 'to cost more than mortgage' Home owners will spend more money on council tax and utility bills than they will on mortgage interest payments for the first time this year, experts said yesterday.
posted by Webmaster  @ 7:51 PM 6 comments

Firstrung: New figures show homelessness falling The number of households becoming homeless has dropped by 27 per cent, and those in temporary accommodation have also fallen by 2 per cent, compared to the same period the previous year.
posted by Webmaster  @ 7:31 PM 0 comments

Firstrung: Why some buyers prefer to buy new Research by the House Builders Federation suggests buyers could save up to £25,000 by selecting a new-build rather than a second hand home.
posted by Webmaster  @ 7:16 PM 3 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | US trade deficit soars to record The US current account deficit, the nation's broadest measure of trade, reached a record high in 2005.
posted by Webmaster  @ 5:42 PM 9 comments

Guardian: Six-year home repossesion limit 'a sham' Lenders are ignoring voluntary code aimed at defusing claims that defaulting borrowers are often treated badly.
posted by Webmaster  @ 5:41 PM 0 comments New tenancy laws to hit buy-to-let investors Buy-to-let investors have less than a month to go before licensing of homes in multiple occupation (HMOs) becomes effective on April 6.
posted by Webmaster  @ 5:40 PM 0 comments

Times: Northern Rock goes back on loan deal The bank is forcing a customer to pay a third more than it quoted in his credit agreement.
posted by Webmaster  @ 5:39 PM 1 comments House price rises exaggerated Doubt has been cast on recent figures suggesting that house prices are rising again as the property market strengthens.
posted by Han  @ 1:29 PM 1 comments UK house price inflation rate for first time buyers rose from 4.1 per cent in December to 5.2 per cent in January There is little comfort to be derived for first time buyers in these latest stats. released by the ODPM. The UK house price inflation rate for first time buyers rose from 4.1 per cent in December to 5.2 per cent in January.
posted by Han  @ 12:59 PM 0 comments

Reuters: Boots to cut 2,250 jobs Britain's top health and beauty retailer, Boots Group, is to invest 250 million pounds in a revamp of its local pharmacies and supply chain, but up to 2,250 jobs could go as distribution depots close. Boots, whose acquisition of drugs distributor and retailer Alliance UniChem was effectively cleared by competition authorities on Tuesday, said 700 of its smaller stores will be given a major overhaul under a single brand. The three-year investment at the 1,400-strong chain will see 70 million pounds pumped into a new hi-tech automated warehouse in the English midlands city of Nottingham.
posted by Johnny  @ 12:41 PM 2 comments

Reuters: Countrywide says profit down Property services firm Countrywide (CWD.L: Quote, Profile, Research) reported a 20 percent fall in 2005 profit, hit by fewer housing transactions, but said a market recovery seen late last year was continuing. Countrywide, whose businesses include estate agency, financial services and surveying, said 2005 pretax profit was 31.7 million pounds, recovering from an 89 percent drop in the first half as the UK residential property market started showing gradual improvement in the second half.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:45 AM 0 comments

ThisisMoney: FCUK profits slide 60% FRENCH Connection boss Stephen Marks today promised a comeback in 2006 after a 60% slump in profits and a year as bad as any he could remember. 'The last year has proved to be the most difficult we have experienced for a considerable period of time,' said Marks. 'I have been in this business for 30 years and last year was very tricky.' In the year to 31 January, French Connection reported pre-tax profits of £12.2m against £33.7m in the previous year.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:43 AM 2 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Gas shortage sends prices soaring UK natural gas prices hit a new record on Monday, as supply troubles forced National Grid to issue an alert asking industrial users to curb their usage. The wholesale price of gas deliverable today quadrupled to as much as 255 pence a therm due to supply fears.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:34 AM 4 comments

Monday, March 13, 2006 

TimesOnline: How to own a home of your own For young people with no savings, low incomes and debts from student loans and credit cards, nothing makes the heart sink faster than the words property ladder.
posted by Han  @ 3:56 PM 18 comments

Independent: Business taxes pose threat to UK economy, says CBI Gordon Brown must use next week's Budget to slash business taxes or risk jeopardising the long-term competitive position of the UK economy, the CBI said. In its submission today, in the run-up to the 22 March Budget, the UK's largest employers' group said the Chancellor could fund a £5.5bn tax cut by reining back on the growth of government spending.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:24 PM 0 comments

TimesOnline: Factory price rise reignites inflation fears A second successive month of rising factory gate prices has heightened the threat of consumer price inflation, all but eliminating the prospect of lower interest rates in the coming months. The Office for National Statistics reported that manufactures input prices were unchanged in February but output prices increased by 0.3 per cent with factories trying to pass on some of their recent cost increases.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:21 PM 1 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | House price inflation speeds up UK house prices are accelerating, according to figures from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). Its latest monthly survey of new mortgage loans shows that prices rose by 4.3% in the year to January.
posted by Johnny  @ 1:19 PM 6 comments

Hastings today: Home repossessions soar by 68% in 'hot spot' Hastings EXTREME debt caused by a 'live now pay later' culture caused mortgage repossession locally to soar by 68 per cent.
posted by Han  @ 9:44 AM 3 comments

Reuters: UK short stg rate futures slip further, await PPI British short sterling interest rate futures slipped on Monday ahead of producer price data and as the FTSE-100 index of leading shares struck its highest point since June 2001 shortly after the open.
posted by Han  @ 9:35 AM 0 comments

in2perspective: FT: UK Housing market stronger After almost a year of stagnation, house prices have been rising at a much faster pace, according to the Financial Times housing index.
posted by Han  @ 9:29 AM 0 comments Cambridge test run for home sellers' pack Cambridge looks set to be the first region to test home information packs, the documents containing wide-ranging details on a property that house sellers will be required to prepare by legislation next year.
posted by Han  @ 9:19 AM 0 comments

Sunday, March 12, 2006 

Telegraph - Lunch at club that used to ban Jews, then Cherie earns £30,000: "Mrs Blair has told friends that she 'needs the money' from her lectures to fund huge outgoings, particularly the £3,467,000 mortgage on the central London townhouse bought in 2004."
posted by Bullish Bear  @ 9:30 PM 8 comments

Daily Mail - The Blairs, a £4m mortgage and a loss of moral authority Even In this age of colossal property prices, the size of the Blair family's housing debt is enough to make the eyes water. The Prime Minister and his wife owe almost £4million, part of it in a 95 per cent mortgage on a single property.
posted by Bullish Bear  @ 9:23 PM 3 comments

Times Online - Tales of a Landlady: In a healthy state? With 50% of advertised London flats empty, is buy-to-let really back?
posted by Bullish Bear  @ 9:12 PM 2 comments

Saturday, March 11, 2006 

ThisisMoney: Growth 'looks to be on target' ORDON Brown's optimistic view of the economy looks increasingly likely to be vindicated following signs the industrial sector is recovering.Following news yesterday that manufacturing output rose for a third consecutive month in January, analysts say the economy is on track for abovetrend growth in the first quarter.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:17 PM 14 comments

ThisisMoney: Stamp duty cut 'was a sham' THE stamp duty trap seized £60m more in the nine months after the threshold was doubled, despite the supposed 'helping hand' for homebuyers. A report released today by Portman Building Society showed that despite the threshold being raised from £60,000 to £120,000 last April, the Government continued to earn more revenue from the unpopular tax.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:15 PM 1 comments

ThisisMoney: Landladies lording it over men A new breed of landladies is adding a touch of style and class to buy-to-let thanks to the sisters' habit of not doing it for themselves. The previously heavily male dominated buy-to-let market has seen a surge of female landlords, who agents say maintain and refurbish properties more successfully and don't bodge DIY jobs.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:14 PM 1 comments

Independent: Housing revival helps Rightmove shares to surge on market debut Rightmove shares soared on the first day they could be bought and sold as the City bet yesterday that the tentative revival in the housing market would pick up steam. Shares in the country's biggest property website surged to 392.25p from the 335p starting price set by its adviser, the Swiss investment bank UBS.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:09 PM 3 comments

Friday, March 10, 2006 

ThisisMoney: Cost of piling debt on mortgage LUMPING all your debt on to your mortgage to get lower repayments may sound a good idea, but it could cost thousands in extra interest over the longer term. Figures from the Bank of England reveal that mortgage borrowing increased by £10.5bn in January - the biggest monthly jump for 18 months.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:59 PM 2 comments

The Move Channel: Demand pushes up London flat prices The latest survey of property prices in the capital from London estate agency, Felicity J Lord, reports that flat prices have increased by an average of 1.4% in February across Canary Wharf, Shad Thames, Wapping and Bow.
posted by Han  @ 11:25 AM 1 comments Housing market gaining strength, FT data show The housing market has strengthened, led by rapid price rises in London, the FT house price index showed on Friday.From December onward, prices have been rising at a much faster pace - about 0.7 to 0.9 per cent a month.
posted by Han  @ 11:02 AM 15 comments

in2perspective: Cost of home ownership up 7% The cost of owning and running a house rose by 7% in the financial year 2004/05, more than three times the rate of CPI inflation, according to new research by Halifax based on Office for National Statistics data.
posted by Han  @ 10:46 AM 1 comments

This is Money: Interest Rates Kept on HoldThe Bank of England has disappointed millions of homeowners by voting to keep interest rates on hold.
posted by Han  @ 10:38 AM 2 comments

Thursday, March 09, 2006 

Times: Two experts break ranks to call for cut in rates Two dissenters on the Times Monetary Policy Committee have challenged the consensus view that interest rates should stay on hold, calling on the Bank of England to cut rates today to tackle weak retail spending and rising unemployment.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:37 AM 9 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Japan tightens monetary strategy The Bank of Japan has signalled an end to its longstanding monetary policy of holding interest rates close to zero.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:36 AM 2 comments

Sky News: Interest Rate Decision Due The Committee that looks at the interest rate level will announce its decision at midday. Householders hoping for a cut in mortgage rates as they battle against the strain of soaring energy bills look likely to be disappointed.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:33 AM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Interest rates 'to stay on hold' The Bank of England is widely expected to announce that it is keeping UK interest rates on hold at 4.5% at the end of its latest rate-setting meeting.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:33 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 House prices jumped in February House prices jumped by 1.4 percent on the month in February, giving a three-month annual rate of increase of 5.5 percent, HBOS said in its Halifax house price survey on Wednesday.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:33 AM 20 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | Opec meets over oil output levels Opec oil ministers are meeting in Vienna on Wednesday amid calls not to change crude output levels, for fear that any decline may push up prices.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:32 AM 0 comments Home loan approvals expected to drop The number of home loans taken out by owner occupiers likely fell at the start of the year, although the dip is expected to be temporary.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:31 AM 0 comments

Guardian: Cut up your card We've all fallen for the offers. "Buy now and get 10% off your first purchase." We've vowed to pay off the balance with our next pay cheque, but somehow it doesn't happen. Welcome to the world of store cards.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:31 AM 0 comments

Financial Director: Surge in IVAs 'huge problem' for industry Following an insolvency practitioners' conference hosted by KPMG in February, it has emerged that those working in the industry are struggling to cope with the increase in bankrupt individuals seeking individual voluntary arrangements.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:28 AM 1 comments

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 

MoneyWeek: Could Japan cause a US house price crash? "Central Bankers of the World, Unite!" That at least seems to be the theme from the central banker's playbook. The US Federal Reserve, The European Central Bank and now even the Bank of Japan all seem to be in a mood to tighten the global money supply. What does this mean?
posted by Buffer Bear  @ 9:04 PM 3 comments

BBC News: House price growth top in Estonia House prices in Estonia rose by more than any other European country last year, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has found.
posted by Webmaster  @ 3:04 PM 1 comments

In2perspective: 'Stamp duty approach is antique' Stamp duty land tax penalises first-time buyers, causes house price clustering, tax avoidance, impedes mobility and is unfair to people on lower incomes, claim the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), as it publishes an alternative proposal.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:44 AM 1 comments Optimism grows on European economy Oil prices are high and interest rates are rising, but the euro zone's economy appears to be accelerating in spite of it all.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:43 AM 0 comments

Telegraph: Forget Prudence. We're drowning in debt, Mr Brown Britain's last decade of growth has been driven by consumer spending. There have been tangible benefits in rising living standards and falling unemployment. But there is a nasty sting in the tail: a growing level of household indebtedness which, for many, is not sustainable.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:41 AM 3 comments Home affordability falls The great Australian dream of home ownership is getting more elusive as home loans become less affordable, a report shows.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:40 AM 0 comments Watchdog to trim "excess" store card profits Consumers pay at least 55 million pounds too much each year for interest and insurance on store cards, the country's competition watchdog said as it imposed a raft of measures to trim "excess" profits.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:39 AM 0 comments

Sky News: Flat Sales Bring High Street Gloom Struggling retailers have been dealt a fresh blow in February. Figures show continued weakness on the High Street, with flat sales and rising costs.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:39 AM 1 comments

Sky News: Banks 'Hitting Savers In The Pocket' One in three banks and building societies have savings accounts on which they offer less than 1% interest, a survey has found.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:38 AM 0 comments

BBC NEWS | Business | UK stores face spending 'squeeze' UK retailers remained under pressure in February with flat sales and rising costs, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:38 AM 0 comments

Monday, March 06, 2006 UK car registrations edge down New car registrations in Britain fell 1.4 percent year-on-year in February to 75,996 units, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Monday but it predicted sales would improve this month.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:15 PM 2 comments

Guardian: Treasury Dept Moves to Avoid Debt Limit Treasury Secretary John Snow notified Congress on Monday that the administration has now taken ``all prudent and legal actions,'' including tapping certain government retirement funds, to keep from hitting the $8.2 trillion national debt limit.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:15 PM 2 comments

Growing Business: India now London’s second-largest investor India has become London’s second-largest overseas investor, according to the capital’s foreign direct investment agency.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:14 PM 0 comments

Sky News: UK Housebuilding Gets Hefty Boost Housebuilding is enjoying a major boom - with 160,000 new homes in England last year, new figures show.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:13 PM 0 comments

Telegraph: Rural group urges caution as house-building booms House-building is enjoying a major boom - with 160,000 new homes in England last year, according to countryside campaigners.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:16 AM 4 comments Letters: Risk that Brown will stretch credibility further still Sir, Financial institutions should be wary of the signal given by the Chancellor that he will announce the issue of more long-dated gilts in Budget.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:15 AM 0 comments

Scotsman: Heating or eating? Fuel price rises leave poor people with the invidious choice between heating or eating.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:14 AM 0 comments

Firstrung: First time buyers hold the key to developer survival Firstrung continues to recognise the importance of relevant up to date statistical information and just how useful this can be for the first time buyer when looking to make decisions regarding stepping onto the firstrung of the property ladder.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:05 AM 1 comments

IOL: Soft landing for house prices most likely scenario In the latest OECD economic survey on Ireland, the global think tank says that house prices are more likely to level out rather than crash.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:03 AM 0 comments

Sunday, March 05, 2006 

MSN Money (AUS): Interest rates tipped to remain on hold Interest rates are expected to remain on hold for the 12th consecutive month when the Reserve Bank meets this week.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:30 PM 0 comments

MSN Money (US): Many Watching Japan Central Bank For five years, the Bank of Japan has kept interest rates at zero and flooded the banking system with trillions of yen - all to encourage lending and spur a recovery in this long-stagnant economy.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:29 PM 0 comments Shadow MPC votes 5-4 to cut rates The results of the latest Shadow Monetary Policy Committee (SMPC) e-mail poll for The Sunday Times are set out below. Members of the Institute for Economic Affairs' (IEA) SMPC speak in a personal capacity and their contributions are arranged in alphabetical order.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:28 PM 1 comments

Times: Lenders home in on the professionals Higher-rate taxpaying professionals have always been in the good books with the nation's mortgage lenders because their relatively high and secure incomes make them a pretty safe bet.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:26 PM 0 comments

Independent: They know you so well, but lenders want the whole history of consumers Student debts remain a gaping omission in the pictures built up of our 'risk' as borrowers. Is that set to change?
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:25 PM 2 comments

This is Money: At last, a bank that opens branches Hardly a month goes by without one of the big banks shutting down yet another branch, usually in a socially deprived area or in a community where it was the last bank standing.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:24 PM 1 comments

Firstrung: The week in focus 2/03/06 - 04/03/06 HBOS reports profits up 17% and a 28% rise in bad debts on its loans. This was the second bank, after Lloyds T.S.B., to publish its financial report this week and also followed suit with a dramatic rise, not only in profits, but also in bad bebt provision.
posted by Webmaster  @ 10:33 AM 0 comments

Saturday, March 04, 2006 

Firstrung: Double bubble trouble in the US Firstrung has highlighted two of the many articles that reach our inbox concerning the quite dramatic change in sentiment and fortune in the US.
posted by Webmaster  @ 3:56 PM 0 comments

FirstRung: How the BTL investor missed out on easy money As arguments continue to rage regarding the various yields BTL investors can or cannot make, the growth in capital appreciation and the ultimate question of when to finally exit the market place, there has been a far easier missed opportunity for profit from house price inflation.
posted by Webmaster  @ 3:55 PM 0 comments

Independent: Estate agents battle to sell homes online Rightmove, the website that claims a 78 per cent share of the UK's online property advertising market and floats on the stock market next week, faces a legal battle with an online estate agent that claims it has breached competition laws.
posted by Webmaster  @ 11:00 AM 0 comments Soft landing Scotland's property market is heading for a soft landing in 2006, after showing the highest price inflation in the UK last year, according to HBOS group economist Tim Crawford, who predicted growth will slow from 15 per cent last year to 7 per cent this year.
posted by Webmaster  @ 10:58 AM 1 comments Valley Housing Bubble Ready to Burst? More gloomy news from the country that pioneered house price inflation. This gold rush has the same whiff of greed followed by an even more pronounced air of desperation.
posted by Webmaster  @ 10:57 AM 2 comments

Telegraph: IMF voices unease at house valuations The British economy is still being threatened by over-valued house prices and energy costs, despite having successfully battled through the toughest year in a decade, the International Monetary Fund has warned.
posted by Webmaster  @ 10:56 AM 2 comments

Guardian: Buy-to-let bounces back ... gently Buy-to-let landlords are swaggering again. Demand from prospective tenants is at a four-year high, rents are up and house prices are beginning to ease upwards.
posted by Webmaster  @ 10:56 AM 0 comments

Friday, March 03, 2006 

BBC NEWS | Business | China 'to dwarf G7 states by 2050' China's economy is projected to grow so fast that it could outstrip all developed nations by 2050, a report by Pricewaterhouse says. The Asian giant's economy is set to double in size between 2005 and 2050, according to the report.
posted by Webmaster  @ 11:20 PM 0 comments More reasons the BTL phenonema appears to be vanishing Try as hard as we can the Firstrung team is still struggling with this public relations exercise from Paragon mortgages in as much as the statement on figures does not quite compute.
posted by Webmaster  @ 6:00 PM 0 comments

BBC News: VAT 'to be cut on contraceptives' VAT is expected to be cut on condoms and other contraceptives in Gordon Brown's Budget later this month, according to reports.
posted by Webmaster  @ 2:57 PM 19 comments

Times: It's, like, got 3,500 square feet - how cool is that? The excitable state of the top end of the Central London property market is causing estate agents to reach for the metaphor. (HPC mention...thanks Anne!)
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:12 AM 4 comments

ThisisMoney: Households owe £2.6bn SPIRALLING household bills will hit consumers in the pocket to the tune of £2.6bn this year - equivalent to nearly a penny on income tax, new research shows. Analysts at consultants Capital Economics say inflation-busting increases in gas, electricity, water and council tax bills threaten the hoped-for recovery in consumer spending. And they warn that fresh increases in oil or wholesale gas prices could see domestic utility bills rising again.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:29 AM 1 comments

ThisisMoney: It's buy-to-let boomtimeTHE BUY-TO-LET market is booming again with new landlords snapping up cheap mortgage deals. According to figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), the value of new lending increased by nearly half (47%) in the final six months of last year to £14.6bn, bringing the total buy-to-let market up to £73.4bn.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:28 AM 22 comments

Guardian: Nestle to cut 275 jobs as competition bites Nestle Rowntree, maker of Kit Kat, Aero and Smarties, is to cut 275 jobs in Britain in the face of rising costs and fierce competition from its rivals Cadbury and Mars. The cuts will be spread across all levels at its head office and manufacturing sites in York, and Fawdon in Newcastle upon Tyne. It will also transfer production of Munchies from York to Fawdon over the next few months.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:26 AM 1 comments

Thursday, March 02, 2006 

New York Times: Don't Fear the Bubble That Bursts You remember the great real estate crash of the 1990's, don't you? In New York, inflation-adjusted prices dropped almost a third in less than a decade. The fall was even worse in Los Angeles, and it wasn't pretty in Boston, San Francisco or Washington, either.
posted by Webmaster  @ 10:37 PM 0 comments

Daily Telegraph (AUS): Sydney slips into housing freefall Syndeysiders are voting with their wallets, bowing out of the NSW property market at an unprecedented rate as new home approvals fall to their lowest level in almost 20 years.
posted by Webmaster  @ 10:33 PM 1 comments ECB rate rise 'doesn't set upward trend' The quarter-point increase in eurozone interest rates announced by the European Central Bank overnight does not signal a long series of rate rises in coming months, ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet said today.
posted by Webmaster  @ 10:17 PM 0 comments

theRatandMouse: HousePriceCrash - causing trouble again As if HousePriceCrash - a popular website set up to document the crash that never happens - and FirstRung - a website for angry FTBs - aren't entertaining enough separately, here they are together... and the result is hysterical.
posted by Webmaster  @ 9:33 PM 2 comments

BBC News: Inflation fears push up ECB rate The European Central Bank has raised its key interest rate to 2.5%, in response to a strengthening eurozone economy and fears of growing inflation.
posted by Webmaster  @ 2:30 PM 4 comments

BBC News: Eurozone rates 'set for increase' The European Central Bank (ECB) looks set to raise interest rates in the light of rising inflationary pressures in the eurozone. Economists are betting on a quarter percentage point rise in the cost of borrowing to 2.50% on Thursday.
posted by Webmaster  @ 1:07 PM 0 comments

Credit Action: Debt Stats - March 2006 There were 20,461 individual insolvencies in England and Wales in the fourth quarter of 2005 on a seasonally adjusted basis. This was an increase of 15.0% on the previous quarter and an increase of 57.1% on the same period a year ago.
posted by Webmaster  @ 12:23 PM 2 comments

This is Money: Keeping pace with inflation Inflation is up but banks and building societies are cutting savings rates. This double whammy makes it even more difficult for savers to maintain the spending power of their money.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:57 AM 0 comments

Guardian: ECB panics at first signs of rapid growth Today will demonstrate as starkly as possible the difference between the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve.
posted by Webmaster  @ 8:56 AM 0 comments

Telegraph: Families pay card debt with mortgages Britain's debt mountain has hit new heights as thousands of families remortgage their homes to escape crippling credit card repayments. The amount Britons owe to banks and building societies increased by £10.5bn in January, according to figures from the Bank of England. It was the biggest monthly jump since the house price slowdown started 18 months ago.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:37 AM 3 comments

Guardian: Fears for UK car plants as factories shift east Two of Britain's last car plants face an uncertain future as production shifts to new factories in low-cost countries in central and eastern Europe and, of course, Asia. The growing phenomenon, known as "footprint migration", is sweeping through western Europe's auto industry.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:35 AM 2 comments

Guardian: Manufacturers' misery continues but housing demand rises Britain's hard-pressed manufacturers shed jobs for the 11th month in a row in February as they sought to cope with sagging export orders and a sharp rise in the cost of fuel and raw materials, according to a report released yesterday.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:34 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 

BBC NEWS | Business | Consumer borrowing growth slows Borrowing by individuals on credit cards, bank loans and hire purchase agreements is growing at its slowest pace for nearly 12 years.
posted by Webmaster  @ 10:08 PM 0 comments

Reuters: Builder Wilson Bowden year profit drops 14 percent Housebuilder Wilson Bowden (WLB.L: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Wednesday 2005 pretax profit fell by 14 percent after experiencing "the most challenging housing market for many years". The country's fifth-biggest housebuilder by stock market value said profit before tax dropped to 216.4 million pounds from 252.4 million pounds in 2004. But it is raising its full-year dividend by 22.4 percent to 46.5 pence. The company said in a statement its David Wilson homes division had "performed well in a difficult market" after reporting 5,027 completions for 2005 against 5,403 previously.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:21 AM 1 comments

Independent: GKN to shed 1,000 more high-cost jobs GKN, the automotive components and aerospace group, is stepping up its restructuring programme and expects to shed a further 1,000 jobs in Western Europe and the US this year as production is switched to low-cost countries of Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:18 AM 0 comments

Independent: Triple whammy of consumer doom sends out warning signal Dismal new year trading on the high street forced retailers to carry out the largest jobs cull for at least 23 years last month, the CBI said yesterday. It warned there would be "casualties" among high street chains as retail bosses took stock after the end of the traditional festive shopping spree.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:17 AM 7 comments

Guardian: MFI shuts factories in struggle for profits A major restructuring designed to haul the loss-making MFI furniture chain back into the black is likely to cost up to 1,500 jobs. The group, which also includes the Howden joinery operation and Sofa Workshop chain, plunged £110m into the red last year, against a £20m profit in 2004.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:15 AM 0 comments

Guardian: Nestle warns of staff cuts and reverses product launch strategy Nestle Rowntree - the maker of Kit Kat, Aero and Smarties - warned yesterday that job cuts could be on the way in Britain as it battles for its share of the increasingly competitive confectionery market.
posted by Johnny  @ 8:13 AM 0 comments

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