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Thread: World News from Forex Forum Nigeria.

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    UK retail says no-deal Brexit will see 'food rotting at ports'

    The British government and the European Union must avoid a no-deal Brexit “at all costs” as this would clog up food supplies, raise prices and throw retailers out of business, the UK retail industry’s lobby group said on Thursday.

    The warning from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) came a day before British Prime Minister Theresa May hosts ministers at her country residence to try to reach agreement on how to push on with the all-but-stalled Brexit talks.

    In a letter to May and the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, BRC chairman Richard Pennycook said failure to reach a deal that protects the free flow of goods after Brexit on March 29, 2019, would harm both UK consumers and EU-based producers.

    “Failure to reach a deal – the cliff edge scenario – will mean new border controls and multiple ‘non-tariff barriers’, through regulatory checks, that will create delays, waste and failed deliveries,” he said.

    “The consequences of this will be dramatic for UK consumers. It is likely that we will see food rotting at ports, reducing the choice and quality of what is available to consumers.”

    The BRC’s intervention follows similar warnings from several other businesses, including Jaguar Land Rover, Airbus, Siemens and John Lewis.

    Pennycook, the former boss of the Co-operative Group, noted that 50 percent of Britain’s food is imported, and of that 60 percent comes from the EU.

    He said that in 2016 3.6 million containers from the EU passed through UK ports, equating to more than 50,000 tonnes per day of food. These goods can currently enter the UK with minimal delay, allowing for frictionless trade.

    HIGHER PRICES
    Pennycook said food and beverage products would face an average increase in the cost of importing from the EU of up to 29 percent from non-tariff barriers alone and warned that many of these increases would be passed on to consumers in higher prices.

    The BRC has also estimated that more than 12,500 small retail businesses will be at risk of going bust, while EU businesses face losing 21 billion pounds of agri-food exports to Britain.

    Pennycook said time was running out for the food supply chain as EU farmers needed to know who their customers would be before planting their crops or raising their animals this autumn, for delivery to UK consumers next spring.

    At Friday’s meeting in Chequers, May’s country residence, the prime minister is expected to propose a new plan to ease trade and offer Britain more freedom to set tariffs after Brexit.

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    UK's productivity problem rears its head in early 2018

    British productivity contracted at the fastest pace in a year in early 2018, reversing some of the gains made last year and highlighting a long-standing problem in Britain’s economy, official data showed on Friday.

    There were also signs of the kind of inflation pressure that the Bank of England is expected to douse by raising interest rates.

    Productivity in Britain has stagnated since the global financial crisis, even more than in most other advanced economies, and has played a key role in squeezing Britons’ living standards.

    Over the past 10 years, productivity growth was the weakest since modern records began and appears to be the slowest since the early 1820s, when Britain was emerging from the Napoleonic wars.

    From January through March, output per hour worked fell by 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter, the biggest decline in a year, following a 0.6 percent rise in late 2017, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

    Some of the weakness might reflect a broad economic slowdown during snowy and icy weather in early 2018, but analysts said they saw the same old picture emerging from Friday’s data.

    “The relapse in productivity ... after the rebound in the second half of 2017 is particularly disappointing as there needs to be sustained improvement to ease concerns over the UK’s overall poor productivity record since the deep 2008/9 recession,” Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club consultancy, said.

    Weak productivity growth means Britain’s economy is less able to expand without generating inflation.

    The Bank of England has judged the economy will struggle to grow much faster than 1.5 percent a year before it starts to overheat — one reason why it thinks interest rates will need to rise over the next few years.

    The ONS said output per hour worked in the first quarter was 0.9 percent higher compared with a year ago. Productivity growth by this measure has yet to even touch its pre-crisis peak.

    Friday’s data showed unit labour costs - a measure of how much it costs to produce a given amount of output, and a key driver of inflation - rose by an annual 3.1 percent in the first quarter, the biggest increase since late 2013.

    “On this measure at least, (BoE) hawks are right that labour-based inflation pressures are broadening,” Simon French, chief economist at Panmure Gordon, said on Twitter.

    On Thursday, BoE Governor Mark Carney said inflation pressures had continued to mount as the BoE expected, and that there was widespread evidence that slack in the economy had been largely used up.

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    Exclusive: France's Total prepares sale of $1.5 billion of UK North Sea fields

    France’s Total is set to sell a third of its stake in Laggan Tormore gas field along with other oil and gas assets in Britain’s North Sea that could fetch a total of $1.5 billion, four banking and industry sources said.

    The divestment will include stakes in a number of smaller fields Total acquired as part of the 2017 $4.95 billion deal to buy the oil and gas division of A.P. Moller-Maersk, the sources said. The deal was completed in March.

    Those fields include Golden Eagle, in which Total has a 32 percent stake, as well as Dumbarton (30 percent), Bruce (43 percent) and Keith (25 percent).

    Bank of America Merrill Lynch will run the sale of the 20 percent stake in Laggan Tormore process, which leave Total with a 40 percent stake once complete. Investment bank Lambert Energy will lead the sale of the other stakes.

    Total and Lambart Energy declined to comment. Bank of America Merrill Lynch did not respond to a request for comment.

    The sale is part of a broad change of guard in the aging North Sea where veteran players are seeking to dispose of older fields with declining production while new, nimbler companies believe they can squeeze out more value.

    Last week, Chevron said it was preparing to sell its fields in the central North Sea. Royal Dutch Shell and BP have also sold a large number of fields in recent years.

    The Laggan Tormore gas field, in which Total now has 60 percent, started production in February 2016 and can produce up to 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

    Any deal for the Bruce and Keith fields is likely to be complicated, however.

    London-listed Serica Energy, which agreed to acquire stakes in Bruce, Keith and the adjacent Rhum field from BP last year, is seeking a waiver from the U.S. government to allow it to operate Rhum, which is 50 percent owned by Iran’s national oil company, as Washington prepares to re-impose sanctions on Tehran.

    Without a waiver, the field will have to shut down, leaving Bruce and Keith holding little value, the sources said.

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    UK economy perks up slightly as Bank of England nears rate decision

    Britain’s economy picked up a bit of speed in May after slowing in early 2018, according to official figures that are likely to give the Bank of England more confidence about raising interest rates next month.

    A new monthly reading of gross domestic product showed the world’s fifth-biggest economy grew by 0.3 percent in May from April.

    That was up from growth of 0.2 percent in April and in line with the forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, marking the strongest growth since November, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday.

    Sterling fell against the dollar after the data, which showed a mixed picture of the economy. Growth came mostly from the dominant services sector while factory output disappointed.

    But Cathal Kennedy, an economist at RBC Capital Markets, said the figures should support expectations that the BoE would raise rates in August.

    “The gradual momentum into May really backs up what the Bank has been saying of late. We have seen a bounceback from the first quarter,” he said.

    BoE Governor Mark Carney and other top officials at the central bank opted not to raise rates in May because of the early 2018 slowdown.

    Instead, they decided to wait for signs the weakness was temporary and caused by unusually cold winter weather rather than a sign of broader problems before Britain’s exit from the European Union next year.

    However, upheaval in the government of Prime Minister Theresa May — battling to keep her grip on the ruling Conservative Party, which is split over Brexit — could yet affect confidence among employers, a potential new hurdle for the BoE.

    Britain’s economy grew by 0.2 percent in the three months to May, as expected, after stagnating in the three months to April.

    In annual terms, the economy was 1.5 percent bigger than in May last year, the ONS said.

    The BoE’s rate-setting committee is expected to raise rates by 25 basis points to 0.75 percent — only its second rate increase in more than a decade — on Aug. 2, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

    SERVICES-LED GROWTH

    The ONS said the warm weather and spending around the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle helped the economy.

    Britain’s services industry grew 0.3 percent month-on-month in May, slowing from an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in April.

    Over the three months to May, growth in services — which makes up 80 percent of economic output — picked up speed to 0.4 percent from 0.2 percent.

    But industrial output fell unexpectedly in May by 0.4 percent on the month, hit by the shutdown of the Sullom Voe oil and gas terminal.

    Manufacturing growth also disappointed, rising only 0.4 percent on the month — less than half the growth rate expected in the Reuters poll.

    May capped the weakest three months for British factories since December 2012.

    There was better news from construction, which had struggled in the bad weather of early 2018. Output jumped 2.9 percent in May, far exceeding expectations and marking the first growth in the sector since December.

    Separate data showed Britain’s deficit in goods trade during May was broadly unchanged from April at 12.362 billion pounds ($16.37 billion).

    ---------- Post added 07-11-2018 at 01:44 PM ---------- Previous post was 07-10-2018 at 01:50 PM ----------

    Britain’s banks and insurers want to stick to global standards on financial regulation after Brexit and are not calling for a “race to the bottom” to win business from European rivals, the head of Britain’s financial watchdog said on Wednesday.

    Charles Randell, chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority, said leaving the European Union could allow London to ease financial regulation but the final trade deal it agrees with the bloc will dictate the extent of any rowback.

    Britain departs the EU next March and while a “standstill” transition deal has been agreed with Brussels lasting to the end of 2020, it is unclear what sort of trading links Britain will have with Europe after then.

    Some UK lawmakers see Brexit as an opportunity to row back on EU rules, but Randell saw no appetite for this among firms themselves.

    “I don’t think any of the financial services firms I meet want to try to win business through a regulatory race to the bottom,” Randell told a Reuters Newsmaker event.

    Financial firms believe that the “quality kite mark” they get from being regulated in Britain is an important selling point for their global business.

    While Britain is leaving the EU, it is not leaving a system of global standards, Randell said in his first major speech since becoming FCA chair in April.

    “It will be my intention to make sure that we redouble our efforts to engage with global standard setters because I think that will be necessary in a world after we’ve left the EU.”

    “High standards of regulation will continue.”

    Regulators across the world have approved a welter of new rules since banks had to be rescued by taxpayers in the 2007-09 financial crisis.

    Randell said there is a consensus among the industry and consumer groups that the volume of regulatory change is unsustainable.

    “We need to make sure that the pace of regulatory change is carefully managed, given all the other pressures on firms’ business models,” Randell said in his first major speech since becoming chair of the FCA in April.

    There was room to review existing rules for “unintended consequences”, he said.

    “If we do see a slower pace of regulatory change, there may be scope to spend a bit more time to examining the consequences regulation have had... and whether all the regulation has served the purpose it was originally intended to serve.”

    Britain’s withdrawal agreement with the EU may give scope for this review to take place, he said.

    Britain opposed EU rules that cap banker bonuses, saying it was the wrong approach, raising hopes in Europe’s biggest financial centre that it would be scrapped after Brexit.

    But Britain’s freedom to diverge from European financial rules will largely depend on the “parameters” set by its future trading relations with the EU, Randell said.

    The FCA and the Bank of England have said they don’t want to become “rule takers” or be forced to cut and paste EU rules into British law after Brexit, with no room to diverge if it was felt necessary to maintain financial stability.

    British Cabinet Office minister David Lidington said on Wednesday that Britain’s services industry must be able to diverge from EU rules after Brexit because there is a risk of “unwelcome measures” that may undermine the sector.

    Britain is due to set out its proposals for future trading links with the EU in a White Paper.

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    BoE adds systemic buffers to 2018 stress test of banks

    The Bank of England (BoE) said this year’s stress test of major banks will measure how non-core capital buffers stand up to market and economic stresses.

    The test, introduced since the financial crisis a decade ago forced British taxpayers to bail out several lenders, has focused on the resilience of a bank’s core capital buffer.

    But the BoE said on Thursday this year’s test would also include secondary buffers held by the banks to reflect their domestic and global systemic importance.

    The BoE said the “uplifts” assumed from including a systemic risk buffer would add 2.5 percent to the overall hurdle rate of Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L), and 1 percent to those of Barclays (BARC.L), HSBC (HSBA.L), Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), Santander UK and Nationwide.

    The BoE also said it was making changes to how it assesses another secondary buffer knows as Pillar 2A, a measure of financial strength that assesses a bank’s capacity to manage risk.

    However, the changes being made specifically to the treatment of Pillar 2A capital in the test mean that “on average, hurdle rates are expected to be lower than they would be under the previous calculation” for that buffer.

    The result of this year’s test is due around year-end.

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