Pound sterling continues downward trend after disappointing UK retail sales figures

Statisticians blamed the Beast from the East for retail sales drop
The pound dropped 0.25 per cent against the dollar on Thursday morning after a bigger than expected dip in UK retail sales.
Sterling also fell 0.16 per cent against the euro to hit €1.1458 as it continued its decline which began on Wednesday after inflation undershot expectations.
The downward direction of the pound comes days after it hit a post-Brexit vote high of $1.436 ahead of wage and employment data released on Tuesday.
Read more Pound sterling plummets as UK inflation undershoots expectations Sterling falls back from post-Brexit referendum high Warning of imminent slump for sterling against euro and dollar Commenting on the retail sales figures, ONS senior statistician, Rhian Murphy said the reduction was “due to a large decline in March with petrol sales seeing a significant slump as a result of the poor weather keeping many shoppers indoors.
However, she added: “The snow actually helped boost online..

'Beast from the East' responsible for biggest drop in UK retail sales in a year

Retail sales suffered their worst quarter in a year in March thanks to snow storms which deterred shoppers.
The Office for National Statistics reported on Thursday that sales fell 1.2 per cent in the month in which the “Beast from the East” struck the UK.
For the first quarter as a whole sales volumes were down 0.5 per cent – the biggest quarter-on-quarter fall since the beginning of 2017.
Retail sales account for around 20 per cent of UK GDP and the first quarter drop adds to the evidence that the overall UK economy slowed in early 2018.
The ONS is due to release its preliminary estimate for Q1 growth next week.
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Sky hails cheaper Premier League deal as it unveils increased revenue and profit

Broadcaster is at centre of a bidding war between Comcast and 21st Century Fox
Sky grew revenues and earnings in the first three quarters of its financial year, with customer numbers rising by 480,000 to 22.9m over the last 12 months.
Revenue was up 5.8 per cent to £10.1bn, from £9.6bn in the first nine months of the previous year, while earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation rose 11 per cent to £1.7bn from £1.5bn. Operating profit increased by 22 per cent to hit £857m.
The company hailed a strong quarter in the UK & Ireland, which included “making significant progress on our future growth plans, including the successful renewal of our Premier League rights from 2019 to 2022 at 16 per cent less cost per game”.
Read more Sky: Now Fox offers 'legal separation' of Sky News Sky News could be sold to Disney early in bid to push through Sky sale Sky reveals gender pay gap of 11.5% and bonus gap of 40% Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: “Agai..

Debenhams profits drop 85% as retailer blames disappointing Christmas and Beast from the East for plunge

High street retailers have been struggling in recent months
Profits at Debenhams plunged by 85 per cent in the first half of the financial year, tumbling from £87.8m to £13.5m, causing shares in the company to drop by more than 10 per cent at the open.
The beleaguered department store blamed a combination of a “disappointing Christmas season” and extreme weather conditions for denting sales and margins. In the final trading week of the first half, which ended on 26 March, Debenhams was forced to temporarily close almost 100 stores, which is estimated to have reduced sales by 1 per cent. Sales were down 2.2 per cent overall in the six month period.
Read more Debenhams to cut 320 store management jobs in cost-cutting drive The group slashed its dividend to 0.5p per share, a reduction of 51.2 per cent compared to 1.025p awarded this time last year.
The company provided an update on its accelerated Debenhams Redesigned strategy, which has seen the group focus on improving its webs..

3 American Mercenaries Are Convicted in Murder of Filipino Woman

3 American Mercenaries Are Convicted in Murder of Filipino Woman Photo Joseph Hunter, a former Army sergeant, was convicted in connection to mercenary work for a South African crime lord. Credit Sakchai Lalit/Associated Press Betrayed by their former boss — a South African crime lord who testified against them — three American men who worked as soldiers of fortune were convicted on Wednesday of a murder conspiracy plot to assassinate a real-estate agent in the Philippines six years ago.
After only two hours of deliberations, a jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan returned a guilty verdict against the men, Joseph Hunter, Adam Samia and Carl D. Stillwell.
The government’s case against the defendants — presented at a spellbinding three-week federal trial — was built on the testimony of Paul Le Roux, a murderous kingpin who trafficked in guns, drugs and gold, and employed a private army of mercenaries on four continents to protect his assets and kill on his behalf. After Mr. Le Roux..

Trilobites: Diamonds in a Meteorite May Be a Lost Planet’s Fragments

Diamonds in a Meteorite May Be a Lost Planet’s Fragments Photo Fragments of the 2008 TC3, or Almahata Sitta, meteorite that fell to Earth in 2008. The diamonds discovered inside one of the fragment may have come from a protoplanet that orbited the sun billions of years ago. Credit Peter Jenniskens/SETI/NASA In 2008, chunks of space rock crashed in the deserts of Sudan. Diamonds discovered inside one of the recovered meteorites may have come from a destroyed planet that orbited our sun billions of years ago, scientists said on Tuesday. If confirmed, they say, it would be the first time anyone has recovered fragments from one of our solar system’s so-called “lost” planets.
“We have in our hands a piece of a former planet that was spinning around the sun before the end of the formation of today’s solar system,” said Philippe Gillet, a planetary scientist at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland and an author of the paper that was published in Nature Communications.
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Comcast Bid 16% More Than Disney for 21st Century Fox, Filing Shows

Comcast Bid 16% More Than Disney for 21st Century Fox, Filing Shows Photo The 21st First Century Fox board accepted Disney’s bid after Comcast refused to agree to a breakup fee in case federal regulators rejected a deal, according to a filing on Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Credit Lucy Nicholson/Reuters LOS ANGELES — Rupert Murdoch sold most of 21st Century Fox to Disney in December for $52.4 billion, spurning a proposal from Comcast that was 16 percent higher on a per-share basis, in part because Comcast refused to offer protections in the event of regulatory rejection.
Although Comcast’s interest in 21st Century Fox was previously known, details of Comcast’s proposal — and Fox’s reasoning for rebuffing it — were disclosed for the first time on Wednesday as part of a 456-page filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The paperwork, required under securities law, also disclosed that senior Fox executives, including Mr. Murdoch and his two sons, James..

Amazon Reboots the Studio Where ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘E.T.’ Were Made

Amazon Reboots the Studio Where ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘E.T.’ Were Made
CULVER CITY, Calif. — It was as if they were stepping into 1940, the heart of Hollywood’s golden age.
The stucco bungalow where Orson Welles puffed on his pipe between “Citizen Kane” scenes shimmered in the sun. White roses bloomed along a path leading to the cottage where Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh changed into their “Gone With the Wind” costumes. You half expected Cecil B. DeMille to come bounding out of the nearby studio administration building, a mansion modeled after Mount Vernon, to bawl out an underling.
Yet a gathering here last week was not about Hollywood’s past as much as its future. The official purpose was to commemorate the $12 million restoration of four studio buildings. But the visitors may as well have come to cut the ribbon on a new era in the entertainment industry — one marked by the ascent of streaming giants like Amazon Studios, the compound’s new tenant.
“This historic place has become newly ..

Maryland Schools May Tell Children When It’s Time to Log Off

Maryland Schools May Tell Children When It’s Time to Log Off
Maryland could become the first state to address parental concerns about computer screen time for children in the classroom.
Legislation passed this month would require state education officials to develop optimum health and safety practices for the use of digital devices in schools. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has not taken a public position on the legislation. If he does not sign or veto it before May 28, the measure will become law without his signature.
The bill throws Maryland into an already heated national debate over the potential for digital devices and apps to addict children — and whether it is up to the tech industry or parents to make sure children don’t get hooked.
Until now, health concerns about children’s use of devices have centered largely on entertainment activities. Studies have reported that children with excessive internet or video-gaming habits can become preoccupied with online activities to the ..

Time Warner C.E.O. Testifies That AT&T Deal Is Needed to Battle Silicon Valley

Time Warner C.E.O. Testifies That AT&T Deal Is Needed to Battle Silicon Valley Photo Jeffrey Bewkes, chief executive of Time Warner, center, testified Wednesday, becoming the first top executive of either his company or AT&T to testify in the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the merger of the companies. Credit Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters WASHINGTON — Time Warner’s chief executive, Jeffrey Bewkes, vigorously defended his company’s $85.4 billion merger with AT&T on Wednesday, saying the deal was necessary to confront “tectonic changes” in entertainment caused by internet competitors like Netflix and Amazon.
Entering the fifth week of a trial that will decide the deal’s fate, Mr. Bewkes was the first top executive from Time Warner and AT&T to take the stand in federal court to argue against the Justice Department’s lawsuit to block the merger. The Justice Department had sued to stop the deal in November, arguing that a union of the two companies would harm consumers and weaken competit..