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John McDonnell offers City of London 'seat at the table' in Labour policy making

Shadow chancellor proposes a 'new start in the relationship between Labour and the finance sector'
John McDonnell offered City bosses a chance to help shape Labour economic policy as part of his pitch to financiers on Thursday.
The shadow chancellor proposed a ”new start in the relationship between Labour and the finance sector”, in a speech at Bloomberg’s headquarters in London.
Financial services would have a “seat at the policy-making and policy delivery table” under a future Labour government, he said.
Read more City must not get special treatment in Brexit talks, says McDonnell The lifelong socialist joked that finance executives might expect to meet “a raving extremist who is about to nationalise their company and send them on a re-education course up north somewhere”.
Instead, he offered a more conciliatory tone, saying that he wanted them to “come with us” into government, alongside trade unions and manufacturers.
He promised to be straightforward with the fi..

Amazon Prime has passed the 100 million customer mark, says boss Jeff Bezos

Tech giant's shares rose in pre-market trading
Amazon has signed up more than 100 million Prime customers in the 13 years since the service launched, the tech firm’s boss Jeff Bezos has revealed in a letter to shareholders.
Shares in the retail giant rose almost 2 per cent in pre-market trading.
According to Mr Bezos, Amazon Prime passed the 100 million customer mark last year, with the company shipping more than five billion items through Prime in 2017.
Read more Amazon files for Alexa patent to let it listen to people all the time Trump’s feud with Amazon is about more than preserving the Post Office Kimmel on why Trump hates Amazon: “Bezos is actually a billionaire' The company also said membership of its Amazon Music Unlimited service more than double in the last six months.Meanwhile, 2017 was the first year since the company was established that more than half the items sold via Amazon came from third-party sellers.
Along with his letter reflecting on last yea..

Unilever hikes dividend and announces €6bn share buyback

Anglo-Dutch company, which last month announced plans to consolidate its global headquarters in Rotterdam instead of London, also hiked its dividend 8%
Unilever, the consumer goods giant which owns brands including Dove, Marmite and Ben & Jerry's, announced its first-quarter turnover fell 5.2 per cent to €12.6bn thanks to unfavourable exchange rate movements.
Underlying sales growth was 3.7 per cent, stripping out currency movements and sales from its spreads business, which it has agreed to sell.
The Anglo-Dutch company, which last month announced plans to consolidate its global headquarters in Rotterdam instead of London, also hiked its dividend by 8 per cent and unveiled plans for a €6bn (£5.2bn) share buyback starting in May.
Read more London may be losing Unilever’s HQ but it must not lose its shares Emerging markets underlying sales grew 5.1 per cent but that wasn't enough to satisfy investors.
Shares in Unilever were down 1.5 per cent in morning trading.
Uni..

Debenhams says beast from the east put results in the freezer. Now boss Bucher has to explain that to Mike Ashley

The trouble with the excuse – which you’re probably going to hear from other retailers with troubles too – is that while “the beast” was extreme by UK standards, Debs is reporting a couple of days after Primark and JD both managed to keep their investors warm
Poor old Debenhams. The beleaguered department store chain says the “beast from the east” froze its results and as a result the already bombed out shares have had some fresh sale reductions applied.
They’re now languishing on one of those rails where they put the stuff no one wants to buy on even when they’re all but giving it away.
The trouble with the excuse – which you’re probably going to hear from other retailers with troubles too – is that while “the beast” was extreme by UK standards, Debs is reporting a couple of days after Primark and JD Sports both managed to keep their investors warm.
Read more Debenhams blames disappointing Xmas and bad weather for profit crash Debenhams to cut 320 store management jobs in cost..

250,000 households face energy bill hikes in next three months as they are switched to 'rip-off' tariffs

During April, May and June, 130 fixed-rate tariffs will come to an end, research finds
A quarter of a million households face paying an extra £200 on their energy bills in coming months as suppliers switch them to more expensive default tariffs, labelled a “rip-off” by politicians.
During April, May and June, 130 fixed-rate tariffs will come to an end, according to research by comparethemarket.com
Around 247,000 households on those deals face being moved on to an expensive standard variable tariff (SVT) or equivalent and could see their bills rise if they do not switch.
Read more Consumers face energy bill hike as E.ON changes price structure Those consumers face paying an additional £200 on their annual bills, on average, the price comparison site calculates. That would equate to a £50m so-called “inertia dividend” for gas and electricity providers.
The biggest hikes in the cost of energy will impact households with tariffs ending in April, where the average annual increase in..

Ultra Electronics faces corruption investigation by the Serious Fraud Office

Defence contractor says it is co-operating with the SFO
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has opened a criminal investigation into London-listed firm Ultra Electronics over suspected corruption.
The inquiry into the defence contractor’s business in Algeria was launched after Ultra reported itself to the SFO.
Shares in Middlesex-based Ultra were down more than 8.5 per cent by mid-morning.
Read more The SFO wants more money but it must up its game In a statement to the stock exchange on Thursday morning, Ultra said: “Given the stage of these matters, it is not possible to estimate reliably what effect the outcome of this matter may have on the group. The company will provide a further update as and when appropriate.”
The company said it “continues to co-operate with the SFO”.
The SFO said: “No further information can be provided at this time as the investigation is live.”
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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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