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South Africa to Investigate 2 A.N.C. Officials in Farm Corruption Case

South Africa to Investigate 2 A.N.C. Officials in Farm Corruption Case Photo Ace Magashule, secretary general of the African National Congress, was the premier of the province of Free State from 2009 to this year. Credit Joao Silva/The New York Times JOHANNESBURG — A top corruption inspector in South Africa has announced that she will investigate two high-ranking African National Congress politicians in a case related to the abuse of public funds for a dairy farm — a rare sign that powerful members of the governing party could be held to account for endemic corruption under former President Jacob Zuma.
The inspector, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, said on Tuesday that the inquiry would focus on Ace Magashule, secretary general of the A.N.C, and Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane, the former minister of mineral resources — the two officials behind the dairy farm project in Vrede, in the province of Free State. Prosecutors describe the project, which was meant to help struggling black farmers,..

UK house prices rise 4.4% but economists warn property market slowdown is underway

Official measure of housing market health beginning to reflect the slowdown recorded in other closely watched statistics
Average UK house prices rose 4.4 per cent to £225,000, new official figures show, but economists warned a slowdown in the property market was underway.
Prices in London fell 1 per cent in the year to February 2018, continuing a slump, the Office for National Statistics revealed on Wednesday. Month-on-month, prices across the UK were up 0.2 per cent.
The official measure of house price growth has recently begun to reflect the slowdown recorded in other closely watched statistics. The ONS house price figures can lag other data by as much as a year because they reflect completed transactions, rather than mortgage offers or asking prices.
Read more UK house prices fall in February for first time since last May The Nationwide building society reported an average house price for March of £211,625, equating to an annual rise of 2.2 per cent, but prices have remained ..

Hammerson ditches £3.4bn Intu takeover amid bleak outlook for UK retail

Deal would have created the UK’s biggest property company with an international portfolio worth around £21bn
Shopping centre owner Hammerson has ditched its £3.4bn takeover of rival Intu as the outlook for the UK’s retail sector becomes increasingly bleak.
The Birmingham Bullring owner announced an all-share deal for Intu – which owns the Trafford Centre in Manchester – in December, but said on Wednesday that the proposed acquisition was no longer in the best interests of shareholders.
Hammerson’s shares were up almost 3 per cent in morning trading, while Intu’s slipped 4 per cent.
Read more Hammerson share price hammered after Klepierre drops takeover bid ​Hammerson said its own business had been resilient but “the equity market's perception of the broader UK retail property market has deteriorated since the start of the year”.
The company said this meant that its own share price was too low.
“This perception has been intensified by market concerns over the extended peri..

Pound sterling plummets as UK inflation slows to less than economists predicted

The value of the pound retreated to $1.4176 – down 0.76 per cent on the day
Sterling has fallen three quarters of a percent against the dollar in the wake of official data showing a surprise fall in inflation.
Read more Sterling falls back from post-Brexit referendum high Warning of imminent slump for sterling against euro and dollar Sterling rises as Mark Carney signals hawkish stance on rates The value of the pound retreated to $1.4176 – down 0.76 per cent on the day – in the wake of the ONS’s report earlier on Wednesday that inflation in March was just 2.5 per cent, below the 2.7 per cent estimate of City of London analysts.
Against the euro the pound was off 0.67 per cent on the day at €1.1470.
Traders had been expecting the Bank of England to hike interest rates again to 0.75 per cent next month, following the first increase in a decade last November.
But weaker than anticipated inflation could put that in doubt and the decline in sterling reflects a pull back of their bets..

UK inflation slips back unexpectedly to 2.5% in March

The news sent the value of the pound down sharply as traders pulled back their bets on a May rate rise from the central bank
Inflation fell back unexpectedly to just 2.5 per cent in March – the lowest rate in a year – casting doubt on the Bank of England raising interest rates again next month.
City of London analysts had expected a reading of 2.7 per cent from the Office for National Statistics, equal to the reading in February.
The news sent the value of the pound down sharply to $1.4210, down 0.5 per cent on the day, as traders pulled back their bets on a May rate rise from the central bank.
The ONS said that the inflation rate had been pushed down by slower rises in the price of women’s clothing as well as easing pressures on the price of alcohol and tobacco.
Analysts had been expecting the Bank to raise the cost of borrowing again next month in order to dampen what members of the Monetary Policy Committee had identified as building inflationary pressures in the economy, follo..

Shares in funeral provider Dignity soar as death numbers increase in first quarter

Group had warned of volatile trading after making price changes
Shares in funeral provider Dignity soared on Wednesday morning after the company raised its expectations for trading this year, based on an increased number of deaths in the first quarter.
The stock was up more than 20 per cent in early trading, after the group said the absolute number of deaths in the first seven weeks of 2018 was approximately 7 per cent higher than the prior year. Deaths in the quarter were up around 8 per cent compared to the same period of last year, rising from 167,000 to 181,000.
Read more The crisis for Britain’s poorest that begins the day a loved one dies As a result, revenue in the quarter was £95m, up from £93m this time last year, and earnings of £37.5m were “significantly ahead of the board’s expectations”.
Dignity previously said it expects trading over the full year to be volatile after its decision to reduce some funeral prices but hold others, “as the relationship between funeral..