Pound falls sharply against dollar and euro as UK economy almost grinds to a halt

Weak growth figure increases likelihood Bank of England will keep interest rates at 0.5% next month
The pound crashed more than 1 per cent against the dollar on Friday morning after official figures revealed that the UK economy almost ground to a halt in the first quarter.
Sterling fell 1.04 per cent against the dollar to $1.3768 and 0.9 per cent against the euro to 1.1395 on the back of news that UK GDP grew just 0.1 per cent in the first three months of the year.
Analysts had expected a slowdown due to the “Beast from the East” which covered much of the country in snow, causing travel chaos and halting construction work.
Read more Pound sterling falls to five week low against US dollar But the worse-than-expected number prompted fears that the economies problems are more deeply rooted than just bad weather, and increased the likelihood that the Bank of England will not raise interest rates next month.
GDP per person, which strips out economic growth resulting from a rise in p..

Amazon responds to Trump criticism with stunning results but we do need to have a debate over its increasing power

The President has hit out at Jeff Bezos' company over tax and the impact on other retailers and the US Postal Service. His motivations are suspect
“Living well is the best revenge,” the great REM once sang.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos seems to have taken the members of the sadly no longer active alternative rock band at their word in the wake of his feud with Donald Trump.
His e-commerce giant smashed Wall Street’s expectations for the first quarter of this year, with sales jumping 43 per cent. The cherry on top of the cake for investors was that Amazon, which has typically spent money faster than it makes it, also doubled profits when analysts had expected a fall.
Read more Jeff Bezos' wealth jumps $12bn in one day as Amazon shares soar 10% Surging Amazon revenue pushes shares to record high Amazon will now deliver packages to the boot of your car The resultant surge in its shares added $12bn (£9.3bn) Mr Bezos’ personal fortunate, taking it to a staggering $134bn. The Amazo..

RBS trebles profit but what about the customer?

The “net promoter score” for small businesses was awful while retail customers aren't exactly singing the bank's praises
If you set aside the shadow of an enormous looming US fine for flogging dodgy mortgages before they caused the financial crisis, RBS is looking chipper, which isn’t something you typically associate with this bank.
Profits for the first three months of this year trebled to nearly £800m amd the sector’s analysts, most of whom had predicted a lot less, came as close to saying “yowza” as they ever get.
You might have heard something similar coming from Chancellor of the Exchequer's office too. If the Americans would just make their minds up on that penalty it looks like we might finally be able to sell the taxpayer's stake in the damn thing!
Read more RBS profits triple to £792m as taxpayer-owned bank continues recovery RBS agrees $500m mis-selling settlement with New York Why are banks getting away with misbehaving? The great big bluebottle..

HelloFresh aims for €1.5bn IPO valuation

The healthy meal-kit startup is looking to raise up to €311m to expand its business
HelloFresh, the meal-kit startup backed by Rocket Internet, is targeting a market valuation of as much as €1.5bn (£1.3 bn) in an initial public offering this week, the company said in a statement Sunday.
The company, which sells meal kits in 10 markets and remains unprofitable, set a price range of €9 to €11.50 a share. It’s looking to raise €243m to €311m to invest in expanding its business. The shares are expected to start trading in Frankfurt on 2 November.
HelloFresh chief executive Dominik Richter said the company wanted to “become the clear No 1 player on the US market in 2018.” The company, which has about 1.3 million active customers, is seeking to break even within the next 15 months, he said.
Read more Meituan Dianping: Little-known Chinese tech startup valued at $30bn The IPO will test investor appetite for food-delivery businesses just as Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods threatens to ..

Golden State Killer: Use of ancestry website to catch suspected serial murderer prompts privacy worries

The technique combines brand new technology with old evidence
The technique used to catch the infamous Golden State Killer could have chilling consequences for users of a growing kind of website.
In recent days, investigators have revealed how they used an ancestry website to find a man they say is the man who tortured, raped and killed numerous people over a long period in California. They have described the technique as groundbreaking, and detailed how it relied on the latest technology and data.
But many say the technique raises worrying legal and privacy concerns about what happens to our DNA data once it is submitted to such sites. Genealogy companies are flourishing, offering ways for people to find out who they are related to and where their family may come from – and with that has come a whole raft of valuable data..
The data collected by such sites is arguably the most personal there could possible be, offering a picture of the unique make-up of our body. But it is being s..

G.D.P. Report on Friday Morning: An Early Reading on 2018

G.D.P. Report on Friday Morning: An Early Reading on 2018 Photo Shipping containers at the Port of Long Beach, Calif., waiting for processing. President Trump imposed tariffs on allies and rivals alike, stoking fears of a growing trade war. That will be just one of many factors affecting first-quarter economic growth. Credit Bob Riha Jr/Reuters The economy has been whacked around like a pinball lately, by events both anticipated and not. The comprehensive revision of the tax code enacted in December shifted business incentives and started putting more money in workers’ paychecks. The stock market took investors on a vertiginous ride. President Trump imposed tariffs on allies and rivals alike, stoking fears of a growing trade war. Consumers expressed confidence, but restrained their spending.
How all these factors influenced economic growth will become clearer at 8:30 a.m. when the Commerce Department releases its initial estimate of gross domestic product for the first quarter.
Analyst..

UK economic growth collapses to just 0.1% in first quarter of 2018, new figures show

The UK economy almost stalled in the first quarter of 2018 growing by just 0.1 per cent, the Office for National Statistics reported on Friday.
This was down from the 0.4 per cent expansion registered in the final quarter of 2017 and well below the 0.3 per cent City of London analysts had expected.
The pound slumped in the wake of the data, dropping to $1.3804, down 0.8 per cent on the day, as traders bet against a May interest rate from the Bank of England due to the unexpected weakness of GDP.
The Bank had pencilled in a 0.3 per cent GDP expansion for Q1 in its most recent Inflation Report.
“Today’s disappointing data has all but ended any hopes for a May rate hike, with [Mark] Carney and his fellow Monetary Policy Commitee members surely now likely to stand pat and bide their time before tightening policy further,” said David Cheetham, of the online trading firm XTB.
The ONS reported that services, which account for 80 per cent of the economy, grew by 0.3 per cent in the three ..

RBS profits triple to £792m as taxpayer-owned bank continues recovery

Operating profit in the period rose 70 per cent to £1.21bn
Royal Bank of Scotland has reported a 206 per cent rise in first-quarter profit to £792m as the taxpayer-owned bank continues on its road to recovery.
The figure, well ahead of consensus forecasts, compares with a £259m profit in the same period in 2017.
It comes after the lender booked a bottom-line annual profit for the first time in a decade earlier this year.
Read more RBS job losses ‘inevitable’ with online investment, finance chief says Operating profit in the period rose 70 per cent to £1.21bn and chief executive Ross McEwan said the results are a sign of the progress the bank is making.
He added: “In the first three months of 2018, we made a pre-tax profit of £1.2bn, up 70 per cent on the same period last year. This contributed to a bottom-line profit in the period of £792m, exceeding the full-year 2017 profit we reported back in February.
“This is a good set of results, showing the progress we are making, desp..