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Bank of England interest rate-setter Michael Saunders dismisses signs of UK economic slowdown

Michael Saunders one of two members of the MPC to vote in March for an immediate hike in the cost of borrowing from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent
A member of the Bank of England’s rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee has said the apparent slowdown in the UK economy is likely to be a blip, suggesting that he will vote again for interest rates to rise again next month.
Read more Michael Saunders hints at support for interest rate rise What the new man in charge of setting UK interest rates really thinks Michael Saunders, an external member of the MPC, was one of two members of the nine person committee to vote, unexpectedly, in March for an immediate hike in the cost of borrowing from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent in order to curb growing inflationary pressures.
Financial markets earlier this week had bet heavily on the entire MPC swinging behind an increase at its May meeting.
But official data on the economy this week, including retail sales, has come in weaker than expected, pr..

Pound sterling continues to slide after Mark Carney puts May interest rate rise in doubt

It followed sharp falls on Thursday evening after the Bank of England Governor drew attention to 'mixed data' on the UK economy
The pound continued to fall against the dollar on Friday morning as markets reacted to Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney’s comments casting doubt on an interest rate rise in May.
Sterling slipped 0.3 per cent to $1.4047 and was also 0.15 per cent down against the euro at €1.1394.
It followed sharp falls on Thursday evening after Mark Carney drew attention to “mixed data” on the UK economy revealed this week. The BoE governor said he didn’t want to be “too focused on the precise timing” of when rates might next rise and that the UK should “prepare for a few interest rate rises over the next few years.”
Read more Pound sterling slumps after Mark Carney casts doubt on May rate hike Traders had priced in a high likelihood that the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee would raise rates next month.
“I don’t want to get too focused on the preci..

Royal Mail boss Moya Greene announces retirement plans leaving one fewer female FTSE 100 CEO

Greene will step down at the group's AGM in July
Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene will retire next in September after more than eight years in the role, the company announced on Friday.
Ms Greene will stand down from the board at the group’s AGM on 19 July, and will remain at the firm to provide advice and counsel until 14 September.
She will be replaced by Rico Back, currently CEO of Royal Mail’s European subsidiary General Logistics Systems, and has been a senior executive within the group for 18 years.
Read more Royal Mail fined for sending 300,000 nuisance emails Royal Mail said Ms Greene will “pursue a range of other interests, including developing her portfolio career” following her departure.
“It has been my pleasure and a great privilege to serve as CEO of this cherished UK institution. I am proud of what we have achieved over the last eight years. It is very pleasing to note that around 20 per cent of this company is owned by our employees and retail sha..

Regulators propose fine for Barclays boss Jes Staley over whistleblower scandal

The lender's chief executive said he had not been aware that he had broken any rules
The UK’s financial watchdog wants to impose a fine on Barclays boss Jes Staley for breaching conduct rules when he tried to identify a whistleblower at the bank in 2016.
Mr Staley had tried to identify the author of two anonymous letters, which were sent to the board and a senior executive in June 2016. The letters, considered to be whistleblowing, raised concerns about a senior employee who had been recruited by Barclays earlier that year.
Read more Barclays agrees to pay $2bn to settle US fraud case Barclays: a bank desperately in need of boredom it won't get Barclays posts 10% profits rise despite investment division's woes The lender, which reported the incident to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) said Mr Staley had taken measures to identify the author of the letters because he considered them to be “an unfai..

Swaziland’s King Wants His Country to Be Called eSwatini

Swaziland’s King Wants His Country to Be Called eSwatini Photo King Mswati III of Swaziland. Credit Taiwan Presidential Office, via EPA, via Shutterstock A landlocked, rural nation in southern Africa, Swaziland has significant problems. Nearly a third of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty, and about as many are infected with H.I.V., one of the world’s highest prevalence rates for the virus. Life expectancy is low, around 50. A recent drought and an infestation of armyworms, an invasive species, devastated crops.
So the kingdom’s 1.4 million residents might have been surprised on Thursday when King Mswati III, one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchs, announced the news: The country will henceforth be known as eSwatini, the kingdom’s name in the local language. (It means “land of the Swazis” in the Swazi — or siSwati — tongue.)
The king, who has reigned since 1986, announced the name change — an adjustment, really — during a ceremony in the city of Manzini on Th..

Venture Capitalists Seek ‘Safe Harbor’ for Virtual Currencies

Venture Capitalists Seek ‘Safe Harbor’ for Virtual Currencies Photo A virtual currency mining site in Gondo, Switzerland. Some large virtual currencies are distributed on a daily basis to computers helping to maintain the network, while some are created through so-called initial coin offerings. Credit Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images SAN FRANCISCO — Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs have been lobbying federal regulators to protect at least some virtual currencies from being categorized as securities, a designation that would carry significantly more oversight.
The venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz helped assemble a group of investors and lawyers that met with the Securities and Exchange Commission in late March. They also proposed a “safe harbor” for some virtual currencies, according to a copy of the proposal reviewed by The New York Times and three people briefed on the effort who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because the proceedings wer..

Building firms waiting more than a year for bricks as raw material costs rocket, study shows

Weakened sterling has compounded rising price of raw materials
Building firms are having to wait more than a year for bricks, according to new research which also shows material prices are “rocketing”, with the extra cost often being passed on to consumers.
Bricks were reported as being the material in shortest supply and with the longest wait time, according to a study of small and medium-sized building companies carried out by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Firms reported a wait time of more than a year for bricks, and up to six months for roof tiles.
Read more UK construction output suffers worst fall for five years The FMB said the supply shortage was caused by an increase in the price of raw materials required to produce bricks, which has been compounded by the weaker value of sterling, as well as high demand due to a buoyant international market.
The builders involved in the study are also at a disadvantage to the larger construction groups that can afford t..

Home and car insurance prices both fall in first quarter

‘This is a glimmer of good news for drivers who are facing rising fuel prices and increased vehicle excise duty rates,’ says AA’s Michael Lloyd
The price of car and home insurance premiums has fallen in the past three months, according to research by the AA.
Car insurance premiums peaked at their highest ever during the second quarter of 2017 but have fallen steadily since then to an average quoted premium of £660.64, which is 2 per cent less than in the final three months of 2017.
Average quotes for home buildings, contents and combined policies all fell over the quarter but remain higher than a year ago, according to the research.
Read more Car insurance prices fall as whiplash injury claims curbed The AA’s index reflects an average of the five cheapest prices from a range of insurers quoted by brokers, price comparison sites and direct against a fixed nationwide basket of customers.
Young drivers continue to pay the largest premiums for their cover. Men aged 17 to 22 pay ..

People starting apprenticeships fall by quarter amid frustrations over government levy

'The structure and implementation of the apprenticeship levy has acted as a barrier and brake to skills development'
The number of people starting apprenticeships under the government’s flagship scheme has dropped by nearly a quarter, official figures show.
The apprenticeship levy was introduced a year ago to help create three million apprentices by 2020 – but figures show a 24 per cent drop in people starting in-work training in the first half of the academic year.
Employers have been left frustrated by the “restrictions and inflexibility” of the government’s complex scheme since it was introduced in April 2017, the British Chambers of Commerce has said.
Read more Business leaders call for apprenticeship levy reform The government figures show the number of apprenticeship starts between August 2017 and January was 206,100, compared to 269,600 at the same point last year – a decrease of 24 per cent.
And in January, apprenticeship starts were down by 31 per cent com..

Audit Approved of Facebook Policies, Even After Cambridge Analytica Leak

Audit Approved of Facebook Policies, Even After Cambridge Analytica Leak Photo PwC, an auditing firm responsible for monitoring Facebook’s compliance with a federal decree, effectively gave the company a clean bill of health in a 2017 report on privacy controls. Credit Dado Ruvic/Reuters An auditing firm responsible for monitoring Facebook for federal regulators told them last year that the company had sufficient privacy protections in place, even after the social media giant lost control of a huge trove of user data that was improperly obtained by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
The assertion, by PwC, came in a report submitted to the Federal Trade Commission in early 2017. The report, a redacted copy of which is available on the commission’s website, is one of several periodic reviews of Facebook’s compliance with a 2011 federal consent decree, which required Facebook to take wide-ranging steps to prevent the abuse of users’ information and to inform them how it wa..