De La Rue sensibly quits battle over blue passports

It's bad news for those of us laughing at the silliness. But having issued its second profit warning in a month the company was faced with fighting a war on two fronts
Were you, like me, enjoying the “couldn’t make it up” stupidity unleashed when De La Rue, the British multinational passport printer, lost the contract to make the new post Brexit blue ones to a Franco-Dutch rival?
Were you looking forward to seeing Tory Brexiteers once again claim to be free marketeers while tying themselves up in knots trying to attack a decision based upon admirably free market principles, that will save the taxpayer £60m, when the company’s appeal inevitably failed?
I hate to disappoint you, but it looks like it’s now not going to happen after all. So that’s your De La Lot. For the moment.
Read more UK firm 'will not appeal' decision to make blue passports in France Battle over De La Rue's blue passport printing descends into farce British passport contract decision postpon..

IMF sounds alarm over $164 trillion global debt pile

In its latest Fiscal Monitor, the Fund estimates that global debt now stands at 225 per cent of GDP, up from its previous peak of 213 per cent in 2009
The International Monetary Fund has returned to its warnings about global debt, highlighting in its latest report that leverage across the planet is now higher than it was before the global financial crisis.
In its latest Fiscal Monitor, the Fund estimates that global debt now stands at $164 trillion, equivalent to 225 per cent of GDP, up from a previous peak of 213 per cent in 2009.
Read more IMF boss warns trade protectionism will only hurt the world’s poorest UK economic growth for 2019 downgraded by IMF China’s debt boom is ‘dangerous’, warns IMF “Countries with elevated government debt are vulnerable to a sudden tightening of global financing conditions, which could disrupt market access and jeopardize economic activity,” it said.
The warning makes for a change of tone from the Fund’s report a year ago. At that stage, the Fund..

UK will be £615m per week worse off under government's preferred Brexit scenario, estimates study

Just 23% of voters think the weekly cost of leaving the EU would be worth paying
The government’s preferred Brexit scenario would leave the UK public finances £615m per week worse off than staying in the EU, according to new analysis.
That would mean the country has the equivalent of almost £1bn per week less to spend on public services than the £350m positive benefit that the Leave campaign claimed would result from leaving the EU.
A study for the think tank Global Future carried out by Jonathan Portes, a professor of economics at King’s College, London, looked at each of the three scenarios assessed by the government in its own leaked analysis.
Read more May will 'live with' Lords defeat on Brexit, but not change course Using that analysis, the new research calculates that the government’s preferred option of a “bespoke deal” would mean about £40bn more in annual public borrowing than under the status quo by 2033/34 – the same time period over which the government wo..

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..

Clydesdale Bank owner says PPI issues will cost an extra £350m

Company said review of complaints was more complicated than expected
CYBG, the owner of Clydesdale Bank, revealed on Wednesday that it has set aside an extra £350m for PPI-related costs.
Shares in the group, which also owns Yorkshire Bank and digital banking service B, dropped more than 6 per cent in early trading after the announcement was made.
The company said the addition £350m would go towards “legacy PPI costs”, and would result in a £202m pre-tax charge on its balance sheet for the first half, as £148m is covered by a conduct indemnity deed with National Australia Bank.
Read more Banks are partly to blame for Ombudsman PPI mistakes Mis-sold PPI tops FCA list of complaints in first half of 2017 Arnie to front FCA PPI deadline campaign, but why is there a deadline? CYBG said it has been operating two PPI programmes concurrently over the past six months: a “proactive customer contact remediation exercise” and a customer-initiated new complaints handling process.
The group s..