UK construction output suffers worst annual fall since 2013, survey finds

Sector is lacking in confidence and bad weather can;t be blamed for all of the downturn, say experts
Construction sector output was 3 per cent lower in February than a year earlier, marking the largest annual fall since March 2013, an official survey found.
On a quarterly basis, construction output fell 0.8 per cent in the three months to February 2018, driven predominantly by the continued decline in repair and maintenance work, the Office for National Statistics said.
The ONS said it had received “some anecdotal information” from a small number of survey respondents regarding the effect of bad weather on their businesses in the final week of February 2018.
Read more Construction suffers biggest drop in activity since Brexit vote Output contracted by 1.6 per cent in the month as infrastructure spending decreased 9.4 per cent, the latest monthly ONS survey of the sector found.
Adverse weather conditions across the UK could have potentially contributed to the decline in constru..

Tesco and Morrisons fastest growing big supermarkets but cut-price Aldi and Lidl continue to challenge, data shows

Aldi increased market share by 13.9 per cent over three months to the end of February
Tesco and Morrisons were the fastest growing of the big four supermarkets in the three months to the end of February, but the fierce expansion of cut-price challenger brands continues to threaten their market dominance.
According to the analytics group Kantar Worldpanel both Tesco and Morrisons clocked sales growth of 2.7 per cent in the 12 weeks to 25 February, outpacing peers Sainsbury’s and Asda which recorded an increase of 1.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively. The four retailers continue to dominate in the UK market, collectively accounting for around 70 per cent of market share, but the rapid expansion of low-cost rivals like Germany’s Aldi and Lidl continues to bite.
Aldi managed to increase its market share by 13.9 per cent over the three-month period, taking it to 7 per cent. Lidl grew its share by 13.3 per cent to 5.1 per cent. Elsewhere Ocado was the only other supermarket to recor..

Tesco roars but will the beast now get its claws into the discounters?

The company offered no update on the hottest rumour in retail: The potential launch of a competitor to Aldi and Lidl
Is Tesco going to go head to head with Aldi and Lidl by launching its own discounter?
Those hoping for some meat on the bones of one the hottest rumours in retail alongside the supermarket chain’s latest results were left disappointed.
That’s understandable on a day when bosses had other things to talk about, namely a set of numbers that dazzled the City and sent Tesco shares shooting up the boards.
Read more Tesco share price surges after it unveils 800% profit rise The glaring fault that Tesco and Arsene Wenger have in common Tesco removes 'appalling' fox-hunting fancy dress costume for children Pre tax profits of £1.3bn in 2017 were up from just £145m the previous year. Sales grew for the ninth consecutive three month quarter. More than 260,000 extra shoppers visited Tesco.
We’ve known for a while that the beast is back under David Lewis. Results ..

Ofgem opens investigation into gas network company Cadent

Energy network companies have previously come under fire for making 'unjustified profits' and adding hundreds of pounds to household bills
The energy market regulator Ofgem has launched an investigation into a UK gas distributor over concerns about whether it maintains an efficient pipeline system.
Gas and electricity network companies are largely unknown by consumers but they provide a vital role in transporting energy around the country.
They have come under fire from consumer groups for making billions in “unjustified” profits for shareholders and adding hundreds of pounds to household bills.
Read more Ofgem temporarily bans energy company from taking on new customers Ofgem said on Wednesday that it is investigating whether Cadent kept and maintained records for all of its gas pipes (known as risers), whether it has the appropriate systems in place to do so and, as a consequence, whether its system is “economical and efficient”.
The announcement comes a day after..

Drop in UK manufacturing and mining output casts doubt on May interest rate hike, warns economist

Energy output got a boost from the unusually cold weather in February
UK manufacturing dipped by 0.2 per cent in February, according to the Office for National Statistics, the first time output in the sector has dropped since March last year.
Overall industrial output increased by 0.1 per cent in February, boosted by a 3.7 per cent jump in output from the energy supply sector due to the unusually cold weather.
Read more UK construction output falls at fastest rate in six years However, output in the mining and quarrying sector fell by 2.7 per cent month-on-month in February, mainly because of the closure of two of the six major oil refineries and the one-day closure of the Forties oil pipeline.
The decline in manufacturing reflects a general trend that shows growth has slowed over the past year, said Samuel Tombs, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
“The modest stimulus to growth from sterling’s 2016 depreciation has begun to fade, while the global trade upswing has l..

UK trade deficit widens to £6.4bn as non-EU exports decline

The UK imported £700m in fuel from the EU in the three months to February
The UK trade deficit widened to £6.4bn in the three months to February due to a fall in non-EU exports.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the total trade deficit widened by £400m, with non-EU goods exports declining by £2.1bn. This was offset by an increase of £900m in EU goods and £400m in total services exports.
Read more UK goods trade deficit hits highest in 15 months Comparing the 12 months to February 2018 with the same period in 2017, the total trade deficit narrowed by £12.9bn to £27.5bn.
Goods imports increased by £1.1bn from the EU, which was slightly larger than the £900m increase in exports to the EU during the three month period.
The main contribution to the rise in imports from the EU was a £700m increase in imports of fuels, followed by increases of £300m in machinery and transport equipment.
More about: trade deficit exports Office for National Statistics Reuse cont..

Shopping centre giant Hammerson rejects £5.04bn Klepierre takeover bid

Birmingham Bullring and Trafford Centre owner would prefer to press ahead with an all-share takeover of rival Intu, which would create Britain's biggest property company
Hammerson has rebuffed a sweetened £5.04bn takeover offer from Klepierre, saying the French firm's advances failed to reflect the value of the shopping centre giant.
The Birmingham Bullring owner knocked back the revised cash-and-shares bid of 635p – comprising 50 per cent cash and 50 per cent in new Klepierre shares – but said the board was willing discuss an offer that met its valuation.
It comes after the group revealed last week that it would halt efforts to finalise a £3.4bn tie-up with Intu as it awaited clarity on an approach from European suitor Klepierre.
Read more ASOS shares drop despite 27% half-year sales growth Hammerson branded Klepierre's initial 615p cash-and-shares bid worth £4.88 billion “wholly inadequate” and “entirely opportunistic”.
It said the offer price on Wednesday did ..

ASOS shares drop despite 27% half-year sales growth

The online retailer says it's investing in new infrastructure to meet rising demand
ASOS shares fell by 11 per cent on Wednesday morning despite seeing a healthy boost to half-year profits.
The online fashion retailer saw sales grow by 27 per cent in the six months ending February, with international sales growing by 31 per cent and UK sales up by 22 per cent.
The UK based company, notable for its appeal to young online shoppers, made a total of £1.15bn in the six month period, with UK retail sales accounting for £414m and sales from the rest of the world raking in £716.8m.
Read more Ultimo lingerie brand to cease trading in the UK Analyst Nicholas Hyett said the unusual sight of company shares falling after delivering strong growth was down to the firm’s inability to keep costs down.
“That the rapid growth isn’t delivering any meaningful margin benefits only adds to the frustration,” he said.
Mr Hyett added: “The ramp up of activity in Europe and creation of US infrastru..

Trinity Mirror and Express newspaper merger under investigation by competition watchdog

The deal between the two publishing firms has already completed
The UK’s competition regulator has opened an investigation into the merger of the Trinity Mirror group and the parent company of the Express and Star newspapers.
Trinity Mirror, which owns the Daily Mirror and hundreds of regional titles, bought the published assets of Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, which includes the Daily and Sunday Express, for £126.7m in February.
Read more The Mirror and the Express: A marriage made in the finance department At the time, Trinity Mirror said the deal would “improve its print and digital editorial propositions by reducing duplication, sharing content and widening the breadth of editorial coverage with larger combined teams”.
On Wednesday, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had brought the merger, which has already completed, to the attention of the secretary of state for digital, culture, media & sport, because of concerns that the combination of the two c..