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Finance

House prices rise 1.9% - Halifax

House prices rise 1.9% - Halifax House prices rise 1.9% - Halifax

The Press Association-House prices have recorded their strongest quarterly rise in three years in a further sign that efforts...
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Starbucks tax offer 'too little, too late' for Britain

Starbucks tax offer 'too little, too late' for Britain Starbucks tax offer 'too little, too late' for Britain

AFP-Despite pledging to pay millions of pounds in extra tax in Britain, Starbucks faces a battle to restore its reputation...
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UBS 'manipulated Swiss franc rates since 2001'

UBS 'manipulated Swiss franc rates since 2001' UBS 'manipulated Swiss franc rates since 2001'

AFP-Swiss banking giant UBS, which last week was slapped with $1.5 billion in fines for manipulating global interest rates,...
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No clean bill of health for MoD

No clean bill of health for MoD No clean bill of health for MoD

Auditors have refused to give the Ministry of Defence's accounts a clean bill of health for the sixth year running. The Press...
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Britain storms out of recession but cautious on outlook

Britain storms out of recession but cautious on outlook
  AFP- Britain powered out of its longest double-dip recession since the 1950s after its economy returned to growth in the...
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Virgin Media gets Olympics lift

Virgin Media gets Olympics lift
  The Press Association- Olympic champions Mo Farah and Usain Bolt helped Virgin Media deliver its biggest quarterly increase...
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Bank of England divided over QE

Bank of England divided over QE
  The Press Association-Bank of England policymakers are divided over the benefits of pumping more emergency cash into the economy...
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Germany's Schaeuble confident of go-ahead for eurozone pacts

Germany's Schaeuble confident of go-ahead for eurozone pacts
  AFP- Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Monday he was confident the country's top court will not block the...
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Adnams gets boost from new beers

Adnams gets boost from new beers
  The Press Association- Brewer Adnams has toasted higher profits after a range of new beers helped it cope with "the most...
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HSBC hid $16 bn in Iran transactions: US Senate report

HSBC hid $16 bn in Iran transactions: US Senate report
  AFP-Global banking giant HSBC and its US affiliate concealed more than $16 billion in sensitive transactions to Iran, violating...
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German finance minister calls for stronger EU

German finance minister calls for stronger EU
  AFP-German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called for EU member states to hand more powers to the European Union in "major...
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Services sector growth welcomed

Services sector growth welcomed
  The Press Association-A run of dire economic data that has spooked the UK's recovery hopes has been halted with a decent performance...
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Payday lender Wonga plans flotation

Payday lender Wonga plans flotation
  The Press Association- Payday lender Wonga is reported to be considering a US stock market flotation that could value the business...
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UK recession deepens as official GDP shrinks

UK recession deepens as official GDP shrinks
AFP-Britain's recession is worse than previously thought, as revised official figures showed on Thursday that the economy shrank...
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Marks & Spencer profits plunge 19%, slashes target

Marks & Spencer profits plunge 19%, slashes target
  AFP-British clothing-to-food retailer Marks & Spencer on Tuesday announced a drop in annual profits in a "challenging economic...
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Travel

'Dither and delay' warning on HS2

'Dither and delay' warning on HS2 'Dither and delay' warning on HS2

The Press Associtaion-High speed rail between London and Birmingham might not be achieved in the 2020s because of...
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Wife's plea over man's Greek arrest

Wife's plea over man's Greek arrest Wife's plea over man's Greek arrest

The Press Association-An MP has voiced his concerns about the plight of a British national who was imprisoned while...
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Louvre ditches audio guides for Nintendo consoles

Louvre ditches audio guides for Nintendo consoles Louvre ditches audio guides for Nintendo consoles

AP - The Louvre Museum is used to dealing with antiquities: Nearly all of its thousands of works of art date to 1848...
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French Concordia survivors get €2m payout

French Concordia survivors get €2m payout French Concordia survivors get €2m payout

AFP- The owner of the Costa Concordia cruise liner that ran aground off northwest Italy in January has paid more...
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Chicago hotel prices jump as summer begins

Chicago hotel prices jump as summer begins Chicago hotel prices jump as summer begins

(Relaxnews) - Hotel prices in the Windy City soared by 23 percent this month, according to new research by Trivago. Chicago...
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Sport

Vettel’s new partner? Raikkonen or Ricciardo

Vettel’s new partner? Raikkonen or Ricciardo Vettel’s new partner? Raikkonen or Ricciardo

The decision to Sebastian Vettel’s new partner probably falls between Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner...
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Mercedes plans new assault on Vettel: Infrared trick and louvers

Mercedes plans new assault on Vettel: Infrared trick and louvers
  Three long years of Silver Arrow lurched past the targets. There was nothing: a measly victory in 58 races. This year it runs better already clear:...
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Barcelona lose first La Liga game of season

Barcelona lose first La Liga game of season Barcelona lose first La Liga game of season

AFP-Barcelona suffered their first La Liga defeat of the season on Saturday when they slumped to a shock 3-2 loss at Real Sociedad. Barcelona...
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Wiggins may target Tour defence after all

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AFP-Bradley Wiggins says he is likely to defend his Tour de France title after all next year despite previously nominating the Giro d'Italia as...
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Messi in light training after injury scare

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AFP-Barcelona star Lionel Messi took part in light training on Thursday after being stretchered off with a knee injury during the 0-0 draw at home...
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Benitez tiptoes onto Chelsea tightrope

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AFP- Freshly appointed as Chelsea's latest interim coach, Rafael Benitez could be forgiven for wondering whether he has accepted a poisoned chalice. The...
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McIlroy makes late charge at Singapore Open

McIlroy makes late charge at Singapore Open
  AFP-World number one Rory McIlroy made a late charge up the leaderboard but still trailed Denmark's Thomas Bjorn by five shots after a marathon day...
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Tower of Polish power knocks down Murray in Paris

Tower of Polish power knocks down Murray in Paris
  AFP- Towering Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz upset Andy Murray 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 on Thursday to complete the early exit of the elite from...
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Chelsea rage at referee's 'inappropriate language'

Chelsea rage at referee's 'inappropriate language'
  AFP- Chelsea have filed a complaint over "inappropriate language" allegedly used by referee Mark Clattenburg towards their players during their...
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Suspended Olympic badminton players appeal

Suspended Olympic badminton players appeal
  AFP-Four South Korean badminton players who were suspended for trying to throw matches at the London Olympics have appealed their penalties, the...
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Culture

Finance
House prices rise 1.9% - Halifax PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 13:14


The Press Association-House prices have recorded their strongest quarterly rise in three years in a further sign that efforts to kick-start the market are working, Halifax said.

Prices in the three months to January were 1.9% higher than the previous quarter, showing the biggest increase in this measure of the underlying trend for three years, the latest study said.

On a month-on-month basis, prices edged down by 0.2% in January following increases in the previous two months.

However, prices were 1.3% higher than a year ago, marking the first annual increase in two and a quarter years.

Halifax said quarterly figures tend to give the clearest indication of what is happening in the market as they "smooth out" month-on-month volatility.

The study said Government efforts to boost lending, which include a multibillion-pound scheme launched in August, are likely to have contributed to a pick-up in home sales and house prices.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said that despite the signs of improvement, the tough economy and the pressure on household finances will continue to weigh down on housing demand. He said: "Overall, we expect continuing broad stability in house prices nationally in 2013."

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Starbucks tax offer 'too little, too late' for Britain PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 03 February 2013 19:45


AFP-Despite pledging to pay millions of pounds in extra tax in Britain, Starbucks faces a battle to restore its reputation over its fiscal stance, with analysts saying the offer is "too little too late".

With 760 Starbucks outlets dotting Britain, coffee lovers need not travel far to find the familiar green signage and grab a frothy latte or a flat white.

But surveys suggest British consumers may be losing appetite for the US chain following the revelation last year that it has paid just £8.6 million ($13.8 million, 10.6 million euros) in British corporation tax since 1998, despite generating £3 billion in revenues.

The revelations sparked a stream of negative publicity plus protests outside coffee shops which analysts say hit the brand hard, though Starbucks itself insists "UK customers have remained loyal".

Under the weight of pressure from lawmakers and consumers, the company pledged in December to pay an additional £20 million in corporation tax over two years.

But Sarah Murphy, director of market researchers YouGov BrandIndex, said the offer "has done little to slow down negative sentiment surrounding the brand."

BrandIndex has tracked public perception of the coffee giant over several months. Its "Buzz" index gives companies a score based on what people have been hearing about the brand, with zero representing equal levels of positive and negative.

In early October Starbucks' Buzz score stood at +1.9, but this plummeted to -28.4 following the tax headlines, and reached -45.2 in mid-December.

"That was quite a significant decline," said Murphy, adding that measures of perceptions of Starbucks' quality and value also sank during that time.

In November, Britain's parliamentary accounts committee grilled top executives from Google, Amazon and Starbucks over their tax affairs.

The apparent peak in negativity surrounding Starbucks in December came after the committee's chairman Margaret Hodge slammed companies involved in tax avoidance schemes as "totally immoral".

Since then, Murphy says the brand "does seem to be making a slow recovery", but that the company "did too little too late."

Social media agency Yomego identified similar patterns. It tracked online conversation over the same period and found negative comments about Starbucks increasingly outweighed positive.

Some 95 percent of comments on Starbucks UK's Facebook and Twitter pages made reference to tax evasion, analysts said (photo by Images_of_Money).

Yomego managing director Steve Richards said: "The outrage over tax avoidance can't help but have an impact on a company's reputation in social channels.

"The old adage that 'bad news travels fast' has never been more true. Now news has so many channels to travel through, with the potential to multiply as people comment on and share stories."

But does negative chatter cause consumers to shop elsewhere?

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UBS 'manipulated Swiss franc rates since 2001' PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 23 December 2012 20:21


AFP-Swiss banking giant UBS, which last week was slapped with $1.5 billion in fines for manipulating global interest rates, also tampered with Swiss franc interest rates for more than a decade, a Swiss newspaper reported Sunday.

"The bank did not only contribute to manipulating global interest rates on the dollar, the British pound and the yen, but... also systematically played with interest rates on the Swiss franc," Le Matin reported.

Quoting findings in a US justice department probe, the paper said there was evidence that UBS traders had manipulated the rates from 2001.

UBS was hit with the second-largest banking fine ever last week by US, British and Swiss authorities after they revealed evidence of massive misconduct in the setting of the Libor rate, a global reference that affects products from student loans to mortgages.

The United States also filed federal charges of felony fraud against UBS Securities Japan, where it estimated that the bank raked in hundreds of millions of dollars over three years with slight rate adjustments (photo by twicepix).

"The principle was the same in Switzerland, where the division in charge of the UBS treasury each day gave indications of what the ideal rates would be" for the bank's business, Le Matin said, adding such rates not only impact UBS's bottom line but also the entire Swiss economy.

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No clean bill of health for MoD PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 December 2012 19:29


Auditors have refused to give the Ministry of Defence's accounts a clean bill of health for the sixth year running.

The Press Association-The National Audit Office raised concerns over record-keeping for equipment and spare parts worth around £10 billion. The department also failed to get permission from the Treasury to pay Chief of Defence Materiel Bernard Gray £245,000 a year.

NAO head Amyas Morse said: "The MoD has made welcome progress in improving the way it keeps track of its inventory and capital spares. It is still not able, however, to provide enough evidence to meet the accounting requirements for its valuation of over £10 billion worth of military equipment.

"It has again not followed proper accounting requirements with regards to leases. Therefore, I am qualifying my audit opinion."

The watchdog said it is now satisfied with how the MoD is accounting for Bowman radio kit - a problem which led it to qualify the books in previous years (photo by Tinnic).

But although there had been "improvements" in records of warehouse stocks, there was still "insufficient evidence" about whether some of it was leased.

Under rules brought in by the coalition in 2010, any remuneration package above the Prime Minister's £142,500 salary has to be signed off by the Treasury.

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Britain storms out of recession but cautious on outlook PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 25 October 2012 16:50

 

AFP- Britain powered out of its longest double-dip recession since the 1950s after its economy returned to growth in the third quarter with a robust gain of 1.0 percent, official data showed on Thursday.

British gross domestic product (GDP) grew at the strongest rate for five years during the July-September period thanks to one-off factors such as the London Olympics -- and after output contracted in the previous three quarters.

Market expectations had been for the economy of Britain, which is not part of the eurozone, to have expanded by 0.6 percent in the third quarter compared with the second after falling into a double-dip recession in late 2011.

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the data that gave a boost to the London stock market and sterling, but warned against complacency amid global economic headwinds.

 

"There is still much to do, but these GDP figures show we are on the right track, and our economy is healing," Cameron said in a statement.

Finance minister George Osborne echoed the cautious sentiment, saying that recent "weak data from the eurozone were a reminder that we still face many economic challenges at home and abroad."

Britain escaped from a deep downturn in late 2009 but fell back into recession at the end of 2011.

 

GDP, or the combined value of produced goods and services, contracted by 0.4 percent in the second quarter of this year after shrinking by 0.3 percent in the first -- and by 0.4 percent in the final quarter of 2011.

"GDP was estimated to have increased by 1.0 percent in Q3 2012 compared with Q2 2012," the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

"The largest contribution to the increase came from the services sector. There was also an increase in activity in the production sector. Activity in the construction sector fell."

Growth was also affected by one-off factors, including the London 2012 Olympic Games and rebounding activity after an extra public holiday for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in the second quarter, the ONS said.

 

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Virgin Media gets Olympics lift PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 15:29

 

The Press Association- Olympic champions Mo Farah and Usain Bolt helped Virgin Media deliver its biggest quarterly increase in broadband customers in more than two years.

The company recorded 56,900 net broadband additions in the three months to September 30, more than double as many as a year ago and the highest since the first quarter of 2010.

Meanwhile, its internet-connected television service TiVo added 205,900 more customers during the quarter to reach a total of 1.14 million at the end of the quarter.

The company spent £153.4 million on marketing in the first nine months of 2012, up 24% or £29.6 million on the previous year, as the Olympic gold medallists fronted the broadband campaign and Stephen Fry and David Tennant promoted TiVo.

Virgin Media reported a 3% rise in revenues in the third quarter to £1 billion, while operating income was 40% higher at £180 million.

Virgin Media said that the number of customers taking its superfast broadband speeds of 30MB or more increased by 452,900 to 1.8 million - or 42% of its total base. More than 40% of new broadband customers chose speeds of 60MB or faster, the company added.

However, some 14,700 customers who have a Virgin Media broadband package but receive their service through a third party such as BT left during the quarter.

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Bank of England divided over QE PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 13:48

 

The Press Association-Bank of England policymakers are divided over the benefits of pumping more emergency cash into the economy in a bid to stimulate the recovery, documents revealed.

Some members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) questioned the impact that further quantitative easing - also known as money printing - would have on the broader economy, minutes of its October meeting said.

Meanwhile, the committee expects rising energy, utility and agricultural commodity prices to filter through to ramp up the cost of living later in the year.

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Germany's Schaeuble confident of go-ahead for eurozone pacts PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 September 2012 22:55

 

AFP- Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Monday he was confident the country's top court will not block the signing into law of the eurozone's key crisis-fighting tools.

"The constitutional court will not block, I am sure, the treaties of the fiscal compact and the ESM," he said, referring to the European Stability Mechanism and the European fiscal pact. The ruling is due on September 12.

Speaking at a conference in Strasbourg, the minister said the court will however closely examine if these treaties conform to basic German law.

"I can't see any problem with the German constitution," he added.

The German parliament voted in favour of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the European fiscal pact with a two-thirds majority at the end of June.

But German President Joachim Gauck held off from completing the ratification process following a raft of legal challenges filed by the far-left Die Linke party, a citizens' initiative group and a well-known eurosceptic from Chancellor Angela Merkel's CSU Bavarian sister party.

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Adnams gets boost from new beers PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 16:03

 

The Press Association- Brewer Adnams has toasted higher profits after a range of new beers helped it cope with "the most difficult year" it has faced.

The Suffolk-based firm said own-brewed beer volumes rose 5% in the six months to June 30, as sales through off-licences and supermarkets rose 13% and it held its prices for pub customers for the fourth year in a row.

Demand was boosted by new products such as pale ale Ghost Ship, a Diamond Ale to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee and a new low-alcohol beer.

While it cited industry figures that showed cask ale volumes were down 2%, Adnams managed to grow sales to its pub customers, even if volumes at its own 71 tenanted pubs, which are mainly in East Anglia, were slightly down amid the wash-out start to the summer.

Demand for its ales, including at 11 Cellar & Kitchen stores, helped operating profits rise 5.5% to £857,000, while turnover was up 5% to £25.8 million.

Chairman Jonathan Adnams, who is the fourth generation in his family to run the company, said: "We are pleased that against a market that is down somewhat, we have continued to grow beer volumes. It's the most difficult year we have faced in terms of encouraging people to part with their hard-earned cash."

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HSBC hid $16 bn in Iran transactions: US Senate report PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 18:40

 

AFP-Global banking giant HSBC and its US affiliate concealed more than $16 billion in sensitive transactions to Iran, violating US transparency rules over a six-year period, a Senate panel said Tuesday (photo by dennoir).

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