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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 13th April 2022

Posted: 13th April 2022


Buyers rush to lock in to cheap deals

Mortgage brokers say they are being overwhelmed by demand as borrowers rush to secure cheap loans as mortgage rates rise and lenders tighten their affordability checks. Average fixed-rate mortgage deals are at their highest in more than five years, according to analysis by financial information firm Moneyfacts. A typical two-year deal is now 2.86% - an increase of 0.21 percentage points since last month and the highest since June 2015. The five-year equivalent has reached 3.01% - a figure not seen since October 2016. Moneyfacts also says the shelf-life of mortgage deals has plummeted to the lowest on record at just 21 days, down from 48 this time last year.

Nationwide to axe eight free helplines

Nationwide is set to scrap eight free helplines by the end of the year meaning customers with mortgage, loan, online and mobile banking queries may soon have to pay to speak to an adviser. Britain's biggest building society will also start charging for calling its general enquiries line by 2023. Consumer campaigner Baroness Ros Altmann says: “Nationwide is trying to push all of its customers online. However, many elderly and vulnerable customers do not feel comfortable with this.”


BlackRock sacks directors after uncovering their plot to leave

BlackRock has sacked three executives from its private equity business after discovering their plans to leave for Apollo Global Management. Steve Lessar, Konnin Tam and Veena Isaac had been partially responsible for managing a $3bn strategy in its private equity arm's secondaries unit.

Celebrities backed by private equity to build consumer and tech brands

The FT reports on how private equity investors are increasingly putting their money behind celebrities, betting on their star power and connections to uncover new opportunities and boost early-stage companies in need of exposure.


Eurozone banks to tighten corporate credit access

A European Central Bank survey showed on Tuesday that banks in the eurozone intend to sharply tighten access to corporate credit in the second quarter as lenders seek to protect their balance sheets from the fallout of Russia's war in Ukraine. "In addition, banks expect a moderate net tightening of credit standards for housing loans and for consumer credit and other lending to households," the ECB added.

Deutsche shares slide after Capital Group dumps €1.27bn stake

Shares in Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank fell more than 10% in morning trading on Tuesday after it was revealed that Capital Group sold stakes of more than 5% in each lender.

New York State pension fund urges bank shareholders to back climate resolutions

The New York State Common Retirement Fund is calling on Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase to align their fossil fuel financing policies with achieving net zero emissions by 2050.


Honda defies electric vehicle mania to bet on hybrid cars

Honda Motor Company has set out a $64bn plan for a big push into electric vehicles with plans to produce two million electric vehicles globally each year by the end of the decade, with the first new model launched in 2024.


Cost-of-living crisis dampens financial services optimism

A new survey by the CBI found that financial services firms are holding back investment due to reduced sentiment. Business volumes have continued to grow in the three months to March, respondents said, but at a slower pace than the final three months of 2021. Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI, said: “While business volumes and profitability held up against the headwinds buffeting the economy, global inflationary pressures and increased geopolitical uncertainty stemming from war in Ukraine have started to take a toll on business confidence. With operational resilience becoming an ever more important priority for the sector, there is danger that a ‘wait and see’ approach may dampen growth prospects for the wider economy.”

Unite members back strike action at FCA in dispute over pay

The Financial Conduct Authority faces strike action from unionised staff after failing to come to an agreement in a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions. Workers are objecting to plans by FCA chief Nikhil Rathi to align bonuses more closely with performance. Unite's general secretary Sharon Graham said employees “have made it very clear that the proposed changes to staff pay and conditions are completely unacceptable.” An FCA spokesman said the regulator recognised “the strength of feeling about some of the changes,” but added: “Our new employment package is highly competitive, providing fair, competitive pay at all levels and rewards strong, consistent performance.”

Circle plans sterling backed stablecoin

Boston-based payments firm Circle has raised $400m in funding to drive its international expansion. Circle, which is the issuer of the world’s second largest stablecoin, USDC, is exploring the launch of a sterling linked stablecoin. Co-founder and chief executive Jeremy Allaire said the integration of stablecoins into the mainstream economy will help to “ensure that pound sterling remains competitive as a currency on the internet.” Blackrock, Fidelity Management, Marshall Wace and Fin Capital led the capital raise.

Stenn looks to fill funding gap for trade SMEs

London based financing fintech Stenn, which helps smaller trade firms access growth capital, has secured $50m in fresh funding, bringing its valuation to $900m. The raise was led by US backer Centrebridge, whose Co-Head of European business Jed Hart said: “We have been impressed with Stenn's disruptive approach to addressing the challenges of global trade finance supply and believe that Stenn has a highly scalable proposition. We are excited to be partnering and supporting Stenn's growth at an important time in its evolution and during a period of uncertainty in the world.”

M&G cuts bonus for ex-finance chief

FTSE 100 fund management group M&G has cut a share bonus for its former finance chief, Clare Bousfield, to avert a potential investor rebellion over the payout. M&G said in a stock exchange filing yesterday that a long-term incentive award worth £656,000 due to Bousfield had been reduced to £318,000.


JP Morgan downgrades Rolls-Royce

Shares in Rolls-Royce plunged 5% on Tuesday morning after bankers at JP Morgan downgraded the stock to ‘underweight' and slashed its target price. JPMorgan said it had looked more closely at the engine maker's ‘New Markets' division, which focuses on electrical power for small aircraft and small modular reactors and warned that it did not guarantee long term returns for investors.


LVMH reports stronger-than-expected sales growth

LVMH has reported a jump in revenue by nearly a third to €18bn (£15bn) in the first quarter of this year, in comparison with €13.9bn in 2021. The luxury retailer enjoyed a “good start” to the year as it continued to ride the pandemic-era wave of consumers splurging extra cash on luxury goods.


UK wage rises fail to keep pace with inflation

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show average earnings, including bonuses, grew 5.4% in February – below the 6.2% rise in the consumer prices index for the month. For those who did not receive a bonus, average wages increased by only 4%. Public sector workers faced the sharpest fall in pay in 20 years in February compared with the same month in 2021, with the shortfall between wages growth and CPI widening to 4.2%. Additionally, the ONS said the unemployment rate fell slightly last month from 3.9% to 3.8%. Darren Morgan, the director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “While unemployment has fallen again, we are still seeing rising numbers of people disengaging from the labour market, and as they aren’t working or looking for work, are not counted as unemployed. The number of job vacancies reached a fresh high of 1.29m between January and March - a rise of 492,400 roles compared with the pre-pandemic first three months of 2020.

US inflation hits 40-year high

US inflation has hit a new 40-year high with consumer prices in March 8.5% higher than they were a year earlier. This is up from a reading of 7.9% in February. Silvia Dall’Angelo, an economist at Federated Hermes, said the steep rise in inflation means a double interest rate rise of 0.5 percentage points may be on the cards at May’s meeting of the Federal Reserve.

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