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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 13th December 2017

Posted: 13th December 2017


FCA: Banks must publish current account services data

The Financial Conduct Authority has ruled that banks will be forced to publish more information on their current account services to help customers to compare providers more easily. From next August, providers will be required to publish data on how many operational and security incidents they have had, and which services and helplines they offer. “We want to see current account providers competing hard for their customers’ business by offering better service, alongside competition on interest and charges,” said Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s executive director of strategy and competition. The regulations complement new rules by the Competition and Markets Authority, expected to take effect in August 2018, requiring the largest banks to undertake and publish customer satisfaction surveys.

Scheme prevents £9m of potential fraud

UK Finance has revealed that over £9m of potential fraud has been stopped in the first year of a scheme which protects victims when they visit a bank or building society branch. In the 12 months since a pilot launch, the banking protocol has prevented £9.1m of fraud - with individual customers protected from losing sums ranging from £99 up to £212,000, according to UK Finance. The trade association said the scheme has led to 101 arrests being made nationally, with police having responded to 1,262 banking protocol calls.

Tesco Bank's 'anti-fraud measure' hits customers' cards

Customers are complaining after Tesco Bank cancelled a number of its credit cards in relation to suspected fraudulent activity. Customers were sent text messages advising their cards would be stopped upon receipt as part of a measure to combat fraud. Tesco Bank has stressed that only a “small proportion” of its customers were affected.

New mortgage debt reaches highest level since 2008

New data shows banks extended new mortgage commitments worth £69.6bn to borrowers in the three months to the end of September, an increase of 14% on the same period in 2016 and the highest amount recorded over a three-month period since the start of 2008. The figures showed that the proportion of mortgages extended to first-time buyers fell over the period with the share of new lending to first-time buyers falling from 22% to 21% of the overall market.

Aldermore reaches milestone

Aldermore said it has reached the “significant” milestone of supporting more than £1bn of asset finance to UK businesses this year. The specialist lender said the figure has been achieved as a result of a number of developments across the bank's asset finance division, including the extension into new industrial sectors such as telecoms and IT, as well as recruiting additional resources in its specialist underwriting function.


Activist hedge fund RBR plans to shake up own operations

RBR, the hedge fund pushing for a shake-up at Credit Suisse, is closing half its operations by liquidating its two long-short equity funds.


DZ Bank pushing for DVB sale

German cooperative lender DZ Bank is reportedly moving ahead with plans to sell its DVB transport finance arm, after being hit by large provisions for bad shipping loans.

NLB to sell Macedonian pension business

Slovenia's state-owned Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) is planning to sell 100% of its Macedonian pension business NLB Nov Penziski Fond AD Skopje to Slovenian reinsurer Sava Re.


Ryanair pilots to strike before Christmas

Ryanair passengers face disruption to their Christmas travel plans after pilots and crew announced industrial action in a bid to win union recognition and better conditions. In Ireland, 79 pilots based in Dublin will strike for one day on 20 December, while pilots and cabin crew in Italy plan to strike for four hours on 15 December. Pilots based in Portugal and Germany also plan industrial action.

Wizz Air flying high

JPMorgan Cazenove has lifted its price target on Wizz Air yesterday by 13% to 4100p. The shares reached a record of 3576p after the upgrade before settling 69p, or 2%, higher at 3535p.


Balfour Beatty turnaround on track

Balfour Beatty has said that its turnaround remains on track as it rebuilds margins after a turbulent few years. The construction group said it was “increasingly confident of achieving industry-standard margins in the second half of 2018”.


Insurance groups hedge on Brexit future

Nicolas Mackel, chief executive of Luxembourg for Finance, predicts that London will retain its position as Europe’s biggest insurance centre after Brexit, but could see its standing decline over the long term.

State Street backs UK fintech start-up PensionBee

State Street has invested in the fintech start-up PensionBee, which helps people who often move jobs to bring their pensions together into a single online platform.


Robert Walters raises FY forecast

Robert Walters has raised its full-year profit forecast for a third time this year. In an unscheduled update, the recruiter said “strong trading across all of the group's regions” in the first two months of its fourth quarter meant pre-tax profits were expected to be “materially ahead” of expectations.


House price growth still slowing

House price growth in the UK slowed again in October, for the third month in the row, according to official figures. Property prices rose 4.5% in the year to October, down from 4.8% in September and 5.1% in August, while on a monthly basis prices fell 0.5% to £223,807. House price growth reached 7% in the East Midlands, 6.7% in the South West, while London suffered the lowest annual growth of any region, with average prices up just 2.1% in the year to October and falling 0.9% to £481,102 between September and October.

Westfield shopping centres sold

Australia's Westfield Corporation has agreed to be sold to French property group Unibail-Rodamco for $24.7bn (£18.5bn). There are 35 Westfield shopping centres in the UK and the US, while Unibail-Rodamco has 71 sites in Europe. The swoop will see Westfield’s White City and Stratford malls become part of a newly created €61.1bn (£53.8bn) retail behemoth, with 104 centres drawing in around 1.2bn shoppers each year.

Blackstone buys back 10% Logicor stake

A Blackstone real estate fund is to acquire a 10% stake in Logicor just months after selling the warehouse firm to Chinese sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp for €12.25bn.


Carpetright warns on profits

Floor coverings specialist Carpetright has said it expects full-year profits to be at the “bottom end” of expectations amid a “volatile and unpredictable” consumer market. The comments came as the company said that profits for the six months to October 28th declined to £300,000, from £4.1m last year, following higher staff costs, a bed clearance sale, and discounts in its “Rest of Europe” business. Overall revenues rose by 2.6%, with a 0.8% fall in UK sales offset by a 20% rise overseas.


UK inflation rate rises to 3.1%

The ONS has revealed that inflation rose to 3.1% in November, the highest in nearly six years, as the squeeze on households continued. As a result of the rise, Mark Carney will have to write to the Treasury with an explanation. The largest upward contribution to change in the CPI rate came from transport, according to the ONS, where prices rose by 0.1% between October and November this year compared with a fall of 0.3% between the same two months a year ago. The contribution came principally from air fares, which fell by 10.4% this year compared with a larger fall of 13.4% a year ago.


Gold still safe, while bitcoin bubble masks winning technology

Bitcoin fever has not hit demand for gold, Goldman Sachs has asserted. Gold investors using ETFs, futures or commodities indices, Goldman argued, know that they are automatically covered by anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations. Meanwhile, the Government has been urged by City figures to issue clear warnings about bitcoin and to alert people that there will be no bank-style bailout if the bubble bursts. John Chatfield Roberts, a veteran fund manager with Jupiter, said: “The regulators must make it abundantly clear to the public that if they choose to speculate in these things they will almost certainly lose money eventually and they will not be bailed out.” Separately, the Evening Standard's Anthony Hilton argues that though Bitcoin may be a bubble, its technology is here to stay. “London’s investors should embrace, not hide from it,” he says.

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