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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday, 23rd October 2019

Posted: 23rd October 2019


Barclays offers Post Office cheque option

With Barclays announcing it is going to stop its customers from using their bank cards to withdraw cash at Post Offices, the bank is offering customers cheque books, saying those holding one will still be able to take out up to £100 per day at the Post Office. However, the special chequebooks are only available to savers with additional requirements – such as those who are unable to use an ATM or travel to an alternative cash machine or branch. Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Post Office Minister Kelly Tolhurst have previously questioned the plan, with Lord Duncan yesterday adding his voice to criticism of the move. Meanwhile, Jane Vass of Age UK has urged Barclays not to scrap Post Office access for account holders.

Monzo criticised over frozen accounts

Monzo has been accused of freezing accounts without explanation. Banks have a legal obligation to freeze accounts that show signs of suspicious activity and report them to the National Crime Agency – and are not allowed to tell the customer what is going on as it constitutes an offence known as 'tipping-off'. However, an investigation by BBC One’s Watchdog saw some savers in this situation complain that the bank has been hard to contact and unhelpful.

Revolut reveals Mastercard tie-up

Revolut has announced a tie-up with Mastercard ahead of its US launch. The fintech firm said its Mastercard-supported debit cards will be available in the US before the end of this year. The tie-up will see the firms partner on a minimum of 50% of all Revolut cards issued in Europe. In September Revolut announced a deal with Visa that will see it support at least 75 % of Revolut cards issued in countries across South America, Asia, parts of Africa, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Russia.

Bankers charged over insider trading

Benjamin Taylor and Darina Windsor have been charged with being part of a “large-scale, international insider-trading ring” in the US. The couple, who previously worked for Moelis & Co. and Centerview Partners LLC in London, allegedly received more than $1m worth of cash, trips and luxury items in exchange for insider trading tips.

1m credit card fraud attempts flagged

Cyber security experts tackled more than 1m cases of suspected credit card fraud in Britain last year, data from the Government's National Cyber Security Centre shows. Operation Haulster saw frauds against more than 1m credit cards flagged up to banks, with many before a crime had taken place.

Savings market heading for crisis, says Warner

The Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner says there is a growing imbalance in Britain’s savings market, warning that a growing wealth divide has further widened the gulf between excessive and deficient savers. He says far too many Britons save too little, and it remains unclear whether those who do save are ready to take a higher degree of direct control over their savings.

HSBC cuts account rate

HSBC has cut the interest rate on Regular Saver accounts from 5% to 2.75% for new customers. Existing customers will continue to earn 5% until their account comes to the end of its one-year term.

FSCS advice

The Mail advises savers holding more than £85,000 with both Virgin Money and Clydesdale Yorkshire Banking Group to move any sum above this limit to another bank, saying they have until January 21 to ensure they are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.


Paysafe eyes IPO

Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners are seeking to hire underwriters for an initial public offering of Paysafe Group. The IPO would value the payments processing firm at more than $10bn, including debt.


Trade war tensions and low interest rates hit UBS profits

UBS has flagged concerns over the future of the global economy as it reported a double-digit fall in profits over the last quarter. Adjusted pre-tax profits reached $1.05bn in the third quarter, down 16% on the same period a year earlier. Pre-tax profit at the investment bank fell to $203m from $489m in the same period last year. UBS reported a record $15.7bn of assets under management.


Pendragon profits on the right road

Pendragon, the UK’s biggest car dealer, has reported an underlying pre-tax profit of £3m for Q3, an increase of £1.9m compared to the same period last year. The increase comes despite used car sales falling almost 17% and a 3.6% drop in like-for-like revenues. The firm said: “Whilst the improved performance during the period is encouraging, we continue to expect economic and market conditions to be challenging, with the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit impacting consumer confidence.”


Boeing replaces head of commercial aircraft division

Boeing has announced that Stan Deal will become head of its commercial aeroplanes division, replacing Kevin McAllister as president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.


SJP maintains inflows as incentive scheme questioned

Wealth manager St. James’s Place saw record funds under management (FUM) for the third quarter, at £112.82bn - an increase of 3.2% on the previous quarter. Net inflows during the three months to September saw a 14% fall compared to the same period last year, at £2.1bn. Chief executive Andrew Croft said the figures highlight the resilience of the business model “in what remains an uncertain external environment”. He added that the firm is rethinking its bonus scheme after criticism over client fees and the incentives offered to its partners. JP Morgan analyst Ashik Musaddi commented: “Brexit continues to remain an overhang on St James’s Place’s gross flows momentum in the short term which is key for cash earnings and dividends.”


Lower profits reported at Whitbread

Premier Inn owner Whitbread has reported that UK hotel sales fell 3.6% and adjusted pre-tax profit was down 4.1% to £236m, with trading strong in London in the first half, while conditions in the regional market were more difficult. UBS analyst Jarrod Castle said the results “are broadly in line with expectations and guidance”.

On the Beach eyes Thomas Cook market share

Package holiday firm On the Beach says the collapse of Thomas Cook has “created an unprecedented opportunity to take additional market share at an increased rate”. In an effort to capitalise, it has increased spending on marketing.


Manufacturing firms’ planned investments fall

British manufacturing companies saw orders for products fall at the fastest pace in almost 10 years while output fell after stagnation in the quarter to September. This comes as firms’ projected investment for next year is also at the lowest rate since the financial crisis, according to the CBI’s industrial trends survey. Tom Crotty, group director of chemicals firm Ineos and chair of the CBI manufacturing council, remarked: “Each day of Brexit uncertainty sees firms forced to withhold key investment and recruitment decisions that make a huge difference to communities across the country.”


Commercial rental values climb 0.4%

Rental values in the UK prime commercial property market rose in Q3, with the increase driven by a strong performance in the industrial sector. Commercial property values were up 0.4%, with industrial and office rental values rising 1.7%. While retail rental values continued to fall, there was a slowdown in the decline, with values down 0.8% compared to 1.1% in Q2.

More homes sold in September

HMRC figures show that the number of homes sold in Britain rose in September, with 101,740 transactions recorded. This was 5% up on August and 2.3% higher than September 2018. Jeremy Leaf, a former chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said the increase showed the "relative resilience of buyers and sellers" despite "political distractions".


Travis Perkins temporarily pulls plug on plumbing sale

An “unprecedented level of uncertainty” in the sector has seen Travis Perkins postpone the sale of its plumbing and heating business. It said that the demerger had been postponed until the second quarter of next year, although efforts to demerge Wickes, the group's DIY chain, would continue. Travis Perkins announced a 3.4% rise in like-for-like sales in the quarter to the end of September.


Government borrowing climbs

Office for National Statistics data shows that public sector borrowing rose by a fifth during the first half of the financial year, hitting £40.3bn in the six months to September. This marks a £7.4bn increase on the same period in 2018. For the month of September, borrowing stood at £9.4bn, exceeding the £8.8bn recorded in September last year. Thomas Pugh, UK economist at Capital Economics, commented: “September's better-than-expected public finance figures do not change this year's overarching themes of higher spending and borrowing.” He added that the data “will only encourage the Chancellor to loosen fiscal policy at the Budget next month.”

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