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Daily News Roundup: Wednesday 6th December 2017

Posted: 6th December 2017

BANKING

BoE considers ordering banks to raise buffers against disorderly Brexit

The Bank of England has said that it could order banks to set aside another £5bn to guard against the risk of a disorderly Brexit which threatens to cut finance firms off from their continental customers. The BoE has also alerted the High Court that it might face extra demand from insurance companies preparing for Brexit. Meanwhile, the Government has told banks that it will not slash red tape after leaving the EU as the UK’s financial services sector is already highly competitive with Brussels’ regulation. Treasury minister Stephen Barclay told peers that even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal there will be no bonfire of regulations. He said: “We start from the fundamental position, which is we are looking to have a close relationship with the EU which enables access to continue – we are not looking to deregulate.”

More than 2m trapped in overdrafts

More than 2m people across the UK are "stuck in the red" with permanent overdraft debt, according to debt charity StepChange. The charity found cases where banks had failed to offer their customers a means to deal with debt, even when they made it clear they were in difficulty. The charity has made a series of recommendations aimed at “breaking the cycle” of persistent overdraft debt, including calling on banks and the Financial Conduct Authority to work together to identify those in or at risk of persistent debt, and the triggers that cause it.

Banks not supporting cashpoints, Simon English argues

In the context of a possible shake-up of how the ATM network is funded, the Standard's Simon English says some are warning that plans could lead to around 10,000 of the 55,000 free-to-use machines closing. He says that ATMs become ever more important as branch closures increase, and suggests that despite Link insisting its policy is to maintain extensive free ATM coverage, banks may not be doing all they can to help.

Security breaches swept under the carpet

The FCA has said banks are under-reporting the number of successful cyber-attacks made against them. Now MPs are calling for the industry to follow a minimum set of standards to protect customers and publish its record on tackling online financial crime. Megan Butler, the FCA's director of supervision, said: “Our suspicion is that there's currently a material under-reporting of successful cyber-attacks. The number relayed back to us looks modest when you set it against the number of attacks on the industry.”

Carney’s support for bonuses misplaced

Anthony Hilton says in the Standard that Mark Carney’s support for the scrapping of the cap on bankers’ bonuses when the UK is no longer bound by European regulation does nothing to help repair the damage done to the reputation of finance.

INTERNATIONAL

Deutsche Bank to rebrand asset business

Some investors have reacted with surprise at Deutsche Bank ’s decision to use a corporate structure for its rebranded asset management arm that will give minority shareholders limited influence over the division.

ECB set to rethink plan for curbing eurozone bad loans

The European Central Bank is preparing to rethink plans to force eurozone lenders to face up to their bad loans after pressure from EU lawmakers and political leaders.

AUTOMOTIVE

UK car sales now a “concern” for industry

The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is concerned following figures revealing that demand for new cars fell for the eighth month in a row in November. Some 163,541 new cars were bought during the month, an 11.2% fall on the same period last year, leaving just under 2.4m new cars sold in 2017. SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes cited “anti-diesel messages from the Government”, adding that the decline was a “major concern”.

CONSTRUCTION

Housebuilders issue Brexit plea

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has said one in six builders are from the EU as it called for a permit system for skilled workers to build more homes and ease the housing crisis. The federation highlighted a survey of 37,000 housebuilding workers across Britain which shows that 17.7% are from the EU. More than half of those are from Romania, with 12% from Poland and almost 10% from Ireland. The HBF said the survey underlines the extent of UK sites’ reliance on overseas workers. The federation added that the report showed that builders would need continued access to skilled EU workers following Brexit to deliver the government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Moneybarn faces FCA probe

Sub-prime lender Provident Financial has revealed that its car finance division is being investigated by the regulator. The FCA is to examine the way that Moneybarn assesses car-buyers for loans. In a statement, Provident said the FCA's inquiry would look at “the processes applied to customer affordability assessments for vehicle finance, and the treatment of customers in financial difficulties.”

MANUFACTURING

UK’s largest biofuels plant ceases production

The UK’s biggest bioethanol producer has stopped production at its East Yorkshire plant, blaming government “inaction”. Vivergo Fuels said there was “no guarantee” production would recommence at the Hull facility, and managing director Mark Chesworth told the BBC’s Today programme that thousands of people could be affected by the stoppage.

MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT

Cineworld to buy Regal cinemas

Cineworld has agreed to buy US cinema chain Regal in a $3.6bn (£2.7bn) deal that will create the world's second largest cinema group. Cineworld currently has more than 2,000 screens across 221 sites, including the Picturehouse chain, and the deal gives it access to North America, the largest box office market in the world.

Channel 4 could be forced out of the capital

Government officials have said they will consider changing the law to force Channel 4 to move out of London, as part of efforts to support the regions, if management at the broadcaster continue to refuse to shift operations from the capital.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Mitie pulls out of sale talks

Mitie has pulled the planned sale of its property management business after failing to attract suitable buyers. The outsourcing company said that none of the offers it had received for the business "were at a sufficient level".

REAL ESTATE

Chinese property group buys former London home of Bear Stearns

Chinese property developer Cheung Kei Group has purchased 5 Churchill Place in Canary Wharf for £270m from Said Holdings. The building is let to JP Morgan , which absorbed previous owner Bear Stearns during the financial crisis.

Land value drives record levels of UK wealth

The UK's total wealth jumped by a record £803bn to £9.8trn in 2016, driven by a sharp increase in the value of land. The ONS said it was the biggest annual rise since records began in 1995. Land accounts for £5trn of the UK's wealth and rose in value by £280bn, or 5.9%, last year.

RETAIL

Broker bullish on grocers

Shares in Tesco rose yesterday after analysts at Goldman Sachs switched their recommendation on the stock from “sell” to “buy”. The broker said food input cost inflation had peaked while consumer food prices remained elevated, which meant that margin pressures on grocers was easing. Goldman also upgraded Morrisons to “hold” and lifted its price target on Sainsbury's - although its shares still have a “sell” rating.

ECONOMY

UK service sector growth slows while prices rise

Firms in the UK’s key services sector raised prices at the fastest pace for nearly a decade last month as they faced higher costs for food, fuel and salaries, according to a closely-watched survey. The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index fell to 53.8 for the services sector in November, down from 55.6 the previous month. However, this was still above the 50 threshold for growth, which the sector has achieved for 16 consecutive months. The report highlighted that the fall in the value of the pound has pushed up the price of imported goods for companies, and the sector has also been hit by changes to business rates and higher salaries after the launch of the National Living Wage.

OTHER

UK pensioners face sharpest income drop in retirement, says OECD

People in the UK earning average wages and relying solely on mandatory pension schemes could see their retirement income fall to just 29% of in-work earnings, compared with an OECD average of 63%. When voluntary pensions are included, the average UK pensioner receives 62% of his or her working income. The findings show that Britain’s state pension is the least generous of the world's leading economies.

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