Category Archives: Business

Fast-food workers plot strategy for minimum $15 per hour and union rights

Convention near Chicago draws 1,000 workers Delegates pledge ‘whatever it takes’ to achieve goals Continue reading…
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Why the UK’s food prices aren’t so high after all

Families in seven cities around the world took part in our survey of the cost of food and household basics. Here’s what we foundGermans pay the least for their groceries and Canadians the most, according to a survey of supermarkets in seven major world…
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Posted in Business, Cities, Consumer affairs, Food & drink, Household bills, Life and style, Money, Retail industry, Supermarkets, World news | Comments Off

McDonald’s declared unsanitary and unhealthy by Russian food standards

The consumer protection agency is taking McDonald’s to court following increasing tensions between the US and RussiaNearly a quarter-century after McDonald’s startled and delighted Soviets with their first taste of American fast-food culture, the compa…
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McDonald’s Japan stops buying chicken from China after expired meat scandal

Japanese restaurants will now source chicken from Thailand, while Hong Kong outlets have taken chicken products off menu Continue reading…
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Posted in Asia Pacific, Business, China, Environment, Food, Food & drink, Food & drink industry, Food safety, Hong Kong, Japan, Life and style, McDonald's, Meat, The meat industry, World news | Comments Off

Lloyds Banking Group confirms Libor-rigging settlement is close

Bailed-out bank says it is in late-stage talks over final amount of fine to be paid to Financial Conduct Authority and US regulators

Lloyds Banking Group is close to reaching a settlement with regulators over how much it should pay out for its role in the Libor-rigging scandal, the bailed-out bank has confirmed for the first time.

In a statement published on Friday, Lloyds said it was in “late-stage” talks over the sum, but insisted it had not yet agreed on a final figure.

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Lloyds Banking Group faces fine of up to £300m over Libor rigging

Bailed-out bank is latest firm penalised by regulator the Financial Conduct Authority over rigging benchmark interest rateBailed-out Lloyds Banking Group appears poised to become the latest financial firm to be penalised for rigging Libor and is said t…
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Jeremy Hunt demands urgent inspections of chicken factories

Health secretary intervenes after Guardian investigation reveals strict hygiene standards can be disregarded in practice Continue reading…
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Bangladeshi factory safety group needs extra £4m from retailers for inspections

Accord on Fire and Building Safety, set up after Rana Plaza garment factory deaths, aims to frontload spending this year Continue reading…
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PG Tips triumphs as ASA rules pyramid-shaped bags make a better cuppa

Advertising watchdog angers Tetley by backing claims in PG Tips advert that round teabags have lesser brewing efficiency

Which are better: round teabags or pyramid teabags? You decide

Tetley has brewed up a storm over a teacup after claiming that rival PG Tips “denigrated” its round teabags in a TV ad.

But the flat-capped cartoon Yorkshiremen of the Tetley folk have been sent packing by the advertising watchdog which backed the claims of their rival brand’s monkey puppet. PG Tips owner Unilever got itself into hot water with an ad in which the puppet brews up two cups of tea for comedian Johnny Vegas, one using a generic round teabag and one a using the Unilever-owned brand’s pyramid bag in a recent TV ad.

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Worries about weak wages led Bank of England to vote 9-0 to leave interest rates unchanged business live

Latest MPC minutes show some policymakers are concerned about weak wage growth

In other news:

11.19am BST

BBQ and summer clothes boosting UK sales, according to the CBI…..well that factor wont last long!

11.19am BST

Takings at Britain’s retailers have jumped this month, and shop managers are more optimistic about the prospects for August as well.

The CBI’s monthly survey “distributive trades survey”. just released, beat forecasts with a balance of +21, up from +4 in June. That means many more shops are seeing higher sales this month.

*U.K. JULY CBI DISTRIBUTIVE TRADES REPORTED SALES RISES TO 21 beats 15 estimate and 4 previous

11.00am BST

Bang on cue, here’s Berenberg’s Rob Wood explaining that wage growth holds the key to when UK interest rates will rise:

It is unlikely a majority [on the MP] would favour a hike unless pay growth perks up over the next four months. Given the strength of some surveys, we expect that to happen by November. Of course, it is not a nailed on certainty.

10.57am BST

The Institute of Directors wants the Bank of England to crack on and start raising interest rates soon, get them back to between 3% and 4% by 2016.

Here’s their chief economist, James Sproule:

We remain concerned that there is insufficient appreciation that we are experiencing extraordinary monetary policy, and it should not be assumed that such extraordinary policy can continue.

Looking ahead two years, we would like to be reaching a point where monetary policy could again be effective, which means interest rates in the range of 3-4%. The economic recovery is strong enough that the time has come to be making progress towards that medium term goal. Only once monetary policy has been normalised, interest rates can be an effective policy tool.”

10.50am BST

James Knightley of ING reckons the Bank of England “continues to inch towards hiking rates”, and will probably act in four months time.

He says:

These minutes suggest that the debate on rate hikes is starting to open up, especially with the concluding line stating that while the MPC agreed that no increase was warranted at this meeting for some members the decision had become more balanced in the past few months than earlier in the year.

Martin Weale, who voted for a rate rise in the January-July 2011 period, would be amongst the favourites to do so, but we have to remember there has been quite a lot of churn on the committee in recent months so there could be others.

10.35am BST

It looks “pretty balanced as to whether the first interest rate hike will come late this year or early in 2015″, says Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.

10.32am BST

Reaction is coming in…

Alex Edwards, head of the corporate desk at UKForex, says the minutes left the markets “a little disappointed”. Some traders had expected more hawkish signals.

10.29am BST

The Bank minutes take 11 lines to outline the argument for raising interest rates, and under nine lines to explain why not.

BoE argument: Case for raising now longer in minutes than case against. This probably matters

9.58am BST

The Bank of England minutes also include two references to financial markets showing little reaction to geopolitical risks.

Here’s the first:

Oil prices had also risen during June in response to the conflict in Iraq, a major producer and the potential source for much of the increase in OPEC supply in coming years. But prices had fallen back since the second half of June, leaving them little changed on the month. It was difficult to assess how much this reflected news about the ultimate balance of demand and supply for oil, and, more generally, it was notable that prices had remained in a tight range around $110 per barrel since the second half of 2012, despite numerous economic and geopolitical risks having emerged over that time.

By and large, however, global financial markets continued to be relatively unresponsive to both economic risks and geopolitical events. Market measures of uncertainty about future asset prices suggested that, for a wide range of assets, it was surprisingly low.

9.49am BST

Same as it ever was! #BoE Minutes ” uncertainty about the degree of slack had risen on the month”

BoE voted 9-0 to keep rates unchanged. Weakness of wages in face of strong employment “striking”.

Minutes reflect wait-and-see mode at the BoE, QIR Aug. 13th looks more opportune time to provide clearer rate hike indication

9.46am BST

The minutes are online here, by the way.

9.45am BST

There’s no major reaction in the financial markets, with the pound now flat against the US dollar.

Market clearly not seeing any change to BOE stance as it keeps all options open. £/$ now back to unchanged = $1.7073.

9.43am BST

The minutes also show that some Bank of England policymakers pondered whether to experiment with a small rate rise now, just to see how people reacted.

The minutes say:

A rise in Bank Rate at a time when the economy was growing strongly would facilitate a more gradual path thereafter and would allow the Committee to evaluate the sensitivity of households, firms and financial markets to changes in interest rates, following a long period during which Bank Rate had remained unchanged.

9.40am BST

Some members of the MPC are clearly worried that raising interest rates now would be a blunder, given the state of the global economy,

The minutes say:

There were early signs that global growth was weakening, and an unexpected increase in interest rates when real wages were not yet rising could lead to an outsized reaction in asset prices and destabilise the recovery.

On the central projection from May, conditioned on very gradual increases in interest rates, inflation had been forecast to return to the 2% target only after three years. A premature tightening in monetary policy might leave the economy vulnerable to shocks, with the effectiveness of any further stimulus uncertain.

9.38am BST

The Bank of England is concerned, though, that people’s earnings aren’t increasing faster, especially as inflation jumped to 1.9% last month.

The minutes say:

The weakness of wages in the face of strong rises in employment was becoming more striking, and there was reason to believe both that reductions in labour market slack were taking longer to affect wage growth, and that the effective supply of labour had increased.

9.36am BST

The minutes of the MPC meeting confirm that some members of the committee are considering whether to vote to raise rates:

The Committee agreed that no increase was warranted at this meeting, although for some members the decision had become more balanced in the past few months than earlier in the year.

9.30am BST

Here we go…and the top line news is that the Bank of England voted 9-0 to leave interest rates unchanged at their record low of 0.5%.

But there’s plenty of detail lurking…..

9.27am BST

Nearly time for the Bank of England minutes…

BoE minutes out @ 9:30am London.. change from 9-0 would see bid in #GBP, also comments on inflation or property bubble etc

9.26am BST

Better news from Spain — the Spanish central bank has revised up its economic forecasts for 2014 and 2015.

The Bank of Spain now expects to see growth of 1.3% this year, up from 1.2% previously, and hiked next year’s forecast to 2.0%, up from 1.7%.

Bank of Spain estimate that GDP rose 0.5% q/q in Q2. Trend in GDP since turn of century charted against PMI

9.19am BST

There’s no pick-up in confidence among French factories, according to the latest survey from stats body INSEE.

INSEE’s monthly measure of the manufacturing business climate remained at its lowest level since September 2013 at just 97, below its long-term average. More here.

#French industrial sentiment holds at 97 in July unch from June’s rev 97 – worst reading since Sept 2013 #gloomy

8.53am BST

Gloucestershire-based engineering firm Renishaw will not be pleased to see sterling bobbing around two-year highs against the euro, though.

It reported an 11% tumble in adjusted full-year pretax profits for the last year this morning, from £79.2m to £70m.

8.43am BST

The euro is dropping this morning, down to its lowest level against the US dollar this year.

Some are keen to paint this as a response to European foreign ministers possibly considering new sanctions on Russia at their meeting in Brussels yesterday.

EURGBP on a run lower pre-BOE. I like sterling to slip post minutes though

8.28am BST

Here’s a factoid for the Bank of England to ponder — the cost of the average London house has soared by £43,115, or 8.2%, since the start of 2014.

That’s almost £240 per day – or more than twice the average weekly wage across the UK.

8.20am BST

Today’s Bank of England minutes could also show whether any policymakers reckon most of the ‘slack’ in the UK economy has been mopped up.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets reckons:

The tone of the debate is likely to be of more interest to the markets that any change in voting patterns.

It would be surprising if the voting patterns did change from the 9-0-0, but any signs of a shift in thinking with respect to the amount of spare capacity in the economy could well be considered hawkish.

8.15am BST

Samuel Tombs of Capital Economics reckon today’s minutes will “probably” show that the Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously again to keep official interest rates on hold.

But the rise in UK inflation could cause some jitters.

Admittedly, the MPC would have seen Junes consumer prices figures showing that CPI inflation rose from 1.5% to 1.9% in June. However, this was only slightly above the 1.8% estimate in Mays Inflation Report, and the spike seems likely to be temporary.

8.08am BST

Paul Fisher has also addressed allegations that the Bank of England turned a blind eye to foreign exchange traders rigging the market.

In today’s interview, he claims that the idea that the Bank behaved improperly is a non-story” (let’s see if the inquiry launched by the BoE comes to the same conclusion…).

Whats really shocking is the collusion between traders across firms. These firms are supposed to be ferociously competitive, so how come their traders were talking to each other and arranging things between them?

8.06am BST

One of the Bank of England’s senior policy makers has claimed today that its actions saved the UK economy from a much grimmer fate.

Mr Fisher trenchantly defends those decisions made at the height of the crisis. He pays tribute to the tremendous efforts of his colleagues in the market team who really did pull all the stops out to try to turn the economy round.

Mr Fisher also argues that QE, along with the Banks Funding for Lending Scheme which subsidises credit to banks, were responsible for the recovery that finally kicked in last year.

8.01am BST

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the financial markets, the economy, business and the eurozone.

While Russian equities and the ruble enjoyed some reprieve in yesterdays trade, the repercussions from recent events are far from over.

Asia at afternoon… HK up 0.8% ASX up 0.6% Shanghai up 0.5% Sensex up 0.4% Nikkei flat Kospi down 0.1% $NIK $HSI $XJO

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