Edmund Greaves

Investors unable to trade as London Stock Exchange hit by technical glitch

The London Stock Exchange failed to open at its usual time of 8am owing to a technical issue.

Buyers and sellers of UK company shares on indices such as the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 were unable to trade British-listed companies as a result.

The LSE says that it is investigating a potential trading services issue”, but has not been more specific than this. 

Inflation on the rise ahead of the Brexit deadline

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation rose to 2.1% in July, up from 2% according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS’s alternative measure, CPIH, which includes housing costs, stood at exactly 2% for July.

The stats body says that the biggest contributor to the CPIH measure of inflation in the past nine months has been housing and household services, rising by 1.9% on average. Chiefly to blame are gas and electric bills and council tax rate increases adding to household bills. See the graph below.

The high street banks with the worst savings rates

The average annual equivalent rate (AER) for all easy-access savings accounts on the market is currently 0.58%.

This figure is in itself embarrassingly low compared to the top rate on the market of 1.5% offered by Cynergy Bank, Marcus and Virgin Money.

Now, new analysis has named and shamed the big banks that provide the worst rates across the board.

Barclays offers an average rate 0.3% below the average. HSBC is little better offering 0.29% below, and Lloyds and RBS both offer 0.19% under the average.

On-target inflation is dilemma for central bankers and the next PM

The Office for National Statistics reports that the average by which prices increased (CPI inflation) was 2% in June 2019.

The alternative CPIH, which includes housing costs, was 1.9% for June.

While this figure is more or less right on the target set for the Bank of England by the government, the slowing global economy, potential no-deal exit from the EU, and rising wage growth all present headaches of different natures for those with their hands on the levers.

Biggest provider of workplace pensions to stop investing in tobacco

NEST, the largest provider of auto-enrolled workplace pensions in the UK, has announced that it is to divest all the money it manages for pension savers from the tobacco industry.

The firm says that it currently has around £40 million of exposure to tobacco stocks. This represents about 0.7% of its total assets under management (AUM).

BBC to scrap free TV licences for over-75s

From next year, 3.7 million pensioners will have to stump up the annual fee.

However, anyone in receipt of pension credit over the age of 75 will be able to receive a free licence from June 2020. This new scheme will cost the BBC around £250 million by 2021/22.

The BBC says that the current scheme is “untenable” and would have cost the corporation £745 million per year – equivalent to around one-fifth of its budget.

1p and 2p coins will not be withdrawn, chancellor confirms

Chancellor Philip Hammond is calling to an end speculation about the demise of copper coins. 

The chancellor will confirm in a speech that no changes will be made to the current cash supply, from 1p and 2p coins all the way up to £50 notes.

This is despite analysis from the Bank of England last year that suggested removing 1p and 2p coins would have little-to-no impact on inflation.

Mr Hammond comments: “Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, making it easier and quicker to carry out financial transactions and pay for services.

House of Lords committee says retirees should pay NI and calls for state pension triple lock to be scrapped

A report from the House of Lords Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision has made wide-ranging recommendations on benefits for the elderly, calling for much of the help for older generations to be curtailed.

It has called for the free TV Licence for over-75s to be phased out, and for the state pension triple lock to be ditched.

The report has also criticised Winter Fuel Payments and older person’s bus passes, calling for both benefits to be only made available five years after state pension age, and treated as taxable income.

Mark Carney to step down as Bank of England governor

Mark Carney, who oversees the Bank of England's three main policy committees, one of which sets interest rates, will leave the post on 31 January 2020. 

The governor has been in the post since July 2013, and had his tenure extended by the Treasury to 2020 in order to help support a “smooth exit” from the European Union.