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Inflation eases to 2.7% on falling petrol prices
Falling petrol prices and a slower rise in the cost of food contributed to a drop in UK consumer price inflation during February. The rate fell from 3% to 2.7%, the lowest figure since July 2017. The fall eases pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates at its next policy meeting in May. Consumer price inflation hit a six-year high of 3.1% in November and then edged lower to 3%, where it had stayed for the past two months. The figures suggest the squeeze on households, caused by rising inflation and stagnant wages, may be coming to an end. Economists expect those figures to show pay growth edged higher, to an annual rate of 2.6% in the three months to January.
The UK and EU agree terms for Brexit transition period
The UK and EU have agreed on a “large part” of the agreement that will lead to the “orderly withdrawal” of the UK. Negotiators Michel Barnier and David Davis said the deal on what the UK calls the implementation period was a “decisive step” in the Brexit process. But issues still to be resolved include the Northern Ireland border. And Scotland’s fishing industry has reacted angrily to the deal, which will see the UK “consulted” on quotas and access to its waters until 2021. Brexit Secretary Mr Davis said Monday’s transition agreement, which is conditional on both sides agreeing a final withdrawal treaty, would smooth the path to a future permanent relationship.
Hyundai and Kia sideswiped by US airbag probe
Shares of Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors were hit after a US regulator said it was investigating the South Korean automakers over airbags in their vehicles that failed to deploy in frontal collisions linked to four deaths and six injuries. This is the second probe by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into the South Korean carmakers in less than a year, and is the latest hurdle for the duo, which are already grappling with falling sales in the US. The NHTSA said it was reviewing about 425,000 vehicles made by Hyundai and Kia, as four crashes in which airbags did not deploy involved the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2012-2013 Kia Forte models. Last month Hyundai recalled almost 155,000 Sonatas because their airbags may not inflate in a crash, but has yet to identify a remedy. Shares in Hyundai shed 4.1 per cent on Monday morning in Seoul while Kia dropped 3.7 per cent.
Uber halts self-driving car tests after pedestrian is killed
Uber has suspended all testing of self-driving cars after a woman was killed crossing the road in what is believed to be the first fatal accident involving an autonomous vehicle and a pedestrian. The woman’s death in Tempe, Arizona, will reawaken the debate over the safety of autonomous vehicles at a time when regulators and technology companies have been accelerating deployment of self-driving systems on public roads. The incident also represents another setback for Uber following a series of scandals — which included allegations of widespread sexual harassment, data breaches and a lawsuit from Alphabet — that led to the departure of Travis Kalanick as chief executive.
FTSE 100 slides after sterling rallies on Brexit deal
The FTSE 100 fell to a 15-month low yesterday after the pound rallied on Britain and the European Union agreeing terms for a 21-month transition after Brexit. The share index declined 121.21 points, or 1.69 per cent, to 7,042.93, its lowest level since December 2016 and its largest one-day fall since early February. The FTSE 100 came under pressure from the rebound in sterling which was strengthened by hopes that the UK had avoided a “cliff-edge” exit from the EU next year.
Business leaders welcomed yesterday’s transitional deal as a “critical milestone” as Britain negotiates its EU departure. If approved at this week’s summit of European leaders, the agreement will have an “implementation period” from March 2019 to December 2020.
Squeezed consumers to scale back spending
The most important driver of UK economic growth is likely to slow further this year as PWC predicts that consumers will continue to scale back their spending in the face of higher inflation and squeezed incomes. The accountancy giant has forecast that consumer spending growth will slow to 1.1 per cent this year, down from 1.8 per cent in 2017, before edging up only slightly to 1.3 per cent in 2019. It believes that this will cause economic growth to remain “modest” over the next two years, dropping to 1.5 per cent in 2018 and 1.6 per cent in 2019. This would be a further slowdown from 1.8 per cent in 2017 and 2 per cent in 2016.
Potholes set to close 24,500 miles of road
As many as one in eight local roads could be closed to traffic within a year because of a huge backlog of pothole repairs, according to a study. Research published today shows that 12 per cent of the local road network — equivalent to almost 24,500 miles — is in need of “essential maintenance” over the next 12 months. Twenty per cent of roads in England and Wales have less than five years’ life remaining, up from 17 per cent last year and 12 per cent in 2016. Affected roads will need extensive repairs, including complete resurfacing in some areas, and could be closed. Council officials said that years of underfunding had created a “tidal wave of deterioration” that had left many roads in a critical condition. The report acknowledges that central government investment in local roads — about £1.2 billion a year — is at its highest level in a decade.
Buyer who spent £40m on cars accuses dealer of fraud
A businessman who spent £40 million on classic cars in less than four years has claimed that he was defrauded by a dealer who invented fictitious buyers and sellers. Mike Tuke decided to put his money into cars after selling his prosthetics company Finsbury Orthopaedics in 2009 for more than £60 million. Between December 2009 and March 2013 he spent almost all of the £40 million on 40 classic cars including Jaguars and a Ferrari.
China electric car execs call for policy support, end to protectionism
China is aggressively pushing new energy vehicles (NEVs) not only to cut smog in congested cities but also as a strategic industry that will help boost its firms’ global presence. It is now moving to make producers more competitive by phasing out subsidies. But industry figures said in proposals submitted during this year’s National People’s Congress (NPC) that the state still must tackle “protectionist” local governments that dish out extra subsidies and draw up preferential policies aimed at excluding rivals. Current subsidies focused on production, rather than consumption, were counterproductive, some delegates added. China manufactured 794,000 NEV units and sold 777,000 in 2017, both the world’s highest and up more than 50 percent on the year. Total NEV ownership in China reached 1.8 million, more than half the global total.
French tyre-maker Michelin swoops on British manufacturer Fenner with £1.2bn takeover bid
Michelin last night swooped on British manufacturer Fenner with a £1.2bn takeover bid. The French tyre-maker announced the deal after markets closed, offering 610p per share. Fenner’s shares had closed at 490.6p, after climbing 5.1 per cent, or 24p. Its proposal has been backed by Fenner’s board, with both firms saying it could lead to £30m in annual cost savings.
How much are speeding fines in the UK, will I get a ticket if I am 1mph over the limit and what is it on motorways and dual carriageways?
The new laws seek to make drivers ‘think twice’ before speeding. As a top cop says drivers should be fined for straying 1mph over the limit, here’s our guide to the latest rules – https://www.thesun.co.uk/motors/3364890/speeding-fines-uk-laws-penalties-ban-limit/ . The minimum penalty is a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence. This is what you are likely to pay in less serious cases when a fixed penalty notice is sent by post. If you have already got nine points – or in more serious cases involving higher speeds – you will be taken to court.
Northern Ireland’s economy to fall behind the rest of the UK as employment rate and consumer spending decline
Northern Ireland’s economy is expected to grow less than all other regions in the UK next year due to a combination of slowing consumer and weak employment prospects. The region’s growth will fall to 1 per cent this year, making it joint-lowest with Scotland, according to figures from PwC. Northern Ireland’s growth in 2019 is forecast to rise only marginally to 1.1 per cent, behind Scotland’s forecast 1.2 per cent and the UK average of 1.6 per cent.