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The UK is unlikely to rapidly raise interest rates despite the US decision to increase rates for the first time since 2006, Sir John Major has said. The Federal Reserve has lifted US rates by 0.25 percentage points to 0.5%, potentially increasing pressure on the Bank of England to raise rates too. But the former prime minister said he doubted the UK would do so “rapidly”. “The Fed have just ticked up interest rates a little,” he said. “I think this will be a very slow process.” UK rates have been held at 0.5% for more than six years.
The Financial Times
Warren East, Rolls-Royce’s chief executive, has flagged new risks to the performance of the aerospace group’s diesel engine business — the only division to have so far escaped a downgrade in the past five profit warnings.
Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Mr East voiced “disquiet” about trading conditions in the unit that supplies power systems for the mining and offshore oil industries.
Learner drivers could be allowed on motorways for the first time, under government proposals aimed at increasing road safety. The Department for Transport is considering the move as a way to make sure learners are properly prepared for everyday driving before they pass their tests. Under the plans, they would be allowed to gain experience on motorways under the supervision of an approved driving instructor. At the moment, learner drivers are not allowed to go on motorways but can do so without having had any practical experience after passing their test. The possibility of learners on motorways will be explored under a £2m project examining driver education. It will look at whether the current regime gives the best training for learner and novice drivers. Compulsory basic training for learner motorcyclists will also be reviewed.
Britain’s government risks intervening too much in the job market with a higher minimum wage and a new levy to fund apprenticeships, which could threaten the country’s economic growth prospects, an employers’ group said.
“The government must be careful not to sacrifice prosperity for political expediency by saddling businesses with costs that could harm investment, which is critical to increasing productivity,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry.
Just over half the services firms that took part in a CBI survey said they would raise their prices, and 27 percent said they would employ fewer workers after the higher minimum wage is introduced in April. On the apprenticeship levy, only one in six companies said it was the right approach to fixing Britain’s skills shortage. Almost half said it would be costly and bureaucratic, the CBI said as it released the survey on Monday.
The Daily Mail – PRA Comment from Brian Madderson
Petrol prices have sunk to their lowest levels for six years as the price of oil plummets, putting pressure on retailers and oil companies while airlines and motorists benefit.
The average price of a litre of unleaded petrol was 103.8p at the end of last week, with diesel selling for 107.1p.
The last time petrol was this price was in August 2009, while diesel last sank to this level in October that year.
Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents the independent petrol stations that account for about a third of the market, said: ‘Our retailers are being squeezed – the average price of petrol has come down by 4p per litre over the past month, but the wholesale price has actually gone up, meaning profit margins for independent suppliers are wafer thin.’