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The Financial Times
First of all the good news: A majority of UK retailers surveyed by business lobby group the CBI have reported an uplift in sales in December. But here comes the bad: The boost in the crucial run up to Christmas has undershot expectations.
Of the 118 companies surveyed (including 61 retailers) by the CBI as part of its regular Distributive Trades Survey, 43 per cent said that sales volumes had increased in December compared to the same month in 2014, while 24 per cent said they had declined month on month. This produced a positive balance of +19 per cent which was better than the +7 per cent result from November’s survey but it fell short of expectations (a balance of +31 per cent was expected).
Retailers are expecting 2016 to remain tough, according to the CBI’s distributive trades chairman, Barry Williams, who is also chief customer officer at Asda, the supermarket chain.
Volkswagen’s (VW) supervisory board has taken bold steps in the final weeks of 2015 to put the diesel cheating scandal to rest. But with two days to go before Christmas, I expect Santa has made his list, is checking it twice and sending a sleigh full of coal to Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg headquarters. That’s because VW, despite winning over regulators in Europe, has failed to get the green light to fix nearly half a million cars in the United States with so-called defeat devices that are designed to cheat on nitrogen oxide emissions tests. If VW wants to go from “naughty to nice” in 2016, it must move with a laser-like focus to correct its original sin in the U.S.
The price of oil has fallen to its lowest level in 11 years as commodity markets responded to signs that the global glut of oil will deepen in 2016. Dealers said the cost of crude was on course in December to register its biggest monthly fall since the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers in October 2008.
The latest fall in prices was prompted by concerns that a market already awash with oil from the two biggest suppliers – Saudi Arabia and Russia – would receive additional supply from the lifting of sanctions against Iran and the ending of a 40-year US export ban. In London, the price of benchmark Brent crude hit a low of $36.05 (£24.22) a barrel on Monday, its lowest since 2004 and below the low point reached during the financial crisis of 2008-09.
The Daily Mail
Bank of England rate setter Martin Weale has said there is no need for an immediate UK interest rate, citing a surprise ‘pause in wage growth’ and falling oil prices. Back in September Weale had written that the Bank would have to raise rates soon in order to keep inflation in check. But in an interview he struck a more cautious tone and said that the factors pushing down on inflation had ‘become a bit more prolonged’ and the Bank of England had more ‘breathing space.’ He said: ‘I initially thought that the weak wage growth was a wobble that represented stray numbers that you get once or twice from time to time. There has plainly been something more to it than that.’