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Toyota to invest £240m in UK operationsBack


Toyota to invest £240m in UK operations 

Japanese carmaker Toyota is to invest almost a quarter of a billion pounds in its UK operations. Toyota says it will invest £240m to upgrade the Burnaston plant near Derby to enable production of vehicles using its new global manufacturing system. The carmaker says the investment will improve the plant’s competitiveness and promote UK supply chain efficiencies. Toyota has been making cars in the UK since 1992. The Burnaston plant makes the Auris and the Avensis models. Last year, the plant manufactured around 180,000 vehicles. Most are exported to the EU and elsewhere in the world.




Audi and VW sites raided in emissions probe 

German prosecutors have raided Audi and VW sites as part of a probe into the manipulation of US emissions tests.

Officers searched the Audi factory in Ingolstadt in Bavaria, and eight other locations, including parent company Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg. The searches were carried out in order to identify those involved in installing the devices that cheated the diesel tests, Munich prosecutors said. Audi-owner VW has already agreed to settlements of $21bn (£17bn) in the US.


U-turn over Budget plan to increase National Insurance

Plans to increase National Insurance rates for self-employed people – announced in the Budget last week – have been dropped.  Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the government will not proceed with the increases which were criticised for breaking a 2015 manifesto pledge. He told MPs in a Commons statement: “There will be no increases in National Insurance rates in this Parliament.” Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn said the U-turn showed a government “in chaos”.


US raises benchmark interest rate by 0.25% 

The US Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25% for only the third time in a decade.

The central bank voted to raise its key rate target to a range of 0.75% to 1%. The Fed had been expected to raise rates after a robust February jobs report, solid pay gains, rising inflation and a dip in the unemployment rate to 4.7%.

Federal Reserve policymakers are expected to increase rates a total of three times this year.


Trump travel ban: US judge blocks new executive order 

A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked President Donald Trump’s new travel ban, hours before it was due to begin after midnight on Thursday. US District Judge Derrick Watson cited “questionable evidence” in the government’s argument that the ban was a matter of national security. President Trump described the ruling as “unprecedented judicial overreach”. The order would have placed a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees. Mr Trump insists the move is to stop terrorists from entering the US but critics say it is discriminatory.

An earlier version of the order, issued in late January, sparked confusion and protests, and was blocked by a judge in Seattle.



Conservative Party fined £70,000 over election expenses 

The Conservative Party has been fined £70,000 by the Electoral Commission for breaking election expense rules.

The commission’s report highlights “numerous failures” in reporting spending on three by-elections in 2014 and the 2015 General Election. These included missing payments of £104,000 – and £118,000 that was either not reported or incorrectly reported. The Conservatives said they had accepted last March they had made “an administrative error”.



The Financial Times


Opec faces quandary as cuts fail to prop up oil prices 

With the oil market showing signs of losing faith in a price rebound, Opec is now asking itself: what more can it do?

Production cuts agreed late last year between some of the world’s biggest producers, inside and outside the cartel such as Russia, are losing their sway given the nearly 10 per cent drop in the Brent benchmark over the past week. Offsetting the curbs are brimming global storage tanks and a resurgent US shale industry. Opec delegates are now questioning how painful a return to its old playbook of supporting the oil market will be. Having spent two years prioritising export volumes over price, it is now losing out on both.



The Times


Cyclists’ 25 near misses a year 

Cyclists risk being knocked off their bikes at least once a fortnight because of confusion over the right of way at road junctions, according to research. The average cyclist suffers 25 near-misses at junctions each year and British Cycling has called for the Highway Code to be overhauled. A petition in support of this has been signed by 27,000 people.

Safety at road junctions was undermined by 14 conflicting rules on left and right turns, British Cycling said. The most common dangerous manoeuvre was passing too close, recorded 130 times a year, and a vehicle pulling out in front of a bike, 70 times. British Cycling wants one universal rule, in which any road user should always get right of way when travelling straight ahead.



The Daily Mail


Brexit boost as unemployment rate falls to lowest level since 1975 with UK’s jobs factory firing on all cylinders

Britain has enjoyed another pre-Brexit boost with unemployment falling to its lowest rate since 1975. Defying the Project Fear gloom of the EU referendum campaign, the number of people in work also hit a new record high. The statistics from the Office for National Statistics show the UK jobs machine is still firing on all cylinders.

Average earnings increased by 2.2 per cent in the year to January, down by 0.4 per cent on the previous month but still well above the rate of inflation. Other figures published on Wednesday showed that unemployment fell by 31,000 in the three months to January, to 1.58 million, the lowest for a decade, giving a jobless rate of 4.7 per cent, the lowest since the summer of 1975. Almost 32 million people are now in work, a jump of 92,000 over the quarter and 315,000 compared with a year earlier.


Posted by Paul Carpenter on 16/03/2017