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The number of new cars sold in the UK hit an all-time high in 2016. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said 2.69 million cars were registered last year, 2% higher than in 2015. The industry body said 2016’s growth was due to “very strong” consumer confidence, low-interest finance deals and the launch of several new models. However, the SMMT says this year is unlikely to set another record, with sales expected to fall by 5-6%.
People who live near major roads have higher rates of dementia, research published in the Lancet suggests.
As many as 11% of dementia cases in people living within 50m of a major road could be down to traffic, the study suggests. The researchers, who followed nearly 2m people in Canada over 11 years, say air pollution or noisy traffic could be contributing to the brain’s decline. UK dementia experts said the findings needed probing but were “plausible”.
The price of petrol and diesel in the UK has risen to its highest since July 2015, following a three-pence-a-litre increase in December alone. The average cost of unleaded petrol hit 117.23p at the end of the month, with diesel reaching 119.63p, the RAC said. The wholesale price of both fuels has risen significantly, following the production cuts announced by Opec. Brent crude jumped by 10% on 30 November, the day the cartel announced a cut of 1.2 million barrels a day.
Consumer borrowing increased by its fastest rate for more than a decade in December, according to new statistics from the Bank of England. Consumer credit rose by £1.9bn during the month and has grown by 10.8 per cent in total during the past 12 months. The Bank also published data on mortgage approvals, which reached their highest level for eight months in November.
US bank faces profits hit from higher interest rates
New York Community Bank, one of the largest US lenders, is facing a potential hit to annual profits from higher interest rates. While the earnings dent should be manageable for the $49bn-in-assets lender, the forecasts show there are some exceptions to the rule that increased borrowing costs will be good for the sector. Investors in US banks have welcomed the prospect of an end to the era of rock bottom interest rates, driving the KBW index of bank stocks up 30 per cent since October.
Mexico’s motor industry has seen extraordinary growth in the 22 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement opened up the US market. Production more than tripled to 3.4m vehicles in 2015, and 82 per cent of the country’s 2.7m exports that year went to the US or Canada. But Ford’s announcement on Tuesday that it was abandoning plans for a new Mexican car plant highlights the serious threat that incoming US president Donald Trump poses to the industry.
Employers who deny workers the minimum wage could face two years in jail under plans to accelerate a crackdown on unscrupulous companies and gangmasters. The government will appoint a “labour market enforcement director” today to clamp down on the exploitation of casual workers. The new role will be taken up by Sir David Metcalf, an industrial relations professor at the London School of Economics and, until recently, a key adviser to Downing Street on migration.
Officials at the US Federal Reserve believe potential fiscal stimulus during Donald Trump’s presidency could produce faster economic growth and require quicker interest rate rises to ward off higher inflation. The minutes of the Fed’s policy meeting last month, at which officials raised their benchmark lending rate by a quarter of one percentage point, showed that rate-setters are very uncertain about the timing, size and composition of any economic policy initiatives.
Theresa May will make a major speech on Brexit in an attempt to quell criticism that the government is not yet clear on its negotiating objectives for exiting the EU, as former diplomats hit out at the intense levels of criticism that ministers and civil servants have had to operate under. The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the Brexit secretary, David Davis, are contributing to the speech, expected later in January. It is expected to address Britain’s access to the European single market and a new immigration system for EU citizens. May will restate that control of borders will be a red line for the government, inevitably making economic access a lower priority.
One of the annoying drawbacks of electric vehicles is having to plug them in for long periods to recharge their batteries. Now Ford has announced it has invented a method that allows electric cars to recharge without wires.
The technology has previously been available for gadgets such as phones and smartwatches, but not for cars. The new technology, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas suggests that electric car drivers in Europe will soon be able to park-and-charge without plugging in. The company said the system has been designed to prevent drivers from forgetting to recharge.
A third of women drivers say they have been ‘ripped off’ by a garage because of their gender, a new report reveals today. Nearly one in three overall (29 per cent) believe that a garage has overcharged them for servicing and repair work done to their car – purely because they are female. And women drivers warn they are prepared to take their business elsewhere if they feel they are being taken advantage of, according to new research by car maintenance service Motoreasy. Men are even more suspicious about how much they have been charged for repair or maintenance work by garages, with almost half (47 per cent) claiming they believe they have been overcharged.