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UK interest rates held at 0.5%
The Bank of England has held the UK’s main interest rate at 0.5% despite intense speculation that it would cut rates.
The Monetary Policy Committee voted 8-1 to leave rates unchanged, but minutes of the meeting showed most members think the Bank will act next month.
Sterling soared more than 2% to $1.3480, although both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 share indexes fell.
The Financial Times
Jaguar Land Rover to test part-driverless car
Jaguar Land Rover will test a fleet of partially-driverless cars on British roads by the end of the decade. The luxury car maker will trial a fleet of more than 100 vehicles on a 41-mile route that covers motorway and urban roads, in order to develop technology that allows cars to talk to each other and to detect hazards, writes Peter Campbell, Motor Industry Correspondent.
Data sharing between vehicles would allow future connected cars to co-operate and work together to assist the driver and make lane changing and crossing junctions easier and safer. According to the government, the autonomous vehicles market is worth £900bn worldwide, however legal obstacles, including determining who would be responsible in the event of an accident, are yet to be overcome.
Consumers are bearing the extra cost of living wage
The additional costs of the new National Living Wage have mainly been passed on to customers in higher prices or absorbed in lower company profits, rather than resulting in job cuts, according to new research.
The survey was carried out for Resolution Foundation and involved 500 businesses. It found that Just over a third of affected employers said they had raised prices, while a further 29 per cent said they had taken lower profits. Only 14 per cent said they had reacted by using fewer workers or cutting the hours offered to staff, while 8 per cent said they had cut other aspects of remuneration, such as overtime pay.
China car sales buck fears of slowdown
Car sales in China have bucked fears of a slowdown during the first six months of this year, partly due to rising demand for sport utility vehicles.
Passenger vehicle unit sales reached 1.78m in June, up 17.7 per cent compared with the same month last year, and only 0.5 per cent lower than in May, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. A summer lull in car purchases last year meant that unit sales fell during this period, fueling concerns that the Chinese vehicle market, the largest globally, was following the country’s economy into a slowdown.
Market rally fades as investors await fresh stimulus
The FTSE 100 overturned losses at the open to trade 12.70 points – 0.19% – higher to 6,693.39 in late morning dealings as the rebound among housebuilders faded. The FTSE 250, which has rallied in the past week as investors considered the immediate sell-off after the referendum overdone, edged up 12.18 points to 16,819.25.
Away from the FTSE 100, deals were lifting share prices. Poundland rallied 12.8% to 221p after the discount retail chain agreed to a 222p-a-share takeover by Steinhoff, the acquisitive South African group, valuing Poundland at £597 million.
Rolls-Royce chief looks for £1bn boost
Rolls-Royce’s chief executive told a briefing at the Farnborough International Airshow that the company was looking to add £1 billion of productivity.
A leaked internal memo had been reported as proof that Mr Warren East, chief executive, was chasing a £1 billion cost-cutting exercise rather than the present £200 million programme, in which 450 executives have lost their jobs.
However, a spokesman for Mr East later clarified that the internal report referred to a potential £1 billion upturn if Rolls Royce improves its margins. He said that Warren East “has been telling investors that if we can improve our profit margins to match those achieved by other engine-makers, that could produce as much as £1 billion of additional profitability.”
Learners must prove they can park
Learner drivers will have to reverse into a parking bay and operate the heated rear windscreen under the biggest shake-up of the driving test for 20 years. The government will announce today that more “real life” procedures will be introduced next year to improve drivers’ skills. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is planning to double the amount of “independent driving” in the test from 10 to 20 minutes. Traditional test manoeuvres such as reversing around a corner will be replaced with scenarios including driving in and out of a parking space.
Candidates will also be asked to follow directions on a sat-nav and given instructions such as to switch on lights or heated windows. The changes come amid concerns that motorists are more likely to be involved in a crash within six months of passing their test than at any other time. They follow a series of other reforms that have already been announced, including allowing learner drivers to practice on motorways and introducing a deposit that would be refunded to successful candidates, encouraging people to delay taking their test until they are ready.
Motorists consultation launched to prepare the UK for driverless cars
A planned shake-up of motor insurance rules and changes to the highway code have been unveiled by the government in preparation for the arrival of driverless cars on UK roads. While fully autonomous cars are not expected to be in use in the UK for perhaps another decade, ministers said they wanted to act now to ensure that Britain “leads the way” in developing driverless technology.
For example, if a partly automated vehicle crashes into another car, who is to blame – the “driver” or the manufacturer?
The consultation document warns that determining liability in the event of a collision where the driver has activated the automated vehicle technology and “disengaged from the driving task” could prove to be “complex and time-consuming”.
The Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills said: “It is possible the fault could rest with the driver or with the manufacturer. This means there is a significant chance of potential increased friction between the different parties over who and what caused the collision, resulting in delays in compensation to victims … Without certainty of how claims will be handled, there is a risk of customer confusion, which could reduce the sale and use of automated vehicles.”
Richard Branson: In 15 years ‘every car on the road will be electric’ says entrepreneur
Speaking at the London ePrix in Battersea Park, part of the 2015-2016 Formula E motorsport series, the Virgin boss, Sir Richard Branson, suggested that within 15 years “every car on the road will be electric”.
In 2015, electric cars accounted for just 0.1 per cent of the total number of cars on the road across the world, however, the Electric Vehicles Initiative has set a goal of putting 20 million electric cars on the road by 2020 – which would give a global market share of around 1.7 per cent.
Earlier this year, a report by Bloomberg said electric cars will be cheaper than conventional ones by 2022, with the declining cost in batteries a major factor in pushing prices down. It projected that sales of electric cars will hit 41 million, or a third of the market by 2040 – almost 90 times the equivalent figure for 2015. The growth of the electric cars could also have a dramatic effect on oil, according to the report, by displacing oil demand of 2 million barrels a day as early as 2023.