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UK economic growth sped up ahead of Brexit vote
The UK economy grew by 0.6% in the three months to the end of June, as economic growth accelerated in the run-up to the vote to leave the EU.
Second-quarter gross domestic product grew faster than expected, up from 0.4% growth in the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics said. The strongest growth was in April, followed by a sharp easing off in May and June. On a yearly basis the economy grew by a healthy 2.2%.
ONS chief economist Joe Grice said that as well as the industrial gains, there was also “strong growth across the services sector, particularly retailing”. The services sector, the largest part of the UK economy, grew 0.5%; it started the quarter strongly, rising 0.6% in April, before dropping 0.1% in May and growing by only 0.1% in June.
FTSE down amid results deluge
Lloyds Banking Group share price was down about 4% after it revealed further cost cutting plans. The state-owned bank has lost a third of its value in the last 12 months, making it less likely the government will cash out its remaining stake any time soon.
Rolls-Royce shares surge, aero engine giant Rolls-Royce is flying high, with shares rising 18% on the morning of 28 July.
Carmaker Renault saw profit at its core automotive division increase by 65%. The carmaker is benefiting from a product offensive that has seen all major model lines updated, analysts say.
The Financial Times
Employers press ministers for delay to apprenticeship levy
Employers are urging the UK government to delay the apprenticeship levy — a tax on all employers with a pay bill of £3m or more — by at least a year, after the UK’s vote to leave the EU. The levy will shift much of the cost of funding apprenticeships from the state to employers. It is due to start in April but business groups see the shake-up of government after Brexit as an opportunity to push for a delay and redesign.
The EEF, Britain’s largest association of manufacturing employers, the CBI business lobby group, the Charity Finance Group and the Institute of Directors are all asking Theresa May’s government to postpone the levy. Business groups are also discussing whether to make a joint appeal. The levy was a flagship policy of George Osborne, the former chancellor, and is seen as a significant revenue source for the government.
Tesla to part ways with Israeli sensor maker
Tesla is to part ways with Israeli sensor maker Mobileye after their current arrangement ends, leaving the US electric carmaker to look for a new partner to power its self-driving technology following a fatal crash.
Mobileye’s current generation of cameras are used by Tesla in its Autopilot system which was involved in the crash when the technology failed to detect a white van in bright sunlight. Mobileye is also a supplier to Volkswagen, Nissan, GM and Ford, and recently entered a deal with BMW and Intel to develop a fully driverless car by 2021. Mobileye said it had made $4.7m of adjusted operating profits, some 14 per cent better than expectations, during the second quarter.
Daimler says battery advances make electric trucks viable
Daimler has unveiled an electric truck capable of transporting up to 25 tonnes, putting zero-emission vehicles on a par with conventional-engine variants in terms of payload and performance. So far, the weight and cost of batteries as well as their limited power have prevented electric drives from being used to transport heavy loads.
Daimler, which owns the Mercedes-Benz brand, said on Wednesday electric trucks could be ready from the start of the next decade, thanks to major advances in battery technology. Between 1997 and 2025, battery costs are likely to fall by 60 percent, Daimler said. At the same time, the energy density of batteries, and hence their power, will increase by around 250 percent. The higher energy density of batteries has opened the door for new players to enter the truck market. Electric carmaker Tesla, for example, has said it will unveil a commercial truck next year.
Volkswagen has emissions-cheating fix ready
Volkswagen’s plan to fix most of its 2-liter diesel engines that cheat on emissions tests includes a computer software update and a larger catalytic converter to trap harmful nitrogen oxide, and it may not hurt mileage or performance, according to dealers who were briefed by executives on the matter. Limited details of the plan were made public at a regional dealer meeting in Newark, New Jersey, by Volkswagen of America chief operating officer Mark McNabb, said two dealers who asked not to be identified because the plan hasn’t been made public.
One dealer said the group was told early testing of a small sample of repaired cars showed the fix made “no discernible difference” in the cars’ mileage, horsepower or torque. Both dealers said they were told more testing was needed, and the plans still had to be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
Brexit will not stall us, says car and plane parts maker
GKN, the car and aircraft parts maker, said it planned to cut costs by £30 million a year and divert efforts to its core automotive and aviation divisions as it brushed off Brexit threats. While its core automotive and aviation reported improved revenue in the half, its land systems division, which makes parts for agricultural and construction machinery, suffered a 6 per cent decline in sales.
Overall, pre-profits were down 14 per cent at £182 million in the first half, although GKN said stripping out one-off costs and benefits profit was up 12 per cent at £344 million, on revenue 17 per cent higher at £4.5 billion. The dividend was raised 2 per cent to 2.95p a share. Britain accounts for about 10 per cent, or 6,000, of GKN’s workforce and the company generates about 12 per cent of its sales here.
“The Brexit effect on European confidence looks like it will be there but that will just reduce growth, not eliminate growth.” Nigel Stein, GKN chief executive, said.
The Daily Mail
David Lloyd plans to crowdfund £500,000 to launch a UK-wide network of electric car charging stations in supermarkets and coffee shops
Leisure entrepreneur David Lloyd is entering the electric car market by launching a company called EV Hub to provide a UK-wide network of charging stations. The centres will include office space and some could be located beside coffee shops where customers could work or relax while waiting for their vehicles.
Lloyd, a former professional tennis player and founder of the David Lloyd Clubs chain, told The Mail on Sunday he plans to raise an initial £500,000 via crowdfunding to launch a network of five hubs in London. He will then look for further investment to roll them out across the country.