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NewspaperUpdate5BBC News

UK interest rates cut to 0.25%

UK interest rates have been cut from 0.5% to 0.25% and the Bank of England has signalled that they could go lower if the economy worsens.

The Bank announced a range of measures to stimulate the UK economy, including a £100bn scheme to force banks to pass on the low interest rate to households and businesses. It will also buy £60bn of UK government bonds and £10bn of corporate bonds.

The Bank has warned that there will be “little growth in GDP in the second half of the year”, although the forecast for 2016 growth has been left unchanged at 2% as a result of stronger-than-expected growth in the first half.

PPI claim deadline proposed for June 2019

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wants to set a June 2019 deadline for people to make claims over mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).

The financial regulator wants the rule for setting the deadline to come into force by the middle of 2017 alongside a public awareness campaign. The FCA will listen to feedback on this and other proposed changes before its consultation closes on 11 October.

Banks have so far paid out £24bn in compensation. The five biggest banks in the UK have set aside £32.6bn to deal with the total compensation bill.

The Times

Slowdown in private car sales as dealers suffer Brexit wobble – NFDA Comment from Sue Robinson

Car buyers slammed on the brakes last month, leading to a 6.1 per cent drop in new private car sales. After rushing into car showrooms at the start of the year, Britons became much more cautious about buying a new vehicle amid fears of an economic slowdown.

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers, noted that the total market is up 2.8 per cent on the year with 1,599,159 sales, with a 4.7 per cent rise in fleet sales and a 1.1 per cent yearly increase in private vehicle registrations. “Many dealers have experienced an improvement on retail demand in July compared to the immediate post-Brexit situation,” she said.

Hammond under pressure to slash VAT and delay tax

The chancellor is facing growing pressure to unleash a package of tax cuts to boost the economy, as he said that he would take “any necessary steps” to avoid a damaging downturn.

Philip Hammond has already been urged to cut VAT, bring forward a major investment spending programme and delay a plan to force employers to pay a new levy to fund apprenticeships. It comes before an autumn statement in which Mr Hammond will face difficult decisions over how to handle falling levels of growth. He has already signalled he will “reset” George Osborne’s plan to eliminate the deficit by 2020. He will now come under pressure to draw up a programme of giveaways in the autumn statement, to complement the Bank of England’s measures designed to stimulate an economy slowing in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Super fuel from artificial leaves ‘is ready to replace oil’

A technology that converts sunlight directly into fuel using “artificial leaves” could become a viable alternative to taking oil from the ground, scientists have said.

In the past weeks, researchers have said that there are now no big technical obstacles to its arrival as a new form of renewable energy. The leaf first splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, and then uses either a biological or chemical process to take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and combine it with the hydrogen to make a fuel.

The advantage in doing so, compared with conventional solar panels, is that the energy is then stored immediately and in a far denser form than a battery can ever achieve. The fuel can also, in theory, be easily converted into a form that can be used in cars.

The Daily Telegraph

France greenlights driverless car trials on public roads

French lawmakers have given the go-ahead for driverless cars to hit the highway on a trial basis, as part of the government’s “New industrial France” plan to make some 34 areas of the economy more competitive on the world stage.  The approval to allow the use of “autonomous vehicles” on the roads came after the Council of Ministers ratified an amendment to the Vienna convention.

From 1968, the UN Vienna Convention on Road Traffic formed the basis of national road regulations in over seventy countries that ratified the treaty. One of the stipulations was that the driver must control his vehicle at all times. The latest amendment, proposed by Environment Minister Segolene Royal and Secretary of State for Transport Alain Vidal, and pushed through by lawmakers Wednesday allows cars to drive autonomously if the driver can override or switch them off at any time.


Mercedes Is About to Unveil an Entire Fleet of Electric Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz is planning its own distinct line of electric vehicles, challenging BMW and Tesla Motors Inc. in a bet that alternative-fuel cars have the potential to become profitable.

Mercedes will create a new sub-brand for the cars, though a name hasn’t been chosen yet, one of the people said. Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in June that the company planned to unveil an electric car at the Paris motor show in September.

Germany’s luxury-market leaders need to show they too can make electric innovations that capture the imagination of buyers, and they’re facing emissions regulations that require low-pollution vehicles. Yet customers in Mercedes’s home market of Germany, in particular, have been sceptical of limited driving range, long charging times, comparatively high prices and at times quirky designs.

Posted by Sue Robinson on 05/08/2016