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BBC news logoUK unemployment rate holds steady

The UK jobless rate held steady at a near 11-year low of 4.9% in the three months to August, figures show. Unemployment saw a “small” rise of 10,000 to 1.66 million, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

“These figures show that employment continued to grow over the summer and vacancies remain at high levels, suggesting continuing confidence in the economy,” the ONS said.

Average weekly earnings grew by 2.3%, a slight fall from the previous month.

The employment figures sent the pound up against the dollar and euro, rising back above $1.23 and €1.12.

The figures also showed the total number of people in jobs remained at a record high of 31.8 million.

In the three months to August, 73.4% of women were either in work or seeking jobs, the highest rate since records began in 1971, the ONS said.

Nevertheless, employment Minister Damian Hinds welcomed the data, but said: “There’s more to do, particularly when it comes to supporting young people into employment.”

UK inflation rises to 1.0% in September

The UK inflation rate rose to 1.0% in September, up from 0.6% in August, according to official figures. It is the biggest monthly rise in the cost of household items in more than two years, the Office for National Statistics said.

Rising prices for clothing, overnight hotel stays and motor fuels led to the rise in the Consumer Prices Index. Economists had forecast inflation of 0.9% as they expected the weaker pound to make imports more expensive, however, the ONS said there was “no explicit evidence” the weaker pound was the reason for higher prices. The Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, which includes mortgage interest payments, rose to 2.0% in September from 1.8% in August.

Tesla told to dump Autopilot brand in Germany

Tesla has been told to drop the Autopilot brand name, which it uses to promote its driver-assistance software, in Germany. The Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) confirmed it had told Tesla to scrap the “misleading” term as it could give customers “incorrect expectations” that they could stop concentrating on the road and let Autopilot take over completely. Tesla said it had always told drivers to keep their hands on the wheel.

The Autopilot software helps cars:

  • stay in lane automatically
  • adjust their speed in reaction to other vehicles
  • change lane without the driver’s intervention

Source: BBC

guardian logoUK retailers post strongest quarter since 2014 after Brexit vote

UK retail sales were a little weaker than expected last month but there’s still no sign of a serious Brexit slowdown. Retail sales were flat in September, missing expectations of a 0.3% increase, positively, on an annual basis, they grew by 4.1%. August’s figures have been revised higher, to show blistering annual growth of 6.6%.  And that means retail sales in the last quarter were 5.4% higher than a year ago – the strongest growth since late 2014.

ONS senior statistician Kate Davies on today’s retail sales report: “Retail sales in September 2016 were unchanged from August 2016, however the underlying trend is one of strength, suggesting consumer confidence has remained steady since June’s referendum.

Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said: “Retail sales were still very strong over the third quarter as a whole, and there could have been an element of some consumers taking a breather after splashing out over the summer. Retail sales volumes still grew 1.8% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter, which was the best performance since the fourth quarter of 2014.”

Source: The Guardian

TheTimesApple’s self-driving car runs into a dead end

Apple’s success in transforming the way we communicate may not be replicated on the road. The company appears to have put its plans for self-driving cars on ice. The American tech giant has reportedly reassigned or dismissed hundreds of members of its 1,000-strong car team, known as Project Titan, which was responsible for developing the vehicles of the future. Instead, the company is said to be exploring the possibility of partnering with existing carmakers rather than building its own vehicles.

Last month, Apple itself was said to be in talks with McLaren, the British-based based motor-racing company, with a view to making a £1 billion bid that would help to speed up its development of vehicles to rival Google and Uber. Those talks have reportedly been abandoned.

The road to a self-driving future may be more treacherous than many thought, not least because tech investors, who are used to fat profit margins, may start to baulk at the car industry’s margins of less than 10 per cent, Bloomberg noted.

Source: The Times

Posted by Sue Robinson on 21/10/2016