IMF lowered growth forecasts It lowered its expectations for global growth by 0.3 percentage points for both 2015 and 2016 and said that low oil prices will not be enough to boost the world economy. (FT)
Swissie casualties Last week's violent swing in the Swiss franc continues to wreak havoc. A leading European foreign exchange filed for administration and a Danish bank admitted to facing heavy losses. The UK's Financial Conduct authority has also asked currency brokers to report on the impact the Swiss move had on their balance sheets, in an attempt to assess the damage on the industry. (FT)
Denmark's rate cut The Danish central bank cut interest rates to a record low in anticipation of currency speculators on the hunt for their next target after Switzerland ditched its defence of the franc. Investors have been eyeing up Denmark's strict peg to the euro since the cap was ended on the franc-euro exchange rate. (FT)
Average rents increased by 3% during the course of 2014, despite falling by 0.1% on a monthly basis, the latest Buy-to-Let Index from Your Move and Reeds Rains has revealed. The average rent paid across England & Wales stood at Â£767 in December, up from Â£745 in December 2013, but down marginally from the average of Â£768 recorded in November. Nonetheless, such strong annual growth reflects growing demand and a divergence from usual norms, with rents typically falling in December. Even though that happened, it was by much less than usual, with both demand and rents higher than normally expected. This overall improvement has helped boost average annual returns to 11.1% - equating to Â£18,893 over the 12 months - slightly lower than the 12.0% yield registered in November but far higher than December 2013 when total returns stood at 9.2%.
According to The Independent, the North-South divide in England has widened significantly in the past decade, with southern English cities driving the economic recovery while many in the North lose jobs and stagnate. Citing a report, the newspaper wrote that for every 12 new private sector jobs created in cities in the South over the past 10 years, one private sector job has disappeared in the rest of Britain.
The Guardian has said that nearly four out of 10 households with children, or 8.1 million people, live below an income level regarded by the public as the minimum needed to participate in society, according to new research commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The number of those on less than the so-called minimum income threshold in 2012/13 was up by more than a third from 5.9 million in 2008/09, the charity says.
Building societies under pressure from mounting regulation: Building societies are coming under mounting pressure from a wave of regulation that is hitting business volumes across the sector, according to a report by the Confederation of British Industry and PwC
House purchase lending stalled in the second half of last year, figures from e.surv have revealed, with H2 2014 seeing 8.4% fewer loans approved than H1. There were a total of 370,184 house purchase approvals in H2 2014, a drop of around 34,000 from H1 when 404,058 loans were approved.
On a monthly basis, total house purchase approvals for December stood at 60,217, a 16.6% drop from the 71,504 recorded in December 2013. However, it posts a month-on-month increase of 2.0% from the approval total of 59,029 seen in November, the first increase in five months and a sharp turnaround from September when a drop of 4.4% was recorded. Analysis suggests that lending recovery has become subdued following significant regulatory change in the past 12 months, with activity unable to remain at the post-recession highs seen in H2 2013.
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