UK retail sales beat forecasts

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3036239_high-street-oxford-streetUK retail sales grew faster than expected in June, as warmer weather sent Brits racing to the shops.
That’s according to the Office for National Statistics, which has just reported that the amount of stuff bought in the shops last month rose by 0.6%. The City had expected a 0.4% gain, following a 1.2% decline in May.
It suggest that consumer spending is holding up, even though rising inflation is eating into household incomes.
The are the key points from the ONS:
- In the 3 months to June 2017, the quantity bought (volume) in the retail industry is estimated to have increased by 1.5%, with increases seen across all store types.
- The growth for Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2017 follows a decline of 1.4% in Quarter 1 (Jan Mar) 2017, meaning we are broadly at the same level as at the start of 2017.
- Compared with May 2017, the quantity bought increased by 0.6%, with non-food stores providing the main contribution.
- Feedback from retailers suggests that warmer weather in addition to the introduction of summer clothing helped boost clothing sales.
- Average store prices (including petrol stations) increased by 2.7% on the year following a rise of 3.2% in May 2017; the fall is a consequence of slowing fuel prices.
- Online sales (excluding automotive fuel) increased year-on-year by 15.9% and by 1.8% on the month, accounting for approximately 16.2% of all retail spending.
More information at: www.theguardian.com

The International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS 2017 opened its doors in Russia.

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MAKS-2017_bloc_engThe International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS which holds one of the leading positions among the world’s largest aviation forums opened its doors for official guests in Russia.

The main objective of MAKS is to demonstrate achievements of Russian high tech and receptiveness of the domestic Russian market to joint projects with foreign partners.

During MAKS, top Russian officials are available for business communication. MAKS offers a unique opportunity to those involved in the aviation and space industry business to get to know the opinion of decision-makers generating decisions on key issues related to the development, production and sale of aviation equipment and weapons.

MAKS provides a comprehensive insight into the priorities and achievements of the Russian aerospace industry. Some prototypes of aircrafts and combat systems as well as experimental units that for one reason or another cannot be shown abroad, are demonstrate exclusively at MAKS.

MAKS provides a unique opportunity to experts in the field and businessmen for establishing multi-level connections, further developing industrial cooperation and finding new business partners. The key role of the Aviation Salon as a generator of new alliances and productive ideas is recognized worldwide.

MAKS is held in Zhukovsky – the town synonymous to the aviation science and technology – at the airfield of the country’s central test base – Gromov Flight Research Institute. Guests of the Salon can familiarize themselves with the biggest Russian scientific, production and experimental hubs located in the close proximity.

Scientific conferences and round tables held under the auspices of the State Scientific Center of Russia – TsAGI (the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute) constitute a significant part of the MAKS program. This is where scientists and experts can exchange opinions about most heated topics of the current and future development of the aviation and space industries.

Summary of the 26th International Financial Congress

Пленарная сессия: Финансы для развития	 | Plenary session: Finance for Development

piterThe 26th International Financial Congress has ended in St. Petersburg. The main theme of the IFC – ‘Finances for Development’ – established the main agenda item – searching for a balance between the goals of developing and ensuring financial stability and the importance of the role of central banks in creating conditions for sustainable growth. This theme was reflected in the new signature style of the event. The IFC logo contained the image of St. Petersburg’s drawbridges, symbolizing development and dialogue and the search for common ground between business and regulators as well as between different sectors of the financial market.
Roughly 1,300 participants from 35 countries, including EAEU countries, China, the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, and Italy, among others, came together to discuss the financial system’s contribution to the country’s economic development of the country and measures that can be taken in this regard. They included representatives of banks, insurance companies, pension funds, other financial market participants, the central banks of different countries, international financial institutions, and the media.
Participants in this year’s international sessions included former heads and current senior executives from the central banks of Malaysia, Poland, Finland, Croatia, and the Czech Republic, including Economist and Chairman of the Central Bank of Malaysia (2000–2016) Zeti Akhtar Aziz; former Prime Minister, former Minister of Finance, and former Chairman of the National Bank of Poland Marek Belka; Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International and former Chairman of the Bank of Israel (1991–2000) Jacob Frenkel; and Professor of World Economics at Brandeis International Business School Stephen Cecchetti.
The Russian financial sector was represented by the Governor of the Russian Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina; Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets Anatoly Aksakov; President and Chairman of the Board of Sberbank German Gref; and President and Chairman of the Management Board of VTB Bank Andrei Kostin, among others.
The Congress business programme touched upon all aspects of the financial market. The IFC 2017 discussions focused on the development of the economy and finance, monetary and credit policy, banking business, payment system, pension savings market, insurance, microfinancing, financial technologies, financial accessibility, and financial literacy, among many other issues.
In her speech, Governor of the Russian Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina focused on the bank’s strategic objectives and plans for the next five years.
“Today is a time for focusing on this planning horizon and determining the overall strategy for the development of the financial market because right now our economy is at the start of a new cycle”, she said. “The Russian economy has resumed positive growth trends, albeit small ones for now. This year we expect growth of 1.3–1.8%. The agenda of stabilization and adaptation to external shocks that dominated in recent years has been naturally replaced by a discussion on how to launch the engine of economic development. This is precisely why the theme of this year’s congress is ‘Finances for Development’”, she said.
More information about the Russian national financial market infrastructure including banking sector, Fintech development, micro-finance products, financial regulation and supervision and other key issues could be found here: www.ibcongress.ru.

Major events of the Roscongress Foundation’s in Russia

The Eastern Economic Forum will take place on 6–7 September, 2017 on the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) on Russky Island (Vladivostok).

The Eastern Economic Forum is a unique platform for cooperation between representatives from the worlds of business and politics, as well as members of the expert and media communities from Russia and the Asia-Pacific region. Key areas of focus for the Forum’s 2017 programme will include strengthening business links in the Asia-Pacific region, an in-depth expert appraisal of the Russian Far East’s economic potential, and increasing the region’s competitiveness and financial appeal. The new conditions for investment in the region, where the entire government administrative structure is geared towards meeting the needs of business, will also be presented.

The VI Eurasian Forumin Verona will take place on October 19-20, 2017.

The Forum has brought together more than 600 delegates from Austria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belgium, Belarus, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, China, Malta, Mongolia, Russia, Slovakia, France and Switzerland. Among the participants there were representatives of the business community, political and public circles, diplomats, experts and journalists.

The delegates have discussed new projects, models of interstate interaction and economic cooperation in the modern context; they deliberated over the development aspects of the innovative infrastructure of the Greater Eurasia, as well as cooperation in energy, industry, technology, transport, agriculture and agroindustry. The participants have also touched upon the development of the geopolitical environment in Eurasia and the prospects of interregional cooperation between different countries.

The ‘Russian Energy Week’ Energy Efficiency and Energy Development International Forum will take place in Moscow from October 4-7, 2017.

The goal of the event is to demonstrate the prospects of the Russian fuel and energy industry and realize the potential of international cooperation. Six main pillars have been identified for the Forum’s business programme: the development of the gas, oil, and coal industries, petrochemicals, and electricity as well as energy conservation and improving energy efficiency. The Forum will be attended by the heads of major global and Russian energy companies.

The XIX World Festival of Youth and Studentswill take place on October 14–22, 2017, the main events taking place at the Sochi Olympic Park.

World Festival of Youth and Students will be the largest event in the field of international youth cooperation and will bring together more than 20,000 of young people from 150 countries around the world. XIX Festival should be a new milestone in international cooperation, to unite the future generations around the ideas of peace and friendship, keeping the history of the festival movement!

This is a platform for dialogue, global form of communication: through discussions, cultural programs, sports, through free communication to find ways to confront the challenges that younger generation is facing today.

World Youth Festival will unite the community of young leaders in various fields – representatives of NGOs, youth, who achieved success in science, art, sports, pedagogy, IT, politics, and best representatives of the student community, compatriots and foreigners who are interested in Russian culture.

The Russian investment forumwill take place in Sochi on February 15-16, 2018

The Russian investment forum is a traditional platform for presenting Russia’s investment and economic potential. The Forum is held with the participation of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev.

St. Petersburg International Economic Forum will take place in St.Petersburg on May 24-26, 2018

St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is an efficient platform for discussions and deliberations in search of solutions to global, regional, and national challenges and pressing issues in a large number of areas. SPIEF’2017 brought together a record number of participants – over 14,000 business representatives, heads of international organizations, officials, experts, scientists, and media from more than 143 countries.

Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation, Deputy Chairman of the Organizing Committee – Executive Secretary Anton Kobyakov said: “In 2018, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum will once again demonstrate Russia’s readiness to hold a mutually beneficial dialogue with the international community on the key issues of the global agenda concerning the economy and finances”.

A&E cuts will hit 23m people, British Medical Association says

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hospitalNearly 23 million people in England – more than 40% of the population – could be affected by proposed cuts to A&E departments, doctors are warning.
The analysis of NHS plans by the British Medical Association also warned the changes were being rushed through without the evidence they will work.
The proposals have been put forward by local managers seeking to make savings under the direction of NHS England.
Bosses have argued services in the community will be boosted in return.
Under the so-called “sustainability and transformation programme” (STP), England has been divided into 44 areas and each asked to come up with its own proposals.
After analysing local plans, the BMA found:
18 of them, covering a population of 22.9 million, involved the closing or downgrading of an A&E department
14 of them, responsible for 17.6 million patients, propose closing or merging a hospital
13 of them, covering a population of 14.7 million, have put forward closing hospital beds
As the STP areas cover quite wider geographies with several hospitals, a cut may not mean everyone sees their nearest hospital affected.
It could, for example, have an impact on the hospital in the next county or town. But the BMA argues everyone will be affected as a closure in one part of the area means a knock-on for other sites in the patch.
A separate exercise, involving freedom of information requests which half of STPs answered, found more than 150 new jobs had been created to run them, at a cost of £8.5m a year. Another £1m was being spent on agency staff and consultants, the BMA said.
BMA leader Dr Mark Porter said the money was being “wasted” and the changes “rushed through without appropriate evidence”.
But NHS England rejected the criticism. It argues changes will only take place when there is a viable plan to improve care elsewhere whether through centralising care at a nearby hospital or extending community services, such as with longer GP opening.
The STP process was launched at the start of 2016 with a view to identifying some of the £22bn of savings that are needed by 2020.
NHS England has said by doing more in the community or centralising specialist hospital care, such as stroke services, you can make services more efficient.
Public consultations on the most major changes are expected to get under way later this year.
A spokesman for NHS England said: “Rather than just commenting from the sidelines, local health and care leaders and clinicians are coming together to actually try and solve some deep-seated problems by identifying practical ways to improve services.”
More information at: www.bbc.co.uk

Body Shop bought by Brazil’s Natura

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bodyshopBrazilian cosmetics group Natura has confirmed it is buying UK cosmetics chain The Body Shop. Natura is thought to be paying 1bn euros ($1.1bn; £880m) to the French group L’Oreal, which has owned The Body Shop for the past 11 years.
The Body Shop was established in the UK in 1976 by the late Dame Anita Roddick.
She and her company pioneered the manufacturing and selling of cosmetics that have not been tested on animals and which use natural ingredients.
The Body Shop is now one of the world’s biggest cosmetics chains with 3,000 stores in 66 countries L’Oreal bought the business for around 940m euros in 2006 at the height of its success but it has failed to thrive since.
For its part, Natura is Brazil’s top business in cosmetics, perfumes and toiletries. It sells products in seven Latin American countries as well as in France. Echoing the ethical stance of The Body Shop, Natura says its aim is to “improve the environment and society”. The proposed deal with L’Oreal was first unveiled earlier in June 2017.
At the time, the L’Oreal chairman and chief executive, Jean-Paul Agon said Natura was “the best new owner we could imagine to nurture the brand DNA around naturality and ethics”.
The deal still needs to be approved by the Brazilian and US regulatory authorities.
Selling cosmetics in Brazil is a tough business: the country is huge, consumers are demanding and often live in very remote areas, and competition is cut-throat. But it pays off, as it makes up the fourth largest cosmetics market in the world. Natura is the local leader but now it wants to become global. In 2013 it started to branch out, when it bought the Australian group Aesop.
Now with the acquisition of The Body Shop, Natura will try to test its local expertise at a global level.
More information at: www.bbc.co.uk

Watchdog cracks down on £7tn investment industry charges

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fca_Investors must be quoted an “all-in fee” to make charges more transparent in a shake-up of the investment sector, the City regulator has confirmed.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that the asset management sector held the savings of millions of people.
Yet despite “sustained, high profits” for these firms, there was weak price competition and no link between higher fees and better performance.
Fund managers will face stricter rules following the regulator’s review.
“In the current low-interest environment, it is vital we help people earn a return on their savings. We need a competitive sector, attracting investment into the United Kingdom which also works well for the people who rely on it for their financial well-being,” said Andrew Bailey, FCA chief executive.
“We have put together a comprehensive package of reforms that will make competition work better and help both retail and institutional investors to make their money work well for them.”
This includes greater price clarity, with each firm declaring a complete annual fee, rather than the current mix of different charges. The FCA found that firms it sampled had an average profit margin of 36%.
The FCA also said it would launch a review of investment platforms – an announcement that led the share prices of some of the largest operators to fall.
The FCA has been investigating the sector and published its final report on Wednesday. There was a strong response from the industry following the interim report, published in November. Yet the headline measures announced in the interim report have now been confirmed.
Fund managers – who pick the stocks they think will succeed – will have a stronger duty to act in the best interests of investors. They will also be required to appoint a minimum of two independent directors to their boards.
Standardised disclosure of costs and charges will be required for institutional investors, although not for individual investors. There will not be a price cap.
The FCA will also recommend to the Department for Work and Pensions that pension schemes should be allowed to pool their investments in order to seek out better returns.
The Investment Association, which represents the sector, welcomed the report but said caution was needed on implementation.
“Asset managers compete every day to attract clients and investors and are focused on delivering the best outcomes for them. Our priority now is to have a meaningful dialogue with the regulator about the implementation of the recommendations, to ensure savers are getting the best possible deal,” said chief executive Chris Cummings.
“A pragmatic timetable is key to achieving this, given the major regulatory changes already in the pipeline and the preparations for Brexit.”
More Information at: www.bbc.co.uk

Singhsbury’s store becomes Morrisinghs after legal threat

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morringsignsA shopkeeper has dealt with the threat of legal action from Sainsbury’s over his similarly named store by changing its name from Singhsbury’s to Morrisinghs.
Jel Singh Nagra, 42, has changed the name of his convenience store in West Allotment, North Tyneside, after Sainsbury’s said its original name, Singhsbury’s, was too similar to its own branding.
In 2012 Nagra received a letter from Sainsbury’s complaining about the design and font of the shop’s logo as well as the name, he said.
Nagra admitted he was egged on by his customers to riff on one of Sainsbury’s most bitter supermarket rivals when coming up with the new name: “People up here love banter. Some of the locals just come in the shop for the banter.”
He said the new name was “just a laugh” and he hoped it would “put West Allotment on the map”.
Nagra’s family took the original sign down when he was away on his honeymoon.
Replacing one potentially copyright infringing branding with another one could be a risk for Nagra. But a spokesperson for Morrison’s suggested it was flattered by Nagra’s name choice, saying: “Mr Nagra and his customers obviously have good taste so we wish him well.”
A picture of the new-look shop has been shared on Facebook more than 10,000 times since it was posted on Monday night. Nagra had the press at his shop all day on Tuesday and his friends called him when they spotted him on Sky News. Nagra said he “couldn’t believe the attention”.
There are a number of Singhbury’s stores throughout the UK from Edinburgh to the Black Country, and there are several in London.
The owner of Singhbury’s supermarket in Seven Sisters, north London, who did not want to be named, said he has never received a letter from Sainsbury’s regarding the name.
Singhsbury’s Superstore in Paddington, west London, is a few hundred yards from a Sainsbury’s store on the same road. Its owners also say they have never received any legal correspondence from the supermarket.
Sainsbury’s told the Guardian: “We were grateful to Mr Nagra for removing the sign.”
More information at: www.theguardian.com

Arrests in UK over Microsoft scam calls

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itscamFour people have been arrested in the UK following an investigation into scams involving calls from fraudsters pretending to be IT support staff. It follows two years of work by City of London Police and Microsoft, who teamed up to tackle the problem. The perpetrators commonly pretend to be phoning on behalf of the US company.
The inquiry indicated that many of the calls originated in India but two men and two women in England have been accused of involvement.
They include a 29-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman from Woking in Surrey, who were arrested on suspicion of fraud. Both have been bailed.
A 37-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman were arrested in South Shields, Tyneside, on suspicion of fraud. Both were released pending further inquiries.
There were 34,504 computer software service fraud reports made to the UK’s national fraud and cyber-reporting centre, Action Fraud, over the past financial year.
The scammers usually declare that they have detected a fault with their target’s PC and fool victims into giving them remote access to it. They then often install images that appear to show the computer is infected or install malware themselves.
Finally, they demand a fee to fix the issue or otherwise convince the victim to share their bank account details.
Sometimes the target is then contacted again at a later date from someone claiming to work for the same service, who says they are due a refund. If they hand over their bank details again, further money is taken from their account.
n addition to Microsoft, criminals have claimed to have worked for BT and TalkTalk among others.
Action Fraud says the average age of victims is 62 and they typically pay out £600.
“These arrests are just the beginning of our work, making the best use of specialist skills and expertise from Microsoft, local police forces and international partners to tackle a crime that often targets the most vulnerable in our society,” said Commander Dave Clark from City of London Police.
Microsoft has also published advice online for how to avoid being scammed.
“We’d also like to reassure all users of Microsoft software that we will never cold call you out of the blue or use tech support pop ups on websites,” added the firm’s UK director of legal affairs Hugh Milward.
More Information at: www.bbc.co.uk

Co-operative Bank agrees £700m rescue package

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coopbankThe Co-operative Bank has secured a £700m rescue package to stop the lender from being wound up.
Investors have agreed to swap their debt for a stake in the bank.
The bank also said it would to separate its pension fund from the Co-operative Group’s scheme, which has £8bn of liabilities.
The Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority said it had accepted the plan to return the bank to a firm footing.
“Supervisors will remain closely engaged with the bank while the actions announced today are taken forward. Implementation is subject to certain regulatory approvals,” said the PRA, which is responsible for supervising the UK’s banks and insurance companies.
The debt-for-equity swap with hedge funds means that the Co-op Group’s stake in the bank will fall from 20% to about 1%.
The Co-op also said that the relationship agreement between the group and the bank, covering the promotion of bank services to members of the wider business and other matters, “will naturally fall away and come to a formal end in 2020″.
It added that it “is supportive of the plan and intends to vote in favour of the capital raising”.
The Co-op Bank has been been struggling for four years since an abortive attempt to buy 632 branches from Lloyds revealed a £1.5bn hole in its finances.
After failing to find a buyer for the bank, the existing owners, which are predominantly US investment funds, have agreed to write off £443m they are owed and will sell £250m worth of new shares.
The bank, known for its ethical approach, has been under intense supervision from the Bank of England for many months. Wednesday’s injection of fresh money will spare the regulator the job of stepping in to manage a wind-up of the bank.
The investors will also pump £100m into the bank’s pension scheme over the next 10 years to secure its separation from the wider Co-op Group pension scheme.
Despite its troubles, Co-op Bank’s customers have proved loyal, with nearly four million account holders and mortgage borrowers sticking with the bank despite its financial difficulties and a sex and drug scandal involving its former chairman, Methodist minister Paul Flowers.
The bank says it will continue to run itself with the ethical values it has observed since its founding in 1872.
More information at: www.bbc.co.uk