Pound Sterling falls to a new low ahead of PM Theresa May’s Brexit Speech


Brexit talks
Number 10/flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com — Mon, Jan 16, 2017) London, Uk —

“Even if the pound recovers somewhat in London, it seems as though the realities of a hard Brexit are still not fully priced in,” said Sean Callow, senior strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in Sydney. “It is difficult to make the case for the pound to avoid testing, probably breaking, the ‘flash crash’ lows in coming weeks.”

The pound fell as much as 1.6 percent on Monday to $1.1986, the weakest level since Oct. 7 when it slid to $1.1841, the least since 1985. Sterling was 1 percent down at $1.2065 as of 11:14 a.m. in London.

Government officials said they expected May’s speech to cause a further “market correction,” according to the Sunday Times, which didn’t say how it obtained the information. The prime minister’s office declined to comment on the report when contacted by Bloomberg.

Sterling pared its losses in London trading as the U.K. Treasury was said to be drawing up plans to reassure investors following May’s speech on Tuesday and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump told the Times he will offer the U.K. a “fair” trade deal.

One-month implied volatility for the pound climbed to as high as 13.3325 percent, the most since Oct. 12, from 12.0250 percent Friday, as traders sought protection against more turmoil. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney will speak at 6:30 p.m. in London Monday before the release of December inflation data on Tuesday.

The pound may come under broad‑based downside pressure this week as faster inflation is expected to push U.K. real interest rates further below zero, according to Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Leveraged funds boosted net short positions on sterling to 61,273 contracts as of Jan. 10, double the amount from the week ending Dec. 20, according to data from U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

May’s speech isn’t the only approaching Brexit milestone. “The pound risks a violent rally to cover short positions if the U.K. Supreme Court rules to support Parliament,” said Naohiro Nomoto, manager of foreign-exchange trading at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in Tokyo.

The pound is prone to outsized swings during Asian trading, with the most extreme being October’s flash crash when the currency tumbled over 6 percent within minutes. While an investigation by the Bank for International Settlements released last week found no single cause for the event, it highlighted that the time of day played a significant role in making the market more vulnerable.

By David Goodman and Masaki Kondo

Britain’s Major high streets chains seeing improved positive sales of the festive period

It seems like a long time ago now – but Christmas is still bringing cheer for Britain's high streets. Major chains including John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Tesco have been totting up their sales for the festive period, and most have made an improvement on the year before. Will it last though?

Lloyds internet banking customers struggling to access their accounts online

Elliott Brown/flickr.com

Internet banking customer endure further frustration accessing accounts as bosses say they can not give a timescale for a fix.

Lloyds Banking Group says it is still working to identify a glitch that has left internet banking customers struggling to access their accounts online for a second day.

The problems – quite common within the industry – first arose on Wednesday morning, with account holders taking to social media to vent their frustrations ever since.

Lloyds said the problem appeared to be intermittent and was being seen across its network of banks including Halifax and Bank of Scotland, with both apps and online access suffering from the fault.

It is understood that some people unable to access their money have later been able to log in.

The bank said the vast majority of its customers did not seem to be impacted but the timescale for a fix was unclear.

“We have been having intermittent service issues with internet banking.

“We are working hard to restore a full service for our customers and apologise for any inconvenience caused,” a spokeswoman said.

Lloyds, as a group, has six million digital customers and they are not the first to suffer from such banking issues.

A series of industry failures – both online and in cash machine operations – has prompted a backlash from consumer groups, regulators and MPs (BSE: MPSLTD.BO – news) who have urged the sector to increase spending on their systems' resilience.

RBS (LSE: RBS.L – news) is among banks to have been fined for poor performance.

It was handed a £56m penalty over a computer outage in 2012.

Tesco Bank is the lender to have attracted regulatory interest most recently.

Sky News revealed on Wednesday how it had called in auditors to investigate the hacking attack last autumn in which customers had £2.5m fraudulently taken.

The Financial Times reported last month that the Financial Conduct Authority was exploring whether Tesco Bank had exposed its customers to fraud by issuing debit cards with sequential numbers.

American Apparel purchased at Auction for approximately $88 million in cash

Canadian apparel maker Gildan Activewear has reportedly won a bankruptcy auction to buy U.S. fashion retailer American Apparel for approximately $88 million in cash. The purchase of the LA-based brand is now subject to approval from a bankruptcy court, which Gildan expects to be issued on Thursday. Under the deal, Gildan will acquire all intellectual property rights related to the American Apparel brand as well as manufacturing equipment – but the purchase does not include any of the brand's 110 retail stores. After the company's turnaround plan failed, American Apparel filed its second Chapter 11 in November, having amassed apporximately $177 million in debt. According to Raymond James analysts, the deal seems promising for the Canadian manufacturer, saying “With Gildan dominating in the basics category of the $4.5 billion print-wear market, the fashion and performance categories represent particularly attractive growth opportunities.”

Sainsbury’s beat forecasts for Christmas trading, Argos shines

Elliott Brown

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Wed, 11 Jan, 2017) London, UK – –

Britain's Sainsbury's (SBRY.L) beat forecasts for Christmas trading in its core supermarket business and was upbeat on prospects for its newly acquired Argos general merchandise division after that also surpassed expectations.

Sainsbury's, Britain's second biggest supermarket chain, joins fourth-ranked Morrisons (MRW.L) in reporting better-than-expected Christmas trading and its shares gained as much as 7 percent on Wednesday.

Industry data has indicated that market leader Tesco (TSCO.L), which gives an update on Thursday, has also fared well, showing shoppers were prepared to splash out on food over the holiday season.

A strong Christmas will come as a relief to the big four players in the industry following several years of turmoil sparked by the rise of German discounters Aldi [ALDIEI.UL] and Lidl [LIDUK.UL].

Those two challengers have also reported robust festive numbers as the overall market grew and reaffirmed their commitment to ultra-low prices.

Some analysts said the going could get tougher for Sainsbury's as price pressures rise in Britain.

“We remain of the view that challenges will be on the increase for both sides of the group, given a combination of sourcing pressures and a more challenged consumer,” said analysts at Jefferies, who have a “hold” stance on the stock.

Sainsbury's CEO Mike Coupe said the grocery market remained intensely competitive with the impact of the devaluation of sterling since last June's Brexit vote still uncertain.

Analysts have also expressed concern about a potential squeeze on consumer spending this year as inflation begins to erode real earnings growth.

Coupe said Sainsbury's was well placed to navigate external pressures because it has invested in areas of the business that are still showing strong growth, namely convenience and online, fresh food, clothing and general merchandise.

“We have reasons to believe…We have confidence in our strategy,” he told reporters.


Sainsbury's shares have increased 8.5 percent over the last year, well below rises of 35 percent and 50 percent for Tesco and Morrisons respectively.

However, while Tesco and Morrisons are both in turnaround mode after going through disastrous periods, Sainsbury's market share has remained broadly stable over the last five years.

Sainsbury's stock is relatively cheap compared to rivals. It has a forward price earnings ratio of around 12.8 times, compared to around 21 for Tesco and Morrisons, the biggest discount in at least a decade.

Enhancing its online logistics and general merchandise range, Sainsbury's last year bought Argos-owner Home Retail for 1.1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion).

Some investors fear the Argos takeover unwisely increases Sainsbury's exposure to higher import costs given sterling's depreciation. However, Coupe said Argos's Christmas trading had vindicated the deal.

“If anything the performance over Christmas has reinforced, if not added, to our confidence in our ability to execute, he said.

Argos' like-for-like sales increased 4.0 percent, well ahead of analysts' consensus of 1.5 percent.
Sainsbury's said sales at its grocery stores open over a year rose 0.1 percent, excluding fuel, in the 15 weeks to Jan. 7, the third quarter of the company's financial year.

Although only a modest increase, that was ahead of analysts' average forecast of a fall of 0.8 percent and a second quarter decline of 1.1 percent.

It was also Sainsbury's first positive like-for-like sales performance since the fourth quarter of its 2015-16 year.

Sainsbury's highlighted strong sales growth from its online groceries and convenience operations over the quarter, up over 9 and 6 percent, while sales of clothing and general merchandise were also up 10 percent and 3 percent.

Sainsbury's plans to introduce around 250 Argos outlets into its supermarkets over three years. It currently has 30, including 10 that have been operating for over a year.

Interim finance chief Ed Barker said he was comfortable with analysts average pretax profit forecast for 2016-17 of 573 million pounds, which would be a third straight year of decline.

By James Davey


Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn discusses the new Rogue Sport

Carlos Ghosn, chairman, president and chief executive officer at Nissan, discusses the new Rogue Sport, autonomous driving, electric vehicles and changes for the auto industry under the incoming Trump administration. He speaks with David Westin on “Bloomberg Markets” from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

Just Eat investors slim down their shareholdings as growth slows

Food Wine
aJ Gazmen/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 10 Jan, 2017) London, Uk – –

Just Eat, the takeaway app, failed to meet the City's appetite for growth over Christmas, prompting investors to slim down their shareholdings.

The company said in its annual update ahead of full-year results in March that overall orders across its territories were up 36pc in 2016, on a like-for-like basis. In the UK, the FTSE 250 company's main market, order growth was 31pc.

Analysts were disappointed by the figures, despite Just Eat's statement that it was in a “strong position to deliver full-year results in line with our previous financial guidance”.

Most analysts were expecting Just Eat to beat its guidance, however.

Barclays said the overall growth implied that Just Eat had fallen 400,000 orders short of its its expectations of 137 million. The miss was caused by a bigger than expected dip in takeaway demand over the Christmas period, the analysts claimed, and a further slowdown in the company's rapid expansion.

The non-UK takeaway business caused particular concern, with estimates suggesting orders had not grown sequentially for several quarters and that the end of 2016 was well below expectations.

Just Eat shares were trading down more than 6.5pc on the back of the update. David Buttress, its chief executive, said the board had continuing confidence in the business going into 2017.

Jefferies said that despite the disappointment there were “no real knocks” to the case for investment in Just Eat from the update. It said the company's slowing growth was “just a reality check as the guidance upgrade conveyor belt comes to a stop”.

Competition in the food delivery market has been intensifying, with venture capital-backed rivals to Just Eat – including Deliveroo and Uber – making headway.

Just Eat, which made its stock market debut nearly three years ago at 260p per share and now stands at more than double that, has responded by seeking to buy up smaller players.

Last month it announced a takeover of Hungry House, once its main challenger in the UK, for up to £240m. The deal is yet to face scrutiny from the Competition and Markets Authority.

By Christopher Williams

Scrapping Mexico The Plant Is a Business Decision: Bill Ford

Ford Chairman Bill Ford discusses the Detroit auto industry, Donald Trump’s trade policies, the president-elect’s nomination of Elaine Chao for Transportation secretary and the company’s decision to scrap plans for a new plant in Mexico. He speaks with David Westin on “Bloomberg Markets” from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan

London Underground staff strike cause travel chaos to millions

Millions of London underground passengers have been hit by travel chaos after unions called a 24-hour strike.

The industrial action is part of a long-running dispute over ticket office closures.

Unions say over 800 jobs have been axed and allege it has resulted in staff being abused by angry passengers queuing at ticket machines.

The city's mayor Sadiq Khan has criticised the walkout.

Aerial footage from the UK capital showed commuters struggling to get to work.

Harrods landmark London store came under protest over waiters’ tips

Saturday was a busy old day at Harrods – but for all the wrong reasons as far as the luxury department store is concerned. A protest outside the shop's entrance brought together disgruntled restaurant staff, complaining that up to 75 percent of the tips they receive in one of London's best-known landmarks are being kept by its Qatari owner.

Interior design and technology of the Toyota Concept-i

Toyota CALTY designer lead Ian Cartabiano walks through the interior design and technology of the Concept-i concept at CES 2017. With scissor-doors, autonomous driving, and an innovative artificial intelligence co-driver, it's a preview of the sort of technology that Toyota believes could be in the emotionally-engaged cars of tomorrow.