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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Monday, February 27, 2017

No Need to Thank Us……..

UK trade deficit widens in September, official figures show.

The UK trade deficit widened to £5.2bn in September from £3.8bn in August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Exports decreased by £0.2bn, while imports increased by £1.2bn. The widening between imports and exports was in part driven by a record £8.7bn deficit with the European Union. Although the pound fell sharply after the Brexit vote, the ONS said there was little direct evidence so far of currency effects on trade. After June's referendum, the pound fell more than 10% against the dollar and the euro, hitting a 31-year low against the dollar, and lost further ground in October to hit its weakest-ever level against a basket of major currencies. However, ONS statistician Hannah Finselbach said: "So far there is little evidence in the data of the lower pound feeding through into trade volume or prices." Between the April-to-June and July-to-September quarters, the total trade deficit for goods and services narrowed by £1.6bn to £11bn. There was a £4.5bn increase in goods exports and a £3.1bn increase in goods imports between the second and third quarters, partially offset by a £0.1bn decrease in services exports and a £0.3bn decrease in services imports. Some manufacturers reported a jump in foreign demand after the pound's fall, but it can take time for this to show up in trade data. In the three months to September, Britain's economy slowed much less than most economists had expected, with signs that it was supported by continued robust consumer spending.

UK construction weakest in four years, ONS says.

The UK's construction sector recorded its weakest performance in four years in the July-to-September quarter, official figures have shown. Construction volumes fell by 1.1% in the quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. There were large falls in repair work, and these were only partly offset by small rises in infrastructure and public building. The figures measure the first three months following the Brexit vote. The value of all repair and maintenance was 3.6% lower than in the second quarter of the year, which was partially offset by an increase in all new work of 0.3%, said the ONS. Further evidence of a slowdown in the construction industry came from building materials and insulation firm SIG on Friday, as it issued a profit warning and said its chief executive was stepping down. The company said: "Following a slowing of activity around the time of the EU referendum, trading conditions in the UK have continued to soften and competition in the market has intensified." SIG also said that some commercial projects had been delayed.

Brexit: Ed Miliband rejects calls for second referendum.

The former Labour leader told ITV's Peston on Sunday June's Leave vote must be respected and there was "no question" of the UK staying put. Some Labour and Lib Dem MPs have said they will oppose starting formal Brexit talks unless ministers promise a subsequent vote on the eventual deal. Mr Miliband also called for curbs on freedom of movement rules in the UK. The government is appealing against a High Court ruling which stated that it must seek the consent of Parliament before it triggers Article 50 - the mechanism by which member states leave the EU. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said his party will not seek to "frustrate" the Article 50 process but several of his MPs have said they will oppose it if a vote is held in the House of Commons early next year. While supporting calls for a parliamentary vote on Article 50, Mr Miliband said he did not agree with MPs threatening to withhold their support unless certain conditions were met. Despite sympathising with the 48% of Remain voters who felt "angry and frustrated" by the outcome, he said the result could not be overturned. "We had a referendum and we've got to respect the result. We are leaving the EU." Mr Miliband said his focus was on getting the government to reveal more details about its plans and that a parliamentary vote was the best way to do that.

UK inflation rate falls to 0.9% in October.

The UK inflation rate registered a surprise fall in October, although there were signs that the pressure on consumer prices is starting to build. Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation fell to 0.9%, from 1% in September, the Office for National Statistics said. That was below the 1.1% predicted by economists, who said sterling's fall would push October's CPI higher. However, the ONS said factory gate prices and the costs of raw materials rose much faster in October. The price of goods leaving factories rose by 2.1%, faster than expected and the biggest increase since April 2012. And costs faced by producers for raw materials and oil showed a record monthly jump in October, up by 4.6%. "After initially pushing up the prices of raw materials, the recent fall in the value of the pound is now starting to boost the price of goods leaving factories as well," ONS statistician Mike Prestwood said. "However, aside from fuel, there is no clear evidence that these pressures have so far fed through to the prices in shops," he said. The cost of clothing and university tuition fees rose more slowly than in 2015, however, helping to keep inflation in check. The ONS said certain games and toys, overnight hotel stays and non-alcoholic beverages fell in price. But there is an expectation among economists that inflation is set to rise, fuelled by the fall in the value of sterling since the Brexit referendum in June, which has pushed up the cost of imports. On Tuesday, Bank of England governor Mark Carney told the Treasury Committee that "the thinking now is that inflation is going to go above target... We see more inflation coming through in 2017-18, and then a tail in 2019." Inflation has been below the Bank's 2% target for nearly three years. Last year it was zero, the lowest since comparable records began in 1950.

Downing Street dismisses Brexit 'divisions' memo.

Downing Street has "wholeheartedly" rejected comments in a memorandum leaked to the press describing cabinet "divisions" over Brexit. The document, compiled by consultancy firm Deloitte and obtained by the Times newspaper, says Whitehall is working on 500 Brexit-related projects and could need 30,000 extra staff. But the prime minister's spokeswoman said the work had been "unsolicited". And Deloitte said there had been no "access" to Number 10 for the report. No "input from any other government departments" had been received, the company added. The government said the leaked memo - entitled "Brexit Update" of 7 November - had been written by a consultant and was not a Cabinet Office document, as reported in earlier versions of this story. The prime minister's spokeswoman added that someone from the accountancy firm Deloitte had produced it and "the individual is not working for the Cabinet Office on this". The person had never been inside 10 Downing Street and had not engaged with officials since Theresa May had become prime minister, the spokeswoman said. The document identifies cabinet splits between Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary David Davis and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox on one side, and Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark on the other.

All details above from BBC News website.

[As we edge ever closer to Article 50 Day – or as I like to call it ‘Lemming Day’ – we are beginning to hear calls for greater political honesty from the Brexit crowd as to what exactly is going to happen once we officially start the leave process. Well, it’s a bit late now! If both sides of the debate/argument had been more honest with the British public then maybe we wouldn’t be heading to what I’m confident will be a clusterfuck.]

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