Business News – 31st May 2017

Please read the business news compiled by the Credit Protection Association on Wednesday 31st May 2017 for its members and visitors.

Teresa May’s election landslide in doubt as poll lead slips

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s ability to deliver a landslide majority in next weeks election was in doubt yesterday after two more opinion polls showed the vote could be much tighter than previously thought. A total of seven polls carried out since the May 22 Manchester attack have shown the Conservative lead over the Labour Party narrowing, with some suggesting she might not win the landslide predicted just a month ago. A poll conducted by Survation for ITV’s Good Morning Britain program showed May’s lead had dropped to 6 percentage points from 9 points a week ago and 18 points two weeks ago.

EU targets accountants in tax-avoidance clampdown

Brussels says it plans to crack down on accountants and lawyers running tax-avoidance schemes in response to the Panama Papers scandal. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, said he would table a draft law before the end of June that aims to shed light on experts who help clients exploit tax laws and shift money to offshore tax havens. “The trust of our citizens has been seriously shaken by the revelations and there is a lot of indignation levelled at the corporate tax system, which is seen as unfair and insufficient,” he told MEPs. During the meeting, Mr Juncker also faced questions about special tax deals made with large multinational companies, dating from his time as finance minister and later prime minister of Luxembourg. MEPs asked Mr Juncker to explain his role in the Lux Leaks scandal, which came to light when the deals were revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The Guardian, Page: 20   Daily Express   The Times, Page: 33

Tax plans slammed

The Times’ David Smith says neither Labour nor the Conservatives are offering appealing economic policies. He says Labour’s signature tax pledges, especially its “Robin Hood” transactions tax for the City, will drive investment out of London. And he adds that the Conservative manifesto “has provided the opposite of the deregulated, low-tax, open model” by proposing greater intervention in markets and business. Meanwhile, the Times’ leader says the election campaign so far has demonstrated a worrying lack of debate about the size of Britain’s deficit and the tax rises that are needed to eliminate it.

The Times, Page: 39   The Times, Page: 27

Tesco chiefs deny false accounting

Three former Tesco directors accused of false accounting are seeking to have the case against them dismissed. Barristers for Carl Rogberg, John Scouler and Christopher Bush have indicated that they will argue that there is no case to answer and that Tesco should not have restated its profits following the discovery of a £326m “black hole” in 2014. At a trial case-management hearing yesterday, Sasha Wass, QC, for the Serious Fraud Office, said that “very lengthy” defence statements submitted by the defendants claimed that there “was no false accounting at all”. It has also emerged that Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco, will be called as a prosecution witness.

The Times, Page: 35   The Guardian, Page: 20   The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1, 8   Daly Mirror, Page: 38   Daily Mail, Page: 62

Lawyers warn May against scrapping Serious Fraud Office

A group of 19 leading silks, along with top criminal lawyers and anti-corruption campaigners, have warned Theresa May that abolition of the Serious Fraud Office could cause “significant disruption” to investigations.

Financial Times, Page: 3

Apps can make it easier for SMEs

Proponents of a new breed of app-based financial services dubbed “neobanks” believe they could make it much easier for small businesses to manage finances. Entrepreneurs such as George Bevis, founder of Tide, believe digital banking services can attract customers frustrated with the limitations of high street banks. While a traditional business bank account can take weeks to open, Tide accounts can be set up via a smartphone within three minutes. “This is not about being a traditional small businesses account, only better,” says Mr Bevis. “It’s a wholesale rethink.” The firm’s purpose, he adds, is to make everything from getting paid to paying taxes easier for small businesses and the self-employed, with the ability to manage all key facets of company finances from a smartphone.

The Times, Page: 45

Inflation driving down real wages

Rising prices resulting from the Brexit vote and the trend towards more insecure work will cost British workers growth in real wages this year, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, with repercussions for the wider UK economy. Boris Glass, one of the report’s authors, said that after the UK’s GDP growth slowed to 0.2% in the opening quarter of 2017, from 0.7% at the end of last year, the pattern was likely to continue as “stresses on household finances weighed on consumer spending”. Meanwhile, a report from Adzuna reveals that the number of advertised job vacancies across the UK in April reached its highest level since November 2015, rising 2% from March to 1.17m openings advertised.

The Guardian   The Daily Telegraph   The Times

Food inflation ‘hits 3 year high’ on weak pound

Food prices climbed at their fastest rate for more than three years in May as the weak pound pushed up import prices, new research shows.  The British Retail Consortium measured the prices of 500 everyday goods and found food inflation was 1.4% during the month, up from 0.9% in April.  But it said overall inflation including non-food items had fallen.

BBC News


Sterling weakens mildly as a new YouGov poll indicates that Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative could fall short of an overall majority in the upcoming election on June 8 and the UK may be left with a hung parliment. Sterling fell by more than half of one per cent, but recovered some losses.

US Markets

U.S. stocks inched lower, with the S&P500 retreating slightly from a record, as weakness in the energy and financial sectors outweighed gains in technology shares.

British Airways

British Airways has said a “significant” number of passengers are still without their luggage after the airline’s major system failure this weekend. The company, part of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, apologised to those who have not received their bags. A spokesman for BA was unable to say when it would be rectified, saying: “We are going as quickly as we can.” In the latest update for passengers on its website, the airline said: “Although we have already flown many bags to the correct airport, there is still some work to do and we know there are still significant numbers of customers who are yet to receive their luggage.”

Trump v Germany

President Donald Trump has criticized Germany once again for its large trade surplus with the U.S. and its low contributions to NATO, saying this attitude is “very bad” for the United States. The comments made on Twitter take current tensions in U.S.-German relations a notch higher.


Shares in Amazon have risen above the $1,000 mark for the first time. The shares touched $1,001.2 at one point on Tuesday before slipping back to $996.7. It originally listed its shares in May 1997 for just $18 each. Amazon now has a market capitalisation of about $478bn. Amazon now accounts for about 43% of all online sales in the US.


Oil prices slid again,underscoring investors’ belief that the extended production caps by major producers and the summer driving season in the U.S. won’t do much to crimp still-heavy global supplies.


Gold fell for a third day, set for its first monthly drop since December, as U.S. economic data boosted the case for an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve next month.

Previous News pages

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