Business News – 15th May 2017


A global cyber attack leveraging hacking tools widely believed by researchers to have been developed by the US National Security Agency hit international shipper FedEx, disrupted Britain’s health system and infected computers in nearly 100 countries on Friday.  Russian cyber security software maker Kaspersky Lab said its researchers had observed more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries. Later on Friday, security software maker Avast put the tally at 57,000 infections in 99 countries. British hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients because their computers were infected by a pernicious new form of “ransomware” that rapidly spread across the globe.  As of Monday morning the tally is up to 150 countries. Microsoft warns the ransomware cyber-attack is a wake-up call. It blamed governments for storing data on software vulnerabilities which could then be accessed by hackers. It says the latest virus exploits a flaw in Microsoft Windows identified by, and stolen from, US intelligence. There are fears of more “ransomware” attacks as people begin work today, although few have been reported so far.

Belt and Road initiative

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged £96 billion on Sunday for his new Silk Road plan to forge a path of peace, inclusiveness and free trade, and called for the abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games. Xi used a summit on the initiative to bolster China’s global leadership ambitions as US President Donald Trump promotes “America First” and questions existing global free trade deals. “We should build an open platform of cooperation and uphold and grow an open world economy,” Xi told the opening of the two-day gathering in Beijing. China has touted what it formally calls the Belt and Road initiative as a new way to boost global development since Xi unveiled the plan in 2013, aiming to expand links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.

Supply chains taking the strain

A survey of more than 2,000 supply chain managers, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, found 45% of EU businesses with UK suppliers are already seeking alternative local suppliers in case a decent post-Brexit trade deal doesn’t materialise. In the UK, 32% of businesses with continental suppliers are actively looking for alternative British suppliers. Meanwhile 65% of UK businesses have seen their supply chains become more expensive as a result of the weaker pound and 29% are renegotiating contracts as a result. Gerry Walsh, CEO of CIPS, said: “The reshoring of British supply chains in advance of Brexit could provide an excellent opportunity for small businesses looking to win new contracts, but it also comes with significant challenges.”

Independent i, Page: 38   The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3    The Times, Page: 40

Growth hits a four-month high

Business activity in England grew at its fastest rate so far in 2017 last month, according to the latest regional Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) report from Lloyds Bank. The index gave England a score of 57.1 for April, its second highest reading since mid-2015. The 50-point mark signifies growth. Activity in the manufacturing and service sectors in England rose to a four-month high last month, with job creation also picking up speed and growth expected to continue into the summer despite rising cost pressures. Meanwhile, a report from BDO shows 73% of food and drink manufacturers are positive about the future of the industry, with 81% of firms expecting revenue growth of up to 20% in the next year. A separate study by KPMG has found 84% of manufacturers with operations in Scotland are planning to spend more on R&D and services to drive growth over the next three years.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 3    Yorkshire Post, Business, Page: 15   The Press and Journal, Page: 18

 CPI expected to hit 2.6% for April

Official figures are expected to show that the Consumer Price Index measure of inflation reached 2.6% in April – the highest rate since September 2013. Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said CPI could even reach 2.7%, with upward pressure coming from the airline industry. Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Markit, added: “We see inflation easing back from a peak of 3% in late 2017/early-2018 to 2.6% at the end of 2018 and 2.3% at the end of 2019. This is due to the impact of sterling’s marked drop waning, as well as muted economic activity.”

Daily Express, Page: 44

The pitfalls in both Tory and Labour plans

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, examines the pitfalls of both Labour and Conservative tax plans in the Times. Regarding corporation tax, he says raising it is attractive because the burden supposedly falls on a faceless corporation. This is not true though, says Mr Johnson. The tax is paid by employees, customers or shareholders of these companies, and those of us who are indirectly shareholders through our private pensions.

The Times, Page: 41

UK eBay sellers to be forced to pay 20% VAT on fees

eBay has told sellers in the UK that they will have to start paying 20% VAT on their fees from August as a result of restructuring following the spin-off of PayPal.

Financial Times, Page: 3

Oil prices jumped 1.5 percent after the energy ministers of the world’s two biggest producers Saudi Arabia and Russia jointly said that a crude production cut would be extended from the middle of this year until March 2018.

Gold prices inched up as weaker-than-expected economic data from the US and a missile test by North Korea over the weekend pressured the dollar.

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Business News – 12th May 2017

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Business News – 18th April 2017.