Ultra low interest rates ‘boost house prices’

House prices in England rose by 7.2 per cent in the year to November DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PAHouse price growth showed no sign of slowing in November as official figures showed an annual increase of 6.7 per cent and a jump of £2,000 from October. The average house price across the UK was £218,000 in November, an increase of £14,000 from the same time a year ago, according to figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics and the Land Registry. The figure was higher than the 6.4 per cent rise seen in October and greater than had been forecast by economists. Expectations that Britain’s house price boom would come to an abrupt end after the Brexit vote have proved largely unfounded, as ultra-low mortgage rates, record high employment and a lack of housing stock keep prices moving upwards. House prices in…

January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

Protect us from hardline stance, say businesses

Leaving the single market will hugely damage trade between Ireland and the North, business leaders warned JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/GETTYBusiness leaders expressed serious concern yesterday about Theresa May’s plans to take the UK out of the EU single market, and called on the government for immediate action to safeguard Irish companies. The British prime minister stated the UK’s intention to leave the single market and customs union in her speech at Lancaster House in London yesterday, but committed to maintaining the common travel area between Britain and Ireland. She also said she may seek an associate membership of the customs union to reduce trade barriers with the EU as far as possible. Danny McCoy, chief executive of Ibec, described the UK’s “increasingly definitive and hardline position” as a deeply concerning and “combative” starting point for negotiations. A departure from the single market could seriously…

January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

Off to the local? It’s probably a coffee shop

The number of cafés, fast food outlets and restaurants rose by 6,000 across England, Scotland and Wales between 2011 and 2016, according to figures from the Local Data Company. About 2,000 town centre bars, pubs and nightclubs vanished over the same period. The largest growth areas included cake makers (51 per cent), juice bars (46 per cent) and coffee shops (31 per cent). Comedy clubs declined by 33 per cent, snooker halls by 34 per cent and bingo halls by 22 per cent. The number of Afghan and South American restaurants…

January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

BAT strikes it lucky with $49bn Reynolds takeover

The takeover will take place in the third quarter, subject to regulatory clearance LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERSBritish American Tobacco has agreed terms on a $49.4 billion deal to take control of Reynolds American in a move expected to ignite further consolidation in the industry. Analysts predicted yesterday that the tie-up could hasten a merger between Altria Group, America’s biggest cigarette maker ahead of Reynolds, and Philip Morris International, the world No 2. Imperial Brands is seen as a possible target for Japan Tobacco or China National Tobacco Corporation. A deal between Philip Morris and Altria would reverse the splitting in two of the Marlboro cigarette maker nine years ago to free the international operations from anti-smoking litigation that threatened to engulf the US business. Imperial, which also has been tipped as a possible target for BAT, said last week that it…

January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

Manning military pardon clears way for Assange to leave embassy

Her release could prompt the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has been holed up since 2012. Manning, 29, is more than six years into a 35-year sentence for leaking 700,000 classified government and military documents to WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website. She was known as Bradley Manning at the time of her arrest in 2010. After her conviction she announced that she was transgender and changed her name to Chelsea. WikiLeaks said last week that Mr Assange would agree to be extradited to the United States if Mr…

January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

Davos Man has had his day and so has globalisation

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January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

Christmas and on-the-go menu mean Greggs is still on a roll

Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs, said the group had recorded 13 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth and opened 145 new shops in the past yearProducts such as Fairtrade peppermint tea, sausage rolls and burritos have attracted hungry shoppers to Greggs and helped the high street baker to report a strong end to the year. Greggs said that a healthy fourth quarter had pushed its full-year sales up by 7 per cent, with like-for-like sales at its company-managed shops up 4.2 per cent. The chain now expects its profits to be “slightly ahead of expectations” for the year to December 31. Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs, said the group had recorded 13 consecutive quarters of like-for-like sales growth. Trading in the final quarter had been boosted by strong sales of its on-the-go range, as well as its traditional selection over the holiday period of mince pies and cakes.

January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

Racial bias can change in a heartbeat

A protest against the death of Keith Scott, a black man killed in North Carolina by police last September. Scientists have already shown that when the heart beats it sends a signal to the brain that heightens our response to fear. They have also found that when people are shown a man carrying an object they are more likely to wrongly believe it is a gun if it is associated with a black man rather than a white man. A new paper, published in the journal Nature Communications, looked at how these factors interacted with each other. People were shown images of men holding either guns or mobile phones, timed to coincide with heartbeats or in between, and then asked to judge which was a gun.

January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

Luckless Atlantic swimmer lands himself in more trouble

His ill-starred attempt to become the first person to swim across the Atlantic was marred by jellyfish stings, equipment failure and choppy seas, ending in failure after just 87 miles. Now Ben Hooper, 38, has proved that he is not much luckier on land, badly injuring his knees in a fall days after returning to shore. Mr Hooper, a former policeman from Cheltenham, had trained for three years for the swim but got into difficulties after setting off on the 2,000-mile crossing from Senegal to Brazil. He was attacked by a Portuguese man o’war jellyfish, his support vessel was badly damaged in a storm and he struggled against currents and choppy seas. A second support vessel was forced to return to port almost immediately after…

January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

East Anglia deal opens a route for HS2 bid

Mitsui has become the first Japanese company to join the increasingly international list of operators with their hands on the controls of Britain’s railways by buying a 40 per cent stake in the East Anglia train franchise. Mitsui’s arrival on the British railways is likely to herald an assault by the Japanese industrial giant on the greatest prize of all: the tender later in the year to operate the trains on HS2. The deal comes after the outright sale last week of the c2c south Essex-London commuter network to Trenitalia, of Italy. Government officials welcomed the arrival of one of Japan’s largest conglomerates as a show of faith in UK railways. Unions condemned it…

January 18, 2017 00:03 UTC

Hall of Fame first baseman Willie McCovey pardoned by Obama

Hall of Fame first baseman Willie McCovey has been pardoned by Barack Obama for a 21-year-old guilty plea to tax fraud. Both McCovey and Snider, who died in 2011, were given two years’ probation and a $5,000 fine in 1996. Facebook Twitter Pinterest McCovey hit 521 home runs in a career that spanned four decades. The Alabama native, who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1986, still works with the Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador. Obama also commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the US army whistleblower who has been imprisoned for six years for leaking state secrets.

January 17, 2017 23:30 UTC

Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos sues Donald Trump for defamation

A former contestant from The Apprentice is suing Donald Trump for defamation in relation to claims he groped and aggressively kissed her and then called her a liar. Summer Zervos filed the lawsuit on Tuesday demanding that the president-elect “vindicate her reputation” by admitting the allegations are true. The suit was the first legal confirmation that the allegations of sexual misconduct will follow Trump into the White House. According to the suit, Zervos felt compelled to speak out after Trump dismissed the Access Hollywood remarks as locker-room banter and said he had never assaulted anyone – “a boldfaced lie”, according to the suit. “What did Donald Trump, the liar and misogynist do, to cover up up his lies?

January 17, 2017 23:00 UTC

Obama commutes sentence for political prisoner Oscar López Rivera

Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of Oscar López Rivera, a victory for the Puerto Rican independence activist who is considered to be one of the world’s longest-serving political prisoners. US prosecutors accused the group of carrying out 140 bombings on military bases, government offices and financial buildings, but López Rivera has repeatedly denied involvement with fatal attacks. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Protesters call for the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera in October outside of the White House. “OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA IS COMING HOME.” Miranda also announced that he would play the role of Alexander Hamilton for a performance for López Rivera in the Chicago production. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said last year he would seek the release of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez if the US agreed to release López Rivera.

January 17, 2017 22:55 UTC

Moon Express raises $20m for 2017 voyage to the moon

Moon Express, a Florida-based firm, said it had raised $20m in financing, which will allow it to send a robotic spacecraft to the moon’s surface later this year. US startup Moon Express approved to make 2017 lunar mission Read moreThe funding is a major step in the company’s efforts to become the world’s first private enterprise to travel outside the Earth’s orbit. Last year, Moon Express gained historic approvals from the US government after submitting a request for its voyage to the Federal Aviation Administration. “The sky is not the limit for Moon Express – it is the launchpad,” Jain said in an earlier statement after his firm gained federal approvals. Moon Express, which said it has raised a total of more than $45m from individuals and venture funds, is one of numerous companies that has specific plans in the works for exploration.

January 17, 2017 21:59 UTC

Chelsea Manning: majority of prison sentence commuted by Barack Obama

“Oh my God!” was Hollander’s instant response to the news which she had just heard from the White House counsel. Chelsea Manning’s treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets. In a tweet soon after Tuesday’s announcement, Assange thanked “everyone who campaigned for Chelsea Manning’s clemency. The decision to commute Private Chelsea Manning’s remaining sentence – after she served nearly seven years for her crimes – reflects that record. The White House official said more commutations are expected “most likely on Thursday”.

January 17, 2017 21:35 UTC