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Tuesday newspaper round-up: Slow growth, waning trade, Brexit stumble

By Digital Look

Date: Tuesday 16 Apr 2019

Tuesday newspaper round-up: Slow growth, waning trade, Brexit stumble

(Sharecast News) - Experimental early warning systems for the economy, devised by the Office for National Statistics and using VAT and road traffic data, have suggested that turnover at British companies may have weakened during the first quarter. The ONS said that its new index based on VAT returns had shown a "mixed picture", with "very slightly more firms reporting a decline in turnover" between the first quarter of 2019 and the final quarter of 2018 than those posting an increase. - The Times
A recent collapse in global trade is the worst since the financial crisis and as steep as during the recession of the early 2000s, according to new figures from the Dutch government. World trade volumes slumped 1.8pc in the three months to January compared to the preceding three months as factories grapple with a deepening global industrial downturn, the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis revealed. - Telegraph

No 10 is feeling the pressure to pull the plug on Brexit talks with Labour and move to an alternative plan, amid warnings that the opposition is in no hurry for a deal before the European elections. With talks deadlocked and no sign that the government moving on its red lines, neither the Conservatives or Labour want to appear responsible for the breakdown in discussions. - Guardian

More than 3,000 people have applied to stand as Change UK candidates at the European parliament elections, overwhelming the fledgling centrist party. MPs from the Independent Group, the force behind the new organisation, are working through applications and will select from a shortlist of 100 this weekend. - The Times

The operator of the Channel tunnel has shrugged off pre-Brexit jitters and a work-to-rule by French customs officers to record its best month for lorries travelling on Le Shuttle. However, the number of cars in March taking the 20-minute journey between Folkestone in Kent and Coquelles in the Pas-de-Calais was down 4 per cent, although the comparison comes with the caveat that the Easter holidays were much earlier last year. - The Times

The activist investor trying to join the boardroom at Barclays has made a fresh plea to shareholders to back his campaign. Edward Bramson, whose Sherborne Investors vehicle owns 5.5 per cent of Barclays, wants other shareholders to elect him as a non-executive director at the bank's annual meeting on May 2. - The Times

Britain's biggest fund management firm opposed proposals tabled by almost 400 UK companies last year, a sharp increase on the previous 12 months, as it pushed to improve corporate governance. Sacha Sadan, its director of corporate governance, is an influential figure in the City. Mr Sadan 48, said that there had been a shift last year as asset managers began to take environmental, social and governance issues, such as combating climate change, more seriously. - The Times

Sports Direct, owned by billionaire leisurewear tycoon Mike Ashley, is to close a warehouse in Wigan, Greater Manchester, with the loss of 300 jobs. In a move described as a "body blow" to the region by the GMB trade union, Sports Direct stunned workers by announcing it would shut the factory on 13 June. Employees, who mostly work packing goods for nationwide distribution, were told of the decision on Monday. - Guardian

Amazon's customer review system is being undermined by a flood of "fake" five-star reviews for products from unfamiliar brands, a new investigation claims. The consumer group Which? analysed the listings of hundreds of popular tech products in 14 online categories including headphones, dashcams, fitness trackers and smartwatches, checking for telltale signs of suspicious reviews. - Guardian

A video games company has admitted that it broke the law after handing millions of pounds in dividends to investors. Keywords Studios, which provides services to computer games developers, said that it had breached the Companies Act with a series of payouts between 2014 and 2016, before its current finance director joined the business. - The Times

In the backlash against the "996" working schedule, China's tech workers say their bosses have lost valuable productivity gains that could have been generated with a shorter working week and fewer hours. Economists would tend to agree with their complaints, made on social media, that working from 9am to 9pm, six days a week is unwise. Longer working hours do not automatically mean higher company profits and economic growth, and could even pave the way for serious problems ahead. - Guardian

The family behind Hill, one of the UK's largest privately owned housebuilders, picked up dividends of more than £3m last year as growth soared. Andy Hill, who started the company after being made redundant 20 years ago, said partnerships with local councils and the Government's Help to Buy scheme helped boost revenues by about a fifth to £502m in 2018. - Telegraph

Digital bank N26 plans to hire a team of dedicated employees for the UK market as the German start-up seeks to compete with rivals Monzo and Revolut. The Berlin-headquartered business said it is now signing up 1,000 customers every day in the UK following its launch here in October. More than 200,000 British customers have signed up so far, a spokesman said. - Telegraph

Sir Jim Ratcliffe's Ineos has launched a stinging attack over the way fracking is being regulated, claiming the industry "is being stopped from moving forward". The petrochemicals and energy giant, owned by Britain's wealthiest man and one of two companies with the right to undertake fracking in England, has threatened to walk away from operations unless regulations are loosened. - Telegraph


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