Top 10 Stories of the Week! 21/12/15

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page for regular posts of important headlines. Click on the links for full stories.

Opinion articles of the week:

  • In 2015 we’ve seen waves of cyberattacks on large businesses but click here to see what analysts believe companies should learn from these hacks.
  • More oil companies are increasing their production of gas in order to cope with increasingly inaccessible oil supplies and falling prices. Click here for why analysts believe oil companies might predominantly produce gas in future rather than oil.
  • Apple claim that the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill would endanger the data of millions of internet users. The Bill is an anti-terror measure which would allow enforcement agencies unprecedented levels of surveillance powers. Click here for more information.
  • OPEC were wrong about oil last year, experts were wrong about the 2008 crash. To what extent can we really trust predictions about major issues? Click here for the debate.

1. UK ECONOMIC GROWTH

The UK economy grew by 0.4% in the third quarter of the year, figures show, less than previously estimated. The UK economy has been growing for 11 consecutive quarters. Despite this, Simon French, chief economist at stockbrokers Panmure Gordon, said the figures added to a picture of a fragile economy. He claimed the most worrying aspect of the figures was the weakness of the service sector, which is the engine of the UK economy. (BBC News)

2. SEPP BLATTER SUSPENDED

FIFA banned President Joseph “Sepp” Blatter and European soccer boss Michel Platini for eight years over an unauthorized 2 million-Swiss franc ($2 million) payment, ending Platini’s chances of taking over the sport’s governing body.

Blatter was unable to demonstrate any “legal basis” for the payment in 2011, while Platini’s assertion of an oral agreement was rejected, the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee said Monday in a statement. (Bloomberg)

3. OIL PRICES

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said demand for its crude will continue slide to 2020, though less steeply than previously expected, as rival supplies continue to grow. The forecast underlines the struggle faced by the OPEC as it seeks to defend market share against a surge in output from rivals such as the U.S. and Russia. OPEC assumes that prices will rise to average $80 a barrel in nominal terms in 2020 (Bloomberg)

Oil prices have halved since June last year and while this is highly problematic for many, the BBC takes a look at some of the beneficiaries of the substantial fall in prices. (BBC News)

4. INDIA-RUSSIA ARMS DEALS

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a large-scale development program for the country’s armed forces, which could be worth $150 billion. The announcement comes as Moscow and New Delhi plan to sign a number of multi-billion dollar defense and nuclear energy deals. India has already approved the purchase of five S-400 air defense systems from Russia which is part of the biggest arms deal between the two countries in a decade. (RT)

5. BOXING DAY SALES

There were claims that shoppers were on course to spend a record £3.74bn in the Boxing Day sales, leading experts to suggest that reports about the death of the high street have been premature. Selfridges said it had enjoyed its most successful ever first hour of trading, taking more than £2m from 9am-10am.

Shoppers from overseas with a penchant for luxury goods helped to fuel a Boxing Day sales bonanza as millions hit the stores. Retail analysts said wealthy tourists from China and the Middle East were spending four or five times as much as their British counterparts on items such as jewellery, watches and designer handbags. (The Guardian)

6. TOSHIBA LOSSES

Japanese conglomerate Toshiba has said it will report a record 550bn yen ($4.5bn) annual loss and cut 6,800 jobs as it carries out a restructuring. News of the predicted losses sent shares in Toshiba down by nearly 10%. Toshiba admitted earlier this year that it had overstated profits for six years. The scandal led to the resignation of Toshiba’s president and vice-president. For more on Toshiba’s troubles and its planned restructure click here (BBC News).

EY’s Japanese arm has been fined 2.1bn yen (£11.7m) over failings related to Toshiba. “Partners of the firm had, in negligence of due case, attested that the financial statements of Toshiba…  containing material misstatements as if they contained no material misstatements,” said Japan’s Financial Services Agency. (City A.M)

7. NIKE PROFTIS

Nike revealed a 20% year-on-year rise in net profit for the three months ending November. (BBC News) Nike announced its plan to increase its revenue through its ecommerce channels from one billion to seven billion dollars by 2020. Nike’s also announced its broader plan to more than double its direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales by 2020, from $6.6bn to $16bn. This is significant as DTC revenues earn higher margins than those sales made through wholesale partners like JD Sports and Footlocker. (Business Insider)

Nike is worth more than ever and holds more than 60% of the American footwear market but how has it achieved this? Click here for an analysis of Nike’s strategy, strengths and weaknesses.

8. ALCOHOL MINIMUM PRICING IN SCOTLAND

A European court has said the Scottish government’s case for a minimum unit price for alcohol is contrary to EU law if other tax options exist. The European Court of Justice ruling instead recommends the introduction of alternative tax measures.

The legislation to bring in a minimum price of 50p per unit was passed by the Scottish Parliament in May 2012. A legal challenge was brought by the SWA, which argued the Scottish government’s legislation breached European law.

The European court ruling said: “The Court of Justice considers that the effect of the Scottish legislation is significantly to restrict the market, and this might be avoided by the introduction of a tax measure designed to increase the price of alcohol instead of a measure imposing a minimum price per unit of alcohol.” (BBC News)

9. BUY TO LET LEGAL CHALLENGE

A group representing 250 landlords is to launch a court challenge against tax changes to buy to let coming into force in 2017, claiming they have been victimised by the chancellor, George Osborne. They claim they have grounds to mount a judicial review of the tax changes, claiming that it breaches human rights legislation and European law. From 2017, tax relief for buy to let will gradually be cut to a flat rate of 20% compared with the 40% or 45% that some landlords currently enjoy. (The Guardian)

10. FIVE BANKS PAID NO CORPORATION TAX IN 2014

Five of the largest banks in the UK paid no corporation tax in 2014, despite making billions of pounds in profits, analysis by Reuters has shown. JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Nomura Holdings and Morgan Stanley paid no corporation tax at all, the news agency said.

The research into the financial reports found that seven banks, which also included Goldman Sachs and UBS, used tax benefits as well as losses generated during the banking crisis to reduce their corporation tax bills. (BBC News)

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