Top 10 Stories of the Week! 01/02/16

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:

Many analysts are arguing that low oil prices could be bad for pensions. Click here for more information.

Some analysts claim that a sugar tax will not solve the obesity crisis because people will find alternatives which are equally as bad. Click here for the debate.

Would a Brexit affect the character of the British Premier League? Click here for the debate.

The Ofcom’s Chief Executive claims that the O2 and Three merger could push up phone bills. Click here for more.

 

1. TPP DEAL

Twelve Pacific Rim countries, including Japan and the United States, have agreed to create one of the world’s biggest free trade zones.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been under negotiation for five years and will take in about 40% of the global economy.

Click here for a short video considering what it means for international trade. (BBC News)

2. INTEREST RATES

The Monetary Policy Committee voted 9-0 to keep rates on hold at 0.5%. Furthermore, Mark Carney cited a turbulent global economy as the Bank of England cut its inflation forecast once again.  The BOE governor said inflation will average just 0.8 percent this year, climbing to the 2 percent target in 2018. (Bloomberg)

3. SHELL JOB CUTS AND LOSSES

Shell confirmed plans to cut 10,000 jobs now that its takeover of rival BG Group is set to go through, and raised the prospect of further redundancies, as it reported an 80 per cent slump in profits to a 13-year low.

Two days after BP announced its biggest-ever annual loss, Shell revealed that its profits had fallen to $3.8bn (£2.6bn) last year, from $19bn in 2014. The industry has been rocked by a sustained slump in the oil price, from $115 a barrel in the summer of 2014 to roughly $30 this year.

However, Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said he was optimistic about the future for the company after its $47bn takeover of BG cleared the final hurdles last week. (The Independent)

4. ARCELORMITTAL STEEL LOSSES

ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel and mining company, has posted a $7.9bn (£5.4bn) annual loss for 2015 amid the global slump in commodity prices.

More than half the loss came from a write-down in the value of its mining operations to reflect the collapse in the value of its iron ore. The annual loss deepened compared to 2014 when the company was $1.9bn (£1.3bn) in the red. The firm however, said it was making progress on cutting costs.

Chief executive Lakshmi Mittal noted: “2015 was a very difficult year for the steel and mining industries. Although demand in our core markets remained strong, prices deteriorated significantly during the year as a result of excess capacity in China.” (Sky News)

5. SAINSBURY’S ACQUIRE ARGOS

Sainsbury’s has agreed financial terms for a £1.3bn takeover with Argos owner Home Retail Group. The proposed cash and share deal comes after it was revealed last month that an initial offer in November had been rebuffed.

Sainsbury’s plans to relocate many Argos stores as concessions using up under-occupied space within its own large supermarkets. It could mean as many as 200 Argos stores closing.

A tie-up would create a £6bn non-food operation putting the new business in the same league as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer and allowing it to take on the might of online giant Amazon. But the group will not involve Home Retail Group’s DIY chain Homebase – once owned by Sainsbury’s – which is being sold to Australian giant Wesfarmers for £340m. (Sky News)

6. HSBC

HSBC has reached a $470m (£325m) settlement with the US government and states related to dubious mortgage lending and foreclosure practices that contributed to the financial crisis.

The agreement includes a $100m fine and $370m in consumer relief to borrowers. Investigations began in 2010 after HSBC was found to be signing off foreclosure documents without proper review. The consumer relief will require the bank to cut the loan amount on mortgages for homeowners close to default. HBSC will also be required to change internal practices like foreclosing on homeowners who are being considered for a loan modification.

HSBC’s agreement is similar to deals that were given to US banks including JP Morgan and Bank of America in 2012. (BBC News)

HSBC also announced that it is imposing a hiring and pay freeze across the bank globally in 2016. Like numerous other global banks, HSBC is in the midst of a cost-cutting drive to boost profitability and returns to shareholders, and is pushing through with plans for annual cost savings of up to $5 billion by 2017. (Reuters)

7. CREDIT SUISSE

Credit Suisse has announced that it is going to cut 4,000 jobs. The announcement came with the release of results for 2015. The bank made a pre-tax loss for the year of 2.4bn Swiss francs ($2.4bn; £1.6bn), which was its first annual loss since 2008.

It said that included “substantial charges which are not reflective of our underlying business performance”. It has written off 3.8bn Swiss francs linked to its acquisition of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in 2000. (BBC News)

The Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam has asked the bank’s board to cut his 2015 bonus by between 25 percent and 50 percent due to these poor results. (Reuters)

8. TOYOTA

Japan’s Toyota has reported a 4.7% year-on-year rise in net income for the three months to December, to 627.9bn yen ($5.37bn; £3.7bn), due in part to stronger sales in the US.

The company, the world’s biggest carmaker, also raised its North America sales forecast for the full year to March, because of the higher US demand. But operating profit for the quarter fell by 5.3%, missing forecasts. The car industry has been hurt by a global slowdown, particularly in China. (BBC News)

Last week however, Toyota announced it was halting production at all car assembly plants in Japan from Feb. 8 to Feb. 13 due to a steel shortage following an explosion at a steel plant of one of its affiliates.

The world’s biggest automaker said on Saturday a blast at an Aichi Steel Corp (5482.T) plant on Jan. 8 had curbed production of steel used in auto parts including engines, transmissions and chassis. It gave no specifics on how car production would be affected. (Reuters)

9. ROYAL MAIL 

The Government unveiled the privatisation of its final stake in Royal Mail on Thursday, bringing the curtain down on five centuries of state ownership. A written ministerial statement was laid in Parliament confirming the gifting of the remaining 1% of Royal Mail in public ownership to the company’s 140,000 employees.

The controversial move – which will contradict official advice given by the top civil servant at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) – will see a stake worth £45m at the company’s current share price distributed to staff.

The privatisation of Royal Mail was among the most contentious events of the last Parliament, with Sir Vince Cable, the then Business Secretary, presiding over the sale of 60% of the company in the autumn of 2013. (Sky News)

10. LINKEDIN SHARES FALL

LinkedIn Corp’s shares plunged as much as 43% on Friday, wiping out nearly $11bn of market value, after the social network for professionals shocked Wall Street with a revenue forecast that fell far short of expectations.

The stock sank to a three-year low of $110.01 in early trading, registering its sharpest decline since the company’s high-profile public listing in 2011.

LinkedIn has been spending heavily on expansion by buying companies, hiring sales personnel and growing outside the United States, but is now facing pressure in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific due to macro-economic issues. (The Guardian)

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