Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor LONDON | Wed Oct 2, 2013 9:46am BST LONDON (Reuters) – British construction activity eased slightly in September from a near six-year high in August, a survey of purchasing managers showed on Wednesday, but residential construction rose at its fastest rate in nearly a decade. The Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers index (PMI)edged down to 58.9 from 59.1 but was still well above the 50 threshold that separates growth from contraction. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a reading of 59.2. All three sub-sectors of construction grew last month, with the sharpest rise in housing since November 2003, potentially easing some concerns about Britain’s shortfall of new homes. “Construction is no longer the weakest link in the UK economy,” said Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit. “The third quarter of 2013 ended with output growth riding high amid greater spending on infrastructure projects and resurgent house building activity,” he said. Optimism was also up, with 51 percent expecting output would rise over the next 12 months and only 9 percent of respondents predicting a fall, the highest level of confidence since August 2010. Employers created jobs for the fourth straight month. “Having been in the doldrums for so long, builders are using this renewal as a platform to invest, with employment seeing the most dramatic upturn in close to six years,” said David Noble, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply. PMI data on Tuesday showed Britain’s manufacturing activity grew at a slower rate than expected in September, but also showed that employment picking up. The Bank of England is keeping a close eye on the UK labour market, having said that it would not consider raising record-low interest rates until the jobless rate falls to 7 percent. On Friday, mortgage lender Nationwide said British house prices rose for the fifth straight month in September and hit record highs in London. The day before that, finance minister George Osborne asked the Bank of England to make annual assessments of his controversial “Help to Buy” housing programme to ensure that its support to lenders does not lead to a property bubble. – Detailed PMI data are only available under licence from Markit and customers need to apply to Markit for a licence. To subscribe to the full data, click on the link below: http://www/markit.com/information/register/reuters-pmi-subscriptions For further information, please phone Markit on +44 20 7260 2454 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Reporting By Joshua Franklin; Editing by William Schomberg and Hugh Lawson)
UK payday lenders face crackdown
( LO ) to expand its presence globally in the electronic cigarette industry. Lorillard signed an agreement on Oct 1 to acquire all the assets and operations of SKYCIG, a leading premium brand of electronic cigarettes in the UK. Per the deal, Lorillard will pay approximately 30 million pounds in cash at the time of completion of the deal. In addition, the deal includes a clause to pay an additional 30 million pounds in 2016 on the achievement of certain financial milestones. Post-acquisition, SKYCIG will become a separate operating subsidiary of Lorillard and the company will retain its current management team and business locations in the UK. Lorillard captured a leading position in the electronic cigarette industry in the U.S. after it acquired e-cigarette brand blu e-Cigs in Apr 2012. The SKYCIG acquisition will further boost Lorillards sales as the e-cigarette segment is evolving rapidly. It will also provide this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company an opportunity to expand in the wide UK electronic cigarette market. On the other hand, SKYCIG is expected to gain from Lorillard’s marketing, regulatory, research and development expertise, which will help the brand to further strengthen its foothold in the UK e-cigarette market. We note that smokers are shifting their preference to electronic cigarettes due to rising health concerns. Though sales of electronic cigarettes are on the rise, the maker of Newport and Maverick brands has been witnessing a decline in traditional cigarette volumes since the past many quarters. Cigarette volumes have been impacted by a slowdown in the tobacco industry, increasing health consciousness among consumers and significantly higher prices of cigarettes.
Lorillard Acquires UK E-cigarette Brand
In the wake of claims that some lenders are draining cash from borrowers’ accounts to make sure they get their interest repayments, they will only be able to debit two payments over the course of a loan agreement. “The clock is ticking,” said Martin Wheatley, the FCA’s chief executive. “Today I am putting payday lenders on notice: tougher regulation is coming and I expect them all to make changes so that consumers can get a fair outcome. The clock is ticking.” Next April, the FCA will take over from the Office of Fair Trading as regulator of 50,000 consumer credit firms, which also includes businesses providing overdrafts, credit cards and debt advice. The OFT, in a recent investigation of its own, found “deep-rooted” problems in the payday loan industry, including that some businesses models were based on giving loans to people who cannot afford to pay them back. The Competition Commission is currently investigating the payday loan industry and is due to report at the end of next year. The FCA’s new rules were welcomed by Martin Lewis, founder of consumer help website MoneySavingExpert.com. “Parasitical payday lenders have taken over our high streets in the last five years. Our lax rules have made the UK a crock of gold and they’ve flooded in from across the world,” he said. “For those of us who’ve been crying out for a crackdown, this hardcore regulation, while not perfect, is very welcome.” Finance Rep. Todd Rokita prefaced a response to CNN’s Carol Costello during a debate over shutdown pay by praising her beauty.