UK TRADE GAP NARROWS IN
Britain's trade gap with the
rest of the world has narrowed in September following a record rise in
the previous month as hurricane payments peaked.
The Office for National
Statistics (ONS) said the trade deficit fell to £3.9bn compared with
£5.3bn in August.
In that month the Lloyd's of
London insurance market paid out £1.4bn in claims arising from
But the ONS said the long-term
trend was essentially flat, with the trade gap at £3.8bn in July.
In the third quarter, however,
the overall trade gap widened to £13.3bn compared with a £9.8bn
deficit in the pervious quarter.
The UK traditionally runs a
trade deficit in manufactured goods but a surplus in services such as
travel, tourism, and accountancy.
UK exporters will be fervently
hoping that recent signs of improving growth in Western Europe will be
sustained and will increasingly feed through to boost exports
In September, the UK imported
£5.44bn more manufactured goods than it exported - a slight improvement
over the £5.9bn gap in the previous month.
The UK also was a net importer
of oil for the second month in a row, as maintenance shut-downs and a
fire at a oil rig reduced North Sea output.
The trade gap with non-EU
countries also narrowed to £2.29bn, compared with £3.1bn in the
Analysts said the figures could
point to an improvement in the UK's export prospects, particularly if
there was a recovery in the eurozone economies.
SINO-US TEXTILE TO STABILIZE
China has said a tough trade
deal to curb its soaring textile exports to the United States will make
trade more predictable and stable, but industry experts reacted to the
accord with scepticism.
After seven rounds of often
difficult talks over the past five months, China and the US announced on
Tuesday they had agreed to limit growth in Chinese textile exports to
the US to an annual rate of 10-17 per cent.
"For the industries of
both countries we have made the trading environment more predictable and
stable," Bo Xilai, China's Minister of Commerce said.
At the same time,
"developed countries should understand that free trade is the
overriding trend and quota restrictions are inappropriate," Bo
Washington hailed the
three-year deal as helping ease trade tensions, an important step before
President George W. Bush's upcoming China trip.
Industry officials were
sceptical about the accord, which covers up to seven billion dollars of
Chinese exports, but conceded it at least removed a major element of
uncertainty and that at least was positive.
They noted in particular the
agreement to allow in textiles blocked in transit by the earlier
imposition of safeguard quotas by Washington.
blindly boosted production ahead of any possible new quotas which led to
a huge quantity of items blocked at customs," said Cao Xinyu,
vice-chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of
BRITAIN FACING LARGE ENERGY GAP
Britain is facing a shortfall
in energy supply in the near future, according to a major report.
Within a decade, the country
may be generating only about 80% of the electricity it needs.
A panel of 150 experts says
fossil fuels will remain the mainstay of supply, with renewables
expanding and nuclear power almost certainly needed.
The panel urges the government
to take steps quickly to solve the issue; doing nothing, it says, is not
"Up to the year 2050,
fossil fuels will remain the dominant energy source - there really is no
alternative," said John Loughhead of the UK Energy Research Centre,
who compiled the report following a two-day conference held last month
under the auspices of the Geological Society of London.
The conference drew
contributions from about 150 delegates representing all sectors of the
GERMANY SEES TRADE SURPLUS SOAR
Germany's trade surplus with
the rest of the world widened to a record 14.8bn euros ($17bn; £10bn)
Exports rose by 2.5%
month-on-month to a seasonally adjusted 68.6bn euros, the Federal
Statistics Office reported.
The surge in German exports
contrasted with a 1.2% dip in imports during the month to 53.8bn euros.
Hopes for recovery in Europe's
biggest economy are growing, with a recent report showing improved
confidence among the country's business leaders.
A survey by Germany's Ifo
research institute last month showed that its closely-watched business
climate index was at a five-year high.
However, after growing strongly
in the first quarter of 2005, Germany's economy slowed in the following
three months. It is not expected to expand by more than 0.8% overall
ASIAN RESERVES FELL IN OCT
Asia's foreign exchange
reserves, excluding China, fell for a second consecutive month in
October as foreign cash poured out of regional equity markets, analysts
Currency reserves in Japan,
Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Pakistan
dropped slightly and reserves in the region generally were expected to
ease further in the months ahead.
Asian foreign exchange
reserves, excluding China, fell by $4.9 billion in October to stand at
the end of the month at about $1.87 trillion. China releases reserves
data at the end of each quarter, so there are no figures for October.
BLAIR MEETS CABINET AFTER
Prime Minister Tony Blair would
seek to get back to business as normal when he chairs a Cabinet meeting
Mr Blair says his authority is
intact, despite his first Commons defeat, over a key part of his
But Tory leader Michael Howard
says Mr Blair should resign, while Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy warned
Mr Blair could become a "lame duck" leader.
MPs, including 49 Labour
rebels, voted down plans to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days
EXPERTS OUTLINE BIRD FLU
International health experts
have agreed an outline global strategy to tackle bird flu.
The plan, which could cost $1bn
(£573m) over three years, focuses on fighting the lethal strain of the
virus in birds and improving countries' preparedness.
Experts warned that it remained
essential for countries to develop and rehearse plans to deal with a
They also said developing
vaccines and boosting production of anti-viral medicines could cost
Earlier this week, the World
Bank said that a pandemic could cost the global economy $800bn.
UK BASE RATES 'TO STAY
The Bank of England's rate
setting committee is expected to keep the cost of borrowing unchanged at
4.5% when it makes its announcement.
Only a few weeks ago analysts
predicted a rate cut in November, but that was before figures showed
inflation rose to an eight-year high in September. Inflation hit 2.5%,
well above its 2.0% target, due to high oil prices.
Telecoms giant BT has unveiled
a slight rise in profits for the first half of the year.
Pre-tax profits before one-off
costs rose 3% to £1.13bn in the six months to September 30, compared to
one year ago.
MIXED SALES FIGURES AT
Mitsubishi Motors has seen
sales recover in Japan and Europe, but continue to decline in the US.
Releasing its results for the
half-year to 30 September, the Japanese firm sold a total of 659,000
vehicles, an increase of 13,000 on a year earlier.
Mitsubishi's revenues for the
half-year were 991.3bn yen ($8.4bn; £4.8bn), down from 1.07 trillion
yen a year earlier.
Net losses totalled 63.8bn yen,
compared to 178.8bn yen a year previously.
PHONES4U FOR SALE
The founder of UK mobile phone
retail chain Phones4U has put the for sale sign up over his entire
Billionaire John Caudwell said
he had taken the step after receiving "many offers" for all or
part of the business from prospective buyers.
SUPPLY SWELL WEAKENS OIL PRICES
Oil prices have hit their
lowest level for three months after US government figures showed larger
than expected crude oil stockpiles.
US light crude oil was marked
78 cents lower at $58.93 a barrel, while London Brent crude fell 93
cents to $56.88.
Crude stocks rose by 4.5
million barrels last week, nearly three times more than expected.
Oil prices have dropped more
than $11 since a record high of $70.85 reached at the end of August.
Petrol (gasoline) stocks in the
US rose by 4.2 million barrels, far higher than the 1.2 million rise
Cisco Systems, the world's
biggest maker of internet equipment, has posted a slightly lower
quarterly profit due to the cost of expensing stock options.
Net income in the first quarter
of its fiscal year was $1.3bn (£745m), down from $1.4bn a year ago.
US BIDDER FOR DRAX POWER
US electricity firm
Constellation Energy has made a firm takeover bid for Drax, Britain's
biggest power station.
Constellation says it has made
a "realistic bid" for Drax after taking a look at the
Two other groups had made
initial approaches valuing Drax at around £2bn, but neither followed up
with a firm takeover offer.
TURKEY GRANTED EU MARKET STATUS
Turkey has been granted
"market economy" status, a key hurdle on the road to full
membership of the EU.
The status, a prerequisite for
joining the EU, is expected to boost confidence in Turkey's economy
among domestic and foreign investors.
The European Commission said
Turkey must continue its economic reforms and abide by a pledge to open
its borders to Cypriot trade. Turkey is expected to include Cyprus in a
free trade deal it has with the EU.
UK rail and bus operator
FirstGroup has blamed increasing fuel costs for a dip in first-half
Pre-tax profits for the six
months to 30 September fell to £55.3m from £64.3m at the same time
Falling prices have hit profits
at Mittal Steel, one of the world's largest steel producers.
An 11% fall in sales prices in
July-September ate into operating income, which fell to $765m (£440m)
from $1.9bn in the same period of 2004.
A strong performance from Royal
& Sun Alliance's (RSA) core businesses helped the insurer more than
double profits in the nine months to September.
Operating profits at the group
jumped to £488m from £241m, compared to the same period last year.
VIETNAM TO PRODUCE BIRD FLU
Vietnam says it is to become
the first country to produce under licence the drug believed to be an
effective treatment for bird flu.
It said it had agreed with
Swiss firm Roche to start making generic supplies of Tamiflu early next
Vietnam has suffered most of
the 63 human deaths from bird flu to date, the latest fatality occurring
Roche said recently it would
allow other firms to produce the drug to combat a potential flu
US SEEKS INDIAN FINANCE REFORMS
US Treasury Secretary John Snow
has asked India to consider opening its financial, insurance and pension
fund sector to foreign investors.
Mr Snow, who is on a five-day
visit to India, said opening of these sectors would provide funds to
improve roads, railways, ports and power plants.
He met Indian business leaders
and is scheduled to meet the PM and finance minister later in the week
BROWN 'MUST CUT PUBLIC
Employers' organisation the CBI
has warned the chancellor that he must cut back on his public spending
It says that the government
needs to close a £10bn budget black hole in order to secure the public
And it warns that further tax
increases would be "extremely damaging" at a time when
economic growth is slowing down.
But the Treasury says the
government's spending plans are fully affordable. Mr Brown will publish
his forecast in the Pre Budget Report later this month.
UK'S MANUFACTURING OUTPUT DROPS
UK's Manufacturing output fell
for the second month running in September, down 0.3%, the biggest drop
However, on a three-monthly
basis, output grew at a rate of 0.4%, according to the Office for
National Statistics (ONS).
Industrial production was
weaker than expected in September, due to maintenance work in certain
oil fields dragging on into the month.
This left industrial output
0.5% higher instead of the expected 0.8% rise.
The three-monthly trend for
industrial production also looks a bit more promising, with output now
expected to drop at a rate of 1.5% instead of 3%.