Sunday 18 March 2018

Business Briefs: Pound falls on election worries

Liam Casey, Chief Executive of PCH International
Liam Casey, Chief Executive of PCH International
stephen kjinsella

With investor concern mounting that next month's UK general election will produce no clear winner, not even a resurgence in British manufacturing is offering support to the pound.

Sterling fell versus 12 of its 16 major peers yesterday, weakening for the first time in five days against the euro, even after data showed UK manufacturing output expanded last month at the fastest pace since July.

With 36 days until the May 7 election, polls are still showing the two major parties tied on about 35pc of the vote apiece, not enough for an overall majority.

"Currencies do not like political uncertainty," said Neil Jones, head of hedge-fund sales at Mizuho Bank.

"There is no clear leader and I sense genuine concern from investors regarding certain political configurations."

The pound depreciated 0.3pc to 72.61 pence per euro at 4:25pm. Sterling gained 0.2pc to $1.4841, having dropped to $1.4740 earlier, the lowest level since March 20.

A gauge of UK manufacturing rose to 54.4 last month, matching theestimates of analysts.

It climbed from a revised 54 in February, according to Markit Economics. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Britain's gross domestic product expanded 0.6pc in the final three months of 2014, more than the 0.5pc previously estimated and an eighth consecutive quarterly gain, the Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday. UK government bonds rose.

Education: PCH chief on board of college

The Board of Trustees of California College of the Arts has approved the appointment of PCH Founder and chief executive Liam Casey as a board member.

Founded in 1907, the college offers 22 undergraduate and 12 graduate programmes in the areas of fine arts, architecture, design, and writing. Mr Casey said he was honoured to be appointed.

"The California College of Arts is a leading international design institute and I am honoured to be appointed as board member. I look forward to working with the team at CCA as we examine the convergence between technology and the arts, and seek to identify new opportunities for the future," he said.

Chair of the board Diane Christensen said she was delighted to welcome Mr Casey.

"As a prominent Bay Area business leader, he embraces the values we hold dear," she said. "I look forward to working with Liam as we build on CCA's reputation as a leader in art and design education."

Industry: UK manufacturing rises

UK manufacturing grew at the fastest pace in eight months in March, reinforcing the health of the recovery as politicians clash over economic management before the general election.

A Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 54.4 from 54 in February, Markit Economics said yesterday in London. It has held above 50, the dividing line between expansion and contraction, for two years.

Eurozone manufacturing expanded faster than initially estimated last month and a gauge for China rebounded, separate reports showed.

The UK numbers came a day after data showed the economy grew more than initially estimated in the fourth quarter as consumers and exporters steered Britain into its longest stretch of uninterrupted growth since 2008.

Prime Minister David Cameron is counting on that good news to help in the May 7 vote, as polls show his Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party battling for first place.

The increase in the UK index was in line with the median forecast of economists.

Markit said new orders increased at the fastest pace in eight months, with export demand rising to its strongest level since August.

Economic growth since the recession has been largely powered by domestic demand, with exports only just starting to overcome weakness in the euro region, Britain's biggest trading partner.

"The sector's recovery is picking up pace," said Vicky Redwood, chief UK economist at Capital Economics in London.

Online: Job advertisements on the up

The number of jobs being advertised online grew 7pc in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2014.

An increase of 4pc in jobs advertised online is reported by the Jobs Index for the first quarter compared with the previous quarter.

One in 10 jobs are in IT; one in 10 in banking, financial services and Insurance; 9pc of the jobs are in sales; 9pc are in hotel and catering; with approximately 6pc in production and manufacturing or customer Service and call centres; and with 4pc in retail, and in science pharmaceutical and food.

University of Limerick economist and author of the report Stephen Kinsella said the findings were positive.

"While the Irish economy grew by more than 5pc in 2014, the Jobs Index reported an increase of 7pc in online jobs advertisements including all professional jobs.

"This quarter sees a rise of 4pc in jobs advertised online. The report keeps track of two high-skill, high value add sectors in Ireland."

He said jobs were up across a range of sectors.

Banking: Depfa bank job cut plans

Depfa Bank, the Dublin-based, German-owned lender put into wind-down last year, plans to cut 28 of its 140 staff in Ireland "by autumn" this year,

A spokesman for the bank said the job cuts are part of the company's plans to wind down its business and cut costs.

It said Depfa is initially seeking redundancies on a voluntary basis, and will opt for compulsory cuts if the target is not met.

However, he declined to give details on the types of jobs involved.

The collapse of IFSC-based Depfa was the biggest in Irish history. The bill was picked up by the German taxpayer because the company was effectively German and a collapse would have hit the German financial sector hard.

Last May it was announced that the German government had abandoned plans to sell Depfa, opting instead to wind it down.

Depfa is a unit of bailed-out lender Hypo Real Estate Holding.

It was believed that German taxpayers, who own Hypo Real Estate, would achieve "a higher value" by running down the unit than by selling it, the German government said.

The building wherte Depfa is based in Dublin was bought by stock market-listed property firm Hibernia Reit in a deal announced last August.

Hibernia bought the Forum building from US property firm Atlas Capital Group, which was fully let to Depfa. The building is on Commons Street.

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