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NI activity suffers fall

Northern Ireland recorded its first drop in business output in a year-and-a-half in December, a survey showed.

Growth of new business slowed and employment was broadly unchanged," Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank N. Ireland economist, said the slowdown was particularly marked as the year closed. It comes days after UK Chancellor George Osborne tabled legislation allowing for corporation tax powers to be devolved from 2017.

Rise in apprentices

The number of new construction apprentices rose by 660 last year, with over 2,100 new apprenticeship registrations taking place.

The big increases were in electrical, carpentry and plumbing apprenticeships. The number of new electrical apprentices grew by 62pc, while carpentry apprenticeships rose by 87pc and plumbing experienced an increase of almost a third.

Tiffany shares plunge

Tiffany shares fell the most in more than three years after a sluggish Christmas season spurred the luxury jewellery chain to cut its annual forecast.

Sales in November and December declined 1pc to $1.02 billion worldwide, the New York-based company said yesterday.

Currency fluctuations and a continued slump in Japan took a toll on the results, along with a surprise slowdown in its home market.

Pay in UK finance jobs

Workers who found new jobs in London's financial services sector during 2014 secured an average 18pc salary rise, reflecting increased demand for staff, data from recruiter Morgan McKinley showed yesterday.

The salary jump in the City far outstrips pay growth for British workers in general, which has only recently shown signs of picking up after lagging inflation for most of the period since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Cameron on economy

UK Prime Minister David Cameron put the economy and cutting the deficit at the heart of his Conservative Party's campaign for May's general election, warning that a vote for the opposition Labour Party would cause "economic chaos".

Standards of health care and other public services can only be maintained if the books are balanced, he said in a speech yesterday.

"Nothing we want to achieve will be possible unless we eliminate our deficit and deal with our debt.

"If we fail to meet this challenge, the writing is on the wall," Mr Cameron said.

Irish Independent