Thursday Newspaper round up

Israel and the Islamist Hamas group agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on Wednesday, ending a bloody eight-day conflict in and around the Gaza Strip that has claimed the lives of at least 152 Palestinians and five Israelis. The truce was announced in Cairo by Mohammed Kamel Amr, the Egyptian foreign minister, in a joint press conference with Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state. Mr Amr said the recent diplomatic effort had produced ‘understandings to cease fire and restore calm and halt the bloodshed that the last period has seen.’ [Financial Times]

The chief executives of two of Britain’s biggest retailers have written to the Government to seek an extension of Sunday trading hours on December 23, which is expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year. Andy Clarke of Asda and Dalton Philips of Morrisons have sent a letter to Michael Fallon, the Business Minister, calling for trading hours to be extended by up to two hours. The push for a relaxation of trading hours by Britain’s second and fourth largest supermarket groups follows lengthened hours during the Olympics and Paralympics this summer. [The Telegraph]

Standard Life, the Edinburgh-based insurance giant, has confirmed plans to cut 139 jobs as it restructures its UK business in preparation for radical reforms in the pensions industry. The group said it needed to introduce “more streamlined and flexible organisational structures” to meet the twin challenges of the retail distribution review (RDR), which will ban commission payments to financial advisers from next year, and new rules forcing employers to provide pensions for all eligible members of staff. [The Scotsman]

The Government is heading for the loss of its triple-A credit rating and a breach of its debt target, one of the world’s leading fund managers warned in the wake of a fresh deterioration in the public finances. Myles Bradshaw, of Pimco, the world’s top bond fund, said the odds were high that Britain would suffer a downgrade to its credit rating in 2013, but he added that the Chancellor should not to “double up” on austerity in order to prevent politically inconvenient breaches of his short-term fiscal goals. [The Times]

Big banks are good for Britain and must not be broken up, according to George Osborne, as he argued the country’s largest lenders were beneficial to society. The Chancellor warned that “aggressively” breaking up banks would do little to benefit the UK and insisted the Government’s plans to put in place a so-called “ring fence” to force banks to isolate their riskier, investment banking businesses from their retail arm was the right way to make the financial system safer. [The Telegraph]

Sir Philip Green, the owner of the fashion group Arcadia, hopes to launch its first Topshop and Topman stores in China next year, as the billionaire said retailers should focus on improving their performance and stop “crying” about tough trading conditions on the high street. The entrepreneur yesterday unveiled a leap in annual profits at Arcadia, which also runs the Bhs and Burton brands, and revealed he is plotting a “major push” of its fledgling operation in the US. [The Independent]

The energy regulator, Ofgem, failed to implement its own consultants’ recommendation a year ago to tighten up the way energy companies report trading activities – and admits it may now have to revisit the issue. The energy watchdog also confirmed it was tipped off about possible manipulation of the wholesale market on 17 October – more than three weeks before the energy secretary, Ed Davey, was told. Caroline Flint MP, the shadow energy and climate change secretary, who has already called for Ofgem to be scrapped for a tougher regulator, said the public was owed a proper explanation of what was going on. [The Guardian]

Hopes were rising in Brussels that an unlikely deal with the UK over the EU’s long-term budget was taking shape, although the chief negotiator was trying to resolve a deluge of last-minute complaints from other countries on the eve of what could be a gruelling summit. The cautious optimism about the UK represents a significant shift: David Cameron, the prime minister, was seen as the biggest obstacle to a deal on the budget, which will cover roughly €1 trillion in spending from 2014 to 2020. The changed mood reflects the encouraging reception that British officials have given to the latest proposal from Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president. The draft set a ceiling of €940bn for payments over the seven-year period, a €3bn reduction from the current long-term budget. [Financial Times]

Join the Forum discussion on this post

You may also like...