Osborne under pressure to cut taxes
George Osborne, chancellor, is under pressure from Tory MPs to use next month’s Budget to announce pre-election tax cuts to offset the prospect of a politically damaging rise in interest rates before polling day. One Tory MP said the idea of the Bank of England raising base rates from a historic low of 0.5 per cent before the May 2015 election was like an “iceberg” and the chancellor needed to take pre-emptive action.
Private groups to buy NHS services
The NHS has for the first time asked the private sector to help purchase billions of pounds worth of services for hospitals and GPs. NHS England on Tuesday advertised for companies to compete for work worth at least £5bn advising the new doctor-led clinical commissioning groups, which spend more than two-thirds of the NHS budget buying care for patients.
iPhone security flaw exposed
Apple is facing its biggest security scare in years after flaws in its iPhone software risked exposing its users’ communications. Researchers at FireEye, a cyber security firm, published a “proof of concept” surveillance app that would allow an attacker to capture every tap on the iPhone’s screen or buttons. Apple quietly released a software update on Friday that fixed a serious weakness, which had existed for more than a year.
£30m research funding for drones
Research into the use of drones in civil aviation is among seven projects that have earned £30 million of government funding in an attempt to boost the aerospace sector. The project by BAE Systems to explore “unmanned aviation in the civil market” is at an early regulatory stage.
Macy’s sales hit by bad weather
Revenue in the fourth quarter fell to $9.2bn from $9.35bn last year. However, the run from Thanksgiving in November to Christmas was a success, lifting profits for the quarter ending on February 1 by 11 per cent to $811m. Full-year profits rose 11.3 per cent to $1.48bn.
The Daily Telegraph
Britain’s growth prospects upgraded
Britain’s growth prospects have been upgraded by the European Commission, with lower unemployment, stronger investment and an improving trade deficit reinforcing the view that the recovery will broaden this year. The EC now expects Britain grow by 2.5 per cent in 2014.
Farming is growing sector, says NFU
British farmers defied the recession and boosted their economic output by 54 per cent between 2008 and 2012, the National Farmers Union has claimed with a plea for politicians and retailers not to “forget” the economic importance of the sector.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Concerns over Ukrainian currency
Uncertainty in Ukraine is weighing on the nation’s currency. The hryvnia sank to a record low yesterday amid growing expectations that the cash-strapped country will have to devalue its currency significantly to secure financial assistance from abroad. The dollar rose to 9.73 hryvnia, up more than 5 per cent from Monday.
Yuan’s decline triggers fears
The sudden slide of the Chinese currency has raised concern that the yuan is nearing levels that could trigger an unwinding of billions of dollars in highly leveraged bets on its appreciation.