Good morning. New York has appointed its first-ever “rat czar” to help tackle the city’s rodent infestation. The $155,000 position has been taken by former schoolteacher Kathleen Corradi, who has vowed: “You’ll be seeing a lot more of me – and a lot less rats.”
UK economy stands still
The UK economy stalled unexpectedly in February with zero growth, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data. Analysts had expected a rise of 0.1% but growth in the construction sector offset falls in services and production with no growth in manufacturing. Public sector strike action weighed on productivity with services output falling by 0.1% driven by teacher and civil servant walkouts. On the plus side, the UK economy is now, finally, back to where it was before the pandemic although it’s the last major economy to do so. Earlier this week the International Monetary Fund said it expects the UK to be one of the worst performers in G20 in the next couple of years. The IMF projected the UK economy will shrink 0.3% this year and expand just 1% in 2024.
Tesco profits slashed
Profits at the UK’s biggest supermarket halved to £753m in the past year in what it described as an “incredibly tough year for customers” as it faced “significant operating cost inflation” from suppliers, wages and energy bills. Revenue rose 7.2% to £65.7bn during the period but customers bought fewer items in a bid to manage household budgets amid a cost of living squeeze. Tesco said profits are unlikely to change much this year as it aims to offset at least some cost pressures from rampant inflation.
Rent race set to continue
The ongoing imbalance between rental housing supply and demand means record rent inflation is likely to continue, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. The monthly RICS survey showed that tenant demand was as at a five-month high in March while the number of available properties fell resulting in fierce competition for lettings. According to Zoopla average rents have increased by 11.1% in the last 12 months. All UK regions are forecast to see an increase in rent prices this year.
Depositor guarantees could rise
The Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said banking regulators need to review how much protection they give depositors following the collapse of Credit Suisse and Silicon Valley Bank. Currently UK banks insure up to £85,000 per saving account. This is lower than the $250,000 (£200,000) that is guaranteed by US banks and the €100,000 (£88,000) backed by EU banks. While most people do not have £85,000 in the bank, raising the protection limit could reassure older people with retirement savings anytime there is a crisis of confidence in the banking sector.
Not budging: The chancellor has said it would be a "terrible mistake" to give pay rises above the rate of inflation, even though strikes are hitting the economy.
Audit fallout: EY has reportedly told UK staff to brace for a wave of cuts, after the business spent $600m globally preparing for a now-scrapped breakup of its operations.
Bets are off: The Premier League has banned clubs from having gambling sponsorship on the front of their match-day shirts.
Booming pay: ExxonMobil handed its CEO a 52% pay increase to $35.9m for 2022 after the oil company reported its highest ever profits amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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