The latest house price news from the Nationwide Building Society confirms the news provided by other surveys in recent months about the weakening housing market. The Nationwide survey found that average house prices fell for the second month in a row in April. The 0.4% reduction in average prices has taken the annual rate of house price inflation down to 2.6% - its lowest rate for four years.
A number of factors are combining to create this weakness in the property market.
Have you noticed the increasing numbers of new - and large - cars when parking at the supermarket? Many if not most of these cars would have been acquired via special car finance products, including the product that is growing in popularity amongst dealerships and consumers – Personal Contract Payments (PCP). But this growth in car finance, which now accounts for circa 90% of new car sales in some dealerships, is concerning both the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England.
Those forecasting an economic catastrophe in the wake of the Brexit vote in last June’s referendum may have spent much of the past year reflecting on whether they called it right – with retail sales surging, the FTSE-100 hitting a record high and unemployment falling to its lowest rate since 2005. But news and data published in recent weeks is now indicating that a more sombre economic environment is starting to envelop the UK.
There’s a new kid on the block. The Lifetime ISA, or Lisa as it’s commonly known, allows 20 to 39 year olds to invest up to £4,000 a year until they are 50 and, for each £100 invested, the government will add £25. The catch is that it either has to be used to buy a first home, worth up to £450,000 in value, or accessed after the age of 60, to help fund retirement.
March 2017 saw the total number of people who have registered for the free courses in financial education provided by the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance (True Potential PUFin), based at the Open University Business School, pass 250,000. It was particularly apt that the month also saw recognition for the work of the Centre at the Guardian University Awards, with True Potential PUFin winning the award for Business Partnership
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that price inflation in the UK is on the rise.
At 2.3% the rate to the end of February, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), is 0.5% higher than in the year to the end of January. The news is not a great surprise – the fall in the value of the pound following the vote to leave the EU in the referendum last June is pushing up import prices and this gets reflected in the cost of living indices in the UK.
The latest unemployment and earnings data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) portray an interesting picture of the labour market in the UK. At 4.7% of the workforce unemployment is now as low as it was in summer 1975 – the year of the first referendum on membership of the European Economic Community (the precursor to the European Union).
Every year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revises the contents of the so-called ‘basket of goods’ used to measure price inflation in the UK. The changes, reflecting shifting consumer preferences, are essential to ensure that the resultant measures of inflation provide a true barometer of how changing prices are affecting the average household. The annual changes made by the ONS are therefore a good guide to changing tastes when it comes to eating and drinking and changing habits when it comes to social and sporting activities.
TS Eliot’s poem ‘The Hollow Men’ ends with the line that the world would end 'not with a bang but a whimper’. The same phrase could be applied to the last spring budget statement presented today by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond.
This last spring budget saw only 28 measures announced compared with 77 last year. Virtually all the main announcements had been trailed before today and there were no great surprises. Even the Chancellor joked that two of his headline statements had been made public in the last few days by the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
One overworked cliché about decisions to buy or sell shares and other securities is ‘get your timing right’.
Sound advice. However the history of good investment decisions that were all about good timing, as opposed to simply good luck, is pretty thin.