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UK economy picking up, surveys suggest

Category : Business

CBI sees signs of rising business confidence, while Lloyds data shows growth in seven of England’s nine regions

Britain is starting to see green shoots of recovery as business activity picks up, companies continue to hire new staff and consumers start to spend again.

A series of surveys published on Monday suggest the UK is on the road to recovery after its double-dip recession, providing a boost for chancellor George Osborne.

Business lobby group the CBI expects the economy to grow by 1% this year and 2% in 2014. That contrasts with the IMF, which recently slashed its growth forecast for the UK from 1% to 0.7%, and suggested Osborne should rethink his austerity programme.

The CBI has consistently supported the chancellor on austerity, although it has called for more measures to boost growth. John Cridland, director general of the CBI, said on Monday: “The UK economy is moving from flat to growth.”

But he warned that the country continues to face big challenges. “Although recent data suggests rising business confidence, the economic climate remains tough, hampering demand here and overseas. Meanwhile, consumers remain under pressure, as inflation continues to outstrip wage growth.”

In April, business activity grew at its fastest rate in eight months, according to Lloyds TSB’s purchasing managers’ index. The PMI – which is based on data from 1,200 manufacturing and services companies – came in at 52.2 in April, up from 51.6 in March, moving further above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

The survey showed growth in seven of England’s nine regions, led by Yorkshire & Humber with a reading of 55.7. Only the West Midlands and the North East reported a slight reduction in business activity, hit by a weaker performance of the manufacturing sector and spending in those regions.

Elsewhere, it seems Britons are going out more and parting with their cash, cheered by the warm weather. Barclaycard said spending rose 3.6% last month compared with April last year, led by 21% growth in spending on cinema and theatre tickets. Restaurants also benefited with an 11% increase in spending, as did DIY stores, up 8.5%. Growth in spending online continued to outstrip the high street, up 11.7% on last year, compared with just 1.7% in bricks and mortar shops.

Valerie Soranno Keating, chief executive of Barclaycard, said: “Although economic data is generally mixed, this is the first time since 2011 that we’ve seen growth above 2% for three consecutive months, which may suggest a more sustained improvement in sentiment.”

A forward-looking survey of the jobs market suggests it too is looking healthy, with growth in employment set to continue in the second quarter. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said more employers are expecting to increase headcount than those who intend to cut jobs, with a balance of +9, up from +5 for the previous quarter.

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD labour market adviser said: “Even though last month’s official figures showed a slight dip in the level of employment, these findings suggest that further employment growth is possible.”

But he notes that the number of jobs being created may fail to keep pace with the population growth, meaning unemployment could still rise.

UK block on overseas spouse pensions

Category : Business

People who live abroad will no longer be entitled to a British state pension based solely on the employment record of their spouse, under government plans.

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Say hello to zero hours, kiss goodbye to workers’ rights | Tanya Gold

Category : Business

Our labour market looks more and more like The

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China’s economic growth slows to 7.7%

Category : Business

Falling factory output and investment hit first-quarter GDP growth – down from 7.9% but still above Beijing’s 7.5% target

China’s economic recovery stumbled unexpectedly in the first three months of 2013, forcing analysts to start slashing full-year forecasts despite official insistence that the outlook was favourable.

The world’s second-biggest economy grew 7.7% in the first quarter from a year ago, slower than the 7.9% hit in the fourth quarter of 2012, below the Reuters consensus forecast of 8% and confounding expectations of a surprise uptick that emerged after surging credit and export data were published last week.

Sheng Laiyun, a spokesman at the National Bureau of Statistics, which released GDP in a flurry of other data on Monday, said: “China’s economic fundamentals haven’t changed. We are confident about future growth and optimistic about achieving this year’s growth target.” China has set a 7.5% GDP growth target for 2013, a level Beijing believes will create sufficient jobs while providing room to deliver structural reforms the government – and international policy advisers – believe are necessary to put growth on a more sustainable long-term footing.

“Employment is very stable,” Sheng said. “Stable employment is a basic indicator of China’s economic stability,” he added, quoting ministry of labour and social securities data showing that China created more than 3m new jobs in the first quarter.

Commodities from crude oil to copper, wheat and corn all fell after the data, share prices were knocked lower and the Australian dollar slid as investors repriced expectations of import demand from China.

A 0.1% downgrade of the World Bank’s 2013 China growth forecast to 8.3% following last week’s cut to the global trade outlook from the World Trade Organisation was a further blow to economists anticipating that broadly brighter global economic data in the first three months of 2013 would underpin China’s recovery.

Industrial output growth of 8.9% on a year ago in March versus expectations of 10% and fixed asset investment growth of 20.9% in the first quarter versus the 21.3% market consensus were big drags on sentiment – as well as GDP.

The most sluggish increase in power generation in six months, up 2.1% year on year in March, and a 3.2% fall in daily crude steel output in the same period, were taken as signs of cooling activity.

That data, released alongside GDP, overshadowed a gentle uptick in retail sales growth to 12.6% year on year in March from 12.3% in February and expectations of 12.5%.

Stocks: Jobs take center stage

Category : Stocks

Investors head into the second quarter with a focus on the employment picture and how consumers are feeling about the U.S. economy.

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Australia adds most jobs in 13 years

Category : World News

Australia adds 71,500 jobs in February, a huge jump and the biggest rise in total employment in more than a decade.

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‘Jobs boom’ from PPI mis-selling

Category : Business

The giant employment group Manpower says at least 20,000 jobs have been created to deal with claims over mis-sold payment protection insurance.

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Harper Government Supports Employment and Skills Training for Students in Ukraine

Category : World News

SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN–(Marketwire – March 9, 2013) - Men and women from underprivileged groups in Ukraine will gain access to skills training and improve their employment opportunities, thanks to a partnership between the Harper Government and the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST). Today, Member of Parliament Brad Trost (Saskatoon – Humboldt), on behalf of the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, reaffirmed Canada’s support for the Skills for Employment Project in Ukraine.

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US economic activity picked up in January and February, report says

Category : Business

National Employment report showed private employers added 198,000 jobs with orders for goods slowly increasing

Private employers in the US hired more workers than expected in February and demand for a range of factory goods was solid in January.

The reports on Wednesday suggested economic activity picked up after it stalled in the final three months of 2012.

Private employers added 198,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the ADP National Employment Report showed, handily beating economists’ expectations for an increase of 170,000. There were solid gains in construction, where payrolls rose by 21,000 jobs.

Adding to the report’s firm tone, January’s count was revised to show 23,000 more jobs added than previously reported. The report is jointly developed with Moody’s Analytics.

“It feels like underlying job growth continues to improve, and at the current pace, this should be enough to start bringing down unemployment,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. The jobless rate is currently at 7.9%.

“In a really rip-roaring economy, we’d be creating closer to 300,000 jobs a month or a bit north of that. So we’re not there yet, but we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed orders for manufactured goods dropped 2%, weighed down by a plunge in demand for transportation equipment.

But orders excluding the volatile transportation category increased a healthy 1.3%, pointing to underlying strength in a sector that carried the economy out of the 2007-09 recession.

The department also said non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, increased by a more robust 7.2% in January instead of 6.3%, as it reported last week.

That optimism was also captured in the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, which showed growth improving gradually in January and early February, largely thanks to a broad-based housing market recovery.

Apprentice winner ‘overpaid lackey’

Category : World News

A winner of The Apprentice TV show tells an employment tribunal that she was just an “overpaid lackey”.

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