Gold hits 10-month peak on hopes for U.S.-China trade talks

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Gold prices surged to a 10-month high on Tuesday, as the U.S. dollar weakened, on optimism for a breakthrough in U.S.-China trade talks, with bullion also receiving support as a safe-haven asset due to concerns over global growth.

A gauge of global stock markets rose modestly, with an advance in Walmart helping to lift Wall Street equities, although gains were hemmed in by concerns in Europe a car tariff could hurt the region’s exports to the United States.

Worries over a possible global economic slowdown buoyed gold prices. The World Trade Organization warned of sluggish trade as a leading indicator of world merchandise trade hit its lowest reading in nine years.

A new round of talks between the United States and China to resolve an extended trade spat will take place in Washington on Tuesday, with follow-up sessions at a higher level later in the week, following a round of negotiations in Beijing last week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27.17 points, or 0.1 percent, to 25,856.08, the S&P 500 lost 0.1 points, or 0.00 percent, to 2,775.5 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.93 points, or 0.12 percent, to 7,481.34.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.23 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.05 percent.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.07 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.03 percent higher, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.10 percent.

Gold prices surged to a near 10-month high, driven by concerns over slowing global growth. Adding to recent weak data from the United States, Japan and China, an ECB official signaled interest rates would remain at current levels until monetary policy goals are met.

Spot gold added 0.9 percent to $1,338.21 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 1.44 percent to $1,341.20 an ounce.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Tuesday the central bank was ready to ramp up stimulus if the stronger yen derails the path toward its 2 percent inflation target.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.03 percent versus the greenback at 110.61 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.3028, up 0.83 percent on the day.

The dollar index, tracking the U.S. unit against six major currencies, fell 0.27 percent, with the euro up 0.18 percent to $1.1328.

“We are hoping to hear more positive news on trade,” said Dean Popplewell, chief currency strategist at Oanda in Toronto. “The dollar should come under pressure as it loses some safe-haven appeal.”

The Swedish crown pared losses against the dollar after hitting a more than four-year low after inflation data came in decidedly weak just two months after a milestone rate hike.

The crown lost 0.74 percent versus the U.S. dollar at 9.32.

U.S. crude rose 0.07 percent to $55.63 per barrel and Brent was last at $65.92, down 0.87 percent.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 8/32 in price to yield 2.6375 percent, from 2.666 percent late on Friday.

The 30-year bond last rose 12/32 in price to yield 2.9786 percent, from 2.997 percent late on Friday.

Copper rose 0.77 percent to $6,323.50 a ton.

(Graphic: Global assets in 2019 – tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl)

(Graphic: Global currencies vs. dollar – tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh)

Source: Read Full Article

U.S. wants pledge for stable Chinese yuan as talks resume: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is seeking to secure a pledge from China it will not devalue its yuan as part of an agreement intended to end the countries’ trade war, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

Officials from the two countries, which resumed talks on Tuesday in Washington, are discussing how to address currency policy in a “Memorandum of Understanding” that would form the basis of a U.S.-China trade deal, the news agency reported, citing unnamed people involved in and briefed on the discussions.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had told Reuters last October that currency issues must be part of U.S.-China trade negotiations and that Chinese officials told him that further depreciation of the yuan was not in their interests.

The Bloomberg report said the U.S. request for a pledge to keep the yuan’s value stable was aimed at neutralizing any effort by Beijing to devalue its currency to counter American tariffs.

Spokesmen for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, which is leading the talks, and the U.S. Treasury, which leads currency policy, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Two days of negotiations between deputy-level officials began on Tuesday, led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish on the U.S. side. Higher-level talks involving Mnuchin and led by USTR Robert Lighthizer, are expected to begin on Thursday.

Related Coverage

  • U.S. seeking stable yuan pledge in China trade deal: Bloomberg TVU.S. seeking stable yuan pledge in China trade deal: Bloomberg TV
  • Germany sees 'most difficult part' in EU-U.S. trade talks aheadGermany sees 'most difficult part' in EU-U.S. trade talks ahead

The talks follow a round of negotiations that ended in Beijing last week without a deal but which officials said had generated progress on contentious issues between the world’s two largest economies.

The talks are aimed at “achieving needed structural changes in China that affect trade between the United States and China. The two sides will also discuss China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of goods and services from the United States,” the White House said in a statement issued late on Monday.

U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if no deal is reached by March 1.

Source: Read Full Article

Oil slips from 2019 high as economy worries weigh

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil fell from its 2019 high of almost $67 a barrel on Tuesday as concerns about the progress of U.S.-China trade talks and slowing economic growth countered lower supplies.

Supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have helped crude to rise more than 20 percent this year, although demand-side worries remain the main drag on the market.

Brent crude slipped 64 cents to $65.86 a barrel by 1435 GMT, having reached a 2019 high of $66.83 on Monday. U.S. crude was down 26 cents at $55.33.

“The market is slowly regaining its bullish footing, subject to the perception of economic risks tied to U.S.-China trade talks,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, global head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas.

More talks between the United States and China to resolve their trade dispute will take place on Tuesday. Traders said they were cautious on taking large new positions before the outcome of the talks.

“If they falter, we run the risk of sell-offs like we had in December,” Tchilinguirian said.

In a further warning sign about the economic outlook, Europe’s biggest bank HSBC warned it may delay some investments this year as it missed 2018 profit forecasts due to slowing growth in China and Britain.

OPEC last week lowered its forecast for growth in world oil demand in 2019 to 1.24 million barrels per day and some analysts believe it could be weaker still.

“Given a continuously uncertain economic picture, our already relatively bearish outlook for 2019 of below 1 million bpd in global oil demand growth may be subject to further downwards revisions,” analysts at JBC Energy wrote.

To stop a build-up of inventories that could weigh on prices, the group of OPEC and non-OPEC producers known as OPEC+ began a new supply cut of 1.2 million bpd on Jan. 1.

Top crude exporter Saudi Arabia has sharply reduced production and exports to ensure that the deal gets off to a strong start.

In keeping with that aim, the kingdom plans to reduce light crude oil supplies to Asian customers for March, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

U.S. sanctions against exporters Iran and Venezuela have provided additional support to the market.

Venezuela is a major crude supplier to U.S. refineries. Iran’s exports, while down steeply since the sanctions began in November, have risen in early 2019, according to tanker data and sources.

Source: Read Full Article

Huawei founder says will not share data with China: CBS News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s founder and chief executive pledged not to share any customer information with the Chinese government and said the company had never done so, in an interview with CBS News that aired on Tuesday.

Asked if it had shared data with China’s government, Huawei’s Ren Zhengfei said in a translated interview with the television news outlet: “For the past 30 years, we have never done that. And (for) the next 30 years to come, we will never do that.”

Ren also said the company did not have a back door to share customer data with Beijing without his knowledge.

“It is not possible,” he told CBS, saying if there were such an opening the United States would have uncovered it already.

On Monday, Ren said in a separate interview with the BBC that the technology company would not undertake any spying activities and that it could shift its business investments to other countries amid an ongoing U.S. pressure campaign.

The United States is calling on its allies not to use technology from Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecommunication equipment, amid concerns over its relationship with the Chinese government and allegations it has enabled state espionage.

Huawei has repeatedly denied such claims.

Source: Read Full Article

Activist Bramson's unlikely Barclays board seat bid sharpens scrutiny of bank

LONDON (Reuters) – Activist investor Edward Bramson’s bid to join the Barclays board is destined to fail, shareholders told Reuters, though he has sharpened scrutiny of its investment banking strategy that Bramson argues has depressed profitability.

When Barclays reports its 2018 results on Thursday, investors will examine whether the trading and advisory business that Bramson believes should be shrunk has improved its performance, and whether those gains are sustainable.

“The onus is now on the Barclays management team to convince the market that their plan is the best way forward,” one investor said. “This probably requires more disclosure on the varying returns within the corporate and investment bank.”

The high-profile dispute between Bramson and Barclays CEO Jes Staley over strategy has helped spark wider debate about the viability of European investment banks, which have in recent years increasingly lagged U.S. rivals.

Barclays rival HSBC on Tuesday for instance reported a slump in fourth-quarter trading revenue, joining other European lenders in seeing a sharp annual decline from stock trading while U.S. rivals prospered.

(Graphic: Investment banks hit by Q4 market rout – tmsnrt.rs/2TVGoOq)

Bramson’s Sherborne vehicle holds 5.5 percent of Barclays stock.

In a letter to his shareholders last December, he criticized the bank’s tactic of using considerable capital and resources to chase modest or volatile investment banking revenues by undercutting rivals, which might beef up market share temporarily but offer poor long-term returns.

Barclays declined to comment.

Barclays’ corporate and investment bank averaged an annual return on equity of 4 percent between 2015 and 2017, compared with 6 percent for Barclays UK and 23 percent for the Consumer, Cards and Payments business, a Reuters analysis showed.

Bramson also said “fortunately timed” tax income benefits and some 900 million pounds ($1.2 billion) worth of non-recurring items put a gloss on the bank’s recent earnings. The bank by contrast said the report showed its strategy working.

NOBLE EXIT

Investors said that while Bramson’s board seat bid is unlikely to succeed, it could offer him a “noble exit” from a campaign that threatens his track record in driving lucrative change at target firms.

“I think having been rebuffed by asking the board for a seat he was always likely to take it to shareholders, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t playing a game,” one investor, who declined to be named, said. 

“I’ve always thought he wouldn’t get anywhere and will just have to hope that the business does actually perform better than he thinks it can, and he can exit at a higher share price having nobly failed but without losing investors’ money.”

Barclays shares have fallen 27 percent since Bramson’s stake became public in March last year, suggesting his investors are currently set to take a heavy loss.

Some of Barclays’ recent actions to shore up the investment bank have irked investors sharing Bramson’s perspective, notably the appointment of more than 80 managing directors late last year and the transfer of up to 47 billion pounds of capital to the investment bank, to the perceived detriment of the broader group.

But while some share Bramson’s worries over Barclays’ poor risk-return profile and sagging credit rating – of just one notch above “junk” by Moody’s – it may prove hard to dismantle the bank’s strategy, even if he does win a board seat.

“If he gets on the board then he will definitely add value, but will he be a lone voice and still be seen as an outsider even though he has been voted on?” asked another investor.

TRACK RECORD

Bramson, together with Stephen Welker, co-managing director of Sherborne, has pursued 10 activist campaigns since 2003, six of which saw principals of Sherborne join the target company’s board.

Four of the investments were liquidated without a turnaround effort, including holdings in Scapa Group, Cutera, 4imprint Group and 3i Group.

According to filings, average sterling-based returns on the six completed investments before fees or incentive allocations were more than 110 percent.

All investors contacted by Reuters said they were not surprised by Bramson’s board seat resolution, tabled on Feb. 5, but said his chances of winning a place were slim.

“I can’t see any good reason why we would support his resolution,” a third shareholder said.

“At the moment, we have very little detail on what his alternative plan might be, and some of his reported conclusions look flawed, not least his focus on returns in Markets, whereas actually it is the Corporate bank that really needs to improve its returns.”

Source: Read Full Article

Walmart holiday quarter sales top estimates, shares jump

(Reuters) – Walmart Inc reported an estimate-beating jump in holiday quarter comparable sales on Tuesday as a strong economy boosted consumer spending and fueled more e-commerce purchases, sending shares of the world’s larger retailer up nearly 3 percent.

The performance offered a glimpse into the health of the U.S. consumer as spending was helped by a strong labor market and cheaper gasoline prices.

“We still feel pretty good about the consumer. We haven’t seen much of a change,” Walmart Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs told Reuters. “The data we are seeing still looks pretty healthy. Gas prices are down year over year, which helps.”

U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December, the government reported last week, as receipts fell across the board, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018.

Overall sales for the 2018 U.S. holiday shopping season hit a six-year high as shoppers were encouraged by early discounts, according to a Mastercard report in late December.

Walmart sales at U.S. stores open at least a year rose 4.2 percent, excluding fuel, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31. The gain exceeded analysts’ expectations of 2.96 percent, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Sales were also boosted after federal officials distributed food stamp aid early due to the partial government shutdown, the company said.

Adjusted earnings per share increased to $1.41 per share, beating expectations of $1.33 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Online sales jumped 43 percent during the quarter, in line with the previous quarter’s rise, helped by the expansion of Walmart’s online grocery pickup and delivery services and a broader assortment on its website.

The company has expanded a program that allows customers to order groceries online and pick them up at its U.S. stores. It said it will have the service at 3,100 stores by next January. At the end of the third quarter it was offered at 2,100 stores.

Walmart will add grocery deliveries to about 800 more stores by the end of the year, bringing the total to 1,600 stores during the same period.

Grocery sales currently make up 56 percent of total revenue. At its investor day last year, Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon claimed that Walmart has an advantage in the food category by offering fresh food within 10 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population.

Amazon.com Inc is trying to crack the food category, especially since it bought organic supermarket chain Whole Foods.

Walmart is partnering with third-party couriers and working with so-called gig, or freelance, drivers, who are cheaper than full-time employees, to drive down costs, Reuters recently reported.

Google-backed Deliv, a Walmart delivery partner in Miami and San Jose, ended its relationship with the retailer, Reuters reported last week.

The U.S. retailer, which overtook Apple Inc to become the third largest e-commerce retailer last year, is likely to capture a 4.6 percent share of the U.S. e-commerce market, behind eBay Inc and Amazon, according to research firm eMarketer.

Walmart repeated its forecast that fiscal year 2020 earnings per share would decline in the low single digits in percentage terms, compared with last year. Excluding the acquisition of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart, it sees an increase in the low- to mid-single-digits.

Walmart expects fiscal year 2020 comparable sales growth of 2.5 percent to 3 percent, excluding fuel and online sales growth of 35 percent.

Total revenue increased 1.9 percent to $138.8 billion, beating analysts’ estimates of $138.65 billion.

Walmart has recorded 18 quarters, or over four straight years of U.S. comparable sales growth, unmatched by any other retailer.

The stock rose to $102.66, up 2.7 percent in premarket trading.

Source: Read Full Article

Oil hovers below 2019 highs on OPEC cuts, trade talks in focus

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil stayed within sight of its 2019 high of almost $67 a barrel on Tuesday, supported by OPEC-led supply cuts although concern about slowing economic growth that would curb demand weighed.

The supply curbs led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have helped crude prices to rise more than 20 percent this year. U.S. sanctions against OPEC members Iran and Venezuela have also tightened the market.

Brent crude slipped 28 cents to $66.22 a barrel by 1011 GMT, not far from the 2019 high of $66.83 reached on Monday. U.S. crude was up 54 cents at $56.13.

“The market is slowly regaining its bullish footing, subject to the perception of economic risks tied to U.S.-China trade talks,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, global head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas.

Demand-side worries remain the main drag on prices. HSBC Holdings warned on Tuesday that an economic slowdown in China and Britain would throw up further hurdles this year.

More talks between the United States and China to resolve their trade dispute will take place in Washington on Tuesday. Traders said they were cautious on taking large new positions before the outcome of the talks.

“If they falter, we run the risk of sell-offs like we had in December,” Tchilinguirian said.

OPEC last week lowered its forecast for growth in world oil demand in 2019 to 1.24 million barrels per day and some analysts believe it could be weaker still.

“Given a continuously uncertain economic picture, our already relatively bearish outlook for 2019 of below 1 million bpd in global oil demand growth may be subject to further downwards revisions,” said analysts at JBC Energy.

To stop a buildup of inventories that could weigh on prices, the group of OPEC and non-OPEC producers known as OPEC+ began a new supply cut of 1.2 million bpd on Jan. 1.

Top crude exporter Saudi Arabia has sharply reduced production and exports to ensure that the deal gets off to a strong start.

In keeping with that aim, the kingdom plans to reduce light crude oil supplies to Asian customers for March, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

Further providing the oil market with support are U.S. sanctions against exporters Iran and Venezuela.

Venezuela is a major crude supplier to U.S. refineries while Iran is a key exporter to major demand centers in Asia, especially China and India.

Source: Read Full Article

Honda confirms it’s closing Swindon factory placing 3,500 jobs on the line

Car manufacturer Honda has confirmed plans to axe its only EU factory after rumours started to swirl of a potential closure on Monday.

The automotive giant said it will shut its Swindon factory in 2021 – which dates back to 1985 and marks its only facility within the EU.

The move, announced today, will place 3,500 jobs at risk, however, its closure is likely to impact more than 12,500 jobs in the plant’s supply chain, plus other businesses that are reliant on the ­factory’s workforce.

However the company will retain its European headquarters in Bracknell, Berkshire, as well as its Formula One racing team operations in the UK.

Today, Honda’s senior vice-president Ian Howell said: "This is not a Brexit-related decision for us."

It came after Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson said any decision would be unrelated to Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

He tweeted: "They are clear this is based on global trends and not Brexit as all European market production will consolidate in Japan in 2021.

"Working with Honda, Gov (led by the Business Secretary), staff and Unions there will be a taskforce set up to provide support for all staff (as we did when jobs were lost previously at Honda)."

In a press conference, Honda said: "This proposal comes as Honda accelerates its commitment to electrified cars, in response to the unprecedented changes in the global automotive industry.

"The significant challenges of electrification will see Honda revise its global manufacturing operations, and focus activity in regions where it expects to have high production volumes."

Katsushi Inoue, Honda’s chief officer for European Regional Operations and President, Honda Motor Europe added: "In light of the unprecedented changes that are affecting our industry, it is vital that we accelerate our electrification strategy and restructure our global operations accordingly.

"As a result, we have had to take this difficult decision to consult our workforce on how we might prepare our manufacturing network for the future. This has not been taken lightly and we deeply regret how unsettling today’s announcement will be for our people."

Honda had already announced plans to halt production for six days in April due to Brexit logistics and potential border disruption.

That’s despite the Japanese carmaker recently making a public pledge to safeguard its factory in Swindon – a move it has today made a u-turn on.

It produces more than 100,000 Civic cars at Swindon – around 90% of which are exported to Europe and the US.

Staff in the Wiltshire town – which voted 55% in favour of Brexit in the 2016 referendum – said they were angry about the development.

Alan Tomala, regional officer for the Unite union, and a former employee at the plant between 1995 and 2007, said workers were "angry, dismayed and worried".

"It’s absolutely devastating news, we’ll be speaking to our representatives on site" Tomala said.

"Honda is not just one of the biggest employers in Swindon, it’s also one of the biggest in the South West. For every job lost, you could have up to three lost in the local economy or in the supply chain. It’s extremely devastating news."

Earlier this month, Honda also confirmed it was axing temporary staff because of a reduction in production.

It said more than 350 roles would be stripped in Swindon due to an "industry-wide decline" in vehicle sales.

The manufacturer also warned in September that a no-deal Brexit would cost it tens of millions of pounds.

Des Quinn, of union Unite, said: “This would be a shattering body blow at the heart of UK manufacturing."

"A devastating decision"

Business Secretary Greg Clark said in a statement: "Honda have announced, as part of a global restructuring, plans to close their Swindon plant in 2021; and instead manufacture and export the new Civic model into Europe from Japan.

"As Honda have said, this is a commercial decision based on unprecedented changes in the global market. Regardless, this is a devastating decision for Swindon and the UK.

"This news is a particularly bitter blow to the thousands of skilled and dedicated staff who work at the factory, their families and all of those employed in the supply chain.

"I will convene a taskforce in Swindon with local MPs, civic and business leaders as well as trade union representatives to ensure that the skills and expertise of the workforce is retained, and these highly valued employees move into new skilled employment.

"The automotive industry is undergoing a rapid transition to new technology. The UK is one of the leaders in the development of these technologies and so it is deeply disappointing that this decision has been taken now."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: “Honda’s decision to close its factory in Swindon is a huge blow to the thousands of workers and the whole community.

“The Government’s disastrous handling of Brexit is letting people down across the country.”

An urgent Parliament meeting is expected today – with MPs able to request an urgent debate in the House of Commons from 12.30pm.

Tuesday’s decision follows a string of changes announced by manufacturers since the 2016 Brexit vote.

Car giant Ford has said it plans to let go of 400 workers as part of an extensive internal ‘redesign’ .

The company said it’s cutting hundreds of jobs at its Bridgend engine plant in the first phase of a redundancy push that could see many, and potentially thousands, of roles axed across its struggling European operations.

Jaguar Land Rover, meanwhile, has confirmed plans to axe 4,500 jobs by March.

The job losses will come in addition to the 1,500 who left the UK’s largest vehicle manufacturer in 2018.

The bulk of the cull will be “white collar” workers, including sales, marketing and administration at its headquarters in Whitley, Coventry.

Manufacturer Nissan has also hinted at plans to relocate its largest European factory over the next few years amid growing Brexit tension.

The Japanese car giant – which has already ditched plans to build its new X-Trail SUV in Sunderland – warned a hard Brexit will have "serious implications" for the car-maker’s Sunderland plant.

Read More

Top money stories

  • Honda Swindon factory to shut for good
  • Brits cashing in on euros before Brexit
  • New rail system will end split ticketing
  • Extremely low Tax Free Childcare take up

Source: Read Full Article

Thousands of grandparents missing out on £244 a year – how to claim it back

Thousands of people who are helping to bring up their grandchildren could be missing out on valuable credits which would help to build up their pension, research has found.

More than 19,000 grandparents have made use of the childcare national insurance credit, which was introduced by the coalition government in April 2011.

However, an estimated 100,000 people qualify for it – which means 80% of grandparents are still missing out.

To qualify in full for the new state pension, retirees need to have accumulated 35 years’ worth of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) – which are credits built up for each year they’re in work.

However, giving up employment early could mean many don’t reach the necessary amount.

Instead, if you’re looking after a child below the age of 12, you can apply for ‘childcare credits’ to top you up.

Royal London – who carried out a report into lost credits last year – said that if you miss a year of NI contributions and don’t make it up, you’ll lose 1/35th of the full rate state pension (currently £164.35/week).

That’s equivalent to £4.70 a week or £244.40 a year.

How does "grandparents’ credit" work?

Grandparents who give up their job to look after their grandchild could be losing out on their state pension rights.

However, under the rules surrounding specified adult childcare credits, if a mother goes back to work after the birth of a child she can sign a form that allows a grandparent, or other family member, to receive National Insurance (NI) credits for looking after the child.

This means the person can continue to build up their National Insurance Contributions as they look after the child.

These credits can be backdated until 6 April 2011 and the Government encourages everyone who is eligible to apply.

Currently around 19,000 grandparents are claiming it – which means more than 81,000 could be missing out.

It’s NOT just for grandparents though

Grandparents’ credit is just one element of Specified Adult Childcare credits which covers anyone looking after a child (under 12) that’s related to them, full time.

This ensures any gaps in their National Insurance record is covered, which boosts their chances of getting the full state pension (currently £164.35 a week or £8,546.20 a year).

"With childcare costs surging to become a disproportionate amount of people’s salary, grandparents often throw families a much needed lifeline by taking on the care," tax expert, Rachael Griffin at Old Mutual Wealth explained.

“However, the vast majority of this workforce are not seizing what they rightly deserve, as Guy Opperman has confirmed that since 2011 just 19,000 people have taken advantage of the government’s childcarecredits.

“While spending your days taking trips to the zoo and having picnics in the park may sound like a holiday, taking care of young children while doing so make it’s more akin to working a full time job. National Insurance credits are the least this unsung workforce deserves.”

Who counts as a family member?

You may be entitled to childcare credits if you are a grandparent or other family member who cares for a child aged under 12, usually while the parent is working.

Those eligible must be over the age of 16 and below the state pension age (when they cared for the child).

  • Mother or father who doesn’t live with the child

  • Grandparent, great-grandparent or great-great-grandparent

  • Brother or sister

  • Aunt or uncle

  • Husband or wife or former husband or wife

  • Civil partner or former civil partner

  • Partner or former partner

  • Son or daughter / half-brother or half-sister or step/adopted sibling

    How to claim Adult Childcare Credits

    Anyone looking to claim childcare credits can do so online here – don’t forget you can also backdate it to 2011.

    You won’t be able to claim if you have already qualified for National Insurance for that year (ie if you have been in employment or claim another form of NI credits).

    If you have any issues with the applications process, you can call the National Insurance helpline on 0300 200 3500.

    "Many families rely heavily on the support provided by grandparents to enable them to combine paid work and family life," explained Sir Steve Webb, former pensions minister.

    "The fact that there is a scheme to make sure that grandparents do not lose out, by protecting their state pension rights, is a very good thing," he added.

    Read More

    Financial support for parents

    • Grandparents Credit
    • Tax-free Childcare
    • 30 Hours Free Childcare
    • Paternity Pay
    • Workplace rights for parents
    • Maternity Allowance
    • Statutory Maternity Pay
    • Shared Parental Leave

    Source: Read Full Article

    HSBC warns on China, Britain slowdown as 2018 profit disappoints

    HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) – HSBC Holdings turned in a disappointing annual profit as higher costs and a stocks rout chipped away at its trading businesses, while warning that an economic slowdown in China and Britain would throw up further hurdles this year.

    Chief Executive John Flint, rounding off his first year at the helm of the company, said the bank may have to scale back investment plans in order to avoid missing a key target known as ‘positive jaws’ – which tracks whether it is growing revenues faster than costs – for a second straight year.

    HSBC remains alert to the downside risks of the current economic environment, global trade tensions and the future path of interest rates, Flint said, adding the bank was “committed” to the growth targets announced in June.

    “We will be proactive in managing costs and investment to meet the risks to revenue growth where necessary, but we will not take short-term decisions that harm the long-term interests of the business,” Flint said on Tuesday, after HSBC reported a lower-than-expected 16 percent rise in 2018 profit before tax.

    In June, Flint had said HSBC would invest $15-$17 billion in three years in areas including technology and China, while keeping profitability and dividend targets little changed.

    “The key thing is just to moderate the pace of investments … not to cancel it or change the shape of the investments,” Flint told Reuters.

    The bank said it failed to achieve positive jaws in 2018 due to the negative market environment in the fourth quarter.

    A combination of U.S.-China trade tensions, central banks turning off the money taps and cooling growth in former hot spots wiped 10 percent off MSCI’s 47-country world stocks index last year, its first double-digit loss in any year since the 2008 global financial crisis.

    GROWING BUT SLOWLY

    Flint’s comments come as an economic slowdown in China, exacerbated by a bitter Sino-U.S. trade war, challenges HSBC’s strategy of pouring more resources into Asia where it already makes more than three quarters of its profits.

    China’s economic growth slowed to 6.6 percent in 2018, the weakest in 28 years, weighed down by rising borrowing costs and a clampdown on riskier lending that starved smaller, private companies of capital and stifled investment.

    Pressure on the world’s second-largest economy could increase if Beijing and Washington do not reach a deal soon to end their year-long trade dispute, which is taking a growing toll on export-reliant economies from Asia to Europe.

    HSBC’s profits in Asia grew by 16 percent to $17.8 billion last year, accounting for 89 percent of the group profit.

    “Clearly our customers are really more cautious and are more thoughtful around this trade war with the U.S.,” Flint said.

    “It’s possible that we’ll see slightly lower growth rate this year but we are still going to see a growth rate.”

    Since taking over from Stuart Gulliver last February, Flint has largely stuck to the same China-focused strategy as his predecessor while attempting to revive HSBC’s ailing U.S. franchise and putting less emphasis on its investment bank.

    Europe’s biggest bank by market value is also being buffeted by headwinds from Britain, which grew at its slowest in half a year in the three months to November as factories suffered from tough global trade conditions and the approach of Brexit.

    HSBC joined its London-based peer Royal Bank of Scotland in warning that uncertainties related to Brexit could drive businesses under.

    “The longer we have the uncertainty the worse it’s going to be for the customers. Customers are absolutely postponing investment decisions … and that’s been the part of this slowdown that we have seen in the U.K.,” Flint said.

    DISAPPOINTING PROFIT

    Earlier in the day, HSBC reported a profit before tax of $19.9 billion for 2018, versus $17.2 billion the year before, but below an average estimate of $22 billion, according to Refinitiv data based on forecasts from 17 analysts.

    HSBC’s Hong Kong shares dropped as much as 2.7 percent after the earnings announcement.

    The stock was down 1.4 percent at 0732 GMT, while the Hong Kong market index was 0.3 percent lower.

    HSBC said it would pay a full-year dividend of $0.51 per share, roughly in line with analysts’ expectations. The bank was confident of maintaining the dividend at this level, it said.

    The bank’s core capital ratio, a key measure of financial strength, fell to 14 percent at end-December from 14.5 percent at end-2017, mainly due to adverse foreign exchange movements.

    Source: Read Full Article