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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

As part of this week's roundup we look at a house price fall in September, calls for a bank account overhaul and the introduction of a new plastic bag charge in the UK, while further afield we report on the latest movement concerning Asian shares.


September 'saw UK house price dip'

UK house prices experienced a 0.9% dip in September compared to August, new research from Halifax has shown. According to the mortgage lender, the average cost of a house or flat has now fallen to £202,859.

The research also found that the price of flats has accelerated much quicker than the price of houses over the past decade, with the former climbing in value by 60% and the latter by 38% across the ten-year spell. Detached homes were shown to have experienced the smallest rise in value, at just 21%.

Additionally, the findings revealed the increase in UK house prices in the 12 months to September slowed from 9% to 8.6% , although values increased by 2% between July and September compared to the previous three-month period.  

UK bank accounts 'require big changes'

A complete overhaul of bank accounts in the UK is needed to ensure customers are safeguarded against high charges, it has been suggested. Consumer group Which? has called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to do more than simply fix basic problems and to commit to improving the market for the benefit of consumers. This would include making sure banks provide customers with clear and transparent information regarding costs.

The group also recommended it should be made easier for people to compare the details of different bank accounts and, should they wish, to change providers with fewer obstructions.

Richard Lloyd, Executive Director at Which?, said: "We need the CMA to ensure its investigation is focused on reforms that will deliver genuinely better banking services for all consumers. With few consumers moving their finances to different providers, and the existing big banks continuing to hold substantial market power, the inquiry must look beyond ideas to improve information and switching." 

5p plastic bag charge comes into effect

A new 5p plastic bag charge has been introduced in the UK that aims to reduce plastic carrier bag usage, save on litter clean-up costs and generate money for good causes. The charge was introduced on Monday in supermarkets and large stores - retailers with more than 250 employees - and the government hopes the move will cut the number of plastic bags handed out by around 80%.

Over the next decade, it is anticipated the charge will save £60 million in litter clearing costs and raise £730 million, which retailers are expected to give to good causes. 

Asian stocks climb as expectations of Fed rate rise diminish

Asian stocks climbed to two-week highs on Tuesday, as expectations that the US Federal Reserve would raise interest rates this year began to diminish. The lift was also helped by a rise in oil prices.

In afternoon trade, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had risen by 0.8% after earlier reaching highs not seen since September 18th2015, while Japan's Nikkei closed 1% higher.

The Federal Reserve has previously hinted it could be set to increase interest rates in 2015, but many investors called into question such a move following the release of unexpectedly weak US jobs data last week. Concerns of a worldwide commodities slowdown were also eased as prices bounced, including a 0.4% climb for Brent oil.