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EQ Weekly Roundup

This week’s roundup includes news that Theresa May is travelling to Brussels to ask for a Brexit extension, UK employment has reached a new record high and the US and China are expected to resume trade talks.

May to ask EU for Brexit extension

Theresa May is to ask Brussels for only a short delay to Brexit - expected to be around three months – according to press reports.

Downing Street sources have confirmed the Prime Minister will not request a long delay in her letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk today.

It has not been disclosed what length of time May will ask for, but an extension until 30 June is expected, as that is the last day Britain could remain in the EU without taking part in European elections.

The decision heads off the immediate threat of high-level resignations, with several members of the cabinet expressing anger yesterday at the prospect of a long delay.

UK employment at highest since 1971

The number of employed people in the UK has risen again, to 32.7 million people between November and January, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

The 76.1% employment rate is the highest since records began in 1971.

Unemployment fell by 35,000 to 1.34 million in the period, putting the rate below 4% for the first time since 1975.

The figure is 112,000 lower than a year ago, giving a jobless rate of 3.9%, well below the EU average of 6.5%.

Watchdogs ‘must prove consumers protected’

Four major UK regulators need to do more to prove they are offering enough protection to those who need it, the spending watchdog has said.

Ofwat, Ofgem, Ofcom and the FCA understand the "significant difficulties" facing consumers. But they can't prove they are effectively responding to them, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.

The most common problem facing consumers in these sectors was how to handle debt, the NAO added.

The watchdog recommended that regulators do more to measure their performance "so that they can understand what is working well for consumers and what isn't".

US-China expected to resume trade talks

US officials plan to travel to China next week to resume face-to-face talks aimed at ending a trade war between them, according to press reports.

The US and China have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of one another's goods over the past year.

A truce at a G20 meeting in December made way for talks, but negotiations have been rocky at times. Despite that, US President Donald Trump has cast talks in a positive light, saying they are going "very well".

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to fly to Beijing next week to meet with Chinese Vice President Liu He.