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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

In our roundup this week, we bring news of a profits fall and subsequent restructuring plan for Barclays, a significant drop in UK manufacturing activity, an increase in consumer borrowing in January and new figures suggesting women have barely half the pension savings of men.


Barclays reveals profits fall and restructure plan

Barclays has revealed a business restructuring plan after posting a significant drop in full-year profits. The bank announced its underlying annual profits for 2015 dipped by 2% to £5.4 billion, which resulted in its shares falling 7% in early trading on Tuesday.

A restructuring will aim to slim down the bank into two main core divisions - Barclays UK and Barclays Corporate & International - which will involve the sell down of its 62.3% stake in its Africa business over the next two to three years.

The bank also said that during this year and next it will cut its dividend by more than half to 3p per share, while it will also make an extra £1.45 billion provision for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI). 

'Near three-year low' for UK manufacturing activity in February

UK manufacturing activity slid to its lowest level for almost three years in February, new figures have shown. The Markit/CIPS Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index dropped to 50.8 for the month, down markedly from the 52.9 recorded in January.

This represented the weakest reading since April 2013 and reasons cited for the movement include a fall in export orders and a slowing in demand at home. The figures also revealed that new orders in February were at their lowest level since the British economy began its recovery from the global financial crisis. 

Consumer borrowing climbed in January

A significant rise in consumer credit was recorded in January, new figures from the Bank of England have shown. According to the findings, consumers borrowed a further £1.6 billion during the first month of this year, representing the second-highest level for more than a decade. Indeed, since June 2005, monthly borrowing has only been higher in November 2015.

It was shown that, compared to January 2015, unsecured consumer credit increased by 9.1%. Part of the increase has been accredited to shoppers wishing to take advantage of the sales offered by many retailers during January. 

TUC: Women have much smaller pensions than men

A new report from the TUC has revealed that women have barely half the occupational pension savings of men. The study, which was conducted by the Pensions Policy Institute, found that women typically have £7,500 in defined contribution pension schemes - much lower than the £14,500 recorded for men.

Entitled Under-pensioned 2016, the report also revealed that, on average, women have £32,000 in savings in defined benefit or 'final salary' schemes, while men have £62,900. It was also shown that women receive 25% less than men with regard to state pensions.