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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

Our roundup this week includes news of a first drop in UK house prices since August, BP reporting its largest annual profits fall for at least a decade, figures suggesting shoppers were cautious with their spending in January and vegetable rationing imposed by some supermarkets due to poor growing conditions in southern Europe. 


Halifax: UK house prices drop for first time since August

New figures released by Halifax have shown that UK house prices fell for the first time in monthly terms since August last year. Following a 1.6% increase in December, prices dipped by 0.9% during the first month of 2017.

The findings also revealed that annual house price growth slowed to 5.7%, marking a reduction on the 6.5% recorded in December.

Halifax predicted that while slower economic growth will likely continue to hamper house price growth, it will be aided by the low number of properties on the market and a lack of house building. 

BP's annual profits fall to lowest in a decade

BP has reported that its annual profits have fallen to their lowest level in at least a decade, standing at $2.59 billion (£209 billion). It also joined other major oil companies Exxon Mobil, Shell and Statoil in failing to meet quarterly profit forecasts.

The oil giant explained the dip was due to average yearly oil prices tumbling to their lowest levels for 12 years. However, it said it is hopeful that producers' output cuts will keep prices higher than the $50 a barrel mark in 2017.

BP also explained that its preferred measure - underlying replacement cost profit - climbed to $400 million in the last quarter, which was up from the $196 recorded for the same period last year. 

UK shoppers 'cautious with spending in January'

Consumers were cautious with their spending in January, new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have suggested. The findings revealed that sales fell 0.6% on a like-for-like basis in January compared to the same month in 2016.

This marked the first dip in like-for-like sales (sales that exclude new store openings) since August last year, which came shortly after the UK's vote to leave the European Union.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, commented: "These figures suggest that 'caution' was top of new year shopping lists and the uptick in credit card lending at the end of last year may be short lived." 

Supermarkets impose iceberg lettuce and broccoli rationing

The past week has also seen a number of UK supermarkets imposing purchase limits on the number of iceberg lettuce and broccoli that customers are able to buy. Tesco, Morrisons and other stores are aiming to reduce bulk buying of the vegetables due to a shortage caused by poor growing conditions in southern Europe.

Tesco, for instance, limited iceberg lettuce purchases to three per person after floods in Spain in December were followed by heavy snow in January.

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the price of little gem lettuces climbed to an average market price of £0.86 last week from £0.56 a week earlier, while the cost of butterhead indoor lettuce increased from £0.47 per head to £0.54.


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