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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

Our roundup this week includes news of the weakest UK annual house price growth since July 2013 and research suggesting eight out of ten people are unable to afford newly-built homes in their local area. We also report on a cut back on spending on luxury items by consumers and the collapse of Budgens-branded stores, which has resulted in over 800 job losses.


Halifax: Annual house price growth weakest since 2013...

New figures from the Halifax have revealed that the annual rate of growth in UK house prices has weakened to its lowest level in three-and-a-half years. It was shown that prices rose by 5.1% in the 12 months to February 2017, which marks the lowest climb since July 2013.

The findings highlighted that the level was down on the 5.7% recorded in January and that house prices edged up by 0.1% in February following a 1.1% fall the month before.

Martin Ellis, Housing Economist at Halifax, cited affordability as the reason for the slowdown, stating: "A sustained period of house price growth in excess of pay rises has made it increasingly difficult for many to purchase a home." 

...But majority can't buy houses locally - Shelter

The majority of people are unable to buy houses that have been newly-built in their local area. This is according to new research from Shelter, which found nearly eight out of ten people are in this position due to the impact of rising house prices.

The housing charity used regional data on gross household incomes and a mix of Office for National Statistics figures, loan data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders and new-build house prices as part of its research.

It was discovered that the problem is at its height in the West Midlands (93% of working families who privately rent would not be able to afford a newly-built home there), followed by south-west England (89%). 

Inflation 'leads to luxury spending cut-back'

Rising inflation has resulted in Britons reducing their spending on luxury items, new findings from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have suggested.

The BRC found that total non-food sales dipped by 0.2% across the three months to February, which represented the first fall over a three-month period for more than half a decade. Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, commented: "The persistent weak sales performance of several non-food categories points to an undeniable trend of cautious spending on non-essential items."

Inflation has climbed to almost 2% and the UK's decision to leave the European Union resulting in a fall in the value of the pound, plus a global increase in oil prices, has led to a reduction in household spending power. 

Budgens-branded stores collapse, 800 jobs lost

Around 800 jobs have been lost after a supermarket chain announced it has fallen into administration. Food Retailer Operations Ltd operates 34 stores throughout the UK under the Budgens brand, but has encountered difficulties trying to make the business commercially viable.

Food Retailer Operations Ltd purchased the network of stores from the Co-operative last year, but administrator PwC said in a statement: "Since its acquisition of the stores from Co-op in July 2016, the company had experienced difficult trading conditions."


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