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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

In our roundup this week we report on new figures showing how the Easter break helped to bump retail sales in April, a new report suggesting UK house prices are in a state of stagnation, the end of the old £5 paper notes being accepted as legal tender, and a new survey indicating a strong lead for the Conservative Party ahead of the general election.


BRC: Easter helps retail figures while shoppers seek bargains

New findings from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have shown that the Easter break helped to push up retail sales in April. The survey revealed that sales grew 5.6% on a like-for-like basis in April compared to the same month the year before; however, the increase was largely due to the Easter holiday falling in April this year as opposed to it falling in March last year.

The BRC said UK shoppers are increasingly looking for bargains in an effort to offset rising inflation, with a focus on purchasing supermarket own-brand labels and being cautious when buying goods other than food.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, commented: "Looking to the longer-term signs of a slowdown, the outlook isn't as rosy." 

UK house prices 'stagnating'

House prices in the UK have fallen across the past three months and are in a state of stagnation, new figures from Halifax have suggested. The findings show that prices dipped by 0.2% in the three months to April, representing the first quarterly drop since November 2012.

It was revealed that prices fell by 0.1% in the past month alone, with the average cost of a house or flat now standing at £219,649.

Martin Ellis, Housing Economist at Halifax, said: "Housing demand appears to have been curbed in recent months due to the deterioration in housing affordability caused by a sustained period of rapid house price growth during 2014-16." 

Paper £5 notes cease to be legal tender

Paper £5 notes ceased to be legal tender at the weekend, meaning shops may no longer accept them. Banks, however, should still exchange the notes, which have now been replaced by a new polymer version.

The Bank of England has warned that the public is still in possession of around 150 million of the paper £5 notes. This is the equivalent of about three paper notes for every adult. 

Survation: Conservatives hold 17 point lead

A new survey from Survation for the Good Morning Britain TV show has indicated a 17 point lead for the Conservative Party ahead of the Labour Party in the run up to the general election next month.

The poll has the Conservatives at 47%, ahead of Labour on 30%, the Liberal Democrats on 7% and UKIP on 4%. This would mean a drop of almost nine percentage points for the independence party since the 2015 general election.

The research showed that 54% of UKIP voters would now vote Conservative as Theresa May promises to pursue a 'hard Brexit' during negotiations for the UK's divorce from the European Union.


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