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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

This week, we bring news of profit losses for easyJet and Credit Suisse, as well as reports of the widest first quarter trade deficit in the UK since 2008 and figures suggesting UK house price growth is softening after a rush in March.


Security fears lead to half-year loss for easyJet

Low-cost airline easyJet has suffered a half-year loss, with security fears and travel strikes cited as the main reasons why people are reluctant to fly. The company announced a pre-tax loss of £24 million in the six months to March 31.

Attacks in Paris in November and Brussels in March - two major European tourist hotspots - are believed to have deterred people from flying, and various airlines have reduced prices in an effort to once again boost demand for travel.

Despite the half-year loss, easyJet is confident that this year will see an upturn in passenger numbers and profits. Speaking to the BBC, Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said the primary reason for the fall was the decreasing value of the pound against the euro since last year. 

Credit Suisse starts year with quarterly loss

Swiss bank Credit Suisse has reported a first-quarter profit loss and claimed difficult market conditions are likely to continue throughout the current quarter. The bank announced a loss of 484 million Swiss francs (£346 million) for the three-month period, although shares did in fact climb due to the losses not being quite as bad as first feared.

Tidjane Thiam, Chief Executive of Credit Suisse, said: "In the first quarter of 2016 and particularly in January and February, we operated in some of the most difficult markets on record with volumes and client activity drastically reduced."

The bank is currently aiming to reduce costs by 1.4 billion Swiss francs in 2016, and Mr Thiam claimed it is on course to achieve this. 

1st quarter trade deficit 'widest for 8 years'

The UK's trade deficit widened in the first quarter of 2016 to £13.273 billion. This represented a marked increase from the £12.205 billion recorded in the last three months of 2015 and the widest deficit since the first quarter of 2008, when the financial crisis was just beginning.

The figures are from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and show that the deficit in goods alone has reached £34.694 billion, the highest since comparable records began in 1998.

According to the ONS, British economic growth slowed to a quarterly rate of 0.4% during the first quarter of this year, which was down from the 0.6% posted for the final three months of 2015. 

Halifax: House price growth slowed in April

House price growth softened in April following a rise of 10.1% the month before, new figures from Halifax have shown. Compared with March, house prices dipped by 0.8%, and a rush to beat new stamp duty tax rates for buy to let and second homes at the beginning of April is believed to be the main reason for this.

Indeed, according to HM Revenue and Customs, March was a record month for UK properties sold, with the figure of 165,400 11% greater than the previous high recorded in January 2007.