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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

In our roundup this week we report on new figures highlighting a slowing in UK retail sales as inflation continues to rise, the launch of a new government savings bond, a slowing in house price growth and takeover approaches confirmed by the Co-op Bank.

Retail sales slow as inflation continues to rise

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has revealed that retail sales grew at their slowest rate in almost a decade in early 2017. The retail industry group confirmed that total sales edged up by just 0.1% across January to March compared with the same period at the beginning of last year.

This represents the slowest pace of growth since the three months to December 2008, when figures were impacted by the global financial crisis. Rising inflation and a slowing in wage growth have been cited as reasons for the slowdown.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, said: "The pressure on prices continues to build, albeit slowly, and will inevitably put a tighter squeeze on disposable income." 

Government launches new savings bond

The government has launched a new savings bond at a rate of 2.2%. Named the Investment Guaranteed Growth Bond (IGGB), the bond was first announced in the Autumn Statement last year and allows savers to invest between £100 and £3,000 over the next year.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said during the Autumn Statement that the bond, which is only available online, would likely benefit around two million people.

The rate means that people who opt to invest the full £3,000 should earn around £202 in interest, while returns of around £67 are anticipated for those depositing £1,000, BBC News reports. 

Halifax: House price growth slowed in the year to March

House price growth throughout the UK slowed in the 12 months to March, new figures have shown. According to the findings from Halifax, prices edged up by 3.8% over the year, which represented the lowest rate for almost four years.

The figure is also markedly down on the 5.1% growth recorded for the year to February. Martin Ellis, Housing Economist at Halifax, noted that the annual rate of house price growth has more than halved over the last year.

He added: "A lengthy period of rapid house price growth has made it increasingly difficult for many to purchase a home, as income growth has failed to keep up, which appears to have curbed housing demand." 

Co-op Bank confirms takeover approaches

The Co-operative Bank has confirmed that it has been approached with numerous potential takeover bids. The news comes after the bank reported its fifth consecutive annual loss in March.

A number of "non-binding proposals" have been received by the lender, and several parties are reported to have been chosen for further negotiations.

The bank revealed that it is also talking to existing investors and ones it sees as potential investors in a bid to raise capital.


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