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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

This week our roundup includes news of the strongest UK inflation levels since December 2014, the sale of a £90.6 million stake in an online retailer by Tesco, warnings that the EU referendum may soften the UK housing market and the FCA revealing a fading in the rush among people eager to cash in their pension savings.


Inflation last month 'strongest since December 2014'

UK inflation was at its highest level in March since December 2014, new data has shown. The findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that consumer prices rose by 0.5% for March compared with the same month last year, which represented a further climb on the 0.3% recorded in February.

The ONS attributed the increase to a sharp rise in air fares that resulted from the earlier Easter date this year. Between February and March, air fares shot up by 22.9%, while there were also climbs for clothing and footwear prices.

Despite the increase, inflation still remains below the inflation target of 2% set by the Bank of England. 

Tesco agrees sale of Lazada stake

Tesco has agreed the sale of an 8.6% stake in Lazada, an online retailer in South East Asia. The supermarket giant announced it will be offloading the stake to Alibaba Group for £90.6 million, but will be retaining an 8.3% stake.

The move is the latest part of Tesco's plan to sell off non-core units as it looks to focus more on its main grocery business in the UK.

Money raised through the sale of its Lazada stake will be used for general working capital purposes, Britain's largest supermarket operator confirmed. 

Housing market 'may be slowed by EU referendum'

Uncertainty caused by the referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union (EU) could serve to slow the housing market. This is according to new research from Halifax, which made the warning despite also revealing that UK house prices continue to climb.

The lender announced that property prices rose by 10.1% in the year to March compared with a year earlier, representing an increase on the 9.7% annual growth recorded in January and February. The average home is now worth £214,811, the research found.

However, Halifax claimed there could be a 'softening' of the market around the time of the EU vote because people are uncertain about the impact the outcome will have. The vote, which will ask people to decide whether or not they want the UK to remain a member of the EU, will take place on June 23. 

FCA: Rush to cash in pension savings is slowing

There has been a slowing down in the rush to cash in pension savings that began following the introduction of new rules last year. Since April 2015, people have had the option to release money from their pension pots after they reach the age of 55. However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed the initial rush to cash in has been fading of late.

New figures have shown that 127,094 pensions were accessed in order to withdraw some or all of the money in the last quarter. This marks a significant fall on the 222,000 recorded in the first three months following the rule change.


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