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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

In our roundup this week, we report on news that China's economy has experienced its slowest growth in a quarter of a century, that UK inflation has reached an 11-month high and that UK house prices accelerated in November, as well as suggestions of customer overcharging by energy firms.


China economic growth 'hits quarter-century low'

China's economy endured its slowest growth for a quarter of a century last year, it has been revealed. The country's economic expansion is widely regarded as a main driver of the global economy, but 2015 saw growth of 6.9% compared to the 7.3% recorded a year earlier, marking the most significant slowdown for 25 years.

The last year was a difficult one for China and included a reduction in capital, a stocks crash in the summer and a considerable outflow of capital. This occurred as the central government attempted to transition the economy away from exports and investment and more towards consumption and services.

The growth, however, did match forecasts and led to investors acting to push the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up by 3.25% by close of play on Tuesday. 

UK inflation 'reached 11-year high in December'

The inflation rate in the UK hit an 11-month high in December 2015, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed. As measured by the Consumer Prices Index measure, the rate rose to 0.2% for the month, increasing from the 0.1% recorded for November.

The ONS said the rise in the rate - which has passed 0.1% for the first time in a year - was predominantly down to increased air fares, petrol and other transport costs, and was partly offset by reductions in costs relating to food, alcohol and tobacco.

Consumer price inflation averaged 0.0% across 2015 as a whole, which was the lowest since similar records began in 1950 and markedly down on the 1.5% recorded in 2014. 

ONS: House prices accelerated in November

UK house prices accelerated in the 12 months to November 2015, new figures have shown. According to the ONS, prices rose by 7.7% compared to a 7% climb in the year to October. As such, the average cost of a home now stands at a record high of £288,000.

It was shown that the most significant increases were seen in the east of England (10.2%) as well as London and the south east, which both experienced climbs of 9.8%. In comparison, the slowest growth (0.4%) was seen in Scotland and the north east of England. 

Customers 'overcharged by energy firms'

Energy prices have not fallen in line with reductions in wholesale costs, resulting in some energy customers being overcharged, it has been claimed. Speaking to the BBC, Dermot Nolan, Chief Executive of Ofgem, said the majority of people in the UK should now be - but currently are not - benefitting from cheaper domestic gas and electricity prices.

Mr Nolan explained that prices have not reduced despite the fact wholesale energy costs have dropped by around one-third in the past 12 to 18 months, with wholesale gas and electricity prices falling to a five-year low at the end of 2015.