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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

This week's roundup features the return of Alex Tsipras as Greek Prime Minister and a pledge to demand debt relief from creditors, as well as a potential linking of the UK and Chinese stock markets, the possibility of the Bank of England cutting rates and a warning over balance transfer credit card fees.


Returning Tsipras 'to demand debt relief''

Alex Tsipras returned to office as Greek Prime Minister on Monday following election victory at the weekend. The Syriza party emerged victorious from Sunday's vote and its leader promised to demand debt relief from creditors in an effort to get Greece's economy back on its feet.

Among Mr Tsipras's early objectives will be to stabilise the country's banks and to limit the risk of recession. He has also highlighted the refugee crisis as a priority, but securing debt relief is viewed as his first major battle.

While some European governments have indicated they would be opposed to writing off some of the beleaguered country's debt, there is a feeling there may be potential for its repayment schedule to be eased. 

UK and China 'exploring stock markets link'

The UK and China are looking into the possibility of linking their stock markets, it has been revealed. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced during a speech at the Shanghai Stock Exchange that a landmark feasibility study is being launched to determine the likelihood of the idea coming to fruition.

Such a move would result in British and Chinese shares being traded in both countries, and Mr Osborne vowed the nations would stand together through difficult times, such as the economic and stock market turmoil faced by China of late.

Mr Osborne said: "Whatever the headlines, regardless of the challenges, we shouldn't be running away from China." 

Bank of England to cut rates?

Rates could be cut by the Bank of England (BoE) in a bid to combat low inflation, it has been suggested. Andy Haldane, the BoE's Chief Economist, explained cutting rates - and not raising them - could be an option should inflation not increase in the second half of this year and if fallout is felt from events in emerging market economies, such as China.

Interest rates in the UK have remained at a record low for more than six years. However, Mr Haldane continued: "Were the downside risks I have discussed to materialise, there could be a need to loosen rather than tighten the monetary reins as a next step to support UK growth and return inflation to target." 

Borrowers warned about balance transfer credit card fees

A consumer group has warned UK borrowers to be careful when taking up balance transfer credit card deals. Which? has encouraged people to better understand the charges involved, explaining that few people are aware of the costs when moving old debts on to a new card. The group estimates that around £334 million is paid by consumers in such fees every year.

A survey carried out by Which? revealed seven out of ten people believed, incorrectly, that making such a transfer was free of charge.

Richard Lloyd, Executive Director at the group, said: "Too many credit card deals appear to include sneaky fees designed to catch customers out."