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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

This week's roundup includes news of BP missing its quarterly expectations and warnings that a potential merger between Ladbrokes and Coral will be dependent on the two bookkeepers selling hundreds of stores, as well as news from the property industry that includes falling mortgage interest rates and a report highlighting the cheapest places for first-time buyers.


BP misses quarterly expectations

BP has missed its profits expectations for the second quarter of the year, with weak refining margins and oil prices cited as the main reasons for the poor performance. The oil giant revealed that profits during the three-month period almost halved from a year earlier, with underlying replacement cost profit standing at $720 million (£550 million), 44% lower than the $1.3 billion recorded 12 months previously.

This $720 million figure was $120 million less than an analyst consensus previously given by the company and Chief Executive Bob Dudley says he expects "the external environment to remain challenging" as BP moves forward.

The oil company said it now expects full-year capital expenditure to fail to reach the $17 billion target it had previously set itself. 

Ladbrokes and Coral merger 'dependent on store sell-off'

A proposed merger between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral - which would see the new group overtaking market leader William Hill in this market - may only be cleared if the bookmakers are willing to sell-off hundreds of stores, it has been warned.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) claimed that competition issues may arise in almost 650 local areas should the merger go ahead, and so a sales programme must be put in place, with a substantial number of sales made before any deal can be finalised.

Martin Cave, who chaired the CMA's inquiry, said: "It is now for the parties to propose a divestment package and one or more suitable purchasers for the CMA to approve." 

Mortgage interest rates 'continue to fall'

Mortgage interest rates are continuing to fall and are showing little sign of slowing down, it has been claimed. According to Moneyfacts, the cost of all types of fixed rate mortgage has reduced since January, with increased competition leading to the drops.

The financial information service explained that people in search of a mortgage are in a much better position than they would have been at the start of the year.

Charlotte Nelson of Moneyfacts said: "With competition still fierce in the market it is little surprise that mortgage rates have fallen in the first half of 2016, reaching record lows yet again and currently showing no signs of stopping." 

Halifax: Northern England among cheapest regions for FTBs

Northern England is among the cheapest of places for first-time buyers (FTBs) to live, new research has shown. The findings from Halifax revealed that both this region and western Scotland are, in comparison to local earnings, among the most affordable regions for this category of buyer.

It was shown that the least affordable place for FTBs is Brent in north London, with house prices typically 12.5 times greater than local earnings, while the other most expensive places are also all in London.