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Newspapers today: The Times, Independent, FT, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail, Express, Herald 030216

The Times

Consumers face credit crackdown: The Bank of England is considering a crackdown on ballooning levels of consumer borrowing as households reduce savings to record lows to maintain their spending habit.

Immigration ban will cripple us, Silicon Valley Chiefs warn Trump: Silicon Valley’s largest companies are to warn Donald Trump that his immigration crackdown will cripple the U.S. technology industry.

Builders hit by slowdown in orders: Construction activity slowed last month as builders were confronted by a fall in new work and rising costs linked to a weaker pound, a survey has revealed.

City law firm asks partners to chip in £50 million as cash holdings fall: Partners at one of the City’’s largest law firms are being forced to inject £50 million into the practice as its cash holdings tumbled by more than 67%.

Profits hit the skids at Swatch: Swatch Group signalled good times ahead and “healthy growth in 2017” even as it reported a massive drop in profits for 2016 and trimmed its dividend (Alexandra Frean writes).

Mercedes overtakes BMW in sales race: Mercedes-Benz has overtaken BMW as the world’s best-selling luxury car brand after record sales in the past 12 months (Graeme Paton writes).

Compass revenues remain on course: Compass Group reported “below-par” organic revenue growth in the first quarter but the FTSE 100-listed caterer insisted it remained on target to hit its full-year guidance.

Aramco set to list on several exchanges at the same time: Saudi Aramco’s $2 trillion float is likely to see it listing simultaneously on more than one stock exchange, Saudia Arabia’s energy minister said.

Sunny side up for On The Beach: On the Beach Group, an online travel agent that sells beach holidays to destinations including the Algarve, reported a 20% increase in revenues in the four months to the end of January.

Vodafone cuts earnings forecast as Indian rival turns up the heat: Vodafone warned of a slowdown in the flow of orders from its international business division as it trimmed expectations for profit growth this year.

The Independent

Central banks’ ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ is nearly over, says Carney: The Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, has welcomed the prospect of central bankers moving out of the economic limelight as governments around the world spend more and rely less on monetary policy to deliver healthy growth.

Facebook needs to find an answer to the fake news question: Apparently, Facebook’s results were “overshadowed” by the loss of a court case that saw the company ordered to pay $500 million (£394 million) to a video game developer over the technology used to launch a virtual reality headset.

Diversity at EY soars after introduction of ‘blind CV’ policy: EY’s decision to remove all academic and education details and ban CVs from its trainee application process has proved successful in diversifying the company’s workforce.

Government admits there will be no cherry-picking on EU customs union: Theresa May’s government has already given up on efforts to maintain selective access to the European Union’s customs union after Brexit, and understands that there will be no ‘cherry-picking’, one of her ministers has said.

American Airlines opens office in Cuba despite Trump uncertainty: American Airlines has formally opened an office in Havana, Cuba despite uncertainty over what the Donald Trump presidency will mean for relations between the two countries.

Nurofen maker in £13 billion takeover talks with Mead Johnson: Reckitt Benckiser is in talks to buy baby formula maker Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. for about $16.7 billion (£13 billion). It’s the latest push by the U.K. consumer giant, whose brands include Nurofen and Durex, to build on its faster growing consumer-health business and bolster its presence in Asian markets.

George Soros foundation takes on Irish bankers after home foreclosures tripled over last five years: The billionaire investor’s Open Society Foundations is opening a new front in the fight against evictions as the legacy of one of the worst real-estate market crashes in history continues to haunt Ireland. About one in 10 Irish mortgages is in arrears, or €4.5 billion euros ($4.9 billion) of missed payments, and foreclosures tripled over the last five years.

Queen’s bank Coutts fined by Swiss financial regulators over money laundering: Switzerland’s financial regulator fined Coutts & Co for violating money-laundering rules and illegally profiting from transactions associated with 1Malaysia Development Bhd, prompting Swiss prosecutors to review the decision to see if the bank should face a criminal investigation.

Financial Times

Dong aims to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2023: Denmark’s Dong Energy has pledged to become one of the first major European power companies to stop burning coal within six years as it ratchets up its shift away from fossil fuels towards renewables.

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India eyes merger of state-controlled oil and gas groups: India is planning to merge its state-controlled oil and gas companies to create a new international player that would compete more effectively with the world’s leading energy groups.

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MetLife to review hedging strategy after $2.1 billion loss: MetLife posted its biggest quarterly loss in at least a decade after shifts in financial markets fuelled by Donald Trump’s election victory triggered a $3.2 billion hit to its derivatives portfolio.

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CME Group results helped by political change and Trump: CME Group, the biggest operator of financial exchanges, was the latest financial business to reveal results helped by political change and the election of Donald Trump.

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Banks study loopholes to enable U.K. branches to sell to EU clients: Banks are looking for loopholes that could allow their U.K. operations to keep selling corporate and investment banking products to EU clients even after a hard Brexit.

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Aberdeen Asset Management hit by £10.5 billion outflows: Aberdeen Asset Management has reported its 15th consecutive quarter of net outflows, bringing total withdrawals from the Scottish investment house to more than £100 billion since clients first began pulling money from the company four years ago.

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London Metal Exchange rapped over suspicious trade monitoring: The London Metal Exchange was warned by the U.K.’s financial regulator of shortcomings in its surveillance systems for analysing suspicious trades months before the departure of two top Executives.

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Novo Nordisk cuts profit outlook on higher U.S. political risks: Shares in Novo Nordisk fell 8% on Thursday after the world’s biggest insulin maker cut its sales and profit forecasts for the fourth time in a year, blaming political risks in the U.S.

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Merck hails rise in patient tests for immunotherapy drug Keytruda: Merck & Co has seen a big jump in the number of lung cancer patients being tested to see if they would benefit from its immunotherapy drug Keytruda, and predicted sales would grow rapidly this year.

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Amgen rises after reporting upbeat results from cholesterol drug trial: Amgen said a large clinical trial of its new cholesterol-lowering drug showed that the medicine “significantly reduced” the risk of patients dying from heart disease, having a stroke or suffering from a “cardiovascular event”.

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‘Failing’ New York Times gets digital Trump boost: The New York Times hit back at President Donald Trump’s claims that its readership is “dwindling”, as the newspaper reported its biggest-ever boost in digital subscriptions, aided by a post-election surge.

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Uber Chief Travis Kalanick quits Trump business council: Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick has quit President Donald Trump’s business advisory council on the eve of its first meeting, after mounting criticism from passengers and drivers angry over the president’s immigration order.

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Apple seals $10 billion debt financing as iPhone rebound fuels demand: Apple clinched $10 billion of debt financing on Thursday in the fourth bond sale worth at least that much globally this year, as a rebound in the iPhone maker’s sales stirred up strong investor demand.

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Microsoft calls on White House for travel ban exemptions: Microsoft on Thursday asked the White House to set up an exemption programme for U.S. visa holders hit by President Donald Trump’s immigration order, as tech companies sought support from outside the sector for a broader expression of concern.

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Nokia networks business recovers as price wars abate: Rajeev Suri, Chief Executive of Nokia, has said he expects the tough market conditions that have plagued the telecoms equipment sector to “stabilise” in 2017, while benefits of the Finnish company’s merger with Alcatel-Lucent finally bear fruit.

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Snap: clickbait: At first it was seen as a way to send explicit photos. Now no one can accuse Snap of being a cheap thrill. The maker of the Snapchat messaging app is expected to seek a $25 billion valuation when it goes public. The newly-filed prospectus makes that seem expensive.

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New York Times Company: subscribe to the theory: NYT revenues from digital circulation and advertising were up only 16 and 6%, respectively. Readers are flocking to sign up; the NYT and others must now figure out a way to squeeze more dollars out of them. For all the upheaval across the media industry, core NYT revenues have actually remained more or less flat at $1.6 billion for nearly a decade. Within that, print advertising has fallen by a third since 2012, to just $371 million. Subscription revenue has picked up the slack.

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AstraZeneca: faith healer: Much rides on Mystic, a trial of two cancer drugs developed by AstraZeneca. This should start bearing results in the middle of 2017, a year Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive of the U.K.-based pharmaceuticals group, says is pivotal to its turnround. The trial’s evocative name, intentionally or otherwise, is a reminder of the role belief plays in science and investment. Both involve hunches more than practitioners like to admit.

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Aberdeen needs to change the script as well-worn tale wears thin: On Thursday, Martin Gilbert reported the fund manager’s 15th consecutive quarter of net outflows — taking the total to £104 billion since investors first groaned about his emerging market offerings. But the punchline came later: “[The] bulk of net outflows were largely low margin. . partly offset by £3.3 billion asset appreciation . . . from markets, performance and foreign exchange”. In other words: the business we’re losing is worth a bit less, and something we have largely no control over is a bit better. Perhaps it’s the way he tells ‘em.

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Tesco’s farmer trials: Tesco’s £3.7 billion takeover of Booker is already the talk of Britain’s piggeries and milking parlours, writes Jonathan Ford. Since its announcement last week, the deal has attracted attention mainly for the way it pushes together two big operators in convenience retail. That’s not just a worry for shoppers. There is also the question of what it means for suppliers in the form of Britain’s hard-pressed farming trade.

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The Daily Telegraph

Rolls-Royce to connect the Midlands and North after winning rail deal: Rolls-Royce engines will power a fleet of new trains connecting cities in the Midlands and the North.

Amazon quadruples profits but sales miss Wall Street hopes: Amazon quadrupled its profits last year as the continued dominance of its online shopping operation and huge growth at its cloud computing division saw the company put years of meagre margins behind it.

Snapchat unveils New York stock market filing: Snap Inc, the parent company of the photo messaging app Snapchat, has revealed plans to go public in what is expected to be the biggest U.S. technology listings in recent years.

Brexit will create opportunities for U.K., AstraZeneca Chief says: Leaving the European Union will create opportunities for the U.K. life sciences sector, the Chief Executive of AstraZeneca has said.

HomeServe seeks digital future with Checkatrade investment: The boiler repair and insurance provider HomeServe is poised to unveil an investment in Checkatrade, the builder and plumber reviews website, as it seeks online growth.

Biotech entrepreneur Sir Christopher Evans backs U.K. life sciences float Arix: Arix Bioscience, a company backed by British biotech entrepreneur Sir Christopher Evans, is hoping to raise £100 million when it floats on the London Stock Exchange later this month.

The Questor Column:

At a 21% discount, shares in this unique lender offer 5% returns – possibly more: ‘s investment trust, P2P Global Investments, raised cash from investors in 2014 in order to invest as an institution across peer-to-peer platforms globally. Shareholders in the trust, which has assets of £847 million, benefit from lending to a hugely diverse borrower base: the portfolio comprises 114,000 loans to consumers and businesses in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Asia. Rates fall between 5% and 15% according to a number of factors including credit risk, which is another variable. The trust’s long term aim at its May 2014 flotation was to generate a growing stream of dividends at between 6% and 8% of the initial share price, plus capital growth. This “premium” peaked in December 2014 at 18%. After that, though, the fund fell from favour. Questor says ‘Speculative Buy’.

The Guardian

Record rise in import costs dents growth in U.K. manufacturing: A record rise in the cost of imports in January has taken the shine off a strong performance by the manufacturing sector, which has rebounded since the Brexit vote to record its sixth consecutive months of expanding output.

Southern rail and union agree deal to end strikes over driver-only trains: A deal has been agreed between Southern rail and the Aslef union to end their dispute over driver-only operated (DOO) trains, the TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, has announced.

HBOS manager and other City financiers jailed over £245 million loans scam: A group of bankers who ran an “utterly corrupt scheme” that left hundreds of small business owners “cheated, defeated and penniless” have been sentenced to almost 50 years in jail.

Supermarkets ration lettuces after poor weather hits growers: Shoppers afflicted by the “courgette crisis” are facing further privation, as supermarket chains Morrisons and Tesco imposed restrictions on the number of lettuces that can be bought by each customer.

Greenwich Peninsula redevelopment to be crowned with £1 billion glass landmark: A £1 billion building topped with a crown-shaped cluster of glass towers, inspired by the 19th-century designs of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is planned as part of a major redevelopment of the area around London’s O2 Arena.

Sports Direct buys French Connection stake as battle looms: Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has taken control of an 11% stake in French Connection, setting up a potential power struggle over the future of the ailing fashion chain.

Daily Mail

Ferrari to launch more special editions in bid to boost profits by 8% this year: Ferrari will launch more special editions, such as its £1.8 million LaFerrari Aperta, in a bid to boost profits by 8% this year.

Shell’s earnings slump following landmark £47 billion purchase of rival BG Group: Shell’s earnings have slumped following its landmark £47 billion purchase of rival BG Group.

Boss of Ralph Lauren making a sudden departure after a row with its 77-year-old Founder: The Boss of Ralph Lauren is making a sudden departure after a row with its 77-year-old Founder.

Struggling Co-op Bank set to report heavy losses in March as it battles to secure its future: The struggling Co-op Bank is set to report heavy losses in March as it battles to secure its future.

Flood of cheap generic alternatives for branded cholesterol medicine causes sales to slump for drug giant AstraZeneca: A flood of cheap generic alternatives for branded cholesterol medicine caused sales to slump for drug giant AstraZeneca.

Daily Express

Pound falls as Bank of England plays down interest rate rise: The pound fell against both the euro and the dollar after the Bank of England crushed expectations that interest rates could rise faster than previously thought.

World’s most powerful company increases investment in U.K.: Lego is to increase its office presence in London by more than half, in a huge vote of confidence as Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

Bank of England upgrades U.K. economic growth forecast amid interest rates hold: The Bank of England held interest rates at 0.25% and upgraded its growth forecasts for 2017, as Governor Mark Carney gave an updated outlook for Britain’s economy.

Deutsche Bank posts £1.2 billion loss and blames ‘negative news’ over fine: Troubled Deutsche Bank posted a worse than expected net loss of €1.4 billion (£1.2 billion) for 2016, after it struggled to cope with a toxic cocktail of legal costs and low interest rates.

The Scottish Herald

Shell pledges to invest billions in North Sea: Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden has said the company expects to invest billions in the North Sea and declared the decision to sell around half its portfolio spelled good news for the area.

First Milk members set for double payment next week: First Milk, the farmer-owned cooperative headquartered in Glasgow, has brought its member payment terms back into line, completing the turnaround work in the business over the last two years.

Tesco Bank bids to reassure customers with rate pledge: Tesco Bank has cited the impact on customers from the current economic uncertainty as it pledged to maintain its three% interest rate on its current account for a further two years.

Midlothian Capital Partners buys into holiday park firm: Midlothian Capital Partners has bought the Parks Leisure holiday park firm with a consortium of investors.

Black Isle brewer secures first U.K.-wide distribution deal with Majestic Wine: Highlands-based Black Isle Brewing Co has landed a significant distribution boost after striking its first U.K.-wide retail deal.

The Scotsman

Rising inflation and slowing wages to hit households: Households are set for a cost of living crisis in the months ahead as wage growth slows and rising inflation hits spending power, the Bank of England warned.

Expansion in pipeline for Borders drugs firm: The pharmaceutical company formerly known as ProStrakan is to expand its Scottish headquarters after unveiling healthy full-year revenues.

Law firm Gibson Kerr bolsters property team with merger: Edinburgh law firm Gibson Kerr has unveiled its second tie-up in just three months as it bolsters its residential and commercial property services in the capital.

Aggreko hosts Argentine delegation: Temporary power specialist Aggreko has hosted a delegation from the Argentine parliament at its global manufacturing and technology facility in Dumbarton.

404 Ink prove print publishers need not fear the internet: It’s fair to say the rise and rise of the internet has not always been kind to publishers. But despite reports of plummeting magazine circulations and a decline in the adult fiction market, the literary world is not afraid to embrace the digital age.

Growth pays off as turnover rises at Bruce Stevenson: Insurance brokerage Bruce Stevenson has reported a double-digit hike in turnover during a “fruitful year” for the Edinburgh-based firm. Turnover grew by 14% to £5.9 million on the back of an 18% increase in gross written premiums to £29.2 million.

City A.M.

German prosecutors searched office and home of Deutsche Boerse Chief in insider trading probe: Prosecutors in Germany have searched the home and office of Deutsche Boerse’s Chief Executive as part of its probe into alleged insider trading, it emerged.

Government makes savings on latest board appointment for Premium Bond operator: The government has appointed the new Chief Executive of National Savings & Investments (NS&I), the firm that looks after over £135 billion of Treasury-backed savings.

Air travel soared last year as more than 700 new routes were established globally: Air travel across the world soared last year, as new figures showed international passenger traffic rose 6.7% in 2016.

FL Partners buys one of the U.K.’s largest construction recruiters as builders stay upbeat about hiring: Dublin-based investment group FL Partners has acquired Potensis Recruitment, one of the largest recruiters to the U.K. housebuilding and construction industries.

GVC shares jump after final quarter bonanza and debt savings: Shares in online gambling firm GVC leapt nearly 6% after the firm revealed a jackpot fourth quarter that beat market expectations.

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Disclaimer: Statements in this article should not be considered investment advice, which is best sought directly from a qualified professional.