23. Weekly Newsletter

House Prices Fall

UK house prices fell at their fastest annual pace for almost 14 years (since July 2009) in the year to May according to new research by Nationwide. The 3.4% fall comes as a result of mortgage rates continuing to rise as interest rates increase (currently at 4.5%). Nationwide stated that “headwinds to the housing market look set to strengthen in the near term” as a result of renewed forecasts that the Bank of England (BoE) will increase interest rates further due to stubbornly high inflation.

The average property price in the UK stands at £260,736 and sits 4% below the August 2022 peak. Currently, the average interest rate on a two-year fixed mortgage is now 5.49% whilst 10% of UK mortgage deals have been removed from the market due to uncertainties. Interestingly, new BoE data indicates that the amount of mortgage debt borrowed was at its lowest level on record in April (excluding COVID-related dips). Nationally, borrowers repaid net £1.4bn more on mortgages than banks lent out.

Newspapers & Politics

The UK’s front page news cycle over the last seven days covered a wide range of topics with no single issue dominating headlines. The topic of former PM Johnson’s COVID inquiry has proven topical and discussions surrounding future tax cuts- before the next general election- have gained media attention. Some of the newspaper front pages over the last week were:

  • The Sunday Telegraph: PM wants 2p tax cut before the election
  • The Sunday Times: Ukraine’s new weapons plea to hit back at Putin
  • Daily Mail: Unions Line Up Another Year Of Rail Strike Mayhem
  • Daily Express: Biggest House Price Fall In 14 Years
  • Financial Times: Government seeks legal block on Johnson messages for COVID inquiry
  • The Times: AI pioneers fear extinction
  • Financial Times: Soda-ash group aims to be ‘big fish’ on FTSE with $7.5bn valuation target
  • The Guardian: Labour to let councils buy land cheaply to tackle housing crisis
  • Financial Times: Western nations raise pressure on Erdogan to admit Sweden into NATO

The government’s Illegal Migration Bill is expected to cost between £3-6bn due to the expansion of detention facilities, ongoing accommodation and removal costs. The plan will allow ministers to remove anyone arriving in the UK illegally and would prevent Channel migrants from claiming asylum. Elsewhere in politics, former PM Johnson is facing a legal challenge over COVID whereby the government has, unusually, taken legal action against its own public inquiry.

WE Soda IPO

WE Soda, the world’s largest natural soda-ash producer, is planning to float in London on a valuation expected at around £6bn– which would qualify for FTSE100 status. The move counters the trend of IPOs crossing the Atlantic to New York following a year in which IPO offering proceeds are down 80% YoY. The company’s CEO described London as advantageous as the company can be “a big fish in a relatively modest-sized pond”.

The multinational’s CEO chose London because they are “a Europe-centric business, UK-based and our founder is a resident here… within industrials and extractives, it’s a good place to be listed”. This would represent Europe’s largest flotation of 2023 and has become a large focus of government. A UK listing generates considerable ancillary business for the nation’s financial services industry which represents over 10% of GDP (and tax revenues). Additionally, the economy’s extensive pool of accountants, lawyers, financial PR firms and others are set to benefit.

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17. Weekly Newsletter

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