45. Weekly Newsletter

UK house prices rise

The UK house prices have been dropping since April this year and only last month they were 5.3% lower than what they were a year before that. For the first time in months, house prices unexpectedly rose by 0.9% which is as a result of the lack of properties to sell according to mortgage provide, Nationwide. Nationwide’s chief economist stated that the rise in October reflected the “constrained” supply of houses on the market which would of course make it an unattractive time to sell.

House prices have reflected the wider economy as the strong wage growth in recent months in the UK along with the shortage of properties has led to no need for “forced selling”. At the same time, mortgage payments have risen as a result in the Bank of England’s decision to increase interest rates from a massive low of 0.1% in 2021 to 5.25%. Data published this week by the Bank of England also showed that mortgage approvals in September fell to the lowest level of 2023 as the average mortgage rate hit the 5% mark for the first time since the financial crisis over, a decade ago.

Newspapers

The UK’s front page news cycle over the last seven days has covered a wide range of topics. Sunak’s AI summit has helped to drive forward the AI agenda, the UK covid enquiry has exposed widespread failures in UK response and Shell boss has decided to make Shell’s green operations far leaner and more focused. Some of the newspaper front pages from this week were:

  • Financial Times- ‘Shell boss backs ‘leaner’ operation in defending renewables strategy shift’
  • Financial Times- ‘Boris Johnson did not think Covid was ‘big deal’, says ex-adviser Lee Cain’
  • The Guardian- ‘UK ‘in violation of international law’ over poverty levels, says UN envoy’
  • The Guardian- ‘Almost all UK councils have not spent total share of levelling-up fund’
  • Sunday Telegraph- ‘Selfridges ownership battle threatened amid debt crisis at Austrian backer’
  • The Times- ‘Shrinking profits at UK companies weaken greedflation claim’
  • The Times- ‘Shell to buy back $3.5bn of shares despite fall in profits’ 

Shell major changes

Chief executive of Shell, Wael Sawan has made clear his plans to make Shell far more focused by boosting oil output, expanding the gas business and cutting down on some of the renewable parts of the company. Sawan explained that he remains committed to transforming Shell into a multi-energy company, cutting emissions to net zero by 2050, however Shell would no longer “pretend to lead” areas of energy transition where they were not specialised in. This announcement followed decisions to scale back on investments in hydrogen energy for cars and that it would cut 200 jobs in the low carbon solutions division and place many others under review. A few senior executives have left Shell as a result of this shift as they stated it had become clear the ambition of the company had changed in some of the greener energy areas.

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