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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

Our roundup of the latest events in the world of finance and investment focuses this week on a slowdown in growth for UK manufacturing, a fall for UK shares and the impact of poor bank holiday weather on the high street, while we also look at a rise in the spend limit when using contactless cards. 

 

UK manufacturing activity 'slowed in August'

Manufacturing activity in the UK slowed in August, while a two-year run of jobs growth across the nation's factories also came to a halt. This is according to the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, which fell to 51.5 last month from the 51.9 recorded in July.

Despite the figure still sitting above the 50 mark - considered the threshold for growth - the decrease means activity in the sector is expanding at a slower pace than in previous months and will not play as big a part in pushing wider economic growth.

Rob Dobson, Senior Economist at Markit, said: "The UK manufacturing sector remains in a holding pattern, with production growth hovering around the stagnation mark and marginal job losses reported for the first time in 26 months." 

UK shares 'dipped more than 2%' on Tuesday

Tuesday morning witnessed a dip of more than 2% for UK shares, with the manufacturing sector slump in China continuing to affect global markets. The FTSE 100 was down 2.3%, with miners in particular hit hard by events in the Asian country. With metal prices tumbling on fears relating to demand in China, mining companies Glencore, Anglo American and BHP Billiton all fell by more than 4%.

Hedge-fund manager Man Group has also been impacted, with the group dipping 5.8% following reports that an investigation into market volatility had resulted in the boss of its China unit reportedly being taken into custody.  

Wet weather 'dictates bank holiday shopping activity'

Shoppers were deterred from hitting the high street this bank holiday due to the wet weather, and opted instead to keep dry in covered shopping centres. This is according to new figures from Springboard, which revealed that while the number of people hitting the high street edged down by 0.1% across the weekend, the number visiting shopping centres increased by 6.2%.

The retail analyst explained that overall footfall was higher this bank holiday than across the same weekend in 2014. Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard, said there is plenty to suggest consumer confidence is currently at a high.

She commented: "Favourable inflation rates, low unemployment and UK-wide pay rises are enabling shoppers to spend in comfort and they were out in force across UK shopping centres and retail parks this weekend, enjoying the benefit of the August payday falling before the long weekend and just in time ahead of the new school term." 

Popularity of contactless cards leads to limit rise

The amount of money people can spend using contactless cards has risen from £20 to £30, with the popularity of the payment method behind the increase. The cards allow shoppers to pay for goods without having to either sign for them or enter their pin number, and many people in the UK have taken advantage of the method, which is viewed as quicker and easier than what has gone before.

In the first half of this year alone, transactions using the method reached £2.5 billion. Graham Peacop, Chief Executive of the UK Cards Association, said: "The growth in contactless payments shows people want to use contactless cards, and increasing the limit gives customers even more opportunities to pay in this way."