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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

In our first roundup of 2017 we bring news of UK manufacturing growth reaching a two-and-a-half-year high in December, and factory activity in China climbing to an almost four-year high, as well as the HMRC revealing that thousands of people filed their tax returns early over the festive period and Nationwide predicting a slowing of house price growth in the year ahead.

 

PMI: 2½-year high for UK manufacturing growth

UK manufacturing growth reached a two-and-a-half-year high in December, new figures have shown. The Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) climbed to 56.1 last month, which was markedly up on the 53.6 recorded in November and represents the highest reading since June 2014.

New orders from both home and overseas have been credited for the increase, although factories are also facing rising cost pressures. Rob Dobson, Senior Economist at HIS Markit, which compiles the survey, commented: "The boost to competitiveness from the weak exchange rate has undoubtedly been a key driver of the recent turnaround, while the domestic market has remained a strong contributor to new business wins."

The movement contributed to the pound climbing to 1.1817 euro on Tuesday morning, the highest level since December 22. 

China's factory activity 'climbs to almost four-year high'

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) increased to 51.9 on a seasonally-adjusted basis in December, indicating China's factory activity has reached an almost four-year high.

A boom in lending and construction has contributed to the upsurge, which has seen the index sit above the 50-point level for six months in a row and helped it to climb up from the 50.9 registered in November.

The findings suggest the manufacturing sector in China - a major contributor to the country's economy as a whole - is starting the year on a solid footing. 

HMRC: Thousands filed tax returns over the festive period  

Thousands of people used the festive period to file their tax returns early, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revealed. The deadline for filing tax returns online is January 31, but 1,944 individuals submitted their self-assessment forms online on Christmas Day, 6,214 did so on Christmas Eve and 6,200 on Boxing Day.

A total of around 10 million people are in the self-assessment system and while the online submission deadline is the end of January, those returning paper forms have until October 31.

People who file their returns up to three months late will likely face a minimum fine of £100. 

House price growth to slow in 2017 - Nationwide

Nationwide has predicted that house price growth will likely slow in 2017, despite remaining relatively stable throughout 2016. It anticipates increases over the 12 months ahead to be modestly slower due to the weakening of the economy.

The latest House Price Index from Nationwide revealed that average house prices have climbed by 4.5% over the past year, which is the same rate as recorded in 2015.

 

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