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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

In our roundup this week, we report on a 31-year low for sterling against the US dollar following the announcement that the UK will begin the process of leaving the EU in March next year, findings showing that millions of people have savings amounting to less than £100, a climb in sales for the baker Greggs and claims that the UK is facing a significant rental home shortage.

 

Sterling tumbles to 31-year low against dollar after Brexit date announcement

Sterling dropped to its lowest level against the US dollar for more than 30 years on Tuesday, with concerns mounting following Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement that the nation will begin the process of leaving the European Union (EU) in March next year.

The currency dipped by more than 1% on Monday and extended its losses a day later, tumbling to $1.2764. This represented its lowest reading since June 1985 and meant sterling had become almost 15% weaker than prior to the EU referendum in June.

Early trading on Tuesday also saw it hitting a three-year low of 87.56 pence per euro following a slide of 0.2%. 

Millions 'have savings of less than £100'

A new study carried out by the Money Advice Service (MAS) has found that millions of people in the UK have savings that amount to less than £100. It was shown that more than 16 million individuals currently have less than this amount to their name, and the MAS described the findings as worrying, especially for those on low incomes.

The report revealed that more than half the adult population has savings below the £100 mark in five areas of the country - Northern Ireland, North East England, Yorkshire and Humber, the West Midlands, and Wales.

Nick Hill of the MAS commented: "These figures show the millions put at risk by the saving gaps in the UK." He added that saving is a real challenge for low earners simply because they may not earn enough money to be able to put anything away each month.   

Healthy options 'contribute to sales climb for Greggs'

Greggs has reported a significant third quarter rise in sales, with the introduction of healthier foods to its offering - such as salads and yoghurts - among the main reasons cited for the increase. The food chain, known for traditionally selling pastries and sandwiches, posted a total sales climb of 5.6% in the 13 weeks to October, while like-for-like sales rose by 3.4%.

The business is currently valued at £1.07 billion, and shares closed on Monday at £10.46. It is currently amid a five-year plan to focus more on providing a food on-the-go offering and to operate less as a traditional bakery.  

In a statement, it said: "The popularity of our summer menu including an extended range of Balanced Choice salads and yoghurts supported sales growth in the period." 

RICS: UK facing rental home shortage

A critical rental home shortage could be on the cards for the UK property market, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned. The surveyors' body claimed that by 2025 around 1.8 million more households will be looking to rent as opposed to buy.

According to RICS, the government needs to encourage building and investment in the sector, with tax breaks put forward as one way to achieve this.

The body also revealed that the period from 2001 to 2014 witnessed a leap from 2.3 million to 5.4 million in the number of people choosing to rent.