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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

This week Brexit remains on the agenda, along with more positive news in the world of oil. However, closer to home the FTSE has seen a fall, while there is talk of serious financial troubles for 'millennials'.


Boris Johnson: Brexit presents golden opportunity

Talk of a potential Brexit from the European Union has again intensified this week, with Mayor of London Boris Johnson at risk of incurring the wrath of Prime Minister David Cameron by calling for the UK and EU to go their separate ways.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Johnson said: "We have got a once in a lifetime opportunity, which will not come again, to strike a new series of relationships, free trade deals with the growth economies around the world, whilst maintaining [...] our free trade advantages with the European Union.

"For the last few years I have said clearly if we didn't get reform we should be prepared to walk away. I think we now have a golden opportunity to shrug off a regulatory legislative burden that is profoundly undemocratic."

He added that he didn't take seriously threats by banks to relocate from London if Brexit became a reality.

His comments come after it was revealed by the BBC that Mr Johnson's chief of staff had allegedly sent an email to senior colleagues telling them to back up the Mayor's position on the EU or "otherwise not openly contradict it". Mr Johnson was said to be unaware of the email and described it as a mistake, stating that he was happy for advisers to express their own views.

Price of oil rises to $40+ per barrel

The price of oil has surged to more than $40 per barrel, prompting optimism from experts that this could spell the end of a long-term price rout that saw the price drop to $27 per barrel.

Brent crude hit highs of $40.81 over the weekend following positive discussions between Russia and Saudi Arabia regarding a deal to cap oil production, with OPEC members Qatar and Venezuela also involved. More OPEC countries will take part in further discussions on the topic on 20 March.

However, not everyone is sure the price rise will be maintained. IHS director Spencer Welsh told City A.M.: "We think the price rise is premature and it's not going to last. Iran is going to continue to defy Saudi Arabia and the stockpiles in the US will take time to recede." 

FTSE dips following Chinese trade data

Weak Asian markets have led to a dip in the FTSE 100 index this week after Chinese trade data declined unexpectedly.

February's trade data was the worst since 2009, with manufacturing output and industrial production taking a particularly big hit, causing yet more concerns about the strength of the Chinese economy.

As a result, the UK's index dropped by 0.71% to 6,136 points early on Tuesday morning, with miners such as Glencore and BHP Billiton seeing significant dips. 

Millennials 'hurt' by baby boomer pensions

Analysis by the Guardian this week suggests that the prospects of millions of young people - referred to as Generation Y or 'millennials' - across the world are seriously affected by "over-generous" pensions promised to the baby boomer generation.

The news source said "no one expected people to live as long as they are and, in such great numbers". As a result, companies are struggling to pay enough to cover the cost of these pensions, leaving little cash for salary increases for current employees. 

This, combined with unemployment, debt, rising house prices and globalisation, means income growth for those aged between 20 and 29 has stalled, while it has risen significantly for those aged between 55 and 79.

The consequence of this, according to HSBC economist James Pomeroy, is worrying. "If you have a load of people who are 20-25 and they are becoming your core consumer over the next 15 to 20 years and they are less well off than the current crop of people in that age group, then that’s not great for growth […] you’re in big trouble," he said.