Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

Another busy week in the world of finance and investment has seen the FTSE impacted by growing concern about the crisis in Greece, a ruling out of the UK referendum on the EU happening on the same day as local elections next May, news of further repayments to the government by the UK's 'bad bank', and new research indicating a change in the way people are choosing to bank.

 

FTSE 100 hit by uncertainty about Greece

The FTSE 100 index was impacted early this week by growing uncertainty about the ongoing crisis in Greece. The index closed on Monday at 6,710.52 points following a dip of 74.40 points, or 1.10%, which was attributed to dented confidence regarding Greece's ability to make its debt repayments.

A breakdown in talks between the country and its creditors, which were intended to prevent a default on the loan repayments, led to Germany's European Union (EU) Commissioner Guenther Oettinger claiming the EU needs to start preparing for a "state of emergency" in Greece. Mr Oettinger said concrete plans now need to be made so the bloc is ready should there be a default and Greece leaves the euro zone.

 

EU referendum on May 5th ruled out

The planned referendum on whether or not the UK will remain in the EU will not take place on May 5th next year. This is according to Prime Minister David Cameron, who ruled out the possibility of the referendum being held on the same day as local elections.

The announcement comes after concern was raised that voting on such differing matters on the same day would only serve to confuse the issue. A spokesman for Number 10 stated: "We have listened to the views expressed by MPs across the house and decided that we won't hold the referendum on May 5th 2016."

Mr Cameron, however, had earlier told parliament that he believed it would not prove problematic for people to vote on two separate issues on the one day.

 

More repayments made by UK 'bad bank'

UK Asset Resolution (UKAR), the state-run 'bad' or 'zombie bank' that is running down the loans of bailed-out lenders Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, has made further repayments to the UK government.

UKAR revealed that in the year to March 2015 it has repaid £3.7 billion, taking the overall amount to £14.1 billion. Richard Banks, Chief Executive of UKAR, commented: "We are now progressing two ambitious divestment projects which, if successful, will accelerate repayment of the government loans and ensure the stability of service to customers."

The 'bad bank' also announced an 11% climb in pretax profit for the period compared with the same time last year, taking this to a total of £1.4 billion.

 

Smartphones 'are a game-changer for banking'

Lastly, we bring you news of a report suggesting significant change in the way people are banking, with increasing numbers choosing to manage their accounts through their smartphones. The findings, from the British Bankers' Association (BBA), suggest mobile banking will become more popular than banking via computer, and represents a marked change for the industry.

According to the statistics, this year will see customers using their mobiles to check their current accounts 895 million times. This compares to the 705 million times they will do so by computer, 427 million branch visits and 64 million telephone calls.

Anthony Browne, Chief Executive of the BBA, said: "Technology is changing our lives and banking is no different... The rapid take up of apps and mobile banking appears to be a real game-changer for the British public."