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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

We cast our eye this week over the latest developments concerning Britain's future in the EU and the possibility of a referendum on the matter arriving sooner rather than later, and also bring you news of considerable profit increases for Nationwide and Ryanair.


Cameron presses for a new deal on Europe

David Cameron is hoping for a new deal with Europe for Britain this week, and has told the President of the European Commission that he would like to see considerable change. The Prime Minister held talks with Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday as he sought to renegotiate Britain's role within the European Union (EU) - something he promised to do in the build up to the General Election.

A government spokeswoman told Reuters: "The Prime Minister underlined that the British people are not happy with the status quo and believe that the EU needs to change in order to better address their concerns."

Mr Juncker told Mr Cameron that more discussions on the matter would have to be held and made assurances that he would seek help as the EU tries to work out a fair deal for the UK. 

EEF calls for EU referendum next year

The UK's leading manufacturing association wants a planned referendum on the nation's involvement with the EU to be held no later than next year. EEF, which was formerly called the Engineering Employers' Federation and represents around 20,000 manufacturing, engineering and technology companies, urged the UK to decide on its future with the EU sooner rather than later to avoid a drawn out period of uncertainty that could prove damaging in the long run.

EEF called for the referendum to be held either in May 2016 or in the autumn of that year. Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of the group, said: "Having trailed this since early 2013, the government must surely have a clear idea of its proposed areas for negotiation and it must now be a priority to get on with it."

He added that 85% of manufacturers support the UK's continued membership of the EU, and questioned whether it would be a good idea for the nation to distance itself from a major export market. 

Nationwide reports 54% profits jump

Nationwide building society has posted a significant profits increase and claimed it expects growth to continue in the years ahead alongside an easing of house price growth. The group, which has taken back its place as the second largest mortgage lender in the UK, reported a 54% climb in annual pre-tax profit to £1.04 billion - considerably higher than the £677 million posted 12 months earlier.

The building society explained a growth in retail assets, coupled with lower retail funding costs, have helped its net interest income - that received from its own investments and from savings deposits - jump from £458 million to £2.8 billion.

Nationwide also confirmed Chief Executive Graham Beale is to retire. Mr Beale commented: "Succession of leadership is best dealt with from a position of strength and hence the time has come for the society to identify and appoint its next Chief Executive." 

Ryanair posts 66% profit surge

Ryanair has reported a profit increase of 66% in the year to March, with passenger numbers escalating 11% to reach 90 million. This jump was much greater than the 4% growth targeted at the start of the year.

The Irish airline claimed the increases are down to lower fares and improved service. Around 100 million people are expected to fly with Ryanair this current fiscal year, with the airline announcing profit after tax reached £615 million and would continue rising to hit between £940 million and £970 million this year.

Following the announcement, Ryanair's share price closed at 10.88 euros on Monday, which was 58% higher than a year earlier.