High street sales make modest rebound helped by warm weather in May

British Retail Consortium reports rise of 0.5% after two months of falling sales, but says that conditions remain tough

High street retailers enjoyed a modest rebound in sales last month as shoppers stocked up on summer clothes, barbecue food and outdoor toys, according to industry figures.

The warm weather helped like-for-like sales rise 0.5% on the year in May, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said. It brought some relief to retailers after falling sales in the previous two months, but the trade group said conditions remained tough.

Related: Brexit forecasters miss everything that matters to real voters

Continue reading…

Paper tiger Mike Ashley needs to explain or face being torn apart by MPs

Sports Direct founder cannot risk carrying on with the bluster when he gives evidence on working conditions for warehouse staff

Mike Ashley is a paper tiger. Having said he would not show up to give evidence to the House of Commons business committee, the Sports Direct boss has changed his mind and now says he will grace MPs with his presence.

In truth, there was never the remotest possibility that Ashley would defy the will of parliament. Rupert Murdoch eventually deigned to make an appearance before a select committee, and to adapt Lloyd Bentsen’s putdown of Dan Quayle, Ashley is no Rupert Murdoch.

Related: Questions Mike Ashley should answer on Sports Direct work conditions

Related: High street sales make modest rebound helped by warm weather in May

Continue reading…

Uncertain economy may prompt Fed to delay rate hike, Janet Yellen suggests

Federal Reserve chair points to ‘considerable uncertainty’ in speech following weak jobs report on Friday, amid concerns over Brexit and Chinese economy

Hikes to US interest rates might be on hold again thanks to “considerable uncertainty about the economic outlook” Janet Yellen suggested in a speech on Monday.

Speaking at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, days after a surprisingly poor report on the state of the US job market, the Federal Reserve chair said gradual increases to the interest rates were “likely to be appropriate”. But she omitted the phrase “in the coming months” – a phrase that, when spoken by Yellen 10 days ago, many economists took to imply that the Fed was ready to raise rates soon.

Related: US economy adds paltry 38,000 jobs in May for weakest growth since 2010

Continue reading…

UK new car sales continue to rise but at slower pace

Signs of weakening demand from some business and private customers as new vehicle registrations increase 2.5% in May

New car sales in the UK have continued to grow but at a slower pace than previous months amid signs of falling demand from some business and private customers.

New car registrations in May rose 2.5% compared with last year to 203,585, the highest for the month since 2002, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). But the trade group noted growth had eased off with May marking the second month running when car registrations rose by less than 3%.

Continue reading…

The overselling of financial transaction taxes

A ‘Robin Hood tax’ would not have stopped the 2008 financial crisis. We need better regulation of financial markets and a progressive tax on consumption

However November’s US presidential election turns out, one proposal that will probably live on is the introduction of a financial transaction tax (FTT). While by no means a crazy idea, an FTT is hardly the panacea that its hard-left advocates hold it out to be. It is certainly a poor substitute for deeper tax reform aimed at making the system simpler, more transparent, and more progressive.

As American society ages and domestic inequality worsens, and assuming that interest rates on the national debt eventually rise, taxes will need to go up, urgently on the wealthy but some day on the middle class. There is no magic wand, and the politically expedient idea of a “Robin Hood” tax on trading is being badly oversold.

Related: Oil prices can provide a slippery picture

Continue reading…

Could a robot do your job? – video explainer

Robots and automated systems are getting faster, better and cheaper by the day. A study of US jobs has found that 47% are threatened by automation in the next 20 years. So what can robots already do? What jobs are safe? And what will we do all day if we don’t have any work to do?

Continue reading…