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Household squeeze shows signs of easing as wages rise

Household squeeze shows signs of easing as wages rise

Business
Wages grew by 2.6% in the three months to January while the unemployment rate fell, according to new data. The Office for National Statistics said that earnings growth was slightly higher than the 2.5% rate in the previous period.It adds to evidence that the squeeze on household income may be coming to an end after inflation fell to 2.7% in February.Meanwhile, the unemployment rate ticked lower to 4.3% from 4.4%. A small estimated increase in the number of unemployed people during the quarter did not dent the overall rise in employment over the last year. Matt Hughes, senior statistician at the ONS, said: "Employment and unemployment levels were both up on the quarter, with the employment rate returning to its joint highest ever."He said: "Total earnings growth continues to nudge upwards i...
Facebook shares slip as scrutiny continues

Facebook shares slip as scrutiny continues

Business
Facebook shares continued to slide on Tuesday, amid ongoing furore concerning the use of data collected by the social network.The firm's stock closed down 2.6%, following a steep decline a day earlier.The concerns infected fellow social media company Twitter, which was down more than 10%.Investors are reacting to calls for tighter regulation of tech firms from politicians in the US, UK and Europe.On Tuesday, US media reported that the Federal Trade Commission, a US regulator, is looking into Facebook's handling of personal data.The questions follow allegations that 50 million Facebook users' private information was misused by a political consultancy firm.Cambridge Analytica (CA), used by the Trump campaign in the 2016 US election, has been accused of taking personal data without users' kn...
Inflation falls to seven-month low, says ONS

Inflation falls to seven-month low, says ONS

Business
Inflation fell to 2.7% last month from 3% in January, the Office for National Statistics said.Lower petrol prices and cheaper hotel rooms were among the reasons for the decline, which was slightly bigger than expected.There was also a more muted rise in the cost of food and drink than in the same period of 2017, when a shortage of vegetables from Europe such as lettuce and courgettes affected supply.That helped take the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation to its lowest level since July last year. Economists had been expecting a reading of 2.8%.The figures come two days before the Bank of England's next interest rate decision but are unlikely to change expectations about the timing of the next hike - with many experts pencilling in May for a rate rise but others urging the Bank ...
Bell tapped for services to support MQ-8 Fire Scout

Bell tapped for services to support MQ-8 Fire Scout

Business
March 19 (UPI) -- Bell Helicopter has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Navy for three Bell 407 variant commercial airframes in support of the MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned aerial system.The deal, announced Friday by the Department of Defense, is valued at more than $ 9.8 million under the terms of an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.The agreement between Naval Air Systems Command and Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. enables the company to provide up to three Bell 407 variant commercial airframes and associated Bell 407 unique components, the Pentagon said.Additionally, the contract will provide for preservation and storage of the MQ-8 Fire Scout, a Northrop Grumman-manufactured unmanned autonomous helicopter used for reconnaissance, aerial fire support and other naval missions.W...
Total next to take slice of Emirati pie

Total next to take slice of Emirati pie

Business
March 19 (UPI) -- French supermajor Total said it's followed in the footsteps of its Italian counterpart, Eni, by making long-term commitments in Abu Dhabi.Total signed two 40-year concession agreements with state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil. Co. that gives it a 20 percent stake in the Umm Shaif and Nasr concession and a 5 percent stake in the Lower Zakum prospect.At a fee of $ 1.45 billion dollars, Total said the agreement has a price tag of about $ 1 per barrel of reserves.Tom Quinn, a senior analyst for exploration and production in the Middle East for consultant group Wood Mackenzie, said that while Italian energy giant Eni beat Total to the door, it's the French supermajor that gains the edge."This deal will propel Total to the top international oil company spot in Abu Dhabi," he sai...