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Brexit deal 'not essential', says think tank

Brexit deal 'not essential', says think tank

Business
A trade deal with the EU following Britain's exit from the bloc is "desirable but not essential", according to a leading free-market think-tank.The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has said the possibility of a hard Brexit - which would mean the UK leaving the European Union with no ongoing trade deal and therefore defaulting to World Trade Organisation rules - would "not be a disaster", despite most businesses and politicians in Britain warning against it."Many people believe that disaster will befall us if we do not forge a deal with the EU," says the IEA's research director, Jamie Whyte."In fact, we could unilaterally eliminate all import tariffs, which would give us most of the benefits of trade, and export to the EU under the umbrella of the WTO rules."Then we can seek free-trade d...
Asda reports first rise in sale in three years

Asda reports first rise in sale in three years

Business
Asda has reported its first increase in quarterly sales for three years, boosted by a bumper Easter.Britain's third biggest supermarket, owned by US retail giant Walmart, said like-for-like sales rose by 1.8%, excluding petrol, in the three months to 30 June.This compares with a 2.8% fall in the first quarter of this year, which was an eleventh straight decline.It is a big turnaround when compared to this time last year, when the supermarket chain suffered its worst ever quarterly result with sales plummeting by 7.5%.Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said he was "encouraged" by the results."I visited Asda to see the progress being made," he said. "Customers are responding to investments in price and store experience by visiting the stores more often and increasing their basket sizes....
Mixed results for Trump's first oil and gas auction for Gulf

Mixed results for Trump's first oil and gas auction for Gulf

Business
Aug. 17 (UPI) -- The largest lease sale in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and the first under President Trump's administration, generated mixed results for high bids and coverage.The first lease covering the entire southern coastal region, save for protected areas, generated $ 121 million in high bids for 90 tracts covering nearly 510,000 acres. The U.S. Interior Department said the results of lease underscored the government's efforts to stimulate domestic development with fewer restrictions."The sale offered the largest amount of acreage in the history of the federal offshore program in the Gulf, including parcels offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida," the department stated.The area up for bids covered 75.9 million acres for oil and gas exploration and development and i...
DARPA demonstrates TALONS parasail mast system

DARPA demonstrates TALONS parasail mast system

Business
Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has completed a test demonstration of its Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems, or TALONS, surveillance and communications parasail mast.The Cyclone-class coastal patrol vessel USS Zephyr tested the TALONS over three days off the coast of Naval Station Mayport, Fla. The tests found that the parasail mast deployed and recovered safely and increased the communications range of the Zephyr to its small rigid-hull boats."We're very pleased with the USS Zephyr testing, which showed that a future system based on TALONS could provide operational benefits for even small Navy vessels," DARPA program manager Scott Littlefield said.The TALONS is being developed to lift up to 150 lbs. of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and c...
Employment at record high – but wages still weak

Employment at record high – but wages still weak

Business
The UK's jobless rate hit its lowest level since 1975 - but average earnings continued to lag behind inflation in the three months to June, official figures show.Wages grew by 2.1% compared with the same period last year, the Office for National Statistics said.This is a slight increase on the previous March to May quarter when the ONS revised down its preliminary figure to 1.9%.However, once inflation is taken into account, total pay in real terms sank by 0.5% both including and excluding bonuses.It comes a day after official data showed inflation remained unchanged in July at 2.6%. Economists had expected it to climb to 2.7%.The figures are significant as they show a continuation in the squeeze on living costs, largely thanks to the collapse in the pound following the Brexit vote, which ...