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Pound at highest level since Brexit vote

Pound at highest level since Brexit vote

Business
The pound has climbed to its highest level against the US dollar since the Brexit vote.Sterling was up by more than a cent to reach nearly $ 1.37 in Friday trading. It was little changed against the euro, hovering below €1.13.It has not been as high versus the dollar since the result of the EU referendum in June 2016 sent the pound plunging from $ 1.50.That result saw sterling sliding to less than $ 1.20 in ensuing months before steadily gaining back ground over 2017.The latest rise on Friday was partly attributed to a report that Spain and the Netherlands were open to a softer Brexit deal for Britain.Bloomberg reported that the two countries' foreign ministers had agreed to work together for a divorce deal that would maintain close ties between the EU and Britain.That did little to help t
Mount Agung: Bali volcano alert raised to highest level

Mount Agung: Bali volcano alert raised to highest level

World
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceAbout 100,000 people near Bali's Mount Agung have been ordered to evacuate as officials fear a major eruption.Indonesian authorities have raised the state of alert to its highest level, and expanded the exclusion zone around the rumbling volcano.The island's airport has now closed, leaving thousands stranded in the tourist hotspot.Authorities say dark smoke and ash have been billowing up to 3,400m (11,150ft) above the mountain's summit.Officials have warned residents to stay away from rock and debris flows known as lahars, which have been spotted flowing down from the mountain.Mount Agung's volcanic tremors first began in September. Indonesia prepares for a big volcanic eruptionA volcanologist explains Bali eruption photosHow close is it to a maj...
Government borrowing at lowest September level for 10 years

Government borrowing at lowest September level for 10 years

Business
Britain saw its smallest budget deficit for any September in the last 10 years, according to official figures.Last month's deficit stood at £5.902bn, down almost 11% compared with the same month last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.With many economists having forecast a deficit of about £6.5bn, the news will be a boost for Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of next month's Budget.The deficit for August was also revised down by about £1bn to £4.716bn September's figures marked the third straight month in which UK public finances were better than analysts had forecast.The ONS said public sector net debt, excluding state-owned banks, had increased by £145.2bn since September last year to £1,785.3bn, equivalent to 87.2% of gross domestic product.A Treasury spokesman said: "Whi
UK productivity falls to pre-crisis level

UK productivity falls to pre-crisis level

Business
The productivity of UK workers has dropped back to pre-financial crisis levels, according to official figures.Hourly output fell 0.5% in the first three months of the year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.At the end of 2016, productivity returned to the level seen before the downturn, overturning years of decline which has weighed on wages.But it has now slipped back again and is 0.4% below the peak recorded at the end of 2007, according to the ONS.Economists have warned that the UK's productivity continues to lag behind its major trading partners such as the US, France and Germany.ONS head of productivity Philip Wales said: "UK labour productivity growth has struggled since the 2008 economic downturn, and the fall in the first quarter of 2017 brings to an end a recent run of...