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UK construction rises despite Brexit vote

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UK construction companies enjoyed a rise in business activity in October, largely thanks to another big increase in residential work, says a survey.

The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the sector moved up to 52.6 from 52.3 in September.

IHS Markit’s senior economist Tim Moore said the news was “positive”.

But he warned that “respondents noted that Brexit-related uncertainty and concerns about the UK economic outlook had held back investment spending”.

He added: “While business activity has picked up since the third quarter, the recent phase of new order growth has been the weakest for three-and-a-half years.

Markets analyst Neil Wilson said: “The market is holding up very well since the [Brexit] vote.

“Residential housing activity was the key driver and this confirms that in terms of the fundamentals of the UK housing market, nothing has really changed.

“The market remains undersupplied and with interest rates at record lows, there is no reason for buyers not to be found.

“Even if prices are pressured and household incomes are constrained by inflation, at the first-time buyer level there is no lack of demand.”

However, the figures are at odds with last week’s GDP figures, which said that the construction sector had contracted by 1.4% in the three months following the Brexit vote.

While construction rose according to the survey, figures for commercial construction stabilised during the month, but civil engineering decreased slightly.

There was only a moderate growth in new business in October and the increase was much weaker than in the first quarter of the year.

And input prices increased at the second-fastest rate since July 2011.

Reports suggest this is because of suppliers trying to pass on higher prices for imported raw materials following the decline in the value of sterling in the wake of the Brexit vote.

On Tuesday, the Markit/CIPS survey on manufacturing for October showed it remained on a “firm footing” during the month.

And later this week, the Bank of England meets for its latest policymaking meeting, although it is not expected to announce another cut in interest rates.

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Nissan to recall over 40,000 cars due to malfunction of brake fluid leak

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Japanese automaker gaint Nissan says,  it’s recalling nearly 400,000 vehicles in the U.S. because of a braking system defect that could cause them to catch fire.

Users and Owners are advised to park affected vehicles outside and away from structures if the anti-lock brake system warning light comes on for more than 10 seconds.

The Japanese automaker says a pump seal may become worn down and cause brake fluid to leak. “If the warning is ignored … the brake fluid leak may potentially create an electrical short in the actuator circuit, which in rare instances, may lead to a fire,” the company says in documents sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall affects four different models in the U.S.: the Nissan Murano SUV, model years 2015 to 2018; Maxima sedans, model years 2016 to 2018; and the Infiniti QX60 and Nissan Pathfinder SUVs, model years 2017 to 2019.

Nissan says in a statement emailed to NPR that it is working on a fix and that owners of affected vehicles will be notified beginning in early December 2019. “Once the remedy is available, owners will receive a final notification letter asking them to bring their vehicle to an authorized Nissan dealer or INFINITI retailer to have the remedy work completed at no cost for parts or labor,” the company says.

This isn’t the first time Nissan has had problems with brake fluid leaks. Last year, for example, Nissan recalled more than 215,000 vehicles. The automaker says vehicles in the 2018 recall that haven’t been repaired are included in the current recall.

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World food prices hike for first time in five months: U.N. FAO

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World food prices rose for the first time in five months in October, boosted by jumps in quotations for sugar and cereals, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 172.7 points in October, up 1.7% on the previous month and 6.0% year-on-year.

FAO also predicted that cereal production would be 2.704 billion tonnes in 2019, slightly lower than its last forecast.

The FAO sugar price index jumped 5.8% from September levels, largely because of expectations of lower supplies in the year ahead following forecasts of large reductions in sugar output in India and Thailand.

The cereal price index rose 4.2%, with wheat and maize export prices climbing on the back of reduced crop prospects in several major producing countries and “robust trade activity”. By contrast, rice prices fell, hit by subdued demand and expectations of an abundant basmati harvest.

The vegetable oil price index increased 0.5% to reach its highest level in more than a year, while the meat price index rose 0.9%, driven by higher import demand especially from China.

By contrast, the dairy price index dropped 0.7% in October, as lower quotations for cheese offset increases in those for skimmed and whole milk powders, FAO said.

FAO lowered its forecast for global cereal production in 2019 by some 2 million tonnes, pegging world cereal output at 2.704 billion tonnes, but still up 1.8% from 2018 levels.

The U.N. agency said worldwide coarse grain production in 2019 was seen at 1.425 billion tonnes, down 1.3 million on the previous forecast.

Wheat output was seen at 765 million tonnes, down nearly 1 million tonnes on the last outlook, but still on course to set a new record and up 4.5% on 2018 levels.

The forecast for global rice production was put at 513.4 million tonnes, little changed on the previous forecast and slightly below 2018 levels.

Source: Reuters

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