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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.

24 Hours Across Africa

Apple unveils new iPhone 11 with a triple-camera

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Apple Inc (AAPL.O) caught up with hardware rivals on Tuesday by revealing a triple-camera iPhone, and it rolled out a streaming TV service priced at $5 a month, undercutting Disney and Netflix.

The announcements came at the company’s biggest marketing event, where it unveils its top products for the year ahead, and showcased an aggressive Apple ready to battle on price.

The long-awaited Apple TV+ streaming television service will be available in over 100 countries, starting in November. The service will not be available in China when it launches, nor will the Apple Arcade video game subscription.

Buyers of an iPhone, iPad or Mac will get a free year of streaming TV, potentially drawing hundreds of millions of viewers to the service. That catapults the new service into a rarified group of companies.

“I think the pricing on the Apple TV service was definitely a positive surprise,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. “That’s why you’re seeing the hammering in some of the other video service-related names like Netflix, Amazon and Roku. Clearly, that was a positive that people were happy to hear.”

There was no bundle with Apple Music or other services as some analysts had expected. But Ben Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies, said the TV service, a $5 a month “Arcade” gaming service and the base model iPhone 11, seem designed to draw in users for the longer term.

“We weren’t expecting Apple Arcade and particularly Apple TV to be priced as aggressively as they were,” Bajarin said. “They know once consumers get into their ecosystem, they don’t leave.”

Apple said its new iPhone 11 will come with two back cameras, including an ultra wide-angle lens and the next generation of microchips, the A13. Prices start at $699, down from last year’s new iPhone that started at $749.

The more expensive iPhone 11 Pro will have three cameras on the back – wide angle, telephoto and ultra-wide. It can create videos with all three back cameras and the front camera at the same time and starts at $999. The iPhone 11 Pro Max with a bigger screen starts at $1,099. The new phones are available to order Friday and will start shipping Sept. 20.

Rivals including Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) already sell phones with three cameras on the back. While Apple once tested the upper limits of what consumers would pay for a phone, it is now giving ground on prices, even making older models available at significant discounts to the latest technology.

“Consumers absolutely still care about cameras. That’s why it was surprising over the last couple of years that Samsung and Huawei got the jump on Apple,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. “Apple was playing a bit of catch up, but Apple did bring their game, particularly on the video side of the camera, where I do think they’ll have the leg up.”

Analysts expect Apple will sell around 200 million iPhones in the next year, in addition to other devices, and while many of those will be in China, it ensures at least tens of millions of potential viewers for the subscription service.

Hal Eddins, chief economist for Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel, said Apple’s lower priced iPhones “aren’t exciting on the surface, but the low streaming price may suck in some new subscribers.” Apple shares gained 0.8%.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Oando has announced the discovery of Gas in Niger Delta

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Oando plc through its molecule subsidiary oando energy resources (OER) on wednesday said it has made a correlation gas and quantum discovery in its fields in the Niger delta

A disclosure sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange said the project is a joint venture arrangement among the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Details showed that the NNPC owns 60 per cent stake in the project, while Oando and NAOC, the operator controls 20 percent each.

The discoveries were made in the deeper sequences of the Obiafu-Obrikom fields, in OML61, onshore Niger Delta, the oil firm said.

The Obiafu-41 Deep appraisal/exploration well has reached a total depth of 4.374m encountering an important gas and condensate accumulation within the deltaic sequence of Oligocene age comprising more than 130m of high quality hydrocarbonbearing sands, it said.

The company added that the find amounts to about 1 trillion cubic feet of gas and 60 million barrels of associated condensate in the deep drilled sequences.

The discovery is part of a drilling campaign planned by the Joint Venture aimed at exploring near-field and deep pool opportunities as immediate time to market opportunities.

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