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UK mortgage approvals hit 13-year high, as firms warn of tough times – business live | Business

A Greggs bakers store in Cardiff, south Wales, at the start of the lockdown

A Greggs bakers store in Cardiff, south Wales, at the start of the lockdown Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP via Getty Images

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

A swathe of UK companies are reporting today that Covid-19 continues to hurt their businesses, more than six months after the UK first imposed restrictions to battle the pandemic.

High street baker Greggs has warned that staff faced reduced hours, and potentially job cuts, as it tries to cut its employment costs.

Greggs, famous for its steak bakes, sausage rolls and new vegan offerings, reports that like-for-like sales in September are only 76.1% of the 2019 levels (an improvement on a ‘slow’ August).

With the government’s furlough scheme wrapping up in a month (replaced by a less generous wage subsidy package), Greggs says it must make cuts:


With business activity levels

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London Firms Are Dumping Office Space as Workers Stay Home

(Bloomberg) — London firms are ditching their unwanted office space at an even faster rate than in the financial crisis.

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More than 1 million square feet (92,900 square meters) has become available for sublet since June, the equivalent of two Gherkin skyscrapers, according to research by real-estate data company CoStar Group Inc. Businesses are offering up the excess space as the pandemic keeps large swathes of employees working from home.

The trend is so far only limited to London: the city’s second-hand space surged by 21% in the period, compared with just a 1% increase for the rest of the U.K.

“The success of home working, coupled with ongoing concerns around public transport and coronavirus infections, has led many firms to reconsider their office space needs,” Mark Stansfield, head of U.K. analytics at CoStar, wrote in a note to clients. “Some of this impact is now being seen

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Posted in home repair

UPDATE 1-Chinese property firms weigh cutting home prices after Evergrande’s deep discounts

(Adds Country Garden comment)

HONG KONG, Sept 10 (Reuters) – Country Garden, China’s top property developer, and smaller real estate firms are weighing bigger discounts on homes after Evergrande announced its steepest ever discount, analysts and a source said.

Evergrande, China’s second biggest property developer, announced a nationwide 30% discount on all of its properties until the end of the week-long holidays in early October, traditionally China’s peak home buying season.

The move is aimed at boosting sales and cash flow at China’s most indebted developer at a time when profits have weakened.

Steeper discounts from developers come against the backdrop of a sluggish recovery in home prices in smaller cities and ebbing appetite for property market speculation outside major cities due to uncertain economic conditions.

A Country Garden source said the company is planning to launch a campaign in response to Evergrande’s price cut, but the rate of discount

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Posted in home improvement loans

Indonesian Firms Demand More Loans to Buy Pandemic-Hit Assets

(Bloomberg) — Indonesia’s second-largest lender by assets says the nation’s companies are set to demand more loans, as they scoop up assets made cheaper by the pandemic.

Some buyers are interested in assets that have become available after the virus and measures to stem it hurt Indonesia’s economy, Alexandra Askandar, corporate banking director at PT Bank Mandiri, said in an interview last week. Growth in loans to large businesses will likely accelerate in the second half from an expansion of 3.4% in the first six months, she said, declining to give an exact target.

“There is demand for loans which have been triggered by this pandemic as some companies are selling their assets,” according to Askandar, 48. “Some of the financing that we provide is to support these acquisitions, such as for oil and gas assets, as well as power plants.”

Indonesia’s economy contracted for the first time in more

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