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Posted by: Megan Schiavino


HSBC saw pre-tax profits fall 4% in the first three months of 2018, as higher costs more than eroded increased revenue. The biggest bank in Europe, reported making $4.8bn (£3.5bn) compared with the $5bn posted in the same period a year earlier. But shareholders will be cheered by plans for a $2bn share buyback. The results are the first announced since John Flint took over as chief executive from Stuart Gulliver. Banks are generally acquiring the rewards from improvement in the global economy, as central banks around the world lift borrowing costs after a decade of low rates. "We continue to benefit from interest rate rises and economic growth, particularly in Asia," Mr Flint said. "Our primary focus is to grow the businesses safely, and we have increased investment to deliver that aim." The bank said it expected the planned share repurchase programme to be the only one it offered in 2018. Its pivot to Asia in recent years has been paying off, with wealth management, commercial and retail banking becoming key drivers of growth. (Source – BBC News)

People in England and Wales were much more likely to move home in the 1970s than in the first decade of the 2000s, says research by population experts. The study, based on census data over 40 years, indicates that people are becoming progressively less mobile, for both renters and homeowners. Dr Ian Shuttleworth, from Queen's University Belfast, says there had been a long term "change in behaviour". He also said that this lack of movement could be part of a slowdown in social mobility. The research, part of an international demographic project, shows that at least a million fewer people moved between 2001 and 2011 compared with 1971 to 1981, once other changes in population have been considered. It shows that the pattern of people moving up the housing ladder - and expecting to keep moving to a bigger or better home or more desirable location - was much more common in the 1970s and 1980s than in the 2000s. They might also put up with longer commutes rather than move for work, say the researchers. "People now just move less than they did in the 1970s," says Dr Shuttleworth. The researchers thought that such a big drop in moving home could have been driven by an ageing population, with older people less likely to move houses. This reduction in moving elsewhere applied to those in work and those unemployed, in social housing as well as private renting and home owners. This could be driven by changes in the housing market, with the rising cost of property and a shortage of affordable housing making a move more difficult and expensive. There could also be "life stages being delayed", so that young people who might once have moved out are still living in their family home. On the other hand, it could be a more positive decision, said Dr Shuttleworth, with people feeling "rooted" in their current home and community. (Source – BBC News)

Labour and the Conservatives have both lost control of key councils in local elections across England. Labour failed to take several targets from the Tories, including Wandsworth in London, but won back Plymouth and became the largest party in Trafford. The Tories won Barnet and gained from a collapse in UKIP's vote, celebrating wins in Basildon and Peterborough. The Lib Dems regained control of Richmond, in London, from the Tories and gained seats elsewhere. A total of 4,371 seats are up for grabs in 150 local councils in what is the first England-wide test of political opinion since last year's general election. With two thirds of the results in so far, Labour have held on to 50 councils as well as taking control of Plymouth from the Conservatives - a result Tory MP Johnny Mercer blamed on the government's handling of defence issues. But Labour lost control of Nuneaton and Bedworth in Warwickshire, after the Conservatives took eight of their seats, and Derby - where its council leader lost his seat to UKIP. The Conservatives have also won control of Barnet Council in north London, taking it back from no overall control. Labour's shadow community’s secretary Andrew Gwynne said he believed the anti-Semitism row had had an impact on the result and that Labour needed to "rebuild trust" with the Jewish community. Labour did pick up one seat in the Tory stronghold of Kensington and Chelsea Council, but the Conservatives retained control, despite criticism of their handling of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice said the Tories were performing relatively well in areas with a substantial Leave vote in the 2016 referendum, where they are picking up votes from UKIP, which did not stand candidates in many areas, while Labour were performing better in places where the Remain vote was stronger and with a higher proportion of younger voters. (Source – BBC News)

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