Axa is ‘NiQuiting’ tobacco


The FTSE opened the week with contrasting opinion, initially falling at the open following a host of worries including the up-and-coming decisions surrounding the Fed and Brexit, as well as lower oil prices and weak Japanese export data to digest on Monday.

Ryanair expects the average flight fare to fall by 7% this year as a result of fierce competition. The airline posted a 43% rise in profits for the latest set of full year results to €1.2bn, although ongoing threats from terrorism and falling prices from both a lower oil price and market competition have adversely impacted profits.  Despite this, Ryanair’s expectations are for a further 13% rise in FY profits for 2017.

Clydesdale bank will issue plastic £5 notes, making them the first to enter circulation in Britain before the BoE puts plastic banknotes into general circulation from 2017. The plastic notes are thought to be more secure and durable, with 20 countries around the world having already adopted plastic notes. On a similar subject, cheques are not as redundant as some may have thought, after it was estimated that 500m were written last year in the UK. At one point cheques had been due to be phased out by 2018 although this has now changed and banks will continue to facilitate them for as long as is deemed necessary. Despite 500m being written, this was still a 13% decline from the prior year and it is considerably lower than their peak in 1990, which saw over 4bn cheques used in transactions. And still on the subject of payment methods, cashless payments have now overtaken the use of coins and notes for the first time. Electronic transactions (including cheques) make up for 52% of total transactions. Sector variances for the proportion of cash payments varies from 83.9% of cash payments in clubs & pubs compared to 24.5% at the petrol pumps.

French insurer Axa is to axe its €1.7bn tobacco industry investment. They have made the decision from an ethical standpoint, investing in a sector that kills around 6,000,000 people a year. Axa have stated that their role is increasingly becoming about prevention rather than cure, and being a huge healthcare insurer their stake in tobacco has seemingly become untenable.

In a routine round-up of today’s Brexit news, William Hill has now offered the shortest odds since the date of the referendum was announced. The bookmaker is offering odds of 1/6 which implies an 85% probability Britain will remain ‘in’. George Osborne has predicted that if Britain was to leave, it would cause 820,000 job losses and a year long recession.

At the close in London, the FTSE 100 finished down 0.14% after commodities ultimately won today’s battle. Other pressures from a stronger dollar fuelled by rate hike expectations also played it’s part. Royal Mail shares finished highest on the day (+4.29%) after broker upgrades.

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