Stock markets have retreated again over worries of further US interest rate rises after the Federal Reserve defied Donald Trump to increase rates for the fourth time this year.

The EU has confirmed it is “actively investigating” a potential breach of its diplomatic communications network, following reports that secret cables had been stolen by hackers.

The Bank of England has welcomed a “crucial and positive” move by the EU to help keep a key part of the financial system functioning in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.

A handful of banks will be forced to write multimillion pound cheques to buy shares in the construction giant Kier Group after some of its biggest investors snubbed the chance to take part in a £250m fundraising.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to merge its consumer healthcare unit with that of rival Pfizer, to create a new market leader with almost £10bn in annual sales.

 

Santander has been fined more than £30m for “serious failings” in processing the accounts of dead customers, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says.

ENERGY TOP STORIES

Big Six energy profits slump for the first time since 2014

Big Six energy profits slump for the first time since 2014

Collective profits of the UK’s six largest energy suppliers have fallen 10% for the first time in four years due to rising competition in the market, according to a report by Ofgem

The profits was found to be dropped to $1.1 billion last year as they show signs of losing their grip on the market to a new generation of energy start-ups.

The companies faced further misfortune this winter as the Government’s controversial cap on standard energy prices descended on around 11 million accounts—despite signs that market competition is improving.

Over 73 energy companies are competing to supple gas and power to Britain’s homes—out of which ¼ th have opted for a new entrant to the market.

Gillian Guy, head of Citizens Advice, stated that the rising number of people opting for new energy suppliers “underlines why it’s so important that Ofgem tightens up its licensing rules”.

“We know that some suppliers entering the market aren’t prepared to provide adequate customer service, or aren’t financially robust enough to survive.” She further stated.

“Poor customer service often hits vulnerable customers the hardest. It needs to stop poorly prepared companies from entering the market, and take badly performing suppliers out of the market quicker,” she concluded.

The record high proportion of energy challenger brands, and record switching rates have done little to abide worries that customers are being ‘ripped off’ by the larger suppliers. Around 50% of the all homes still use standard variable tariffs to buy their energy which are typically offered as a default option by larger suppliers and are more expensive than fixed rate deals.

Dermot Nolan, chief executive at Ofgem, stated that there have been “many positive developments in energy over the last year, but the market is still not delivering good outcomes for all, especially the vulnerable.”

The report found that a lack of engagement and fuel poverty is disproportionately prevalent in socially vulnerable households and poorly insulated homes.

Notable, both areas of the market have been sidelined by the regulator and Government officials in recent years.

The Government’s flagship energy efficiency programme to upgrade drafty homes through the Green Deal scheme was closed in the summer of 2015.

Nolan had, earlier this year, apologized publicly for failing vulnerable customers by waiting to introduce a safeguard tariff cap for those using a standard variable tariff. He confirmed before a committee of MPs that he would not receive a bonus for the year.

Claire Perry, the energy and clean growth minister stated: “We’re determined to protect vulnerable consumers when it comes to their energy costs.”

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