News in Brief: Chancellor, PwC, car manufacturing, diesel cut, retail

News in Brief

Chancellor set to miss borrowing target

George Osborne is set to miss public sector borrowing targets for this financial year (2016), according to figures.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested borrowing is already higher than forecast by the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR).

The chancellor used the OBR's forecasting figures to illustrate the state of the economy in his autumn statement in December 2015, reported the Mirror.

Total overall borrowing for the first nine months of 2016 is £74.2bn, which is £11bn lower than this time last year.

But experts warn Osborne will struggle to meet his £68.9bn borrowing target for the full year.

PwC recruits tech team

PwC has announced a new team dedicated to exploring the hyped technology powering bitcoin following soaring client demand.

The firm’s partner Steve Davis said: “There is growing interest and a real demand from our clients to help understand the implications of blockchain and how to respond to it.”

He added: “So, as the blockchain juggernaut continues to gather pace, PwC will be well placed to service our clients’ needs at a global level.”

PwC has already recruited 15 specialists for the team, which will be based in Belfast and is poised to expand to 40 people by the end of 2016, reported City A.M.

Car manufacturing hits 10-year high

Almost 1.6 million cars were built in the UK in 2015, a record high for the decade, according to figures.

The study by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed car manufacturing was up 3.9% compared to 2014.

The report also showed more cars than ever before were exported overseas, with 1,227,881 units leaving the UK in 2015, up 2.7% on the previous year.

A member of the UK200Group of independent accountancy and law firms, Jonathan Russell, said: “It has long been acknowledged that the UK has significant skills in the automotive sector and our more flexible employment legislation, compared with other parts of Europe, has helped.”

Asda and Tesco cut diesel price to 97.7p per litre

Asda became the first UK supermarket to cut the price of diesel in response to the slump in global oil prices, and Tesco has swiftly followed suit.

Owned by the US retail giant Walmart, Asda lowered its diesel prices by 2p to a six-year low of 97.7p per litre, while unleaded remains at 99.7p per litre.

The supermarket stressed these are the maximum prices motorists will pay at all of its 279 filling stations in the UK.

Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco also dropped its diesel price to 97.7p at all of its 500 filling stations across Britain, reported The Guardian.

An oil glut has pushed crude prices down 30% since early December 2015, with Brent crude sinking to less than £18 ($27) a barrel last week (January 11 to 17, 2016).

Sharp dip in Christmas sales

Spending in shops dropped in December 2015, as mild weather and deep discounting dented takings for retailers over the key Christmas period, according to figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found sales values fell at the fastest pace for more than six years, down 1% in December 2015 compared with the same time in 2014, reported The Guardian.

Mixed reports from retailers had pointed to weakness in UK retail sales, but the decline was sharper than City economists had forecast, contributing to fears of a slowdown in the wider economy at the end of 2015.

In volume terms, sales fell 1% between November and December 2015, a much greater drop than the 0.3% forecast by economists in a Reuters poll.

The ONS said retailers appeared to have offered discounts for longer than previous Christmas periods.