News in Brief: Robotics, Tata job cuts, Brent crude down, Homebase sale, FTSE 250

News in Brief

'Women to lose out in jobs revolution'

As technological advances in the next five years more than seven million jobs will be at risk, according to a report.

The survey, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), found as robotics and 3D printing transform employment, women are less likely to be working in areas where the adoption of new technology will create jobs.

The report studied the impact of the so-called “fourth industrial revolution”, ahead of the WEF's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland which starts tomorrow (January 19), reported The Guardian.

The greatest loss of jobs will be white collar and administrative roles, although the survey predicts this will partially be offset by the creation of roles in areas such as computing, maths, architecture and engineering.

Tata Steel to axe 1,050 jobs

Thousands of job cuts have been announced by Tata Steel, including 750 at Port Talbot, the UK's biggest steelworks.

The firm said 100 jobs would go across mills in Trostre, Corby and Hartlepool, along with 200 support jobs, reported the BBC.

The plans are a result of falling European steel prices "caused by a flood of cheap imports, particularly from China", said Tata.

The news comes on top of hundreds of cuts announced by the Indian-owned group in 2015, which it blamed on plunging steel prices.

Oil price falls below £20 a barrel

Oil prices hit their lowest since 2003 today (January 18) as the market braced for a jump in Iranian exports after sanctions were lifted.

The US revoked sanctions that had slashed Iran’s oil exports by around two million barrels per day (bpd) since its pre-sanctions 2011 peak to more than one million bpd.

Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said it was ready to increase its exports by 500,000 bpd, reported Reuters.

Worries about Iran’s return to an already glutted oil market drove down Brent crude to £19.37 ($27.67) a barrel.

Homebase sold to Australian retailer

The UK’s second-largest DIY chain has been sold to Wesfarmers for £340m (AUD$705m, US$485m).

The Australian retail giant already owns Bunnings, one of the country’s largest suppliers of outdoor living and DIY products.

The 265 UK Homebase sites that were owned by Home Retail Group will be rebranded under the Bunnings banner over the next three to five years.

Wesfarmers said it would spend a further £242m on upgrading the stores, reported the BBC.

The deal is expected to be wrapped up in the first three months of 2016, provided shareholders of Home Retail Group agree to the purchase.

Wesfarmers, which owns one of Australia’s biggest supermarket chains, Coles, said the UK’s home improvement and garden market was worth £38bn. The market leader is Kingfisher’s B&Q chain.

FTSE edges higher amid global sell-off

The FTSE 100 started today (January 18) up 0.6%, despite a mixed performance on Asian markets.

The morning’s stellar performer was FTSE 250-listed Home Retail Group, whose shares rose 3.5% to 159.2p, reported City A.M.

The company unveiled plans to return £200m to shareholders after it sealed a deal with Australian retailer Wesfarmers to sell its Homebase chain for £340m.

On the FTSE 100, banking group Old Mutual led the risers, jumping 2.3% to 155.2p, followed by Shire Pharmaceuticals, which rose 2% to 4,262p.

Fallers were, once again, led by miners including Fresnillo, Randgold Resources and Glencore.