Switzerland's trade surplus increased in January as imports declined sharply from the previous month, the Federal Customs Administration reported Tuesday. The trade surplus rose to CHF 4.7 billion in January from CHF 2.7 billion in December. Month-on-month, exports slid 4% m/m in real terms, after surging to a record level in December (+9.7% m/m). At the same time, imports slid 5.3% versus a 0.6% fall in the previous month.
The amount of cash kept with the Swiss central bank jumped last week, data on Monday showed, suggesting it intervened to weaken a franc currency buoyed by political risks in France and renewed worries about Greece's public finances. Since Donald Trump's surprise U.S. presidential election victory on November 18, the 4.458 billion franc increase in sight deposits was the biggest Sight deposits - cash that commercial banks hold with the Swiss National Bank, and seen as a guide to its currency market interventions - rose to 543.458 billion Swiss francs ($541.62 billion) from 539 billion francs a week earlier.
The GBP/USD pair erased most of Friday's losses yesterday, successfully climbing over the 1.2450 level, thus, breaching the immediate resistance area. Now the British currency is being supported by a strong demand area around the 1.24 major level, with the weekly PP just being a minor nuisance located at 1.2449. Technically, the Cable should remain above the 1.24 mark today and pave its way towards retaking the 1.25 handle. However, technical indicators are still unable to confirm the possibility of the positive outcome, leaving the door open for another leg down.
Pension funds with defined benefit schemes were fewer in Switzerland in 2015 than 10 years earlier, according to official statistics released today. The figures showed 230 funds disappeared, according to the country’s federal statistics bureau (BFS): the number of pension funds with defined benefit (DB) plans (Leistungsprimat) fell from 289 to 58 between 2005 to 2015, with only 15 public. Whereas one in five individuals were in DB schemes in 2005, in 2015 this ratio was down to 1 in 15, according to the statistics. The BFS said that the decline in the number of Pensionskassen running DB plans went hand-in-hand with a decline in the number of scheme members.
The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is stepping up its push to keep the price of a pint down for millions of UK pub-goers, calling on the Treasury to reduce beer duty by 1p. With inflation expected to rise in the next year, the cut will help to cap the price of beer, keeping more money in consumers’ pockets and helping the pubs and brewing sector to grow. Beer drinkers are already being hit in the pocket, with Heineken and Carlsberg last month becoming the latest brewers to raise prices, following MolsonCoors – maker of the UK’s most popular beer, Carling – and ABInBev. The weak pound has also driven up the cost of imported raw materials such as hops, which could threaten Britain’s craft beer industry.
The non-governmental organizations (NGO) Transparency International said authorities regulating the financial sector lack transparency, creating mistrust and hampering the effectiveness of systems designed to prevent financial crime, according to a report into the amount of information published on authorities’ anti-money laundering efforts in 12 countries hosting major financial centres. “We need to see that the people meant to stop corruption in the banking industry are doing their job,” said José Ugaz, chair of NGO. “There is no good reason to keep this data secret," he added. "We, the citizens, have the right to know if the financial sector is being permissive or complicit with illicit activity.”
Global transaction banks are actively using SWIFT’s new global payments innovation (gpi) service, which opened for live payments in January 2017, says the financial messaging services provider. ABN AMRO, Bank of China, BBVA, Citi, Danske Bank, DBS Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, ING Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Nordea Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and UniCredit are live with SWIFT gpi, exchanging gpi payments across 60 country corridors. Numerous additional banks will follow in the coming months. “SWIFT gpi is now live and is already enhancing the cross-border payments experience for corporate treasurers,” says Christian Sarafidis, Chief Marketing Officer at SWIFT.
Ferrari remains the world’s strongest automotive brand and is among the top 10 strongest brands across any industry, according to valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance. The Maranello-based company has extended its brand strength advantage over second-placed Porsche. Its brand value is also up, increasing 40% to $6.15 billion. Toyota remains the most valuable auto brand, with a value of $46.3 billion Ferrari’s brand strength has improved by three points this year to 92, leading to an upgrading of its brand rating to the maximum AAA+ designation. Porsche is the second most powerful auto brand with a score of 86. Coming in second is Porsche with a score of 86, while Volkswagen and Seat tie for third place scores of 84.9. Following those four automakers are BMW (84.5), Renault (84.2), Ford (83.8), Toyota (83.1), Rolls-Royce (83.0) and Lamborghini (82.3).
Bitcoin ATMs are becoming increasingly redundant. Innovative bitcoin service providers and companies are transforming existing bank and public ATMs into bitcoin machines by installing their signature software. In countries like Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines and Switzerland, users can visit literally any convenience store, bank ATM and subway teller machine and see a bitcoin option. Bitcoin companies are developing software that are applicable to existing ATMs and allowing users to utilize machines located nationwide to either purchase or sell bitcoin.
UBS said Northern Trust is buying fund services units of UBS in Luxembourg and Switzerland, on Monday. The company did not announce the financial terms of the deal. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2017, subject to applicable regulatory and fund board approvals and other customary closing conditions.
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