The year 2017 is an important one for the Swiss banking sector. As of January 1st, the country’s financial institutions are now obligated to share banking information. This new regulation effectively ends Switzerland’s reputation as a tax haven. The Swiss finance ministry said on Thursday it had reached a deal with Liechtenstein to exchange tax information, potentially helping to uncover billions of dollars in undeclared assets kept by Swiss citizens in neighbouring country. “These assets will be declared and the person has the chance either to repatriate the assets to Switzerland, or he will be taxed and he keeps his money in Liechtenstein,” said Joerg Gasser, head of the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, a branch of the finance ministry. The amount of undeclared Swiss assets in Liechtenstein, a principality of just 38,000 people sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria, is unknown.
Geneva recorded the most expensive house prices in Switzerland, according to a report Thursday by real estate brokerage Engel & Völkers, based on sales data. The city’s cosmopolitan flair is reflected too in the level of demand from international clients, with around 40% of interested buyers resident beyond the borders of Switzerland. The French-speaking city registered the highest price in the Alpine country, CHF70,000 ($70,807) per square meter. The data used in the ranking is based on residential property brokered by the company or transactions recorded on the market during 2016.
Snap, the owner of messaging app Snapchat, filed public documents for a share offering Thursday, seeking to raise up to $3 billion in a keenly anticipated Wall Street debut. The California-based tech firm, which allows users to send images that vanish within seconds, was expected to be one of the biggest tech company IPOs in recent years with a valuation likely to top $20 billion. The company revealed in the documents that it made sales of $404m last year, but a loss of $515m. In outlining its business plan, Snap said it generates revenue primarily through advertising and emphasized its willingness to take risks to drive user engagement at numerous points throughout the filing.
Even though the European single currency edged higher against the Japanese Yen on Wednesday, it was unable to maintain trade above the 122.00 mark, with the resistance cluster there pushing the exchange rate down again. As a result, this cluster caused the EUR/JPY cross to make a U-turn and begin moving towards the 121.20 psychological support. Technical indicators, however, are unable to confirm the possibility of the negative outcome, as they keep giving bullish signals. In this case the 121.60 handle should be considered as a possible support, as it kept the Euro from sliding down for a whole week now, suggesting trade could close above this area.
The Bank of England on Thursday ramped up its UK economic growth forecasts for the next three years, despite the threat of Brexit storm clouds. The bank voted unanimously in its February meeting to keep interest rates at the record low level of 0.25% and keep its quantitative easing (QE) purchase targets at up to £10 billion ($12.6 billion) for corporate bonds and £435 billion for U.K. government bonds. Then, the British central bank lifted its 2017 economic growth prediction to 2.0% from a 1.4% forecast signalling the better-than expected performance of the UK economy since the June referendum. The BOE still believes growth will slow as Brexit negotiations begin, predicting GDP growth of 1.6% in 2018 and 1.7% in 2019. That was up from growth estimates of 1.5% and 1.6% respectively.
“The most interesting part of Thursday’s events will be Mark Carney’s press conference. The Bank will probably revise up their forecasts for inflation and growth in the short term. So Mr Carney is bound to be asked why he’s not planning on raising interest rates in response. The answer will be that the central bank looks beyond this kind of inflation because it thinks it won’t last.
The number of EU students applying to study in the UK has dropped by 7% sparking fears that the impact of the Brexit vote is starting to bite in the university sector, official figures released today by UCAS reveal. UK applicant figures have also decreased to a total of 469,490, a fall of 5% on this time last year; among EU students, there have been 42,070 applicants, compared to 45,220 at the same point last year, around 7% drop. It is the third fall in applicant numbers since 2002, and the biggest since 2012 - the year that tuition fees in England were trebled to £9,000 (CFF 11,216). The other drop was in 2006, when fees were raised to £3,000 (CHF 3,730).
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