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  1. Get in touch:
  2. BoE's Andy Haldane points to possible rate rise
  3. The pound rebounds against the dollar
  4. Businesses call for action following Queen's Speech
  5. UK budget deficit shrinks by 5% in May

Live Reporting

By Simon Neville

All times stated are UK

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And with the US markets closing, we too will be calling it a day.

Thanks for joining us and sending in all your comments and suggestions.

We'll be back tomorrow from 6am doing it all again, so we'll see you then.

Markets close in US

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And that's it.

Trading in the US has ended for the day, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 both closing down, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed up, thanks to continued optimist in the sector.

The Dow Jones closed down 55 points to 21,411.

The S&P 500 closed down 1 point to 2,435.

And the Nasdaq closed up 45 points to 6,233.

Oil remained the biggest drag on the markets, with a barrel of Brent Crude down 2.8% at $44.74, and West Texas Intermediate crude down 2.5% to $42.42 a barrel.

Analysts will be hoping that oil can stay above $40, otherwise US fracking could become affordable again and cause more pain for the US economy.

Twitter shares soar

Twitter investors got a much-needed boost today as shares jumped more than 5% on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares were up $0.88 to $17.79 thanks to a positive note from analysts at Cleveland Research.

The analysts said they have started to see evidence that Twitter is getting its message across to advertisers, which should see spending on the micro blogging side improve.

They wrote: "This is the best relative feedback in our... research in 2+ years, suggesting some potential bottoming in fundamentals; we look for follow-through improvement in our research for turning more near-term positive".

Twitter has struggled to win over investors to its business model, with many fearing the advertising revenues are not as encouraging as rivals, such as Facebook or Google.

Twitter share price chart

Harley-Davidson eyeing up Ducati


US motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson is lining up a takeover bid for Italian rival Ducati, according to Reuters.

The deal could be worth up to 1.5bn euros (£1.32bn) joining together two of the most iconic names in the industry.

Indian motorcycle firm Bajaj Auto and several big name investment houses are also preparing bids for Ducati, which is being put up for sale by its owner Volkswagen.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson has hired Goldman Sachs to work on the deal, according to Reuters, with bids in next month.

The Queen

Theresa May urges the UK to "seize this moment" but Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says she has "no mandate" and has lost her authority.

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Uber board replacement announced

Uber app

Uber's attempts to no longer appear like an aggressive, sexist-riddled business continues unabated.

TPG Capital’s co-founder David Trujillo is set to join the board of the company, replacing David Bonderman - another TPG co-founder, according to Bloomberg.

Mr Bonderman, you may remember, resigned from the board of Uber after he made a sexist remark in a meeting addressing sexism within the company.

When Arianna Huffington suggested Uber needed more women on its board, Mr Bonderman said women "talk too much".

TPG, which is a major investor in Uber, decided to pick Mr Trujillo because he already knows the business inside out.

Beef deal blocked in Brazil

Joesley Batista

A Brazilian judge has blocked meatpacker JBS's $300m sale of its beef plants in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to rival Minerva due to a corruption scandal, according to Reuters.

JBS's billionaire owners (and brothers) Wesley and Joesley Batista (pictured) reached a plea bargain last month with Brazil's top prosecutor in a major corruption probe.

The Batistas alleged that President Michel Temer took part in a bribery scheme, threatening to topple the president and sink his reform agenda.

Federal Judge Ricardo Leite said in his ruling today that the deal to sell JBS's plants could harm the corruption investigation.

Back in May the brothers agreed to pay a record $3.2bn fine.

Greg Clark: No-one wants to sell less to Europe

Greg Clark

Business Secretary Greg Clark has been seeking to reassure the business groups that wrote to him earlier this week, urging him to put the economy first in the Brexit negotiations with Brussels.

He welcomed their intervention, saying that business and universities would not just be consulted, they would be involved in the talks.

And just as “no-one voted to become less prosperous” in the referendum, so it was also true that “no-one voted to sell less to Europe”.

Alibaba boss thinks WW3 is on its way

Jack Ma
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Alibaba boss Jack Ma, the head of China's largest e-commerce company, is in Detroit to woo potential businesses to his platform.

Details of his visit can be found in our report here. But in between saying he reckons the US could add one million jobs over five years if he won over US businesses, he made some interesting remarks.

Speaking to CNBC, he claimed artificial intelligence could set off World War 3.

But don't worry, the humans will win, he believes.

He said: "The first technology revolution caused World War 1... The second technology revolution caused World War 2. This is the third technology revolution."

But we will all be fine because "wisdom is from the heart", Mr Ma said. "You can always make a machine to learn the knowledge. But it is difficult for machines to have a human heart."

And if we don't go to war, we could use the robots to allow us to all have four-day weeks.

"I think in the next 30 years, people only work four hours a day and maybe four days a week."

US markets update

traders in US
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We're halfway through today's trading in the US, and early gains in the markets are starting to be eroded.

By early afternoon, the Nasdaq Composite was still up, thanks to rises in biotech stocks, but at the Dow Jones and S&P 500, both indexes were falling due to energy shares taking hits with oil falling, and bank shares looking wobbly.

"I think there is a bifurcation between short and long term. Clearly, to this point the Goldilocks scenario and earnings have pushed stock prices higher but oil has perhaps tempered some sentiment near-term," Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis, told Reuters.

"If oil falls below $40, one would see pressure on overall earnings, not just the energy sector."

The Dow Jones is down 44.62 points at 21422.52.

The S&P 500 is off 3.48 points at 2,433.55.

But the Nasdaq is up 34.67 points at 6222.70.

Energy secretary to address businesses

Greg Clark is set to talk to businesses at 7pm. We'll keep an eye on it and let you know what he has to say.

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Oil down again

After US oil prices suffered severe hits yesterday - falling into bear market territory (where prices fall more than 20% since their most recent high) Brent crude also took a hit today.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude fell below $45 a barrel for the first time this year as markets started to think oil cartel Opec's attempts to curb excess supplies looked shaky.

It is down 2.8% to $44.75 a barrel.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell to $42.43 a barrel — the lowest level in seven months (beating yesterday's seven month low).

Brent Crude chart

George Clooney's tequila deal

George Clooney
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Back to the US, and film star George Clooney has sold his tequila brand Casamigos for $1bn, just four years after it was co-founded by the actor.

Diageo, the company behind Guinness and Johnny Walker, said it will pay out $700m in cash and a further $300m if certain performance targets are hit over the next decade.

Ivan Menezes, Diageo chief executive, said the deal “supports our strategy to focus on the high growth super-premium and above segments of the category.

"With the global strength of Diageo we expect to expand the reach of Casamigos to markets beyond the U.S. to capitalize on the significant international potential of the brand.”

A handful of other celebrities to have invested in the spirits market include rappers Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Jay-Z who endorse Ciroc and Effen vodkas, and Armand de Brignac champagne accordingly.

Energy price cap reaction

British Gas sign
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Despite the confusion over the price cap (see previous post) the markets seem to be cautiously predicting such a measure isn't happening any time soon.

British Gas owner, Centrica, saw its shares close up 2.1% to 206.4p and SSE shares were up 0.8% to 1,487p.

On a conference call earlier, Centrica boss Iain Conn said he was "encouraged" by the choice of wording in the Queen's Speech.

But not everyone is impressed.

Co-Founder Hayden Wood of renewable energy firm Bulb, said: 'We're very disappointed the Government hasn't committed to an energy price cap.

"Families shouldn’t lose out because of the uncertainty caused by the election. A cap would be a big step in the right direction. It would make energy costs fairer and help stop suppliers from coaxing people in with low teaser rates before sneaking them onto pricier tariffs."

Hannah Maundrell, Editor in Chief of comments on the Queen’s Speech suggested: “The Conservative’s energy crackdown seems to have softened thanks to their proposed deal with the DUP.

"This watered down version could be better for households as it has the potential to benefit us all rather than just those who don’t already switch."

Government ask Ofgem to enforce energy price cap

What's going on with the energy price cap?

It was a flagship policy in the Conservative manifesto, but was missing from the Queen's Speech.

Instead, the Queen said: "My government will ensure fairer markets for consumers, this will include bringing forward measures to help tackle unfair practices in the energy market to help reduce energy bills."

Later in the House of Commons, Theresa May appeared to say a price cap would be introduced.

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We put in a call to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy for some clarification.

They referred us onto a letter published today, sent by Energy Secretary Greg Clark to Dermont Nolan, chief executive of regulator Ofgem.

He points out that Labour and the Conservatives are in favour of a price cap, adding: "I consider that the endorsement of this approach by an overwhelming majority of the electorate constitutes good reason to proceed without delay."

However, he appears to say the responsibility for implementing a price cap should lie with Ofgem and that they already have the power to do it.

Mr Clark writes: "Ofgem has powers available that would allow it to address the problems in the market that we now see. I am writing to you... to ask you to advise me on what action you intend to take in three respects: Safeguarding customers on the poorest value tariffs, ensuring that micro businesses are fairly treated, considering the future of standard variable tariffs."

Business rate reforms "kicked into long grass"... again

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Much of the Queen's Speech seems to be about what was missing, rather than what was in it.

One area that is causing some consternation for businesses is the omission of the Local Government Finance Bill, which was supposed to reform parts of the business rates system.

Business rates are the tax paid by every commercial premises in the UK, which retailers in particular have been calling for a change to.

It was expected to allow local authorities to keep 100% of business rates revenues, give more relief powers and modernise the billing system.

Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at Gerald Eve, said: “The demise of this Bill highlights the Government’s disarray over business rates policy, and is a hammer blow to UK plc’s hopes of genuine reform in the near future.

“Firms will be furious that, despite their protestations earlier in the year and Government promises of action, there will be no reform of a rating system desperately in need of modernisation.

“A particular impact of the omission is that local authorities will no longer be given the powers to reduce business rates locally, a key element of the Bill."

Mark Rigby, chief exeucitve of ratings agency CVS added: "A common theme running through the political parties manifestos published ahead of the General Election was the need to reform business rates.

"This was a golden opportunity for the Government to set out the terms of reference and timetable for its promised review and many will suspect the issue has been kicked into the long grass once again."

Forecasts by the Office For Budget Responsibility reveal revenue from the controversial business rates tax is projected to rise £4.9bn from £28.8bn last year to £33.7bn by 2021/22 representing a 17.01% hike in revenue.

House sales jump in the US

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Turning to America for a moment - existing US home sales unexpectedly jumped in May to the third highest monthly level in a decade, new figures showed.

The National Association of Realtors said sales increased 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.62 million units last month.

More worryingly, a chronic inventory shortage pushed the median home price to an all-time high.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales declining 0.5% to 5.55m units. Sales were up 2.7% from May 2016.

The number of homes on the market rose 2.1%, but supply was down 8.4% from a year ago. Housing inventory has dropped for 24 straight months on a year-on-year basis.

Action on workplace pay gaps welcomed by Chartered Management Institute

A crowd of people

Petra Wilton, Director of Strategy at the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has welcomed the government's promise to tackle the gender pay gap and other workplace inequalities in the Queen's speech.

To bring change, Ms Wilton wants businesses to compile better information about the people working for them.

"Research suggests that most business lack data about their employees' ethnicity, and for many it's a more complex area to navigate than gender equality.

"The government will need to identify how employers can accelerate efforts to increase diversity and inclusivity within their organisations, which will be crucial if we are to close the ethnicity pay gap."

Tesco Bank update

Six hours after Tesco's online bank went down, the company says it is now back up and running.

A Tesco Bank spokesperson said: “We apologise to customers who could not access online banking earlier today. Service is now restored and customers can access their account as normal”.

The construction industry tells May it needs EU workers

Construction workers on building site

The Federation of Master Builders has warned that major construction projects will "grind to a halt" if business does not have sufficient access to EU workers.

It said the government must set out its post-Brexit immigration system as soon as possible.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: "In terms of today’s Queen’s Speech and the focus of British business, all eyes are on the Immigration Bill.

"As suspected, we now know that the Bill will end the free movement of people but that begs the question: what will replace it?"

He said EU trades people had come to play a crucial part in "plugging the industry’s chronic skills gap and if the ability to employ non-UK workers is curtailed, the Government’s housing and infrastructure plans will be no more than a pipe dream.”

He said the long-term solution was better training of UK workers.

Kelvin MacKenzie fails at Brave Bison AGM

Kelvin MacKenzie
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Kelvin MacKenzie, the former firebrand editor of The Sun, has had a pretty dreadful year.

He got pushed out of The Sun over comments he made about footballer Ross Barkley and his son, Ashley MacKenzie got forced out as chief executive of viral video business Brave Bison.

Today, his year got a little bit worse, as attempts by the pair to give Brave Bison's chairman fell apart.

The father and son team, who are shareholders in Brave Bison, were hoping that they could persuade other investors to vote against electing chairman Sir Robert Miller and non-executive Paul Marshall back to the board.

Alas, the vote was passed and the MacKenzie's plans failed.

The rail industry welcomes HS2 bill but says it is not enough

HS2 rail route

The rail industry has welcomed the announcement of the second phase of the HS2 high-speed rail line in the Queen's speech but is worried about the absence of other transport projects.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association said: “We are concerned about the lack of commitment to Crossrail 2 and Norther Powerhouse Rail (or HS3) in the Queen’s Speech.

"Rail infrastructure needs to be improved throughout the whole of the UK and major schemes like these provide wider benefits not just to those parts of the country they serve but also to the national economy; and they are essential to helping Britain become Brexit-ready in the years to come."

US markets open

Over the pond, US stock markets opened higher today, with technology stocks up and oil prices steadying after yesterday's big wobbles.

Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14.79 points, or 0.07 percent, to 21,481.93

S&P 500 gained 3.23 points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,440.26

Nasdaq Composite added 17.95 points, or 0.29 percent, to 6,205.98

Boris Becker goes bust

Boris Becker
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Tennis star and former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been declared bankrupt in London today.

His lawyers pleaded with the court to give him one more chance to pay off a long-standing debt, but court officials refused.

The court also heard that registrar Christine Derrett had watched Mr Becker play on Wimbledon's centre court.

When the registrar was told Mr Becker was a television commentator, she replied that she knew who he was, adding: "I remember watching him play on Centre Court, which probably shows my age."

His advocate, John Briggs, told the registrar that someone in Becker's position would not be prone to benefit from bankruptcy and it was likely to have an adverse effect on his "image".

The judge said: "He should have thought about that a long time ago... One has the impression of a man with his head in the sand."

Small businesses welcome the Queen's speech but say it does not go far enough

Theresa May visits small business
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Back to the big news of the day.

The Federation of Small Businesses welcomed what it called "a pro-business Brexit" in the Queen's speech, but said it was light on domestic reform.

It said there had been a slide in confidence among its members who are facing uncertainty and rising costs, calling on Theresa May (pictured visiting a local business in her constituency) to do more.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses said: "A thriving small business community, helped to grow by a supportive government, will be crucial to a strong post-Brexit economy.

"But it is disappointing that this Queen’s Speech was light on other domestic measures for small business.

"The government must knuckle down to tackle issues such as reform of the Business Rates system and changes to Corporate Governance, to stop big companies badly treating their small business suppliers and contractors.”

Tesco Bank suffering

Sorry to stick with Tesco (we'll get back to the Queen's Speech reaction shortly).

One of our readers has been in touch to point that Tesco Bank is also suffering technical difficulties today, after yesterday's IT delivery outage hit 10% of home grocery deliveries.

Tesco Bank says the website's been down since 10.30am today and they're working hard to fix it.

A Tesco Bank spokesperson said: “We are currently experiencing an issue with our online banking service. We are working hard to resolve this and apologise to customers for any inconvenience this may cause.”

tesco bank down
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Tesco job cuts

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Who said the old cliche "a good day to bury bad news" had fallen out of fashion?

According to supermarket union Usdaw, 1,200 jobs are under threat at supermarket giant Tesco's call centre in Cardiff.

Tesco bosses have been briefing staff on a reognaisation of the call centre, with the Cardiff site expected to shut in February next year.

Nick Ireland, divisional officer of Usdaw, said: "Tesco's Cardiff call centre staff are understandably shocked by the announcement of the company's planned closure, they are being briefed by managers this afternoon.

"This is clearly devastating news for our members and will have a wider impact on South Wales, as so many jobs are potentially lost to our local economy."

We're guessing the call centre staff probably won't enjoy the news, especially after yesterday's IT meltdown meant complaints from customers who didn't get their deliveries soared.

Matt Davies, UK CEO of Tesco, said: “The retail sector is facing unprecedented challenges and we must ensure we run our business in a sustainable and cost-effective way, while meeting the changing needs of our customers.

“To help us achieve this, we’ve taken the difficult decision to close our customer service operations in Cardiff.

“We realise this will have a significant effect on colleagues in the Cardiff area, and our priority now is to continue to do all we can to support them at this time.”

BCC wants dialogue not new laws during Brexit

Theresa May with worker
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Reacting to the Queen's speech, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, Dr Adam Marshall said the government must provide stability during the Brexit process.

He said this could be achieved without new primary legislation but rather continuous and constructive engagement with the business community.

"Ministers must inject real momentum and pace into the major infrastructure schemes that have already been agreed and announced.

"They must cut back on the stifling up-front costs that deter investment and risk-taking, and press ahead with an industrial strategy that helps places across the UK achieve their potential."

The Queen's Speech: MP tells Black Rod to 'get skates on'
Labour veteran Dennis Skinner traditionally shouts a comment at Black Rod and this year is no different, with a nod to the Queen's love of racing and the current Ascot meeting.

Squeezed households make rate rise 'unlikely'

UK wages are squeezed
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The Bank of England's chief economist, Andy Haldane, admitted in a speech on Wednesday that he considered joining the hawks by voting for an interest rate rise in June, but held off. But he thinks borrowing costs should rise this year if the economic data merit such a move.

Ian Kernohan, economist at Royal London Asset Management, says Mr Haldane "clearly considers a tightening is needed well ahead of market expectations".

"However, our own view is that the impact of political uncertainty on business confidence and the continued squeeze on household real incomes make a rate rise unlikely, " says Mr Kernohan.

"It is not yet clear if any weakness in consumer spending is being offset by investment and net trade. Domestic inflationary pressures and in particular wage growth remain very subdued, with most of the recent rise in inflation due to the temporary impact of sterling devaluation.”

Queen's Speech omits pension plan

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries has highlighted that there was no mention of the state pension triple lock during the Queen's Speech on Wednesday.

Chief executive Derek Cribb says: "As we have stated previously, the triple lock is unnecessary if the level of the new state pension has been properly set.

"Maintaining the triple lock would mean that retirement income increases relative to the working age population, and could place an unfair burden on future working generations. We need a pensions system that is sustainable in the long term”.

Watch: all about Travis

BBC World Service

Uber's chief executive has resigned after pressure from investors following a series of scandals, including sexual harassment allegations.

The BBC's North America technology reporter Dave Lee tells us more about Travis Kalanick, who co-founded the taxi-sharing giant.

The man who headed the most valuable start-up in Silicon Valley has quit

Business tells May to focus on the economy

Theresa May

The government must focus on the economy if Brexit is to be a success, says John Dickie, director of strategy and policy at the business group London First

Following the Queen's Speech, Mr Dickie said the Government had "a lot on its plate" but the only way to "achieve a successful Brexit is for government to work with business and devolved institutions to start building the homes, transport links and infrastructure we need.

"Combined with an immigration approach that ensures we have access to the talent we need, we can get the UK into a strong position as the clock counts down to 2019.”

CBI calls for 'pragmatism before politics'

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI
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Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, has called for a pragmatic approach to Brexit which takes the needs of business into consideration.

Following the Queen's Speech, she said: “It’s good to see that the recent heatwave has warmed the Government’s view of business and its contribution to people’s lives. But this welcome change in tone needs to be backed by clarity and action now.

"Firms will expect all politicians to put pragmatism before politics, starting with Brexit."

“Fast action on Industrial Strategy, skills and infrastructure will show that the UK is a great place to do business. But now it’s all about pace.”

Social care 'kicked into the long grass'

Old people
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Royal London’s director of policy Steve Webb says the inconclusive election result has meant difficult issues such as social care have "once again been kicked into the long grass".

Speaking after the Queen's Speech, he said: "Individuals hoping to plan ahead how best to meet their care costs have been left in limbo.

"No-one can know with any certainty how much they might have to pay for their care, how much the government will contribute and whether they will have to sell their home.

"But the lack of a government majority could be an opportunity to seek cross party consensus on social care funding, so that a system can be put in place which will resolve these issues once and for all and give clarity to families wrestling with these complex issues."

Arlene Foster and Theresa May

The DUP wants significant investment in health and infrastructure in Northern Ireland, BBC learns.

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Bank of England chief economist turns hawkish

Bank of England
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The Bank of England's chief economist Andy Haldane appears to have different view on interest rates than Governor Mark Carney.

In a speech on Wednesday, Mr Haldane said that if data is still on track - such as inflation rising faster than expected and better global growth - he said: "I do think that beginning the process of withdrawing some of the incremental stimulus provided last August would be prudent moving into the second half of the year."

His speech follows a 5-3 split within the Monetary Policy Committee during its June meeting when three members voted to raise the interest rate.

Mr Haldane voted to keep borrowing costs on hold at that meeting.

But his view is now more hawkish and contrasts with a speech Mr Carney gave on Tuesday when he said that now is not the time to increase the interest rate.

The Queen's Speech in points

The Queen has set out the government's legislative programme. It includes:

  • The laws include the "Great Repeal Bill" to overhaul existing EU legislation and separate bills on customs, trade, immigration, fisheries and agriculture.
  • The Government said it wants a "deep and special relationship" with its allies and new trading relationships.
  • A new modern industrial strategy with work to attract investment in infrastructure and new industries - including electric cars & new satellites
  • A new High Speed rail bill is to be introduced for its next stage
  • The Living Wage will be increased.
  • The Government is to bring forward measures to tackle "unfair practices" in the energy market.
  • The Queen said there will be a law to help reduce motor insurance premiums.

Pound rises following speech by Bank economist

Pound rises against the dollar

Sterling rose by 0.04% against the dollar to $1.263 after the Bank of England's chief economist Andy Haldane said interest rates should rise this year if data supports such a move.

No mention of US President's visit in Queen's Speech

Donald Trump
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Also in the Queen's Speech:

- The Government will make the private rental market more affordable and competitive and ban unfair fees for tenants.

- There will be further progress on the gender pay gap.

- The Government will increase the minimum wage.

- No mention of US President Donald Trump's visit to the UK.

- The governmernt will continue to support international efforts against climate change including the Paris Agreement.