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SHOPPERS RETURN TO HIGH STREET Analysts said retailers would be left "with smiles on their faces" after sales increased by 2.3% in September compared with a year earlier, according to a report published by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG. It says that consumers updated their wardrobes and bought back-to-back school items, with demand for childrens clothing showing some of the sharpest growth of any sector in September. Sales of stationery increased by 10% compared with last year. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said that the sales figures would increase the likelihood of an increase in interest rate next month.

BOOST FOR SERVICES Activity in the UKs dominant services sector strengthened last month but businesses have warned that new orders are drying up in the face of Brexit uncertainty. The purchasing managers index for services, which is watched closely by policymakers at the Bank of England as a key growth indicator, was 53.6 in September, up from an 11 month low of 53.2 in August. A reading above 50 means growth, anything below shows contraction. The growth in services, which makes up 80% of UK economic output, beat economists expectations of no change. It comes after disappointing PMIs this week that indicated manufacturing was slowing and construction shrunk. "The rise in Septembers services sector PMI will help to assuage fears that the economy is losing momentum" Paul Hollingsworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said

RETAIL SALES REBOUND Retailers have reported the fastest growth in sales in two years, according to figures from the CBI that are likely to fuel speculation that the Bank of England may raise interest rates as soon as November. The CBIs monthly distributive trades survey showed that retail sales exceeded economists expectations this month. The poll of 117 companies, of which 57 were retailers, showed that the volume of sales was above the norm for this time of year. Orders placed with suppliers also rebounded and were above average for September, while motor traders reported rising demand for the past year, with sales growing at the fastest pace in six months

BRITAINS COMPETITIVE ECONOMY Britain is more competitive as an economy on the world stage than at any time in the past decade, according to the World Economic Forum. The UKs overall "competitiveness" score had increased from 5.49 to 5.50 out of 7. The forum measured the global competitiveness of 137 economies this year, with Britain coming in eighth place beating Finland and Japan.

MANUFACTURERS CASH IN ON WEAK POUND Factories are enjoying some of the best conditions in two decades as the fall in the pound and strengthening of the global economy boost factory orders and rates of production. More manufacturers are reporting that their order books and levels of output are increasing than at any time since 1995, according to EEF, the manufacturers organisation.

EMPLOYMENT AT RECORD HIGH Unemployment fell to a 42 year low in the three months to June as the labour market continued to set records in defiance of concerns about Brexit. Although wage growth remained disappointing, extending the squeeze on household incomes for a third month, the employment rate hit a record high.Unemployment has dropped to 4.4%, the lowest since 1975 and below the Bank of Englands estimate of the level at which wage inflation will start to build.

COMPANIES IN DISTRESS The number of companies in significant financial distress has jumped by 25% as businesses struggle with a slowdown in consumer spending and price increases, a survey shows. Begbies Traynors Red Flag report found that 329,834 companies were feeling the strain in the second quarter, up from 263,517 over the same period.

EXPORT BOOM Britains factories are experiencing their strongest performance in nearly three decades as the fall in the pound gives exporters an advantage abroad. The CBI said that order books in June had climbed to their highest level since August 1988, while export demand hit a 22 year high, raising hopes of manufacturing boom to offset slower consumer spending.