Coal, ore plunge hits St. Lawrence Seaway volumes




The amount of cargo sailing on the St. Lawrence Seaway has sunk to the lowest levels in seven years amid a plunge in demand for coal and iron ore, two of waterway’s main commodities.

Total freight volumes for 2016 fell by 3 per cent to 35 million tonnes, led by 10-per-cent drops in coal and 14-per-cent declines in iron ore, according to the year-end figures released by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. on Monday morning.

The slowdown comes even as grain shipments continued their climb, and the 3,700-kilometre route enjoyed its longest shipping season since 2008, due to a mild spring that allowed ships to begin sailing on March 21.

Shipments of wheat, corn and other field crops rose by 4 per cent, highlighting the growing importance of agricultural exports to the seaway, which has seen grain volumes rise by 20 per cent since 2010.

The Port of Thunder Bay has become a major transit point for Western Canadian crops destined for foodmakers in Europe and Africa. The Lake Superior port reported its heaviest December since 1995, after a strong harvest was delayed by wet weather getting to the Prairie elevators. For the full season, grain volumes entering the seaway at U.S. ports in Duluth, Minn.-Superior, Wis., and Toledo, Ohio, rose by 21 per cent.

Helping drive the grain volumes is the recent addition of new crop elevators and flour mills at Lake Ontario’s Port of Hamilton, offering the region’s foodmakers access to Western grain while providing easier access to overseas markets for growers in Southwestern Ontario’s farm belt.

“Without a doubt, agricultural commodities have become increasingly important, and it’s rewarding to see the pace of new investment by grain companies in ports along our waterway,” said Terence Bowles, chief executive office of St. Lawrence Seaway Management, established by the government to operate the Canadian portion of the system, which includes 13 locks between Lake Erie and Montreal.

However, the rise of agricultural commodities has been outweighed by the decline of raw materials used in manufacturing.

Sales of ore, coal and other dry industrial commodities have plunged amid slower economic growth in North America and elsewhere, falling demand for steel and a broad-based switch by power generators to cleaner-burning and affordable natural gas. Since 2010, St. Lawrence Seaway shipments of coal and ore have fallen by about 40 per cent.

In the past several years, two of the three major steelmakers on the Great Lakes – Stelco Inc. and Essar Steel Algoma – have fallen into creditor protection and a handful of mines on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes have closed, reducing shipments for the ships and the railways that serve the mills.

The protectionist warnings of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump have cast doubt on the fortunes of Canada’s exporters, much of whom rely on buyers in the United States. Executives in many industries are waiting to see if Mr. Trump tries to renegotiate tariff deals or impose border taxes, hampering trade.

Pierre Gratton, chief executive officer of the Mining Association of Canada, said he is optimistic the commodities produced by the companies he represents will be spared any new tariffs. “They need what we mine,” he said in an interview from Ottawa.

“I don’t see mining products being in anybody’s crosshairs. So if anything happens at the negotiating table around [free trade], I would hope and also expect we would not be front and centre around any disputes,” he said, adding any loosening of environmental regulations under Mr. Trump would be good for miners.

Banks blasted for ‘sneaky fees’ as Which? rates RBS worst High St account provider

  • Which? quizzed almost 5,000 customers on their bank providers
  • Not a single person gave a maximum score around penalties and charges
  • Many said they find this aspect of banking a ‘mystery’, with poor transparency

Banks have been blasted for the ‘sneaky fees’ they impose on account holders, after a new investigation by a leading consumer body.

Which? quizzed almost 5,000 customers on their bank providers with not a single person giving a maximum score when it came to the subject of penalties and charges.

Many respondents said they still found this aspect of banking a ‘mystery’, with a lack of transparency to blame. 


Banks have been blasted for the ‘sneaky fees’ they impose on account holders, in light of a new investigation

Which? is now calling for banks to put an end to hidden fees as part of its ‘Stop Sneaky Fees and Charges’ campaign.

Commenting on the recent survey results, Vickie Sheriff, Which? director of campaigns and communications, said: ‘Day-to-day banking is an essential part of life and dealing with your bank should be simple and straightforward.

‘While there are positive signs in some areas, such as online and mobile banking, banks have a long way to go in making their prices clear to stop people being hit with unexpected charges. 

‘If the banks aren’t doing enough to ensure their penalty fees are fair, it is right that the regulator should step in.’

In the survey participants were asked to to rate various aspects of the service offered by their current account providers.

HOW BANKS AND BUILDING SOCIETIES MEASURE UP IN WHICH? SURVEY 

Here are the overall scores given to banks and building societies following the Which? survey:

First Direct 85%

TSB 71% 

Clydesdale Bank 69%

Co-operative Bank 69%

Danske Bank 68%

Yorkshire Bank 68%

Tesco Bank, 66%

M&S Bank 65%

Nationwide Building Society 75%

Smile 65% 

 Halifax 64%

  • Bank of Scotland 63%
  •  
  • Santander 62%
  •  
  • Virgin Money 62%
  •  
  • Lloyds Bank 59%
  •  
  • Barclays Bank 58%
  •  
  • NatWest 57%
  •  
  • HSBC 56%
  •  
  • RBS 54% 
  • This included customer service, communication, complaints handling, transparency of charges and penalties, service in branch and telephone, online and mobile banking. Providers were then given an overall score.

    RBS came bottom, with an overall customer score of 54 per cent, while HSBC was given a score of 56 per cent and NatWest a score of 57 per cent.

    Along with poor transparency of charges and penalties, customers said the banks could do better on customer service and communication. 

    At the other end of the scale, HSBC’s brand First Direct was rated top with a score of 85 per cent. Despite its victory, Which? said First Direct ‘may not be for everyone’ as it doesn’t have physical branches. 

    A recent investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) suggested customers often under-estimate how heavily they rely on their overdrafts and complex overdraft charging structures can make it hard to work out whether they could be better off elsewhere.


    HSBC’s brand First Direct was rated top with a score of 85 per cent – despite its victory, Which? said First Direct ‘may not be for everyone’ as it doesn’t have physical branches

    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is putting overdrafts under the spotlight as part of a probe into the high-cost credit market.

    A spokeswoman for the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) said: ‘Banks compete to attract and retain customers every day. 

    ‘They are also focused on giving their customers the best outcome for the services they provide and have invested heavily in digital technology to alert customers when their account might be slipping into the red to help them to avoid unnecessary fees and charges.

    ‘As part of the CMA review of the retail banking market, banks will continue to work with the FCA to test what more could be done to enhance clarity on fees and charges and implement alerts and prompts to increase customers’ awareness of their overdraft.

    ‘The level of overdraft charges has fallen dramatically, with customers saving nearly £1 billion a year and a number of products now offering fee and interest free facilities within an approved overdraft limit. If you think that you might need to borrow money, speak to your bank to pre-arrange an overdraft facility to be certain that payments will be made and keep borrowing costs down.’ 

    On the positive, the research suggests that banks’ mobile and online services are improving, with several major providers receiving maximum scores on this aspect of their service.

    An RBS spokesman said in response: ‘We are committed to serving our customers and providing them with the best possible service.

    ‘Our award-winning mobile app is helping millions of customers to bank on the move and is highly rated by our customers and by the Which? research.’  





    Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

    Trudeau’s oil sands ‘phase-out’ comments spark anger in Alberta




    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sparked anger and condemnation in Alberta on Friday when he said at a town hall in Ontario that the oil-sands industry needs to be “phased out” as the country transitions to a lower-carbon economy.

    Meeting with people in Peterborough, Ont., Mr. Trudeau was asked about the government’s approval for oil-industry pipelines and how that decision was consistent with Canada’s pledge to dramatically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The oil sands sector remains one of the country’s fastest-growing sources of GHGs.

    While he reiterated his government’s support for pipelines and insisted economic development goes hand in hand with environmental protection, the Liberal Prime Minister suggested the oil sands sector is essentially a sunset industry that the government would eventually wind down.

    “We can’t shut down the oil sands tomorrow. We need to phase them out,” he said. “We need to manage the transition off our dependence on fossil fuels.”

    In the wake of that comment, social media erupted in a torrent of outrage, with conservative politicians in Alberta fuelling the fire by posting a short clip of his offending comment that edited out his support for pipeline projects.

    Mr. Trudeau – who will hold a cabinet retreat in Calgary in 10 days – has sought to woo Albertans and distance himself from the legacy of his father, Pierre, who was long reviled in the province over his interventionist national energy program. The Prime Minister has long supported pipeline projects, and his government recently approved two controversial pipeline expansions that will add a million barrels a day of export capacity for 40 or more years.

    But opponents contend the Liberals’ climate-change agenda – with its costly regulations and carbon pricing – is a threat to the health of a high-cost oil sands industry. And they have recently contrasted Mr. Trudeau’s agenda with the plan by president-elect Donald Trump to cut taxes and regulatory burdens on the U.S. oil companies with whom Canadian operators compete for markets and investment.

    “The verdict is in. Prime Minister Trudeau has confirmed Albertans’ worst fears about his Liberal government and its plans for our energy sector,” Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean said in a release that included a link to a clip on Facebook of Mr. Trudeau’s statement.

    “By vowing to ‘phase out’ the oil sands, Mr. Trudeau has declared his true feelings towards our province, and Western Canada as a whole.”

    Former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney, who is campaigning for the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party, said the Prime Minister is effectively calling for Canada to shut down its single greatest economic advantage.

    A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office said Mr. Trudeau was reiterating a long-stated view – including by his Conservative Party predecessor Stephen Harper – that Canada needs to lessen its dependency on fossil fuels. Mr. Harper agreed at the G7 meeting in 2015 that the world needs to stop burning fossil fuels by the end of the century, though he later dismissed the statement as aspirational only.

    “As a government, we were proud to work with provinces and territories to introduce a price on carbon pollution – to create jobs and protect the environment,” PMO spokesman Cameron Ahmad said in an e-mail. “We are also proud of our recent [pipeline] announcement, which will ensure that we can move Canada’s natural resources to international markets.”

    Greenpeace Canada activist Keith Stewart said Mr. Trudeau was reflecting a global determination to end the use of fossil fuels which will, over time, eliminate demand for oil sands crude.

    “The only real debate is how fast this will happen,” he said.

    The federal government recently produced a long-term low-carbon strategy that laid out a broad plan to slash greenhouse gases by 2050. The document made no mention of phasing out or even reducing oil sands production, but instead pointed to technologies that could significantly reduce emissions from the sector.

    The uproar from Mr. Trudeau’s political opponents on Friday was predictable. However, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley – who has become a key ally of the Prime Minister as he has moved to implement his climate-change strategy – released a video statement late Friday saying: “We’re not going anywhere, any time soon.”

    The Premier said that oil and natural gas will help power the global economy for generations to come, “and our job is to make sure that Alberta’s product is the first in line. That’s why we’re working with industry to position Alberta as a global energy leader – the most progressive and sustainable producer of oil and gas anywhere in the world.”

    Also on The Globe and Mail



    Trudeau pipeline deals ‘betrayed’ trust of Canadians: Mulcair
    (CP Video)

    RCI Bank moves best easy access savings rate up to 1.02%

    RCI Bank has boosted the rate on its easy access savings account to top the best-buy tables with interest of 1.02 per cent.

    Savers holding their breath for a dramatic improvement in rates will be disappointed though. 

    The French-owned challenger added just 0.01 per cent to its Freedom Savings account for the second time this week, after matching the Post Office’s 1.01 per cent top deal launch on Wednesday. 


    On the up? RCI has added 0.01 per cent to its Freedom Savings account

    While a 0.01 per cent increase won’t be enough to get interest-starved savers’ hearts racing, increased competition for the top spot is at least some good news at a time when most rates are crumbling.

    Savers should remember that deposits in the RCI account are not covered by the UK’s financial services compensation scheme, which protects the first £75,000 of your savings per individually licenced provider.

    However, savings in RCI up to €100,000 (£87,000 at the time of writing) are instead covered by the French guarantee scheme, Fonds de Garantie des Dépôts et de Résolution (FGDR).

    Both new and existing customers will benefit from the rate increase. Savers can apply for the account online with an opening deposit of £100 or more.

    The Freedom Savings account comes with no 12-month bonus attached, meaning savers don’t need to move their cash after the first year is up to avoid a drop in interest.

    The next highest-paying account, the Post Office Online Saver, however, does come with a 0.76 per cent bonus in its rate, meaning it will drop from 1.01 per cent to just 0.25 per cent after the first year.

    RCI has also bumped up the rate on its one-year fixed rate deal to 1.25 per cent and raised the interest on its two and three year fixes to 1.51 per cent and 1.63 per cent respectively.

    Over the past 12 months RCI Bank has frequently taken the top spot in This is Money’s independent best-buy savings tables.

    While the rate change is going in the right direction, 1.02 per cent is much lower than the bank offered just 12 months ago, when RCI paid 1.65 per cent on the same instant access account.

    You would have to commit to locking your cash away for three years to get the same deal today, showing just how hard it is for savers to find decent returns on their savings pots from traditional savings accounts today.

    GET BETTER RETURNS WITH A CURRENT ACCOUNT

    Banks beginning to compete to offer the top deal is encouraging, but rates on saving account are still at all-time lows.

    Therefore, interest-starved savers could also consider an interest-paying current account to help boost their savings pot. 

    The best interest-paying account for you will depend on the level of your balance and your monthly deposit amount but savvy savers could earn as much as 5 per cent. 

    Santander’s 123 Account pays 1.5 per cent interest on amounts between £1,000 and £20,000 – the top deal for anyone with a large balance. It also pays up to 3 per cent tiered cashback on household bills, however it has a monthly charge of £5.

    Nationwide FlexDirect pays 5 per cent interest on balances up to £2,500 – but this only for the first year. You must pay in a minimum monthly income of £1,000. 

    Tesco Bank pays 3 per cent on up to £3,000 with no qualifying criteria. Swiping your card in stores earns up to five Clubcard reward points per £1 spent plus you get an extra 1 point per £8 spent elsewhere.

     






    Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

    Oil set for weekly fall on doubts over extent of OPEC cuts




    Oil prices are on track to end the week lower on lingering doubts over the extent of OPEC cuts, with sentiment worsened by concerns over the health of the Chinese economy after it reported the steepest falls in exports since 2009.

    Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were trading 60 cents down at $55.41 a barrel by 1220 GMT on Friday.

    U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell by 58 cents to $52.43.

    Record Chinese crude imports of 8.56 million barrels per day (bpd) in December helped to buoy prices somewhat, traders said, but they could not hide underlying fears over the overall health of the world’s second-biggest economy.

    Despite China’s oil thirst, overall exports – the country’s economic backbone – declined by 7.7 per cent last year in what was the second annual decline in a row and the worst since the depths of the global crisis in 2009.

    Exports of Chinese refined oil products last month rose nearly 25 per cent year on year to a record 5.35 million tonnes, well above November’s previous record of 4.85 million tonnes.

    On the supply side, there was some market support from top crude exporter Saudi Arabia, which said that its output had fallen below 10 million bpd to levels last seen in February 2015 and that it expects to make even deeper cuts next month.

    However, hard evidence of export reductions has yet to emerge, two weeks into the month in which the cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, such as Russia, were supposed to start. Many analysts expect compliance of 50 per cent to 80 per cent at best.

    “As the Saudis hint at even deeper reductions in February, assumptions are rife that its enthusiastic approach to output cuts is an admission that cheating is expected on the part of other producers,” said Stephen Brennock of oil brokerage PVM.

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its January outlook that it expects Brent and WTI to average $53 and $52 a barrel respectively in 2017.

    Even if OPEC cuts its output as agreed, traders said that rising U.S. shale output and increasing supply from OPEC members Nigeria and Libya, which were exempt from the pact, might offset any reductions.

    An informal Reuters survey of more than 1,000 energy market professionals showed that Brent prices in 2017 are expected to average about $55-$60 a barrel.

    Thousands of Lloyds and Halifax customers vent frustration after online banking services falter

    • Customers with  Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland have been impacted
    • Dozens of account holders have been venting their frustrations via Twitter
    • Online banking services have been down for two days due to a technical fault 

    Lloyds Banking Group has been hit by thousands of complaints after ongoing problems with online services across its banks.

    Customers with Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland have taken to Twitter over the last two days to vent frustration at being blocked from accessing their online accounts and banking apps.

    A spokesperson from the financial conglomerate told This Is Money that the ‘intermittent issues [have impacted] a small number of customers’ and engineers are ‘working hard to restore a full service.’


    Financial woes: Lloyds Banking Group has been hit by thousands of complaints after ongoing problems with its e-banking facilities

    Lloyds Banking account holders revealed two days ago that they were having trouble with internet services and the thread of complaints is ongoing today.

    One Twitter user, Chris Gledhill. wrote: ‘Black horse blacks out: Lloyds Bank website goes out,’ while Susanne quipped ‘NO access to my online account for two days now and no updates? When will this service be restored please.’ 

    An equally angry Antonia added in a Tweet to @AskHalifaxBank: ‘Haven’t been able to access the site or app for over 36 hours now – is anything being down about this? Clearly not just me.’

    In response to the grievances, a spokesperson from the Lloyds Banking Group told This Is Money at midday Thursday: ‘We have been having intermittent service issues with Internet banking.  






    The banking group has told said what triggered the issues but it reassured that it was not the result of a cyber attack

    ‘We are working hard to restore a full service for our customers and apologise for any inconvenience caused.’

    The representative highlighted that ‘the vast majority of our customers can access our internet banking sites normally.’

    The banking group has told said what triggered the issues but it reassured that it was not the result of a cyber attack.

    Lloyds Banking Group serves 30 million customers and has 22 million current accounts, making it the largest retail bank in the UK.

    More than five million customers are said to bank online, using their relevant bank’s desktop and app services. There are said to be 2.5 million logs ons per day.  

    The group’s four major financial services brands are Lloyds Bank Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows. 

    Last New Year similar technical glitches impacted those banking with Natwest and HSBC.

    However, Natwest/RBS suffered from one of the most infamous and prolonged outages back in 2012, where millions were left without their salaries and unable to withdraw cash for a number of days, which was blamed on a software update.

    It was fined £56million in 2014 by the Finance Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority for the glitch.

    As a result a leading bank academic said all Britons should have two current accounts in case a major bank falls victim to a cyber-attack.  

    Mind how you grumble on social media: Crooks on Twitter stealing bank details of customers complaining

    BY RUTH LYTHE FOR MONEY MAIL

    Savers who use social media to complain to their banks about technical glitches are having their details snatched by crooks.

    Criminals are lurking online waiting for banks to suffer technical problems so they can dupe unwitting customers into handing over information.

    The crooks set up fake Twitter accounts that mimic genuine ones belonging to the bank. Customers are told to click a link, which sends them to a website that looks similar to the bank’s. 

    But when they enter their bank details to log in, the information is snatched by fraudsters. 

    The Twitter scam is the latest ruse used by crooks to con bank customers.

    Other tricks include vishing, where a fraudster contacts a customer over the phone.

    The criminal pretends to be a police officer or a representative of the bank and dupes the account holder into handing over details.

    But in many cases victims do not receive a refund because banks deem they enabled the fraud by handing over information. 

     






    Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

    Goldcorp sells mines in two deals; Leagold buying Los Filos for $438-million


    Goldcorp Inc. has announced two deals to sell mining operations in Mexico and Guatemala to separate buyers.

    In the bigger transaction, Vancouver-based Goldcorp will receive an estimated $438-million (U.S.) worth of cash, stock and other assets by selling the Filos gold-and-silver mine in Mexico to Leagold Mining Corp.

    The stock portion of the deal is valued at $71-million and will represent about 30 per cent of Leagold’s outstanding shares after the transaction. Goldcorp also will retain certain tax receivables worth about $88-million.

    Goldcorp has also has agreed to sell its Cerro Blanco gold-silver project in Guatemala to Bluestone Resources Inc. Bluestone will pay $18-million in cash, an additional $15-million cash when commercial production begins, a one per cent net smelter return royalty on production and Bluestone shares representing a 9.9 per cent stake in the company.

    The Cerro Blanco sale is expected to close in the first quarter, subject to conditions.

    Goldcorp has also granted Bluestone a right of first refusal with respect to certain assets and equipment at the Marlin mine, also located in Guatemala. Its last ore production is set to be process early in 2017.

    Goldcorp will release its results for the fourth quarter of 2016 after markets close on Feb. 15.

    Double your rate by switching to a smaller bank when your fixed bonds mature

    Savers can double their rate by switching to a new bank or building society when their fixed bonds mature, Money Mail research shows.

    Traditionally January is the time when a host of bonds mature. But don’t take the new rate offered to you by the big banks – you can get more than twice as much interest from a new bank or a building society.

    Larger firms pay a pittance if you roll over into a similar deal. Among the worst are Santander, HSBC and NatWest, all at 0.5 per cent for a year; while Lloyds and Santander pay 0.55 per cent if you are willing to tie up your money for two years.


    Don’t take the new rate offered to you by the big banks when your bonds mature, you can get more than twice as much interest from a new bank or a building society

    That’s less than you can earn in easy-access accounts – which traditionally pay lower rates than fixed-rate bonds – with a smaller bank or building society.

    Those who took out a fixed-rate deal two years ago in the hope that rates will have risen by now are in for a shock.

    Rates have tumbled since last summer when the base rate was cut to 0.25 per cent and the Bank of England launched its new scheme allowing big banks to borrow from it at rock-bottom rates.

    There is little chance of rates rising this year.

    Savers with a two-year bond maturing now with Halifax will see their rate drop from 1.6 per cent to 1.05 per cent if they roll over their bond with the bank.

    This brings your annual interest on each £10,000 down from £160 to just £105.

    Even worse, those coming to the end of a 4.5 per cent five-year term with Halifax are being offered the same deal – 1.05 per cent for two years. Their income will drop from £450 to £105 a year.

    Santander paid 1.4 per cent two years ago. Now it is offering these customers with its maturing two-year bonds 0.55 per cent – or £55 on each £10,000, a 60 per cent drop from the current £140.

    Even its 123 customers who have earned 1.8 per cent over the last two years will see their interest more than halved to 0.8 per cent if they stick with Santander.

    Lloyds customers renewing their two-year bonds will see a drop from 1.45 per cent to just 0.55 per cent, a 62 per cent drop.

    At NatWest the rate falls from 1.35 per cent to 0.55 per cent.

    If you switch to a new bank or building society you will still see a drop, but it will be smaller.

    Top deals from newer banks include online Charter Savings Bank at 1.38 per cent for one year.

    That gives you £138 interest on your £10,000, nearly three times as much as with NatWest, RBS, HSBC and Santander’s £50.

    Alternatively, Atom pays a slightly higher 1.4 per cent if you are willing to open an account through an app on your smartphone.

    Even in the High Street you can earn 1.3 per cent with Leeds BS if you are happy to tie up your money until April 2 next year – and the building society lets you have access to half your money without penalty during the term. 

    Metro Bank pays 1.2 per cent and Virgin Money 1 per cent.

    If you want a two-year deal, Atom pays 1.6 per cent while online banks Charter Savings pays 1.51 per cent, Masthaven 1.53 per cent and Tesco Bank 1.52 per cent – three times as much as the 0.55 per cent on offer from some big banks.

    In the High Street, you might as well stick to one-year deals. Here the top two-year rate is 1.15 per cent from Leeds BS and Virgin Money.

    With new banks your money is protected in the same way as with big ones by the financial compensation scheme which pays out if the bank goes bust.

    Most – including all those mentioned – belong to the UK scheme, which gives £75,000 per person per registered institution.

    You might like to hold back £3,000 to put into National Savings & Investments three-year bond, due out in April.

    This is expected to pay 2.2 per cent a year but it is likely that it will not pay out your interest until the end of the third year – instead it will add the £66 interest a year to your bond.

    sy.morris@dailymail.co.uk

    WHAT ABOUT AN INTEREST-PAYING CURRENT ACCOUNT?

    Interest-starved savers could also consider an interest-paying current account to help boost their savings pot. 

    The best interest-paying account for you will depend on the level of your balance and your monthly deposit amount but savvy savers could earn as much as 5 per cent. 

    Santander’s 123 Account pays 1.5 per cent interest on amounts between £1,000 and £20,000 – the top deal for anyone with a large balance. It also pays up to 3 per cent tiered cashback on household bills, however it has a monthly charge of £5.

    Nationwide FlexDirect pays 5 per cent interest on balances up to £2,500 – but this only for the first year. You must pay in a minimum monthly income of £1,000. 

    Tesco Bank pays 3 per cent on up to £3,000 with no qualifying criteria. Swiping your card in stores earns up to five Clubcard reward points per £1 spent plus you get an extra 1 point per £8 spent elsewhere.

     





    Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

    Canada’s softwood lumber industry faces uncertain future as Trump era looms



    Faced with ongoing investigations by the U.S. International Trade Commission and a protectionist president-elect heading to the Oval Office in a matter of days, Canada’s oft-embattled softwood lumber sector could soon face a rough-and-tumble future that looks a lot like the past.

    Donald Trump has long shown interest in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement upon taking office, leaving trade partners in limbo. The recent expiration of the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement is already a sore point with Canada’s largest trading partner. And last week, the USITC announced it had found “reasonable indication” that Canadian softwood lumber product imports has “materially injured” U.S. industry.


    Post Office hikes the rate on its Online Saver to 1.01% putting it top of the tree

    The Post Office has raised the rate on its Online Saver to 1.01 per cent for new savers — the top rate on offer on easy?access accounts.

    Within hours RCI Bank matched it, raising its rate from 1 per cent. 

    With the French-owned RCI your money is covered by the French compensation scheme which gives €100,000 (around £85,000) if the bank runs into trouble.


    Top deal: The Post Office has raised the rate on its Online Saver to 1.01% for new savers

    Make sure you move your money after the first 12 months with the Post Office account: the 1.01 per cent includes a 0.76 percentage point bonus which only lasts a year. After that the rate plummets to 0.25 per cent.

    The rate is a whisker above Tesco Bank’s Internet Saver at 1 per cent also boosted by a bonus of 0.6 points, where the rate drops to 0.4 per cent after 12 months. 

    With the Post Office, where your money goes to Bank of Ireland, you earn just 10p more interest a year on £1,000 and have to go through the bother of moving after a year.

    Leeds BS Limited Issue Online Saver pays 1 per cent — on a minimum of £5,000, and you pay the opening balance by cheque. 

    Once up and running and linked to your bank account, you add or take money out online. 

    If your balance falls below £5,000, you will earn only 0.05 per cent, and from January 3, 2018, it will be moved to an instant-access maturity account.

    Virgin Money pays 0.95 per cent on its Defined Access Saver 9, available online, through branches or by post. 

    You are limited to three withdrawals a year — any more and the rate drops to 0.25 per cent.

     





    Courtesy: Daily Mail Online