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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Clegg and Farage clash over Europe in live debate

YouGov polls suggests 57% of viewers thought Farage won.

Only 36% of YouGov respondents thought Clegg won.

Farage says EU has "blood on its hands" over Ukraine

9.15pm GMT

Here's what Nigel Farage said about the EU having "blood on its hands" over Ukraine.

We have given a false series of hopes to a group of people in the western Ukraine and so geed up were they that they actually toppled their own elected leader. That provoked Mr Putin and I think the European Union, frankly, does have blood on its hands in the Ukraine.

I don't want a European army, navy, air force or a European foreign policy. It has not been a thing for good in the Ukraine.

9.10pm GMT

Jo Twyman from YouGov has just told BBC News that, according to its poll, 20% of Lib Dem supporters thought Nigel Farage won.

Among Labour supporters, 51% thought Nick Clegg won, Twyman said.

8.57pm GMT

And here's an extract from an email that the Lib Dems have sent out to supporters tonight.

Nigel Farage just showed his true colours. In the first European debate with Nick Clegg he attacked gay marriage, dismissed the 3 million British jobs that depend on Europe and admitted that he had simply made up his claim that 75% of our laws come from the EU.

Only the Liberal Democrats are prepared to fight for our place in Europe and protect those jobs.

8.56pm GMT

Here's Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, on the debate.

I thought that Nick made his argument incredibly clearly and passionately. I thought he was the clear winner of the debate. He was the statesman setting out why Britain is better off in the EU.

I think a lot of people watching Nigel Farage, maybe before they thought he was a guy you'd want to go down the pub with but by the end he was more like the pub bore you don't want to be stuck in the corner with at the end of the evening.

8.54pm GMT

And here is some more Guardian video from the debate.

8.50pm GMT

Here are some more figures from Blurrt, the Twitter analytics firm that provides the data for the LBC worm. (See 8.23pm.)

Blurrt says, of the tweets mentioning Nick Clegg, 24% were positive, and 32% negative - giving a net rating of -8.

8.43pm GMT

My colleague Rowena Mason has sent me this from the spin room.

Does it matter if Clegg loses? A Lib Dem aide said: "In a snap poll populist arguments may well win over. The real win tonight has been that we wanted this debate and talked directly to the voters. Whatever poll you read, there's lots more people who think Britain should be in the EU than are currrently considering voting for the Lib Dems. The biggest losers are the Labour party and the Conservative party, David Cameron and Ed Miliband, who didnt have the courage to be here and stand up for Britain's place in Europe. We got the opportunity to put across our argument, whether people agree with it or not."

8.42pm GMT

There is a spin room at the debate venue.

But, of course, these days the real spin room is Twitter.

Nick made the best arguments, making the case for why Europe is good for British jobs, security & influence in the world. #NickvNigel

Closing statements now ... #NickvNigel ... Facts and jobs, versus prejudice and fear. #IAgreeWithNick #whyiamin #fb

Nick Clegg drove a coach and horses through Farages claims on EU immigration and costs. #NickvNigel #LBCdebate

Garage says Europe has blood on is hands in Ukraine. Does he support Russian annexation of Crimea?

§ So Nigel agrees with Putin. Odd for someone who says he is backing democracy to back a Russian autocrat #FarageFacts #NickvNigel

#LBCdebate #NickvNigel lots of Tories in the spin room desperately trying to comment on a debate they are supposedly ignoring...

I think Clegg will take 37% of voters saying he won #NickvNigel.

What was very interesting about yougov debate poll was half of Labour voters thought Farage won, a big number when Labour giving no EU vote

#LBCdebate poll shows a win for #TeamNigel

8.28pm GMT

YouGov were polling for the Sun. Here's their tweet.

#LBCdebate: Nigel beats Nick 57-36 - @YouGov /Sun poll:

8.24pm GMT

The YouGov poll shows that 57% of respondents thinks Nigel Farage won the debate.

Some 36% said Nick Clegg performed best.

8.23pm GMT

Here's the LBC Twitter worm.

It shows that there were three moments in the debate when people on Twitter (not a representative sample, of course) were much more positive about Nigel Farage.

8.19pm GMT

What Nigel Farage had to say about the EU having "blood on its hands" over Ukraine was probably the top story of the debate.

Rather, it would be if it were not for the YouGov poll providing the top line.

"The European Union has blood on its hands in Ukraine" could haunt Farage says Boulton. "He took the Putin line" Gideon Rachman tells Sky

i think Farage by saying the EU has blood on its hands over Ukraine will find he has a warn welcome in the Kremlin.

Farage's Crimea answer plays into isolationism that many accuse him of. Almost RonPaul-esque. Brussels, not Putin, w 'blood on its hands'?

8.17pm GMT

And here are some snap verdicts from other journalists.

At the moment, opinion is divided.

Not going to have changed many minds. Both Clegg and Farage will have reinforced their support, but I think Farage did better.

Overall, Nigel Farage was much clearer and sharper, though sounded condescending at times. Think he won over Clegg 60-40.

I think Farage won, but I hate the EU. Audience will be small, responses will be partisan. #NickvNigel

Westminster has decided that Nick Clegg won that debate. Interesting to see if that mean a win for Farage in 'real world'.

I'm surprised at how easily Nick Clegg won that. Especially given the shaky start.

Clegg on points. Farage confirmed that Ukip is an anti-immigration party first and foremost #LBCdebate

Clegg shaded it on jobs, Farage on immigration. But Clegg's 'read the small print' quip a disaster

#lbcdebate Not many votes shifted by Clegg or Farage in dull/worthy LBC debate on Europe. Not a disaster/victory for either politician

In context of that next election- Clegg still an attractive TV performer and Farage a player.. We've learnt nothing new re Europe.

A debate of two halves, Farage won the first part but Clegg came back in the second. Think Farage will regret EU 'blood on their hands' line

VERDICT: Stylistically Clegg wins hands down. Farage awkward/sweaty. Substance depends on whose argument you believe. But both gain votes.

8.07pm GMT

Snap Verdict: Nigel Farage's belligerence, and his monotone Mr Angry act, started to grate towards the end, but his opening and closing statement were strong, and on big picture fundamentals he tended to make more powerful points. But Nick Clegg was often much better on the detail, and the more relaxed he sounded, the more convincing he was. Looking back at my question by question judgments, they suggest Farage won on points. That feels about right.

8.01pm GMT

Clegg says that he wants a Great Britain, not a little England.

Farage says that Clegg spent the whole debate avoiding the point about 485m people being able to come to the UK. He says he is a patriot. He wants good relations with other countries in Europe. But he wants Britain to govern itself.

8.00pm GMT

Q: Why does Ukraine want to be closer to the EU?

Clegg says that this shows how the EU can transform countries.

7.58pm GMT

It's question eight.

Q: Why should we trust you, when you, Clegg, lied over tuition fees, and you, Farage, employ your wife when you said you would not?

7.57pm GMT

Here's more Guardian video from the debate.

7.54pm GMT

Question seven

Q: Why does the UK implement more laws than other EU countries?

7.50pm GMT

Clegg says he believes the police more than Farage.

Remember the plane spotters who ended up in a Greek jail?

7.45pm GMT

Question six.

Q: Does Britain benefit from the EU warrant?

7.42pm GMT

Here's the Guardian video of the opening statements.

7.41pm GMT

Question 5 - Verdict: Clegg won this one. He is sounding calmer, meaning that Farage is starting to sound a bit too belligerent, but what really undid Farage was the questioning from Ferrari about the leaflet.

7.39pm GMT

Question five.

Q: How would we do deals with China without being in the EU?

7.33pm GMT

Farage says Ford moved abroad with EU money.

The German car industry needs the UK more than we need them.

7.28pm GMT

Q: Would Britain suffer from skill shortages if there were no free movement?

Farage says that he is in favour of those with the right skills coming her, in certain conditions.

7.23pm GMT

Third question

Q: Should people be allowed to come here to claim benefits?

7.20pm GMT

Clegg says people come to the UK. But they return too.

If we pull up the drawbridge, what happens to the 1.5m Britons working in the EU.

7.18pm GMT

Clegg says we have to have this debate on the basis of facts.

In the Eastleigh byelection, Ukip said 29m Romanians and Bulgarians might come to the UK.

7.15pm GMT

Second question

Q: What are the benefits of having EU migrants come here?

7.13pm GMT

Ferrari quotes what Clegg said in a leaflet before 2010. It called for a referendum.

Clegg says that was at the time of the Lisbon treaty. The rules were changing. That was why he favoured a referendum then. We have guaranteed that right now, he says.

7.08pm GMT

Farage says the laws change every week.

But, even during this government, control of the City has been transferred.

7.06pm GMT

First question.

Q: Why aren't the people offered a chance?

7.04pm GMT

Farage says imagine we were voting to join.

Join a club costing £55m a day. And an open border, to 450m people, many from poor countries.

7.03pm GMT

Nick Clegg says this is about you. Your job. Or the job of someone you know.

If we cut ourselves off from Europe, jobs will be lost.

7.01pm GMT

Ferrari says he is going to toss a coin to decide who starts.

Clegg calls heads. And it's tails.

7.01pm GMT

Ferrari is introducing Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage.

Farage is standing on the right.

7.00pm GMT

Nick Ferrari opens the debate.

He claims "history will be made" tonight. First hyperbole of the night.

6.59pm GMT


That's blown it. LBC website has crashed. I will have to listen to Clegg-Farage on the old wireless thingy in the kitchen.

6.58pm GMT

Tom Newton Dunn, the Sun's political editor, has told Sky he thinks both men will have won from this evening. When was the last time political pundits spent all evening talking about Ukip and the Lib Dems, he asks.

6.56pm GMT

Isabel Oakeshott has a point.

I'm bored of seeing Farage with a pint. Time for @oflynndirector to come up with some different images

Astonishingly, Nigel Farage has been pictured at a pub with a pint on his way to the studio. Let's hope the debate is less predictable

6.54pm GMT

This is Nigel Farage having a pint before the debate.

Exclusive pic of Nigel Farage ahead of tonight's debate via @Telegraph editor @chrisevans1

6.51pm GMT

Nick Clegg has had some pre-debate support from Sir Richard Branson. The Virgin tycoon has posted this on his website.

Great Britain can't be allowed to become Little Britain. As part of Europe, people can live where they want, set up companies where they want, trade where they want, travel where they want. As part of the EU, there are many more countries for British people to experience, and vice-versa, making for a much more diverse, multicultural, rich society.

For those people who seem hell-bent on pulling the UK out of the EU, it is contrasting that the people of Ukraine were willing to die on the streets of Kiev in hope that they could join the EU.

6.48pm GMT

Natalie Bennett, the Green party leader, obviously feels she should be involved. She's sent me this statement.

What we are seeing tonight is in quantitative terms a debate between the leader of a party without a Westminster MP and the leader of a party that may well have no MEPs after May.

Qualitatively, it will be a sterile debate between a ridiculous, simplistic ideology that suggests getting out of the EU would solve all of Britain's problems and the new lapdog of corporate Europe, which is claiming the EU-US free trade deal would have magical economic effects, ignoring the massive environmental and democratic damage it would cause.

6.46pm GMT

Rowena Mason has posted this.

Tim Farron confirms he helped Nick Clegg prep. Did he play Nigel? "I couldn't possibly comment" #LBCdebate

6.44pm GMT

The Lib Dems have sent out this email to their supporters. They are trying to rig the "worm"!

In just a few minutes, Nick is going to go on stage and take on Nigel Farage. Were here at HQ ready to make sure we win tonights twitter battle, and I need your help.

Heres three things you can do:

6.43pm GMT

Although Nigel Farage is debating Nick Clegg, other Ukip candidates are not so keen to debate their opponents. The Lib Dems have sent out a new release saying four Ukip European candidates have refused invitations to debate their Lib Dem opposite numbers. They are Paul Nuttall, the Ukip deputy leader, Roger Helmer, Jane Collins and Jill Seymour.

6.38pm GMT

My colleague Rowena Mason is also in the debate "spin room". She's sent me this.

The "spin room" just outside the debate hall is thronging with hundreds of hacks - including an international media contingent. One reporter from Hong Kong has just interviewed the BBC's Norman Smith, asking will it be more important than the general election debates? Errrr, no, is the answer.

A Lib Dem aide disappointingly says Clegg's performance "won't be joke heavy". The DPM is aiming to get across four key points about Europe in order of importance - it's good for jobs, helps fight crime, gives Britain international clout, and is necessary to tackle climate change.

6.37pm GMT

The Spectator's James Forsyth thinks Nick Clegg goes into the debate with the upper hand.

My instinct is that the format slightly favours Clegg. It allows him to cross-examine Farage and given that detail isnt one of the Ukip leaders strengths that could work to Cleggs advantage.

6.35pm GMT

In a debate, people always want to know who's won. Sometimes that's an unreasonable question - as explained earlier (see 5.25pm), it's easy to see how Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg could both emerge as "winners" - but that won't stop people asking it at 8pm.

Here are the various benchmarks we can use.

6.23pm GMT

More on Nigel Farage's pre-match preparations.

Team Farage tell me @ukip leader is limbering up in Westminster Arms ahead of Euro showdown with Nick Clegg #pintofYoungs #lbcdebate

.@Nigel_Farage prepping for the big debate with @nick_clegg where else but Westminster Arms! : #NickvNigel #LBCdebate

6.18pm GMT

Earlier this week Paddy Power had Nick Clegg as the 4/6 favourite to win the debate (with the winner being determined by the YouGov poll). I think that was a foolish call (for reasons I've explained at 6.02pm), and now Paddy Power have got Clegg and Nigel Farage level pegging, with both on 5/6 (which probably means they are still under-pricing Farage.)

6.14pm GMT

Steven Swinford has this on the pre-match warm up.

While Nigel Farage is having a pint in the pub before tonight's debate, Clegg will have a cup of tea. 'He's really looking forward to it'.

6.13pm GMT

And David Cameron claims not to be too interested too.

Team Cameron tell me the PM won't be watching Clegg/Farage Euro showdown. Pourquoi ? Cos he's meeting the Queen #topexcuse

6.09pm GMT

Here's the official Labour party position on the debate. It's from Jon Ashworth, a shadow Cabinet Office minister.

This is a lightweight battle between two men who will never be Prime Minister. It is only happening because Nick Clegg needs Nigel Farage, and Nigel Farage needs Nick Clegg - but the country doesn't need either of them.

While the Tories, Lib Dems and UKIP obsess about Europe, Labour will continue to prioritise tackling the cost-of-living crisis and getting the economy back on track.

6.08pm GMT

The debate is taking place at 8 Northumberland Avenue in London.

My colleague Esther Addley is in the "spin room" that LBC have set out. Here's what it looks like.

This is the (ahem) 'spin room' where press corralled to follow #clegg #farage debate on telly. Posher than yr average

6.02pm GMT

Sometimes there is a clear winner in a political debate. There was almost universal agreement that Mitt Romney won the first debate in the US presidential elections in 2012. And in 2010 Nick Clegg went into the first leaders' debate as a relative unknown, and made such a good impression that the Lib Dems' poll ratings subsequently soared.

But more often people who watch a debate end up feeling much the same way about the protagonists as they did at the start.

A fifth of the country are in the Committed Hostility group who see nothing good about Europe and overwhelmingly want to leave though immigration worries them more. Just over a quarter are Discontented Sceptics, thinking the costs outweigh the benefits but less certain that we should head for the exit. Another quarter of the population make up the Relaxed Status Quo, who are happy as things are and hardly give the subject a thought, while the smaller group of Global Progressives strongly support the EU and even welcome its influence on Britain. Finally there are the Disengaged, one in seven of the population who know little and care even less.

5.31pm GMT

Here are some notes from LBC explaining how the debate will be conducted.

Audience members - who will put questions to the leaders - are being recruited by ICM in line with a demographic profile of the wider UK population. To ensure political balance, theyll also be based on their attitude to EU membership.

The audience will be able to applaud at the start, during and end of the debate.

5.25pm GMT

There are less than two hours now until the first debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg on Europe. Tonight's is being hosted by LBC, and it is being broadcast on Sky and BBC News too.

Farage, the Ukip leader, and Clegg, the Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minister, are at opposite sides of the spectrum on the subject of the European Union. Farage wants to leave, while Clegg, a former EU official as well as a former MEP, has decided to fight the European elections on a platform of unashamed support for the EU. The Lib Dems have always been the most pro-European of the main parties, but in the past they tended to keep quiet about it. Now, though, Clegg has decided it's electorally advantageous to wave the EU flag (because the number of voters enthusiastic about the EU, though small, is larger than the number currently enthusiastic about the Lib Dems).

The fascination of the Clegg-Farage face-off is that UKIP and the Liberal Democrats dont have much to say to each other; they just disagree. Clegg and Farage wont really be talking to each other or even trying to win over the same audience.

UKIP and the Lib Dems are not trying to steal voters directly from each other. UKIP is primarily taking its support from the Conservatives. The Lib Dems need to claw back from Labour and the Tories. Farages latest claim is that his core electorate will be the betrayed working class. The Lib Dems chances of harvesting a protest vote evaporated the day they went into government. Today they must be a party of principle or they are nothing. Anyway, except when swept up in a by-election tsunami, the working class has never been a heartland for the centre party.


Top Greek banks raise billions

Athens - Greece's Piraeus Bank, one of the nation's top four lenders, on Wednesday said it had raised 1.75 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in fresh capital ahead of a full public sale. The move came a day after Alpha Bank raised 1.2 billion euros, as Greek ...


'Ndrangheta mafia 'made more last year than McDonald's and Deutsche Bank'

Study finds crime network made billions of euros from drug trafficking, illegal rubbish disposal and other activities

The 'Ndrangheta mafia from southern Italy made more money last year than Deutsche Bank and McDonald's put together with a turnover of €53bn (£44bn), a study has claimed.

The study by the Demoskopika research institute detailed the international crime syndicate's sources of revenue, including drug trafficking – which brought in an estimated €24.2bn – and illegal garbage disposal, which earned it €19.6bn.

The southern Italian mafia earned the equivalent of 3.5% of Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) last year, said the report based on analysis of documents from Italy's interior ministry and police, parliament's anti-mafia commission and the national anti-mafia task force.

The 'Ndrangheta is thought to have about 400 key "operatives" in 30 countries, but its activities are believed to involve as many as 60,000 people worldwide, the report said.

Extortion and usury last year brought in a substantial €2.9bn, while embezzlement earned the mafia €2.4bn and gambling €1.3bn. Arms sales, prostitution, counterfeiting goods and people-smuggling were less lucrative, bringing in less than €1bn together.

The 'Ndrangheta – whose name comes from the Greek for courage or loyalty – has a tight clan structure which has made it famously difficult to penetrate.

With its network of hundreds of family gangs based around the southern region of Calabria, it is even more feared and secretive than the Sicilian mafia.

Its roots go back to a criminal association specialised in gambling, the Garduna, which was created in the Spanish city of Toledo in 1412.

It spread to Calabria, one of Italy's poorest regions, and started building up as a crime network based on kidnapping for ransom.

Pope Francis last week called on Italy's mafia groups to "stop doing evil" as he met relatives of their victims to demonstrate the Catholic church's opposition to organised crime.

"There is still time to avoid ending up in hell, which is where you are going if you continue down this path," he warned mafiosi, telling them to relinquish their "blood-stained money" which "cannot be taken into paradise".

MafiaOrganised © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


'Greece to break encirclement'

'Greece to break encirclement'DAWN.comATHENS: Greece will be “victorious” in efforts to break out of “encirclement” by its EU-IMF creditors, President Karolos Papoulias said on Tuesday. “Our people is waging a struggle to break the encirclement of the creditors,” the 84-year-old president ...and more »


Greece's Piraeus Bank Completes Share Capital Increase

It has announced plans to move ahead with a EUR3 billion share capital increase to cover its needs. NBG, which needs to plug a EUR2.2 billion hole in its balance sheet, says it can raise the money without selling more shares. In its statement, Piraeus said ...


Markets buoyed by optimistic economic data

FTSE 100 edges up and European indices riseRobert Chote and OBR at select committeeSSE freezes household energy prices until 2016Candy Crush maker King's shares fall in NY debut

5.51pm GMT

Developments in the Eurozone with the Greek finance minister announcing a date for the start of debt-reduction talks for his debt-encumbered country. Helena Smith reports from Athens:

Barely two months before euro elections a crucial test for the Greek government the countrys finance minister Yannis Stournaras has pinpointed a date for the start of all-important debt reduction talks. The economics professor, a technocrat who has handled the portfolio for the best part of 1o years, said Brussels would begin tackling the root of Greeces economic woes at the next but one eurogroup of euro area finance ministers, currently scheduled for June 19.

Our aim is [the achievement] of even a slight reduction of interest rates and the deferral of debt repayments. That [amounts] to a small haircut, he told Skai News. Greeces debt load is projected to reach 176% of its GDP this year. Before it began being propped up by emergency bailout funds from the EU, ECB and IMF in May 2010 it stood at roughly 120%.

5.46pm GMT

Positive US manufactured goods data and easing tensions in Ukraine, not to mention continuing talk of possible Chinese economic stimulus helped markets move higher. However the UK market was held back by news of the government's £4.2bn sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group, meaning the leading index lost most of its early gains. The final results were:

The FTSE 100 finished 0.41 points or just 0.01% higher at 6605.30

4.54pm GMT

Over in the US and more Federal Reserve member comments:

Plosser sees QE coming to an end in the fall sometime Timing of rate hikes depends on the state of the economy ^CT

Feds Plosser: Rate rise timing will depend on state of economy; US economy is in a pretty good place and shld continue in its current vein

Fed's Plosser: Sees QE ending some time in the Autumn. NB Plosser is a voting member this year

Fed's Plosser on the wires : - says sees jobless close to 6% by year end - economy in a pretty god place - QE to end in the fall sometimes

4.52pm GMT

And with the - brief - discussion on pensions it is all over.

If you want to watch the whole session, it is available to replay here.

4.51pm GMT

Using pension pot to pay off mortgage rather than buy Lamborghini is better?

Chote says relative merits of this down to parliamentarians not him (reference to pensions minister Steve Webb's comments)

4.48pm GMT

Now just six minutes for savings and pension. Too much borrowing not enough saving?

Chote says we don't take the view of an optimum level of the savings ratio.

4.43pm GMT

It is said £4bn could be raised by accelerated tax avoidance scheme, what work have you done?

Chote said the original estimate came from HMRC, make assumptions on HMRC win rate (assume 80%), how many people have paid money but still in dispute.

4.38pm GMT

Impact on output gap if you had stuck to cyclical indicators?

Chote said would have taken most of the room for manoeuvre out with regard to the mandate. Estimated £20bn figure is probably close, says Chote.

4.28pm GMT

Question on inflation at the end of the year.

They agree on 2%-ish.

4.26pm GMT

Still some confusion about the 1.9m figures and how many are migrants.

Chairman Andrew Tyrie says perhaps this could be pursued in written form.. clearly keen to move on. He says he has promised to close by around quarter to (not clear which hour though!)

Steve Nickell of OBR says a million new employees up to 2018 - significant number will be migrants

4.21pm GMT

Where are the 1.9m new workers you predict coming from, asks John Mann?

Chote and Nickell look a little nonplussed.

John Mann appears to catch OBR unawares with question on what will cause employment growth

4.17pm GMT

Nickell says that in future forecasts we will say it will get back to its original trend level. We are not going to argue there has been a permanent shift in growth level.

More a question of the length of time it's taking rather than end result?

4.15pm GMT

OBR forecasts imply productivity will not recover to pre-crisis levels, is this a supply side problem?

Chote agrees, with growth of GDP in decline for some time, have chunk which will never come back.

4.11pm GMT

Productivity is stagnating, are we closer to knowing why?

Chote says not really. Problem of younger firms not getting capital they need could be one constraint and would hope this could improve.

4.09pm GMT

On productivity, Chote says an improvement in this is crucial to recovery.

4.08pm GMT

Does house price growth in greater London pose a threat to economic stability?

Nickell says wouldn't think so, Chote says a lot of London growth is not mortgage driven but overseas buyers.

4.05pm GMT

Do your forecasts agree with others there is not a housing bubble?

Chote says the pick up for demand in housing has been due to unresponsive supply, although that is not to say there may not be some minor bubbles.

4.01pm GMT

If the government cuts go ahead, quite a bit of output will be taken out of the UK economy, are you confident that will be taken up by private sector?

Chotes says, oh yes. The day to day running costs of the public sector have been a drag on economy.

3.58pm GMT

What would be an ideal direction of travel for savings ratio?

Steve Nickell said before the crash it was too low. One which is positive and doesn't change from one year to the next is probably a good thing.

3.55pm GMT

Is recovery basically built on household consumption?

Chote says there is a distinction between the housing market which is driving the balance sheet story and consumer spending, where it is more important when people's real incomes start to rise.

3.53pm GMT

Why does the OBR think the household savings rate will fall from 7% to 3% in 2017? Why are households so enthusiastic to save less?

Chote says the rate of decline will slow down, but it will take time for incomes to pick up (to make up the difference).

3.46pm GMT

Why is business investment at 11% of GDP a reasonable estimate?

Investment is low traditionally in the UK, and this forecast would still leave us with a modest rate compared to OECD averages.

3.44pm GMT

What are the factors holding back investment?

Chote says for some, smaller firms, it is access to finance.

3.42pm GMT

And we're back.

A question on the effects of the Bank of England raising rates before the OBR judges it sensible with regard to the output gap.

3.26pm GMT

Questioned on the disappointing trade performance, Chote says that is partly due to the fact it has taken time for our European partners to see a pick up in their economies.

And with the MPs leaving for a vote on the welfare cap, there is now a recess which is expected to last some ten minutes.

3.21pm GMT

What about the sustainability of the recovery?

Chote says it would need a pick up in real income growth, and this is implicit in its forecasts.

Robert Chote says earnings should start outstripping inflation this year - but not sure about productivity

3.19pm GMT

Pressed on why Bank is 50 basis points more optimistic, and what the OBR is seeing the Bank is not, Chote says they don't look at it like that. Both look at the data and draw conclusions.

Chote says that while growth is clearly improving but they still expect it to slow next year. The pickup in consumer spending was driven more by people reducing their savings than a pick up in real incomes.

3.14pm GMT

Question about the OBR's growth forecast of 2.7% and why it is towards lower end of range of forecasters, with the Bank of England more optimistic.

Chote says different people have different reasons for being pessimistic. The Bank is more optimistic, it looks at the pattern of past revisions and makes adjustments which the OBR does not.

3.06pm GMT

Chote says the OBR compares forecasts with other forecasters and had a wider gap than most previously, but in the last few surveys, it was smaller than average.

3.05pm GMT

Chote says the OBR had assumed for some time that the growth rate of GDP would pick up.

He said firms' answers on capacity utilisation were consistent with boom conditions, which looking at the wider economy was not obvious. So the OBR would look at a range of indicators.

3.02pm GMT

The hearing is underway, slightly delayed by private business, says chairman Andrew Tyrie.

Firstly OBR chairman confirms to Tyrie there was no political interference in its work.

2.37pm GMT

Another Treasury hearing into the budget will take place shortly, with the Office for Budget Responsibility up before a select committee led by Andrew Tyrie. Those due to appear in around ten minutes are:

Robert Chote, Chairman, Office for Budget Responsibility

2.33pm GMT

Markit's chief economist has looked at what the latest US data might mean for the forthcoming non-farm payroll numbers:

Weak US services PMI employment index means both flash PMIs signal c+130k #NFP in March

2.14pm GMT

Shares of Candy Crush maker King Digital Entertainment fell on their first day of trading in New York.

The shares of the London-based company dropped as much as 15% after its bosses rang the opening bell at the New York stock exchange.

King has started trading on NYSE at $20.50, below its $22.50 offer price

2.02pm GMT

US shares are up and there's positive economic news to support the rise.

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 indices both rose about 0.3% in early trading. US durable goods orders recovered in February and a "flash" purchasing managers index (PMI) of manufacturing and services rose in March.

Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rebounded in February and shipments snapped two straight months of declines, providing fresh signs the economy was shaking off some of its winter gloom.

US Flash Services #PMI at 55.5 in March, up sharply from Februarys four-month low of 53.3

1.37pm GMT

Facebook's bn purchase of Oculus has made the first three months of this year the biggest first quarter for technology mergers and acquisitions since 2000, Thomson Reuters says.

Great news except that in March 2000 the dotcom bubble burst and many feted companies turned out to be duds.

Facebooks Oculus acquisition pushes Tech M&A to highest annual start since 2000, as value reaches $65.2 billion so far in 2014.

Facebooks $2.2bn offer for Oculus boosts High Tech M&A to $65.2bn so far in 2014, the highest year-to-date total since 2000

1.26pm GMT

Candy Crush fans and there are many can watch their favourite game's creators opening the New York Stock Exchange live!

To see them ringing the NYSE bell on a livestream, click here at 9:25am UK time.

King, developer of the blockbuster smartphone game Candy Crush, will ring the opening bell for the New York Stock Exchange this morning.

The most highly valued British firm to emerge from the digital technology boom, King will be worth bn when its shares begin trading this lunchtime.

12.44pm GMT

The Bank of England and People's Bank of China have agreed a deal on clearing and settling renminbi trades in London. It's the first such agreement China has made outside Asia and George Osborne claims it puts the City in the lead to be a trading hub for the Chinese currency.

The central banks will sign a memorandum of understanding on March 31, paving the way for the appointment of a clearing bank for the renminbi, also known as the yuan, in London.

12.37pm GMT

Just 20 hours after the old headquarters of the busted Anglo Irish Bank was turned into a Starbucks on Dublin's St. Stephen's Green, the trial of three of its former executives continues, Henry McDonald reports from Dublin.

11.17am GMT

Independent City analyst Louise Cooper has written an analysis of SSE's decision to freeze household energy bills till 2016.

Cooper is, to say the least, sceptical about the energy companies' predictions of economic disaster if there was a price freeze. She gives credit to Labour leader Ed Miliband for putting pressure on them by pledging to impose a freeze in the absence of a tough regulator.

What this shows is that high energy prices were not necessary. If SSE can fund price freezes from running its business more efficiently, without substantially damaging its profits, then why hasnt it done so before? My answer would be because it was a cosy oligopoly with a sleepy regulator. In such industries there is no cut throat competition endlessly driving down prices. The industry were more than happy to keep increasing prices year after year and blaming green taxes and wholesale costs (sanctioned by OFGEM and Westminster). None of the big players wanted to upset the status quo. It took Miliband to ensure that the industry and Westminster are now beginning to care about lowering prices (although still not as much as their consumers).

10.31am GMT

The FTSE 100 index is up a healthy 0.5%, led by Standard Life, which has announced a £390m deal to buy asset manager Ignis.

Legal & General, which unveiled a £3bn annuity contract for the ICI pension fund, and other insurers hit hard by the Chancellor's pension reforms, were also among the biggest risers.

10.19am GMT

German consumer confidence has held steady at pre-financial crisis levels, in line with economists' forecasts.

The poll by market researchers GfK matched the highest reading since January 2007. However, the survey was carried out before the Crimean crisis escalated earlier this month.

German consumer morale held steady going into April as shoppers were more upbeat about the outlook for Europe's largest economy but their mood could worsen if the Crimea crisis spreads and leads to tougher sanctions from the West, GfK said.

The market research group's forward-looking consumer sentiment indicator, based on a survey of around 2,000 people and published on Wednesday, was flat at 8.5 going into April. It matched the highest reading since January 2007 and was in line with the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll.

10.09am GMT

There has been a run on local banks in Sheyang county in eastern China, according to Reuters, amid rumours over solvency problems. Sheyang's governor told savers there is no need to panic. The banks themselves took the unusual measure of stacking their notes up in the windows to reassure the public (see pictures). "The governor, Tian Weiyou, said the bank would ensure that there would be sufficient funds to pay every depositor. He also urged people not to spread or believe rumours."

10.02am GMT

In the US, 21st Century Fox has made Lachlan Murdoch non-executive co-chairman and promoted his brother James to be co-chief operating officer.

They are the sons of Rupert Murdoch, who founded News Corp and last year split the group into the 21st Century Fox entertainment group and a new, smaller News Corp to house the publishing business.

We have many challenges and opportunities ahead, and Lachlan's strategic thinking and vast knowledge of our businesses will enable me, as executive chairman, and the company as a whole to deliver the best outcomes on behalf of our stockholders, employees and customers.

9.44am GMT

The Financial Conduct Authority has fined Santander UK a hefty £12.4m for giving customers slipshod investment advice.

The FCA's account of Santander's conduct is pretty damning. Advisers didn't check properly on customers' personal circumstances or how much risk they wanted to take, new advisers weren't trained properly etc.

Customers trusted Santander to help them manage their money wisely, but it failed to live up to that responsibility. If trust in financial services is going to be restored, which it must be, then customers need to be confident that those advising them understand, and are driven by, what they need. Santander let its customers down badly.

9.24am GMT

The government's stake in Lloyds Banking group has fallen below 25% after today's sale of 7.8%, raising hopes the bank could be fully back in private investors' hands before the 2015 election.

This is what George Osborne had to say:

This is another step in the government's long-term economic plan to deliver a more secure and resilient economy. It is another step in repairing the banks, in reducing our national debt and in getting the taxpayer's money back.

9.20am GMT

Carpetright has issued yet another profit warning. It's the third time in six months the retailer has had to guide down City forecasts.

In January, the Netherlands was the big problem but today Carpetright has said hoped-for growth in the UK hasn't materialised.

In our last trading statement, we reported that like-for-like sales in the UK were volatile, and this remains the case. Nevertheless, based on previous experience we had expected to see some recovery as UK housing transaction volumes improved. In the event, this has yet to materialise and the momentum established in the third quarter was not sustained.

9.00am GMT

SSE, the energy supplier, has promised to freeze gas and electricity prices for its 7 million customers until 2016 and will split its wholesale and retail divisions in an effort to simplify its business.

The company, formerly called Scottish and Southern Energy, said employees would face compulsory redundancies from job cuts designed to save £100m a year.

8.51am GMT

Lord Davies of Abersoch is presenting an update on progress towards his target of 25% female representation on boards.

As we report today, at the current rate companies will miss the target by Davies's target date of March next year. Davies, the former trade minister and boss of Standard Chartered, set the target based on evidence that more women on boards lead to better decisions.

With Annet's appointment the board comprises four women and five men, of which four are based in the UK, three in Continental Europe, one in Turkey and one in the US, who have a broad range of skills and experience that are relevant to our business.

8.39am GMT

Martin Weale, one of the Bank of England's nine ratesetters, has given an upbeat interview to the Reading Post.

Weale, on a visit to Berkshire, said the economy was looking "considerably better" and that when rates rise they would probably do so gradually.

My sense is things are going quite well. That looking at the evidence, the economy is growing in a way which is quite different from a year ago.

8.33am GMT

As we wrote today, the Government has sold a 7.8% stake in Lloyds Banking Group to raise £4.2bn.

George Osborne has said the money will be used to pay off the national debt. Here are some more details courtesy of Reuters:

Britain's sale of a 4.2 billion pound ($6.9 billion) stake in Lloyds Banking Group LLOY.L was 1.7 times subscribed at the sale price of 75.5 pence a share, a person familiar with the matter said.

8.24am GMT

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the financial markets, the world economy, the eurozone and business.


193rd Greek Independence Day Parade in NYC

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Free Wi-Fi across Greece by year-end

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AHEPA Chapter 41 Parade Party on 3/28

Across the country AHEPA chapters are hosting events related to their local Greek parades. Chapter 41, “The Brooklyn Chapter” whose president is attorney Ted Pavlounis, will host its annual pre-Greek parade Eleftheria Gala at the Renaissance Event Hall in Astoria on Friday, March 28 at 9 PM. A portion of the proceeds is traditionally given […]

The post AHEPA Chapter 41 Parade Party on 3/28 appeared first on The National Herald.


Greece: Austerity taxes for 'as long as needed'

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Greek Council Slams Finance Ministry on Asset Seizures

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UPDATE 1-Piraeus second Greek bank to complete share offering

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An agreement was reached between the Greek Minister for Development Kostis Chatzidakis and the taxi owners’ lobby to implement the promoted changes agreed


Ron the Greek versus 15 in Dubai World Cup

Ron the Greek versus 15 in Dubai World CupNews & Observerdealsaver. Dubai, United Arab Emirates ( - Ron the Greek, winner of last year's Jockey Club Gold Cup, has drawn the far outside post in a field of 16 international runners for Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse.and more »


Greek ambassador celebrates national day with Ankara reception

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Greek Creatives Exhibit Austerity Art inBrussels

The Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels and the curator Katerina Gregos, under the program ” Focus on Greece”, present an exhibition, entitled “No Country for Young Men”, which examines the Greek financial crisis through the work of a wide ...


Greek Banks’ Capital Increases Signal End to Isolation

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Corfu's spectacular, starry sky

Astrophotographer Vasilis Metallinos and composer John Miliadis produce a film showcasing the Greek Island's night scape


Famous Paintings Yield Secrets About Earth's Past That May Help Predict Future Climate Change

Turns out there's way more to art than its aesthetic appeal. New research by Greek and German scientists suggests that some of the world's most celebrated landscape paintings may reveal information about pollution levels in Earth's past that could help them predict future climate change. How exactly? The researchers say that the vivid colors seen in old paintings of sunsets show how much volcanic ash was in the planet's atmosphere following volcanic eruptions.Check out these paintings of sunsets included in the research. (Story continues below.) "We wanted to provide alternative ways of exploiting the environmental information in the past atmosphere in places where, and in centuries when, instrumental measurements were not available," lead researcher Dr. Christos Zerefos, a professor of atmospheric physics at the Academy of Athens, said in a written statement. When volcanoes spew ash into the air or fine desert dust travels on the wind, tiny particles called aerosols become suspended in the atmosphere. These aerosols scatter sunlight so the sky appears reddish. Of course, the presence of air pollutants means less sunlight reaches the surface of the earth -- which can lead to cooler weather. Indeed, Zerefos and his collaborators noticed that in the three years following the 1815 eruption of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia, landscapes by J.M.W. Turner and other European painters showed sunsets that were characteristically reddish or orangish. Following this eruption, Earth was plunged into a "volcanic winter" that reduced global temperatures by five degrees and brought snow to New England in June. For their new study, published March 25 in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, the researchers looked at the use of red and green pigments in 554 sunset paintings created by artists as far back as the 16th Century. Then they compared the ratios of red to green in the paintings with environmental data, including ice core samples and records about volcanic activity. Between 1500 and 2000, there were more than 50 big volcanic eruptions worldwide. "We found that red-to-green ratios measured in the sunsets of paintings by great masters correlate well with the amount of volcanic aerosols in the atmosphere, regardless of the painters and of the school of painting," Zerefos said in the statement. The paintings also revealed "an upward trend which points to the observed increase of aerosols in the past 100 years or so in the atmosphere," Zerefos added in an email to The Huffington Post. To confirm their hunch that red-green ratios in paintings can provide rough estimates for the atmosphere's aerosol levels, the researchers asked Greek seascape painter Panayiotis Tetsis to paint the sunset on the Greek island of Hydra in June 2010 -- one painting at a time when a dust cloud was passing overhead and another after the cloud had passed.The top images shows P. Tetsis' sunset paintings in June 2010 during (left) and after (right) the passage of a Saharan dust cloud. The bottom images show digital camera photos of the same landscape. Again, the researchers found that the red-green ratios in the two sunset paintings matched up with measurements of the amount of dust particles in the atmosphere. These findings could help climate scientists gain a better understanding of how much pollution has been in the air and how it affected Earth's climate throughout history. Understanding Earth's atmospheric history may provide scientists with better estimates for how man-made aerosols will affect climate change today.


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Rights groups want Greece to drop plans to change a law that would allow for the deportation of migrants making false claims of abuse.

The post Rights Groups Slams Immigrant Law appeared first on The National Herald.


The Port of Volos

A large seaside city at the foot of Mount Pelion in the area of Thessaly, Volos is home to one of Greece’s most romantic and organized ports. With a great maritime history, the area was a wealthy one, hosting a number of grandiose mansions, churches, museums, and municipal halls. The city’s history also boasts a […]

The post The Port of Volos appeared first on The National Herald.


Two MPs Quit Independent Greeks

The Independent Greeks party opposed to terms of bailouts given Greece lost two of its Members of Parliament who said they were quitting.

The post Two MPs Quit Independent Greeks appeared first on The National Herald.


UK growth confirmed at +0.7%; IMF warns inequality hurts growth as it happened

Summary: Signs of rebalancing in British economy

UK GDP rose by 0.7% in Q4 2013 - details start here

Business investment up...

IMF: inequality hurts growth

6.09pm GMT

Thats all for today. A quick summary:

Britains economy grew by 0.7% in the last three months of 2013, with a rise in business investment bolstering hopes that the recovery is becoming more balanced. Summary here. The news came at 9.30am from the Office for National Statistics.

5.53pm GMT

Unemployment up again in France. Hollande's "growth plan" continues...

5.48pm GMT

Unemployment in France has hit a fresh record high, in another reminder of president Francois Hollandes failure to get to grips with the jobless crisis.

The French labour ministry reported that the number of people out of work rose by 0.3% in January to 3,316,200, the highest level since records began in 1996.

Latest figures show a small increase (0,3%) in French unemployment in January via @LeHuffPost (in French)

Even during the 2000s "boom years" French unemployment never dropped much below 2 million

5.25pm GMT

Ahead of its financial results tomorrow, Royal Bank of Scotland has told the City it is selling its 28% stake in Direct Line, the insurance firm. Heres the statement.

RBSs results could reignite the ongoing row over bank bonus payments.

Taxpayers will be staggered if huge bonuses continue to be paid out at a time when significant losses are being made.

George Osborne should make clear he will reject any request from RBS to increase the bank bonus cap so bonuses worth more than 100 per cent of salary can be paid.

5.09pm GMT

And back over to Greece where the issue of bank recapitalization has dominated talks between visiting troika auditors and the Greek government today.

It was meant to be the meeting that would finally end the controversy encircling the refinancing needs of Greek banks. But after several hours of talks between visiting mission chiefs representing the EU, ECB and IMF and Greeces central bank governor George Provopoulos, word emerged this evening that while amicable nothing had been agreed and further discussions would now be necessary.

Finance ministry officials confirmed that technical teams representing the debt-stricken countrys troika of creditors would meet with central bank officials in the coming days before Provopoulos and troika mission heads met again next week.

5.00pm GMT

The IMF has also given Ghana the hurry-up, warning that it needs to make further spending cuts to bring its deficit - which broke through the 10% of GDP mark last year - into line:

4.36pm GMT

Looking back at the International Monetary Funds staff note on inequality -- its authors say they have built on previous work that found:

...inequality can undermine progress in health and education, cause investment-reducing political and economic instability, and undercut the social consensus required to adjust in the face of shocks, and thus that it tends to reduce the pace and durability of growth.

On average, across countries and over time, the things that governments have typically done to redistribute do not seem to have led to bad growth outcomes, unless they were extreme.

And the resulting narrowing of inequality helped support faster and more durable growth, apart from ethical, political, or broader social considerations.

4.11pm GMT

Speaking of inequality.... the UKs minimum wage is likely to rise by 3% in October, ahead of inflation for the first time since the financial crisis began.

Business secretary Vince Cable has told MPs that Low Pay Commission has recommended raising the minimum wage to £6.50 per hour.

This is a welcome increase in the minimum wage, which starts to recover some of the ground it has lost since 2008.

We hope this is the first in a series of bolder increases that will give real help to the low paid, and not just a pre-election boost.

Good news that the minimum wage is going up 3% - first real terms increase since 2008.

The Low Pay Commission has to tread a careful balance, recommending changes to the minimum wage that help low-paid employees without undermining employers ability to generate jobs and growth.

As the economy continues to improve, businesses agree that the minimum wage must rise. In recent polling, sixty percent of Chamber members supported an increase in line with current inflation, and fourteen percent favoured an above-inflation increase. After years of pay restraint, companies now feel somewhat more confident when it comes to the question of pay.

3.57pm GMT

Oxfam has thrown its weight behind the IMF staff note on inequality (see 3.45pm) -- arguing that the researchers are right to conclude that inequality is bad for growth, and that it is possible to redistribute wealth without undermining growth.

Nicolas Mombrial, head of the anti-poverty charitys Washington Office, declared that the research should encourage the IMF to stop pushing austerity:

Oxfam agrees with the IMF extreme inequality is damaging not only because it is morally unacceptable, but its bad economics.

The IMF has debunked the old myth that redistribution is bad for growth and demolished the case for austerity. That redistribution efforts -essential to fight inequality- are good for growth is a welcome finding. Low tax and low public spending are clearly not the route to prosperity.

3.45pm GMT

The International Monetary Fund has issued a research paper which warns that income inequality is bad for growth, and argued that it is possible to redistribute wealth without any impact on economic expansion rates.

Its an important contribution to an issue that has rattled up the agenda in both politics and economics -- even the World Economic Forum made it a priority at Davos last month.

We find that higher inequality seems to lower growth. Redistribution, in contrast, has a tiny and statistically insignificant (slightly negative) effect.

IMF study: disentangling the effects of inequality and redistribution on growth [pdf] -

3.21pm GMT

Despite brutal weather, new home sales surge to 468K ann rate in Jan. Looks like lack of existing inventory sending buyers to new homes.

3.16pm GMT

Heres a surprise - new home sales in America hit a five and a half-year high last month, defying fears that bad winter weather would hit demand.

The Commerce Department reported a 9.6% jump in sales last month, beating estimates, taking the annual rate to 468,000 -- the highest since July 2008.

There's no truth in the rumour that the 9.6% gain in US home sales was all Igloos.

3.04pm GMT

Back to the UK growth data....Mark Gregory, transaction partner and chief economist at EY, says it shows firms are more confident, and in a good position to spend:

Companies have weathered a prolonged period of uncertainty during which time they strengthened their balance sheets and optimised their capital structures.

Having warehoused cash for a number of years, and with ready access to credit, leading UK corporates are in a strong financial position to do deals they now have more confidence to pull the trigger - and this is evidenced todays positive GDP figures highlighting sustained business investment.

2.59pm GMT

Familiar scenes in Athens today -- dock workers marched in front of the parliament building to protest at plans to privatise some of the countrys ports, during a 24-hour strike.

Greek dock workers across the country walked off the job on Wednesday in a 24-hour strike to protest plans to sell a stake in the Piraeus Port Authority, the countrys largest port.

Hundreds of striking port workers gathered in central Athens and marched to Parliament for a protest rally. Nearby, protesting farmers market suppliers demonstrated outside the Finance Ministry against higher taxes. Both rallies ended peacefully.

2.07pm GMT

Greeces sovereign debt has strengthened in value today, as talks continue between government ministers and officials and its Troika of lenders over the countrys bailout programme.

This has driven down the interest rate, or yield, on 10-year Greek bonds to just 7.2% -- the lowest level since March 2010.

1.22pm GMT

This mornings GDP data didnt prevent the FTSE 100 index dropping again today, further away from Mondays 14-year closing high.

The blue-chip index is down 32 points, or 0.5%, at 6797. Tesco is the biggest faller, down 4.2%, as investors fail to be impressed by its new strategy of price wars and cutting back on new stores.

12.37pm GMT

Our news story on todays GDP data, by Angela Monaghan, is here:

Britains economy grew at a slightly slower rate than previously thought in 2013, but economists welcomed signs that growth was more balanced in the final three months of the year.

Gross domestic product increased by 1.8% last year compared with an earlier estimate of 1.9% after growth in both the first and second quarters was revised down by 0.1 percentage points by the Office for National Statistics. However it was still the strongest annual rate of growth since 2007, when the economy grew by 3.4% before the financial crisis.

12.14pm GMT

Time for a quick recap.

However, it is now important to improve the quality of Britains recovery. While it is encouraging that consumer spending is growing, we need to rely more on investment and net exports.

The expenditure breakdown shows that the recovery is now less dependent on consumer spending

12.01pm GMT

Allan Monks of JP Morgan has hailed todays data as evidence that the UK has taken a significant step towards a more balanced recovery.

A steady acceleration in business investment is underway, he points out (up over 8% during 2013, with the ONS revising data from earlier quarters).

11.38am GMT

A Treasury spokesman has warned that Britains recovery is not complete, despite confirmation that growth remained steady at 0.7% last quarter:

As the Chancellor said last week the recovery is not yet secure.

The Budget next month will do more to support investment and exports, and the biggest risk to the recovery would be abandoning the plan thats providing economic security for hardworking people.

11.31am GMT

Missed this earlier -- the prime minister tweeted about the GDP data:

More encouraging news our #LongTermEconomicPlan is working, providing security #ForHardworkingPeople - as growth figures are confirmed.

11.28am GMT

This chart shows how household consumption, business investment and trade all made positive contributions to economic growth:

11.01am GMT

Rob Wood of Berenberg says the 2.4% rise in UK business investment in the last quarter shows the recovery is less reliant on householder consumption:

The UK recovery is broadening as rising confidence gets firms investing again.

Though consumption growth slowed, it probably still outpaced meagre income gains. Wage earnings rose only 0.5% qoq in Q4, so the saving rate probably fell again.

Further falls in household saving are likely over the coming years.

10.47am GMT

Heres a snapshot of the key points in todays GDP data (reminder, the full report is online here).

10.37am GMT

Alan Clarke of Scotia Bank welcomes the rise in business investment:

Business investment rose by 2.4% q/q following 2% q/q in Q3. That is a very healthy pace and long may it continue.

Net exports provided a decent addition to growth as expected. However, this was more because of lower imports than stronger exports. Really, we would prefer it to be the other way around i.e. stronger exports in the driving seat.

10.34am GMT

Samuel Combs of Capital Economics argues that todays data shows the UK recovery is a little more sustainable:

The expenditure breakdown shows that the recovery is now less dependent on consumer spending, which rose by just 0.4% q/q [graph]. In contrast, both overall and business investment rose by a chunky 2.4%.

With investment now picking up strongly, the recovery is unlikely to hit the buffers and generate inflation soon. Meanwhile, net trade contributed 0.4 percentage points to quarterly GDP growth, thanks to a combination of rising exports and falling imports.

10.32am GMT

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), says todays revisions paint a mixed picture.

Hes encouraged that business investment is up, and that net trade made a positive contribution to GDP growth. But also concerned that growth was weaker than expected in early 2013 (graph):

Overall, these figures will underpin business confidence. However, it is now important to improve the quality of Britains recovery. While it is encouraging that consumer spending is growing, we need to rely more on investment and net exports.

These figures show a small move in the right direction, but there is still more to do.

10.26am GMT

There are some signs that the UK economy is rebalancing away from consumer spending, argues Neil Prothero, deputy chief economist at EFF (the manufacturers organisation):

While household spending was again the main driver of activity there was an encouraging uptick in business investment and a small positive contribution from net exports.

10.24am GMT

UK household consumption rose by 0.4% in the October-December quarter -- the ninth rise in a row, but not as strong as the City had expected.

10.18am GMT

Ben Chu of the Independent tweets a helpful graph showing that the ONS revised down its GDP estimates for the first six months of last year. Thats why the annual growth rate last quarter was cut to +1.8% rather than +1.9%.

ONS says Q1 2013 revised down from 0.5 to 0.4%. Q2 revised down from 0.8 to 0.7%. Full 2013 down from 1.9 to 1.8%:

10.11am GMT

Britains manufacturing sector did not grow as rapidly as first thought in the last three months of 2013.

The ONS has revised down its estimate of manufacturing output growth to +0.7%, down from the initial forecast of +0.9%. Thats slightly slower than in the third quarter, as this graph shows:

10.01am GMT

Some early reaction:

Revised estimate Q4 GDP unchanged at 0.7%. But biz investment up 2.4% - good news for balanced (ie non-services/spending dominated) recovery

Small pick up in investment as a % of GDP. Long way to go.

9.54am GMT

Todays GDP data is also a reminder that the UK economy suffered a stomach-churning drop in activity when the global recession struck, and has still not reached its pre-crisis peak.

The failure to bounce back in 2011 and 2012 means its the slowest recovery in decades, as this chart shows (the zero on the y-axis is the GDP level before each recession).

9.49am GMT

The UK Treasury team was quick to point out that firms are spending almost 9% more on new equipment and offices than a year ago:

GDP growth confirmed at 0.7% in Q4. Big upwards revisions to business investment which has now grown by 8.7% on a year ago

9.46am GMT

This looks encouraging -- gross fixed capital formation (in basic terms, this includes firms buying new equipment for their production process) rose by 2.4% in the final quarter of 2013.

This shows firms spend more on new buildings and structures, and various machinery and equipment, the ONS said.

9.40am GMT

The Office for Statistics second estimate at UK GDP for the last three months of 2013 is online here.

Heres the key findings:

9.35am GMT

So whilst the headline UK GDP number was unrevised at 0.7% for Q4 the past was nudged slightly weaker this morning. #GBP

9.33am GMT

Reuters snaps the key points:

9.31am GMT

Breaking: The UK economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2013, in line with the first estimate.

But the annual growth rate was revised down to 2.7%, from a previous estimate of 2.8%.

9.29am GMT

More on this later...

UK is no more open to international economy than 150yrs ago. Great chart from BoE's Ben Broadbent speech today

9.22am GMT

Nearly time for the UK GDP data!

Jeremy Cook of World First, the foreign exchange dealer, reckons theres a chance that the Office for National Statistics will revise up its assessment that the UK grew by 0.7% in the last quarter.

Today sees the first revision to Q4s UK GDP number of 0.7% with the market happy to see no change at 09.30 GMT. Upside surprises are possible once Decembers retail sales rocket-ship number of a 2.6% increase are folded into the calculations.

We will also receive a better breakdown of growth at this iteration and while consumption will have contributed the lions share we will look to see what effect business investment has had. This confidence will be the lifeblood of the new recovery. Exports will also be interesting to watch to see if the recent strength of the pound has had a negative effect.

9.10am GMT

Ukraines currency, the hryvnia, just hit a fresh record low of 10 to the US dollar, after falling another 3.5% this morning.

8.54am GMT

Swiss bank UBS has just increased its growth forecasts for this year and 2015, flags up Reuters Jamie McGeever:

UBS raises its 2014 UK growth forecast to 2.8% from 2.5% and 2015 forecast to 2.7% from 2.5%.

8.53am GMT

Speaking of interest rates (see here), some Tory backbenchers want George Osborne to announce pre-election tax cuts in next months budget to head off the risk of a rate hike during next years election campaign (Britain goes to the polls in May next year).

Mark Garnier and David Ruffley, both members of the Treasury committee, told the FT they fear Osborne could get the blame if the Bank of England raises borrowing costs. Ruffley dubbed it a political iceberg heading their way.

8.34am GMT

The big news overnight was that another European bank, Credit Suisse, is in hot water with the US authorities.

Senators accused Credit Suisse of costing US taxpayers billions of dollars through various activities straight out of a spy novel, in an official report into offshore tax schemes.

According to the report, bankers filed false visa applications pretending they were tourists, and conducted business at sponsored golf events. One customer told the investigation that his bank statements were passed to him over a business breakfast hidden inside a copy of Sports Illustrated. US clients who visited the bank in Switzerland were whisked to meetings in a button-less, remote controlled elevator.

Once they arrived, they would be advised on the best way to circumvent US tax laws, said Senator Carl Levin.

Most read on Telegraph Finance this morning: Credit Suisse helped Americans hide $10bn from taxman, government claims

Most read on Credit Suisse employed 1,800 bankers to help American clients avoid paying tax

8.25am GMT

Two members of the Bank of Englands monetary policy committee have assured the nation that the Bank isnt planning to raise interest rates any time soon, even though the UK economy is growing at a decent pace (well find out just how fast in an hours time).

At the moment [our aim] is not to increase interest rates in the very near term, because we have got inflation at target, it looks like it is going to stay there, and there is plenty of scope to encourage strong demand in the economy

Were not planning to raise interest rates any time soon.

Interest rates will have to rise at some point but not yet. And when they do they will rise very gradually and cautiously to make sure we continue to nurture the recovery we have seen in output growth and employment.

8.07am GMT

Samuel Tombs of Capital Economics reckons todays GDP report, due at 9.30am GMT, will confirm the UK grew by 0.7% in the last quarter of 2013. He also expects some signs that the recovery widened:

The second estimate of Q4 GDP seems unlikely to revise quarterly growth from the 0.7% provisional figure reported by the ONS last month. Admittedly, the second estimate often surprises since the first quarter of 2005, it has been different to the first nearly two-thirds of the time. But the latest industrial production and construction output figures released since the initial estimate of GDP provide no basis for expecting a revision.

Meanwhile, the expenditure breakdown of GDP is likely to show that the recovery has broadened, with net trade and investment both making positive contributions to overall growth in the fourth quarter.

More important for the markets though is some indication that businesses are starting to feel more confident about the economic outlook and feel more confident about boosting investment and capital expenditure.

Ideally we would like to see an improvement on business investment, however expectations are for a slight decline from the previous 2% to 1.3%.

8.01am GMT

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the financial markets, economics, business and the eurozone.

New rules to boost energy competition. Big 6 to be forced to publish wholesale prices. @ofgem on @SkyNewsBiz at 1145

Deja Vu - another housebuilder with chunky profit growth - 3 days in a row - $TW #TaylorWimpey +39%