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Six months away but which Christmas toys are going to be big this year?

It's just six months exactly or 183 days until Christmas Day. Credit: ITV News

Not wanting to wish away the summer but it's just six months exactly or 183 days until Christmas Day and High Street stores are already looking at what will be big this festive period.

None more so than toy shops which do most of their trade over the winter months.

From a new look Tracey Island from Thunderbirds to yet more Disney Frozen toys, Christmas lists are already being written.

So which toys are expected to dominate the market this year?

Click below to find out by watching a report by David Wood

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Bedfordshire giftwrap company sees 21% rise in profits

Profits rise at International Greetings, the company which owns Tom Smith crackers. Credit: Tom Smith

Bedfordshire-based gift packaging, cards and stationery group International Greetings has reported a 21% rise in underlying pre-tax profits.

Profits for the year to March were up to £9.2 million with sales up 2% at £229 million. The company, which produces the Tom Smith Christmas Crackers, sold record levels of gift packaging and greetings-related products worldwide.

The firm, based in Eversholt between Luton and Milton Keynes, added it was on track to deliver double-digit earnings growth.

Business is booming: Signs the region's economy is recovering fast

There are signs that the recovery in our region's economy is gathering pace with turnover, salaries and job numbers all increasing.

Some of the top companies in our part of the region are reporting growth in excess of 10%.

Despite the good news there are still concerns that the apparent boom could stall again.

Click below to watch a report from Matthew Hudson...

Bedfordshire companies see dramatic rise in annual turnover

Charles Wells in Bedfordshire. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The top 100 companies in Bedfordshire saw their annual turnover increase by £4 billion in the last year, according to a new report.

Businesses in the county contributed to an annual growth of more than 10%, and an increase in profits of £309 million.

"We have to continue to develop and we've done that over time - we've invested in both our people and our brands.

Just because it's tough our there, you can't just sort of rein everything in - you've got to look to continue to develop."

– Anthony Fryer, Charles Wells

Unemployment down 22,000 in the East of England

Unemployment has fallen by 22,000 in the East of England. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Unemployment in the East of England has fallen by 22,000 in the latest quarterly figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

The jobless total in the region was 136,000 in the three months to April or 4.4% of the workforce. Only London and the South East have a lower rate of unemployment.

In the East Midlands region, which includes Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire, there were 115,000 unemployed people in the same period.

136,000
Unemployed people in the East of England in the three months to April 2015

Nationally unemployment fell by 43,000 between February and April to 1.81 million. The number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits last month fell by 6,500 to 791,800.

Average earnings increased by 2.7% in the year to April, 0.4% up on the previous month.

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Norfolk businesses outperforming the rest of the UK, study reveals

An aerial view of Norwich. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Business is booming in Norfolk, according to new research.

The latest 'Norfolk Limited' survey of the top 100 companies in the county found annual turnover increased by almost 11% to £5.7 billion last year.

The number of people in work also went up by almost 6% to more than 44,000.

Key headlines

  • Annual turnover amongst the top 100 companies up by 10.7% to £5.7bn (UK GDP for 2014 rose by 2.6%). Operating profit increased by a significant 73.1% to £290m, with profit before tax rising by a colossal 91.5% to £228m.
  • Total employment increased by 5.7% to 44,262 staff. The majority of new jobs were created by the Services sector, Norfolk Limited's largest employer (46.9% of the workforce), with employment up 9.2% to 20,748 people.
  • The average salary of those employed by the top 100 companies increased by 2% to £21,465, compared to £22,892, for Norfolk as a whole.
  • By sector - Manufacturing & Construction and Motor Retail & Motor Services reported the highest levels of turnover growth at 20.8% and 20% respectively. All nine sectors increased turnover.

"This year's results indicate Norfolk's largest businesses have performed extremely well, outstripping the growth rate of the UK economy as a whole by more than four times.

The significant increases in turnover and profit suggest companies are reaping the rewards of investments made in recent years."

– Toby Wilson, Grant Thornton Accountants

Trade increasing through the Suffolk port of Felixstowe

Freight levels are increasing at Felixstowe Credit: ITV News Anglia

Now we've all been looking for signs of recovery in the economy and there could be one early indicator of growth right here on the East coast.

Trade at the Port of Felixstowe is increasing, so much so that one ferry service is upping its crossings to the continent to meet demand.

The impact is being felt in the wider local economy too.

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Tanya Mercer.

Largest number of homes built in Peterborough since 1989

High number of homes being built in Peterborough in last year Credit: ITV News Anglia

More than 13 hundred homes have been built in Peterborough in the last year, the biggest number since 1989.

The figures, published by the city council, also reveal 500 of those properties are affordable housing.

The area with the most new homes is Stanground - 394 have been built there in the last 12 months.

Extra shipping departures put on by DFDS Seaways

Strong customer demand leads to increase in shipping route Credit: DFDS Seaways

The operator DFDS Seaways has announced it will be running extra departures on the Rotterdam to Felixstowe freight shipping route.

From the 3rd July there will be three round trips made every Friday.

The changes have been made due to strong customer demand.

Felixstowe port Credit: ITV News Anglia

“The extra departures allow customers to speed up their turnaround and thereby better utilize their trailers. It’s our expectation that this will further make the service an indispensable link for our customers who amongst others trade time-sensitive goods like fresh foods and car components.”

– Mikael Mortensen, Route Director at DFDS Seaways
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