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Ineos to unveil multi-million pound fracking plans

Chemical company Ineos is expected to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in fracking in the UK.

The firm is due to outline its plans to produce shale gas for its plant in Grangemouth, Scotland later today.

An Ineos flag above Grangemouth oil refinery in Falkirk. Credit: PA Wire

The company's investment in shale gas could be as much as £640 million, STV News reported.

Fracking, in which water and chemicals are injected into rock at high pressure, is controversial and has sparked numerous protests due to the environmental fears.

Large protests were held in Balcombe in West Sussex last year where energy firm Cuadrilla were test drilling at a potential fracking site.

RBS IT failure affected 10 percent of UK population

A computer systems failure at RBS, Natwest and Ulster Bank in 2012 affected 6.5 million customers - around 10 percent of the entire UK population.

The RBS group was today fined £56 million over the crash.


RBS apologises for 'weakness' in IT system

RBS chairman Philip Hampton has apologised to the bank's customers for the "unacceptable weakness" in its IT systems that left many unable to access their accounts.

Our IT failure in the summer of 2012 revealed unacceptable weaknesses in our systems and caused significant stress for many of our customers. I again want to apologise to all customers in the UK and Ireland that we let down.

I am confident that the progress we have made in increasing the resilience of our IT systems.

– Philip Hampton

Natwest and Ulster Bank fined over IT failures

Natwest and Ulster Bank are among the banks that have been hit with a fine for the Royal Bank of Scotland group over IT failures.

The total fine for RBS - which includes all three banks - is £56 million.

The 2012 computer failure also affected Natwest customers. Credit: PA Wire

The Financial Conduct Authority fined RBS £42m and the Prudential Regulation Authority fined the bank £14m.

The June 2012 computer systems failure left customers at the banks unable to spend or transfer money.

Royal Mail halves expected growth rate as profits fall 21%

The Royal Mail has halved the expected growth rate of its UK parcels market to 1-2% due to fierce competition which helped send first-half operating profit down 21%.

Operating profits fell 21%. Credit: PA

The group, sold off by the government in October 2013, said operating profit before transformation costs for the six months to September 28th fell to £279m, with higher pension costs and the absence of a VAT refund received a year ago also hitting numbers.

The figure was at the top end of an analyst forecast range of £237-279m.

Pricing pressure pushed UK parcels revenue down 1%, with UK letter revenue up 1%.

Group revenue rose 2% to £4.53bn.


Industry experts predict 'massive shortfall in chocolate'

Soaring demand from Asia has contributed to a "massive shortfall" in chocolate, which industry experts say could hit consumers in five years time.

Switzerland's Barry Callebaut Group and Mars both warned supply could fail to meet demand by one million tonnes in 2020.

Master chocolatier Paul Young tried to reassure chocolate lovers on Good Morning Britain that they would still be able to buy their favourite treat.

Cocoa prices rose by a quarter within 12 mouths and peaked in August at £2,000 per tonne.

However, 70% of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa, which is currently battling the Ebola outbreak.

The chaos and quarantine restrictions mean global production has dipped by 0.7 per cent, the London-based International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) said.

But consumers are also getting hungrier for sweet treats - especially in developing nations like China, meaning manufacturers may have no choice but to raise prices.

Inflation expected to stay at five-year low of 1.2%

Inflation is expected to have remained at a five-year low of 1.2%. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Inflation is expected to have remained at a five-year low when official figures are published today, as the prospect that it will head even lower pushes forecasts of an interest rate hike as far back as 2016.

The measure of Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation for October is predicted to have stayed unchanged from the previous month at 1.2%.

The low inflation environment coupled with warnings of gloom about the world economy has led economists to push back expectations for when the Bank will raise interest rates from 0.5%, where they have been held since 2009.

Forex scandal highlights need for banking reform

Banks paid $4.3bn to settle claims they conspired to rig the global currency markets. Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

The foreign exchange (forex) scandal showed the need to maintain pressure on the Government and regulators to implement plans to shake-up the banking sector, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee has said.

Andrew Tyrie and his fellow former members of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards warned that the programme of reform they put forward must not be watered down.

He said the "appalling misconduct" in the forex market exposed how much more work there was to do to improve standards in the City.

Miliband slams 'terrible' Sports Direct employment terms

Ed Miliband has claimed 17,000 of Sports Direct's 20,000 strong workforce are on zero-hours contracts as he attacked the company as a "terrible" employer for some staff.

Ed Miliband pledged that Labour would ban zero-hours contracts. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Speaking in Coventry, the Labour leader said the company "has predictable turnover, it has big profits but, for too many of its employees, Sports Direct is a terrible place to work".

"We cannot go on with an economy that allows businesses to use zero-hours contracts as the standard way of employing people month after month, year after year," he said.

Describing what he calls a "zero-zero economy" - where workers have no guaranteed hours and those at the top pay no tax - Miliband added: "These Victorian practices - the epidemic of zero-hours contracts that we see at Sports Direct - have no place in the 21st century."

According to the Office for National Statistics, around 1.4 million people were on zero-hours contracts in the UK when estimated earlier this year.

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