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Business briefing: House prices at record as stamp duty is eased

AVERAGE house prices in the UK reached a record £245,000 in September, an annual rise of 4.7 per cent, figures show.

Those in England were up to £262,000, Wales to £171,000, Scotland to £162,000 and Northern Ireland to £143,000.

London hit £496,000 but south-west England saw the largest rise — 6.4 per cent to £275,000. It shows the impact of stamp duty holidays in England and Northern Ireland until next March, matched by cuts in Scotland and Wales, which the Office for National Statistics said ‘may allow sellers to request higher prices’.

Cost of food sparks an inflation jump to 0.7%

INFLATION saw a higher-than-expected increase to 0.7 per cent in October as food and clothing prices jumped, figures show.

The rise in the Consumer Prices Index last month, from 0.5 per cent in September, came despite forecasts that it would stay flat.

Economists at the Office for National Statistics said clothing and footwear prices increased by 2.5 per cent, rebounding after heavy discounting through the summer, while food prices — particularly for vegetables and fruit — also ‘bounced back’ from deflation in September.

RSA strikes £7.2billion consortium takeover

THE RSA Insurance Group has agreed to a £7.2billion takeover.

The More Than owner has settled on a cash offer that will see Canada’s Intact Financial Corporation and Danish insurer Tryg pay 686p a share and an 8p dividend, the consortium said.

It represents a 51 per cent rise on RSA’s closing share price on November 4 — the day before takeover plans were revealed.

Intact will pay £4.2billion for RSA’s UK, Canadian and international operations, while Tryg pays £3billion for its Swedish and Norwegian arm.

They will both co-own the Danish businesses as Scandinavian ones are spun-off.

SSE suffers £115m loss as virus hits demand

ENERGY giant SSE saw half-year profits fall by £115million after lockdown restrictions impacted on customer demand and new supply connections.

But it has vowed to forge ahead with a £7.5billion investment plan in renewables and electricity networks.