Monday's business news

Business leaders are urging the Bank of England today not to raise interest rates this week, while the financial services industry are reporting growth.

Business leaders urged the Bank of England today not to raise interest rates this week, arguing that inflation was easing.

The Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) said recent increases were now beginning to take effect.

The group had backed the four increases in interest rates since last August to the current 5.5%, but believed the balance had tipped against further rises.

Earnings growth remained subdued, mortgage approvals were falling and price rises were failing to materialise, said a report.

EEF chief economist Steve Radley said: ``We have supported the Bank all the way through the current cycle of increases. However, we now believe that there are indications that the medicine applied so far is beginning to take effect and the case for another rise is not made.”

The Prince of Wales and former US vice president Al Gore will attend an award ceremony tonight celebrating businesses who have a positive impact on society.

Heir to the throne Charles and Mr Gore are friends through their work to tackle climate change.

The Prince will give a speech and also introduce Mr Gore ahead of the dinner.

The annual Business in the Community (BITC) Awards for Excellence is being held at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The financial services sector reported business growth at its highest level for more than seven years in the last quarter, but tougher times lay ahead, an industry survey revealed today.

In the three months to June, 55% of responding firms said they saw business volumes improve, compared to just 4% who experienced a fall - the strongest positive balance since December 1999.

But the industry believes conditions are turning and expects hardly any business growth in the next three months and a squeeze on profits, according to the latest study by the CBI and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The FTSE-100 index at 11:45am was down 24.5 at 6583.4.

The pound at 12 noon was 2.0103 dollars compared to 2.0050 dollars at the previous close. The euro was 0.6756 pounds compared to 0.6740 pounds at the previous close.

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