A breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations led to a six-month spike in the price of the pound against the Euro, while it remained flat on the dollar.
Agreement on the Irish border issue in the EU meant that there was some light at the end of the Brexit trade tunnel, and the pound rallied.
The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has had a turbulent few weeks, reaching peaks during the month and dropping by about 6% by the end of this week.
Despite the drop, the currency is still expected to keep increasing in the long term, predicting its value would hit $50,000 to $100,000 within 18 months. Investors are reporting that the general public is fuelling the surge by buying the currency in unprecedented numbers.
In pensions, British Airways announced that it is closing its defined benefits pension in agreement with unions and its employees.
A new company pension scheme will open on 1 April to replace its DB scheme.
The airline announced in September that it would close its New Airways Pension Scheme (NAPS), and it is now closing its main UK defined contribution scheme, the British Airways Retirement Plan (BARP).
On closing NAPS, BA said: “Since 2003, the airline has pumped £3.5bn into NAPS, but the deficit — resulting from record-low interest rates and increased life expectancy — had risen to £3.7bn by March this year.”
In mortgages, following the scrapping of stamp duty for first time buyers in England, banks have slashed their interest rates to attract new buyers to the market.
Yorkshire Building Society and Virgin Money have introduced new products and dropped their rates for first time buyers with at least a 5% deposit. The mortgage deals also offer cashback incentives.
Meanwhile, the UK’s largest mortgage lender Halifax, is reporting that the growth in house prices is continuing to slow down.
Average prices increased by 3.9% in the year to the end of November, down from 4.5% in October. It says that the average price of a home in the UK is now £226,821; and that prices are likely to slow down even further in the coming months, as wages fail to increase in line with inflation.
But some mortgage lenders believe that the slow down is more than Halifax is reporting. Nationwide said house prices had risen by 2.5% over the past year, which is lower than the rate of inflation. The CPI is 3% in the year to October.