The pound is at its highest level since before Christmas

The pound is climbing on Monday, reaching its highest level in more than a month as a continued slide in the dollar helps currencies around the world.

Just after 11.15 a.m. GMT (6.15 a.m. ET) sterling is higher by around 0.65% on the greenback to trade at $1.2452, higher than at any point since December 19.

Here's the chart:

Screen Shot 2017 01 23 at 11.18.09

Further weakness from the dollar comes after Trump's first address as president on Friday highlighted his "America first" policies that were short on specific proposals, and disappointed investors hoping for details on his plans to stoke growth, spend on infrastructure and reduce taxes.

After a sharp rally following Trump's November election that propelled it 3% higher for the month, the dollar gave up some of those gains against a backdrop of uncertainty surrounding the new president's policies.

That fall in the dollar coincides with strength from the pound after Prime Minister Theresa May finally gave the markets a tiny bit of clarity on the UK's position going into Brexit.

May confirmed Britain will leave the European Single Market, signalling Britain is heading towards a "hard Brexit" — shorthand for an EU exit that takes the country out of both the European Single Market and Customs Union in order to gain full control over EU immigration to the UK.

Traders and forecasters remain divided on sterling's future path in 2017, with many seeing further weakness on top of the currency's near 16% fall since the referendum, while others believe that the pound is now undervalued, and will rise over the course of 2017 as the Brexit picture becomes clearer.

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There are more ‘romance scam’ victims than ever — and people were defrauded out of £39 million in 2016

trader banker laptop

A total of 3,889 victims were defrauded out of £39 million from online-dating fraud in 2016 according to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, the BBC reports.

Each victim loses £10,000 on average, the deputy head of the UK's cybercrime reporting centre Action Fraud told the BBC. And the number of victims has risen from 2,824 in 2013, figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau show.

Masking as a love interest, the so-called "romance scam" fraudsters build up trust with their victims and then ask them for money "for a variety of emotive reasons," Action Fraud says on its website.

By inventing scenarios they coerce their victims into sending over funds. Typical scenarios are that they need funds for a flight home as a military personnel based overseas, for surgery or other medical-related issues, or to fund a visit to see the victim, according to Action Fraud.

And they insist on communicating via instant messaging and texts instead of the website on which they find their victims, this is one of Action Fraud's "tell-tale signs."

A single mother from North Yorkshire is now facing bankruptcy after losing more than £300,000. A fraudster she met on Match.com claimed he had been mugged and that his son needed surgery, "... then it was money for food, money needed to pay rent, money for taxes to get out of Turkey." she told the BBC.

Action Fraud provides the following online safety advice:

  • Criminals who commit romance fraud trawl through profiles and piece together information such as wealth and lifestyle, in order to manipulate their victims.
  • Police can investigate and help to provide support, but often cannot get the money back.
  • It is very simple for fraudsters to cover their tracks by masking IP addresses and using unregistered phone numbers.
  • Never send money to someone online you have never met.
  • Think twice about posting personal information which could be used to manipulate or bribe you.

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The 10 most expensive cities to live in around the world in 2017

Los Angeles

LONDON — The most expensive cities to live in around the world in 2017 have been revealed in the 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2017.

The study analysed 406 metropolitan housing markets in nine countries — Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States — in the third quarter of 2016.

Using the "mean multiple" approach — the median house price divided by the median household income — the data shows that the most "severely unaffordable major housing markets" are in Australia, New Zealand, Chia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Oliver Hartwich, executive director of the think tank behind the research, The New Zealand Initiative, said: "The number of severely unaffordable major housing markets rose from 26 to 29. We need to tackle housing affordability urgently because the effects of unaffordable housing on society are becoming more visible by the day... We should not accept extreme price levels in our housing markets. High house prices are not a sign of city's success but a sign of failure to deliver the housing that its citizens need."

Scroll down to see the 10 most expensive cities to live in around the world in 2017.

10. Bournemouth & Dorset, UK: A "severely unaffordable" market in previous surveys, the area of Bournemouth & Dorset is the 10th most expensive place to live around the world.



9. San Francisco, US: The California city came in 9th, with a median multiple — median house price divided by median household income — of 9.2.



8. Los Angeles, US: In LA, house prices rose the equivalent of 14 months in household income in only 12 months, giving it a median multiple of 9.3 and putting it in 8th place.



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After a record-breaking start to the year, the FTSE 100 is actually down for 2017

London Stock Exchange

LONDON — Britain's benchmark share index, the FTSE 100, slipped into negative territory for the year on Monday, meaning it now stands below where it ended 2016.

The FTSE 100 went on an unmatched run at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, closing higher on 14 consecutive trading days and celebrating 12 all-time closing highs in a row.

That record-breaking run was driven by the FTSE's inverse relationship with the pound: when sterling is weak, the FTSE is strong, and vice versa.

About 70% of the revenue earned by FTSE 100 companies is derived abroad, meaning they make more money when sterling is weak, and less when it is strong. That is because the index is full of mining companies, oil firms, and pharmaceutical giants that use the UK as a base but tend to denominate their assets in dollars. Exporters also prefer a weak pound: It makes their goods cheaper than international competitors. That relationship is explained by JP Morgan Asset Management here.

Sterling has rallied in recent weeks thanks to a combination of a weak dollar, driven by market uncertainty surrounding President Trump's policies, and optimism surrounding UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit policy.

The FTSE hit a low of 7,130 points on Monday morning, around 12 points lower than its opening level on 2017's first trading day, January 3. As of 10.10 a.m. GMT (5.10 a.m. ET) the index has pulled a little higher, and is trading at 7,153 points, a fall of 0.64% on the day.

Here's how the Footsie looks:Screen Shot 2017 01 23 at 10.08.12

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Take a look inside London’s underground Fort Knox – where the wealthy go to store their valuables

London Fort Knox1LONDON – The world is becoming less certain and those with wealth are focused on safeguarding it.

With that in mind, London developer Amazon Property (no relation to the online retailer) opened the £30-million Armitage Vaults 40 feet below the city's West End.

The vaults have 10,000 square feet of storage space encased in one metre thick ferrous-concrete, and insurance to cover items worth up to £10 million. 

Both businesses and private clients have signed up to use the facilities.

Tom Archer, operations Director of Amazon Property said: “The facility is new, however we have already had significant interest and the vaults are already 20% let, with 75% of users being from the UK, the remainder are international. Around 50% of the tenants are wealthy private clients, the balance are businesses.”

Take a look inside.

The “secret entrance” off Bolsover Street, has ground-level special video-entry security doors, monitored by security, which lead into a manned security room, cameras and loading bay.



The bay opens into a special goods lift which goes down to the underground facility. Clients can store anything from tourist luggage and valuables to luxury items such as high-value artworks, jewellery, antiques and wine.



There are 135 steel lined, climate controlled, storage units ranging from 6 to 100 square feet in size. The site’s insurance facility covers stored items valued from £50,000 to £150,000.



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