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Bitcoin: 'I'm part of a crazy wave'

Bitcoin: 'I'm part of a crazy wave' In its early days, Bitcoin might have been dismissed as a quirky tech sector fad. But it is rapidly evolving into the mainstream and has already made some people rich. If once Bitcoin was seen as a tool for money launderers and drug dealers, it has recently become as commonplace a topic at middle-class dinner parties as house prices. There are advertisements on the London Underground proposing ways to invest. It’s been on the newspaper front pages. There are anecdotes of taxi drivers…

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Is Trump the WTO's biggest threat?

Is Trump the WTO's biggest threat? Is the World Trade Organization about to be derailed by Donald Trump? Ministers from its 164 member nations will meet in Buenos Aires this weekend as the guardian of global commerce seeks to oil the wheels of international trade. The WTO is at the heart of the system of rules for international trade. It’s the forum for sorting disputes between countries about breaches of global trade rules and it’s the forum for negotiating new trade liberalisation. President Trump doesn’t much like it. His scepticism…

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US jobs growth stronger than expected

US jobs growth stronger than expected US jobs growth was better than expected in November, with payrolls rising by 228,000. Service, health care and manufacturing firms helped to drive the gains, holding the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%. Economists had expected an increase of about 200,000 jobs, but early festive season hiring and a rebound after two hurricanes earlier this year helped to boost growth. Wages increased by 2.5% year-on-year. The report follows other recent data suggesting that the US economy is in good shape. US economic growth has…

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Three football clubs 'shamed' for underpaying staff

Three football clubs 'shamed' for underpaying staff Three Scottish football clubs have been “named and shamed” for underpaying staff. Motherwell, Greenock Morton and Falkirk were on a list of employers not paying the minimum wage. A list of 28 employers breaching pay rules in Scotland was released by the UK government as part of its campaign to force employers to pay workers properly. The companies had to refund a total of £116,697 to 92 workers. It was the 13th time such a list has been compiled, with more workers receiving…

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Business 

CBI: Business needs more Brexit clarity

CBI: Business needs more Brexit clarity More clarity on the Brexit transition is needed to stop companies proceeding with contingency plans despite the progress announced on Friday, the CBI has warned. Paul Drechsler, president of the business lobby group, said companies had begun triggering plans months ago. However, more detail could help suspend further action by firms, he said. Sterling was trading higher at just under $1.35 and €1.15 after the announcement in Brussels on Friday. The CBI chief also called for “unconditionality” about the status of EU citizens living…

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Bitcoin crosses through $17,000 as concerns mount

Bitcoin crosses through ,000 as concerns mount Bitcoin briefly crossed through the $17,000 (£12,615) mark in volatile Asian trading, extending its record-breaking run. The cryptocurrency has soared about 70% this week according to Coindesk.com, despite fresh warnings of a dangerous bubble. Its dramatic rise has been likened to a “charging train with no brakes”. As concerns mount, an industry group has warned plans to start bitcoin futures trading were “rushed through”. In a choppy Asian session, the digital currency breached new highs before falling back to about $16,000. Critics have…

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Fire risk fridges: Standards are deficient, says Which?

Fire risk fridges: Standards are deficient, says Which? Householders are being warned that current safety standards for fridges and fridge-freezers may be “deficient”, creating a potential fire risk. Consumer group Which? says new, tighter standards due by 2019 should be brought in much faster. The body responsible for those standards said it was working hard to introduce them as quickly as possible. In the meantime, Which? says, the current tests used are insufficient and do not replicate a real house fire. In more stringent testing it carried out itself, Which?…

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Fake pants seized in Christmas crackdown on counterfeits

Fake pants seized in Christmas crackdown on counterfeits Border officials have seized £1.5m worth of counterfeit Calvin Klein pants, along with fake Dyson fans, Superdry hoodies and Nike shoes. The authorities are using the hauls to highlight the risk of buying cut-price, substandard counterfeits at Christmas. The Intellectual Property Office is also using humour to fight the fakes. It has created a Youtube series in which a couple sing about their 12 days of rashes, injuries and humiliation due to dodgy Christmas gifts. The daily updates feature warnings about “copy…

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Primark and Sports Direct named for underpaying staff

Primark and Sports Direct named for underpaying staff Primark and Sports Direct have had to pay thousands of pounds back to staff for paying them below the minimum wage. The retailers had to repay the most of 260 firms named on the government’s list for paying their staff below the legal minimum. Primark had to repay £231,973.12 mainly due to charging staff for uniforms. Sports Direct, and two staff agencies it used, had to pay back a total of £1.1m to their workers. All firms said the issues were now…

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Business 

Hedge funds embrace machine learning—up to a point

Hedge funds embrace machine learning—up to a point ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) has already changed some activities, including parts of finance like fraud prevention, but not yet fund management and stock-picking. That seems odd: machine learning, a subset of AI that excels at finding patterns and making predictions using reams of data, looks like an ideal tool for the business. Yet well-established “quant” hedge funds in London or New York are often sniffy about its potential. In San Francisco, however, where machine learning is so much part of the furniture the…

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