Morning papers: UK growth prospects ‘sombre’

The World Bank raised the alarm over the UK’s “sombre” prospects today as it took an axe to growth forecasts, reports the Independent.

The organisation’s latest global outlook report pencils in 1.1 per cent growth for the UK this year, well below its 1.6 per cent forecast in June last year and also below the Office for Budget Responsibility’s own 1.2 per cent prediction. The report’s downbeat comments are likely to heighten fears of a triple-dip recession.

One in five shops empty on high street putting 17,000 jobs at risk

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The unfolding bloodbath on the High Street threatens to leave nearly one in five shops around the country empty, experts warned last night, reports the Daily Mail.

DVD rental firm Blockbuster yesterday became the latest household name to collapse since New Year following the high profile failures of HMV and Jessops. The rash of administrations in January comes hot on the heels of the meltdown of electricals chain Comet and shoe store Stead & Simpson in December.

UK financial sector ‘at risk’ if country leaves EU

Swedish finance minister Anders Borg has said it is crucial to keep Britain at the centre of the EU and warned that a UK exit could threaten London’s position as a key financial centre, reports the Daily Telegraph.

City grandees at war with Vince Cable over EU referendum

Senior City allies of chancellor George Osborne will go to war with Vince Cable today over a referendum on Britain’s place in the EU, reports the Daily Mail.

In a provocative intervention the day before David Cameron’s key speech on our future relations with Europe, business secretary Mr Cable will warn it is a “terrible time” for the “diversion and uncertainty” that will be caused to businesses by a referendum pledge.

Eurozone inflation stays above ECB target

The eurozone’s annual rate of inflation remained above the ECB’s target in December at 2.2 per cent, in spite of a drop in energy prices across the currency area’s 17 members, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Europe drawn into global currency wars as slump deepens

The world is edging closer to all out currency conflict as Europe’s politicians join a chorus of policy-makers across the globe pushing for devaluations to fight for market share, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Bank rules hit UK property developers

UK commercial property developers are facing sharply higher costs and are likely to have to scrap many projects outside London as a result of tough new capital rules being imposed on British banks by the FSA, reports the Financial Times.

Research rewrites global trade data

The US trade deficit with China is much smaller than current official data suggest, according to a year-long study that transforms the global picture of trade imbalances between countries, reports the Financial Times.