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LLOYDS BANKING GROUP PARTNERS GROUND-BREAKING MATCH TRADING™ FUNDING MODEL FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS

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LLOYDS BANKING GROUP PARTNERS GROUND-BREAKING MATCH TRADING™ FUNDING MODEL FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS

A ground-breaking new funding model for social entrepreneurs launches today, developed by School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) with the support of pioneer partners Lloyds Banking Group and National Lottery Funding through the Big Lottery Fund.

Match Trading™ incentivises social entrepreneurs to grow their business through trading, so they become more sustainable. Match Trading grants match, pound-for-pound, an increase in trading income. Lloyds Banking Group is the first financial institution to support this type of innovation to help social entrepreneurs to sustain and grow their businesses, through providing crucial funding and business mentoring support. Through supporting social entrepreneurs, the partnership delivers a key target within the Group’s commitment to help Britain prosper.

Match Trading grants empower social entrepreneurs to double their income from trading (up to the amount of Match Trading grant on offer). Match Trading has already run a successful pilot with a cohort of social entrepreneurs on the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme, run in partnership with School for Social Entrepreneurs, and jointly funded by National Lottery Funding through the Big Lottery Fund. The social entrepreneurs achieved on average 92% year-on-year increase in trading income, when offered a Match Trading grant of up to £7,000, and supported by a 14-day learning programme. Match Trading will support at least 500 more social entrepreneurs over the next five years.

Match Trading helps social entrepreneurs to increase the viability of their organisations by incentivising them to explore new markets, test out new trading methods and diversifying income streams. This more entrepreneurial approach to their business sees less reliance on traditional grant funding and encourages sustainable business behaviours.

Fiona Cannon OBE, Group Director of Responsible Business and Inclusion, Lloyds Banking Group, said:

“We are proud that Lloyds Banking Group is leading the way in supporting social entrepreneurs. We know that funding can be a real challenge for start-up businesses and this pioneering new model will allow us to help drive entrepreneurial behaviours, while increasing business sustainability and trading income. Through helping them to deliver for their community and the wider economy, we can also deliver on our commitment to helping Britain prosper.”

Alistair Wilson, CEO of School for Social Entrepreneurs said:

“We have worked in partnership with Lloyds Banking Group for over five years and it is fantastic to have them on board as we launch Match Trading. Lloyds Banking Group provides the crucial support we need to deliver this innovation in grant-funding to hundreds of social entrepreneurs. We have developed Match Trading to bolster the sustainability of social enterprises – organisations that are a vital lifeline for the most vulnerable in society, and that positively impact communities and the environment.”

Lloyds Banking Group already supports social entrepreneurs through the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme, run in partnership with SSE and jointly funded by Big Lottery Fund. The programme supports entrepreneurs starting or scaling a social business for the benefit of their community through the provision of a 14-day learning programme with SSE, a year-long Lloyds Banking Group mentoring support and grant of up to £10,000 to support their business. Through the programme, Lloyds Banking Group will support 2,350 social entrepreneurs to start and scale a social business by 2020.

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Tech demand drives Asia’s factory revival, China’s slowdown puts dampener

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Tech demand drives Asia's factory revival, China's slowdown puts dampener 1

By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – Solid demand for technology goods drove extended growth in Asia’s factories in February, but a slowdown in China underscored the challenges facing the region as it seeks a sustainable recovery from the shattering COVID-19 pandemic blow.

The vaccine rollouts globally and pick-up in demand provided optimism for a vast number of businesses that had grappled for months with a cash-flow crunch and falling profits.

In Japan, manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in over two years while South Korea’s exports rose for a fourth straight month in February, suggesting the region’s export-reliant economies were benefiting from robust global trade.

On the flip side, China’s factory activity grew at the slowest pace in nine months in February, hit by a domestic flare-up of COVID-19 and soft demand from countries under renewed lock-down measures.

“The big picture, supported by the latest figures, is that China’s growth remains fairly robust, but it is slowing from previously very rapid rates,” Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients.

China’s was the first major economy to lead the recovery from the COVID-19 shock, so any signs of prolonged cooling in Asia’s engine of growth will likely be a cause for concern.

With the global rebound still in early days, however, analysts say the outlook was brightening as companies increased output to restock inventory on hopes vaccine rollouts will normalise economic activity.

“The recovery in durable-goods demand is continuing, which is creating a positive cycle for manufacturers in Asia,” said Shigeto Nagai, head of Japan economics as Oxford Economics.

“As vaccine rollouts ease uncertainties over the outlook, capital expenditure will gradually pick up. That will benefit Japan, which is strong in exports of capital goods,” he said.

China’s Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.9 in February, the lowest level since last May but still above the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction.

That was in line with official manufacturing PMI that showed factory activity in the world’s second-largest economy expanded in February at the weakest pace since May last year.

Activity in other Asian giants remained brisk.

The final au Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) jumped to 51.4 in February from the prior month’s 49.8 reading, marking the fastest expansion since December 2018, data showed on Monday.

In South Korea, a regional exports bellwether, shipments jumped 9.5% in February from a year earlier for its fourth straight month of increase on continued growth in memory chip and car sales.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam also saw manufacturing activity expand in February, a sign the region was gradually recovering from the initial hit of the pandemic. (This story corrects to add name of institution linked to analyst comment in paragraph 5)

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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China’s factory activity growth slips to nine-month low – Caixin PMI

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China's factory activity growth slips to nine-month low - Caixin PMI 2

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s factory activity expanded at the slowest pace in nine months in February as weak overseas demand and coronavirus flare-ups weighed on output, adding pressure on the country’s labour market, a business survey showed on Monday.

The slowdown in the manufacturing sector underscores the fragility of the ongoing economic recovery in China, although domestic COVID-19 cases have since been stamped out and analysts expect a strong rebound in full-year growth.

The results back an official survey released over the weekend showing China’s factory activity expanded at the weakest pace since last May.

February also saw the Lunar New Year holidays, when many workers return to their hometowns, although this year saw far fewer trips amid coronavirus fears.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.9 last month, the lowest level since last May.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the index to remain unchanged from January’s reading of 51.5. The 50-mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

“Overseas demand continued to drag down overall demand…Surveyed manufacturers highlighted fallout from domestic flare-ups of Covid-19 in the winter as well as the overseas pandemic,” said Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, in comments released alongside the data.

A sub-index for production fell to 51.9, the slowest pace of expansion since April last year, while another sub-index for new orders fell to 51.0, the lowest since May.

Export orders shrank for the second month. Factories laid off workers for the third month, and at a faster pace, with Wang noting “companies were not in a hurry to fill vacancies.”

An index of confidence in the year ahead rose however to 63.0, the highest since October. Input and output prices continued to rise albeit at a slower pace.

“Now the major challenge for policymakers will be maintaining the post-coronavirus recovery while paying close attention to inflation,” Wang added.

Analysts from HSBC this week forecast that China’s economy would grow 8.5% this year, leading the global recovery from the pandemic.

(Reporting By Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Ana Nicolaci)

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Oil prices climb after progress on huge U.S. stimulus bill

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Oil prices climb after progress on huge U.S. stimulus bill 3

By Jessica Jaganathan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose more than $1 on Monday on optimism in the global economy thanks to progress in a huge U.S. stimulus package and on hopes for improving oil demand as vaccines are rolled out.

Brent crude futures for May rose $1.07, or 1.7%, to $65.49 per barrel by 0042 GMT. The April contract expired on Friday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures jumped $1.10, or 1.8%, to $62.60 a barrel.

“Oil prices are recovering this morning in line with most risk assets on the back of the U.S. stimulus bill passing the House and as central banks continue to sabre rattle to ward off market-implied financial tightening,” Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi, wrote in a note on Monday.

U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package early Saturday. Democrats who control the chamber approved the sweeping measure by a mostly party-line vote of 219 to 212 and sent it to the Senate, where Democrats planned a legislative manoeuvre to allow them to pass it without the support of Republicans.

More positive news on the coronavirus vaccination front and signs of an improving Asian economy also boosted prices.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel voted unanimously on Sunday to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 shot for widespread use, and U.S. officials said initial shipments would start on Sunday.

J&J expects to ship more than 20 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by midyear, enough to vaccinate nearly a third of Americans.

Over in Japan, a private survey showed factory activity expanding at the fastest pace in over two years in February, adding to signs of a rebound in Asian growth.

On the flip side, investors are betting that this week’s meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, a group known as OPEC+, will result in more supply returning to the market.

“More supply needs to come onto the market to ensure OPEC+ meets incremental demand and keeps internal discipline ducks in a row,” Innes added.

(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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