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Second yuan devaluation; UK jobless steady

yuanWed close: Britain’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.6% after an unexpected rise in the three months to May while wage growth fell by more than expected to hit its lowest in three months in June.

Markets were sent into a tailspin over the decision by China’s Central Bank to make a second devaluation of the yuan just 24 hours after its record 1.9% downgrade.

Asian markets plummeted, but the bank sought to calm fears, saying it was not the start of a sustained devaluation. It was designed to boost struggling exports from the world’s second biggest economy. Chinese exports fell more than 8% in July.

The FTSE100 closed down 105.77 pts at 6,558.77.

Overnight in the US the Dow fell 212 points to close at 17,403, the Nasdaq lost 65 points at 5,037 and the S&P 500 was off 20 points at 2,084.

In early trade in Asia today, the Nikkei was down 379 points at 20,342 and the Hang Seng had fallen 538 points to 23,960.

WTI crude oil traded at $42.9 a barrel and Brent at $48.84.

Gold settled at $1,109.9 an ounce.

Balfour Beatty has scrapped its interim dividend as pre-tax losses widened in the first half of 2015.
The construction firm posted a first-half pre-tax loss of £150m, two and a half times the size of the £58m the year before, although it said this was in line with its expectations.

The company held back from paying an interim dividend, having paid out 5.6p per share the year before.

Balfour admitted it had struggled the over the past few years after entering contracts which were ultimately unprofitable, but it now said 90% of those contracts were expected to be completed or settled by the end of 2016. Revenue was static at £4.19 billion from £4.22bn.

Chief executive Leo Quinn said in a statement: “Inevitably the headline numbers set out the consequences of the historic issues that are now being tackled.”

Shares in the company fell by 3.06% to 244p in early trade.

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