City&FinanceBriefing Inbrief Pawn giant in a surge as the recession bitesCash-strapped Britons are still feeling the recession and flocking to swap valuables for cash, the UKs biggest pawnbroker said today. h&t, which has more than 120 high street branches with almost a third in London, said its retail stores were trading well ahead of current market expectations. the chain, whose pledge book is almost entirely devoted to gold and diamond-set jewellery, said since June it had benefited considerably from higher gold purchasing volumes. h&t typically charges customers 8%-10% a month for cash advances. It then sells the goods on, either through its stores or as a commodity. In a bid to cash in from a reces- sion-fuelled surge in the number of Britons looking to pawn valuables or use branches for unsecured loans, h&t opened 56 branches in shopping centres this year. the firm said they were trading well, and it expects to open another 12. But the board admitted concern that cur- rent volumes may not be sustainable meant it had not locked into long leases. the total number of pawn shops in the UK has risen 25% to 1000 in the past five years. BY lucY toBin Bonuses boost winter house buying hopes EstatE agents are pinning their hopes on a surge in activity during the winter as City bankers plough lavish bonus payments into the housing market. Upmarket firm savills today said that interest in homes worth up to 5 million is growing as City high-flyers plan what to do with their bumper payouts, just a year after the financial system teetered on the brink of collapse. However, agents said that City buyers are more cautious than they were in previous booms having been scarred by the recent turmoil. there has also been a significant upturn in the buy-to-let market where demand among landlords for houses -- but not, it seems, for flats -- is on the increase, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered surveyors. James Morrison, who works for savills in its Wimbledon sales office, expects things to start moving over the next month or so. He said: the City buyers are more likely to begin their search in about four to six weeks time with a view to buying when their bonus is paid early next year. I think this year the City buyers will be a little more cautious. Charlie Bubear, in savillss Knightsbride office, said: theres a sense that this money is coming but nobody is spending it yet. there are definitely more bankers out looking but I am yet to see my first Goldman sachs buyer. Newhotel is going for gold aNOther hotel has joined the rush to develop five-star accommodation in London to cope with expected demand at the 2012 Olympics. the 100million, 254- room, six-storey InterContinental in Westminster, due to open in late 2011, will occupy the 19th-century former Queen annes Chambers near New scotland Yard. Other top-of-the-range hotels are planned for st pancras, the strand, Northumberland avenue and London Bridge. Australia Dollars 1.7027 Canada Dollars 1.6660 Denmark Kroner 7.8533 Eurozone Euro 1.0584 Hong Kong Dollars 12.2300 Japan Yen 145.4400 New Zealand Dollars 2.0502 South Africa Rand 11.5400 Sweden Kronor 10.8500 Switzerland Francs 1.5972 UAE Dirham 5.7318 United States Dollars 1.5882 TourisT raTes UP 6.91 at 5249.96 fTse 100 dow joNes Nikkei -$ DOWN 109.13 at 9972.18 UP 79.63 at 10,362.62 DOWN 0 .11 at $1.6297 >>for all the latest City share prices, call 0905 817 1694* or visit * Calls cost 75p/min from a BT landline & last approx 1 min per quote. Not all stocks are available Minersdeath stallsproduction l A MINERS death at Kellingsley colliery will cause UK Coal to miss production targets for the year. The 46-year-old died at the mine eight days ago after equipment collapsed on him and the Health & Safety Executive ordered the mine to be at a standstill since 23 October. That, said UK Coal, will mean production of 6.2 million tonnes for the year against a hoped-for 6.6 million. gold rush: hard-pressed punters are keen to cash in valuables oil price dives on profit-taking l OIl fell below $80 a barrel today as investors took profits from last weeks one-year high on concerns about the global economys strength. The price of crude fell 92 cents to $79.57 in New York having surged above $80 a barrel. The market is cautious about pushing oil prices higher because economy is still fragile, said Ryuichi Sato of Mizuho Corporate Bank. Bosses salaries surging ahead l THE bosses of Britains top companies have seen their salaries surge by 7.4% in the past year, more than twice the rate of their employees pay. FTSE 100 chief executives also raked in average bonuses of more than 500,000, even though payouts have been cut by 29%, a report from pay research group Incomes Data Services shows. its payback time for iNG l DUTCH bank ING has launched a 7.5 billion (6.9 billion) rights issue to help pay back the 10 billion it received in government state aid. It will also split itself in two in a restructuring deal with the European Commission, transforming itself over the next four years into a smaller, Europe-focused bank. 38 Monday, 26 October 2009 London Lite index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html44.html45.html46.html47.html