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The Business Matrix: Friday 18 October 2013

BSkyB broadband makes big gains

BSkyB turned up the heat yesterday on rival BT as the pay-TV giant's broadband customer base smashed through the five million level for the first time. Sky's surging broadband business has added 111,000 subscribers in the past three months and 914,000 in the year. The media giant also has 10.5 million TV subscribers.

Country braced for Bank rate rise

Nearly half of British households think interest rates will rise in the next year, financial data provider Markit said. Its survey of 1,500 people found 44 per cent braced for a rate hike as the economic climate improves, despite the Bank of England's guidance that it will not consider rises until unemployment falls to 7 per cent.

Forecasts cut by half in Germany

Faltering industrial production prompted Germany's four leading economic institutes to halve their growth forecasts for the eurozone powerhouse yesterday. The quartet, which includes Munich's Ifo institute, cut their 2013 forecast from 0.8 per cent to 0.4 per cent and trimmed estimates for next year to 1.8 per cent.

Britvic cashes in after hot summer

The sunny summer made Britons thirsty, and that was good news for Britvic, maker of Robinsons squash and Tango. The drinks giant raised its annual profit expectations – albeit only "slightly" – after fourth-quarter revenues rose 12.8 per cent to £366.4m. The return of Fruit Shoot, which was recalled in July 2012, also helped.

Travis Perkins cements growth

Builders merchant Travis Perkins is being lifted by a more buoyant housing market. The FTSE 100 firm enjoyed double-digit annual growth in its trade divisions as general and specialist merchanting benefited from an upturn in the quarter to October, against a backdrop of recovering housing transactions.

SME confidence at three-year high

Confidence among British firms is at a three-year high, even though half of the country's small and medium-sized enterprises say banks are still not lending enough. The annual Business Index surveyed 11,000 SMEs in 17 countries, and found UK companies were more confident about their own prospects.

Just Retirement set for flotation

Just Retirement, which sells annuities to pensioners, set out plans to raise some £300m in a float on the London Stock Exchange. The firm is the UK's largest provider of annuities, and joins a rush of firms making public offerings this Autumn, including its rival, Partnership.

Nestlé sales 4.4% up since January

The world's biggest food company Nestlé reported accelerating sales growth in Africa and Asia, in sharp contrast to other consumer goods companies such as Unilever. Nestlé said it had seen a "slight pick up" and overall sales were up 4.4 per cent in the first nine months of the year.

Rank hit by hot weather

Gaming group Rank said like-for-like sales fell 7 per cent on a year earlier in the 15 weeks to 13 October, thanks to July's hot weather, a lower casino win margin in London and a disappointing performance in bingo chain Mecca.

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