The Business Matrix: Friday 21 November 2014


Click to follow

Sick pigs push up US ham prices

A deadly diarrhoea virus and fat pigs have led to a ham shortage in the US, just before Thanksgiving and Christmas. US ham prices have jumped 26 per cent this year, according to Bloomberg. Farmers have fed surviving pigs longer to make up for losses due to the virus but the legs are now too big for 7lb holiday hams.

France may tip  EU into recession

France is putting the eurozone at risk of a renewed recession, according to Markit. Its latest snapshot of private sector activity identified France is a “key concern” as private-sector activity fell for the seventh month running. It estimates the eurozone  will grow just 0.1 or 0.2 per cent this quarter.  in the current quarter.

Price-cutting helps lift sales

Retailers’ hopes of a decent Christmas were buoyed yesterday as shoppers threw caution to the wind in October, official figures showed. Retail sales volumes surged 0.8 per cent over the month – more than twice as fast as expected – as shoppers were encouraged by price-cutting despite warmer winter weather.

Young bucks the trend on growth

The London pub and brewery group Young & Co said half-yearly sales had risen by 8 per cent as the capital’s drinkers bucked a nationwide trend that saw other pub companies’ growth slow down after the summer. The group’s headline profits rose 16 per cent to £18.4m for the six months to September, on sales of £117m.

Mothercare will hold line on prices

Mothercare has vowed to avoid blanket discounting in the run up to Christmas as the retailer reported a 1.5 per cent rise in underlying UK sales and cut losses for the six months to 11 October to £13.5m from £14.9m a year ago. Discounts last year led to a massive profit warning and the exit of its boss.

Britain valued at £119,000 a head

The net worth of the UK stood at £7.6trillion at the end of 2013 – equivalent to £119,000 per person, or £289,000 per household. The Office for National Statistics said the key driver of the 4 per cent increase since 2012 was the increasing value of banks, whose net worth jumped by £421bn over the year.

Gatwick boss focuses on jobs

Sir Howard Davies’ decision on airport expansion in South-east England is “whether you want a runway at Gatwick generating jobs, or just another report on Heathrow that will gather dust”, according to Nick Dunn, the finance chief at Gatwick, the UK’s second-biggest airport.

Close lending buoys business

The City bank Close Brothers showed its swings and roundabouts strengths today as strong lending in its traditional business more than countered a slowdown in its broking arm Winterfloods. The bank said it was confident of delivering a good result for the year.

Rising confidence will lift mortgages

Mortgage lending should pick up pace in the new year amid rising confidence and expectations of interest rates staying lower for longer, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said yesterday. It rose by 5 per cent to £19bn last month.

Boards warned to rein in banks

Bank boards need to take a tighter grip on the business to avoid spending their “next away day in Pentonville”, a Bank of England policymaker, Martin Taylor, warned yesterday. Mr Taylor is a former Barclays chief executive.