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The Business Matrix: Friday 7 June 2013

Car sales roar to six-year high

Car sales returned to their highest May level for six years last month as buyers took advantage of special offers and shifted to more energy-efficient vehicles. Total new registrations rose 11 per cent to 180,111, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said. The biggest factor was a 20.9 per cent increase in private sales.

LME chief quits following sale

Martin Abbott quit as the chief executive of the London Metal Exchange yesterday, six months after triumphantly steering its sale to the Hong Kong-based owners of the world's biggest marketplace for materials such as copper and zinc. The one-time miner, security guard and fashion journalist netted £7m from the exchange's sale.

EE hails 'Europe's fastest 4G take-up'

The mobile phone operator EE claimed yesterday that it had signed up 500,000 customers for its super-fast 4G service in seven months, raising the pressure on rivals including Vodafone, which has pushed back its 4G launch until late summer. EE said it was the "fastest 4G customer take-up in Europe".

EasyJet doubles flyers since 2005

EasyJet has flown more than 60 million passengers in a year for the first time, meaning the FTSE 100 budget airline has doubled its number of fliers since 2005. The airline's passenger numbers grew 3.4 per cent to 5.6 million in May, to hit 60.05 million for the year to date.

US reports fall in jobless claims

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to moderate growth in the jobs market despite slowing economic activity. Initial claims declined by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 346,000.

Prettejohn to join City watchdog

The insurance executive Nick Prettejohn has been appointed to the board of the Prudential Regulation Authority. Mr Prettejohn, the current chairman of Brit Insurance, will resign as a director of Legal & General to take up the role with the new City regulator. His appointment has been approved by the Chancellor, George Osborne.

Unemployment hits 27% in Greece

Unemployment in recession-mired Greece continued its record-setting rise in March, reaching 26.8 per cent, up from a revised 26.7 per cent a month earlier. Official figures set the total number of unemployed in March at 1.3 million. In March 2008, just before Greece's finances imploded, only 390,000 people were jobless.

Shares up 6% at Johnson Matthey

Johnson Matthey shares rose 6 per cent yesterday despite the world's largest maker of catalytic converters posting a 9 per cent fall in profits. The FTSE 100 company's pre-tax profits fell to £389m because of weaker revenues from its precious metals division, which was hit by lower prices.

Park's Flexecash adds new brands

Christmas savings and pre-paid gift card provider Park Group said its Flexecash business had secured contracts with 12 new brands to accept its Love2shop cards, taking the total number of brands to 49. Park said the latest clients include retailer Jane Norman.

Lonmin on alert after strike threat

The platinum producer Lonmin has increased security at its South African mines as tensions rise again. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has threatened to down tools next week if it is not recognised as the majority union.

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