The Business Matrix: Monday 15 August 2011

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Asia set to protect Michael Page

Recruitment companies can be useful bellwethers for the state of the economy, so Michael Page’s first-half results, due today, will make interesting reading. Still, while the company may provide further evidence of the slowdown in the pace of the economic recovery in the Western hemisphere, its substantial Asian business should provide it with a cushion.

Reading the runes from the MPC

Wednesday’s publication of the minutes of the most recent meeting of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is expected to show the same voting split as in recent months. Still, the minutes will be picked over for evidence that more MPC members are keen to see a return to quantitative easing as the economy continues to slow.

Mears hoping to keep up good work

Mears specialises in maintenance and repairs to publicly owned social housing stock. It is thus highly vulnerable to government austerity measures. Tomorrow’s interim figures should give some idea of the damage done so far from spending restraints. Still, Mears is maintaining existing stock rather than building new houses, which should help.

Holidaybreak ready to bow out

Holidaybreak’s days as an independent company are numbered after its board recommended a £312m takeover offer from Cox & Kings. Still, the tour operator’s trading update on Thursday is significant given the mixed news from the challenging travel sector over the past few weeks, where Tui has been outperforming Thomas Cook.

BP discovers a skills shortage

A shortage of skilled engineers is threatening to hamper the efforts of BP to boost oil production in the North Sea with a £3bn investment, a senior executive has said. The oil giant is expected to recruit between 150 and 300 jobs a year but admits that one of its biggest problems is finding the right people with the right skills.

Job prospects are bleak, says CIPD

Employment prospects in Britain are fading fast, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Although the CIPD/KPMG survey does show show private-sector growth over the coming quarter, the reading is considerably below last quarter’s. Moreover, the manufacturing sector has slumped.

The value of a university degree

Skandia has released a university millionaires’ league table, showing that two-thirds of UK millionaires are educated to a degree standard and a third achieved a masters. “What we find interesting, though, is that 72 per cent were state school educated, indicating that a privileged background was not a factor,” Skandia comments.

New show for TV boss Lord Grade

A company which specialises in managing live events such as the G20 summit and Papal visit has secured £12m backing from private equity firm Lloyds TSB Development Capital and the services of former BBC Chair Lord Grade. WRG Creative Communications has appointed Lord Grade a non-executive director.

Motorists turning to smaller garages

The high cost of servicing cars is helping suppliers to the independent trade, the latest results from Euro Car Parts Limited suggest. Turnover increased 30.1 per cent. Sukhpal Singh, the company’s chairman, said: “Economic pressures are driving motorists towards independent garages and smaller bodyshops.”

UK inflation set to edge up this week

Inflation is set to show a rise to around 4.4 per cent tomorrow after a short-lived decline in the rate to 4.2 per cent in the previous month’s figures. The inflation increase for July is part of a trend that the Bank of England expects will see the rate reach 5 per cent as steep rises in UK electricity and gas prices come into effect.