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The Business Matrix: Monday 3 December 2012


November rain led to high street gloom

The foul weather in late November decimated footfall along the high street. Underlying sales fell by 0.2 per cent last month, with fashion and homewares chains worst hit, according to BDO's High Street Sales Tracker. Underlying fashion sales tumbled 6.9 per cent in the final week of the month, after a strong start.

Disasters worse than rogue workers

Environmental disasters or product recalls hit companies' values more than the actions of rogue workers or illegal corporate activity, according to a study by the lawyers Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The analysis shows that while rogue employee activity can cause share prices to crash temporarily the drop in share prices after a disaster can prove lengthy.

Top engineer calls for council bonds

The Chancellor should encourage councils to fund infrastructure projects by using Government-backed municipal bonds, according to Tom Bishop, chairman of the CrossRail contractor URS. He hopes George Osborne's Autumn Statement will look at alternative financial models to bolster investment in infrastructure.

Improving Tesco back in favour

Tesco is finding some fans again. It fell out of favour with investors after a profit warning, but analysts are starting to fancy it again ahead of its management statement on Wednesday. Jefferies' scribes think it is time to buy Tesco, and have given it a 400p share-price target. They said: "UK stores look much improved."

Mulberry hopes to bag better news

The Somerset-based bag maker Mulberry has been trying to pitch itself more upmarket, and in the process has lost sales. On Thursday it will update the market with its half-year results, and with better news coming out of China, a key area for growth for the brand, analysts expect a clearer indication of margins.