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The Business Matrix: Saturday 28 May 2011

House price dead calm continues

House prices crept up slightly in May, Nationwide reported. The 0.3 per cent rise cancelled out a fall the previous month. Overall, prices are still 1.2 per cent below where they were a year ago. The less volatile three-month- on-three-month measure showed prices barely moving, mirroring “lacklustre trends in the wider economy”.

FSA raises cap on compensation

Banks, insurers and investment managers will be liable to pay £50,000 more in compensation to consumers they are judged to have wronged from next year. The Financial Services Authority has raised the maximum amount that can be awarded by the Financial Ombudsman in redress to consumers from £100,000 to £150,000.

Sparkling sales boost Britvic

Britons are drinking more fizzy drinks as they trade down from premium juices, according to Britvic. The maker of Robinsons, Tango, and J2O said fizzy drink sales rose 4.7 per cent over the six months to the middle of April. But its profits for the half-year were flat at £27.7m due to a sharp rise in the cost of commodities such as sugar and oil.

Japan faces credit rating downgrade

Japan’s fiscal reform plan is too leisurely and the government must strengthen it to improve its credit outlook, a senior Fitch Ratings official said after the agency cut its outlook for the country. However, in better news, the country registered its first move out of deflation for two years last month, with inflation rising to 0.6 per cent.

Severn Trent has hits and misses

Severn Trent has reported a smaller-than-expected drop in annual profit, as higher water consumption offset lower prices. Lower prices and higher costs hurt underlying pretax profit, which fell 14.7 per cent to £288.6m, but still beat estimates of £276.7m. However the utility missed its water leakage targets.

Barnier denies banking rethink

Michel Barnier, the EU’s internal markets commissioner, has rejected claims he plans to water down banking reforms. “Europe will implement Basel III – we have said it before and I confirm it to you; the Commission’s proposals to implement Basel III will respect the balance and ambition included in Basel III.”

Arqiva to shut down Seesaw

Seesaw, the online video service, is set to close unless a buyer emerges in the next month, after its parent company deemed that it was too costly to keep running. Arqiva, the broadcast transmissions group, sent out an appeal for a partner in February to help carry the cost of the service. But it has failed to find an investor.

Dubens adds to Time Out stake

Oakley Capital, the private equity firm firm run by the entreprenuer Peter Dubens, has bought a majority stake in Time OutNew York to complement its investment in Time Out London. The firm has invested £14.2m in Time Out New York, after putting £11.3m into Time Out London in November.

Slump in North Sea oil production

North Sea oil production has slowed to its lowest level since records began 15 years ago following the Chancellor’s recent tax raid on the industry. An update from the Department of Energy yesterday showed the biggest fall in oil production since quarterly records started in 1995.

Cairn’s deal with Vedanta delayed

An Indian ministerial panel will refer Vedanta Resources’ $9.6bn (£5.82bn) plan to buy Cairn Energy’s India assets back to the Indian cabinet in two weeks, further delaying a deal widely seen as a litmus test for foreign investment. The panel has unanimously agreed a recommendation, but it will not disclose it.

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