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The Business Matrix: Saturday 7 June 2014

New algorithm damages eBay

EBay is said to be suffering badly from changes Google has made to its search algorithm, which means fewer of the online auction house’s sales pop up during consumers’ web searches. Other major brands have suffered from Google’s so-called “Panda 4.0” update too, analysts said, but eBay has lost 80 per cent of its best search listings, a report claims.

Trade deficit up to nearly £9bn

The trade deficit widened in April, slowed by weaker chemicals and manufacturing exports. The Office for National Statistics said the goods trade deficit grew to an estimated £8.92bn from £8.29bn in March. But that was offset by a £7.1bn trade surplus in the dominant services sector. That left an overall deficit of £2.5bn.

Royal Mail chief’s pay cut by 30%

Royal Mail slashed the total amount it paid its Canadian chief executive, Moya Greene, who led the group’s controversial privatisation, by 30 per cent to £1.4m in 2014. Chairman Donald Brydon had claimed she was the worst paid chief executive in the FTSE 100: “I think it’s only fair to pay Moya the right market rate for her job,” he said in January.

US hiring back up after winter slump

Employers in the US kept up a solid pace of hiring in May, returning employment to its pre-recession level and adding weight to evidence that the economy has snapped back from a winter slump. Non-farm payrolls increased by 217,000 last month, the Labor Department said yesterday, after what had been a poor start to the year.

Pension fund quits Brevan Howard

A local government employee pension fund has pulled its entire investment from the giant hedge fund Brevan Howard because it refused to disclose what it was investing in. The decision by the London Pension Fund Authority was seen as a serious potential threat to the famously secretive world of hedge funds.

BNP Paribas in talks over fine

US regulators at one point demanded French bank BNP Paribas hand over $16bn (£10bn) for alleged sanctions violations, sources said yesterday. That would have made it the biggest such fine ever. The two sides are currently discussing settling with a $10bn fine. BNP reportedly first offered $1bn.

China urged to speed up reform

The World Bank urged China yesterday to push ahead with reforms to its economy and financial sector. It said the country was likely to hit its 7.5 per cent growth target, but that reforms should be speeded up to deal with debt problems, by rebalancing growth from investment to consumption.

Mercedes’ sales soar in May

Sales of Mercedes-Benz cars jumped 10.4 per cent last month, owner Daimler announced yesterday, after the launch of the new C-Class and GLA compact offroader. Demand rose 4.8 per cent in Europe and 7.7 per cent in the US – its largest market. Chinese sales soared by 30.1 per cent.

FCA tries to fine trader £10m

The Financial Conduct Authority regulator is seeking to fine former Deutsche Bank trader Christian Bittar about £10m for trying to rig benchmark interest rates, its largest ever penalty against an individual, Reuters reported, citing sources close to the regulator.

Low & Bonar  gets new boss

Low & Bonar, the flooring and artificial grass-maker, said yesterday first-half sales were set to grow 10 per cent as Brett Simpson was named as the new boss. Mr Simpson, who spent 23 years at Dow Chemical then ran Belgium’s LBC Tank Terminals, replaces Steve Good.

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