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The Business Matrix: Thursday 14 July 2011

Economic boost for China

China’s economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter, easing fears of a hard landing. The economy grew 9.5 per cent, helped by solid domestic consumption and investment. But this was down from 9.7 per cent at the start of the year, suggesting Beijing may have more scope to tackle high inflation without choking off growth.

Warning over jobs market

The Government has been warned that the outlook for jobs is “deteriorating” after new figures showed the biggest monthly rise in the dole queue for two years. A total of 1.52 million people were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in June, a monthly rise of 24,500 and the biggest monthly leap since May 2009. MORE

Bernanke mulls quantitative easing

Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, cheered investors yesterday by raising the possiblity of further quantitative easing to support the US economy. His semi-annual testimony to Congress included an explicit mention of the idea for the first time, though he couched it as one of the options available to the Fed should the recovery stall further.

Hacker group threatens RBS

Royal Bank of Scotland has been threatened with cyber-attacks by the hacker collective Anonymous, for lending financial support to oil projects in Canada. Anonymous says it is supporting environmental campaigners trying to stop oil extraction from tar sands in Canada. RBS says it has not provided project finance for the tar sands since 2006.

MWB improves buyout offer

MWB has improved its offer to buy out minority shareholders in the office space supplier MWB Business Exchange. The hotels operator’s new bid values Business Exchange at £53m, £20m more than its earlier approach. The company rejected a £60m approach from office space rival Regus earlier this year.

Regulation risk to company finance

Imminent regulatory changes could make life insurers less willing to hold corporate bonds, restricting companies’ access to a vital source of funding, the Bank of International Settlements has warned. The changes, including Europe’s proposed capital rules, could also encourage insurers to shun shares.

Internet sales help Thorntons

Thorntons said sales fell by more than 10 per cent at its stores in the eight weeks to 25 June as it predicted another tough year on the high street. The chocolatier, which wants to offload 180 stores, said it had been helped by sales on its internet arm rising by 11 per cent in the period. Total sales fell 8 per cent to £21m.

Topps Tiles reports sales fall

Topps Tiles admitted it faced another quarter of “subdued” trading as the sluggish house market and low consumer confidence hits demand. The floor coverings firm said sales fell nearly 2 per cent in the quarter ending 2 July. Last month, it reported interim profits of £7.2m, down from £7.8m a year ago.

PhosAgro nets £340m in IPO

PhosAgro, the fertiliser group owned by the Russian politican Andrei Guryev and chaired by Vladimir Litvinenko, who supervised Vladimir Putin’s PhD thesis, raised $540m (£335m) listing its shares in Moscow and London yesterday. Mr Guryev’s family own 71 per cent after the IPO; Mr Litvinenko has a 10 per cent stake.

Oprah to be CEO at her cable network

Oprah Winfrey will take over as CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network this autumn, the cable channel said yesterday. Ms Winfrey, regarded as the most influential woman on US television, will be the third CEO of the company since its January debut. OWN is co-owned by Winfrey and Discovery Communications.