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The Business Matrix: Thursday 17 November 2011



Barratt warns of mortgage shortage

Barratt Developments warned that the shortage of mortgages is holding the housing market back, even as it reported a rise in selling prices. The housebuilder, which also trades as David Wilson and Ward Homes, said that its average selling prices rose by 7 per cent to £207,000 since June as it focused on building family homes in the South-east.

AEA shares slump after CEO quits

Shares in AEA Technology slumped 86 per cent yesterday after its chief executive quit in the wake of its second major profits warning in seven months. The climate change consultancy, which was spun out of the Atomic Energy Authority in the 1990s, has been hit by weaker-than-expected trading at its Washington-based business, PPC.

Pakistan rejects Antofagasta plan

Politicians in Pakistan's Baluchistan province have rejected a mining lease application from the Chilean copper producer Antofagasta and Canada's Barrick Gold, raising questions about the future of their Reko Diq copper-gold project. Reko Diq holds an estimated 5.9 billion tonnes of mineral resources, including copper and gold.

Icap says trading is 'disappointing'

The interdealer broker Icap said trading at its voice-based broking services had been "disappointing" since September as the eurozone debt crisis hit confidence. Shares in Icap fell by 5 per cent as the group reported that pre-tax profits rose 3 per cent to £101m in the three months to the end of September despite market volatility.

Reed Elsevier sees continued growth

The New Scientist publisher Reed Elsevier's trading improved in the three months to 30 September. All five of the group's businesses recorded growth in the first nine months, leaving earnings on track to meet City expectations. The Anglo-Dutch company has been investing in legal products such as LexisNexis database.

Mozzarella king Glanbia upbeat

The Irish-based cheese-maker Glanbia forecast a 20 per cent rise in full-year earnings yesterday after its revenues rose by 28 per cent in the 10 months to 31 October. However, the group, which is Europe's biggest supplier of mozzarella cheese for pizzas, also reported a recent slowdown in demand.

British Gas ready to shed 850 staff

Centrica's British Gas, the UK's biggest household energy supplier, said it would cut about 850 roles to lower costs. The job cuts, announced on the day that UK unemployment hit a 15-year high, will take place in British Gas's services business and will affect back-office management and support roles.

Melrose looking out for deals

The engineering buyout group Melrose said it was still in the market for deals after its failed bid for Charter this summer. The company said slower growth in Europe was being offset by strength in North America and the rest of the world. Its third-quarter sales were up 12 per cent compared with a year ago.

Rio Tinto to close Lynemouth plant

Rio Tinto is set to close its Lynemouth smelter in the North-east as rising energy costs put pressure on aluminium margins, though it could sell the power station at the site. The mining giant last month put $8bn worth of aluminum assets up for sale. The Lynemouth smelter employs 515 people.

Hampson's profits are grounded

First-half profits at Hampson Industries more than halved as orders at the aeroengineer's tooling division, Odyssey, continued to fall. The firm, which supplies tools and components to planemakers Airbus and Boeing, said group revenues were down 8 per cent to £77m while profits fell to £400,000.