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The Business Matrix: Thursday 3 May 2012

Time Warner hit by bad 'Luck'

The US media giant Time Warner said its first-quarter profits had been hit by charges, including the $35m (£21.6m) cost of pulling its troubled TV series Luck. The HBO horseracing series, starring Dustin Hoffman, was cancelled after three horses died during filming. Profits at Time Warner fell to $581m from $651m the year before.

European airlines in tickets surge

European airlines enjoyed a 9 per cent surge in demand for tickets in March, fuelled by expanding European exports to Asian economies and more business travel. The latest figures from Iata said global traffic rose 7.6 per cent in March. Demand for freight transport climbed a fragile 0.3 per cent compared with a year earlier.

Diet range boosts Nichols' sales

A new Weight Watchers range helped Vimto maker Nichols record double-digit sales growth in the first four months of 2012. With strong demand from the Middle East, Africa and other developing markets, the firm, which also makes Levi Roots and Sunkist drinks, said it was confident of hitting City forecasts.

Wetherspoon to slow pub openings

JD Wetherspoon will slow the pace of new pub openings in the next year as it grapples with a £50m increase in its tax bill after rises in duty and business rates. The chain will open 40 pubs in the year to 29 July but expects this figure to slow to between 20 and 30 new sites the year after.

Flood insurance will slow market

A lack of affordable flood insurance this summer could trigger a further slowdown in the housing market, the Council of Mortgage Lenders has warned. About 200,000 homes at risk from flooding may face difficulties getting insurance from next year.

Boost for Standard Chartered

The Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered said it is in "excellent shape" after a strong start to 2012. Income showed high single-digit growth despite being impacted by the growing strength of the dollar over Asian currencies, while growth in countries such as China made up for a subdued performance in India.

Emap sells off CAP for £175m

Guardian Media Group and Apax Partners have received a boost from their troubled £1.1bn investment in the media giant formerly known as Emap after they offloaded its car data business CAP for about £175m. Montagu Private Equity is buying CAP from Top Right Group, the new corporate name for Emap, which the pair bought in 2008.

UBS hit by further fall in profits

UBS, the banking giant still reeling from a £1.4bn rogue trading scandal, recorded another tumble in profits yesterday and said it was cautious about global markets. The Swiss firm made £560m during the first quarter, less than half what it recorded a year ago. UBS is cutting back its investment banking arm.

Avon wins £14.7m Middle-East order

Breathing apparatus maker Avon Rubber said it had received a major order worth £14.7m from a Middle East customer – its largest-ever contract outside the US military. The announcement came as the firm posted a 6 per cent rise in half-yearly profits to £4.6m.

Co-op ends interest only mortgages

The Co-operative Bank has withdrawn its range of interest-only mortgages for new borrowers. Most banks are tightening up terms on such mortgages. Regulators have warned 1.5 million such loans worth £120bn are due for repayment in the next decade.

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