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The Business Matrix: Thursday 8 May 2014

Yellen to keep rates low for now

Janet Yellen refused yesterday to give a timetable for when interest rates will be allowed to rise back towards normal levels. The US Federal Reserve’s chairwoman said that although the job market had improved it was still far from satisfactory. She added that the flat housing market had also disappointed the US central bank.

Car sales motor as confidence grows

Car sales are set to hit pre-recession highs this year as consumers gain confidence. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ latest figures showed new registrations up for the 26th month in a row, up 8.2 per cent in April to 176,820. The society raised its forecasts for the year to 2.4 million, on a par with 2007.

Pay revolt at Reckitt Benckiser 

Nearly a third of investors in Reckitt Benckiser failed to back its directors’ remuneration report yesterday. At the Cillit Bang owner’s annual meeting, 68 per cent supported it and 16 per cent abstained. The re-election of chairman Adrian Bellamy and his deputy Peter Harf was backed by 95 and 97 per cent of investors.

Life sciences get boost in North

A new partnership between 16 UK universities and NHS trusts to establish the north of England as a world leader for life sciences is being launched at Westminster today. The Northern Health Science Alliance is already working with the US medical firm Proteus, Sweden’s Sectra and the UK’s Congencia on new products.

HSBC profits slump by 20%

Profits at HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, fell by a fifth to £4bn in the first three months of the year, as earnings from its investment arm fell and trading in its key Asian countries was subdued. The bank put aside another $83m (£49m) for mis-selling PPI in the UK, down from $164m a year ago.

Alstom unveils sliding orders

Alstom underlined why predators are circling yesterday as it unveiled sliding orders. The French engineer is at the centre of a politically sensitive £10bn bid for its power business from General Electric. Rival bidder Siemens also posted weaker-than-expected results and unveiled a strategic overhaul.

£41.5m share sale by OneSavings

OneSavings, the former Kent Reliant building society, unveiled plans to raise £41.5m through a share sale that could value the bank at up to £600m. OneSavings is the former Kent Reliant building society which was rescued by the US private equity firm JC Flowers in 2010.

L&G beats off  annuity setback

Legal & General has enjoyed a record breaking start to 2014, despite a 40 per cent fall in sales of annuities to pensioners in the wake of the Budget’s reforms. L&G said it offset the fall in the first-quarter by selling bulk annuities to company  pension schemes.

Nintendo banks on new releases

Nintendo, the Japanese games and consoles maker, is banking on games such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros to  shift it back into the black this year after slumping to a  ¥23.2bn (£134m) loss in the  year to March.

Experian warns of World Cup loss

Experian, the credit-checking giant, has warned of a hit from World Cup football this summer as fewer people and businesses would be using its services in Brazil, one of its key markets. It also posted a 4 per cent rise in annual profits to £709m.

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