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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 13 November 2012

High street set for festive growth 

Retail spending over Christmas is forecast to grow by just 1 per cent, driven by higher food price inflation in the last quarter of 2012. But total sales volumes are expected to fall by 0.2 per cent, according to research from Verdict. Fashion, health and beauty, and homewares chains are set to be among the top performers this Christmas.

Investment high at record firms

Record labels have maintained high levels of investment in new music despite the digital revolution sweeping the industry and a decade of falling revenues. According to the industry body IFPI, record companies invested $4.5bn in artists and repertoire and marketing in 2011.

But this was much lower than the $5bn invested in 2008.

Catlin buffeted by hurricane Sandy

Lloyd's of London insurer Catlin has warned it is still too early to work out the cost of Hurricane Sandy because of its "sheer size and complexity". The hurricane, which hit North America last month, is likely to cost up to $20bn (£12.6bn). Australian insurer QBE said it faced $350m to $450m in claims.

Walker Crips falls into the red

Stockbroker Walker Crips swung from profits of £793,000 to losses of £708,000 in the six months to September, but said it had traded profitably since the half-year end. It has sold the bulk of its asset-management business for a gain of £10m.

Hibu gets more time to fix loans

Troubled Yellow Pages publisher Hibu yesterday extended by a further fortnight to November 23 the deadline for its lenders under its 2006 borrowing facility to approve changes to its covenants. It needs 100 per cent agreement from these banks.

Exports to India to surge, says HSBC

India will lead a trade renaissance for UK exporters over the next decade as British businesses look beyond their traditional but now struggling Europe markets, according to HSBC. The bank says exports to India will surge by 13 per cent a year.

Funeral businesss thrives at Dignity

Death is one business that should be recession-proof and Dignity yesterday gave further weight to this theory. The funeral service provider grew its profit by 10 per cent to £53.4m in the third-quarter. That result comes from revenues up 9 per cent at £169m.

Cash Converters sees loans surge

Payday lending firm Cash Converters said its UK loan book powered ahead by 146 per cent to £15.3m in the quarter to September 30. The Australian business said stores were acquired in Wigan and Gloucester in the period, taking its number of outlets in the UK to 222, including franchise sites.

Struggling SAS to slash 6,000 jobs

Struggling Scandinavian airline SAS is to axe 6,000 staff and sell some of its assets to secure government-backed loans and turn round its performance. But City analysts doubted the measures would be enough to keep the airline independent, as its structure has hindered its ability to cope with soaring jet fuel costs and low-cost rivals.

Cobham hit by US military cuts

Cobham shares tumbled 9 per cent yesterday after the defence group admitted it is likely to be hit by military spending cuts in the US. The company said it expected revenues to fall by "low-to-mid-single digits" in 2013 as the world's largest economy delays buying new equipment. Its shares fell by 20.4p to 190.6p.

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