The Business Matrix: Tuesday 6 January 2015


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Crude falls below $55 per barrel

Oil prices fell below $55 a barrel for the first time since May 2009, amid a supply glut and low demand. Brent dropped 5 per cent to $52.66, while US benchmark prices fell to $49.95. The UK’s big four supermarkets also cut petrol prices by 2p a litre, amid speculation by some experts that petrol prices could hit £1 a litre in coming weeks.

Glencore restarts Australian mines

Glencore is restarting its coal mining operations in Australia, following a three-week suspension aimed at combating a global supply glut. The suspension by the world’s biggest exporter of thermal coal underscored concerns about over-supplied markets, though it did little to lift coal prices, which are at five-year lows.

Ryanair fills 20% more of its seats

Michael O’Leary’s charm offensive at Ryanair continues to pay dividends as it revealed it carried 20 per cent more passengers in December than a year ago. Passenger numbers jumped to just over six million, taking the 2014 total to a record 86.4 million. The load factor, measuring seats filled,  rose from 81 to 88 per cent.

Record number of business start-ups

The number of start-up  businesses in the UK hit a record high last year as  entrepreneurs snapped into gear. Companies House  registered 581,173, beating the 2013 high of 526,446. London led the way with 184,671 firms  registered, while growth in  Birmingham and Manchester was also strong.

Poundstretcher beats sales record

The discount retailer Poundstretcher, which operates 409 stores in the UK, reported record Christmas trading yesterday, saying that total sales grew by 14.8 per cent in the five weeks to 30 December, driven by a 10 per cent rise in underlying sales. It attracted seven million shoppers.

US police quiz son of shot financier

The son of a hedge fund founder who was shot dead in his New York apartment over the weekend was being questioned yesterday in connection with the slaying, police said. Thomas Gilbert, 70, the founder of Wainscott Capital, was found shot in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday.

JPMorgan Chase settles lawsuit

JP Morgan Chase has become the first bank to settle a US anti-trust lawsuit in which investors accused 12 major banks of rigging prices in the $5 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market. The settlement was disclosed in a US court filing but terms were not revealed.

Worker sacked  for selling data

Morgan Stanley has sacked an employee for allegedly stealing account information from 350,000 of its wealth management clients. The Wall Street bank said names and account numbers of around 900 clients were posted online in an advert to sell more data.

China cuts ‘rare earths’ exports

China has scrapped a quota system aimed at restricting exports of rare earths, a group of 17 metals used in technology products, to comply with a World Trade Organisation ruling. China accounts for more than 90 per cent of this market.

Belarus hit by rouble fallout

Belarus’s central bank is  cutting its official rate for its rouble against the dollar  by 7 per cent to 12,740 from today, marking the latest fallout from market turmoil in neighbouring Russia, which is its largest trading partner.