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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 8 January 2013

House prices set for sluggish year

House prices are set to stagnate this year despite the influence of the Bank of England's Funding for Lending scheme, lender Halifax said yesterday. Despite a surprise monthly rise of 1.3 per cent in December, house prices are 0.3 per cent down on 2011 and likely to remain "broadly flat" in 2013 after a year that "lacked... real direction".

Christmas boom for budget rivals

Budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair increased passenger numbers over the Christmas period as customers snapped up low-cost flights. EasyJet reported a 4.9 per cent rise in the number of seats booked on its flights at 4.3 million in December, while Ryanair grew passenger numbers by 2 per cent.

Nichols sales fizz despite the rain

The Vimto and Sunkist soft-drinks maker Nichols saw its shares fizz up yesterday after it said it would beat City forecasts despite last year's dire weather. Sales increased by 9 per cent to £108m in 2012, well ahead of the overall growth in the UK soft-drinks market of just 3.6 per cent, driven by Vimto and Sunkist.

More roadworks on the way for M25

Balfour Beatty has been awarded a £321m contract to upgrade parts of the M25. The construction group will increase capacity on 28 miles of the motorway by converting sections of hard shoulder into a traffic lane with variable speed limits. Works takes place between junctions five and seven and 23 and 27.

Stricken Shell rig towed to safety

A recovery team has refloated the Shell oil-drilling rig that ran aground last week near an Alaskan island and began towing it yesterday towards a more sheltered position 30 miles away. The saucer-shaped Kulluk drillship was refloated overnight, although winter weather in the area remains a challenge.

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