The Business Matrix: Wednesday 10 August 2011

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The Independent Online

Osborne to brief MPs on economy

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will use tomorrow’s recall of Parliament to make a statement on the state of the British economy amid the market turmoil of the past few days. The latest domestic data, published yesterday, showed a surprise contraction in the manufacturing sector during the month of June. MORE

Oil price prompts cheaper fuel hope

Motoring groups are pushing for cuts to petrol prices with oil now trading at around $20 a barrel below its peak earlier this year. The oil price saw huge volatility again yesterday, moving down and then up in line with global stock markets – but the slowing pace of economic recovery in many parts of the world saw demand forecasts cut. MORE

Apple is world’s largest company

Apple has become the largest publicly-traded company in the world, surpassing the oil giant ExxonMobil yesterday. The market value of Apple, which revolutionised personal computing in the Eighties only to come close to collapse in the Nineties, passed Exxon in lunchtime trading last night, putting it at $341.5bn to the latter’s $341.4bn.

Lending soars at Leeds BS

Leeds Building Society has reported a 61 per cent increase in its gross mortgage lending for the first half of this year. The society lent £642m in the first six months of 2011, it said yesterday, up from £400m in the first half of 2010. The building society, Britain’s fifth biggest, is one of several mutuals to have seen home loan demand rise in 2011.

Greggs suffering on high street

The bakery chain Greggs yesterday blamed tougher than expected trading conditions and additional bank holidays for a fall in first-half profits. Greggs posted a 4.2 per cent rise in sales to £335m over the 26 weeks to 2 July, boosted by 39 new stores. However, on a like-for-like basis, sales inched up just 0.4 per cent.

Hunt unveils local TV shortlist

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday announced the 65 locations in the running to launch the local television services he has championed. The towns and cities – which have been chosen because they have the appropriate transmitter coverage – will be whittled down to around 20 by the end of the year.

Banks told to write ‘living wills’

Banks were yesterday told they could be forced to tear up their bonus plans and conduct fire sales of assets if they run into the sort of difficulties faced by many during the financial crisis in future. The City watchdog said these are some of the measures they will have to set out in the so-called “living wills”.

HSBC in talks over US credit card arm

HSBC is in talks to sell its US credit card arm, with Capital One Financial seen as the leading buyer for the $30bn (£18.5bn)-plus business. The bank confirmed the talks yesterday, but declined to name the possible bidders. However, speculation soon focused on Capital One as the most likely buyer.

German nuclear policy hits RWE

Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan led to a sharp fall in profits at RWE, the utility which has named the Dutchman Peter Terium as its next chief executive. RWE said profits for the first half of the year were down 39 per cent.

Huge losses for Japan’s Tepco

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the operator of Japan’s tsunami hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, made a 571.8bn yen (£4.6bn) loss between April and June, as it put money aside to compensate the victims of the disaster at the plant. The results featured a 400bn yen charge to compensate victims.