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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 15 January 2014

Stansted sees 7.7% passenger growth

Stansted Airport had its busiest December in four years, with nearly 1.3 million passengers passing through its arrivals and departure halls. It was a 7.7 per cent jump on December 2012, and means the overall number of passengers using the Essex hub, owned by Manchester Airports Group, rose by 2.2 per cent to 17.8 million in 2013.

Cement firms hit for not competing

The Competition Commission has ordered Lafarge Tarmac to sell a cement factory and rival Hanson to offload a production plant, saying that monopolistic conditions in the cement industry cost customers more than £50m a year. The firms, along with Cemex, did not compete "vigorously" with each other, the commission said.

Michael Page profits dip by 2.5%

Shares in recruitment agency Michael Page dipped yesterday after it said that continuing challenging market conditions in Australia had more than wiped out improvements in the UK, Japan and the US in its fourth quarter. Gross profits for the three months were down 1.2 per cent, as full-year profits sank by 2.5 per cent at £514m.

Money is pulled from hedge funds

Investors pulled out money from hedge funds at the fastest rate for more than four years in December, following a year in which managers' performance disappointed. The SS&C GlobeOp Capital Movement Index, which calculates monthly hedge fund subscriptions less redemptions, measured minus 3.56 per cent last month.

Tulchan revenues fall 8.4% at £7.6m

Operating profit at Tulchan Communications tumbled more than 15 per cent to £2.7m in the year to March, with revenues down 8.4 per cent at £7.6m. Founder Andrew Grant, whose agency represents FTSE clients such as Ocado and Mothercare, said the period had been a nadir for financial PR in London.

IG banks on return of confidence

The spread-betting firm IG said punters were now more willing to trade the markets because economic confidence was returning. Despite a lack of volatility in financial markets, which spread-betters thrive on, IG's revenues were up 8 per cent to £182.7m in the six months to 30 November.

Ashmore reports $3.5bn of outflows

Investors pulled $3.5bn from funds managed by Ashmore in the final quarter of 2013 amid concerns about its overseas operations. The firm blamed uncertainty about US monetary policy for overall assets under management falling by 4.1 per cent to $75.3bn.

GM drives ahead in China and US

General Motors said its global sales grew by 4 per cent last year thanks to strong demand in the two largest car markets, China and the US. Sales hit 9,714,652 cars and light trucks. Demand surged by 11 per cent in China to a record high, and by 7 per cent in the US.

US Congress backs new budget deal

The US Congress has approved a $1.1trn (£670bn) Bill that would fund federal government operations until September, averting another shutdown. Barack Obama praised the deal and urged Congress to pass it into law as soon as possible.

Portuguese firm sues Merrill Lynch

A Portuguese investment firm is suing Merrill Lynch over a shares sale. Amorim Partners agreed to buy 150,000 Saipem shares last January, two days before the oil and gas company's stock plunged 34 per cent after it slashed its profits forecast.

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