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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 18 April 2012

India cuts rate to boost growth

India unexpectedly cut its key interest rate by half a percentage point yesterday, in a bid to boost its sagging economy. Economists said its first rate cut in three years, however, may be its last for a while as inflation is likely to remain elevated near 7 per cent and growth – currently just under 7 per cent – is too low to create new jobs.

Next boss's pay falls by 15%

Lord Wolfson, the chief executive of Next, saw his pay fall 15 per cent last year, despite the retailer posting record profits and returns for shareholders. The Tory peer was, however, boosted by two long-term share awards worth £2.5m, although the Lord agreed with Next's remuneration committee to cap the total pay out at this amount.

Diamond Jubilee boost for Eurostar

Strong bookings for the June bank holiday weekend around the Queen's Diamond Jubilee helped Eurostar sales rise by 7 per cent to £211m in the first quarter of this year. The Channel Tunnel rail link said most of its growth came from leisure travel, with business trips in the first quarter broadly flat compared with 2011.

Vodafone ramps up appeal pressure

Vodafone has ramped up the pressure in its appeal against a $2.9bn (£1.81bn) tax bill in India. Its Dutch subsidiary has issued a notice of dispute against the claim, saying the 2012 finance bill violated legal protections and harmed international investors. Vodafone's case dates back to its takeover of Hutchison Essar in 2007.

Sales growth slows at Burberry

Burberry reported a slowdown in quarterly sales growth in Europe, raising fears that global economic woes were catching up with the luxury goods maker. However, sales at the 156-year-old group still rose 18 per cent, passing £1bn in the past six months, and remained strong in the UK and China.

Profits squeezed at Daily Mail group

Shares in the Daily Mail's owner fell nearly 5 per cent yesterday after it warned that lower advertising revenues at its national newspapers business had squeezed its profits. Daily Mail and General Trust saw a 3 per cent decline in underlying ad revenues as well as higher print and promotion costs.

German investor confidence rises

German analyst and investor confidence rose unexpectedly in April to its highest level since June 2010, suggesting Europe's biggest economy may be recovering from a weak spell. The main reading from the ZEW monthly poll rose to 23.4 from 22.3 in March.

William Morris sells well in Japan

Sales of William Morris designs in Japan jumped 46 per cent last year, helping the wallpaper and fabrics maker Walker Greenbank to post a 24 per cent rise in profits to £5.6m as sales rose 8 per cent to £74m. The current year has also started well with main brand sales up 7 per cent.

Manroy wins US guns contract

The US arm of Sandhurst-based Manroy, which makes heavy machine guns, has secured a £6.6m contract with the US Department of Defense. The work stems from a larger order with Sabre Industries, whose assets Manroy bought in 2011.

Rio Tinto hit by bad weather

Rio Tinto reported worse falls than expected in iron ore and copper production in the first quarter after it was hit by bad weather. The miner, a key supplier to the Chinese steel industry, said production fell 11 per cent to 45.6 million tonnes in the period.

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