The Business Matrix: Wednesday 31 October 2012


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The Independent Online

Easing inflation lift for shoppers

The CBI hailed easing inflation for opening shoppers' wallets yesterday after a far stronger showing for the high street than had been expected in the first half of October. A 30 per cent balance of retailers said sales were stronger than a year ago, which was helped by inflation falling to its lowest level since November 2009.

HR Owen roars ahead in style

Ferraris and Lamborghinis are flying off the forecourts despite waning business from bonus-flashing City workers, according to HR Owen. Ferrari's 458 Spider, the Lamborghini Aventador V12 and the Rolls-Royce Series 2 Phantom – all costing more than £200,000 each – have been the biggest sellers at the luxury car dealer.

Stagecoach lines up revenue rise

Stagecoach enjoyed an 8 per cent rise in revenues at its rail division, which includes South West Trains, in the four months to October. Revenues at Virgin Rail, which it owns with Virgin Group, rose 2.7 per cent. The duo has been asked to keep operating the West Coast Line after Government attempts to sell the franchise hit the buffers.

Insolvencies hit a four-year low

The number of Britons who were declared insolvent fell to its lowest since the start of recession in 2008 during the last quarter, in the latest sign of an improving economy. The accountants RSM Tenon said just over 25,000 people were declared personally insolvent between June and September, the lowest level since 2008.

Imperial Tobacco puffs up the divi

Imperial Tobacco, the world's fourth-largest tobacco group, cheered investors with an 11 per cent dividend hike to a 105.6p a share. That was on the back of an 8 per cent rise in earnings on sales up 4 per cent at £7bn. Top brands Davidoff, JPS and hand-rolling tobacco had sales rises of 13 per cent over the year.

Troubled cabs attract interest

Administrators of London taxi maker Manganese Bronze said they were in talks with an "encouraging" number of interested parties as it seeks a rescue deal for the troubled firm. PricewaterhouseCoopers said its immediate priority was to secure funding while it explores options.

Global recovery still uncertain

Global economic recovery remains uncertain, making reforms necessary to revive growth, Germany said in a statement with the IMF and OECD. The statement came after talks in Berlin with the Angela Merkel, the IMF's Christine Lagarde and Angel Gurria of the OECD.

Ferrovial rides out Spanish slump

The Spanish builder and infrastructure firm Ferrovial has posted a 10 per cent rise in underlying earnings as its overseas assets, including a 49 per cent stake in the British airports operator BAA, compensated for a slump in the Spanish construction market.

Fire hits BP's giant Texas refinery

A fire broke out yesterday at part of BP's giant Texas City refinery, but the company said it was extinguished and no injuries were reported. The plant, which refines 400,000 barrels a day, is being sold to Marathon Petroleum for $700m.

Aer Lingus staff in pensions strike

Staff at Aer Lingus are to strike next month over pensions. Unions said up to 3,000 staff could join what might be the first of a series of stoppages in an attempt to get the Irish airline to put more cash into its pension fund, which has a €700m deficit.