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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 4 June 2014

Building soars ahead in May

Construction activity rose again in May, with house-building the best-performing sector. The latest Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index for the building sector was 60 for the month, down from 60.8 in April but well ahead of the 50 mark separating growth from contraction. Pay rates grew at their steepest pace since the survey began.

Fewer businesses changing hands

Only 20 British companies were snapped up by foreign rivals in the first quarter of the year, one of the lowest levels on record, the Office for National Statistics said. Domestic acquisitions, in which British firms bought other UK firms, also fell sharply, to 26 transactions between January and March from 59 in the last three months of 2013.

Astra unveils positive results

AstraZeneca has reported positive results for new cancer treatments at the centre of its successful defence against a £69bn takeover bid by Pfizer last month. The Anglo-Swedish firm’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, said the “compelling data… give credibility” to its forecast of £27bn in annual revenues by 2023.

Profits pour in at Wolseley group

Investors in the plumbing supplies group Wolseley are bullish about its prospects despite profits taking a hit from exchange rate movements. The firm’s rading profit edged up by 0.6 per cent to £155m after  a strong performance in the  US and Nordic countries, where it posted its best performance for two years.

Vodafone switches on to British tech

Vodafone is to launch a “product innovation and development hub” in London, called Vodafone xone, as the mobile phone company switches resources from its base in Silicon Valley, California. Vodafone said it hoped to “benefit from a wealth of technology skills and talent” on offer in the UK.

Price inflation dips in eurozone

Price inflation in the eurozone countries fell unexpectedly last month, increasing the risks of deflation and all but ensuring that the European Central Bank will act this week. Annual consumer inflation across the  18 eurozone nations fell to 0.5 per cent in May from 0.7 per cent the previous month.

Yandex lists its shares in Moscow

Shares in the Russian search engine Yandex begin trading in Moscow today in a move that could shield the Nasdaq-listed company from any tightening of Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia. Vladimir Putin has led a drive to woo Russian firms to the Moscow bourse.

Container firms ‘reach EU deal’

The two biggest container shipping firms, AP Moeller-Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company, are seeking to end an EU corruption inquiry without paying any fines. They are reportedly hoping to agree remedies that avoid punitive levies, reports said yesterday.

Airline complains about ‘too fat’ 787

Air India wants compensation from Boeing after it delivered 787 Dreamliner aircraft that do not meet fuel-efficiency targets because the planes are heavier than planned. It said design changes meant some of its 787s were overweight.

Quiksilver sees its earnings wipeout

Shares in the surfwear brand Quiksilver plunged by the most in almost 30 years after it posted wider losses and forecast sluggish sales. Revenues declined by 11 per cent to $408m, missing the $448.8m predicted by analysts.

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