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The Business Matrix: Wednesday 7 August 2013

L&G upbeat over £15bn investment

Legal & General said it has held “encouraging” talks with policymakers about investing £15bn of its cash into infrastructure projects. The insurance giant’s comments came as it posted half-yearly profits of £592m. The company hopes to use some of its £433bn of its assets under management to invest in transport, energy and property projects.

888 in venture with Caesars

888 has struck a deal with Caesars Interactive Entertainment – a subsidiary of the world’s biggest casino operator – to offer poker and casino games in New Jersey when the state lifts a 2006 ban on internet gambling. The agreement helps the online-gaming firm, whose quarterly profits were up 5 per cent at £63m, to move back into the US market.

EasyJet enjoys passenger upturn

EasyJet saw a 2 per cent rise in passenger numbers during July, to 5.97 million, despite fears the heatwave would hit bookings. However, its load factor, which measures how full planes are, slipped slightly to 91.6 per cent. So far this year the budget carrier has flown 60.3 million passengers, a 4.3 per cent increase on the same period a year earlier.

2.5% interest rate at central bank

Australia’s central bank cut its main interest rate to a record low of 2.5 per cent as the nation braces itself for a slowdown in the economy in the wake of a mining boom that is running out of steam. The Reserve Bank of Australia – which began cutting interest rates in November 2011 – said there was “some scope to ease policy further”.

InterContinental profits up a fifth

Holiday Inn owner InterContinental Hotels Group returned £228m to shareholders in a special dividend as it increased first-half operating profits by a fifth to £220m. The group, which has more than 4,600 hotels worldwide and also includes the Crowne Plaza chain, also hiked its dividend by 10 per cent.

Meggitt flies high with rise in profits

Meggitt increased half-yearly profits by 7 per cent to £182m and raised its interim dividend by 10 per cent to 3.95p. The international engineer also announced it had won a long-term contract with Sikorsky helicopters to supply fuel systems, to be produced at its facility in Georgia in the US.

TClarke interim profits up by 60%

The building-services contractor TClarke said it had performed well in a challenging market as it announced interim profits up 60 per cent to £800,000 on revenue up 26 per cent at £114.3m. New contracts secured include Bank Underground station and BNP Paribas in London.

Pendragon races ahead of rivals

The car retailer Pendragon saw underlying half-year profits rise 24 per cent to £23.6m for the first half of the year – excluding an £8m refinancing charge. The Evans Halshaw and Stratstone owner said used-car results continued to outperform the market while debt is now below £150m.

US trade gap at lowest since 2009

The US trade deficit narrowed sharply in June to its lowest level in more than three years as exports picked up, suggesting an upward revision of second-quarter growth. The trade gap fell 22.4 per cent to $34.2bn, the smallest since late 2009.

Leeds Building Society profits up

Leeds Building Society increased pre-tax profits by 13 per cent to £30.6m for the first six months of 2013. New residential lending increased by 20 per cent to £921m at the mutual, which is the UK’s fifth-largest building society.

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