Business Diary: Big in Japan (losses, that is)

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The Independent Online

So the Footsie ended the first decade some 1,500 points short of its all-time high, achieved on the final day of 1999. Still, if you thought that 20 per cent decline was disappointing over the course of the decade, spare a thought for investors in Japan. It is 20 years since the peak there, and despite a recovery in 2010 the Nikkei remains an eye-watering 73 per cent down on its all-time high.

Tesco's goes local in approach to VAT

Confusion for Tesco customers. The supermarket group, like other retailers, has had to decide whether to pass on the return to the 17.5 per cent VAT rate from today, or whether to take some of the hit itself. Different stores seem to have taken different approaches on different goods. So if it looks pricey in your local Tesco, try the store down the road.

Bankers miss out on honours again

Another bad year for the banking industry in the Queen's NewYear Honours. At least it managed one gong this year, up from zero in 2009. Still, does Dyfrig John count? A former chief executive of HSBC in the UK, he has indeed been made a CBE for services to banking. But he retired in March, so he is no longer tarnished by his profession.

Paddy Power in hot water again

Time for a seasonal favourite: a good row over Paddy Power's book on airlines. The online travel agent Travel Republic wants the bookmaker banned from offering odds on which airline might go bust next (it has just slashed the odds on Monarch to just 4-1), on the grounds that the betting is irresponsible. If only one could bet on how long it would take for the travel industry to get cross about Paddy Power's naughtiness.

House prices are so unpredictable

Good to see Nationwide that confirms a 6 per cent rise in UK house prices over 2009. Strange how every analyst under the sun tipped 2009 as the year of the housing market collapse when asked for predictions at the end of 2008. Halifax's Martin Ellis, for example, forecast a 5 per cent drop. What are the pundits forecasting for 2010? Mostly a continuation of the modest recovery. It doesn't bode well.

Number of the day: 150

The anniversary being celebrated in 2010 by the British Chambers of Commerce. The group, formed in 1860, now has 100,000 members.