Business Diary: The real guide to what's to come

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The Independent Online

Economic forecasting has its place, of course, but for a more accurate guide to what is likely to happen in the year ahead, abookmaker can often be evenbetter. So to Paddy Power and its odds on the events of 2011. It has China at 10/11 favourite to be the world's fastest growing economy (followed by India, Russia and Brazil) and will offer you asgenerous a price as 6/1 on the eurozone managing GDP growth of more than 1.8 per cent this year. Note, too, that it is backing News Corp to get the go-ahead for the Sky takeover at 2/5 (or you can gamble on it getting a knock-back from regulators at 7/4).

How to make some extra bread

Will eBay cope with the extra workload? The market research company Mintel reveals that the country's least usedChristmas present is none other than the once trendy breadmaker. More than a third of Britons who have received one of these delightful appliances in the past say they never use them. So if you got one this time around, be honest with yourself now and flog the thing before it begins gathering dust at the back of a cupboard.

Sales no longer sit comfortably

Here's a message one doesn'tnormally associate with the new year. Jason Tyldesley, the boss of the sofa retailer CSL, says: "From now on, we don't do sales." Tyldesley is so convinced that no one still believes furniture retailers when they advertise post-Christmas discounts, that this year he hasn't bothered. Instead, he decided to shell out £500,000 on a 30-second advertising spot featuring a remake of Duran Duran's classic hit, "Girls on Film". Top marks for bravery – and for musical taste. Now let's see whether sofa-buying punters are prepared to reward such honesty.

A rival on Lord Sugar's home turf

"I truly believe Essex has the most entrepreneurial spirit in the UK and that is why I amputting my money where my mouth is." So says Philip Miller, a local businessman, who is offering £100,000 of backing to the entrepreneur who puts the best business idea to him before the end of the month. It's a mini version of The Apprentice, which is handy since Lord Sugar is an Essex local – presumably he won't be applying.