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In the papers: Facebook launches own search engine to rival Google


Newspaper Summary 

The Times

Tiddler to Watch: There was demand for Charlemagne Capital shares, 4.2% higher at 10 1/4p, as investors rediscovered an appetite for emerging markets. The boutique fund manager, itself quoted on AIM, specialises in buying into companies in China, India, Brazil and elsewhere. Assets under management grew by a healthy 7.9% in the last three months of 2012.

Bet of the Day: Spread betters were buying Bovis Homes’ share price ahead of a trading update for 2012 on Friday. Recently, the house builder has focused on the more profitable South East of England and punters were backing the strategy to pay off, with more high-margin land potentially boosting profits.

Gilts: UK government bonds failed to keep pace with US Treasuries and German bunds as investors’ appetite was dampened by the scale of issuance ahead and pressure on Britain’s premium triple-A credit rating. The March gilt future settled 16 ticks up at 116.98, while in the cash market the yield on ten-year gilts dipped three basis points to 2.01%.

Banks and regulators look to bring curtain down on PPI: The banking industry and the Financial Services Authority are in talks to set a new cut-off date to put an end to the continuing multibillion-pound stream of claims for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.

‘Leaks and blockages’ mar attempt to dig out the truth about Bumi: An independent investigation into the alleged disappearance of hundreds of millions of pounds from a business owned by Bumi Plc will criticise Nat Rothschild and key managers at Bumi Resources for not co-operating fully with the inquiry.

Google faces challenge as Facebook launches its own search engine: Facebook is working on a search engine that will try to answer questions using information from your friends, in a significant challenge to the might of Google.

Banks use cheap money to cut saver rates: Returns to savers have been slashed by banks, which at the same time are failing to offer equally sharp reductions in charges on borrowers, a regulator told MPs.

Co-op sales figures prove it’s better late than never: Tiramisu, flowers and “ethnic” party food picked up by eleventh-hour festive shoppers ensured robust seasonal trading at the Co-operative Group’s convenience stores. Britain’s fifth-largest supermarket chain reported that like-for-like sales had risen 5.5% in the three weeks that ended on 5 January. Total sales were up 2.2% on the same basis.

Horse meat DNA found in Tesco and Aldi burgers: Traces of horse meat have been found in beef burgers sold in supermarkets including Tesco, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said. Inspectors from the FSAI analysed 27 beef burger products with best-before dates from last June to March 2014 and found that 37% tested positive for horse DNA and 85% for pig DNA.

More staff head for exit at Autonomy: The exodus of staff from Autonomy after the software developer was taken over by Hewlett-Packard has been followed by yet another round of departures, this time compulsory. A fifth of Autonomy’s 1,800 workers left in the aftermath of its $11 billion takeover by HP in 2011, but it emerged that the division will be slimmed down further still, with 70 staff set to go in the coming weeks.

The Independent 

Burberry sales take on a new look thanks to festive sprees: Christmas shopping sprees delivered a welcome boost for Burberry as the luxury brand announced forecast-beating sales, sending its shares to the top of the FTSE 100 index.

Eurozone to stay in recession: The Eurozone was almost certainly condemned to a third successive quarter of recession as its biggest member, Germany, saw output shrink 0.5% between October and December. The fall, triggered by slumping industrial orders and exports, means Germany advanced just 0.7% in 2012, against the 3% rate in 2011.

Czech brewer wins latest round in battle of the Budweisers: One is an all-American lager, known for its blockbusting advertising; the other, a Czech brew that while perhaps not as famous, is more of a favourite with beer aficionados.

IG still in black despite first slip for 10 years: The spread-betting industry leader IG Group has reported its first slump in revenues and profits since 2002, a sign of the wider strife in the sector. With rivals struggling to break even, IG is still in the black, but half year profits fell 21% to £81 million.

Ocado shrugs off Waitrose threat as sales rise to £92 million: The online grocer Ocado dismissed the growing threat from its partner Waitrose as it reported a rise in sales growth over Christmas. Ocado, which delivers Waitrose and own-label groceries, grew its sales by 14.2% to £91.6 million over the six weeks to 06 January, which marked an improvement on the 12.4% growth in its fourth quarter.

The Daily Telegraph 

Lloyds and RBS need billions more capital, BoE says: UK regulators have given Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group until March to begin dealing with a black hole that Brooks Newmark, a Tory member of the Treasury Select Committee, suggested could be as large as £30 billion.

Fiat Boss warns European car industry could ‘unravel’ unless EU co-ordinates capacity cuts: The Boss of Italian carmaker Fiat has warned that Europe’s embattled car industry will ‘unravel’ unless the European Union steps into co-ordinate urgent cuts in capacity across the continent.

Cap cigarette profits, say academics: Profits in the tobacco industry should be capped and policed by an independent regulator similar to Ofgem in the energy sector to raise funds for smoking prevention services, according to academics.

Government faces ‘challenge’ to recruit vital rail experts: Attracting private sector rail experts to run government franchise teams in the wake of the West Coast Main Line fiasco will be a “challenge”, the Chairman of Eurostar told MPs.

IGas raises £23 million to help fund fracking in northwest England: IGas Energy has raised £23.1 million through a share placing to help fund exploration for shale gas in the north-west of England this summer. The explorer said it planned to spend £15 million drilling at two sites, at Irlam in Greater Manchester and Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

The Questor Column:

Sell Ophir Energy at 531p,

Buy Shanks at 94.75p.

The Guardian 

Goldman Sachs backs down from delayed bonus tax plan: Goldman Sachs has been forced into an embarrassing climb-down from plans to allow its highly paid bankers to avoid the 50% top rate of tax, following public intervention by Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King and pressure from the government.

UK’s AAA credit rating under ‘significant pressure’, warns Fitch: Fitch, the credit ratings agency, has warned the Chancellor that Britain could be stripped of its prized AAA status if he fails to boost the country’s economic situation in the spring budget.

Chrysler chief warns broken Europe ‘maiming auto industry’: Europe is “broken” and its leaders are “fundamentally maiming” the European auto industry’s ability to recover, the Boss of Chrysler and Fiat has said.

Halfords to stock Pinarello bikes as it targets premium market: Halfords has turned to the specialist bikes that carried Sir Bradley Wiggins and the British Olympic team to victory in an effort to propel sales after a flat Christmas trading period.

Daily Mail 

Royal Bank of Scotland facing prospect of £500 million fine over its role in Libor interest rate-rigging scandal: Royal Bank of Scotland is facing the prospect of a £500 million fine over its role in the Libor interest rate-rigging scandal. The bank is still locked in negotiations with regulators in the US and UK over the exact scale of a settlement likely to be announced next week.

World Bank in warning over the recovery of global economy: The global economy remains ‘fragile and uncertain’ as the crisis in the Eurozone and debt problems in the United States hold back the recovery, according to the World Bank.

Britain’s booming Mini to ‘go Dutch’ and build some of its cars in Holland, bosses reveal: Britain’s booming Mini is to ‘go Dutch’ and build some if its cars in Holland, bosses revealed at the Detroit Motor Show. But although more Mini production is to be shifted out of the UK, the British brand’s German owner BMW insists Oxford will always be the home of the iconic small car.

The Scottish Herald 

Relief as December retail sales lift 1.5%: Scotland’s retail sector matched the overall U.K. performance in the crucial trading month of December, with 1.5% year-on-year growth in sales value – after nearly two years of underperforming – but volumes were at best flat given inflation.

Call for clawback of Libor bankers’ bonuses: Top financial regulator Andrew Bailey has warned it is “absolutely vital” for banks to claw back bonuses in response to the Libor interest rate scandal. Meanwhile, Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King said any attempt by investment banks to postpone bonus pay-outs until the 50p tax rate drops to 45p in April would be “clumsy”.

Montgomery Litho print firm saved by MBO: A management buyout at Montgomery Litho (Glasgow) has saved 76 jobs at the printing business. All the trade and assets of the firm were acquired by the newly formed McAllister Litho Glasgow, which was able to seal an agreement with administrators from KPMG.

Energy Boss attacks PM’s low-tariff pledge: Scottish power’s Chief Corporate Officer Keith Anderson has cast doubt on whether Government plans to put people on the lowest energy tariff are workable, warning that legislation would be difficult and complicated to devise.

Champagne sales add sparkle to Co-operative figures: Champagne sales added a sparkle to Christmas at Co-operative Group as it posted a 2.2% rise in like-for-like sales for the five weeks to 5 January.

The Scotsman 

Cuts threaten construction sector with skill shortages time-bomb: Cuts in public spending and the ongoing euro-zone crisis will lead to thousands of fresh job losses across Scotland’s construction sector over the next four years, according to a report that warns of a “demographic time-bomb” facing the industry. In its annual report, the Construction Skills Network (CSN) estimated that employment in the sector north of the Border would fall by 1% a year on average between 2013 and 2017.

RBS in fresh talks over disposal of Indian retail arm: Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is in talks over the sale of its retail and commercial banking operations in India, after a previous deal to sell the business to HSBC collapsed last year. The state-backed lender has held preliminary discussions with IndusInd and domestic rival Yes Bank, but it is understood IndusInd has ruled out making an offer for the business, which has 31 branches and serves 400,000 customers.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s in dead heat for Christmas growth, says Kantar: Tesco and Sainsbury’s, the biggest and third-biggest supermarket chains in the UK, ran a dead heat in the battle for festive sales growth, according to new market data unveiled. The pair both posted identical gross sales growth rates of 3.9% in the six weeks ending 6 January, said market researcher Kantar Worldpanel. Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s market shares remained unchanged in the period.

Sheep fluke threat ‘frightening’: Faced with what experienced veterinarians are describing as “frightening” levels of liver fluke in sheep, farmers have been urged to step up their husbandry to deal with a parasite which can and does cause death in infected animals. Scotland Rural College sheep specialist Dr John Vipond said shepherds should look out for behavioural changes that might indicate sheep were carrying a fluke burden. This could be something as innocuous as sheep breaking back when being driven up a hill, indicating they were not as fit as they might be because they were carrying fluke.

City AM 

London Whale report due out: Banking giant JP Morgan will release an internal report into the catastrophic bet made by a trader nicknamed the London Whale, which cost the business more than $6 billion (£3.7 billion).

Morgan Stanley plans to defer pay-outs to high-earning execs: Investment bank Morgan Stanley is planning to stop its highest earners claiming any bonus this year, it emerged, instead making them take the pay-out in instalments over the next three years.

RBC decides to trim back costs after expansion: RBC, the Canadian bank that has been investing heavily in building up an investment banking franchise in Europe, announced job cuts in London.

Michael Page sees mixed start to the year in the jobs market: White collar recruiter Michael Page posted a 4.9% fall in profits, in line with its pared-back expectations, and predicts a patchy start to the year. Chief Executive Steve Ingham said that while some of the firm’s offices in Asia and South America were enjoying strong growth, the Eurozone and the financial services sector remain rocky.

Walmart to hire veterans: Walmart, the largest private employer in the U.S. and the world’s largest retailer, said it plans to hire 100,000 newly discharged veterans over the next five years, at a time when the US unemployment rate is at 7.8%.


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