The Business: Friday April 25 2014

Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday

TOUGHER QUIZ FOR MORTGAGE APPLICANTS

Mortgage applicants will be asked stiffer questions about their lifestyle under new rules that take effect tomorrow, reports the BBC. The changes, designed to "hardwire common sense" into the process according to the Financial Conduct Authority, could lead to delays and rejections of applications. The process will include questions from lenders about applicants’ regular outgoings, including childcare costs and haircuts.

RETAIL OPTIMISM AT THREE-YEAR HIGH

Optimism among British retailers has soared to its highest level for three years as British retail sales rose for a fifth consecutive month in April. Although April’s sales figures were aided by the late Easter and Mother’s Day, analysts say the data also reflects “stronger fundamentals”. The sales news followed a CBI survey which showed manufacturing confidence has reached its highest level in more than four decades, adding to the buoyant mood.

BARCLAYS FACES INVESTOR REBELLION

Barclays has issued a robust defence of its decision to pay higher bonuses after a shareholder revolt at a fiery annual meeting yesterday. The Financial Times reports that more than a third of investors refused to back the lender’s remuneration report at the meeting, reflecting widespread anger among shareholders who feel the bank should not be increasing its bonuses at a time when its profits have fallen by more than a third.

FANCY A GHERKIN? £550M, PLEASE.

London’s famous Gherkin tower has been put into receivership 10 years after its completion transformed the City’s skyline. The 41-floor tower is expected to attract offers of more than £550m from Middle East sovereign wealth funds and other potential buyers if, as expected, it is put up for sale. It is believed that the tower’s owners ran into problems related to currency issues, and that the situation is not be related to any difficulties with the wider property market.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… BARCLAYS IS ‘COLCHESTER UNITED’

“We are paying for Manchester United but we are getting Colchester United.” Barclays shareholder Phil Clarke raises a cheer at yesterday’s annual meeting.

AMAZON EXPENSES EAT INTO PROFIT SURGE

Amazon has jubilantly announced a 32% jump in profits to $108m (£64m) in the first quarter of 2014. The internet retail giant said healthy sales - which increased by 23% to $19.74bn - helped contribute to the profit growth. "2014 is off to a kinetic start," said the company’s founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos in a statement. However, increasing expenses - which rose 23% from a year earlier – have eaten into the profits.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0730 GMT


FTSE-100: up +0.42 to 6703.00
Dow Jones: up +0.00 to 16501.65
Dax: up +0.05 to 9548.68
Cac-40: up +0.64 to 4479.54
Nikkei: down -0.03 to 14400.64
Hang Seng: down -1.18 to 22296.27
US dollar: buys €0.72290 and £0.59500
Sterling: buys $1.68040 and €1.21510
Oil: $110.40 up +1.2