The Business: Friday March 28 2014

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

BANK WARNS OF HOUSING BUBBLE

The Bank of England has stoked fears that Britain is in the grip of an unsustainable housing bubble, says The Times. It has warned that the number of borrowers being offered dangerously large mortgages is at an all-time high. The Bank promised that it would remain vigilant for any signs of a housing bubble and would “continue to monitor conditions closely and take further proportionate and graduated actions if warranted”.

RETAIL SALES RISE HIGHER THAN TIPPED

Retail sales rose higher than expected in February, as consumer spending bounced back from January’s post-Christmas slump. Sales volumes rose 1.7% in February after falling by 2% in January. This left February sales 3.7% higher than a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics. Forecasters had expected them to rise by only 0.5% in February and just 2.5% on the year. Online sales also grew, by some 12.4% on a year earlier.

WATCHDOG TO INVESTIGATE ‘RIP-OFF’ PENSIONS

The City watchdog is to probe millions of pensions and investment polices sold by insurance companies, says the Daily Telegraph. It will investigate 30m policies sold from the 1970s until the turn of the millennium. The Financial Conduct Authority fears that insurers are now “exploiting” loyal policyholders, who are “not given the same priority as new customers”. Instead, they face high fees and substandard service.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… ‘SAME OLD ANTI-BUSINESS’ LABOUR?

“It's the same old Labour offering no plan to secure Britain's future - just more spending, more borrowing and more taxes, exactly what got us into a mess in the first place. The anti-business Labour Party are the biggest risk to the recovery.”  Financial Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid on Ed Miliband’s continued targeting of energy giants.

DRONES AND LASERS FOR FACEBOOK

Facebook is working on drones, satellites and lasers in its quest to deliver the internet to isolated parts of the world, reports the Financial Times. Founder Mark Zuckerberg has revealed the social network giant is working with experts from Nasa and UK-based drone company Ascenta. “In our effort to connect the whole world with Internet.org, we’ve been working on ways to beam internet to people from the sky,” he announced.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0710 GMT


FTSE-100: down -0.26 to 6588.32
Dow Jones: down -0.03 to 16264.23
Dax: up +0.3 to 9451.21
Cac-40: down -0.14 to 4379.06
Nikkei: up +0.50 to 14696.03
Hang Seng: up +1.10 to 22073.81
US dollar: buys €0.72760 and £0.60180
Sterling: buys $1.66220 and €1.20950
Oil: $107.65 up +0.06