The Business: Friday May 2 2014

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

RBS POSTS £1.64BN PROFIT

Royal Bank of Scotland has announced a large rise in its first quarter profit. RBS said its pre-tax profit reached £1.64bn in the first three months of 2014, up 98% from £826m in 2013. It also announced that operating profit for the quarter was £1.5bn, up from £747m last year. Chief executive Ross McEwan said: "Today’s results show that in steady state, RBS will be a bank that does a great job for customers while delivering good returns for our shareholders.”

MANUFACTURING AT FIVE-YEAR HIGH

UK manufacturing sector growth has hit a five-month high, says The Guardian. A healthy rise in output, new orders and employment all added to an increasingly optimistic tone in the sector, which accounts for about 10% of the UK economy. The headline index of the Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI jumped sharply to a five-month high of 57.3 in April, confounding the reading of 55.4 expected by experts.

PIZZA EXPRESS FOR SALE AT £1BN

Fancy a slice of the UK pizza market? PizzaExpress is now on the menu after being put on sale by Cinven with an estimated price tag of £1bn. Gondola Group has appointed Goldman Sachs to handle a sale of its biggest brand, although the backstop of an initial public offering has not been ruled out. International private equity firms are hopeful of securing a deal within three months, as interest soars in the restaurant sector.

BOE WARNING ON UK HOUSE BOOM

It would be “dangerous to ignore the momentum that has built up in the UK housing market”, says Bank of England deputy Jon Cunliffe. Price surges have not been limited to London, he says, adding that “pent-up demand” could “add significantly” to pressure on the market for the next few years. “All of this paints a picture of further pressure on transactions that could take us quickly to pre-crisis rates,” argues Cunliffe.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… UPSET AS CLIFFORD FIRM TO CLOSE

“No-one wants anything to do with the company and clients are distancing themselves. The girls are all upset - they backed Max all the way and now they have uncertain futures.” A source close to Max Clifford Associates on the distress of the all-female staff of the PR firm, which is set to close after Clifford is sentenced today.

HESELTINE WANTS POWER ON FOREIGN TAKEOVERS

Lord Heseltine says the government should have greater powers to intervene when British companies are targeted for foreign takeovers. In the week that American drugs giant Pfizer announced it was bidding for British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the former deputy prime minister tells the BBC takeovers "could be very helpful", but the UK should do more to protect its national interests. “I have no doctrinal preoccupations,” he added.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0730 GMT


FTSE-100: up +0.43 to 6808.87
Dow Jones: down -0.13 to 16558.87
Dax: up +0.20 to 9603.23
Cac-40: down -0.23 to 4487.39
Nikkei: down -0.12 to 14467.08
Hang Seng: up +0.67 to 22282.50
US dollar: buys €0.72150 and £0.59220
Sterling: buys $1.68860 and €1.21830
Oil: $107.76 down -0.3