The Business: Monday March 17 2014

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

TORIES: STAMP DUTY ‘NEW STEALTH TAX’

Tory MPs are warning George Osborne that stamp duty is the new stealth tax, says The Times. The chancellor is facing pressure to overhaul stamp duty amid warnings that it is “punishing aspirational Britain”. The TaxPayers’ Alliance claims that stamp duty receipts will rise in real terms from £9bn this year to £15bn in five years’ time, an increase of 73%. Osborne promised yesterday to use this week’s Budget to help families who cannot afford a house.

SAINSBURYS ‘TO WIN NEW WAR’

Top fund managers are backing Sainsbury’s to emerge as the victors of the latest battle among British supermarkets. In a survey for the Daily Telegraph, 200 fund managers said the retailer will perform most strongly this year, as fears of a severe price war grip the markets. Investors in the supermarkets are bracing themselves for profit margins to hit historical lows in order for the retailers to stop losing market share.

OXFAM REPORTS GROWING INEQUALITY

The country’s five richest families own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population, claims Oxfam. The charity is urging George Osborne to use Wednesday’s Budget to open a fresh war on tax avoidance and to introduce a living wage. The development charity claims a handful of the super-rich, spearheaded by the Duke of Westminster, have more money and financial assets than 12.6m Britons put together. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: CABLE ON BANKERS

“I've asked one or two of the more sympathetic bankers to explain it to me. The response has been: ‘It's not that I need the money, it is because others get it so I should, too.’ That is a ludicrous mindset.” Business secretary Vince Cable says he does not understand why anyone ‘needs a million quid a year’.

JIMMY CHOO PREARING FOR FLOAT

Luxury shoe designer Jimmy Choo is moving towards a £1bn float in London, says the Sunday Times. The firm, made famous by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, is in talks about a flotation later this year. It has more than 150 outlets in 32 countries, with a pair of its towering stilettos changing hands for up to £2,000. Owner Labelux has held a round of meetings with investment bankers to discuss floating a minority stake.

MANUFACTURERS OPTIMISTIC FOR 2014

UK manufacturers are enjoying a strong start to 2014 and are optimistic about the year ahead, says industry body EEF. In a survey of 322 companies, it found there were stronger output and orders than in the final quarter of last year. Recruitment and investment intentions were at the highest level recorded by the survey. A spokeswoman said: “Manufacturers are clearly feeling more confident as their order books fill up and exports are strong.”

THE NUMBERS... AT 0700 GMT


FTSE-100: down -0.40 to 6527.89
Dow Jones: down -0.27 to 16065.67
Dax: up +0.43 to 9056.41
Cac-40: down -0.80 to 4216.37
Nikkei: down -0.35 to 14277.67
Hang Seng: down -0.23 to 21489.48
US dollar: buys €0.71920 and £0.60080
Sterling: buys $1.66420 and €1.19710
Oil: $108.37 up +1.4