The Business: Tuesday April 29 2014

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

HEALTHY GDP FIGURES EXPECTED

Strong economic growth figures are expected from the Office for National Statistics today. Analysts predict that preliminary estimates will show GDP grew by 0.9%. This would mark the fifth consecutive period of GDP growth and the longest since before the financial crash of 2008. This, coming hot on the heels of the IMF’s prediction that the UK will be the best-performing of the world’s largest economies, fuels speculation that the Bank of England will raise its interest rate.

JOB FEAR AS PFIZER PREPARES BID

Pfizer is preparing £60bn bid for AstraZeneca, reports The Guardian. The US drugs giant says it is willing to pay almost £60bn to secure the biggest foreign takeover of a UK company. The news of Pfizer's interest caused AstraZeneca's shares to soar by 15%, to £46.91, adding almost £8bn to the company's market value. However, it also sparked fears for the livelihoods of the company’s 7,200 UK employees.

US THROTTLES RUSSIAN OIL KINGPIN

The US treasury has blacklisted Igor Sechin, the lynchpin of the Kremlin’s energy strategy and Russia’s second most powerful man, as energy sanctions begin to bite. His firm, Rosneft, is the world’s largest traded oil company, producing 2.5m barrels a day and paying $75bn a year in taxes to Moscow. The US move creates a legal and diplomatic dilemma for BP, which owns 19.75% of Rosneft’s shares through a deal with the TNK-BP venture.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… BUFFETT’S RICH METAPHORS

“As for metaphors, Mr Buffett can barely get through a sentence without one, and his best have a wonderful aphoristic zing. ‘You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant,’ for instance; or ‘Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.’ Sam Leith on Warren Buffett’s folksy speeches

HEATHROW NARROWS LOSSES

Mild weather conditions and surging parking fees have helped Heathrow airport narrow its losses to £15m for the first three months of the year, reports The Independent. Pleasant spring conditions have lowered the airport’s bill for weather disruption. The £15m loss is down from a £196m loss in the same period last year. Heathrow’s car parking revenue leapt 9.5% and income from take-off and landing fees surged 18.3% to £356 million.

BERNIE DENIES TAX REPORTS

Bernie Ecclestone denies reports that he avoided a potential tax bill of more than £1bn by settling an epic HMRC investigation into his affairs for £10m. Speaking to The Guardian, the Formula One boss says the payment was not a settlement to call off the investigation and that it was instead the amount HMRC found he had underpaid in tax. "The Revenue investigates you and if they find out something is wrong they say 'This is wrong and you should have paid this amount' and you pay it,” he said.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0715 GMT


FTSE-100: up +0.22 to 6700.16
Dow Jones: up +0.53 to 16448.74
Dax: up +0.48 to 9446.36
Cac-40: up +0.38 to 4460.53
Nikkei: down -0.98 to 14288.23
Hang Seng: up +0.12 to 22159.79
US dollar: buys €0.72120 and £0.59470
Sterling: buys $1.68150 and €1.21250
Oil: $108.21 down -1.3