The Business: Thursday 5 December 2013
Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday
George Osborne is expected to announce plans to bring forward the raising of the state pension age today. In his Autumn Statement, the chancellor is set to announce that the raising of the qualification age from 65 to 68 will be brought forward to the mid-2030s, from the current date of 2046. He is also expected to announce £1bn of spending cuts, plans for £375bn of investment in infrastructure, £150m for primary schools and a tax break for peer-to-peer lenders.
The economy is set to grow by more than one percent by the end of the year, says Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply. In a boost to George Osborne ahead of today’s Autumn Statement, news of a strong performance from the dominant services sector completed a hat-trick after strong reports from the construction and manufacturing sectors. Standard & Poor’s may remove its threat to downgrade the UK from its prized AAA status.
Tesco boss Philip Clarke insists his strategy is “firmly on track” despite another set of disappointing sales figures, reports the Daily Telegraph. Britain’s biggest retailer announced yesterday that like-for-like sales are down 1.5% in the UK in the 13 weeks to November 23. The company is losing customers to discount chains Aldi and Lidl and upmarket retailer Waitrose. The Daily Mail says Clarke and his team’s jobs are under threat.
Britain has struck a deal to sell £45m worth of pig semen to China, reports The Independent. At least four artificial insemination centres will start exporting in the new year after environment secretary Owen Paterson closed the deal this week. China is home to half the world’s pigs but Beijing has doubts over the quality of its stock. "This new deal will be worth £45m to UK firms and means Britain's best pigs will help sustain the largest pig population in the world,” said a government spokesman.
BP is among the seven oil firms Iran wants back in its oil and gas fields once international sanctions are lifted, says the Daily Telegraph. Tehran’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh also named Royal Dutch Shell, Total of France, Italy’s ENI, Statoil of Norway and US giants ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil as firms it will offer contract terms to in April next year. Iran has the world's fourth-largest proved national reserves of oil and 18% of the world’s natural gas.
“In all likelihood we would transfer a substantial part of our European business from London to a eurozone location – the most obvious contenders being Paris and Frankfurt.” Co-chief executive of Goldman Sachs Michael Sherwood warns the bank may quit London if Britain leaves the EU.
Shares in Qantas sank after the Australian airline announced a shock profit warning. The airline said it expects to make losses of up to $300m for July to December as fiercer competition and weaker demand cause it to suffer a “marked deterioration”. Shares in the airline crashed by more than 15% in response to the news. The airline says its outlook for January to June 2014 remains “volatile” and that it cutting 1,000 jobs.
FTSE-100: down -0.34 to 6509.97
Dow Jones: down -0.16 to 15889.77
Dax: down -0.90 to 9140.63
Cac-40: down -0.57 to 4148.52
Nikkei: down -1.50 to 15177.49
Hang Seng: down -0.14 to 23695.44
US dollar: buys €0.73360 and £0.60980
Sterling: buys $1.63990 and €1.20290
Oil: $111.59 down -0.9