Companies, Markets and Finance

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NORTH SEA OIL ‘CLOSE TO COLLAPSE’

The North Sea oil industry is “close to collapse”, warns an expert in the Daily Telegraph. As a slump in prices piles pressure on drillers to cut back investing in the region, chairman of the independent explorers’ association Brindex Robin Allan warns that it is “almost impossible to make money” with the oil price below $60 per barrel. “It’s a huge crisis,” he says.

AER LINGUS SNUBS BA TAKEOVER BID

Aer Lingus has rejected an audacious £860m bid by British Airways owner IAG, reports the Daily Mail. Aer Lingus said the takeover attempt fundamentally undervalues the Irish group. IAG, whose shares jumped 4.5% or 19.9p to 463.5p, did not rule out another bid but said there was “no certainty that any further proposal or offer will be forthcoming”.

NICK HEWER QUITS APPRENTICE

Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after a decade. Lord Sugar's adviser on the BBC One business show described his decision as "relief tinged with regret". The 70-year-old PR expert has been on the UK version of the show since it began in 2005. Hewer started working with Lord Sugar in 1983 when he served as a PR adviser to Amstrad electronics brand.

RETAIL SALES STRONGEST IN DECADE

Robust trading on Black Friday pushed retail sales to their strongest annual pace in more than a decade, reports the Daily Telegraph. Retail sales volumes rose by 1.6% in November compared with October. For the first time in a year, there was growth in all main store types - including food, clothing, fuel and household goods. Economists had expected growth of 0.4%.

QUOTE OF THE DAY … PUTIN CAN’T ‘BEAR’ IT

“They will always try to put it on a chain. As soon as they succeed in doing so they will tear out its fangs and claws.” Defiant Vladimir Putin pulls a bear metaphor as he blames the West for Moscow’s fiscal woes.

MARKETS RALLY ON DOUBLE BOOST

Markets have rallied thanks the to the double boost of the stabilizing Russian rouble and Wednesday’s positive message from the US Federal Reserve, says The Times. In America, the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq all recorded big gains. Here in London, the FTSE 100 was up for the third session in a row, rising by 129.52 points to 6,466.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0735 GMT

FTSE-100: up +2.04 to 6466.00
Dow Jones: up +2.43 to 17778.15
Dax: up +2.79 to 9811.06
Cac-40: up +3.35 to 4249.49
Nikkei: up +2.39 to 17621.40
Hang Seng: up +1.32 to 23132.73
US dollar: buys €0.81360 and £0.63840
Sterling: buys $1.56630 and €1.27440
Oil: $59.69 down -2.3