Companies, Markets and Finance

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

OIL SURGES AFTER SAUDI DEATH

The price of oil has surged following the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. As investors waited to see if the Saudis would maintain production levels following the King’s passing, Brent crude jumped 87 cents, or 1.79%, to $49.39 a barrel, while US oil rose by as much as 3.1% in New York after the Saudi royal court announced the death. Oil prices have more than halved since last summer.

UK DEEPER INTO THE RED

Britain has moved deeper into the red after a £2.9bn payment to the European Commission. Data from the Office for National Statistics showed the government borrowed £13.1bn in December – up from £10.3bn a year earlier. The UK’s deficit rose higher thanks to the controversial payment to the European Commission budget, pushing the national debt up to a record £1.48tn.

TIM COOK’S 43% SALARY BOOST

Apple's chief executive Tim Cook's salary was increased by nearly 43% in February last year, says the BBC. The tech giant announced that Cook's salary rose to $2m (£1.3m) from $1.4m. His total remuneration more than doubled to $9.2m in 2014. It was his first salary increase since November 2011. In November, Apple was worth more than $700bn after its stock hit an all-time high of $119.75.

KA-SHING IN TALKS WITH O2

The richest man in Asia is in talks to buy Britain's second-largest mobile provider O2 for up to £10.25bn ($15.4bn) from Spain's Telefonica. Li Ka-shing’s firm Hutchison Whampoa already owns the Three mobile network, and combining it with O2 would create the UK's biggest mobile group. Competition regulators are bound to scrutinise the bid, which has been rumoured for weeks.

WILL 2015 BE ROYAL MAIL’S YEAR?

The boss of Royal Mail believes that 2015 is the year that "big retailers will realise that quality counts" and opt for its services ahead of rivals such as Yodel. Royal Mail delivered unexpectedly positive Xmas results, with UK parcels up 4%. Moya Green is in bullish mood after City Link went bust on Christmas Eve and Yodel admitted it couldn’t keep up with demand.

QUOTE OF THE DAY … DRAGHI’S BIG BAZOOKA

“He has delivered a bigger bazooka than investors were expecting.” Mauro Vittorangeli, of Allianz Global Investors, on Mario Draghi’s QE package.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0745 GMT


FTSE-100: up +1.02 to 6796.63
Dow Jones: up +1.47 to 17813.98
Dax: up +1.32 to 10435.62
Cac-40: up +1.52 to 4552.80
Nikkei: up +1.05 to 17511.75
Hang Seng: up +1.12 to 24797.86
US dollar: buys €0.88210 and £0.66680
Sterling: buys $1.50010 and €1.32200
Oil: $48.87 down -0.3