The Business: Friday July 18 2014

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

WATCHDOG CALLS FOR COMPETITION INQUIRY INTO BANKS

The markets watchdog has recommended a full competition inquiry into banks. The Competition and Markets Authority is backing a full-scale inquiry into the banking sector including the provision of current accounts and business lending. The ‘big five’ high street banks, which provide 77% of current accounts, will be watching developments closely. A consultation with the banking industry, which will last until 17 September, will kick off proceedings.

AIR CRASH & GAZA RATTLE US MARKETS

US markets were rattled by the Malaysian air crash and Israel’s ground invasion into Gaza, reports the BBC. The news stories led investors to flee to so-called safe haven assets like gold and US Treasury bonds. The Dow Jones index fell 161.39 points, or 0.94%, to 6,976.81, closing back below the symbolic threshold of 17,000. "I can't remember a time when there were more geopolitical skirmishes going on," said Michael Mullaney, chief investment officer at Fiduciary Trust Co.

FACEBOOK ADDS ‘BUY’ BUTTON

Facebook says a new feature, that will let users buy products directly from its website, will "help businesses drive sales". Users can now click a “buy" button to purchase items in adverts or other posts without leaving the social network. Facebook, which boasts 1.2bn users, has followed rivals into the highly lucrative ecommerce sector, with eMarketer predicting that US online retail sales will total $304.1bn this year.

JAMES MURDOCH IS RISING AGAIN

Is James Murdoch set to cap a comeback? The son of media mogul Rupert appears to be back in favour after being cast out to the wilderness during the phone-hacking scandal. When it was revealed this week that 21st Century Fox had made a bid for Time Warner, James was named as a pivotal part of the proposed deal. He was forced to resign as head of News Uk in 2012, admitting he had become a “lightning rod” for criticism over phone-hacking.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… SANCTIONS JUST GOT SERIOUS

“The level of sanctions is now going up to the point where it does turn genuinely serious.” Sir Tony Brenton - a former a British ambassador to Russia – on Five Live in the wake of the Malaysian airliner crash.

MILLIONAIRE PENSIONER NUMBERS SOAR

One in ten pensioner households is worth more than £1million – the largest proportion since records began, claims a report today. The statistic, from insurer Prudential based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, highlights an elite group of older people who have benefited from the property boom and the old pension system before reforms. The number of pensioner millionaires has jumped by nearly 70% in six years.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0750 BST


FTSE-100: down -0.68 to 6738.32
Dow Jones: down -0.94 to 16976.81
Dax: down -1.21 to 9753.88
Cac-40: up +1.48 to 4316.12
Nikkei: down -1.20 to 15185.73
Hang Seng: down -0.44 to 23417.89
US dollar: buys €0.73940 and £0.58480
Sterling: buys $1.71020 and €1.26450
Oil: $108.40 up +1.2