The Business: Monday July 14 2014

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

PRICES SOAR, HOMES ON MARKET SLUMP

House prices are soaring, as builders and estate agents are report surging profits but the number of properties on the market has slumped to a record low. In May the average estate agent was advertising 44 properties, down from 100 back in December 2008. The lack of homes for sale has coincided with a rising market. Home-owning Londoners, for instance, are sitting on gains of 26% over a year, while prices across Britain are up nearly 12%, according to the UK’s second largest mortgage lender Nationwide.

EXECUTIVE PAY 180 TIMES HIGHER THAN AVERAGE

Executive pay has grown from 60 times that of the average worker to almost 180 times since the 1990s, according to a report from a think thank. The High Pay Centre says investors are still backing high executive pay deals despite being handed new powers to vote them down at annual meetings. The government should take action to close the pay gap, it added. The pay of the average FTSE 100 chief executive increased from £4.1m to £4.7m last year.

SPORTS DIRECT SET FOR ROBUST PROFITS

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct is expected to report another robust set of figures on Thursday. Markets expect the sports chain to post earnings up 13.6% to £327.1m. Acquisitions, rising online sales and healthy organic growth have combined to give the discount sportswear retailer a lift, meaning its existing 2011 bonus scheme, which includes 3,000 staff, will have cleared targets for three of the four years it is due to run for.

PHYSICAL BANK BRANCH USES ON THE RISE

Don’t write the obituaries for face-to-face banking just yet – a new report says the use of physical branches has risen over the last two years. More 50% of bank customers use a branch every month despite the rise of internet and mobile banking, says the report from Accenture. The consultancy found that 21% of people use a branch at least once a week, up from 12% in 2012, and 52% use one every month, against 45% two years ago.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… INFLATION PARANOIA ON THE RISE

“These are benign times for us inflation-phobes, we who can never forget 1975, that baleful year that gave us the Bay City Rollers, British Leyland and a record 25 per cent leap in prices.” Patrick Hosking of The Times says he has nothing to fear more than inflation itself.

US OFFERS IMMUNITY TO JUNIOR LONDON TRADERS

US prosecutors are offering immunity deals to junior traders in London as they investigate alleged currency market manipulation. Sources tell the Financial Times that staff from the US Department of Justice have flown to the UK in recent weeks to quiz foreign exchange traders, who have been offered partial immunity in exchange for volunteering information about superiors. The probe into global collusion and market-rigging currency market by at least 15 regulators and prosecutors continues.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0650 BST


FTSE-100: up +0.27 to 6690.17
Dow Jones: up +0.17 to 16943.81
Dax: up +0.07 to 9666.34
Cac-40: up +0.35 to 4316.50
Nikkei: up +0.54 to 15246.67
Hang Seng: up +0.54 to 23344.94
US dollar: buys €0.73500 and £0.58410
Sterling: buys $1.71170 and €1.25810
Oil: $106.55 down -2.0