The Business: Thursday April 24 2014
Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday
Benefit cuts have sparked a new generation of entrepreneurs, says the Bank of England. It argues that one of the most “striking” features of the economic recovery has been the record 4.5m Britons who are now self-employed. Official figures suggest that the number of self-employed workers has risen by more than 600,000 since 2010. The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith says that the figures were evidence that the Coalition was reviving Britain’s “entrepreneurial spirit”.
Primark is to open its first US store as profits soar at the discount fashion chain. The Independent reports that retailer has posted a 26% jump in first-half profits and is now set to open its first 70,000 square-feet store in Boston by the end of next year. It could have as many as half a dozen US stores by 2016. "We are looking at the north-east from Washington to Maine," said chief executive George Weston.
The Labour Party is seeking to sever its ties with the troubled Co-op Bank, reports the BBC. The move would bring to an end one of the oldest political partnerships in UK. Labour's general secretary Ian McNicoll is planning to move loans worth more than £1m to the trade union-owned Unity Trust Bank. Once the loan has been moved, say sources, Labour will transfer all its current account facilities to the same bank.
Facebook has posted profits of $642m (£383m) during the first quarter of 2014. The figure beat the predictions of analysts. The social networking giant said that soaring levels of mobile advertising helped drive revenues 72% higher, to $2.5bn in the January-to-March period. Significantly, mobile now makes up 59% of advertising revenue, from 30% a year ago. "We've made some long term bets on the future while staying focused on executing and improving our core products and business,” said Mark Zuckerberg.
Apples shares have jumped after a 17% rise in iPhone sales, reports the Financial Times. The news of the sales drove an 8% rise in shares. Wall Street applauded the overall 5% rise in sales to $45.6bn, after many had feared Apple’s growth might stall altogether. Apple has topped up its capital return programme by over $30bn and increased its dividend by 8%. It also boosted share buybacks to redistribute a planned $130bn before the end of next year.
FTSE-100: down -0.11 to 6674.74
Dow Jones: down -0.08 to 16501.65
Dax: down -0.58 to 9544.19
Cac-40: down -0.74 to 4451.08
Nikkei: down -0.91 to 14413.41
Hang Seng: up +0.10 to 22533.12
US dollar: buys €0.72390 and £0.59580
Sterling: buys $1.67840 and €1.21500
Oil: $109.21 down -0.1