The Business: Thursday May 22 2014

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

RETAIL SALES LEAP BY 6.9%

Retail sales grew by 6.9% in April – the strongest annual rise in 10 years. The Office for National Statistics says the leap, compared with the same month a year earlier, was joined by a jump of 1.3% between March and April, beating predictions of a 0.5% rise. Food sales during the Easter holiday made a considerable contribution to the overall rise. Quarterly retail sales have now grown for 14 months in a row, said the ONS.

CARNEY WARNS INSURANCE BOSSES

“We’re watching you” – that’s the message to the insurance industry from the Bank of England governor. Writing in The Times, Mark Carney says “integrity, honesty and skill” are not optional qualities in insurance managers. “Alongside reforms that parliament has asked us to make to hold senior bankers to account, we will create a similar regime for senior managers in the insurance industry,” he writes.

RUSSIA SIGNS HISTORIC CHINA GAS DEAL

Russia has inked a multi-billion dollar, 30-year gas deal with China. The deal between China National Petroleum Corp and Russia’s Gazprom is a coup for Vladimir Putin as the US threatens sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. "This is indeed a historic event for the gas sector of Russia and of the Soviet Union," said Putin of the $400bn (£236bn) agreement. "This is the biggest contract in the history of the gas sector of the former USSR."

FAT FACE ABANDONS IPO PLAN

Fat Face has abandoned its plan for a UK IPO amid poor demand for retail shares, says the Daily Telegraph. The clothing store firm, which has 208 stores in the UK and Ireland, was advised last night that it would not be able to sell shares to the level it hoped. Fat Face had been aiming to raise £110m in a move that would have valued the group at around £440m. But it has abandoned its plan after watching other retailers, such as Card Factory, struggle on their market debuts.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… EBAY ‘MISLEADS’ OVER HACK ATTACK

“When eBay said a ‘small number’ of employee credentials were compromised, that’s a very misleading statement that has nothing to do with the risk. That is, how many employee credentials would I need to compromise any company? Just one.” Silicon Valley security expert Tal Klein on how the eBay hackers made their move. 

IS HALFORDS SQUEEZING SUPPLIERS?

Halfords has been accused of squeezing suppliers, says the Daily Telegraph. Letters seen by the newspaper show the cycling and car parts retailer asking its suppliers to pay up to 10% of their annual sales with the retailer in what is seen as a rebate on already agreed contractual payments. The Forum of Private Business says it is “extremely concerned” by the letter. Halfords will post its annual results later today.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0730 GMT


FTSE-100: up +0.28 to 6821.04 Dow Jones: up +0.97 to 16533.06
Dax: up +0.61 to 9697.87
Cac-40: up +0.37 to 4469.03
Nikkei: up +2.11 to 14338.18
Hang Seng: up +0.61 to 22976.89
US dollar: buys €0.73160 and £0.59240
Sterling: buys $1.68840 and €1.23530
Oil: $110.46 up + 0.7