Companies, Markets and Finance
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The political parties will be watching closely as GDP figures for the first quarter of 2015 are released today. Following a series of disappointing economic data over the first three months that may weigh on the UK's performance for the whole year, George Osborne could come under pressure if, as expected, the latest figures to show that growth has fallen from 0.6% to 0.5% since end of 2014.
Rampant iPhone sales among the middle class in China have helped propelled Apple ahead of Wall Street’s forecasts for the fifth successive quarter, reports the Financial Times. The software giant has pledged to return another $70bn to shareholders. Apple reported revenue growth of 275 to $58bn in its fiscal second quarter, ahead of analysts’ expectations of around $56bn.
Dalton Philips, the former boss of Morrisons, was paid a £1m performance-related bonus last year, despite being sacked for presiding over a plunge in sales, profits and market share at the bewildered supermarket chain. Philips, who left the Bradford-based retailer three months ago, received a total pay package of £2.1m for the year to February.
Is the Bank Holiday on its way out? The BBC says the forthcoming Spring bank holiday - on May 4 - will see more than a hundred branches open to the public for the first time. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and NatWest have announced they will open 34 branches across the UK as part of a trial, as the 144 year-old tradition of banks closing to give us all a day off begins to fade.
Europe will remain dependent on Russian gas for years to come, warns Centrica. The energy giant has dismissed suggestions the EU can replace it with other sources as "unrealistic". Since the Ukraine crisis escalated last year, European leaders have desperately tried to cut reliance on imports Russia. Ed Davey has suggested loft insulation and wind farms were needed to "take on the Kremlin".
“Last year’s AGM saw an appearance from a retired bullock farmer called Sir Ken Morrison, who lambasted the board for talking “bullshit”. Wonder if he’ll make a reappearance this year.” Alistair Osborne predicts a colourful AGM for Morrisons.
FTSE-100: up +0.47 to 7103.98
Dow Jones: down -0.23 to 18037.97
Dax: up +1.93 to 12039.16
Cac-40: up +0.44 to 5268.91
Nikkei: up +0.40 to 20064.08
Hang Seng: down -0.05 to 28420.07
US dollar: buys €0.91900 and £0.65630
Sterling: buys $1.52450 and €1.40050
Oil: $64.64 down -1.0