The Business: Tuesday April 8 2014
Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday
Many middle-class families became better off during the financial crisis, new research claims. A report from the Social Market Foundation think tank found that many middle-income families prospered during the crisis by cutting their costs and taking on more work. Between 2007 and 2011, some 42% of households in the middle bracket rose into higher income brackets, it found. The news has led to claims that the recent squeeze on living standards has been exaggerated.
Vince Cable is being recalled by MPs to answer further questions over the privatisation of Royal Mail. Following a report by the National Audit Office last week, saying the government could have achieved better value for money for taxpayers, the business secretary will be questioned by the House of Commons Business Committee for a second time at the end of the month. Royal Mail shares are more than 70% higher than their 2013 sale price.
Britain’s recent economic growth might be short term and recovery is "not yet secure", says the British Chambers of Commerce. The BCC’s chief economist David Kern claimed the recovery could stall as it relies on consumer spending, and personal debt levels are "too high". He insisted that, despite growth in export orders and manufacturing, “challenges persist”. He insisted that personal debt levels “needed to fall”.
“Much of what we thought we knew about not just the past few years but probably even the past few decades will be swept away. Thousands of books and research papers will become obsolete, as will hundreds of thousands of news stories.” Allister Heath says official statisticians are about to “drastically” rewrite decades of economic history.
The Co-op bank has delayed the release of its full year results for a second time amid rumours that it made a loss of at least £1.3bn in 2013. The lender released a brief statement in which it said it needs more time to finalise the results, which were due today but will now be published “no later” than Friday. Last month, it admitted it needed to tap investors for a further £400m to cover extra losses related to its payment protection insurance business and breaches of the Consumer Credit Act.
Complaints about energy firms have trebled in the first quarter of this year, says the sector’s ombudsman. The figures, which show that between January and March complaints trebled to 10,638, compared with 3,277 received during the same period last year, come as Ofgem says it is referring the sector to the Competition and Markets Authority for a full-scale competition inquiry. The regulator is calling for "increased transparency" in the industry.
FTSE-100: down -1.09 to 6622.84
Dow Jones: down -1.02 to 16245.87
Dax: down -1.91 to 9510.85
Cac-40: down -1.08 to 4436.08
Nikkei: down -1.10 to 14646.57
Hang Seng: up +0.92 to 22582.54
US dollar: buys €0.72760 and £0.60180
Sterling: buys $1.66150 and €1.20890
Oil: $105.96 down -0.7