The Business: Wednesday August 20 2014

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

MPS TO QUIZ CARNEY ON ‘OSBORNE PACT’

Mark Carney is set to be quizzed by MPs next month over allegations that he has a secret pact with George Osborne to keep interest rates on hold until after the general election. Tory MP Mark Field tells The Times: “He’s a political operator. He understands the political cross-currents. I’ve long been sceptical that you can have a genuinely independent Bank of England, especially this close to an election.”

APPLE SHARES CLOSE AT RECORD HIGH

Apple is hoping it has drawn a line under a difficult period after its shares closed at a record high yesterday, reports the Daily Telegraph. Shares topped the $100 mark in early-morning trading in New York, and closed up 1.4% at $100.53, surpassing the previous record of $100.27 set in September 2012. Investors are increasingly confident that the technology giant’s best days are still to come.

INFLATION RULES OUT 2014 RATES RISE

Analysts say an interest rate rise this year is “no longer in play”, after inflation fell to 1.6% in July, from 1.9% in June. The unexpectedly sharp decline, below the predicted fall to 1.8%, will ease pressure on Bank of England governor Mark Carney to raise rates. “Today’s data support the case for rates to go up later rather than sooner,” Liz Martins, an economist at HSBC, tells the Daily Telegraph.

BIEBER AND SWIFT PERFUMES FLOP

A huge fall on sales of celebrity perfumes, particularly the Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber scents, has left Elizabeth Arden feeling from a historic loss. The company said quarterly sales plunged 28.4%, the steepest fall in a decade, and warned that weak sales will continue for at least six months. The Guardian reports that the company’s shares plunged more than 20% in premarket trading.

QUOTE OF THE DAY… BALLMER STILL ‘BLEEDS MICROSOFT’

“I bleed Microsoft - I have for 34 years and I always will. Count on me to keep ideas and inputs flowing. The company will move to higher heights." Ex-Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer as he announces he is leaving the company’s board of directors.

RAIL FARES TO RISE BY 3.5%

There is bad news for commuters this morning as rail fares are set to rise by 3.5% from January next year, following the release of July's inflation figures. The Office for National Statistics says the RPI - the Retail Prices Index - was 2.5% last month. Average fares in England are expected to go up by July's RPI measure, plus 1%, says the BBC. Labour says the government is “ripping off” passengers.

THE NUMBERS... AT 0745 BST


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