The Business: Wednesday June 25 2014
Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday
Mark Carney has played down the chances of an imminent rate rise, saying 4% annual growth is not being matched by higher wages and stronger productivity. His statement provoked criticism from MPs, who accused him of behaving like an “unreliable boyfriend” and using “smoke and mirrors” to keep changing his position on interest rates. Sterling fell by half a cent against the dollar to $1.6977 in response to the Governor’s comments.
Home sales have hit their highest level of the year but a banking group says the "heat is coming out of the housing market". According to data from HM Revenue and Customs, 100,360 homes were sold in the UK in May, up from 95,600 in April. Sales customarily rise during the spring, but the British Bankers' Association said mortgage approvals – a strong indicator of future sales – had dropped. The total of 65,132 approvals was 3.5% lower overall than in the same month of last year.
Business secretary Vince Cable is warning "unscrupulous employers" that he will ban clauses in zero-hours contracts that prevent workers from taking on shifts with more than one employer. Cable said legislation to be introduced today will offer greater flexibility to workers currently forced to work for a single employer even when they get few paid hours. “Today, we are legislating to clamp down on abuses to ensure people get a fair deal,” he said.
Pubs are losing out on takings after England’s early World Cup exit, says Sky News. The British Beer & Pub Association expected four million extra pints of lager to be sold during England’s clash with Costa Rica yesterday, down from its initial estimate of six million pints. However, Poundland enjoyed a 60% increase in sales of England merchandise compared with the 2010 World Cup, and Thomas Cook saw traffic volumes on its website double last weekend after England’s exit.
“He poured the wine, dimmed the lights and was going to make his move... and now it does seem like he's got cold feet." Gemma Godfrey, from Brooks MacDonald, on Mark Carney's changing interest rate signals.
The chemical firm which supplies Unilever, L’Oreal and Procter & Gamble, has become the latest UK company to suffer from sterling’s rise. Shares in the company tumbled 218p to 2188p, with the 9% fall wiping £260m off its stock market value, reducing it to £3bn. Croda says it now expects 2014 pretax profit to be dented by the strong pound, coming in below last year's figure of £251.4m if sterling remains at current levels, with analysts tipping £240m.
FTSE-100: down -0.20 to 6787.07
Dow Jones: down -070 to 16818.13
Dax: up +0.17 to 9938.08
Cac-40: down -0.57 to 4518.34
Nikkei: down -0.64 to 15277.34
Hang Seng: down -0.03 to 22873.78
US dollar: buys €0.73440 and £0.58910
Sterling: buys $1.69730 and €1.24650
Oil: $114.28 up +0.1