The Business: Wednesday March 19 2014
Company news, markets and financial talking points, available from 8am Monday to Friday
George Osborne’s Budget is set to be stuffed with pre-election messages tested and signed off by Conservative election strategist Lynton Crosby, says The Guardian. The FT expects Osborne to announce a cap on more than £100bn of welfare spending. The BBC says the amount of income people receive tax-free could be raised above £10,000. However, The Independent says despite the recovery, Osborne will have little fiscal room for manoeuvre.
A new £1 coin, aiming to be the “most secure in the world”, will be introduced in 2017. The news comes as fears grow over the existing £1 coin’s vulnerability to counterfeiting. An estimated 45m counterfeit £1 coins are in circulation. The Royal Mint says the new coin, which has a 12-sided bi-metallic design, will increase “public confidence” in the UK’s currency and reduce costs for banks and businesses.
Mark Carney has announced a radical shake-up of the Bank of England, bringing to an end what he calls the “fatally flawed” exclusive focus on inflation. The governor’s review has identified 15 key initiatives including the creation of a financial stability strategy and risk directorate, a prudential policy directorate and a new evaluation unit to help to fulfil its mission statement. He is also making wholesale management changes.
Discount supermarket Lidl has won the hearts of “Maidstone mums”, says its UK boss. "The recession shone a spotlight on us as a supermarket that offers high quality products at low prices," said Ronny Gottschlich. Lildl and fellow discounters Aldi now account for 75p out of every £10 spent on food and are bigger than the Co-op, the country's fifth largest supermarket. Between them they plan to open 70 more shops this year.
New York has replaced London as the financial capital of the world, according to the latest edition of an influential index. The Global Financial Centres Index, which is published every six months, says that the Big Apple has come ahead of the City for the first time since the index’s launch in 2007. The UK’s second financial centre, Edinburgh, has to 64th place in the chart. In the first edition it had been ranked as high as 15th.
FTSE-100: up +0.56 to 6605.28
Dow Jones: up +0.55 to 16336.19
Dax: up +0.67 to 9242.55
Cac-40: up +0.97 to 4313.26
Nikkei: up +0.36 to 1446252
Hang Seng: down -0.01 to 21582.18
US dollar: buys €0.71810 and £0.60250
Sterling: buys $1.65980 and €1.9200
Oil: $106.64 up +0.4