30 October 2013 Last updated at 10:00

Business Live: Wednesday morning briefing

Key Points

  • Barclays reported a big jump in pre-tax profits to £2.85bn and did not increase provisions for PPI claims.
  • The government proposed a cap for charges on auto-enrolment pension funds of between 0.75% and 1%.
  • Spain's economy posted quarterly growth of 0.1% between July and September, its first growth since the beginning of 2011.
    0600: Pia Gadkari Business reporter, BBC News

    Good morning and welcome. We'll be bringing you the day's business headlines, as well as company results, economic data and the best of the BBC's business stories as they happen. You can get in touch by emailing bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweeting @BBCBusiness.

    0600: Anthony Reuben Business reporter, BBC News

    Good morning. There was a great response to our extended Live Page yesterday, but we're back to normal timings today. What did you think of the extended hours? Email bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @BBCBusiness.


    Today we're looking ahead to lots of company results, and European economic data. We will see new GDP figures from Spain, and are waiting to see how Barclays has been doing.

    PENSION CAP 0607:

    The government is proposing a cap on the fees charged by companies providing auto-enrolment pension schemes at between 0.75% and 1%. The Treasury is consulting on its plans, which it says could save people tens of thousands of pounds.

    INDIAN ECONOMY Via Twitter Linda Yueh Chief business correspondent

    tweets: India central bank governor #Rajan explained to me why there is no risk of crisis & his comfort range for the rupee.

    ENERGY PRICES 0614: Radio 5 live

    Mickey Clark's summary on Radio 5 live of yesterday's session of energy companies being questioned by MPs: "If excuses were profitable then these companies would be worth a fortune."

    UK MANUFACTURING 0620: Radio 4

    "Manufacturing is changing," chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport says in a discussion on the Today programme about the future of UK manufacturing. He envisages that more data points - enabling a manufacturer to track a product and its performance - and personalised manufacturing, will transform the sector.

    ENERGY PRICES 0625: Radio 4

    Richard Dunbar, investment director at Scottish Widows, is on the Today programme now. He says that, as a shareholder for one of the major UK energy companies, he does not believe the firms are making outsized profits. "It does not look like excess returns," he says, but adds that if the public think their bills are too high then there does need to be an inquiry.

    PENSION CAP 0628: Radio 5 live

    Pensions expert Ros Altman tells Radio 5 live: "It's not just about the charges. Of course the government's right to cap the charges, but on the way out when you buy an annuity you can lose a significant chunk of your pension fund money if you do the wrong thing as well."


    Do you know the Alison project? It's been described as the biggest education company you've never heard of - and it hopes to have one billion students towards the end of the decade. You can read more about it here.

    Students in Rwanda

    This morning's Sun runs the story that Sainsbury's is taking its challenge to Tesco Price Promise to judicial review, with the headline "Aisle see you in court". Sainsbury's says that Price Promise does not compare like with like, ignoring aspects of sourcing such as whether products are Fairtrade. The Advertising Standards Authority has already rejected the claims.

    Tesco and Sainsbury's signs
    PENSION CAP 0649: Radio 5 live

    Pensions Minister Steve Webb responds on Radio 5 live to the suggestion that pension charges should be capped lower than 0.75%, saying that it's important not to cap the level so low that providers are put off. The cap needs to be "at a level where there's competition in the market", he says.


    We'll be getting an interest rate announcement from the US central bank later on. At last month's meeting the main rate stayed at a record low of between 0% and 0.25%. The general consensus seems to be that there will be no policy changes made this month, but investors are looking for any sign that tapering, or an easing of the Federal Reserve's stimulus, might be around the corner.

    Barclays Bank

    Barclays has reduced its provision to pay compensation to people mis-sold payment protection insurance by £387m. That's not something you see every day. Yesterday Lloyds increased its provision by £750m. [Editor's note: it turns out that provisions weren't actually cut - see 0730 post]


    Barclays has reported a big increase in nine-month pre-tax profits to £2.85bn - that's up from £962m in the same period last year.


    We have results for the Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (Ana). Its profit forecast for the whole year has been cut dramatically - by two thirds to 15bn yen ($153m, £95m) from the 45bn yen it projected in April - and the company's first-half profits are down because of high fuel costs.

    NEXT RESULTS 0721:

    We've also just had a statement out from clothing retailer Next. It says its third-quarter sales were up by 4.3%, and up 3% for the year to date. The company has also notched up its guidance for the full year, and expects profits before tax of £650m-£680m.


    Whoops! Turns out that Barclays provisions for PPI mis-selling have not been reduced, they've just not increased. This is the line in the statement: "utilisation of the provisions for PPI redress resulted in a reduction in the provision by £387m to £1,263m". That means they've used £387m of the money set aside, not that they've reduced the provision. Sorry!

    BARCLAYS RESULTS Via Twitter Victoria Fritz Business reporter, BBC News

    tweets: Surprised to see that it's Europe, not UK or even investment bank causing the biggest headache for @Barclays pic.twitter.com/CEkH8Z0Vq5

    ENERGY PRICES 0736: Radio 4

    How do small energy firms fit into the market? Dale Vince, founder and head of one such company, Ecotricity, has told Radio 4 that it has been able to keep its prices down because it invests customers' bill money in green energy sources and is now at about 40% self-generation. He says many customers get "ripped off" by the big energy providers.

    PENSION CAP 0748: Radio 5 live

    More from Pensions Minister Steve Webb on Radio 5 live - he says the consultation on capping auto-enrolment pension charges will be done in four weeks and be enacted by Easter. He promises "a full frontal assault" on charges in the pensions industry.

    Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    tweets: C&C, Dublin-based Tennent's brewer, boosts Mar-Aug sales 28% to 337m euros, and profit up 8% to 71m euros, as it pushes into US 'hard cider'

    TEPCO BREAKUP? 0755:

    The Japanese government has agreed on a rough plan for a potential break-up of Tepco, the company operating the Fukushima nuclear power plant, saying the part of the company dealing with cleaning up after the disaster should be separated. The plant has suffered a series of problems including toxic water leaks after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

    Fukushima nuclear power plant

    This morning's Telegraph business section features a drawing of Mongol hordes, with the caption "conquests by the 13th-century Mongol ruler Genghis Khan wiped out 11% of the global population". And there'll be more business news tomorrow... Actually, it's above an editorial about why capitalism has made the world much better than it used to be.

    SPANISH ECONOMY 0804: Breaking News

    Official figures in Spain have confirmed that the Spanish economy has come out of recession, posting 0.1% growth between July and September. It's the first time it's posted any growth since the beginning of 2011. It confirms the prediction from Spain's central bank last week.


    More on those Spanish economic growth figures. Don't crack open the Cava too soon. While the economy avoided contracting in the last quarter, it's still 1.2% smaller than it was this time last year.

    Spanish food market
    BARCLAYS RESULTS 0810: Robert Peston Business editor

    says: "The sins of the past are continuing to haunt big British banks - as Barclays has today revealed that it is cooperating with regulators around the world, including the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, in their investigation of whether the currency market has been manipulated."

    ENERGY PRICES 0818: Radio 4

    What would stop energy bills from going up? Tony Cocker, chief executive of E.On tells the Today programme that the only solution would be to move taxes and levies off energy bills and into general taxation. But he won't say whether such a move would stop the company from rolling out a price hike.

    light bulbs
    TODAY PODCAST 0820: Radio 4

    If you missed the business news at 06:15 this morning on the Today programme you can download the podcast here. You can hear Simon Jack talk to Sir Mark Walport, chief scientific advisor to the UK government explaining the role of science in UK manufacturing.


    If you're just joining us, there's plenty to bite into this morning. We have seen the first signs of growth in Spain's economy after two years of contraction, and the BBC has been speaking to energy bosses the day after they answered MPs questions about price rises. The government wants to cap some pension fees, and Barclays posted a big profit.

    INDIAN ECONOMY 0839: Via Blog Linda Yueh Chief business correspondent
    Raghuram Rajan

    blogs after interviewing India's central bank governor: "Mr Rajan said that India has enough money to pay for all of its short-term debts tomorrow if it needed to, as it has reserves that are equal to 15% of GDP. This is a key difference from two decades ago when the country was rescued by the IMF."

    ENERGY PRICES 0853: Robert Peston Business editor

    speaking on Radio 5 live after the interview with E.On boss Tony Cocker: "People simply don't believe that they're keeping their prices as low as possible," he says, adding that the general public regard the big energy companies both generating and selling energy as a conflict of interest. Could a competition inquiry lead to the big six being broken up, he asks.


    Reader Alastair Walker tweets: @BBCBusiness just been to Spain and judging by number of empty shops and apartments for sale, things still very tough.. #justsaying


    Nintendo has just released results for the first half of the year, declaring a profit of 600m yen ($6.1m, £3.8m). Although there is no breakdown for the July-September quarter, many analysts say the company made a loss, as its first quarter report showed profits of 8.6bn yen. Sales of Wii continue to struggle, and overall sales are down 2.2% from this time last year.

    Super Mario
    PENSION CAP Via Email

    Eddie Storey in Doncaster, emails: Today people like my wife and I who worked hard, paid NI and saved for their retirement are penalised by those who they trusted to look after their pensions.


    A response arrives from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to E.On's suggestion that the Competition Commission should investigate whether the energy market is competitive. It says there will be a review, but it will be led by the energy regulator Ofgem, in conjunction with the Office of Fair Trading and the new Competition and Markets Authority.

    ENERGY PRICES 0911: Radio 5 live

    E.On boss Tony Cocker declines a suggestion from Radio 5's Nicky Campbell that he should promise not to follow the example of four of the big six energy companies and raise prices, so he can increase market share. "We will keep our prices low for as long as we can," he says.


    The price of farmland in the UK is rising faster than property prices in London! Apparently, rural land became 11% more expensive last year. Interestingly, much of the increase is in the price of prime arable land rather than the pre-crisis demand for second homes. Christopher Miles from Savills estate agent says: "The majority of the buyers are farmers because there's a new confidence in UK agriculture."

    A field in Suffolk

    Looking round the markets, the FTSE 100 is up 0.5%, led by a 6% rise in the shares of Next, which had results out this morning. The Dax in Frankfurt is up 0.4% and the Cac 40 in Paris is up 0.6%. The Nikkei in Tokyo closed 1.2% higher while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong closed up 2.0%.


    Something you may have missed this morning: the Prince's Trust has called on the government to tackle youth unemployment, saying young people could be trapped in a lifetime of joblessness if more is not done.

    ENERGY PRICES 0948: Via Blog Robert Peston Business editor

    blogs: "This is not a cheap public relations stunt. Once an investigation is launched - and I am told that the prime minister is very close to initiating one - a cloud of expensive uncertainty will descend on the industry."

    UK ECONOMY 0954:

    In an interview with the Western Mail newspaper, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the bank would use the full range of instruments at its disposal to help balance the recovery around the UK. "It is quite different across different parts of the United Kingdom and there isn't that momentum yet here in Wales, certainly nothing compared to what's happening in the centre of London," he said.

    ENERGY PRICES Via Twitter

    The Office for National Statistics tweets: Despite no rise in consumption household gas & elec spending rose from £3.5bn to £8.5bn per 1/4 between 2003 & 2013 http://bit.ly/1irAUAu


    And that's it for today's live page. It's been a busy morning with results from the likes of Barclays, Next and Nintendo, and Spain's economy showing signs of life. We've also brought you the latest on the government's plans to cap pension fees and kept abreast of the row over rising energy prices. Thanks for being with us. We'll be back at 06:00 tomorrow.


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