25 July 2014
Robert Peston explains why he had "the time of his journalistic life" during the UK's economic crisis.
Argentina has defaulted on its debt - for the second time in 13 years - after last-minute talks in New York with a group of bond-holders end in failure.
The growth in house prices is starting to moderate, according to the UK's biggest building society, the Nationwide.
Manchester United's US owners will pocket about $150 million by selling more of their shares in the club on the New York Stock Exchange.
Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell describes its performance as "robust" after its second-quarter profits more than doubled.
25 July 2014
BSkyB move to create a pan-European giant could be part of a bigger project
It's a new day and there's a new house price index. This time it's from Nationwide Building Society which says average property values rose 0.1% this month compared with a 1% rise in June. House prices have now been rising for 15 months in a row, according to Nationwide's index.
Centrica's outgoing boss, Sam Laidlaw, has been telling Today the company's earnings were hit by two weather-related phenomena: "We had warmer weather in the UK which meant that actually our average customers' consumption of gas was down 24%. We actually also simultaneously had very cold weather in the US - the polar vortex - which resulted in generating companies charging us with a lot of additional ancillary costs." Nicely put.
Ah the regular battle between underlying and statutory pre-tax profits continues. See if you can get your heads around this. Rolls Royce has reported a 1,000% - yup 1,000% - rise in its statutory pre-tax profits to £717m in the six months to the end of June compared with a loss of £527m a year earlier. But the underlying figure shows a 20% fall in profits to £644m from £804m the year before.
European markets have opened mixed as investors attempt to digest the glut of corporate results out today. The biggest rise on the FTSE 100 in early trade is oil and gas firm BP Group - not to be confused with British Gas - up 2.67% to 1212.00p.
Its not just major UK results that are whooshing out at speed this morning. After Samsung's figures, here's Far East fellow Sony's. The company said it made $261m (£367m) in the past three months, thanks to strong sales of its PlayStation 4 console. The weak yen, which makes its products cheaper for outsiders, also helped. But not enough, it still expects to make a full-year loss.
The diet has been a most austere one this morning. Time for something pretty, Who could take against a Tunnock's tea cake? (Other cakes are available, says the BBC). The giant ones used to such arresting effect at the Commonwealth Games' opening ceremony are being auctioned today.
BAE Systems, which is Europe's biggest defence contractor, has reported a 7% fall in six month profits. The reason? Lower military spending by major customer the US. Half-year earnings were £802m. BAE warned earlier this year that earnings would by between 5-10% down on last year because of US defence spending cuts. Or defense spending, as it would say.
TSB says costs rose by £62m in the last six month. That's in part because the bank no longer benefits from the economies of scale that Lloyds Bank gave it. That said, it won 9.2% of new or switched current accounts and is managing to maintain its market share. Lloyds still owns 65% of TSB but must get rid of its remaining shareholding under an agreement with the EU Commission by the end of 2015.
Back to TSB for a moment. The figure that TSB would prefer investors paid more attention to (because they believe it is more reaslistic) is the near 17% fall in pre-tax profits to £78.6m in the past six months. Part of the problem with assessing TSB's accounts is that the bank only listed on the stock exchange in June, and has only existed as a separate entity from Lloyds Banking Group since 9 September last year.
Outgoing boss Sam Laidlaw says profit per household in 2014 expected to be around £40 (£51 before tax), that's 20% lower than in 2013. He also warns that profits won't be as good this year as last.
OK.... so those legacy issues in full. Lloyds says these include set aside payments for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) of £600m and £226m for Lloyds' involvement in the 2012 Libor interest rate rigging scandal and fiddling the repo rate. Lloyds also paid out £1.1bn to investors as part of a scheme that is seeing it buy back fixed income bonds - known as Enhanced Capital Notes - issued in 2009. That was then partly offset by a pensions credit of £710m, the bank says.
Prices now: The company says average actual British Gas customer bill is expected to be around £90 lower - 7% - per household in 2014 than last year.
So, good results for TSB on the face of it but not so good for parent Lloyds Banking Group? The bank has reported a big fall in statutory pre-tax profits to £863m in the six months to the end of June from £2.1bn for the same period a year earlier. That's a fall of nearly 60%. It says it took another hit of £1.1bn for what it initially describes as legacy issues - we'll investigate that and tell you what they are momentarily.
Energy regulator Ofegm said this week that UK suppliers' profits would grow from 4% to 8% this year, but Centrica said its profit margins would be lower for the year.
The drugs giant recently beat off a $118bn takeover attempt by US giant rival Pfizer. One of the key planks of its defence was its drugs "pipeline" - the products it is creating and hopes will work safely. There's a full report on how that's going here.
A huge rise in profits at TSB today, although hard to really gauge properly given it was only recently spun off from parent Lloyds Banking Group. It says statutory pre-tax profits in the six month to the end of June rose 164% to £128.5m compared with the six months to the end of December 2013. The bank says the statutory figure when compared to the first six months of 2013 is "of limited benefit".
Drugs giant Astra Zeneca reports second quarter revenue rose 4% to $6.5bn.
Construction company Balfour Beatty has called off talks with Carillion over a possible £3bn merger - just days after the possible deal was first mentioned. There may be interesting share price reaction to that when the markets open in under an hour.
Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has reported profits doubled in its second quarter to $5.1bn (£3bn) from $2.4bn a year earlier.
Giant French bank BNP Paribas reports a loss of 4.3bn euros (£3.4bn), after being whacked by an $8.95bn fine for breaking US sanctions, but BNP said the underlying result was strong and a sign clients had not been scared off. The loss was its first since the 2008 financial crisis.
Centrica's headline profit before tax for the six months to end of June is £890m, 40% down on last time.
Yet another major company reporting today. BT says revenue up 0.5% percent on an underlying basis to £4.4bn and profits flat at £1.4bn. It says there's record demand for superfast broadband and its sports TV service is growing nicely.
Drinks giant Diageo reports profits of £2.7bn, down from £3.06bn.
Operating profits for its British Gas residential energy supply fell 26%, Centrica says.
The energy giant's statutory pre-tax profit for the six months to end of June are £890m, down 40% on last time.
More from Trevor Sikorski, this time on Centrica, which releases its half-year results shortly. He tells Today: "We are expecting quite a dramatic fall in profits at Centrica and at the moment, their cost base isn't representing that fall in gas prices - essentially because energy companies bulk buy - and so the gas they bought on the wholesale prices won't have fed through yet, but will do later down the line."
Energy company profits are all being driven by "a big reduction in wholesale power prices," Trevor Sikorski, from consultants Energy Aspects, tells Today "When you have a mild winter, you don't use a lot of gas and you don't draw down gas reserves," He adds consumers are as responsible for the state of the market as the energy firms themselves. They "generally don't switch very much" and "we're not sensitive to price changes when they happen, which isn't encouraging competition," he says.
Smartphone maker Samsung reports its worst quarterly profit in two years as smartphone sales slow. Net profit for the three months to June fell 20% to 6.3 trillion won ($6.1bn).
"The repercussions of a default are coming through and we're going to see Argentina under pressure and inflation running higher and the country falling further into recession," Eimar Day from foreign exchange company Monex Europe tells the Today programme. Argentina is paying 7% on its bonds so why should bondholders be surprised when it defaults? she asks. "These are risky investments and creditors should have been prepared for that." Investors should also allow countries like Argentina to default and get back on their feet, she argues.
Energy regulator Ofgem says the big six energy firms could double their profit margins from 4% to 8% over the coming year, FROM 4% TO 8%. That's the equivalent of making £100 per dual-fuel customer.
Another development late last night was news the Glazers sold 5% of their stake in Manchester United - raising about £90m.
Eimar Day from foreign exchange company Monex Europe is on Wake Up to Money, looking at Wednesday's news the US economy is growing at 4% a year. She's not convinced it's all that great: "Most of it was rebuilding inventory. There's an armchair labour market in the US. People who have just given up looking for work. The unemployment rate is 6.1%, which gives a glowing image of the US economy, but the economically inactive do not show up in this data."
Argentina in default this morning after the collapse of last-minute talks in New York between its government and a group of bond-holders. But the rest of the world need not worry too much, James Lockhart Smith, Latin America analyst for Maplecroft, tells Wake Up to Money: "Negative news for the Argentina economy as a whole but it is unlikely to spread to other countries."
Welcome to Thursday's Business Live. It's all about energy this morning as we wait for Centrica's results - as regulator Ofgem says the biggest six firms are set to double their profit margins over the next year.
Your experiences of going out for meals on your own
How can firms defend themselves against irate reviews?
The tricky business of succession planning in Taiwanese companies
Call it something else, says Argentina's president
Which side could be hurt the most?
The reindeer herders fighting an iron ore mine in northern Sweden
The tech firm helping San Francisco's tough Tenderloin area
Turning Shakespeare's theatre into a living laboratory
Last Updated at 04:41 ET
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