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Last week's financial review in 5 minutes

Ref: 156

Date: Mon 25/Mar/2013, 09:12

George Osborne presented a “fiscally neutral” budget that continued the coalition’s policy of austerity. The chancellor:

  • Cut 1p from the price of a pint of beer but increased duty on wine, cider and spirits;
  • Offered access to cheaper home loans;
  • Slashed the forecast for growth this year from 1.2% to 0.6%, with growth of 0.1% in the first quarter, thus avoiding a triple dip recession;
  • Will borrow an extra £55bn over the next five years;
  • Will cut corporation tax to 20% in April 2015;
  • Scrapped the 3p fuel tax rise planned for September.

Cyprus first rejected, then reconsidered, a levy on bank accounts as the price of securing an EU bailout, and sought help from Russia.

The gap between the UK’s monthly spending and revenues fell to £2.8bn, the strongest figure for five years through the number were flattened by one-off factors.

Retails sales jumped to 2.1% in February, beating expectations of a 0.4% rise, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Next, the high street fashion and homeware retailer, saw pre-tax profit rise 15% to £667m on sales up 4% to £3.56bn.

BP is to pay $8bn (£5.3bn) to shareholders following the sale of its stake in the Russian joint venture TNK-BP.

Martin Wheatley, who will lead the new Financial Conduct Authority, said that multimillion-pound fines on banks did little to improve the behaviour of their staff.

Barclays revealed that nine executives landed a total of £40.2m in bonuses, with Rich Ricci, its investment banking chief, picking up £17.6m and Antony Jenkins, the chief executive, collecting £5.6m.

The Co-op put its general insurance business up for sale.

Astra Zeneca announced the closure of Britain’s biggest drug researched centre at Alderley Park, Cheshire, as it announced 1,600 job losses around the world.

Warren East, 51, is to step down after almost 12 years as chief executive of ARM holdings, the Cambridge semiconductor designer.

Lamprell, the oil services provider that issued five profit warnings over seven months last year, was fined £2.5m by the Financial Services Authority for failing to inform the market properly about its situation.

Sir Mike Rake is to succeed Sir Roger Carr as president of the CBI in June. Rake, 65, chairs BT and easyjet and is deputy chairman of Barclays.

As well as a £6.35m pay package in her final year, Dame Marjorie Scardino left Pearson, owner of the Financial Times and Penguin Books, with a painting by Ivor Hitches, an English modernist from her office bought for £12,000 and worth up to £100,000 today.


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