Brent below $ 111 ahead of last-ditch budget talks

Updated 29 December 2012
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Brent below $ 111 ahead of last-ditch budget talks

Brent crude held below $111 per barrel yesterday, not far off its highest this month, as US lawmakers were preparing to launch a last-chance round of budget talks to stop the world’s largest oil consumer slipping back into recession.
Brent crude was down 10 cents to $ 110.70 per barrel by 1342 GMT, on course for a weekly gain of about 1.5 percent and a full-year increase of about 3 percent, which would be its smallest in four years, Reuters reported. US crude rose 17 cents to $ 91.04, set for its first yearly loss in four years.
“We now have to go again into the weekend with the “fiscal cliff” risk, and if it is not solved then crude oil could start 2013 with a correction given that it has for now dissociated itself from equities but without clear new bullish inputs,” said Olivier Jakob from Petromatrix consultancy.
Oil futures outperformed stocks this week and Dow Jones industrial average futures was down again yesterday as US President Barack Obama and congressional leaders were set to meet for the first time since November amid low expectations for a “fiscal cliff” deal before Jan. 1.


Britain’s M&S says must accelerate change or die

Updated 23 May 2018
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Britain’s M&S says must accelerate change or die

LONDON: Britain’s Marks & Spencer said on Wednesday it urgently had to modernize or risk fading away as it reported a second straight decline in annual profit and booked a 321 million pounds ($430 million) charge for a store closure program.
The 134-year-old M&S faces unrelenting competition from supermarkets, fashion chains like Zara, H&M and Primark, as well as online giant Amazon, while efforts to revitalize its business are being hampered by ongoing pressure on UK consumers’ spending power.
M&S reset its strategy in November, two months after retail veteran Archie Norman joined as chairman, detailing a five-year program of store closures and relocations, and moves to make its misfiring food business more competitive.
On Tuesday M&S said it would close 100 UK stores by 2022, further accelerating the plan as it strives to make at least a third of sales online.
M&S, one of the best known names in British retail, said it made a pretax profit before one-off items of 580.9 million pounds ($778.6 million) in the year to March 31.
That was ahead of analysts’ average forecast of 573 million pounds but down from 613.8 million pounds made in 2016-17.
After taking account of adjusted items of 514.1 million pounds, including the charge relating to store closures, pretax profit was 66.8 million pounds, a 62 percent fall.
Turnover was broadly flat at 10.7 billion pounds.
“We have to modernize our business to ensure we are competitive and reignite our culture. Accelerated change is the only option,” said M&S.
Shares in M&S have fallen 26 percent over the last year and the firm is in danger of being booted out of the prestigious FTSE 100 index.
The stock closed Tuesday at 292 pence, valuing the business at 4.7 billion pounds.