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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Standard Chartered’s shares continue their recovery as FTSE 100 flags

Category : Business

City more positive following bank’s defence against Iran accusations by New York regulator

Standard Chartered has continued its recovery following Tuesday’s 16% drop in the wake of New York regulators accusing the bank of $250bn worth of illegal transactions with Iran.

The bank came out fighting in a press conference on Wednesday, attempting to repair its battered reputation and accusing the regulator of “factual inaccuracies” in its attack. It did admit that $14m of transactions did breach US rules.

Buyers have now come back for the banks shares, pushing them 49p higher to 1364.5p and making them the biggest riser in an uncertain FTSE 100. Ian Gordon of Investec kept his buy recommendation, saying:

We wouldn’t expect any bank’s press conference to prove pivotal, but chief executive Peter Sands’ performance yesterday afternoon should, we believe, act as a source of further comfort to shareholders. This doesn’t look like a bank “in crisis mode”, as one might reasonably expect. Standard Chartered is taking the unusual, but courageous, stance of facing down a regulator because it believes that the regulator is factually wrong. Let justice prevail on 15 August [when a hearing takes place]. We expect the end-game to be a fine (of unwarranted size), and then we move on.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch moved its rating from underperform to neutral:

Presumably, Standard Chartered would not take such a strong line with its regulator, unless it was very sure of its position. If the latter is correct then it would be reasonable to expect its shares to recover more of their lost ground. If [the regulator] is proved to be correct then its tactics may increase the likelihood of a much more severe penalty, including (as threatened) the removal of its US banking licence. The stakes are clearly very high. Given the high degree of uncertainty, and the possibility that the outcome may prove less damaging to the bank than at first appeared, we think it is prudent to upgrade to neutral.

Overall the FTSE 100 is marking the fifth year of the financial crisis with a 1.70 point dip to 5844.22, with very light trading volumes. The mining sector is moving higher after weaker than expected Chinese inflation figures prompted talk of more policy action by the country to boost its economy.

Randgold Resources has risen 165p to £63.55 after a 32% rise in second quarter earnings, while Xstrata has added 11.3p to 923.8p following its results earlier in the week.

ITV is up 1.55p at 82.8p after forecasts of a good advertising performance next month. Liberum Capital said:

Initial feedback from a major media buyer suggests September has seen a rebound in advertising for ITV. If correct, this supports our view that July and August advertising weakness was caused more by a temporary shift of spending from TV to newspapers to capture Olympic audiences rather than a more negative general stance on advertising.

BSkyB has climbed 6p to 749p after it won an appeal against an Ofcom ruling that it must sell its sports channels to rivals at regulated prices. The broadcaster could receive £25m from an escrow account related to the pricing system, said analysts. BT, which recently won rights to Premier League football matches, has fallen 5.8p to 215.9p after the ruling.

Amec is the biggest faller in the leading index, down 82p at £10.77 after its half year results. Jon Bell at Shore Capital said:

We note a more cautious tone from management around the operating margin which has fallen by 70 basis points to 7.5%, mainly due to a shift in business mix. Given [the caution], evidence elsewhere of the effects of the global slowdown (e.g. Cape) and with the shares trading at the top end of their recent range, we downgrade our recommendation from buy to hold. We also take this opportunity to lower our full year forecast, reflecting some pressure at the Kearl project in Canada where key performance indicators were not met. We now forecast pretax profit of £330m (previously (£342m).

Lower down the market, Enterprise Inns is up 5.75p at 61.25p after the pubs group said like-for-like income improved in the 18 weeks to the start of August. Simon French at Panmure Gordon said:

Given the improving trading trends and falling bank debt we think the stock continues to offer significant upside potential and reiterate our buy recommendation and 87p target price.

FTSE 100 records fourth successive daily rise as US jobs data beats forecasts

Category : Business

Around £43.5bn added to the value of Britain’s top companies as markets welcome economic data and hope for Greek solution

Leading shares moved higher for the fourth day in a row yesterday, reaching their best level for more than six months, thanks to forecast-beating US jobs figures and continuing hopes of a resolution to the Greek debt crisis.

The FTSE 100 closed up 105 points at 5901.07, with insurer Admiral topping the risers. The group, which has been under pressure since a profit warning last November, jumped 76p to £10.38 after news it had extended its existing UK car reinsurance partnerships until 2014 at the same cost, as well as positive comments from Munich Re, one of its key partners. Ben Cohen at Collins Stewart said:

Munich Re expects €350m premium growth in 2012 due to ‘strong price increases in recovering markets (eg proportional UK motor)’. Munich’s biggest relationship in motor by some margin is with Admiral (40% co-insurance in the UK, 65% reinsurance outside the UK (ex-France)).

We think there is meaningful read-across to our Admiral forecasts. Since the third quarter update, we had been assuming flat premiums in the UK in 2012. Working backwards from Munich’s €350m, we assume €250m of the growth will come from Admiral, which we split three-quarters UK, one-quarter international. This leads us to a 6% increase in UK profits in 2012 and 10% in 2013 (because commissions earn through over time), slightly offset by a higher loss in international, for a 4% earnings per share increase in 2012 and 9% for 2013.

We raise our price target from 880p to 975p.

Since Monday the FTSE 100 has added 168 points – nearly 3% which has added £43.5bn to the value of Britain’s top companies over the week. Investors’ spirits were lifted by positive manufacturing data from around the globe on Wednesday and the surprisingly good US non-farm payroll numbers yesterday, which showed 243,000 jobs created in January compared to expectations of a 150,000 rise. Joshua Raymond, chief market strategist at City Index said:

The FTSE 100 has now firmly broken past resistance at the 5800 level to close the week higher by over 2% and at its week’s trading highs. This is a positive sign for the FTSE and if the Bank of England can deliver next week with announcing more quantitative easing, there is every chance that the FTSE 100 can recover the 6000 level sooner rather than later.

On the corporate front, a proposed £50bn merger between Glencore, up 20.85p at 482.55p yesterday, and Xstrata, 52.5p higher at £12.83, ignited the mining sector. Anglo American – a possible target for the merged group – added 79.5p to £29.10.

There was a mixed picture from the week’s trading updates, with disappointing figures from Unilever, up 35p to £20.29 yesterday, Royal Dutch Shell, down 4p at £22.61 and AstraZeneca, up 26p at £30.10.

Elsewhere Tullow Oil added 22p to £14.62 yesterday after the exploration company signed two new production licences with Uganda and said it was going ahead with a deal to partner with Total and China’s CNOOC in the fields involved at the Lake Albert Rift Basin. Tullow expects the transfer of funds to take place as soon as possible. Tullow has also been awarded a production licence for the Kingfisher project.

British Gas owner Centrica was on the rise after analysts suggested it could return up to £1.2bn to shareholders.

The company raised its stake in the Statfjord field in the north sea earlier in the week, but UBS said further such deals were unlikely to fit its acquisition criteria. Analyst Stephen Hunt said:

Even though Centrica’s preferred strategy remains vertical integration, if the company doesn’t find sufficient investment opportunities, then it could redistribute cash.

We believe that the payment of a special dividend of up to 23.5p a share (8% yield, totalling £1.2bn) is possible in 2012, although Centrica would likely target a lower payout in order to leave headroom for further acquisitions. Strong cashflows mean such a payment could also be repeated in future years.

Hunt repeated his buy recommendation and 330p price target, helping push the shares 5.3p higher to 300.9.

Takeover speculation returned during the week to waste management group Shanks, down 2.5p at 110.5p on profit taking yesterday, and recruitment company Hays, up 5.8p at 85.75p.

Old Mutual added 6.3p to 157.8p after it said it would return £1bn to shareholders via a special dividend after the sale of its Nordic businesses to Skandia.

Lower down the market Enterprise Inns rose 2.75p to 42p following the sale of 15 tenanted pubs to Fuller, Smith & Turner, up 17.5p at 740p, for £22.9m, compared to their £18.4m book value.

Game Group jumped 25% to 6.64p as the troubled retailer agreeing revised lending terms with its banks.

Dixons Retail rose 0.69p to 14.39p after John Lewis reported strong demand for electrical goods last week – up 19.2% helped by continuing demand for tablets and notebooks. Freddie George at Seymour Pierce said:

The news on electricals should help to support the Dixons Retail share price and shows that the positive trend seen in electrical sales in the first couple of weeks of January has continued throughout the rest of the month.

Finally, drug discovery firm Summit Corporation closed 37% higher at 6.5p. A new scientific paper on the progress in understanding and treating Alzheimers drew investors’ attention to Summit’s work in this area, where it is developing possible treatments for the disease.