Archive for March, 2011

UK retailers see slide in sales

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Shoppers in Oxford Street, LondonBoth Mothercare and Laura Ashley have said they are concerned about consumer confidence
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Shares in retailers have come under pressure again after Laura Ashley and Mothercare both reported falling sales in recent weeks.

Laura Ashley said UK like-for-like sales were down 4.2% for the eight weeks to 26 March. Its shares fell 15%.

Mothercare shares fell 9.6% after it said UK like-for-like sales slid 2.4% in the first three months of the year.

The retail sector is preparing for a tough year, with consumers being hit by higher fuel and food prices.

Consumer confidence is also being affected by worries over government spending cuts, analysts say.

The figures from Laura Ashley and Mothercare come a day after electrical goods retailer Dixons issued a profit warning, with underlying sales down 7% in the past 11 weeks.

There was further gloomy news from the latest consumer confidence survey by GfK NOP Social Research.

MothercareLast Updated at 31 Mar 2011, 11:30 ET *Chart shows local time Mothercare intraday chartprice change %400.00 p-
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-9.50

It found that confidence among UK consumers had “stagnated at depths seldom seen outside of actual recession”.

‘Significant pressure’

Laura Ashley said it believed that UK consumers were increasingly unwilling to part with their money.

“There has been a decline in performance since the beginning of February, which we attribute to a general weakening in the consumer economy,” the company said.

However, its comments came as it reported a healthy rise in annual profits.

For the 12 months to the end of January, its pre-tax profits rose to £24.1m from £11m the year before.

Meanwhile, baby goods firm Mothercare said it expected UK retail profits to remain under “significant pressure” in 2011-12.

It said profit margins were taking a bigger-than-expected hit as difficult conditions forced it to discount stock.

Mothercare’s problems in the UK overshadowed its strong performance overseas, where sales from franchises increased 10% in the fourth quarter.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Comets caused Saturn ring ripples

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Scientists claim strange ripples observed in the ring systems of Saturn and Jupiter were caused by comets.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Petropavlovsk fails to cash in on gold price

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Profits at the London-listed gold mining group fell from $197m to $69m amid production problems and losses incurred on the expansion of its iron ore business

Japanese ready for return to normality

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Yukio Edano, chief cabinet secretary, says it may be about time to ditch the blue-collar jackets indicating they are in crisis mode and return to more normal attire

Topaz postpones $1.7bn flotation

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Move by one of the biggest oilfield service companies in the Middle East to delay its London listing makes the group the latest corporate victim of the civil unrest sweeping the region

Small caps: exploration groups climb

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Falklands Oil & Gas moved sharply higher after the explorer took full control of its Northern Area licence and said it was close to securing a deepwater drilling rig

Woman is arrested over baby death

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of murdering an 11-month-old baby.

The child, from Windsor in Berkshire, was admitted to hospital on 18 March after being found unwell by a family member, but died two days later.

A post-mortem examination has been carried out but Thames Valley Police have not released the results. They are awaiting the results of further tests.

The force has not identified the baby, or the child’s relationship to the woman. An inquest has yet to be opened.

The woman, who is in her 20s and from Berkshire, remains in police custody.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Gaddafi ‘not at breaking point’

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Robert Gates, left, and Mike MullenMr Gates, left, said deposing Gaddafi was “not part of the military mission”

The US will put no “boots on the ground” in Libya, US defence Robert Gates secretary has reaffirmed, after it emerged President Obama authorised covert CIA aid to rebels.

Mr Gates told Congress the US would limit its contribution to providing capabilities other nations could not.

Adm Mike Mullen said the operation had already degraded Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi’s forces by up to 25%.

The remarks came as rebels retreated from towns on Libya’s eastern coast.

In testimony to the House armed services committee on Thursday, Mr Gates said: “I can’t speak to any CIA activities but I will tell you that the president has been quite clear that in terms of the United States military there will be no boots on the ground.”

He said the US would in the coming days significantly decrease its military participation in the operation against Col Gaddafi’s forces.

The Nato-led mission would not target Col Gaddafi, but would remain aimed at enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo and providing humanitarian relief to Libyan civilians, he said.

The US military would provide capabilities others could not “such as electronic warfare, aerial refueling, lift, search and rescue, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support”, Mr Gates added.

“Deposing the Gaddafi regime, as welcome as that eventuality would be, is not part of the military mission… In my view, the removal of Col Gaddafi will likely be achieved over time through political and economic measures and by his own people.”

Adm Mullen, the US military’s top uniformed officer, testified the mission had “fairly seriously” degraded Col Gaddafi’s military capabilities, but said the Libyan leader’s forces remained superior to those of the disparate rebel groups.

On Wednesday night, it was revealed that President Barack Obama had secretly authorised covert assistance to rebels seeking to overthrow Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

In recent weeks, he signed a document known as a “finding”, allowing support to the rebel groups, US media reported.

Such “findings” are a common way for the president to authorise covert operations by the CIA.

The New York Times, citing American officials, said the CIA has had operatives on the ground in Libya for several weeks. They were gathering intelligence for air strikes and making contact with the forces fighting Col Gaddafi, the paper said, adding that British intelligence and special forces were also involved.

The Associated Press news agency, quoting a US official and former US intelligence officer, said small teams of CIA operatives had been sent into Libya after the agency’s station in the capital, Tripoli, was forced to close.

A White House spokesman said the administration had made no decision as to whether to provide arms to anti-Gaddafi forces.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Police ‘progress’ over shot girl

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Police investigating the shooting of a five-year-old girl in south London review CCTV footage and say the investigation is “progressing well”.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Toulon hand Henson centre debut

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Gavin Henson is set to make his debut for Toulon at inside centre at home to Stade Francais in the French Top 14 on Saturday.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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