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Friday Papers: Hedge funds bet big against UK retailers

And FTSE 100 and Dow Jones rack up new records as markets cheer strong global growth indicators.

Friday Papers: Hedge funds bet big against UK retailers

Top stories

  • Financial Times: A number of hedge funds have amassed bets worth hundreds of millions of pounds against some of the largest UK retailers ahead of a string of potentially downbeat Christmas trading updates this month.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The FTSE 100 and Dow Jones have hit new records this afternoon as investors pile into stocks on the back of global economic indicators suggesting that buoyant growth will continue into 2018 with huge corporate tax breaks still to come.
  • Financial Times: Security experts, including a US government-sponsored group, have warned companies that the only way to fully protect themselves against hackers taking advantage of a newly revealed, pervasive flaw in chip design is to completely replace their computer systems.
  • The Times: British technology start-ups attracted more funding than their counterparts in any other European country last year, during a record 12 months for venture capital investment.
  • Financial Times: Drugmakers have imposed price rises of several times the rate of inflation on more than a thousand products in the US, a New Year move that risks a political backlash at a time of intense scrutiny on healthcare costs.
  • Financial Times: Nintendo has beaten its own record for the fastest-selling home console in the US with the Switch, as the Japanese video games group raises its sales targets for next year.
  • The Guardian: Investment banks earned a record of nearly $104 billion (£76.7 billion) in fees globally last year from work advising companies on more than $3.5 trillion worth of takeovers and mergers.

Business and economics

  • The Times: The UK’s economy likely grew at a significantly faster pace last year than was forecast, after a closely watched survey showed the dominant services sector performing better than expected.
  • Daily Mail: Disasters hit the insurance industry for a record £100 billion last year – and there could be worse to come.
  • The Daily Telegraph: British households’ borrowing binge has fallen back to its slowest pace in two years, indicating the peak of the boom may now be in the past.
  • The Times: New car sales could fall below pre-financial crisis levels this year, with the motor industry forecasting a decline of up to 7%.
  • The Guardian: Debenhams is to cut jobs and consider more store closures after a poor festive trading period led to a major profits warning.
  • The Times: Profit at Walgreens Boots Alliance, the world’s largest pharmacy operator and the owner of the UK pharmacy chain, fell by more than a fifth to $821 million in the three months to November as the American company took a charge linked to an investment in a Chinese pharmaceuticals wholesaler.
  • Daily Mail: A cold snap in the run-up to Christmas has seen outdoor clothes and equipment retailer Mountain Warehouse achieve record festive sales.
  • The Times: Monsanto, the US giant seeds and agrochemicals company being bought by Germany’s Bayer in a $66 billion deal, has forecast a strong year and expects higher prices for glyphosate, the chief ingredient in Roundup, its popular weed killer.
  • The Times: Accounts filed by Robey Warshaw, an advisory firm in St James’s Place, showed its partners split a £63.3 million profit pool, including £37.3 million for its highest paid member, thought to be Sir Simon Robey.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Support services company DCC has expanded into Germany with the purchase of a gas company, giving it a platform in what is a large but fragmented market.
  • The Guardian: Aldi is increasing pay for store staff after it enjoyed a bumper Christmas with sales up 15% in December.
  • Daily Mail: Saga, the insurance and travel firm targeted at people over 50, announced a restructuring of its travel business and a management shake-up today after a profit warning sent its shares sliding last month.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Profits at Simon Cowell’s entertainment business dropped last year as a fall in overseas revenues dragged down its bottom line.
  • Financial Times: Worldpay hit a record high on Thursday amid growing optimism about the payment processor’s imminent takeover by US peer Vantiv.
  • Financial Times: Shares in L Brands hit the skids on Thursday after sales at its flagship Victoria’s Secret business failed to receive a holiday lift, despite stronger consumer spending and confidence.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Unilever, the owner of Colman's Mustard, has confirmed it is to close its operations in Norwich with the loss of around 68 jobs following a review of its manufacturing site.
  • Financial Times: The world’s biggest cinema companies are stepping up plans to open screens across Saudi Arabia after its decision to end a 35-year ban on movie theatres; the Vue Entertainment of the UK, AMC of the US and IMAX of Canada, are among the companies seeking a foothold in the country, where cinemas will start to open from March.
  • The Times: Adam Crozier has been handed the job of reigniting investor enthusiasm for Whitbread after being appointed as chairman of the Premier Inn and Costa Coffee operator.
  • Financial Times: The chief financial officer of South African furniture retailer Steinhoff International, Ben la Grange, stepped down from his role on Thursday in the latest blow to the stricken group since it became embroiled in an accounting scandal in December.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • The Daily Telegraph (Questor share tips): BUY Macau Property Opportunities Fund.
  • The Times (Tempus share tips): BUY Chariot and Kosmos; TAKE PROFIT from IAG.
  • The Times: Toshiba has sold Westinghouse Electric Company, the nuclear unit that sought bankruptcy protection last year, to investors led by Brookfield Business Partners in a $4.6 billion deal.
  • Financial Times: Saudi Arabia is changing the legal status of state energy giant Saudi Aramco in a sign it is pressing ahead with plans for a 2018 initial public offering that is tipped to be the biggest ever.
  • The Daily Telegraph: German technology giants Bosch and Continental will each take 5% stakes in Here Technologies, the digital mapping services company which is set to play a leading role in self-driving cars.
  • Financial Times (Comments): China softens tone in drive for Asia influence.

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