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Summary

  1. Asking prices for homes in England and Wales more than £100,000 higher than selling prices
  2. The UK economy will expand 2.8% this year despite political uncertainty, forecasts the EY Item Club
  3. Up to £4bn Lloyds shares will be sold to retail investors, the Conservative Party has pledged

Live Reporting

By Ian Pollock

All times stated are UK

Get involved

The pipers at the gates of dawn.

Katie Hope and Howard Mustoe will be here to entertain you from 06:00 tomorrow. Goodnight.

Via Twitter

Last thought for the day - a financial joke.

Boothby Graffoe

comic

tweets: "I paid rent on some duck feathers that turned out to be from my own ducks. That's when I realised, I'd let myself down."

Greece

Pension funds and some state-owned firms are excluded from today's decree. The Reuters news agency in Athens quotes a local "analyst" as describing this latest bit of barrel-scraping in the following way. "This is a pre-emptive move to ensure that they will be able to secure as much liquidity [cash] as possible because of the squeeze. There are still some billions of euros in cash reserves parked in banks by state entities." Read this recent article from Paul Kirby of the BBC on

how close Greece is to Grexit.

Greece

A greek flag flutters in front of the Greek parliament
AFP/Getty Images

Among its urgent needs, the Greek government has pinpointed "1.1 billion euros in wages, 850 million euros in social insurance funds, 200 million euros in interest on debt and on May 12, 746 million euros in repayment to the IMF", it said. If Parliament approves the decree, the money sucked up will go into a special account at the Bank of Greece and receive interest of 2.5%. It's all part of the government's increasingly desperate efforts to stay afloat and meet its immediate cash repayments, while still trying to persuade its main creditors to advance it a previously agreed 7.2bn euros in long term bailout money.

Via Twitter

The link between high house prices and low sales

Henry Pryor

tweet: "At current rate of sales someone putting their home on the market today has 11% chance of selling in the 1st month & 51% chance in a year."

Greece

Emergency measures in Greece. The Greek government has ordered all public bodies to hand over their cash reserves to help it pay its debts to foreign lenders and to cover its own day to day spending. The government decree said: "With this act, the government hopes to cover urgent needs of the state amounting to three billion euros for the next 15 days."

Market closing figures

BBC webpage
BBC

Here are the main numbers you need at the

close of today's trading.

  • In London the 100 share index rose 58 points to 7,052.
  • In Paris the Cac-40 index rose 41 points to 5,184.
  • In Frankfurt the Dax index rose 196 points to 11,884.

On the foreign exchanges the pound ended little changed at 1 dollar 49.1 and 1 euro 38.7.

Expensive Dutch gas

Extracting gas from the onshore Groningen gas field in the north east of the Netherlands is likely to become a much more expensive process. Extraction started in 1963 but in recent years it has caused frequent earthquakes and damaged houses. Now, the cost of reinforcing 150,000 homes in the area has been estimated at 30bn euros, according to a report commissioned by the regional government. That sum is, apparently, more than the market value of the homes.

Via Email

Hannah Maundrell of the price comparison service

money.co.uk shares my view. "Homeowners may need to "get real" if they want to shift their property any time soon," she says. "There seems to be a clear discrepancy between average asking prices and actual sale amounts agreed. It seems that sellers may need to adjust both their expectations and asking price if they want to find a buyer without a big wait."

Gazprom investigation

Gazprom will be formally accused by the European Commission of rigging gas prices in eastern Europe and overcharging its customers. Anonymous "sources" (in other words, probably EC press officers) have told both Reuters and the AFP press agencies that the accusation will be made public this coming Wednesday. The EC has been looking into the matter since September 2012.

House price delusion?

Earlier we told you that the property website

Rightmove had claimed that the average asking price, for a home up for sale in England and Wales, has now reached £286,133. So what? Well, the
Land Registry told us last month that in February (the most recent data) the average sale price in England and Wales was more than £100,000 less, at a mere £180,252. That must mean that tens of thousands of homes are on the market with no real prospect of a sale, because they are just too expensive.

Market update

BBC web page
BBC

A brief market update for you on this rather quiet day.

  • in London the 100 share index is currently up 37 at 7,032.
  • In Paris the CaC 40 is up 23 at 5,166.
  • In Frankfurt the Dax index is up 191 at 11,880.

On the foreign exchanges, the pound currently buys you 1 dollar 48.9, and 1 euro 38.8.

World Service

Sean Harrison, financial analyst from Datamonitor, says in Africa "men are more likely to hold an account, but the financial decisions in the household are made by women." In Business Update, on World Service, Russell Padmore hears that if African governments loosened rules on credit, then banks would be encouraged to sign up new customers, especially women. Listen to Business Update via

Audioboom

Google friendly

Google building
Reuters

"Google is updating its search algorithms to favour websites that work well on mobile devices," says our technology reporter

Zoe Kleinman. She says that "mobile friendliness" - defined by things like the size of text, and whether a web page fits a mobile screen - will affect how high a website appears in a Google search.

Toy-tastic

Mr Monopoly
Getty Images

Hasbro, the toy firm behind the Monopoly board game,

has reported a surprise rise in first quarter sales. Revenues rose 5% to $713.5m, easily beating expectations from analysts for a 2.8% drop in sales. Strong demand for pre-school toys and merchandise related to the Transformers movies and Marvel comics helped drive the increase.

Ian Pollock

Business reporter, BBC News

Good afternoon. Thanks to the early morning reporters, Katie and Howard, who are now off for some lunch. I am here until 18:00.

Something fishy?

fish finger box
Getty Images

Shares in

Nomad Holdings have been suspended "pending an announcement". The firm is reported to have agreed a €2.6bn (£1.9bn) deal to acquire Birds Eye owner Iglo from private equity firm Permira.
Iglo has big ambitions, saying on its website that "we want more people to view frozen food as a source of inspiration." Just as long as it keeps making fish fingers.

Sinn Féin election manifesto

Martin McGuinness
BBC

Sinn Féin has pledged to "return economic powers for a fair recovery" in its general election manifesto. The party, which secured five seats in the last election, said it would seek an extra £1.5bn for Northern Ireland in negotiations with an incoming government. "We are seeking full control over income tax, national insurance, corporation tax, capital gains tax, borrowing powers and the setting of the minimum wage," it said.

HSBC headquarters

HSBC logo
Getty Images

HSBC chairman Douglas Flint has failed to quash rumours that the Asian bank could move its headquarters from London to Asia after a further increase in the annual UK bank tax. At a shareholder meeting, Mr Flint carefully kept all options open. "We are beginning to see the final shape of regulation, the final shape of structural reform and as soon as that mist lifts sufficiently, we will once again start to look at where the best place for HSBC is,"

Bloomberg reported him as saying.

Via Email

Drone report

Manchester airport statement

ringway
AFP

"Due to a report of a potential drone sighting in airspace near to the airport, some flights have experienced short delays and a small number of flights have diverted to alternative airports whilst Greater Manchester Police carried out an investigation using their Police Helicopter. Upon inspection, nothing was found. As the safety and security of all of our passengers is paramount, operations on Runway One were suspended for 20 minutes. Runway Two, which was unaffected, will remain open for an hour so normal traffic flows can resume."

Morgan Stanley results

US investment bank

Morgan Stanley said quarterly profit jumped 60%. Trading bonds and shares made the firm more money than the same period a year ago, it said. Net income was $2.31bn (£1.55bn), beating market estimates.

Woodford fund

Neil Woodford
The Woodford Fund

Woodford Investment Management, the company fund manager Neil Woodford founded when he left Invesco, has raised

£800m for its new fund. Reuters reports that it's the largest launch in Britain in more than twenty years. The fund, which will trade on the stock exchange from Tuesday, was oversubscribed by 10%.

Job perks

bulldog
Getty Images

What perks does your firm offer on top of your salary to keep you keen? The Telegraph has done

a useful round-up of top perks from start-up firms. There are personal bonsai trees and office dogs. Customer analytics firm GoSquared has even appointed a chief canine officer. Can you trump that? Email us at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbusiness.

Via Twitter

Robert Peston

Economics editor

@NicolaSturgeon says @David_Cameron reaps what he sowed in arguing against Scot independence in seeing her exercise power in Westminster

SNP election manifesto

Nicola Sturgeon
Getty Images

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to increase the minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020 in her party's UK election manifesto, restore the 50p top income tax rate for those earning more than £150,000 and introduce a mansion tax as well as a bankers' bonus tax. As the BBC's economics editor Robert Peston tweets, the SNP is "now out-bidding Labour in most goodies promised".

No interim update from G4S

G4s sign
Getty Images

Security firm G4S is making use of new listing rules to bring the UK into line with its European counterparts, and

has said it won't be issuing an interim management update because it's too close to its recent results statement on
10 March. The firm said then that it was back in the black after a series of scandals including overcharging the government for electronic tagging contracts.

Hong Kong dollar

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority sold HK$2.325bn (£201m) in Hong Kong dollars as the currency strengthened. The Hong Kong dollar is pegged at 7.8 to the US dollar, but can trade between 7.75 and 7.85. The authorities will step in if it trades outside that range.

Up, up, up

house price signs
PA

House prices are moving up again,

according to property website Rightmove. Asking prices rose 1.6% month-on-month in April, driven by a drop in the number of properties on the market, according to its monthly index. The rise means the average asking price is now at an all-time high of £286,133.

Lloyds shares

Lloyds
BBC

Lloyds Banking shares are up 0.4% to 79p after that offer of stock to small investors if the Conservatives win the election. It is lagging the market, however.
The FTSE 100, of which it is a part, gained 0.6%.

Dilbert

dilbert
dilbert/scott adams

Today's Dilbert captures the essence of the

problem of committees.

Kiss and tell

Gene
Getty Images

BBC business reporter Will Smale has tracked down rock star Gene Simmons, who says that when it comes to making money he is like a great white shark. Will says he is teetotal and claims to have slept with 4,800 women.

Read more on the website.

Via Blog

SNP matters

Robert Peston

Economics editor

The BBC's economics editor Robert Peston says that

the SNP's pledge to end austerity in the UK as a whole could have far-reaching consequences. "It is quite definitely not an act of amity and solidarity with its putative Labour brothers for the SNP, led by Nicola Sturgeon, to tell voters that she'll get the Tories out, get Labour in and make sure Labour won't stick to its fiscal promises. The great fear for Labour is that its recent progress in England will be derailed, while its collapsing vote in Scotland remains shattered," he says.

Market update

Hong Kong shares fell 2%, their biggest daily decline since December 2014, after China's clampdown on margin trading. The fall was in spite of the country's latest economic stimulus effort. The People's Bank of China
cut banks' cash reserve requirements by the biggest amount since the global financial crisis, on Sunday. In mainland China, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.6%.

Oil cash

US oil rig
Getty Images

Bloomberg has some clever analysis on why, when the price of oil has halved, the share prices of energy producers certainly haven't.

"There is just so much money," is part of the explanation.

Greek sell-off

Pressure on Greece is mounting, with yields on its three-year bonds at all-time high of 26.97% reflecting investors' perception of the high risk involved in buying the debt. Greece has said it wants a deal with creditors, but thus far has shown little appetite for implementing the cuts necessary to unlock the remaining bailout funds, said Poul Thomsen, director of the IMF's European department and head of its programme with Greece. He said negotiations remained "far from the target".

Petrofac warns on further Shetland losses

petrofac
Petrofac

Oil and gas services provider

Petrofac has said it will lose a further £130m ($195m) on the Laggan Tormore gas plant project in Shetland. In February, Petrofac said it had lost $230m on the project, which has been delayed due to bad weather conditions. It said continued bad weather and industrial action meant it needed more man hours to complete the project than it had originally expected. Petrofac chief executive Payman Asfari, says the firm is "deeply disappointed" by the additional cost.

Market update

Markets have recovered from last week's funk somewhat.

  • The
    FTSE 100 is ticking up 0.6% at 7,039.45.
    Tesco is the biggest faller, down 1.5% at 232.45p ahead of its results on Wednesday.
  • The
    Dax in Frankfurt is up 0.8% to 11,783.35
  • The
    Parisian Cac is up 0.67% at 5,177.89

Lloyds on government

Lloyds Bank cash machines
PA

Lloyds Banking Group has remained resolutely neutral on the

Conservative party's plans to sells its shares at below-market prices to small investors if it wins the election. "The sale of the stake is clearly a matter for the government. We will support the government in whatever way is required in due course," a Lloyds spokesman told Reuters.

Newspaper review

Times business commentator Andrew Clark hears that Bloomberg's outage on Friday may have been caused by someone

spilling a can of coke on a server. "Bloomberg is keeping schtum but this explanation is pleasingly analogue," he notes. Also in the Times is speculation
Tesco may have to raise money to fill a £5bn hole in its pension fund. The Daily Telegraph reports that payday lenders could be in trouble after
Wonga posted a £35m loss for last year.

Newspaper review

newspaper
BBC

The deaths of many hundreds of migrants after a boat capsized off the coast of Libya is leading the news. The

Wall St Journal and
Financial Times both say Deutsche Bank is considering selling Postbank, a retail banking franchise. The FT reckons regulation is a reason for flogging the bank. The WSJ notes Deutsche only bought it in 2008, for €6bn.