BUSINESS LIVE: Retail sales growth disappoints; BP profits beat forecasts; Virgin Money UK suffers mortgage dip

The FTSE 100 will open at 8am. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are BP, Virgin Money UK, Renishaw, Springfield Properties, GSK and Futura Medical. Read the Tuesday 6 February Business Live blog below.

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BP profits beat forecasts

BP profits beat expectations in the first quarter at $3billion, thanks to strong gas trading, as the energy company increases the pace of its share repurchases.

The quarterly results lifted the energy giant’s 2023 profit to $13.8 billion, a 50 per cent drop from a year earlier as oil and gas prices cooled and refining profit margins weakened.

The strong quarterly profit will come as a relief to CEO Murray Auchincloss after the company had substantially missed forecasts in the previous two quarters.

BP maintained its dividend at 7.27 cents per share and increased the rate of its share buyback programme to $1.75 billion over the next three months from $1.5 billion in the previous three months.

The company said it was committed to repurchasing $3.5 billion of shares in the first half of 2024.

Rivals Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell last week beat profit expectations on the back of a mix of strong trading results and higher oil and gas production while refining margins weighed on the sector amid sluggish global economic activity.

CBI settles wrongful dismissal case with former boss Tony Danker

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has agreed to settle a wrongful dismissal case brought by former boss Tony Danker.

The business organisation sacked Danker as director-general last April following complaints about his behaviour.

Terms of the pay-out were not disclosed but come as the latest embarrassment for the crisis-plagued organisation.

Retail sales growth disappoints

British retailers reported sales growth of 1.2 per cent in January, representing a fall in purchases due to inflation and down from 1.7 per cent in December, as Britons continue to remain cautious on spending, British Retail Consortium data shows.

‘It may be a new year, but the hangover of low consumer confidence remains,’ Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer markets, leisure & retail at KPMG said.

Ellett said bad weather conditions last month, including two storms, discouraged shoppers from venturing out to stores.

British consumers have had to contend with high inflation and borrowing costs, potentially pushing the economy into a shallow recession in the second half of 2023.

But the Bank of England last week hinted that rate cuts could be on the horizon as price growth slows