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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

In our roundup this week, we discuss BP reporting its worst annual loss for more than 20 years and the impact this has had on the FTSE 100, news of Sainsbury's agreeing to buy Argos owner Home Retail and figures suggesting taxpayers are increasingly favouring online returns.


Worst annual loss in over 20 years reported by BP...

BP has revealed it suffered its worst annual losses in more than 20 years in 2015, with its annual underlying profits tumbling by 51% to $5.9 billion (£4.1 billion). This was markedly lower than the $12.1 billion recorded for 2014, while its fourth quarter profits fell to $196 million - again significantly down on the $2.2 billion posted for the same period the year before.

The oil giant, which is still feeling the financial impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, announced it will cut almost 9% of its workforce as it aims to remove 7,000 jobs by next year.

BP was the biggest faller in the FTSE 100 index in early day trading on Tuesday, dropping by almost 7%. The company explained the weak results are the result of low oil and gas prices in its upstream operations. 

...which contributes to FTSE 100 fall

The announcement of BP's slump significantly knocked the FTSE 100 in early morning trading on Tuesday, with the oil company's slide of almost 7% contributing to Britain's top share index slipping by 1.3% to hit 5,980.16 points.

BP's performance is seen by many as indicative of a struggling oil industry. Indeed, worries concerning demand from China and oversupply resulted in Brent crude prices falling by more than 1%, while there was a 3.7% reduction for the UK Oil and Gas index .FTNMX0530.  

Sainsbury's agrees Argos owner Home Retail purchase

Sainsbury's has agreed to buy the owner of general retailer Argos for £1.3 billion. The supermarket giant revealed it is purchasing Home Retail as it seeks an expansion of electrical goods sales and other items, and anticipates the move will also help to boost its online business.

The deal is dependent on the sale of the Homebase DIY chain, for which a purchase has been agreed by Australian company Westfarmers. The news comes after it was revealed by Home Retail in January that it rejected an undisclosed bid from Sainsbury's last year. The supermarket has since offered the equivalent of 161.3p a share - a bid that Home Retail said it was willing to recommend.

It is hoped that the acquisition will help to make Sainsbury's less reliant on food sales and will allow for the combined retail space of the two companies to be optimised.

Taxpayers 'increasingly favour online returns'

An increasing number of self-assessment taxpayers are choosing to file their return online. This is according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which revealed a record 89% of those who completed their returns by the Sunday deadline did so through the HMRC website.

This meant that 9.24 million people completed their self-assessment tax forms online and indicates more people are switching from paper filing to filing via their computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Ruth Owen, Director General for Personal Tax at HMRC, said: "Each year, we are dedicated to making the self-assessment process easier and more intuitive."