January 22, 2015 / 12:50 AM / 3 years ago

PRESS DIGEST- British Business - Jan 22

Jan 22 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories on the business pages of British newspapers. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

The Times

Balfour Beatty Plc is expected to announce a near-doubling of losses when it reveals the outcome of an independent investigation into its UK construction division. Balfour has already made a provision of 135 million pounds ($204.40 million) related to its British building business. However, it is expected to announce additional losses of more than 100 million pounds. (thetim.es/184bjzr)

Plans to start fracking in Britain have suffered a setback after Lancashire County council planning officers recommended refusing two applications because of the level of noise and traffic. Councillors will vote on the recommendations next week and it will be a significant blow to the government's plans for shale gas development if they accept them. (thetim.es/1Ja1Io4)

The Guardian

The tobacco company Japan Tobacco Inc has rejected a trade union plan to save 500 jobs at the Gallaher cigarette factory site in Northern Ireland. Unite, the union representing most workers at the plant at Lisnafillan, just outside Ballymena in County Antrim, confirmed that the Japanese owners plan to end production there by 2017. (bit.ly/1GwuOA5)

The UK government is to press ahead with legislation on plain packaging for cigarettes before the general election after years of delay and conflicting claims about the success of an Australian scheme. (bit.ly/1xzNYeY)

The Telegraph

Barclays Plc is facing new fraud allegations over its "dark pool" trading platform. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wants to expand his lawsuit against the British bank after his investigation "uncovered significant and additional wrongdoing." (bit.ly/1CCZc5v)

The European Central Bank is preparing to pump up to 50 billion euros ($58.14 billion) a month into the eurozone sending markets into a spin. The size of the monthly bond-buying stimulus could total as much as 1.1 trillion euros, as part of a rescue package intended to boost the euro area economies and combat falling price growth. (bit.ly/15uDeXO)

Sky News

One of Britain's most respected businessmen has rejected a call from Prime Minister David Cameron for companies to increase workers' wages on the back of the slump in oil prices. Speaking to Sky News, ex-Centrica Chairman Roger Carr said the prime minister's request last week made little economic sense and was unlikely to be adopted. (bit.ly/1E3upTH)

The energy regulator has announced new rules to ensure trust in price comparison websites amid claims some have hidden the best deals from consumers. Ofgem said its "confidence code" would have to be implemented in full by websites by the end of March or they risked losing their accreditation. (bit.ly/1um1Yrl)

The Independent

Unemployment fell again in November to 5.8 percent, its lowest level in more than six years. The Office for National Statistics said that the number of people without a job dropped by 58,000 to 1.9 million, while pay grew faster than inflation. (ind.pn/184h548)

Fears over persistent low inflation forced the Bank of England's two "hawks" to drop their calls for an interest-rate rise in a stunning U-turn, it has emerged. The change of heart from monetary policy committee members Martin Weale and Ian McCafferty came after the bank's official Consumer Prices Index inflation benchmark slipped to an almost 15-year low of just 0.5 percent in December. (ind.pn/1APVzXL)

$1 = 0.6605 pounds $1 = 0.8601 euros Compiled by Zara Mascarenhas in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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