City&FinanceBriefing T H E O N L I N E C A S I N O F R O M M E T R O REGISTER TONIGHT & GET A FREE 2 BONUS Register at and enter the promotion code METRO1 for a FREE 2 Bonus Please play responsibly. Visit Players must be over 18 Inbrief Aviva is revived but slashes divi lINSURANCE giant Aviva jumped into the black today, but still slashed the dividend, which may provoke suggestions it has done the right thing too late. Six months ago the shares halved when it held the dividend after full-year results. this time first-half profit was 747 million against an 84 million loss for the same period last time. the interim divi is cut by a third to 9p. Benetton and Lauren smarter lHOPES are growing that the worst may be over for the global fashion industry after a string of better-than-expected results. Polo Ralph Lauren, the preppy clothing brand, and Benetton, the knitwear chain, became the latest to say the downturn was hurting less than feared. Shares in Polo Ralph Lauren surged to a 10-month high in New York as it smashed forecasts. Bankholdsrates butprints50bn ltHE Bank of England pumped an extra 50bn into the economy today as it moved to shore up signs of a fragile recovery. the Monetary Policy Committee voted to hold interest rates at 0.5%, but increased its quantitative easing programme to 175bn. the decision underlines the caution among policymakers over the strength of the UKs recovery from recession. Murdoch plans online charges lRUPERt Murdoch, head of the News Corp media empire, plans to charge for all online content of his newspapers and tV channels in a dramatic shake-up of the industry. Murdoch, whose empire includes the times and Sky, warned the big competition will be coming from the BBC which offers free online news. Australia Dollars 1.9080 Canada Dollars 1.7310 Denmark Kroner 8.3337 Eurozone Euro 1.1228 Hong Kong Dollars 12.4300 Japan Yen 152.9100 New Zealand Dollars 2.3460 South Africa Rand 12.6000 Sweden Kronor 11.5900 Switzerland Francs 1.7131 UAE Dirham 5.8248 United States Dollars 1.6140 TourisT rATes UP 55.28 at 4702.41 fTse 100 dow jones nikkei -$ DOWN 39.92 at 9280.97 UP 135.56 at 10,388.09 DOWN 0.11 at $1.6977 >>for all the latest City share prices, call 0905 817 1694* or visit * Calls cost 75p/min from a BT landline & last approx 1 min per quote. not all stocks are available Bookies punting on Gib LADBROKES is following arch rival William Hill by sending its online sports betting arm to Gibraltar. The bookie said that the move is an inevitable result of high UK tax and competitive pressure. Profit for the half year to June fell 25% to 99 million, a sign the recession has hit the sector. High rollers are still punting however. Profits from them rose from 40 million to 58 million. The dividend is cut by a third to 3.5p. Upturn shows in revival of Unilevers brands Unilever, Britains biggest corporate barometer of consumer confidence, today gave a clear indication that the economy is on the turn as its famous brands returned to growth in the last quarter. The giant behind brands ranging from Ben & Jerrys ice cream to Dove soap, saw its sales volumes fall in many regions of the world, including western europe, during the first three months of the year, but then witnessed them all bounce back in April, May and June. Total underlying sales growth came in at 4.1% for the quarter, in stark contrast to arch rival Procter & Gamble of the US, which yesterday reported a 4% fall in volumes during that time. The bounce back was partly due to increased marketing spend and price cuts made possible by the falling costs of ingredients on world commodities markets. But the wider picture added to a recent run of evidence that consumer confidence is returning. in the UK, PG Tips tea was highlighted as a big winner during the period, with its market share by volume leaping 13% against a year ago thanks to the Al & Monkey advertising campaign starring Johnny vegas, while strong growth in ice cream sales was led by Magnum, where sales are currently up more than 9% on the year. Operating profits in the second quarter were, however, still 4% down over the same months last year at 1.32 billion (1.11 billion). X appeal: But even Cheryl Cole couldnt prevent ITVs losses struggling iTV loses friends in 25m sell offITV today sold Friends Reunited for 25 million to publisher DC Thomson, just four years after buying it for 170 million. DC Thomson, which already owns family history website, plans to combine Friends United with Genes Reunited which has more than nine million members worldwide. The deal creates the biggest fam- ily history website in Britain. ITV today reported losses of 105 million for the first six months of the year as adver- tising revenues slumped, despite the success of shows like The X Factor featuring Girls Aloud star Cheryl Cole. Chris van der Kuyl, of Brightsolid, the DC Thomson subsidiary behind FindMyPast. com, said: We are delighted with the deal. Friends Reunited is such an incredibly strong brand and Genes Reunited is one of the most recognised family history brands in the country. ITV paid 170 million for Friends Reunited in 2005, but it struggled to retain members because it charged for access and faced competition from MySpace, Facebook and Bebo. Friends Reunited dropped its subscrip- tion charges in May last year and still has 20.6 million members. 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