City&FinanceBriefing London Lite Thursday, 10 September 2009 33 Inbrief Co-op Bank nets new customers l consumers have flocked to open accounts at co-op Bank, part of co-op Financial services which merged with Britannia Building society last month. chief executive neville richardson said: We have an opportunity to change the face of financial services at a time when customers have lost confidence in the shareholder and Government-owned banks. Happy returns on High Street l THe flow of good news from the High street continued today, with sales at Argos rising 1.7% in the half year to the end of August while DIY chain Homebase reported a 4.4% improvement. There was also better-than- expected trading at electrical goods retailer comet, which said sales in the three months to the end of July rose by 0.3%. Gibson hits a wrong note l THe crisis at guitar maker Gibson Guitar deepened today when ratings agency moodys cut its outlook for the firm from stable to negative. moodys blamed it on the decline in revenues during the first half of the year at Gibson, whose guitars have been used by Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townsend and Jimmy Page. Australia Dollars 1.8231 Canada Dollars 1.6926 Denmark Kroner 8.0668 Eurozone Euro 1.0872 Hong Kong Dollars 12.1300 Japan Yen 145.2200 New Zealand Dollars 2.2123 South Africa Rand 11.6100 Sweden Kronor 11.1100 Switzerland Francs 1.6463 UAE Dirham 5.6828 United States Dollars 1.5746 TouriST raTeS UP 17.36 at 5021.66 fTSe 100 dow joneS nikkei -$ UP 49.88 at 9547.22 UP 201.53 at 10,513.67 DOWN 0.31 at 1.6518 >>for all the latest City share prices, call 0905 817 1694* or visit thisismoney.co.uk * Calls cost 75p/min from a BT landline & last approx 1 min per quote. not all stocks are available footsie in show of strength investors were chasing share prices higher again today, enabling the Ftse 100 index to consolidate its position above 5000 points with a rise of 17.36 to 5021.66. the gains reflect growing confidence in the economic recovery and the prospect of more big takeovers. share prices are also benefiting from the Governments decision to print more money to stimulate the economy. Much of that dosh is finding its way into the stock market. Morrisons thrives on its move to the South MORRISONS today showed that its plan to eat into rivals territory in London and the South is bearing fruit. The UKs fourth-biggest grocer has been one of the clear winners from the recession, with its offering of cheap, fresh food luring in hundreds of thousands of new customers. By tradition a northern outfit -- it was founded in Bradford in 1899 -- it has been moving strongly into the south this year, opening 22 new stores. In the six months to 2August, revenue is up 5% to 7.5billion. Like-for-like sales, which strip out the effect of new store space, rose 7.8%. Morrisons now serves 10million shoppers a week from more than 400 stores. Chief executive Marc Bolland said: More people are coming through the door. Why? They see great value. Tesco is the leader with 31% of the UK grocery market. But for the first half of the year, Morrisons made a profit of 359 million -- a rise of 22%. That enabled it to raise the interim divi 35% to 1.08p a share. However, it is warning that it expects growth to slow in the second half as inflationary pressures ease. The shares rose 1.9p to 282.8p. Stockbroker Charles Stanley said in a note this morning: We expect Morrisons to continue to deliver industry- leading sales growth and significant potential exists to expand profit margins. Earnings growth is forecast to be the strongest in the sector over the next three years. No takers: Vauxhalls in Ellesmere Port wait for a new owner job fears as GM ditches plans to sell off VauxhalltHere was fresh uncertainty for vauxhalls 5000 workers in Britain today after it emerged that General Motors -- the rescued Us car giant -- is set to retain ownership of the UK motor manufacturer. the board of General Motors is understood to have backed a plan to remain the owner of its european business -- the opel opera- tion in Germany and vauxhall. there have been months of negotiations during which the Canadian car-parts maker Magna international has attempted to strike a deal with GM europe, which has never assured the long-term future of vauxhall. Union leaders in Luton, which makes vauxhall vans, and at ellesmere Port, the home of the Astra, will now be keen to know what GMs decision means for employees. GM europe was put up for sale as part of General Motors rescue package when it was bailed out by the American taxpayer. GM europes future is also a political hot potato because of the amount of German state aid demanded in the Magna deal. in the UK, Business secretary Lord Mandelson has fallen short of pledging to save vauxhall if its future came under question. BY ROBERT LEA foundations of a recovery... l BuIlDers Galliford Try and redrow today voiced cautious confidence in the housing market as they positioned themselves for the recovery. Galliford Try launched a 125.6million rights issue to buy land and expand its business. Galliford posted losses of 26.9million for the 12 months to the end of June while redrow reported losses of 44.2 million.