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Surprise rise in US retail sales

Retail sales in the US unexpectedly rose in April, reflecting broad-based gains that may ease concern that consumers are holding back.

The 0.1pc increase followed a 0.5pc drop in March, Commerce Department figures showed in Washington.

The figures may prompt economists to forecast spending this quarter as Americans overcome the January increase in the payroll tax. Lower fuel costs combined with rising stock and home values are also helping boost buying power, which will help underpin purchases as the labour market mends.

FlyBe shares soar over slot sales

Flybe shares rose as much as 21pc on the FTSE All-Share Index yesterday, after Europe's biggest regional airline said it is in talks to sell take-off and landing slots at London's Gatwick airport.

Negotiations are taking place "with a number of parties," the Exeter-based airline said. The share price jump valued the airline at £44m (€51m). "EasyJet, British Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle are likely interested parties," said Peter Hyde, a London-based analyst at Liberum Capital.

"EasyJet may pay the most because it already has 41pc of slots at Gatwick and could put the additions to best use."

Bischoff to step down from Lloyds

Lloyds chairman Win Bischoff will retire after more than three years in the job, saying the British bank's rebound from its 2008 government rescue has progressed enough for him to move on.

Mr Bischoff (72) will leave before May 2014, depending on when his successor is announced, Britain's biggest mortgage lender said.

At Lloyds, which ceded a 39pc stake to the UK state after its £20bn (€23.5bn) bailout in 2008, Mr Bischoff hired Antonio Horta-Osorio as chief executive in 2010 and oversaw a return to profit since then.

Early 2014 plan for Greek bond sale

Greece plans to sell bonds at some point early in 2014, ending four years of exclusion from international capital markets, the country's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said yesterday.

This is the most optimistic forecast about a bond market return yet made by a Greek official, topping an estimate made last week by the country's finance minister Yannis Stournaras who said that this would not happen before the end of 2014.

"We are already scheduling Greece to go out in the markets in the first half of next year," Mr Samaras said.

Irish Independent