National Grid issues profit warning as extreme weather causes £140m of damage

National Grid has issued a profit warning after extreme weather in the US inflicted an extra £140m of costs.
The energy infrastructure provider said headline earnings for the full year would be lower than expected because of the cost of fixing storm damage.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (HIM) battered the US in the second half of 2017. Further severe storms hit again in February and March this year, leaving more than a million residences without power in the Northeast and Midwest.
Read more National Grid ends gas supply warning. Long term we need to use less National Grid said that underlying earnings, which strip out one-off costs, would be in line with its previous guidance.
Storm remediation costs “are expected to be recovered in future periods and will be reported as timing in our full-year results in May”, the company said in a stock market announcement.
National Grid also said it would benefit from a reduced US corporation tax rate. Senate Republicans recently passed ..

EDF announces energy price hike affecting 1.3m UK households

Follows similar announcement by British Gas earlier this week
EDF Energy has announced is raising the price of its standard bill by 1.4 per cent, bringing costs up for 1.3m households from June.
The energy provider said it would increase its standard variable electricity tariff by £16 a year, taking the cost to £1,158 per year. The company said there would be no change to gas prices.
Read more British Gas price hike a 'slap in the face' for customers, MPs say There will also be an increase in the charges for customers choosing to pay by cash or cheque by £6 per fuel per year , “to be closer to the real cost of serving these customers”, the group said. The change means a dual fuel standard variable customer choosing to pay by cash or cheque will see a combined increase of £28, or 2.3 per cent, a year to £1,248 a year.
Beatrice Bigois, EDF’s managing director of customers, said: “We know that price rises are not welcome and we have worked to offset rising energy and pol..

Oil prices pushed to highest point in three years by possible UK and US attack on Syria

Theresa May calls urgent cabinet meeting to discuss response to Douma incident
The price of oil has soared to a more than three-year high as the likelihood of the US and UK taking military action in Syria increases.
Brent crude oil surged past $72 (£51) per barrel on Thursday morning, while US benchmark West Texas Intermediate hit $67, although prices edged down mid-morning.
The oil price goes up when tensions heighten in and around the oil-rich nations of the Middle East, because it threatens supply levels. Also keeping the commodity's value elevated is the threat of an attack on Saudi Arabia by Yemen, and the continued risk that the US will re-impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.
Read more Oil prices boosted as Trump promises ‘forceful’ response in Syria Theresa May called an urgent cabinet meeting to approve Britain’s response to the escalating crisis in the Middle Eastern state, prompting concern that the UK will launch military action without the app..

Mothercare sales drop even further as fewer people visit its stores

Poor footfall is denting Mothercare's UK sales
Mothercare’s woes continued on Thursday as it reported UK sales fell in the 12 weeks up to 24 March as it remains in talks with lenders over refinancing.
The retailer says sales declined by 2.8 per cent in comparison to the same period last year and blamed it on the fact fewer people are visiting its stores.
It offset poor footfall with growth in website sales, which represent almost half of Mothercare’s total UK sales.
Read more Carpetright to close 92 stores putting 300 UK jobs at risk In a fourth quarter trading update released on Thursday, Mothercare said its international sales performance was ‘encouraging’.
“My immediate priority is to ensure Mothercare is put back on a sound financial footing and to improve its financial performance,” said chief executive David Wood.
“In this competitive climate, promotional activity has been necessary to stimulate customer demand.”
He said the firm was reducing its store porfolio f..

WH Smith profits dented as spoof book trend falls out of favour

Sales in travel business boosted by growing passenger numbers
WH Smith has reported a dip in profits for the six months to 28 February, with a strong performance in its travel business not enough to withstand decline in high street sales.
The group blamed a “challenging” Christmas period, which was difficult in terms of book sales, “particularly given the success of colour therapy titles and spoof humour books over the past two Christmas periods”.
Read more WH Smith shows how to be a high street survivor WH Smith enjoyed strong sales of colouring books aimed at adults during the festive season two years ago, and in 2016 ranges like the Enid Blyton for Grown Ups series, featuring titles such as Five Give Up The Booze, boosted turnover.
As there was no similar new publishing trend over Christmas 2017, WH Smith said, sales dropped by seven per cent, pulling overall profit from high street stores down to £50m, compared with £53m the year before.
Business was booming in the compa..

Carpetright to close 92 stores putting 300 UK jobs at risk

Retailer struggling with debt and difficult trading conditions
Carpetright will close 92 shops across the UK, putting 300 jobs at risk as it seeks to combat increasing financial pressure.
Shares in the group tumbled by 19 per cent at the open after it announced its plan.
The retailer first announced its intention of making closures last month, when it revealed it was battling difficult trading conditions, and that it expected its financial performance for the year to the end of April to be worse than previously expected.
Read more Carpetright the latest retailer to run into very heavy going On Tuesday, Carpetright said it had identified 205 sites in the UK that are underperforming and/or on unfavourable lease terms,or “in certain cases, not expected to have significant strategic value to the company going forward”.
Under the terms of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which is deployed by firms who want to continue trading while dealing with debt problems, Carpetright wil..

Reporter’s Notebook: Portraits of Dignity: How We Photographed Ex-Captives of Boko Haram

Portraits of Dignity: How We Photographed Ex-Captives of Boko Haram For the past year, the photographer Adam Ferguson and I have met with hundreds of victims of Boko Haram.
Girls who were forced to have bombs strapped to them. People who were living along a highway after militants displaced them three or four times from their homes. University students who carried on while under threat from bombings.
But we’d never managed to talk to the group of students from Chibok, in Nigeria, who were released after a high-profile kidnapping in 2014 that inspired the social media hashtag #BringBackOurGirls and brought international attention to the group.
Kidnapped as Schoolgirls by Boko Haram: Here They Are Now The New York Times met and photographed dozens of the students abducted by Boko Haram. Now at a university, they say they are the lucky ones. But their celebrity has a price.
We wanted to photograph the young women whose images the world knew mostly when they were teenagers, in dark robe..

In a Syrian Town, People Started Shouting: ‘Chemicals! Chemicals!’

In a Syrian Town, People Started Shouting: ‘Chemicals! Chemicals!’ Photo A picture said to show victims of the chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma. Credit Emad Aldin/EPA, via Shutterstock BEIRUT, Lebanon — For two days and a night, the computer science student had been huddling with his family in the basement of their apartment building as pro-government forces rained bombs down on their rebel-held Syrian town.
After night fell, they heard the whirring of helicopter blades followed by the whistling sounds of objects falling from the sky. Soon, a strange smell wafted down the stairs.
“People started shouting in the streets, ‘Chemicals! Chemicals!’” the student, Mohammed al-Hanash, 25, said by phone from Syria.
The attack in the Syrian town of Douma on Saturday, which witnesses and medical workers said used chemical weapons, has resonated far beyond the war-scarred community’s destroyed buildings, ratcheting up tensions among world powers and threatening to escalate Syria’s m..