Morning papers: French and German growth beats forecasts

Germany and France on Wednesday posted stronger-than-expected growth figures, with Germany recording the strongest economic expansion in more than a year and France confirming that it was no longer in recession, reports the Financial Times.

Germany’s economy grew 0.7 per cent between April and the end of June, outstripping forecasts thanks mainly to the strength of domestic private and public consumption.

Apple shares jump on Carl Icahn’s ‘large’ stake

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Apple shares have jumped after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn revealed he had taken a large stake in the company and is pushing for it to return more cash to shareholders, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The stock was up more than 4 per cent after Mr Icahn tweeted he had held discussions with chief executive Tim Cook and believes the iPad and iPhone maker is “extremely undervalued”.

Barclays’ finance chief Chris Lucas to leave six months early

Speculation is mounting that Barclays’ finance director was preparing to leave the bank six months earlier than planned, leaving the bank without a key boardroom figure during its £6bn cash call, reports the Guardian.

The departure of Chris Lucas had been expected early next year and was first announced in February when it was said that he had health problems which had a bearing on his decision to retire but had not affected his ability to do his job. His deteriorating health is said to be the reason for the acceleration in his retirement and last month, Lucas was notably absent from the bank’s half year results presentation to journalists when it announced the cash call.

BP sues US environment agency over government contracts ban

BP has launched a legal challenge to the ban on winning new work for the US government, claiming it faces a “substantial threat of irreparable harm” unless the restriction is lifted, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed the ban on BP in November, freezing it out of new supply and exploration contracts, after it pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

New Look scores online sales surge

An online makeover appears to be paying off for New Look as the budget fashion retailer reported a dramatic surge in internet sales, reports the Guardian.

Online sales soared 79 per cent in the three months to June, as New Look’s net-savvy customers increasingly chose to log on for their dresses and tops. Online now accounts for 10 per cent of all New Look sales, which were £1.5bn in the last financial year.