Good morning. Today we're talking about Shell's bumper profits and payouts, another US bank in trouble and resurging iPhone sales.
Shelling out cash
Oil giant Shell announced it would give a further $6bn to shareholders as it reported another strong quarterly profit despite lower oil and gas prices. This will take the total returns to shareholders in 2023 to some $12bn. Like rival BP, Shell’s bumper performance has drawn criticism with campaigners arguing that the oil industry has unfairly benefited from the higher energy prices following the war in Ukraine. Oil prices may now be cooling, but the combination of bumper payouts to investors as consumers face higher energy bills renewed the calls for higher windfall taxes.
PacWest goes south
The crisis of confidence in the American banking sector continues after shares in regional banks fell sharply. California-based bank PacWest is teetering on the edge following the collapse of three rival lenders, it's confirmed that it’s weighing a range of strategic options, including a sale. Shares in the bank fell 57% following the news while those of regional rival Western Alliance fell as much as 38%. Investors are expecting problems at other banks, as they come under pressure to follow interest rate rises with higher rates on customer deposits. At the same time higher rates are hurting the market value of some of their assets and denting profits.
Apple bounces back
Sales of Apple’s iPhone rebounded last quarter reaching a new record, helping the world’s most valuable company beat expectations and outperform a shrinking smartphone. But the tech giant's other divisions, including Mac and iPad, were down year over year. The results suggest that Apple is beginning to recover from a slump caused by the disruption of supply chains in China last year during the country's strict Covid restrictions. Apple also announced it would return $90bn to shareholders via a share buyback programme. It adds to the $572bn spent on share repurchases in the past 10 years.
Mortgage boost: The mortgage market saw an uptick in March as approvals for residential home loans jumped 18% compared to February.
Euro rates: The European Central Bank has raised interest rates again to maintain its battle against inflation but eased the pace of increase.
Back on strike: Rail travellers are facing disruption again after RMT members backed further strikes.
Vegan slowdown: Sausage company Heck is reducing its range of meat-free products, citing lack of consumer appetite.
Cash dash: Britons have withdrawn record amounts of cash from accounts as fears over the US banking crisis spread around the globe.
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