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Barclays leads a busy day for financial news, saying pre-tax profit for the first quarter was 15 per cent higher than in the first quarter of 2006 thanks in large part to a sale and leaseback of its property and growth at Barclays Capital. The bank also says it is not only “very comfortable” with its synergy targets for its proposed ABN Amro takeover, it even aims to beat them.

Also, Royal & Sun Alliance is buying out the minorities in the Danish insurer, Codan. It has raising £300m through a placing to help fund it and this has knocked the shares quite hard. This will hurt those punters who piled in recently on bid rumours.

At the smaller end, Brewin Dolphin, the UK private client stockbroker, on Thursday said first-half profit rose 20 per cent as it increased its assets under management to exceed £10bn for the first time.

There are decent enough Q1s from Old Mutual, which says it might return some cash to shareholders, and quite a good trading update from New Star Asset Management.

Also, very amusing: my colleague Paul Murphy, glass of Californian white wine in hand, has posted a comment to the Markets Live chat on FT Alphaville saying he hears a large group of sales people are defecting from Cazenove.

Things are looking very good at Cable & Wireless, which published good full-year figures and said the rise in its market cap triggered a nominal £27m pay-out to executives. The management’s presentation has apparently gone down well with the analysts.

In retail, we have some more details today on Burberry’s risky venture into middle America. And Wm Morrison became the latest UK supermarket to rule out a sell-off of its property portfolio. Beth Rigby is up in Yorkshire at the Morrison’s AGM for us today so we may get more from there later. Mothercare’s full-year results look alright, with international operations growing nicely.

This looks like a formality, but the DTI has referred BSkyB’s purchase of 17.9 per cent of ITV to the Competition Commission. This follows concerns raised by both Ofcom and the OFT.

First-half profits at DMGT are up 24 per cent thanks to a modest advertising recovery and progress in its business-to-business operation. But the publisher of the Daily Mail also warned of the impact of higher interest rates and competition among London freesheets.

Rumour of the day: FT Alphaville is picking up talk that AT&T, whose attempt to buy a big stake in Telecom Italia failed recently, may be sizing up Vodafone, whose shares are up another 2 per cent today after a strong rise yesterday.

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