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British Gas owner Centrica reports 2% operating profit rise

Centrica owns British Gas. Credit: PA

British Gas owner Centrica has fuelled further controversy over energy prices after reporting another price rise at its British supply business.

It reported a two per cent rise in UK and Ireland operating profits to £906 million, helping group operating profits jump four per cent to £1.5 billion.

The company is expected to face fresh calls to address tariffs for businesses and domestic consumers.

Centrica's British Gas residential energy supply arm, which only covers UK homes, reported an 11% drop in operating profits to £553 million, compared with £623 million in 2015, but said the reduction was due in part to a customer exodus.

More than 409,000 UK home customers left the business in 2016, marking a 3% fall to 14.25 million.

British Gas announced it was extending a price freeze on its standard energy tariff until August, "despite increases in external costs", but customers are expecting prices to soar later this year, following the Brexit-induced collapse of the pound and rising wholesale energy prices.

The industry has faced increasing pressure to treat loyal customers fairly and has been criticised for being slow to pass on falls in wholesale gas prices, with consumer groups hitting out at the size and timing of cuts.

Barclays posts 182% hike in pre-tax profits to £3.23 billion

Credit: PA

Barclays has reported a 182% increase in annual pre-tax profits to £3.23 billion, up from £1.15 billion in 2015.

The banking giant's boss, Jes Staley said Barclays is "just months away" from completing an overhaul as he unveiled the surge in annual profits.

The bank also reported a four per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £6.4 billion for its core business - Barclays UK and Barclays International.

Mr Staley, who has been selling down and offloading unwanted businesses to focus on US and UK operations, said the group had "accomplished a lot in a year".

He added: "We are now just months away from completing the restructuring of Barclays, and I am more optimistic than ever for our prospects in 2017, and beyond."

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