Cupid clobbered as allegations swirl

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Shares in dating website firm Cupid collapsed yesterday as the company was forced to launch an internal investigation in response to allegations about its marketing practices.

The Edinburgh-based firm lost more than half its value as internet reports drew attention to a newspaper article in the Ukraine, where it employs the majority of its staff. The Aim-quoted company’s unscheduled update to the stock exchange failed to stop the slide and the shares lost 57 per cent in the session, closing at 49p. But the main market continued to show resilience in the face of the crisis in Cyprus – Fitch’s warning that it may cut the UK’s AAA credit rating came after trading closed.

The agency placed the UK’s long-term debt rating on review because of the lower official growth forecast for this year and higher borrowing projections.

The FTSE 100 Index broke its five-day losing streak by adding 4.2 points at 6,392.8, after spending the afternoon above 6,400.

Angus Campbell, head of market analysis at Capital Spreads, said: “The FTSE 100 crept higher and continues to show remarkable resilience in the face of the Cyprus debacle, which remains unresolved.”

Heavyweight BP helped prop up the index as it rose 2 per cent to 457.7p after closing the sale of its Russian joint venture and saying it would return $8 billion (£5.3bn) to shareholders.

Drugs giant AstraZeneca was also doing well as investors backed chief executive Pascal Soriot’s strategy for reviving the company. In a presentation in New York, he pledged to beat long-term revenue forecasts with greater focus on research and development and in areas such as respiratory medicines. A £1.5bn restructuring plan will also cut a further 2,300 jobs. Shares were 103p higher at 3,236p.

NEW YORK: US stocks rose last night on optimism that a deal to bail out Cyprus could be reached and as Nike shares rallied after stronger-than-expected results.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 90.54 points or 0.63 per cent, to close at 14,512.03. The S&P 500 gained 11.09 points or 0.72 per cent, to 1,556.89 and the Nasdaq Composite added 22.40 points or 0.70 per cent, to close at 3,245. For the week, the Dow dipped 0.01 per cent, the S&P 500 shed 0.2 per cent and the Nasdaq edged down 0.1 per cent.

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