Thursday business round-up: Four key stories of the day

Here are four of today's key business stories in one handy package.

The gloomy global outlook has pushed back the prospect of an interest rate hike. Picture: Cate Gillon/Getty Images

The Bank of England slashed its UK growth outlook and kept interest rates on hold once more as darkening gloom over the global economy pushed further back the prospect of a hike. All nine members of its monetary policy committee voted to keep rates on hold at 0.5 per cent in what marked the first unanimous vote since last July. Its quarterly inflation report signalled a rate rise may now not come until the final quarter of 2017, with inflation set to remain low “for much of this year” and the worldwide economy weakening.

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Investment in Aberdeen’s commercial property market slumped by 80 per cent last year, according to new research. The dramatic downturn across the oil industry, sparked by plunging crude prices, saw total investment volumes in the Granite City tumble from more than £800 million in 2014 to just £162m, commercial property data provider CoStar Group said.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell insisted its $49 billion (£34bn) takeover of BG Group heralds the start of a “new chapter” as it saw annual profits crash by 80 per cent. The group saw full-year earnings drop to $3.8bn in 2015, from $19bn the previous year, after it was hammered by the collapse in oil prices.

Transport groups FirstGroup and Stagecoach were shortlisted for one of the UK’s busiest rail routes. Perth-based Stagecoach has held the South West Trains franchise – which operates between London Waterloo, Reading, Bristol, Exeter, Weymouth and Portsmouth – since 1996. It now faces a battle against Aberdeen-based rival FirstGroup to retain the contract.