Updates from Shell, RBS and IAG

The US Fed Reserve keeps interest rates low meanwhile BA owner IAG sees first quarter profits climb

savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, BA, IAG, ShellA 1.2% drop for the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, slipping 84 points to 6,946.2, dragging the index under the 7,000 threshold. Hikma Pharma and CRH saw 3.7% and 3.6% falls (to 2042p and 1823p respectively). Dixons Carphone shares also suffered, down 3% to 418p. Carnival shares, again, saw pressure, down 3% to 2964p.

Stateside, the Dow Jones fell 0.41%, or 74.6 points, to 18,035.5; the Fed Reserve confirmed it will keep interest rates at historic lows; mixed jobs economic data is expected later today.

No shortage of FTSE 100 blue chip numbers this morning. We start with Shell and a profits rise from $4.45bn to $4.8bn thanks to better news from its refining business.

However underlying first quarter profits are down close to 60%. The company claims it has gained from better margins and lower costs on several fronts - plus the sale of a number of high value assets.

"Part of this sharper focus," says chief exec Ben van Beurden, "is the sale of non-strategic assets. Asset sales total over $2bn so far this year, as we successfully reduced our onshore footprint in Nigeria."

We move onto British Airways owner IAG. First quarter operating profit lands at €25m (2014: operating loss of €150m) while revenues for the quarter climb 12% to €4,707m, up 3.7% at constant currency.

Passenger unit revenue for the quarter was up 6.9% and down 0.8% at constant currency. Fuel unit costs for the quarter down 4.5% down 11% at constant currency.

"This is IAG's first ever quarter operating profit in," say boss Willie Walsh, "what is traditionally the weakest quarter of the year. There was a strong improvement both at a Group level and with all three airlines."

Lastly, RBS and a loss of £446m for RBS for the first quarter. Litigation costs climbed to £856m including more than £330m for currency rigging fines and expenses.

Operating profit totalled £325m, compared with profit of £1,283m in Q1 2014 and a loss of £375m in Q4 2014 says RBS. Credit conditions though remain "benign" says RBS.

"RBS," said the company, "has continued to make good progress on its transformation plan, with further steps taken to improve resilience and simplicity in the bank's structures and systems, and momentum building in disposal plans."

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