Companies step up share buy-backs

The recent sell-off in the markets has prompted companies to increase the pace of their share buy-backs, suggesting that the industry views the recent upheaval in the markets as an opportunity rather than a crisis. WH Smith said yesterday that it was extending its buy-back programme up to £55m “in the light of the exceptional market conditions” that saw the FTSE 100 fall below the 5,000 mark last week.