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THE Bank of England has been tipped to give indications this week that interest rates will rise in the first quarter of 2015, ahead of the General Election.

Governor Mark Carney will "rubber stamp" market expectations of a rise when the bank delivers its latest inflation report on Wednesday, according to The Sunday Times.

The newspaper said a first quarter rise would be three months earlier than the bank's forecast in February.

American drug giant Pfizer's approach to take over British company Astra Zeneca last week was the subject of several reports.

The Mail on Sunday said trade unions Unite and GMB are planning to stage a major protest against the bid, invoking a comparison with the campaign against Cadbury's takeover by US food giant Kraft in 2010.

The Sunday Telegraph reported shareholders in Astra Zeneca have urged the board to engage in talks with Pfizer should its US rival return with a higher bid.

And in its treatment of the unfolding story The Sunday Times said Pfizer has taken steps to counter claims the assurances it has given over the deal are "worthless".

The Sunday Herald revealed the Scottish Government has dropped plans to launch a Scottish Business Development Bank.

The proposal for the new body, which would provide support for Scottish businesses, was part of a packaging of measures unveiled in the government's banking strategy a year ago.

Executives at British Gas owner Centrica and ITV are facing shareholder revolt over bonuses this week, The Mail says, while various reports assert that crisis- hit Co-operative Bank has sealed a £400m capital injection.

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