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Summary

  1. All of the morning's business headlines and breaking news.
  2. Rail fares to rise at lowest rate in five years
  3. Germany's Bundesbank halves 2015 growth forecast
  4. Canary Wharf owner rejects Qatari takeover offer

Live Reporting

By Ben Morris and Joe Miller

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Joe Miller

Business Reporter

That's it from us for the week. Come back at 06:00 on Monday for all the business headlines.

Vintage phones

Scarlett Johansson
Getty Images

Vintage clothing has long been prized by the stylish and chic. But according to the Times today, vintage mobile phones are now sought after. Scarlett Johansson, Rihanna, Kate Beckinsale and others have been snapped holding clam shell phones or other "vintage" handsets. The article speculates that older phones don't hold much data, so are less vulnerable to embarrassing hacks.

Sony's security

If your passwords are notoriously weak, take comfort in the fact that you're by no means alone. A huge cyberattack into the systems of Sony Entertainment

appears to have revealed that the IT department its passwords in a folder called... you guessed it - "Password".

Via Blog

Oil slump impact

Anatole Kaletsky

Reuters columnist

"

The shareholders of oil majors such as Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP and Total could be among the biggest beneficiaries of the price slump, if it forces their corporate managements to abandon some of the bad habits they acquired in the 40-year oil boom ... In a competitive market the rational strategy for Western oil companies would be stop all exploration, while continuing to provide technology, geology and other profitable oilfield services."

Oil decline

Crude oil price
Bloomberg

"We're heading for $60 for Brent. (There is) nothing to stop it," risk manager Tony Nunan tells Reuters. He's talking about the price of oil, which has fallen even further today. The chart above shows the decline of Brent crude this year from $115 per barrel to less than $70.

Eurozone growth

Eurozone flags
Getty Images

Third quarter growth in the Eurozone was confirmed at 0.2%. Capital Economics said the latest estimate revealed a "somewhat unbalanced picture" of growth. It highlighted the biggest quarterly rise in household spending since 2010, rising government spending, but a fall in investment for the second quarter in a row.

Via Email

Premier Foods investigation

Simon Walker

Director General, Institute of Directors

"The news

that Premier Foods could be forcing its suppliers into controversial 'pay-to-stay' arrangements is deeply disturbing... Premier need to consider their arrangements closely. We encourage them to think of the long-term damage they could be doing to their suppliers, their brands, and business in general."

Via Twitter

Premier Foods investigation

Vince Cable

Business Secretary

"

It's wrong for small firms to be charged to remain on supplier lists. I'm writing to CMA to express my concern on the issue."

Maldives water shortage

Island of Dunikolu in the Republic of Maldives
Science Photo Library

All is not well on the exotic holiday islands of the Maldives. The government has declared a state of emergency after a fire at the capital's only water treatment plant led to a shortage of drinking water. India has sent five planes with water and two ships with parts to help fix the damaged plant. Scuffles have broken out in the capital Male over bottled water, according to the AFP news agency.

Market update

The

FTSE 100 has held on to early gains and is still around 0.6% higher. Testing services firm
Intertek Group is leading the FTSE higher, up 3.5%, after two banks upgraded their assessments of Intertek shares.
Brent Crude has extended early losses, now down 45 cents at $69.19 a barrel.

Chips shortage in Japan

Fries
Science Photo Library

French fries, aka chips, are being airlifted to Japan, to fill a supply gap brought about by a dockworkers' dispute. The Japanese arm of McDonald's has been having problems since mid-November, AFP reports. Not only are the Japanese chip-deprived, but butter has been in short supply too.

Lithuania President on Russia

World Service

The Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė (often called Lithuania's Iron Lady) - has told the BBC that Russia's cancellation of the South Stream pipeline is proof that Europe's stance over Ukraine is working, despite the unhappiness over the decision in several other EU states. In an interview with the BBC's Vishala Sri-Pathma, she also repeated an earlier assertion that Russia was displaying "features of a terrorist state".

Scotland's oil

Oil
AFP

Cast your minds back to the Scottish Referendum. The claim made by the pro-independence SNP was that Scotland's oil revenues would help the country to balance the books on its own. But as Buzzfeed reports,

falling oil prices have now created a £20bn hole in their projections - which assumed oil would remain around $113 a barrel. Today, it's at $69.13.

GM plant closed

Worker walks to Opel car plant, Bochum
AP

The last van rolled off the production line at GM's Opel plant in Bochum, Germany today. The factory has been running for 52 years and at its peak employed 22,000 staff. Around 300 staff will be retained to run a car parts unit.

Stamp Duty furore

There's coverage in the papers of the rush to meet the chancellor's deadline for changes to stamp duty. The Daily Express describes a manic 12 hours for estate agents - with one buyer moving quickly enough to save himself more than £1.4m. The Daily Mail says the changes sparked one of the busiest periods for estate agents in 25 years with an exchange on a £30m house in Surrey going through just 15 minutes before midnight on Wednesday.

Global wage report

Annual average real wage growth
ILO

The International Labour Organisation has released its Global Wage Report. Among the findings, the report showed that in rich nations, stagnant wages are due to companies retaining profits and not rewarding staff.

Via Twitter

Linda Yueh

Chief business correspondent

"BOE survey finds that

people expect inflation to slow: expectations of inflation over the coming year were 2.5% compared with 2.8% in August"

Berkeley Group results

Talking of Berkeley, the firm says it made pre-tax profits of £305m in the six months to end of Oct, up 80% on the same period last year.

Via Email

Premier Foods investigation

Julie Palmer

Retail expert at Begbies Traynor

"With suppliers under constant pressure to slash prices further while accepting unreasonably elongated payment terms, the UK's largest food manufacturers and retailers need to find a better way of balancing prices with profits, without pushing their suppliers off a cliff."

UniCredit Gazprom deal

Gazprom refinery, Moscow
Reuters

Italy's Unicredit has granted Russian energy giant, Gazprom a credit line worth €390m (£310m). Together Gazprom and Russian oil firm Rosneft account for almost three quarters of total Russian corporate debt, according to the Wall Street Journal. Western sanctions have hampered the ability of Russian firms to refinance those loans.

Empty homes

BBC Radio 4

Robert Jones, director of Property Investments UK, says Islington Council's plans will be "very difficult to actually implement". And he says it wouldn't deal with the long-term issues behind the lack of housing in the borough.

Empty homes

BBC Radio 4

Housing in London is hugely expensive and there's not enough of it, but many homes are standing empty. A London council (Islington) wants to make it illegal. Cllr James Murray tells

Today that "hundreds" of properties are empty in his borough. He says this is a "bit of an outrage" when there is a housing crisis in the capital.

Via Twitter

David Buik

Market Commentator, Panmure Gordon

"

Russia has gargantuan gold reserves. Many believe gold could be the ace in the hole to help rouble if it continues to be trashed"

Market update

The

FTSE 100 has started the day with a healthy gain, up almost 0.7%. That's despite losses for mining shares.

Private jet review

FT Wealth magazine
BBC

Is your private jet getting a bit old? Perhaps it makes a clunking noise when you start it up? If so turn to page 56 of the FT Wealth magazine, where it helpfully reviews the new Citation M2 private jet. No need to worry if your airport is embarrassingly small: "Aerodynamic tweaks mean the aircraft can also get into and out of short runways," the reviewer says.

Stamp duty warning

Homebuilders Berkeley have warned that changes to stamp duty, announced by the chancellor on Wednesday, will mean "continuing uncertainty" in the housing market. "We are yet to see consensus from the parties on the likely shape of policy after the General Election," the firm says.

Via Twitter

Nick Bubb

Retail analyst

What's this "Gifting Weekend" at Marks & Spencer, offering "up to 50% off" selected gifts? A sale by any other name?

Rail fares

The rail union RMT has reacted to the price rise. "The scandal of Britain's great rail fares rip off with today's hike far out stripping average pay increases," said general secretary Mick Cash, "and it will once again hit those at the sharp end of the austerity clampdown the hardest".

Rent debate

Radio 5 live

The Young Ones
BBC

Radio 5 live hosts a lively debate over rents. Alex Hilton director of campaign group Generation Rent says that a third of tenants move every year, often because they are priced out of their existing property. Richard Lambert, the chief executive of the National Landlords Association, says that 60% of landlords do not raise rents during the course of tenancy.

Rouble intervention

Two traders have told Reuters that the Russian central bank was "probably intervening in the foreign exchange market" to support the flailing rouble in early minutes of trading on Friday. The currency, which has been falling heavily against the dollar, recovered by some 2%.

Germany slowdown

German steel plant
Getty Images

Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, has halved its forecast for growth in 2015 to 1.0%. In June it was forecasting growth of 2.0%. "There is reason to hope that the current sluggish phase will prove to be short-lived," Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann said in a statement.

Rail fares

BBC Radio 4

Michael Roberts is on

Today. He confirms that season tickets will go up by 2.5%. Part of the reason fares have gone up, he says, is that the government decided that passengers should bear more of the costs of the railways, rather than taxpayers.

Rail fares

Michael Roberts, the director general of the Rail Delivery Group which represents rail operators and Network Rail, highlights: "For every pound spent on fares, 97p goes on track, train, staff and other costs while 3p goes in profits earned by train companies for running services".

Via Email

Mark Halstead

"I use the Manchester to London route once or twice a week for business, although a great service I fear that they are now pricing themselves out of the market; even British Airways is now cheaper at peak times."

Rail fares

BBC Breakfast

Dominic Laurie
BBC

The BBC's Dominic Laurie is at Manchester Piccadilly train station for

Breakfast. He points out that average pay is only going up at 1.3% at the moment and CPI inflation is running at 1.3%, so the 2.2% rise in rail fares is still outstripping pay and consumer prices.

Rail fares

An interesting bit of context from our transport correspondent, Richard Westcott. Despite widespread interest in rail fares, only 5% of commuters use a train.

German factory orders

German factory orders rose more strongly than expected in October - by 2.5%. In the previous month, orders grew by just 1.1% in Europe's largest economy.