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  1. Concerns grow over outlook for North Sea oil
  2. Stock markets continue to head higher

Live Reporting

By Ben Morris and Matthew West

All times stated are UK

Ben Morris

Business Reporter

That's it for this week. We're back on Monday from 06:00 so have a great weekend and if you're lucky enough to be off next week, enjoy your seasonal festivities.

Mayo war over

Hampton Creek chief executive Josh Tetrick holds a species of yellow pea used to make Just Mayo,

Relax everyone, the mayonnaise war is over. Unilever, the maker of Hellmann's, has dropped its lawsuit against upstart rival Hampton Creek. Unilever had accused Hampton Creek of misleading consumers and potentially doing "serious, irreparable harm" with its marketing of egg-free mayo. In return Hampton Creek will sort out its labelling with industry groups and regulators. Phew.

So long Superjumbo?

An Etihad airways flight attendant stands in front of the new Etihad A380 Airbus superjumbo

Etihad chief executive James Hogan has told the BBC his airline's current order of ten Airbus A380 superjumbos will be its last, saying the current order "meets our requirements". The future of the A380 was questioned last week when the chief financial officer of Airbus, Harald Wilhelm, said Airbus could halt production in 2018 due to a lack of orders. However the next day the company said new versions were planned that would boost sales.

Rouble 'bloodbath'

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan president
Getty Images

In the Russian market "all car manufacturers are losing money," says Carlos Ghosn chairman of Renault and Nissan

according to Reuters. "When the rouble sinks it's a bloodbath for everybody," he added. Like General Motors, Renault and Nissan have stopped taking orders for some cars in Russia because of the plunge in the local currency.

House price predictions

Houses in west London

One of the more outlandish forecasts is that London is cooked, fried, done, over. RICS says the estate agents and surveyors it has spoken to think house price growth in the capital will be zero.....yes zero in 2015. Anyone remember the last time house prices stayed still in London? We've got a hunch it was probably the 1960s. But if any of our readers have any bright ideas about the last time the capital saw zero growth in house prices, you are very welcome to send them to

House price predictions

Are you worried about house prices? Do you fear a runaway market will turn into an asset bubble and eventually burst like in 2008? Well, news reaches the livepage that will make you think it is in fact your anxieties that are overblown and you need to give yourself a good talking to. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, house prices across the UK will grow by a mere 3% on average in 2015. So there's really nothing to worry about.

Lufthansa rejects pilot talks

A plane of German airline Lufthansa landing at the airport in Frankfurt

German airline Lufthansa has rejected demands for mediation talks from pilots to discuss its plans to expand its low-cost operations. Plans to set up a low-cost unit dubbed "Wings" cannot be negotiated in mediation, a spokesman for the carrier said. Lufthansa had offered the pilots' union mediation talks to resolve a long-running dispute over early retirement benefits which has seen pilots go out on strike 10 times.

Nigeria trading crackdown

Naira notes
Getty Images

Nigeria has announced further measures to limit currency speculation, according to AFP. The government is trying to defend the naira which has been

undermined by the falling oil price. The new measures are designed to hamper professional traders. Those who purchase foreign currency must use the funds with 48 hours or they will be forced to sell the money back to the central bank at a price dictated by the bank, the news agency reports.

Club Med takeover battle

ClubMed advert

The stakes have been raised in the game to buy French holiday group Club Med. China's Fosun has raised its offer to €24.60 per share, which values Club Med at €939m. It trumps an offer from Global Resorts, which is controlled by Italian businessman Andrea Bonomi. His bid valued Club Med at €915m. Fosun wants to expand the firm in China and Brazil.

Via Twitter

Douglas Fraser

Business and economy editor, Scotland


Standard Life Investm'ts expands to new-build on sth St Andrew Sq Edinburgh: 10 new offices from Tokyo to Stockholm, expanding existing ones"

Air France shares slump

Striking Air France pilots

Shares in Air-France KLM have slumped 6% after the airline issued its third profit warning of the year late on Thursday. It blamed continued costs from a strike by pilots earlier this year. Sales, particularly of long-haul tickets, are weak, according to the airline. It also said that it was not yet seeing the benefit of falling oil prices.

Russia crisis

A board showing currency exchange rates

The Russian rouble has steadied gaining almost 3% and at one point it traded below 60 to the dollar. It comes after Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov said the rouble would definitely hold firm at the beginning of next year. He also said the ministry had been selling foreign currency.

Government borrowing falls

Borrowing was also revised down for the first half of the year. Overall, year-to-date borrowing was £2.4bn less than first thought, mostly reflecting lower estimates of central government spending and higher assessments of receipts. The borrowing figure for November also came in £1bn less than the City expected.

Oil prices

Brent crude price

Oil prices have strengthened a bit this morning. North Sea Brent Crude is up 1% at $59.87 a barrel. You can see what a volatile week it has been from the chart above, with oil trading in a near $5 range and this week and breaking well below the $60 a barrel mark.

Government borrowing falls

Government borrowing in November was £14.1bn, that's down £1.6bn compared with a year earlier,

the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says.

BreakingBreaking News

Government borrowing falls

Public sector borrowing from April to November 2014 was £75.8bn, a fall of £0.5 billion compared with the same period in a year earlier, official figures show.

Market update


FTSE 100 is stronger in early trading following that big jump for US shares on Thursday. Oil services firms have been hit this morning,
Petrofac leads the FTSE 100 lower with a 4.5% loss.

Cyprus denied bailout cash

The Cypriot parliament says it wants more time to draft a new law to protect people from losing their homes as a result of last year's banking crisis. The IMF says it will discuss the next steps with Cypriot authorities. The European Union had released a €350m instalment before the vote, bringing the amount of bailout cash given to Cyprus so far to €5.7bn.

Via Twitter

Douglas Fraser

Business and economy editor, Scotland


Big contract win for Schlumberger, providing drilling + well services for Statoil, in big new Mariner heavy oilfield, east of Shetland"

Cyprus denied bailout cash

A man walk outside a branch of Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia
European Photopress Agency

Remember last year's bank crisis in Cyprus? Well, the island nation may be in trouble again. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is refusing to give Cyprus an €86m tranche of rescue money after the Cypriot parliament voted to suspend an insolvency law - due to take effect at the end of the month - that would have made it easier for banks to start to collect on bad loans.

North sea oil outlook

BBC Breakfast

Dominic Laurie, BBC Breakfast

Around 375,000 people work in the UK oil industry and half of those are in north east Scotland says a cold looking Dominic Laurie from Aberdeen docks on BBC Breakfast. He speaks to the chief executive of Wood Group Bob Keiller. He says the industry has been through this kind of challenge before when the oil price collapsed in 1986 and 1998. He says the oil industry came out stronger.

North Sea oil outlook

Radio 5 live

More from Sir Ian Wood. He thinks that oil prices will be around $60 to $65 a barrel over the next 18 months and then will recover. That could prompt job losses of up to 10% in the UK oil industry, although he thinks it is more likely to be 5%. He says that investment plans are made 2-3 years in advance, so the impact is not immediate.

North Sea oil outlook

Radio 5 live

"Well over the top and far too dramatic," is how Sir Ian Wood

describes a warning that the North Sea oil exploration business is close to collapse. Sir Ian is the Scottish billionaire who was commissioned by the government to carry out a review of the UK's oil industry.

Newspaper review

Business pages

The bid by IAG for Aer Lingus dominates today's business pages.

Times Chief Business Commentator, Alistair Osborne says IAG's timing is not great as Aer Lingus shares are up 54% over the past year. Away from that, in the
Financial Times Gillian Tett warns about the amount of dollar-denominated debt held offshore by companies from emerging markets.
Graham Ruddick of the Telegraph warns that next year could be even worse than this year for the big supermarkets chains.

North Sea oil outlook

BBC Radio 4

Ian Theophilus an oil and gas consultant tells

Today he expects a number of North Sea oil projects - planned with a higher oil price in mind - may be reduced or cut altogether. He says he is very worried about the prospect for North Sea oil in 2015. He says he and colleagues "remember the late 1980s and 1990s" when the oil price was between $9 and $11 per barrel and "everything was stuck". "The chances are that could happen again," he adds.

Keeping the lights on

Reacting to the completion of the energy auction Energy Secretary Ed Davey, said: "This is fantastic news for bill-payers and businesses. We are guaranteeing security at the lowest cost for consumers. We've done this by ensuring that we get the best out of our existing power stations and unlocking new investment in flexible plant."

Keeping the lights on

Companies will be paid £19.40 per kilowatt by the government to provide backup power following an auction process that has been going on all week.

The new scheme is designed to ensure the nation has a sufficient energy buffer to cope with peak demand - usually over the winter.

Premier League TV review

Premier League logo on a football

Ofcom has launched a consultation on its view that the current division of Premier League and Champions League football between Sky and BT harms competition between pay TV retailers. Back in 2010 Ofcom ordered Sky to offer its sports channels to rivals at a price set by the regulator. It is now reviewing whether that has helped competition and "remains appropriate". There will be a second phase of the review in 2015.

North Sea oil outlook

Radio 5 live

North Sea oil platform
Getty Images

It's extremely difficult to tell if the

North Sea oil business is heading into the same kind of crisis that it saw in 1986, says Aberdeen businessman Charles Skene on
Radio 5 live. Kenny Anderson the boss of an Aberdeen construction firm remembers the "strife" caused in 1986 when oil fell to $36 per barrel. But predicting oil prices is an "impossible game" he points out.

Samsung shareholder payout

Samsung Electronics is considering increasing its dividend payout this year by between 30% and 50% compared to 2013.

Nigerian currency crisis

BBC Radio 4

Phillip Walker of the Economist Intelligence Unit, tells

Today the crisis facing Nigeria is far bigger than the one facing Russia. Nigeria's currency the naira has fallen 15% against the US dollar this year forcing the country's central bank to impose foreign currency trading controls. "Nigeria has a bigger population than Russia, its economy relies on oil exports more than Russia, so it's a big problem," Mr Walker says.

Gas prices

BBC Radio 4

Professor Green says energy suppliers have an eye on politics at the moment. He says Labour leader Ed Miliband's promise to freeze energy prices for 20 months if his party wins next year's election may mean suppliers will keep prices artificially high despite currently benefitting from lower gas costs.

Gas prices

BBC Radio 4

While falling oil prices have recently caught the attention of many, the cost of gas has also been coming down. That's because demand in Europe has been falling due to a relatively warm winter so far. Richard Green professor of sustainable energy business at Imperial College London tells

Today we shouldn't expect lower energy bills are a result. That's because energy suppliers are selling us gas they bought at last year's prices.

Asian markets

Asian stock markets have had a mixed session. They

Nikkei 225 is up more than 2%. Hong Kong's
Hang Seng is up 1.4%. Shares in Shanghai have fallen back after hitting a four-year high in early trading. The
Shanghai composite is down 0.1%.

China recalculates growth

Chinese flag

China's economy is bigger than originally thought. The government has revised up the size of the economy in 2013 by 3.4% to 58.8 trillion yuan ($9.5 trillion). The increase was mainly accounted for by a greater contribution from the services sector. In comparison, the US economy was worth almost $17 trillion in 2013.

IAG bid for Aer Lingus

Radio 5 live

Dublin Airport

British Airways owner, IAG is "good at integrating new airlines" says Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown. He is explaining why

IAG made a bid for Aer Lingus. The Irish airline is attractive because it has lots of landing slots at Heathrow, says Mr Hunter. IAG may also have a bit more spending power because of the lower oil price, he adds.

North Sea oil jobs

Radio 5 live

Oil worker

North Sea oil companies are cutting wages, rather than jobs at the moment, says Alan Savage chairman of recruitment company Orion Group on

Radio 5 live. For agency workers wages have already been cut by up to 20%. He says that the British oil industry is highly taxed and the "government has a lot to answer for".

Russian crisis

Radio 5 live

Russian President, Vladimir Putin

Next year is going to be grim for the Russian economy, says Craig Botham, emerging markets economist at Schroders on

Radio 5 live. The economy is likely to contract 4.5%, inflation is forecast to be betweem 11% and 12%.
The rouble could keep on weakening, "it's hard to see a particular floor for the currency" Mr Botham says.