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Summary

  1. UK economy grows 2.6% in 2014
  2. Flights to Baghdad suspended as shots fired

Live Reporting

By Howard Mustoe and Matthew West

All times stated are UK

Matthew West

Business Reporter

Right that's it for another day. We'll see you again tomorrow from 06:00 for more business related shenanigans. Join us then.

Via Email

Apprenticeships

Andy Batten, Business live reader

"To your commentator Martyn Fenton (circa 09:30) with regard to Armed Forces apprenticeships. There may well have been cuts to the serving strength but these are those servicemen and women that have served for several years, not the new entry 'apprentices' that are feeding in the bottom! Let's ensure we maintain the correct perspective!"

Via Blog

UK GDP

Robert Peston

Economics editor

As the election looms, there is an important question about who has paid most for the recovery, the rich or the poor?

Read more in Robert Peston's blog.

Greek cabinet confirmed

Yanis Varoufakis
Reuters

Economics professor Yanis Varoufakis (centre of the picture above) has confirmed he will become Greece's next finance minister today, promising to defy advice to "put up or shut up" and find solutions that favour all Europeans rather than just Greeks. Mr Varoufakis isn't one for mincing his words. On the

Today programme on Monday he described the economic policies of the previous government as a form of "fiscal waterboarding".

UK GDP

gdp
BBC

The economics elves here at the BBC have

updated the economy tracker, so you can see how we are faring compared with yesteryear.

Via Email

Facebook back!

Facebook explains its downtime: "Earlier today many people had trouble accessing Facebook and Instagram. This was not the result of a third party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems. We moved quickly to fix the problem, and both services are back to 100% for everyone."

Waitrose jobs

Waitrose has just put out a press release saying it expects to create 2,000 jobs in new and "extended" shops, as well as in a new online grocery depot. They are opening seven supermarkets and seven convenience stores. One in King's Cross includes a cookery school.

UK GDP

Ed Balls
BBC

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has been reacting to today's GDP figures. He points out the government promised to rebalance the economy but that hasn't materialised yet. He says the latest figures show manufacturing was flat and construction output falling. That's not technically right either. For instance, yes construction output was 1.8% lower in the fourth quarter, where construction can be slower. Overall, it is up 6% year-on-year, according to the ONS.

UK GDP

George Osborne
BBC

The Chancellor says the latest GDP figures show the UK is the fastest growing "major economy". We're not sure that's technically correct given that China, the second largest economy in the world, grew by 7.4% in 2014. Also the US economy was charging ahead in the third quarter of last year and we've not yet had final GDP figures from across the pond.

Via Email

FCA grilling

Ramzan Karmali

Business reporter, BBC News

Financial Conduct Authority Chair and CEO being quizzed by MPs on the Davis Report which was highly critical of the FCA and how it leaked highly sensitive information to the media. Martin Wheatley insisted that it was not part of the FCA's culture to generate headlines

Via Email

Apprenticeships

Greig Kelly, Business live reader

"I am currently three and a half months into a markets operations apprenticeship at HSBC in Canary Wharf, I have found it to be very fruitful both socially and with the opportunities I have been given, whilst earning a competitive salary. I feel apprenticeships are undervalued in industries such as banking where experience means as much, if not more, than a degree."

UK GDP

In fairness to the OBR, it did originally forecast GDP growth for 2014 of 2.7% back in March last year. We wonder why it revised up its prediction?

UK GDP

Graph showing components of UK GDP
ONS

It's worth noting a couple of things from today's GDP figures. The first is that the official estimate is below the forecast from the

Office for Budget Responsibility at the time of the Autumn Statement that economic growth would be 3% in 2014. The second is that while, as the ONS says, there has been widespread growth across all major components of GDP since the start of 2013, the service industries remain the largest and steadiest contributor to economic growth.

Easyjet trading update

An easyJet plane,
PA

Easyjet is up 3% after reporting a 3.8% rise in revenue to £931m for the three months to the end of December. It adds passenger numbers grew by 4.1% in the quarter to 14.9 million. Easyjet says first half bookings are in line with last year and that it expects to report a first half pre-tax loss of between £10m and £30m assuming normal levels of disruption compared to the £53m loss reported in the first half of last year.

Via Email

Apprenticeships

Martyn Fenton, Business live reader

"So who is largest supplier of apprenticeships in UK? The armed forces. And where have been government cuts been focussed on - the armed forces. Double speak or Mr Cameron doesn't know his brief."

Banking figures

key
PA

Some banking stats from the British Bankers' Association, which lobbies for the industry. ISA deposits in 2014 were 57% higher than in 2013 after the increase in investment limits. House purchase approvals up 9% in 2014.

UK GDP

For the whole of 2014 the UK economy grew by 2.6%. That marks the best economic performance since 2007, the

Office For National Statistics says.

BreakingBreaking News

UK GDP

The UK economy grew by 0.5% in the last three months of 2014, official figures show.

Via Email

GDP preview

Tom Turner, Business live reader

"Is Richard Portes suggesting we should find a different surgeon then? Because the only two on offer are; the one that nearly killed us and the one that has us recovering.... If a little slower than he thought it might."

Universal benefits

BBC Radio 4

Asked if well-off pensioners could lose benefits such as free travel passes and the Winter Fuel Allowance after the next election , something the prime minister promised would be protected at the last election, Mr Cameron says: "I've always said there aren't huge savings to be made by axing these benefits... I don't think it would be fair to ask pensioners to make the biggest adjustment." He adds pensioners have £800 more in their pension than before he came to power.

Paper review

paper
BBC

More Greek analysis from the newspapers this morning. Greece and its creditors "dig in" over the debt struggle,

says the FT. The Wall St Journal says Europe's "
political establishment moved quickly to douse hopes" of a debt restructure.
The Times's business section leads on a drop in Greek bank shares. The Telegraph has more on that
benefit cap cut proposed by Mr Cameron.

Via Email

Flydubai spokesperson

After landing at Baghdad International Airport (BGW) on 26 January 2015, damage to the aircraft fuselage consistent with small arms fire was discovered on flydubai flight FZ 215. All the passengers disembarked normally through the jet bridge. No medical attention was required at the airport. Passengers from Baghdad to Dubai were accommodated on a replacement aircraft. An investigation is underway to establish what happened.

Market update

Small movements early on in European share trading. London's benchmark

FTSE 100 index of top companies has nudged 0.08% lower to 6,846.74 points, Frankfurt's
DAX 30 shed 0.12% to 10,785.90 and the
CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.07% to 4,671.76 points.

Aircraft fired on

plane
AFP

Flights between the United Arab Emirates and Baghdad have been suspended after a FlyDubai aircraft was hit by gunfire as it approached the Iraqi capital. No-one was injured in the attack, the budget carrier said. Etihad and Emirates have also suspended their services to Baghdad as a precaution.

Economy

BBC Breakfast

Miliband
BBC

"There are big economic and social challenges," says Labour leader Ed Miliband on Breakfast. "They [the Conservative party] say everything's fixed... I don't agree. People are £1,600 worse off at the end of this parliament than the beginning."

Welfare to work

BBC Radio 4

Did you hear the starting gun? It's 100 days until the general election, so campaigning begins. Mr Cameron's talking on Today about proposals to cut the benefit cap to £23,000. Will that mean more people go out and find work? The Prime Minister says that around 40% of people that have been effected by the current cap have gone out and sought work. He says the government will use the money saved from reducing the benefit cap - if the Conservatives win the election - to create 3 million apprenticeships.

GDP preview

BBC Radio 4

Economic professor Richard Portes of the Centre for Economic Policy Research takes up Mr Littlewood's surgical metaphor in relation to the government's economic policies but says "the patient almost died". The actual proportion of people in work is still lower than before the financial crisis while wages are 6% lower than they should be, he says. If the government points to the way in which the deficit has been handled its story ahead of the election isn't very good at all, he adds.

Via Email

Apprenticeships

Chris Pocock, a Business live reader from Sheffield

"The pay of apprentices at Ford Dagenham is not typical. The government's own evidence to the Low Pay Commission indicates shockingly high levels of non-compliance by employers in paying apprentices the national minimum wage."

Carpetright sales

Carpetright has reported a 7.5% rise in UK like-for-like sales in the three months to 24 January. It has also kept its full year profit guidance unchanged. Like-for-like sale in the rest of Europe rose 1.7%, it adds.

GDP preview

BBC Radio 4

The government hasn't stuck to its deficit plans, says Mark Littlewood on

Today, but it has stuck to its spending plans. We have several more years before we will be living within our means but "the direction of travel" is the most important thing. "If the government had said to hell with this, we're going to carry on as before, then markets would have had more of a wobble," he says, but a deficit reduction target of five years achieved in eight, while disappointing, is far less of a concern.

Apprenticeships

BBC Breakfast

Cameron
BBC

Prime Minister David Cameron is on Breakfast. He's talking about apprenticeships: "we overplayed university and downplayed apprenticeships" he says, whereas "both are important." He says after visiting apprentices at Ford in Dagenham trainees can earn £30,000 after four years. Does that match your experience, readers? bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Aer Lingus bid

British Airways owner IAG says the board of Aer Lingus has indicated "that the financial terms of [its] proposal are at a level at which it would be willing to recommend [the takeover approach] to Aer Lingus shareholders" after Monday's €2.55 per share offer for the Irish carrier. Aer Lingus appears to be letting IAG have a look at its accounts, granting it access to "perform a limited period of confirmatory due diligence."

Facebook back!

facebook
facebook

Facebook appears to be back. Panic over, everyone.

Facebook down

Facebook is down in France, Australia, Spain and Singapore, readers and colleagues tell us. A colleague is busy furiously poking the organisation to find out what's going on. Reader Kath Olliffe in Sydney writes in: "It's a strange feeling because you kind of want to post a status that FB is down and what are we all to do. You want to look up FB to see if there is something wrong with FB!"

GDP preview

BBC Radio 4

The latest estimate of UK economic growth will be released at 9:30 today and the economic recovery is looking increasingly likely to be the government's main story during the election. Has it a good story to tell? Mark Littlewood, director general at the Institute of Economic Affairs, tells

Today that broadly, yes it does. He thinks the government will say: "we're only about half way through the surgery and May isn't the time to change the surgeon".

GDP preview

BBC Breakfast

stoke
BBC

Not to be out-done by

Wake Up to Money's trip to Aston, Breakfast has sent presenter Steph McGovern to a ceramics factory in Stoke to see if the predicted GDP growth is benefiting people. Lisa Grimley says supermarket prices remain high, especially food. Energy bills need to come down before things improve. Since the credit crisis, petrol prices have reduced and that's about it. "It's a struggle for young people."

Via Email

Facebook down

Steven Weerdenburg

Business live reader

It's 1.50 am and Facebook is down in Toronto. Looks like I might have to go to sleep after all.

GDP preview

Radio 5 live

Wake Up to Money presenter Adam Parsons is in East End Foods in Aston, near Birmingham. "It's like being in Terminal 2" he says. He's there in preparation for today's GDP figure. Jason Wouhra, director of the firm, says stable interest rates have helped confidence in investing. Curry ingredients, corn flakes and coke are the more popular items.