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  1. Serious Fraud Office probes Bank auctions
  2. China sets 2015 growth target at 7%
  3. Secondary ticket sites agree changes
  4. Today marks six years since interest rates fell to 0.5%

Live Reporting

By Matthew West and Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

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Au revoir

Tom Espiner

Business reporter

It's been quite an eventful, quick fire day today. The Serious Fraud Office

looking into the Bank of England over lending is a biggie, but we also learnt that the ECB would start pumping money into the eurozone economy
next week. Have a good evening, and see you bright and early tomorrow.

SFO Bank probe

Mr Augar says the SFO probe into Bank of England lending could get "really big" if it was found that the Bank or its employees had facilitated market manipulation. "At the very least I suspect this is yet another depressing example of our commercial banks rigging a market... Where it could get really big is if it turned out that the Bank of England, or Bank of England officials, somehow connived in what was going on."

SFO Bank probe

BBC News Channel

Philip Augar

How the Bank of England lent to banks during the early stages of the financial crisis is "potentially a very shocking episode," financial author and former banker Philip Augar tells BBC News. "What appears to have happened is that the commercial banks have somehow manipulated the Bank of England into giving them more money at lower rates than they really needed, and presumably then used this... to trade, to make profits on their own account."

SFO Bank probe

BBC News Channel

Richard Hunter
BBC Sport

It's "extraordinary" that so long after the financial crisis "some stones remain unturned," Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, tells BBC News. He was referring to the

Bank of England being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over how it lent to banks. "In terms of reputational damage for all concerned this is something that needs to be dealt with very quickly" he added.

Markets update

The FTSE 100 share index closed at 6961, a rise of 0.61%, after gradually climbing all day.

  • Shares in
    Aviva rose 7.05% after it reported a 6% rise in operating profits to £2.17bn and a 30% increase in its final dividend.
  • Friends Life - which is slated to merge with Aviva in a £5.6bn deal next month. - climbed 7.07%
  • Meanwhile,
    Rio Tinto fell 2.88% and
    HSBC declined 2.64%.

India marriages

Jon Bithrey

Business reporter

India mass marriage

Marriage can be an expensive business, but in places like India, it can be much more so - because families have to stump up often crippling gifts before their daughters can marry. The BBC's Vishala Sri-Pathma has been investigating during

Business Matters' trip to Chennai in southern India.

Russia inflation

rouble notes

Russia's annual inflation rose to 16.7% in February, and monthly inflation rose to 2.2% month-on-month, the Federal Statistics Service has said.

Petrobras corruption probe

Petrobras headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: February 2015
Getty Images

The opening of a Brazilian congressional probe into alleged corruption at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) erupted into a shouting match when lawmakers rushed the dais and accused the probe's leader of seeking to manipulate the outcome.

US factory orders

The Commerce Department also said orders for non-defence capital goods excluding aircraft - seen as a measure of business confidence and spending plans - rose 0.5% compared with a 0.6% rise the previous month.

US factory orders

Garment factory New York

The 0.2% fall in January follows declines of 3.5% in December and 1.7% in November.

US factory orders

US factory orders slip 0.2% in January but key investment category shows gain.

Via Email

Muesli v granola

Live page reader Paul Williams writes: "I'm sure you are a healthy eating bunch at BBC Business but there is a distinct difference between muesli and granola - the former is server 'raw' whereas the latter is baked until crisp." Paul, you are absolutely right - granola is normally baked with honey.

Via Email

Nigel Cassidy

Europe business reporter

If Greece was looking for more immediate financial help or leeway from the European Central Bank to meet its immediate financing needs, it got a pretty dusty answer from President Mario Draghi. He said the ECB's rules prevented it from monetary financing - that is printing cash to buy sovereign bonds. So no green light for Greece, for example, to issue more debt in the form of T-bills to tide itself over.

Via Email

Nigel Cassidy

Europe business reporter

ECB chief Mario Draghi struck a slightly more optimistic tone at the start of his monthly press conference - decamped this month to Cyprus. The growth forecast he works on has been revised up slightly to 1.5% this year, rising to 2.1% in 2017 - thanks to the low oil price and the fall in the euro on the foreign exchanges. Plus the ECB's monetary measures to date.


The UK's biggest prawnbroker has said its annual profits were hit after the price of gold fell during the year. H&T, which has 191 outlets, said its pre-tax profit fell almost 18% to £5.5m in the 12 months to the end of December as the average gold price fell 15% to £768 per troy ounce. But H&T shares rose after it maintained its full-year dividend.

Via Twitter

Lerato Mbele

BBC Africa Business Report presenter

Fast food outlet global distribution

tweets: The Fast Food train is blasting it's way into Africa. This week on "Africa Business Report" we look at the trends.

ECB bond-buying

Greece can't rely on the ECB to raise the limit on its issuing of short-term debt, Mr Draghi said. "The ECB is a rule-based institution. It is not a political institution," he said. This could limit one possible option for Athens to fund itself.

ECB bond buying

European and Greek flags near the Acropolis

"In one sense you could say the ECB is the central bank of Greece," says Mr Draghi. "In fact you could say the ECB is the central bank for all countries in the eurozone," The purchase programme can't buy Greek bonds, he says. That's firstly because Greece is part of a debt restructuring programme. Secondly, the ECB can only buy investment grade bonds and Greece's bonds aren't rated that highly yet. Thirdly, the ECB can't buy more than a third of a sovereign's bonds.

ECB bond buying

The ECB increased emergency liquidity assistance for Greeks banks: "We have raised the ELA today by €500m," Mr Draghi said.

ECB bond buying

Euro - US dollar rate

The euro briefly rose to $1.1115 during Mr Draghi's press conference before falling until it was 0.4% down on the day. The drop happened after Mr Draghi said there was a chance quantitative easing could continue beyond September 2016.

ECB bond buying

The ECB now sees GDP growth accelerating to 1.5% in 2015 from last year's 0.9% and ahead of its December forecast for 1.0%. It foresees GDP growth of 1.9% in 2016, higher than December's forecast, and of 2.1% in 2017.

ECB bond buying

In case you were looking for Mr Draghi's exact wording on bond buying, this is what he said: "We will on 9 March 2015 start purchasing euro-dominated public sector securities in the secondary market. We will also continue to purchase asset-backed securities and covered bonds which we started last year." Hope that's clear.

ECB bond buying

Mario Draghi

High structural unemployment and low growth in certain parts of the eurozone "is not grounds for complacency," Mr Draghi says. In a clear reference to Greece he adds "structural reforms need to be implemented swiftly... and credibly".

ECB bond buying

Mario Draghi

Mr Draghi says inflation is expected to be a bit lower this year as a result of lower oil prices, but inflation is expected to be somewhat higher in 2016, rising to around 1.8% in 2017.

ECB bond buying

US oil well
Getty Images

There are risks to the eurozone, Mr Draghi says, but the lower oil price and the actions of the ECB mean those risks have been mitigated. He expects inflation to pick up in late 2015, he says.

ECB bond buying

Mr Draghi says domestic demand should be supported by the ECB's policy measures. Demand for European exports, for example, should increase as prices become more competitive, he adds. Mr Draghi also expects the lower oil price to be helpful over the next few months.

ECB bond buying


Mr Draghi said the ECB had "already seen a significant number of positive effects" from its monetary policy, including improved borrowing conditions for firms and households.

ECB bond buying

ECB president Mario Draghi tells assembled journalists that bond-buying will start on 9 March. The combined monthly purchases will amount to €60bn, he adds. The intention is to continue with monthly bond purchases until September 2016. But Mr Draghi leaves the door open to continuing the programme beyond this deadline, if necessary, to get inflation back up to the bank's target of 2%.


Early Bird

Eighties' pop smoothies Daryl Hall and John Oates are suing an upmarket breakfast cereal maker called Early Bird, which was had the temerity to call its granola (muesli on this side of the pond) Haulin' Oats. The duo's lawyers claim the name is "an obvious play upon [their] well-known Hall & Oates mark". Chew on that.

Market update

Aviva is still the top riser in London this lunchtime, up 5.7% following strong annual results.
HSBC tops the fallers, down 2.4%. The
FTSE 100 is 0.4% higher at 6,946.


Willie Walsh
Getty Images

Who doesn't love an LTIP? That's a long-term incentive plan in biz speak - or "windfall" if you prefer. Shares vesting under such a plan have boosted IAG boss Willie Walsh's pay package to an impressive £6.4m for 2014 - 27% higher than the previous year. Still, shareholders may not complain too much considering the share price of the BA and Iberia owner has risen 27% over the past year too.

Via Email

Taking the biscuit

David Tinslet, UBS economist

Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) members may have spent more time deciding what biscuits to have at their regular policy meeting than the actual policy decision this month.

BreakingBreaking News

ECB holds rates

And now the European Central Bank has announced that it too is doing nothing to interest rates this month, leaving the main bank rate unchanged at 0.05%. We'll hear more on its bond-buying programme at the press conference at 1330 GMT.

FCA review

Banks may be forced to compensate some customers after failing to meet standards on selling complex investment products, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said in a review of the sector. Structured products range from alternatives to cash deposits to complex investments linked to multiple financial assets or indices. Some firms assessed by the watchdog have been asked to determine if customers were harmed.

Interest rates

Martin Beck, senior economic adviser to the EY Item Club, says the

next rate rise could be almost a year away. "While the risks of an earlier rate rise have probably increased lately, we still think it most likely that the Bank will wait until February 2016, by which time inflation will be back above 1% and heading towards the 2% target."

BreakingBreaking News

Bank holds interest rates

That's it: six years of interest rates at 0.5%. The Bank of England, in the least surprising move of all time, has left rates unchanged - and neither has quantitative easing been altered.

Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus
Getty Images

The Irish government expects BA owner IAG to sweeten its €1.36bn offer for Aer Lingus to convince it to sell its 25% stake in the airline. Deputy prime minister Joan Burton said the transport minister anticipated "further offers forthcoming from IAG".

Mikhail Fridman

David Cameron's spokesman says the PM "entirely backs" the

seven-day deadline to decide the fate of Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman's newly acquired North Sea assets. He added that the government was ready to act if assurances were not received.

TSB pay

Paul Pester

TSB has revealed its chief executive Paul Pester (pictured) received a salary and bonuses totalling just shy of £1.9m last year. As a comparison, Barclays boss Anthony Jenkins was paid £2.3m last year. TSB listed in London last June - although its shares are 10% below the float price at 260.1p.

Car sales up in February

Staying on a car theme, UK new car sales rose 12% in February, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). February car sales totalled 76,958, taking sales in the first two months of 2015 to 8.3% overall. Sales rose by nearly 10% last year, their highest rise in a decade, the SMMT said in January.