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Live Reporting

By Ian Pollock

All times stated are UK

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Goodbye

BBC test card
BBC

That's it for today. Back tomorrow at 06:00.

Kraft-Heinz merger

Kraft logo
Reuters

Last word. An options trader in New York apparently bet $700,000 on the future value of Kraft shares recently. Thanks to the fact they have shot up by 40% today, so the value of his option may be $19bn.

Older workers

More fascinating facts about

older workers, at least back in 2011. The ONS says that 57% of them worked part-time, and more than a third were self-employed. Those were much higher proportions than for workers under 65.

Opt-out insurance selling

Not sure what this ban is all about? This is how the

FCA describes it. "We are all familiar with having to double check whether or not we have accidently agreed to buy an add-on insurance product when buying car insurance or tickets online for example." I'm sure you remember now.

Dilbert

Dilbert
Scott Adams

Today's Dilbert cartoon, a little late.

French unemployment

Job centre in France.
AP

It's not good. French unemployment rose again in February. There were 3,494,400 job seekers recorded in France last month, a rise of 12,800 from January. That was a rise of 0.4% in the month, but 4.6% over the previous year.

Market report

London stock market graph
BBC

In London the 100 share index closed 28 points lower at 6,992, a fall of 0.4%. In Germany the DAX index fell 133 points to 11,872, and in Paris the CaC-40 index dropped 69 points to 5,020. On the foreign exchanges, the pound rose slightly to $1.49, but weakened slightly against the euro, to 1 euro 35.8

Alps plane crash

The French aviation investigator, Rémy Jouty, says the debris at the French plane crash site was in very tiny pieces, and so did not indicate any on-board explosion.

Alps plane crash

President Francois Hollande
PA

French aviation investigators have told a news conference, in Seyne-les-Alpes in France, that as yet they do not have any idea why the Germanwings Airbus descended so quickly before it crashed yesterday. Some sound recordings have just been recovered from a "black box" cockpit voice recorder, but so far they can't tell what was being said by the pilots. The investigators are still working on it. It may take weeks or even months to decipher all the recording.

Eastman chemicals

Cigarette
PA

The company first proposed the closure of its Workington acetate tow factory in February this year. The factory opened in 1969 and employs about 160 staff. Acetate tow is a fibrous cellulose material which is used to make cigarette filters.

Inflation and the Budget

Cash
PA

Do Budgets create inflation in any way? The ONS - it says yes. But its

latest analysis suggests that as the Budget measures for 2015-16 will be slightly less inflationary than those implemented in 2014-15, the combined effect will be to lessen the annual CPI inflation rate by a whopping 0.08 percentage points. I am sure you noticed.

Eastman chemicals

The Eastman Chemical Company, a US firm, has decided to close its acetate tow factory in Workington. Production will end in April, and the site will be closed in the autumn. The plan won't be cheap. It will cost the company $100m.

Europe loves Greece

Greek flag
Reuters

Reuters from Brussels has this little tidbit. The European Commission's President, Jean-Claude Juncker, thinks the financial stand off with insolvent Greece may indeed be resolved. "I have to recognise that I was very pessimistic during the last weeks because there was no progress whatsoever," Juncker told the European Parliament. "But now we [are] back in a normal process and I do think that we can come to a conclusion that will be both in favour of Greece, we love Greece, and the European Union." We shall see.

Deflation

What do Bank of England officials think about deflation persisting? This is what Kristin Forbes, a member of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee, has told the London Evening Standard: "The current period of low inflation is most likely to be temporary, and will not therefore generate the negative consequences of persistently low inflation which would merit concern."

Tax avoidance

Google screen grab
Google

The government has revealed more about its plans to combat "profit shifting" by big multi-national companies. A Treasury minister, David Gauke, has told MPs that the UK is linking with the tax authorities of five other countries to discover how some companies move their profits to tax havens. A 25% tax on diverted profits - the so-called Google tax - is already coming in at the beginning of next month.

Older workers

Old person
PA

Some fascinating facts about older workers from the

Office for National Statistics (ONS). Based on the 2011 census (a bit out of date now, I would have said), about 10% of the population aged 65 and over were in work. That amounted to 934,000 people, who were in turn 3.5% of all people in jobs.

Kraft-Heinz merger

Some investors just love this deal. In the US, shares in Kraft have jumped a massive 32%, up $20 to $81 dollars a share.

Good afternoon

Ian Pollock

Business reporter, BBC News

Thanks to Ben and Howard for their work this morning. I am here until 18:00.

Opt-out insurance selling

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) plans to ban what it calls the

"opt-out selling of insurance add-ons." Quite right too. But it is simply amazing that it has taken financial regulators about 30 years to do anything about this thoroughly dishonest racket of the financial services industry.

Via Twitter

World Service

tweets: #Kraft Foods to merge with #Heinz, plus today's business news roundup

US factories report weak demand

US welder
Getty Images

That fall in orders for US factories has caused a bit of stir in the financial markets. But it shouldn't be a surprise says Paul Ashworth from Capital Economics. He notes that core durable goods orders, which excludes transportation kit, have fallen in every month since last October. The situation could improve though: "We would expect to see a rebound in equipment investment in the second quarter," Mr Ashworth said.

Kraft-Heinz merger

The live page briefly joined the investor conference call about the Kraft-Heinz merger. When informed by a senior executive that Heinz was "number one in the ketchup category" we rang off.

US factories report weak demand

US durable goods orders dropped 1.4% in February, according to the Commerce Department. Durable goods are long lasting items like washing machines and toasters. In February there was a weakness in demand for aircraft, cars and machinery.

VAT pledge

Paul Waugh

Editor PoliticsHome.com

Tory source:"Love it when a plan comes together.", Osbo deliberately stalled yday to John Mann so PM cd rule out VAT today. Ed M fell for it

Via Blog

Interest rates

Robert Peston

Economics editor

The thing is that in March 2009 when Bank Rate was reduced to its record low of 0.5%, the Bank of England figured banks needed to rebuild their capital and strength by generating a certain level of profit on lending and borrowing. So it matters that Mark Carney now reckons the banks can cope with the profit squeeze that would come from a reduction in Bank Rate.

Read more in Robert's blog.

Cameron on VAT

Prime Minister David Cameron
BBC

During Prime Minister's question time, David Cameron ruled out a rise in VAT if the Conservatives win power in the May general election. He challenged Labour leader Ed Milliband to rule out an increase in National Insurance contributions. Mr Milliband didn't answer the question.

Via Email

Balfour earnings

Ken Odeluga

senior market analyst at City Index

Balfour Beatty's efforts to rebuild its fractured infrastructure business... clearly have some way to go, although there are promising signs in its finals... The bottom line is cratering further, including an additional write-off of £118m in its most problematic unit, UK construction... On the more promising side, international growth continues apace with a 24% uplift overseas (mostly from Hong Kong). That needs to be balanced by a £15m underlying loss in Middle East operations.

Romanian probe

Valcov
Reuters

Romania's parliament voted to allow prosecutors to arrest former finance minister Darius Valcov, according to the Reuters news agency, after Valcov was accused of running businesses illegally. Mr Valcov denies all wrongdoing. He was the most senior politician in the country to have been investigated for alleged corruption and resigned as finance minister days after prosecutors announced their investigation.

Canal cash

Suez
AP

Egypt's revenue from the Suez Canal was $382m (£257m) in February, down from $434.8m in January. It is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and one of the main sources of foreign cash for Egypt.

Inside 3G Capital

You may not have heard of Jorge Lemann, but in Brazil he is a household name. Along with his partners he built 3G Capital into a global player, famed for ruthless cost cutting at the companies it invested in. At Burger King it become forbidden to make colour photo copies without permission and at Anheuser, employees no longer have access to free beer,

according to this Bloomberg profile. Mr Lemann was also a top tennis player, competing at Wimbledon and in the Davis Cup.

Buffett: 'My kind of transaction'

Kraft - Heinz merger

Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway said: "I am delighted to play a part in bringing these two winning companies and their iconic brands together. This is my kind of transaction, uniting two world-class organizations and delivering shareholder value. I'm excited by the opportunities for what this new combined organization will achieve."

Kraft - Heinz merger

Warren Buffett
Reuters

Warren Buffett's investment firm Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital will invest $10bn (£6.7bn) in shares in the Kraft Heinz Company. To sweeten the deal, Kraft shareholders will receive shares in the combined company and a special cash dividend of $16.50 per share. That payout is being funded by that contribution from Mr Buffett and 3G, according to Kraft.

Kraft - Heinz merger

A reminder that Kraft no longer owns Cadbury. The chocolate maker is part of

Mondelez, a separate company that was spun-off by Kraft in 2012. In a triumph for common sense the new firm emerging from the Kraft - Heinz merger will be called The Kraft Heinz Company.

BreakingBreaking News

Kraft - Heinz merger

Kraft Foods has confirmed it is merging with Heinz, which is owned by 3G Capital and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Combined the companies will be the third biggest food and drinks firm in North America. Kraft shareholders will own a 49% deal in the new firm, Heinz shareholders will take the other 51%.

German business confidence

German car factory
Getty Images

A closely-watched survey is showing a bigger-than-expected increase in German business confidence.

The Ifo institute said its monthly confidence index rose to 107.9 points for March from 106.8 in February. It was the fifth consecutive rise. German exports have been buoyed by the depreciating euro and domestic demand.

Mortgage data

Mortgage approvals in Britain rose in February to their highest level in five months, but were still 20% lower than a year ago, according to the British Bankers' Association lobby group. "Personal deposits grew very slowly as alternative savings vehicles remain attractive, particularly the new pensioner bond," said BBA Chief Economist Richard Woolhouse.

Via Twitter

Kamal Ahmed

BBC Business editor

Not an everyday occurrence. Harvey Nichols announces it is opening a 7 floor mega-store in Baku, Azerbaijan #newworldorder