Is China's premier softening up the markets for disappointing GDP data being published tomorrow? According to Chinese media reports, Li Keqiang told state radio on Tuesday that there are downward pressures on the economy and the country must prepare for economic difficulties.
- The Consumer Price Index was 0% in March
- Conservatives pledge 30 hours of free childcare for working parents
- Nokia in talks to buy Alcatel-Lucent
Two investors in Virgin Money - US billionaire Wilbur Ross and Stanhope Investments - are selling up to 45 million shares in the UK lender, representing about 10.2% of the firm's issued share capital. Shares in Virgin Money, which bought the remains of Northern Rock after its collapse, have risen almost 49% since the lender's stock market flotation last year. Funds run by Mr Ross own about 33.5% of Virgin Money.
Chief business correspondent
London's main share index nudged record territory on Tuesday. The FTSE 100 closed 0.16% up at 7,075.26 points, finishing near the record 7,089.77 points reached on 10 April. Miners were big gainers on the back of rising metals prices, with Anglo American up 4.09% and BHP Billiton 3.07% ahead. Barclays rose more than 1% on a broker recommendation. Shire, down 2.55%, was the main loser.
Revenues from streaming and downloading music caught up with physical formats like CDs for the first time last year, the trade association IFPI says. But overall global income from sales fell slightly to $14.97bn. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry says in its annual report that while revenues were down 0.4% in 2014 on the previous year, digital delivery had finally matched physical formats, with each accounting for about 46% of the market.
The former security boss of a lottery in the US has been charged with fraud after allegedly hacking the computer that picks the winning numbers. Eddie Raymond Tipton was the security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association when he was arrested in January by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations.
Ford's struggling European business saw stronger sales in the first quarter of 2015 as falling unemployment and cheaper energy put more money in car buyers' pockets. Ford sold 335,100 vehicles in its 20 traditional European markets, a 12.5% rise over the same quarter a year ago. Ford of Europe's vice president of sales, Peter Fleet, says "customers clearly have more money to spend".
BBC Political Correspondent
BBC Political Correspondent Chris Mason finds today's announcement to extend right to buy eerily familiar. "The Right to Buy for council tenants extended home ownership, transformed many of Britain's housing estates and expanded our property-owning democracy. A Conservative Government will extend this right to tenants of housing associations." -that's from the 2005 Conservative Party manifesto.
Chief business correspondent
A handwritten notebook by World War II code-breaking genius Alan Turing, has been brought for $1m at auction. The 56-page manuscript, contains Mr Turing's mathematical and computer science notes, and according to auction house Bonhams is the only extensive Turing manuscript in existence. He killed himself in 1954 after hormone treatment to "cure" his homosexuality.
US markets edged higher at the open, helped by gains in JPMorgan Chase after the bank posteda 12% rise in quarterly profits. Energy stocks also advanced as oil prices rose. The Dow Jones index increased 41.38 points, or 0.23%, to 18,018.42, the S&P 500 gained 3.36 points, or 0.16%, to 2,095.79, and the Nasdaq added 6.36 points, or 0.13%, to 4,994.61.
Americans increased their spending on cars, furniture, clothing and building materials in March, lifting retail sales for the first time in four months. Retail sales rose 0.9% last month, after falling 0.5% in February, the Commerce Department says. The rebound suggests that shoppers are returning after an unseasonably cold winter hit sales.
More on the just-published World Economic Outlook report from the International Monetary Fund. It has downgraded its forecast for US growth this year from 3.6% to 3.1%, citing the consequences of a strong dollar. Its forecast for UK growth this year remains at 2.7%, although for next year it has been cut from 2.4% to 2.3%.
An update from the administrators appointed to failed retailer Phones 4U says that unsecured creditors - which includes customers - are likely to receive only 4p in the pound. Secured creditors, mostly bondholders, will receive between 20p and 24p in the pound, PricewaterhouseCoopers says.
The International Monetary Fund warns that global growth remains moderate, with "uneven prospects" across the main countries and regions. Compared with 2014, it says the outlook for advanced countries is improving, but growth in emerging and developing economies is projected to be lower. It says there will be weaker prospects in 2015 for some oil-exporting nations. The IMF's World Economic Outlook says that global growth is likely to be 3.5% this year, in line with its January forecast.
Pharmaceutical giantJohnson & Johnson's first quarter results have trumped Wall Street's estimates. However, its $4.4bn net profit was down 5.9% on the same period last year, while its $17.4bn sales were 4.1% lower. The firm said it had continued to suffer from currency movements. The strong US dollar against other currencies has hit J&J because it gets a large chunk of sales from overseas which it then has to translate into dollars.
Wells Fargo, one of the largest US retail banks, says first quarter net profit was $5.8bn, down from $5.9bn a year ago as expenses rose and the bank set aside more money to cover bad loans. Revenue was $21.3bn, up 3%.
Cloud computing firmDocker is reported to have raised a further $100m (£64.8m) from investors despite not having yet spent the $40m it raised in its third round of funding last September. "We need to be prepared to add employees, add features, and add functionality that enterprises are asking for - networking, storage, additional security," Benjamin Golub, Docker's chief executive, told the New York Times.
BBC South America business reporter
Investors are not enthused by news that Nokia is in advanced talks to buyAlcatel-Lucent. Nokia shares are down by 5%, but off the session lows. "They could come up with some cost cuts, but just because you combine one weak player with another weak player does not necessarily mean that you will end up with a stronger player," said fund manager Ion-Marc Valahu from Clairinvest.
Market sentiment has picked up since this morning thanks largely to an uptick in mining shares which are dominating the top risers on the FTSE 100.Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Anglo American are all over 2% higher. As a result the FTSE 100 is up 0.12% at 7072.51 points, close to its record high of 7,095.36 points reached on 10 April.
Economists are keeping a close eye on the Chinese economy. The latest figures on bank lending don't add a huge amount to the overall picture. New banking lending in March picked up, but a broader measure of lending (which includes other financing) shrank. "Credit issuance was unusually weak in March but, with the late Chinese New Year break still casting a shadow, we wouldn't read too much into this," says Mark Williams, chief Asia Economist at Capital Economics.
David Cameron rebuffs criticism from the BBC's deputy political editor James Landale that the Conservative party is seen as a party for the rich. "We've created 10,000 jobs a day [during our time in power]", he says.
David Cameron pledges three new commitments which he says will help working people: the extension of the right to buy housing scheme, extend free childcare to 30 hours for working parents of three and four year-olds and legislating to ensure that no one earning the minimum wage will pay income tax.
@david_cameron: legislate that rise in minimum wage will automatically lead to uprating in tax-free allowance, so low earners pay no tax
@David_Cameron big theme appears to be that we've made the big cuts, suffered the belt tightening, now's the time to receive the dividends
Conservatives promise £1bn brownfield regeneration fund, to prepare land for development.
Prime Minister David Cameron is laying out the conservative manifesto. "There is almost nothing without economic security," he says. The manifesto is "full square" behind working people he says.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has commented on the Conservatives right to buy plan. "The Conservatives are claiming they can fund right to buy with a bounced cheque," he said.
BBC Radio 4
"I just put them in the bin" - @sima_kotecha meets a Warwickshire North voter who's had enough of election leaflets
Editor, India Business Report
India's biggest online retailer, Flipkart, has pulled out of a deal with phone network Airtel to let customers browse its site for free on their smartphones - with Flipkart picking up their internet data costs. Critics said this went against net neutrality and a flurry of users took to Twitter and Facebook saying they were deleting the company's app from their phones in protest.
Chief UK economist, Capital Economics
Even if the UK does narrowly avoid deflation, inflation is still likely to hover close to zero for most of 2015. While there is a danger that this affects pay growth and inflation expectations, prompting a more prolonged period of zero inflation, this looks unlikely to us. Indeed, low inflation rates should be welcomed as giving a boost to the spending power of firms and households.
The City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has todayfined Clydesdale Bank £20.7m for "serious failings in its Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) complaint handling processes" between May 2011 and July 2013. This is the largest ever fine imposed by the FCA for failings relating to PPI, it says. The big money banks have paid out has gone to customers, not the regulator.
The Greens want a "fair economy" ending austerity and meeting the demand for public services, according to leader Natalie Bennett, who is hosting a press conference to coincide with the publication of their manifesto. The minimum wage should be lifted to a living wage immediately and raised to £10 an hour by 2020, she says. Railways should be renationalised, she adds.