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  1. Bank of England cuts 2015 growth forecast from 2.9% to 2.5%
  2. France grows faster than Germany in first quarter
  3. Toyota recalls 5 million cars over faulty airbags
  4. UK unemployment rate falls to 5.5%
  5. Controversy over Co-op board vote ahead of AGM

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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Retailers overshadow Wall Street

Weak retail sales data, underlined by a poor earnings report from stores giant Macy's, gave US investors little to cheer about. The

Dow Jones closed down 7.37 points at 18,060.86, while the
S&P 500 lost 0.63 points to 2,098.49. The
Nasdaq gained 5.50 points to 4,981.69.
Macy's fell 2.5% after announcing first-quarter results that missed market expectations.
JC Penney's results showed a narrower quarterly loss and higher margins but its shares fell 1.9%. That dragged down other retailers, including
Wal-Mart, down 1%,
Best Buy down 1.6%, and
Target down 1.2%.

Cisco logo

Network equipment maker Cisco Systems has just posted a 5.1% rise in quarterly revenues, helped by demand for its switching equipment and routers. The company's net profit rose to $2.44bn (£1.55bn) in the third quarter ending 25 April, from $2.18bn a year earlier. Revenues increased to $12.14bn from $11.55bn.

Gems and jewels

The Sunrise Ruby

A jewel auction by Sotheby's has sold precious stones worth a total of $160.9m, including this rare 25.59-carat Burmese ruby which went for $30m. Also at the annual Magnificent and Nobel Jewels sale in Geneva, a pink diamond ring once owned by Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, the niece of Napoleon I, sold for $15.9m.

Spanish football bids to avert costly strike

Real Madrid's sergio ramos

Spanish football officials and the country's players' union are holding last-minute talks this evening to see if they can agree to call off a strike that threatens to stop league and cup games from Saturday. Earlier today a court decided to delay until tomorrow a decision on whether the strike is legal. It's estimated a strike would mean lost revenues of $50m per match.

Danaher in $13.8bn Pall takeover

Science and technology group Danaher is buying air and water-filter maker Pall Corp in a $13.8bn (£8.76bn) deal to tap into fast-expanding demand from the biotech industry. Danaher, which has bought more than 400 companies since 1984, sees the $20bn filtration market growing fast due to strong demand for advanced purification systems as biotech firms launch more biologics - drugs made from living cells. "Biologic drugs will go from about 20-25% of the market to 50%in the next few years," says Ross Muken, an Evercore ISI analyst.

Equality move in Scottish scheme

The Scottish government has pledged an extra £500,000 in a bid to encourage equality in Scotland's modern apprenticeship programme. Skills Development Scotland will use the cash to encourage more women, minority groups, disabled people and care leavers to take part in the scheme. The move comes amid concerns about gender segregation in the scheme.

US shares

Leading shares in the US have slowed to a crawl.

The Dow Jones is all but flat. Down 3.3 points at 18,064.93.

White House backs Facebook wages

President Obama on the telephone

Endorsement from the very top for Facebook. The White House praised Facebook's new minimum wage and family leave policy. It raises minimum hourly salaries for contractors to $15 an hour.

Macy's hit by strong dollar

Macy's shopping bag
Getty Images
Macy's operates about 840 stores in 45 states in the US

US retail chain Macy's is feeling the impact of the strong dollar. The firm said a cut in spending by overseas visitors contributed to a 13% fall in first quarter profits. Macy's shares were down 3% in early trading.

US interest rates

Those weak US retail sales figures published earlier today are likely to put an end to suggestions the US Federal Reserve may soon raise interest rates, say analysts. "Hopes for a strong [economic] rebound are now fading. The likelihood of a near-term Fed action is almost zero now," said Thomas Costerg, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York.

Wal-Mart lobbying costs

Getty Images

Reuters says Wal-Mart will start disclosing what it spends on lobbying on a state-by-state basis in the US, responding to shareholder pressure to improve transparency on how the retailing giant seeks to influence public policy. Wal-Mart is the first firm in the Dow Jones index of huge corporations to break out such costs, which reportedly can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars per state. Timothy Smith, of Walden Asset Management, called it an "exceedingly important" move.

House Speaker backs trade move

US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner says a majority of Congress supports granting President Barack Obama "fast-track" negotiating authority to help complete a Pacific Rim trade deal. On Tuesday, Senate Democrats combined to block legislation to grant the White House authority to conclude trade deals and speed them through Congress. Under "fast-track", Congress would retain the right to reject or approve trade deals, but not amend them.

FTSE 100 close

FTSE 100 graph

Shares ended higher after the Bank of England's latest inflation report, which

trimmed growth forecasts for the next three years. The
FTSE 100 rose 15.83 points to 6,949.63, having fallen nearly 1.4% in the previous session on worries over Greece and the bond market.
Mondi, up 8.9%, was the biggest riser after posting strong trading figures. The pound was up 0.43%
against the dollar at $1.5740, but was 0.99% lower
against the euro at €1.3839.

Lufthansa pilots offer talks

Lufthansa aircraft engine

German pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit says it will start talks with Lufthansa on a wide range of pay issues in a bid to end a long-running dispute that has resulted in more than a dozen costly strikes. VC says it has accepted Lufthansa's proposal for a mediation process, ruling out strike action at least until the end of July. "No strikes are planned until then," a VC spokesman said.

Thomson phased out in Tui rebrand

Thomson travel agent

One of the UK's best known travel brands is set to disappear after owner Tui confirmed plans to use a single brand to promote its holidays. The Thomson name, which dates back to 1965, will be ditched along with First Choice as part of a transition expected to take up to three years. Thomson and First Choice catered for 5.2 million holidaymakers last year, with the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Greece the most popular destinations.

Du Pont activist loses vote

Du Pont scientist
Du Pont

US chemicals giant DuPont appears to have won its fight with activist investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management. Trian depicted Du Pont as a chronic underperformer that consistently missed profit forecasts, and wanted its own representatives elected to the board. But shareholders have voted against the move. Although the final result is not in, Peltz's fund said: "It appears that the Trian nominees were not elected to the DuPont board."

Bank of England Inflation report

The CBI's economics director Rain Newton-Smith says the UK economy is improving, but she remains cautious:

Ladbrokes sponsors Scottish football


Betting firm Ladbrokes will be the main sponsor of the Scottish Professional Football League from next season. The two-year deal, believed to be worth a little over £4m, includes rights across all four leagues and 42 clubs. While it did not reveal any figures, Ladbrokes said the deal was the biggest of its kind in Scottish football.

Wall Street update

US stock markets are edging higher, tracking broad gains in European bourses. The

Dow Jones is up 0.32%, while the
S&P 500 is 0.4% ahead. The tech-heavy
Nasdaq index rose 0.57%.

Merlin management shake-up

Legoland pic
Getty Images

It's all change for Legoland owner Merlin Entertainments. The

theme parks owner has confirmed that Glenn Earlam, current managing director of its Midway Attractions group, is leaving to head up David Lloyd Leisure. Rather than a straight replacement, it has created a new role as chief new openings officer to be taken up by current managing director of Legoland Parks John Jakobsen. He'll oversee the three new Legoland parks due to open in the next three years.

US shoppers hold back

US shoppers
Getty Images

US retail sales figures suggest it's still tough for shops. Sales were flat in April after rising 1.1% in March, according to

the Commerce Department. The disappointing figure means that sales have risen just 0.9% year. Economists expect sales to pick up once wage growth, currently modest, accelerates.

Spanish strikers await strike rulling

Andres Iniesta (centre)

A court ruling on whether a strike by Spanish footballers can go ahead - meaning lost revenue of about €50m per match - has been delayed until tomorrow. The threatened strike is over new TV revenue rules that mean smaller clubs get less money. Spanish league authorities have gone to court to stop the strike. If it goes ahead one casualty will be Sunday's top-table clash between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

Bee decline threatens crops

Honey bee

The decline of honey bees - critical for the pollination of crops and plants that produce about a quarter of the food consumed by Americans - has soared over the past 12 months, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Losses of managed honey bee colonies hit 42.1% from April 2014 to April 2015, up from 34.2% for 2013-2014 period. It was the second-highest annual loss on record in the US.

Via Email

Lucy O'Carroll

Chief economist at Aberdeen Asset Management

"Mark Carney has put poor productivity right at the centre of the story. He may have put part of the productivity disappointment of recent years down to a disproportionate pick-up in low-productivity jobs, but he has also admitted that underinvestment has played a role. He's right. The so-called productivity puzzle is more a child's jigsaw than advanced so-doku: if you're not investing enough, you won't produce enough," says Aberdeen Asset Management chief economist Lucy O'Carroll.

Macy's disappoints

shopper with Macy's bag
Getty Images

US department store chain Macy's has done worse than expected in the first three months of the year.

It reported earnings of 56 cents a share, down from 60 cents a year ago, and revenue slipped to $6.2bn from $6.3bn. A combination of delayed stock shipments due to the West Coast port slowdown, severe winter weather early in the year, and lower spending by tourists, were all to blame, says chairman and chief executive Terry Lundgren.

'Economic reality check'

pound versus dollar

The pound has done a sharp about face, switching from trading at a five-month high against the dollar to being 0.2% lower at $1.564. Most analysts are pointing the finger at the Bank of England's Inflation Report where it downgraded its growth forecast. David Lamb, head of dealing at forex firm FEXCO, says it's an "economic reality check". "The Governor even identified the strength of sterling as one of the factors holding down the growth forecasts, and it may be that the Bank is talking back a rate rise in a deliberate attempt to take some wind out of the Pound's sails," he adds.

Danaher buys Pall Corp

Pall HQ

Danaher, a US maker of hi-tech industrial products,

is buying Pall Corp for $13.8bn. Pall makes water and air filters.

Via Twitter

Duncan Weldon

BBC Newsnight

I may look silly in a year, but I think there is now a better chance of UK inflation being greater than forecasts than below in medium term.

Nissan recall

Nissan logo
Getty Images

Nissan has sent us a breakdown of its global recall of cars with faulty airbags. In the UK 100,263 vehicles are affected including the Navara Pickup, Tino, Patrol Pick Up, Almera, Terrano II, and X-Trail models. Nissan plans to begin notifying customers in June. You can find out if your vehicle is affected

on Nissan's website.

'Sunrise Ruby' fetches $30m

The Sunrise Ruby

This is the Sunrise Ruby which sold for $30.34m (£19.36m) at a Sotheby's auction late on Tuesday. That is a record price for a ruby. The "pigeon-blood" red ruby is amongst the rarest of all gemstones according to Sotheby's. It was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder.

Via Email

UK economy

Laith Khalaf

Senior Analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown

"Today's inflation report gives mixed signals. The central bank anticipates solid economic growth in the UK, however they have lowered their expectations for wage growth, a key ingredient in the interest rate decision. Those obsessing about which month rates are going to finally rise might well be missing the wood for the trees. Whenever they come, interest rate rises are likely to be more tortoise than hare, with the market pencilling in a rate of just 1.4% by the middle of 2018."

'Boring' inflation report

And so ends the most boring BoE inflation report press conference ever

Perhaps Mr Giles would like the next one to be set to music?

UK growth

The Bank has revised down its GDP growth for 2015 to 2.5% and 2016 to 2.6%, both from 2.9%. But Capital Economics thinks that might be too gloomy.

We think that the MPC is being overly pessimistic ... GDP growth could be stronger than the MPC's new forecasts, without inflation or interest rates rising any faster than the Committee anticipates.

Vicky RedwoodChief UK economist, Capital Economics

Housing slowdown?

Interestingly one reason Mr Carney says the Bank is now forecasting a slightly lower growth rate for this year and next than in February (0.5% less in total) is because the Bank expects activity in the housing market to be softer.

Productivity 'frustration'

Ben Broadbent, Bank of England Deputy Governor says the Bank has "frustratingly" little understanding over persistently weak inflation. Work over the last three months has generated expectations that it will start to grow, he says.

Passive Bank?

Mr Carney makes a robust defence of accusations that the Bank is failing to act despite lots of problems in the economy. He emphasises that the Bank is dealing with a lot of one-off factors such as the 40% fall in oil prices and sharp fall in food prices and says it has to set policy over the long term, noting the impact of any action it takes is not instantaneous. "The lag is around 18 months. We are trying to calibrate it [policy]. We have to make sure inflation doesn't move up and straight through 2%. That means raising interest rates in a gradual fashion," he says.