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  1. President Obama warns on tax avoidance
  2. $150bn Pfizer merger with Allergan unravels
  3. Business secretary calls for responsible sale of Tata Steel UK
  4. Icelandic PM quits over offshore links

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

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Good night

That's all for tonight from the Business Live page. Join us again tomorrow at 06:00 for more business news.

Wall Street closes higher

US stocks have closed higher, bolstered by gains in healthcare shares after the collapse of the $160bn merger of Pfizer and Allergan, and by a rise in energy shares.

Indexes slightly pared gains after the release of minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 112,73 points, or 0.64%, at 17,716.05, the S&P 500 gained 21.49 points, or 1.05%, finishing at 2,066.66, and the Nasdaq Composite added 76.78 points, or 1.59%, rising to 4,920.71.

Report: France 'to cut inflation forecast from 1% to 0.1%'

Seagulls fly next to the French ministry for Economy and Finance
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The French Finance Ministry plans to cut its inflation forecast for this year from 1% to 0.1%, and will present the new figure at the next cabinet meeting, Les Echos newspaper reports.

As a result, France will have to find €3.8bn of additional savings this year and a further €5bn next year, Les Echos said.

Fiat Chrysler cuts 1,300 jobs in Michigan

A car is manufactured on the assembly line at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant
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Fiat Chrysler is laying off about 1,300 workers and ending one of the two shifts at its Sterling Heights plant in Michigan. The factory makes the Chrysler 200 sedan.

US sales of the Chrysler 200 were down 63% in the first quarter from a year earlier.

United Auto Workers vice president Norwood Jewell said that the move was not unexpected, and expressed optimism that FCA will find jobs for the workers by making more trucks and SUVs.

"FCA is not the only company experiencing a slow market for small cars," Jewell said. "On a bright note, there is a strong demand for larger-sized vehicles. The company has been planning to increase its capacity to build more trucks and SUVs. I believe that in the long term this move will be a positive one for our members and the company." 

Fed debated April rate hike but took cautious approach

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen
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Federal Reserve policymakers debated last month whether an interest rate hike would be needed in April,  although a consensus emerged that risks from a global economic slowdown made a cautious approach desirable.

"Many participants expressed a view that the global economic and financial situation still posed appreciable downside risks," said the minutes from the Fed's March policy meeting.

US sues to block Halliburton and Baker Hughes deal

The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to halt Halliburton from merging with Baker Hughes, arguing the merger of the number two and number three US oil services companies would hurt competition in the sector.

The deal would eliminate competition in 23 products or services for US oil exploration and production, both onshore and offshore, the Justice Department said in a statement.

"The proposed deal between Halliburton and Baker Hughes would eliminate vital competition, skew energy markets and harm American consumers," US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. "Our action makes clear that the Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing our antitrust laws."

Angola to open loan talks with IMF as oil price bites

The shanty town of Boa Vista
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Angola will begin loan negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this month as lower oil prices hit the finances of Africa's second-largest crude exporter, the Finance Ministry said.

Oil output represents 40% of gross domestic product and more than 95% of foreign exchange revenue in Angola.

Brent crude traded below $40 a barrel on Wednesday, down more than 30% compared with a year ago.

Pfizer beats hundreds of lawsuits alleging Zoloft birth defects

A bottle of Zoloft antidepressant pills
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A federal judge in Philadelphia has dismissed more than 300 lawsuits against Pfizer Inc alleging that its antidepressant Zoloft caused birth defects.

The decision from US District Judge Cynthia Rufe said that plaintiffs had not produced enough evidence to show a plausible scientific link between the drug and birth defects.

"The court recognises that the final scientific verdict as to whether Zoloft can cause birth defects may not be delivered for many years," the judge said.

"Nevertheless, plaintiffs chose when to file their cases, and the court concludes that for the plaintiffs who have continued to pursue their claims, the litigation gates must be closed."

A Pfizer spokeswoman said the decision "affirms that plaintiffs have failed to produce any reliable scientific evidence demonstrating that Zoloft causes the injuries they alleged." 

Café owner: 'Steelworks closure would kill our town'

BBC Radio 5 Live

Café owner talks about what job losses would mean for the town

A cafe owner in Port Talbot has told BBC Radio 5 live that the potential steelworks job loses would kill the town.

Tata's Port Talbot site employs 5,500 of Tata UK's current 15,000-strong UK workforce and is thought to be losing £1m a day.

Tracey Lewis, who runs the Ferrari's cafe, spoke to Daily's Peter Allen about the negativity around the town.

She said: "There has always been depressive air over the town for the last two years, because of the jobs being lost."

Pedro Almodovar

Spanish director Pedro Almodovar cancels press promotion of his latest movie after he was cited in the leaked Panama tax papers.

Read more

Oil prices jump 5% but remain below $40 per barrel

A pumpjack in North Dakota
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Oil prices have risen 5% after the US government reported a surprise decrease in domestic crude stockpiles - markets had expected a new record high.

Crude stocks unexpectedly fell by 4.9 million barrels last week after imports dropped, the Energy Information Administration said.

Brent crude was trading at $39.72 per barrel, US crude was at $37.60.

Sanjeev Gupta

A potential buyer of Tata's UK steel operation admits his takeover plans are written "on the back of an envelope" and gives no guarantees over jobs.

Read more

Panama Papers 'circus damaging to Icelend'

Birgitta Jonsdottir
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In Iceland, the government is seeking to avoid early elections by picking a replacement for Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, who stepped aside after the "Panama Papers" leaks.

The opposition is trying to force a new election with a vote of no confidence.

Polls show the anti-establishment Pirate Party in the lead if a new election is called in the country of 330,000 people, a result with potentially wider impact across Europe.

"We must have a snap election," Pirate Party leader Birgitta Jonsdottir said. "There has been tremendous damage to the reputation of Iceland with this circus."

Uefa offices searched by Swiss police

Fifa president Gianni Infantino
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The offices of European football's governing body have been searched by Swiss police after ex-secretary general Gianni Infantino was named in papers leaked from a Panamanian law firm.

While working for Uefa, Infantino co-signed a television rights deal in 2006 with two businessmen who have since been accused by the FBI of bribery.

Infantino, now head of world governing body Fifa, has denied any wrongdoing.

Uefa says it is giving police all relevant documents in its possession.

Read more here.

Harley-Davidson shares drop 7%

Harley-Davidson motorcycle
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Shares in motorcycle firm Harley-Davidson have fallen around 7% after an analyst said it appeared to have lost market share in March.

"After relatively stable market share in the first two months of the quarter, Harley-Davidson appeared to lose market share at an accelerated pace (year over year) in March, resulting in an overall market share decline in the first quarter," said ITG Investment Research analyst John Tomlinson.

Are there potential buyers for Tata Steel in the UK?

Potential buyers for Tata Steel's UK business include Liberty House, says Business Secretary Sajid Javid.

Earlier, Liberty's Sanjeev Gupta told the BBC he had worked out the takeover plans "on the back of an envelope".

Mr Javid said:

A number of people have already started coming forward, I think more will do so once the formal [sales] process begins... Publically one company that's come forward for example is Liberty... [House], which already has an interest in the UK steel industry, I met with them yesterday, so that's just one example of someone that's come forward."

Sajid JavidBusiness Secretary

'No set time frame' for Tata Steel sale

Tata Steel has not set a time frame for the sale of its UK business, according to Business Secretary Sajid Javid. 

What they have said is that they will allow a reasonable amount of time for this process to be completed."

Tata 'intends to launch UK steel sales process by Monday'

Sajid Javid

Tata Steel intends to formally start the sales process of its UK business "by Monday at the latest", Business Secretary Sajid Javid has said.

We had a constructive and positive meeting. I think it's fair to say that Tata have demonstrated once again that they are a responsible company. They've said that they intend to launch formally the sales process by Monday at the latest, and that in doing so, I've also made it clear, that the UK government will do everything it can to support any serious buyer in every way we can to secure the long-term future of this industry."

Sajid JavidUK Business Secretary

Tata takeover plans 'on the back of an envelope' says potential buyer

BBC News Wales correspondent Hywel Griffith writes...

The sun rises behind the Tata steelworks
Getty Images

The man looking to buy Tata UK's steel business has admitted his takeover plans have been written "on the back of an envelope," and that he has never been to the main Port Talbot works.

Sanjeev Gupta, the head of Liberty House, told the BBC that taking over the loss-making business would be a "daunting propersition," and that he could give no guarantees in terms of retaining all of the 15,000 workforce, or the thousands of contract and agency workers.

But Mr Gupta reiterated that he was not looking to make mass redundancies - and he would look to the government for help in retraining workers.

He said that in his discussions with the UK government it was clear that ministers understood pensions were a key issue, and he was confident it would be addressed.

Mr Gupta accepted that some of the help he would look for on energy costs may test EU rules on state aid.

Mr Gupta added that he thought Tata would want to agree a sale within weeks, but the actual process could take up to six months.

Ryanair cancels 7 April Greek flights

The logo of Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair
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Budget airline Ryanair has cancelled all of its Greek flights on 7 April due to an air traffic control strike, the company has said.

George Osborne pressed over tax affairs

Chancellor George Osborne is asked whether he's a beneficiary of offshore funds
Chancellor George Osborne has been pressed over whether he has, or will, personally benefit from any offshore funds.

It comes after Downing Street was forced to further clarify David Cameron's tax affairs following questions about his late father's investment fund revealed by the Panama Papers leaks.

Mr Osborne said: "All of our interests as ministers and MPs are declared in the register of members' interests. We've made our position very clear."

He also defended the government's record on cracking down on tax evasion.
David Cameron

Downing Street is forced to further clarify David Cameron's financial affairs after questions about his late father's investment fund.

Read more

Brazil's Vale cuts 2016 investment to $5.5bn

Brazilian mining firm Vale has cut its forecast for capital spending in 2016 to $5.5bn from $6.2bn. It reiterated that it plans to sell core assets in a bid to cut debt by $10bn.

Wall Street opens flat

US stocks have opened flat as oil rose and investors waited for the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's March meeting on monetary policy.

US crude rose more than 2% after renewed hopes of a deal by producers to freeze output.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.22% to 17,565.45 and the S&P 500 added 0.06 points to 2,045.31. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.22% to 4,854.38. 

Scottish GDP 'slowed to not much at all'

BBC Scotland business and economy editor tweets...

Pharma firms lift FTSE 100

FTSE 100
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Pharmaceutical firms have helped lift the FTSE 100 after Pfizer pulled out of a deal for Allergan, prompting speculation over other merger and acquisition activity in the sector.

US drugmaker Pfizer scrapped its $160bn agreement to acquire Botox maker Allergan amid plans to change US tax laws.

Shire shares were the top risers on the index, up more than 4%. AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline were also in the top five.

Business secretary leaves Tata HQ

BBC India Business Report editor tweets...

In Defence of a Tax Haven

British Virgin Islands lawyer Dan Wise on why people move money to the territory.

Of the 200,000 companies shown to have been set up by Mossack Fonseca, the company at the heart of the Panama Papers, more than half are in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). BVI lawyer Dan Wise from Martin Kenney & Co. tells us why the British overseas territory is such a popular destination.  

Malaysia Airlines returning to profit

The chief executive of Malaysia Airlines has said airline recorded a profit in February, its first positive monthly result in years, and is on track to return to the black by 2018.

In an interview with The Associated Press, chief executive Christoph Mueller described the airline as a "ship that has many leaks," but said the monthly profit was a sign that things are on the right track. He said revenue has improved and costs are down, underpinned by low jet fuel prices.

Malaysia Airlines suffered two air disasters in 2014: the disappearance of Flight 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and the shooting down of Malaysia flight MH-17 over Ukraine. 

oth incidents damaged the airline's reputation. 

But Mr Mueller says the airline's main problems were an unsustainable network of routes, high operating costs and archaic information technology systems, among others.  

Pretty as a postcard?

Panama Papers: Tax havens and the new politics

Gavin Hewitt

BBC chief corrrespondent

On Tuesday, outside the town hall-sized parliament in Reykjavik, a small crowd kicked the fence, banged pots and pans and threw eggs at the building.

The Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson had just stood down over allegations he had failed to disclose his interest in his family's offshore account. He was the first political casualty of the Panama leaks scandal.

The prime minister has not been accused of breaking any Icelandic law. No matter. The impression of a conflict of interest and of a lack of transparency was enough to bring him down.

Read more from Gavin here.

Facebook launches live video

The Times technology correspondent James Dean tweets:

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Pfizer to pay Allergan $150m

Pfizer logo
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Pfizer chief executive Ian Read says the drug maker now plans to make a decision about whether to separate its "innovative and established businesses" before the end of 2016.

The company will pay Allergan $150m (£106m) for "expenses" associated with the now-abandonded deal. That's quite a lot of advisers' fees.

BreakingPfizer ends $150bn Allergan merger

Pfizer has confirmed that its merger agreement with Allergan "has been terminated by mutual agreement". It said the decision was driven by the actions announced by the US Treasury on Monday, which the companies concluded "qualified as an 'adverse tax law change' under the merger agreement".  

Private Eye's property map

Last year Private Eye created a searchable online map of properties in England and Wales owned by offshore companies. It reveals the extent of the UK property interests of companies based in tax havens. 

View more on twitter

'What is lacking is trust'

Sigrun Davidsdottir

Opinion polls in Iceland show that voters are fed up with the status quo and the support for the Pirate Party reflects that trend, journalist Sigrun Davidsdottir tells BBC World.

The economy is doing well and the unemployment rate is low, but "what is lacking is trust" following the banking crisis in 2008, she says. Following that crisis, restrictions were placed on taking money outside Iceland - but those rules apparently did not apply to Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. 

The Icelandic prime minister stepped down on Tuesday in the wake of the Panama papers revelations.

"The discontent comes from the fact that people feel that little has changed since the collapse of the banks, that lessons haven't been learned. The government has been very unpopular for a long time and this has tipped the balance," Ms Davidsdottir explains.

Nokia to cut jobs

More news from Finland: Nokia plans to cut jobs following its acquisition of France's Alcatel-Lucent, but has not yet said how many positions it plans to axe.

The company says it is sticking to its target for €900m of operating cost savings from the deal by 2018. 

More details will be released with Nokia's quarterly results.     

Reductions will come largely in areas where there are overlaps, such as research and development, regional and sales organisations as well as corporate functions."


Look who's laughing now

BBC World Service

Newshour on the World Service has been talking to Bastian Obermayer, the Suddeutsche Zeitung reporter who obtained the leaked Panama documents from the anonymous source.

View more on twitter

This one will run and run...