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Summary

  1. Consumer price inflation rises to 0.5% in March
  2. House prices up 7.6% in the UK in February
  3. MPs to hold emergency Commons debate on steel
  4. EU to make big firms come clean on tax
  5. Asos sales soar as profits jump

Live Reporting

By Matthew West

All times stated are UK

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That's all folks!

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We're bringing the livepage to an end slightly earlier than usual today. Thank's for staying with us this afternoon. But never fear Chris and Karen will be back at 06:00 tomorrow. to bring you the latest developments. 

Can new technologies deter and detect sharks?

Business Daily reports ...

Navy diver Paul de Gelder tells the BBC's Phil Mercer how he lost a hand and a leg.

AB InBev woes EU over SABMiller deal

Bottle of Peroni
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AB InBev has formally told the European Union of its plan to sell SABMiller's premium European brands to try to secure approval for its $100bn-plus takeover of the London-based brewer. 

It has already struck a deal to sell the assets to Japan's Asahi Group Holdings, a tactic aimed at staving off a possible lengthy investigation of the biggest ever deal in the consumer goods industry. 

"This proposal concerns the European premium brand families of Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime and their associated businesses in Italy, the Netherlands, UK and internationally, excluding certain US rights," an AB Inbev spokeswoman said. 

The European Commission has said it will decide by 24 May whether to clear the deal, a filing on its website showed without giving further details. 

Farage: IMF has been taken over by 'architects of EU'

Wall Street shares mixed

Wall Street traders
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Wall Street markets haven't really moved much so far in early trading, as investors waited for earnings results, including those from large US banks that start reporting later in the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.3% at 17,608.39.

The S&P 500 is 0.17% higher at 2,045 02 while the Nasdaq has fallen 0.11% at 4,828.36.

ATM dispenses Brixton bank notes to spend in local businesses

The London Economic tweets

British public 'in no mood for lectures' on Europe

Priti Patel
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Pro-Brexit employment minister Priti Patel has attacked David Miliband's comments on the IMF warning saying the British public is in no mood for lectures.

"As foreign secretary, he signed us up to the Lisbon Treaty that sacrificed important EU vetoes and misled the public about the power of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Voters will be in no mood for lectures from someone who was wrong then on the EU and is wrong now." 

IMF provides clear evidence on dangers of leaving EU

Britain Stronger In Europe, which is campaigning for the UK to remain within the EU, says businesses and families should heed the IMF's warning.

"This is the clearest evidence yet about the danger of Britain leaving Europe from the word's most respected financial body," says its chief executive, former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband.

Vote Leave: IMF 'wrong then, wrong now'

The two camps on either side of the EU referendum debate have weighed in with their views on the IMF's Brexit warning. Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott. says

"The IMF has talked down the British economy in the past and now it is doing it again at the request of our own Chancellor. It was wrong then and it is wrong now." 

Stronger and safer in Europe

David Cameron tweets

Treasury love for the IMF

BBC assistant political editor tweets:

Osborne: IMF has given a clear warning of impact of 'Brexit'

The chancellor of the exchequer has responded to the IMF warning on Brexit:

While Britain remains one of the fastest growing advanced economies in the world, the IMF’s warnings about our exit from the EU are stark. For the first time, we’re seeing the direct impact on our economy of the risks of leaving the EU. The IMF says that these risks are a reason why they have reduced Britain’s growth forecast this year. If Britain leaves the EU, the IMF says there would be a short-term impact on stability and long-term costs to the economy. If the British economy is hit by the mere risk of leaving the EU, can you imagine the hit to people’s income and jobs if we did actually leave? The IMF has given us the clearest independent warning of the taste of bad things to come if Britain leaves the EU.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne

'Brexit' could cause severe damage warns IMF

The UK's exit from the European Union could cause "severe regional and global damage", the International Monetary Fund has warned in its latest outlook.

A so-called "Brexit" would disrupt established trading relationships and cause "major challenges" for both the UK and the rest of Europe, it said.

The IMF said the planned 23 June referendum had already created uncertainty for investors and a vote to exit would only heighten this.

It also cut its UK growth forecast.

IMF warning on Brexit

BBC political editor tweets

On Brexit, IMF is speaking Osborne’s language

BBC economics editor blogs

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

In economics - once called the "dismal science" - there are very few definites.

Predictions are couched in conditionals - could, might. Facts in a world driven by unpredictable human behaviour are hard to nail down.

Particularly when many of those humans, in the case of the European Union referendum, are politicians with all sorts of competing interests to juggle.

But the strength of the warnings in this case is nevertheless clear.

Maurice Obstfeld, economic counsellor to the International Monetary Fund and the organisation's chief economist, says there could be "severe regional and global damage" if Britain were to vote to leave the European Union.

An exit would present "major challenges" and a prolonged period of uncertainty which would "weigh" - that is have a negative effect - on confidence and investment.

Read more from Kamal's blog

EC tax plans an 'important step forward'

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

More on those European Commission tax proposals, and a member of the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs speaks out in support.

This is an important step forward in terms of transparency of corporations because this is the first time, beyond the banking sector, that we're seeing the Commission propose laws so that we can find out how much companies are actually earning in different countries and that sort of transparency is essential so we can find out how much tax they should be paying in those countries. So that's important, but we're still a bit concerned that we're only seeing this for the largest companies now and we're only seeing it for their activity in the EU. We think we need to know what all their activity is because otherwise there could be a temptation for them to begin that process again of offshoring their profits.

Molly Scott CatoGreen MEP,, south-west England and Gibraltar

European Commission's tax proposals hit a 'raw nerve'

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

The European Commission reckons its plans to force multinationals - such as Google, Apple and Amazon - to be more transparent about their tax affairs are "ambitious". 

Draft legislation, which we're expecting this afternoon, would require businesses with an annual turnover of more than £600m to open their accounts to greater public scrutiny as part of efforts to discourage tax avoidance.

The issue at hand here is whether it should be the European Commission itself making further intrusion into areas such as taxation. On the face of it the proposal is sensible because there's the case for increased openness and transparency. Now there are challenges with this. Already we see regulatory intrusion from Brussels into areas of national policy and maybe one of the key areas of national policy that should be kept back at a distance from Brussels is the whole fiscal and tax area. So while on the face of it the proposals seem to be sensible, I do think it hits a very raw nerve because it shows a further sign of intrusion. Having previously seen it in terms of regulation, we're now seeing it more in terms of tax as well.

Gerard LyonsChief economic adviser to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson

Oil output freeze 'on the cards'

Oil well
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Both Opec and non-Opec countries are set to agree an oil production freeze in Doha later this week, claims Falah Alamri, the head of Iraq's state oil firm Somo. He says Iraq will participate in any measures that would help stabilise oil prices.

Brent crude rose 34 cents to $43.17 a barrel today, while US oil gained 23 cents to $40.59. 

Music industry milestone

Rihanna
Getty Images

Bit of a moment for the music industry: digital revenues have overtaken those from sales of physical recordings such as CDs physical for the first time, according to the IFPI Global Music Report 2016. Digital sales account for 45% of industry revenues, compared 39% for physical, with the total for digital up 10.2% to $6.7bn.

Total industry revenues rose 3.2% to $15bn, leading to the industry's first significant year-on-year growth in nearly two decades. Digital revenues now account for more than half the recorded music market in 19 markets.

Read more from the IFPI here.

Watch out Freya...

The claws are out in Whitehall - but this time it's nothing to do with Brexit or tax.

Chancellor George Osborne's first feline, Freya, and David Cameron's puss Larry are facing competition from Palmerston - the new cat on the block at the Foreign Office.

The department apparently needs help dealing with an infestation of mice (a bit like the BBC business and economics unit, by the way) and has recruited Palmerston from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, which was also Larry's alma mater.

The new recruit will be based in Sir Simon McDonald's office. The Permanent Under Secretary is known as - you've guessed it - the PUS.

The news has driven home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford to Twitter:

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Granny flat backdown

Personal finance reporter Brian Milligan tweets:

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BreakingEx-RBS worker banned over Libor

RBS sign
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A former Royal Bank of Scotland employee has been banned by the City watchdog from working in financial services for his "reckless" behaviour when making Libor submissions.

The Financial Conduct Authority said Paul White's actions would have seen him hit with a £250,000 fine if he was not already facing "serious financial hardship". 

The FCA said Mr White, who had worked for RBS as a Japanese yen and Swiss franc Libor submitter, had made "improper" submissions between March 2007 and November 2010. It said he had been contacted 68 times during that period by traders asking for submissions that would benefit their trading positions. 

The ban was the fourth public action taken against a trader for manipulating Libor submissions. The watchdog has also handed out seven fines for Libor misconduct worth £426m. 

Tesco turnaround priced in?

Tesco
Getty Images

Tesco shares have fallen a touch today to just under 193p ahead of tomorrow's annual results and its sale of a stake in Asian online business Lazada to Alibaba for £90m.

Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets, points out that the supermarket's shares have pulled back more than 5% from their peak this year.

"Successful efforts to cut prices and repair both Tesco’s balance sheet and reputation increase the odds that we’ve seen a bottom in the shares. The question is whether there’s room for any more upside from here or has a good amount of the turnaround effort been priced in," he says.

"Tesco shares trade on 21 times 2017 earnings. The P/E ratio is a little rich compared with expected earnings, but very reasonable compared with historical earnings. The trouble is that historical earnings aren’t too likely for a supermarket industry in the middle of a protracted price war."

South East leads the house price charge

Houses
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Some more fun facts from today's ONS update on house prices. The biggest increase in English regions on an annual basis was not London (9.7%), but the South East (11.4%) and the East (10.3%).

Excluding London and the South East, house prices rose by 5% in the 12 months to February.  

On a seasonally adjusted basis, average prices rose by 0.4% between January and February this year.

Want more? Click here.

French take on tax plans

BBC Monitoring

French newspapers have extensive coverage of the EU tax transparency proposals today.

Typical is the article "EU deals with multinationals' opacity" in Ouest-France. It runs through a 10 April Le Parisien interview with EU tax commissioner Pierre Moscovici, and recalls that the proposals were originally a response to the 2014 "Lux Leaks" multinational tax scandal.

It points out non-government agencies' dissatisfaction with the proposals, saying that some call for details from businesses with a turnover of more than €40m.

Wills of steel

Wills and Kate
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Prince William - aka the Duke of Cambridge - has discussed "the pressures facing steel manufacturers in the UK and India" with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi during a lunch meeting. Problem solved, clearly.

In case you aren't aware, the royal couple are on an official visit to India - without the kids.   

Nomura staff drown their sorrows

Shares in Nomura have jumped by as much as 9% following reports it plans to cut jobs - as many as 1,000 it seems - and significantly shrink the size of its European equity business.

BBC colleagues at Nomura's London headquarters report that staff have been leaving the building carrying backpacks and plastic bags filled with belongings.

Next door about 10 former employees emerged from the Oyster Shed pub. Asked how many jobs had gone, one said: "So many."

Another Nomura staffer, asked if they had all been made redundant, replied: "Of course - I'm drinking a bloody mary at 9am."

Inflation outlook unchanged by higher inflation

We have seen a slight upward trend in inflation since October 2015, and although the rise in March was bigger than expected, inflation is still well below the Bank of England’s 2% target. However, with services inflation now approaching 3%, and in view of the sharp fall in sterling in recent months, it will be understandable if the MPC becomes more cautious, and its job may become more complicated if the upward pressures on prices continue. Despite this, with the 2% inflation target not likely to be met until the end of 2017, and given the underlying problems facing the global and UK economy, the current inflationary pressures still do not justify any change in the MPC’s policy stance on interest rates.

David KernBritish Chambers of Commerce chief economist

Galliford Try schools statement

Galliford Try has issued a statement today following the closure of several schools in Edinburgh that were built a decade ago by Miller Construction, which it acquired in 2014. Scotland business editor Douglas Fraser tweets: 

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TUC says inflation figures show economy 'not at full strength'

Despite a small rise, the overall picture is still of very low inflation. It indicates that the economy is still not at full strength, with too much underemployment and too little wage growth. With the global economy slowing down, the government cannot just sit by. We need investment in skills, infrastructure and public services to promote growth for the long term.

Frances O'GradyTUC general secretary

Tipping report 'overdue'

Coins on a receipt
PA

It seems the Unite Union is fed up waiting for Business Secretary Sajid Javid to publish his report into restaurant chains' "tipping" practices.

The investigation was prompted last summer after some restaurant chains were found to be hanging on to tips rather than passing all of them on to staff. 

Later this week Unite activists in the hospitality industry plan to stage a protest urging Mr Javid to "stop procrastinating and deliver his overdue report".

Scottish house prices slide

RBS Economics tweets:

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House prices keep heading north

Resolution Foundation director Torsten Bell tweets:

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Inflation starts at home...

Economics correspondent Andy Verity tweets:

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Clothing and airfares boost inflation

Topshop
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The rise in core inflation was due to movements in the erratic airfares and clothing components, as a result of the timing of Easter. Mark Carney has said that he would need to see “core inflation measures moving notably towards the target” before voting for an interest rate rise. And although core inflation did increase on the month, this is the first sign of a pick-up after effectively stalling over the last six months or so."

Scott BowmanUK economist at Capital Economics

Pound bounces higher

Sterling rose 0.5% to $1.4312 after today's stronger than expected inflation figures - its highest since 4 April.  

BreakingHouse prices up 7.6%

Uk house prices rose by 7.6% on an annual basis in February, the ONS said - down slightly from the 7.9% increase in January but still stronger than for much of last year. 

Prices in London jumped 9.7%, down from 10.8% in January. A shortage in housing supply is expected to keep the market under pressure. 

BreakingAir fares soar

Air fares surged 22.9% between February and March this year - a jump that reflected the timing of the Easter holidays. Clothing and footwear also contributed to higher inflation, although food and petrol prices dragged. 

An ONS measure of core consumer price inflation, which strips out changes in the price of energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, rose to 1.5% - its strongest since October 2014. Economists had expected it to rise slightly to 1.3%. 

BreakingCost of living jumps more than expected

The rate of Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rose to 0.5% in March from 0.3% in February, the Office for National Statistics said. 

Spinning the wheels of steel

BBC Business Live

Justin Beiber
Getty Images

Ahead of Record Store Day this Saturday, Gilad Tiefenbrun - the boss of high-end turntable maker Linn - has been on Business Live. 

He says there is "something magical about the tactile experience” of vinyl, which he argues "sounds better” than other formats. 

However, Linn also makes digital streaming products and Mr Tiefenbrun says the future is higher quality music files from streaming platforms such as Tidal.

Lots of artists put out limited edition vinyl for Record Store Day, by the way - even mainstream acts such as Justin Beiber (pictured), who is releasing a picture disc version of his hit album Purpose.