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Summary

  1. Tesco reveals return to sales growth
  2. Premier Foods shares crash as McCormick walks away
  3. US coal giant Peabody files for bankruptcy protection
  4. JPMorgan profits hit by bad loans to shale oil firms

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

Get involved

The livepage has to finish earlier than usual, but we'll be back from 6am tomorrow. Please join us then.

FTSE 100 finishes 1.9% up

FTSE 100 graph
BBC

The FTSE 100 closed 1.9% higher at 6,362.99 points, led by mining and banking shares, as strong Chinese export data helped to subdue concern over growth in the world's second-largest economy. Oil and gas shares also rallied, as Brent crude remained over $44 a barrel. 

Anglo American was the FTSE 100's biggest riser, up 11%. Tesco closed 7.79% down after disappointment over its latest profits figures.

Grand Theft Auto developer sues Rockstar

Grand Theft Auto picture
Rockstar

One of the driving forces behind video game series Grand Theft Auto is suing its developers for $150m (£105.62m). Leslie Benzies, a former president of Edinburgh-based game developers Rockstar North, is claiming unpaid royalties in a US court.

Mr Benzies, 45, claims he was effectively forced out of the company last year. Rockstar, which is controlled by Take-Two Interactive Software Inc, said his claims were "entirely without merit". Read more here.

Steel demand 'unlikely to recover before next year'

A recovery in steel demand is unlikely before next year, an industry group says, owing to a slowdown in the Chinese economy and weakness in manufacturing. The forecast comes as the industry is hit by a collapse in prices, the fear of cheap Chinese steel flooding markets, and the social impact of cutbacks to production. "The economic environment facing the steel industry continues to be challenging with China's slowdown impacting globally," says TV Narendran, who heads the economics committee of the World Steel Association.

It's all up (mostly)

BBC personal finance correspondent tweets:

Oil up, metals up, shares up (banks up, miners up), Footsie share index up 100 points

Illegal gold mining a 'grave and mounting concern'

Africa's biggest gold producer AngloGold Ashanti says it has "grave and mounting concerns" about illegal mining at its Obuasi mine in Ghana, which has been idle since 2014 when the company laid off thousands of workers. 

Reuters quotes Eric Asubonteng, general manager of AngloGold Ghana, as telling a news conference on Wednesday that "Illegal miners have been looting large quantities of high-grade gold bearing material for more than two months. In the process they are causing significant damage to critical infrastructure".

FTSE 100 market update

The trading day just gets worse for Tesco. Shares in the supermarket extended falls and are down 7.34%. Mining stocks are doing well, though, on the back of positive economic news from China. Anglo American continues its recent recovery, and the shares are up another 8.38%.

With just over 30 minutes to go before the close, the FTSE 100 is 1.56% ahead.

Tesco needs to get shoppers spending more in-store

Shopper outside Tesco store
Getty Images

It's great that profits are up but they're only making 0.3p for every pound being spent at its tills in Tescos. Previously that could have been as high as 8p in every pound, so it's a fraction of what they made previously. They've really got to drive more people into their stores, get them to spend more when they're in the stores and get them to buy more when in store to really increase volume and transaction numbers. That's the only way they're going to get back to something approaching their (heyday) figures.

Paul ThomasSenior consultant, Retail Remedy

Institute of Directors 'concerned' about BP pay

Bob Dudley
BBC

Business lobby group the Institute of Directors has voiced concern about the pay package for BP chief executive Bob Dudley (above). Several investors and advisory groups have recommended a vote against the oil giant's remuneration report at BP's annual meeting tomorrow.

IoD director-general Simon Walker says: “It is rare that the IoD intervenes on the subject of an individual chief executive’s pay. We are concerned, however, that Mr Dudley’s £14m pay package will seem unjustified to many shareholders, considering the performance of the company over the last 12 months.

"BP is not a badly run company, and its current woes are common to other firms in the sector. Nevertheless, the UK Corporate Governance Code is clear that pay should be tightly linked to performance and that targets should be stretching and rigorously applied. Should the pay package be approved, it could send the wrong message to investors and other boards. We therefore urge all shareholders to scrutinise the pay deal of Mr Dudley very closely.

“If his pay deal is approved, but with a significant minority voting against, the BP board must explain how it will engage with this group of shareholders – they cannot and should not be ignored.”

Wall Street heading higher in early trading

US stocks are rising in early trading, led by gains in banks after JPMorgan Chase posted results that weren't as bad as analysts' anticipated. 

JPMorgan shares were up 3.4% in the first few minutes of trading. Bank of America rose 3% and Wells Fargo climbed 2%.

The Dow Jones index was up 135 points, or 0.8%, to 17,856. The S&P 500 added 12 points, or 0.6%, to 2,074, and the Nasdaq rose 38 points, or 0.8%, to 4,910.

US retail sales and producer prices fall

Ford cars
Getty Images

US retail sales fell in March as households cut back on purchases of cars and spending in restaurants, the Commerce Department says. Sales fell by 0.3% in March, following a flat reading in February. In a separate report, the Labor Department said its producer price index slipped 0.1% last month after dropping 0.2% in February. 

The two reports are further evidence that the US economy has stumbled in the first quarter, and will fuel the debate over the timing of any Federal Reserve interest rate rise.

IMF financial stability report

Here's a link to the IMF's Global Financial Stability Report. And if you're quick, you can also watch the live press conference here as well.

IMF: 'Fragile confidence, weaker growth'

More from the just-released IMF report on global financial stability. The organisation is particularly worried about potential rising borrowing costs for indebted countries seen as at risk of default.

"If the growth and inflation outlooks degrade further, the risk of a loss of confidence would rise. In such circumstances, recurrent bouts of financial volatility could interact with balance sheet vulnerabilities.

"In such circumstances, rising risk premiums may tighten financial conditions further, creating a pernicious feedback loop of fragile confidence, weaker growth, lower inflation, and rising debt burdens," the IMF says.

IMF: risks to global financial stability rise

IMF HQ in Washington DC
Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund has warned the risks to global financial stability have increased. 

The IMF says in a report just published that the increased risk in developed countries reflects setbacks to economic growth. 

In emerging economies, declines in commodity prices have affected financial stability. Uncertainty about China's economic performance is also a factor. 

The report follows a wider warning on Tuesday from the IMF about the general global economic outlook.

First for Waitrose with live ad from dairy farm

Marketing magazine tweets

VW drives down bonuses

VW badge on car
Getty Images

Bonuses for top managers at Volkswagen will be cut "significantly" as the German car maker said it needed to send a signal on executive pay following the emissions scandal. 

The cut would apply to its management board, a group of executives that helps the chief executive run the company. 

However, the supervisory board -  the German equivalent of a board of directors - would not be affected, except for chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch who has asked for a cut.

The company didn't give any figures and said that details will be released in its annual report to be published on 28 April.    

Steel demand slows

Steel
Getty Images

Global steel demand will fall again this year as China's economy continues to slow, before stabilising in 2017, the World Steel Association said today. 

"Apparent steel use" (catchy phrase that) is expected to fall 0.8% in 2016 to 1.488 billion tonnes after a 3% fall last year, according to Worldsteel. 

Its director-general, Edwin Basson, said: "While we are forecasting another year of contraction in steel demand in China, slow but steady growth in other regions including NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement countries) and EU is expected." 

LA LA land...

Think London property prices are out of control? Take a look at this 10 bedroom monster in California... 

The 38,000 sq ft property has a wine room, not one but two infinity pools and the plot of land was once owned by Barbra Streisand. Her old house was knocked down about 2000. 

View more on twitter

Coal giant Peabody files for bankruptcy

BBC World Service

Peabody sign on St Louis HQ
AP

The world's largest privately owned coal producer, Peabody Energy, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US.  

The move follows a sharp fall in coal prices due in part to falling demand in China and other emerging markets. 

Peabody chief executive Glenn Kellow said filing for protection would allow the company to reduce its debt and strengthen liquidity. 

Analysts say Peabody failed to anticipate the boom in shale gas and underestimated concern about climate change and pollution.  

Shale loans hit JPMorgan profits

JPMorgan
Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase, the biggest US bank by assets, reported a 6.7% fall in quarterly profit as costs to cover possible bad loans to troubled shale oil companies rose and revenue from trading and investment banking declined. 

Net income fell to $5.52bn in the three months to 31 March, down from $5.91bn in the same period last year. Total revenue fell 3% to $24bn - slightly better than expected, while revenue from fixed-income trading - often JPMorgan's most volatile business - fell 13.4% to $3.6bn. 

CWU anger over Post Office move

Post Office
PA

The CWU is not happy with the decision to move more Post Offices into WHSmith stores.

The union's assistant secretary, Andy Furey, says: “A cherished national company such as the Post Office handing over large Crown Offices in prime locations is an admission that the strategic direction of the Post Office is fundamentally flawed. It is completely incongruous that WHSmith can run a major Post Office better than the Post Office itself. 

"Our members do not wish to work for WHSmith, which has a track record of zero hours contracts and a minimum wage approach to resourcing. The CWU will continue to oppose the blatant back-door privatisation of Crown Offices into WH Smith."  

Corbyn bites back

PMQs is underway in the Commons and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is biting back at David Cameron. 

View more on twitter

Opec cuts oil forecasts

Opec logo on building
Getty Images

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) reckons global demand for crude oil will fall this year as consumption slows down, increasing the excess supply on the market. 

In its monthly report Opec lowered its growth forecast by 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) and said it may have to make further cuts.  

Opec pumped 32.25 million bpd in March, about 15,000 bpd higher than in February. 

The figures come ahead of Sunday's meeting of both Opec and non-Opec countries to try to hammer out a production freeze. 

'If I ever become like my clients, shoot me'

BBC World Service

Brooke Harrington of the Copenhagen Business School, who trained as a wealth manager, reveals their secrets on Business Daily.

Prof Brooke Harrington gives an inside view of the life of the private wealth manager.

India's 'Millennium City' renamed

Skyline of Gurugram
AP

India's business city of Gurgaon on the outskirts of the capital, Delhi, has been officially renamed Gurugram.

Home to the offices of many multinational firms, expensive apartments and swanky shopping centres, Gurgaon in Haryana state is often referred to as the Millennium City.

It's close to Delhi's airport, which makes it a popular residential district for upwardly mobile professionals.

The state government switched to Gurugram - an ancient name for the area meaning "village of the guru" - following a longrunning local campaign, according to reports. 

Read more here

Degrees of change

Personal finance correspondent Brian Milligan tweets:

View more on twitter

Acting FCA boss fixes departure date

Tracey McDermott
FCA

More on Tracey McDermott's departure from the FCA.  

She said on 7 January that she had decided to withdraw from the process to appoint a permanent boss for the financial watchdog, but would continue as acting chief executive until a permanent replacement was in post. 

Andrew Bailey was appointed on 26 January and will start on 1 July.

Affleck to direct Batman flick

Ben Affleck
AP

Ben Affleck, who played Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, will both star in and direct a standalone Batman movie, said Warner Bros chief Kevin Tsujihara at CinemaCon, an annual gathering of cinema owners in Las Vegas, on Tuesday night. 

The stand-alone Batman feature is part of Warner Bros' plans for an expanded DC Comics cinematic universe, similar to that of the Disney and Marvel collaboration. The studio has at least 10 features in the works, including Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League.

Tracey McDermott to leave FCA

FCA tweets

'Strong growth' for Tesco Bank

Tesco Bank
Tesco

Tesco isn't just a supermarket - it also runs a bank (and a mobile operator too, for that matter). Today's results say Tesco Bank had 7.6m customers at the end of the financial year - up 1%.  

However, revenue fell 13% on the year to £162m primarily as a result of a cut in credit card transaction fees. The European Commission introduced caps on interchange income in December. Tesco says the full effect of this change will be felt in the 2016/17 financial year.

Loans rose 10.6% to £8.5bn, with mortgage balances growing strongly, and deposits were up 7% to £7.4bn.  

How to get ahead in fashion

BBC iWonder

The UK fashion industry is famous for its glamour and creativity - and for being a notoriously difficult place to launch a career.

But the industry supports some 800,000 jobs and BBC iWonder has gathered tips from some of fashion's leading lights on how to get one of those roles.

If you have designs on fashion, watch tips from journalist Sarah Mower, creative pattern cutter Emma Askew Miller and designers Grace Weller and Betty Jackson above, and check out the full iWonder guide.

Long-term planning...

FT media editor Matthew Garrahan tweets about the newspaper's new Japanese owners:

View more on twitter

Serving up value

Mr Kipling
Premier Foods

Shares in Premier Foods are down a mere 25% now after McCormick Foods walked away from a bid. 

Investec analyst Nicola Mallard says: "The challenge now for Premier management is to deliver for its shareholders the sort of value McCormick was offering." 

That could prove tricky...

Reiss sold for £230m

Woman walks past Reiss sore in London
Getty Images

Fashion retailer Reiss has been bought by private equity firm Warburg Pincus for £230m.

Reiss, which sells women's and men's clothing, was founded by David Reiss in 1971 and now has more than 160 stores in 15 countries, as well as an online operation.  

Warburg Pincus is taking a majority stake in the business which will allow Reiss to expand in the UK and internationally - particularly North America, Asia and Australia.

Mr Reiss will stay on as chairman and chief executive and retain a "significant investment" in the business. 

Controversé

Business correspondent Theo Leggett tweets:

View more on twitter

Tesco brushes off farm brand row

BBC Radio 5 Live

Tesco farm brands products
Tesco

Last month Tesco was criticised over fresh produce labelled with "fictional" farm brands that some farmers said might be misleading.  

Steve Dresser from Grocery Insight tells 5 live it won't have done the supermarket much damage. "I think the reality is that customers probably appreciate the fact that those value products have been repackaged, still represent great value," he says.

"I think it's just part of the whole band mix and it's definitely one of Dave Lewis's strengths is branding as we've been told so I expect a defence of that today to the City and the media."

Oil falls back

Oil rig
Getty Images

So much for that rally yesterday: oil is down about 2% today on fears that Sunday's producer meeting in Doha could fail to freeze output, Reuters reports.  

Brent crude is down 1.7%, or 78 cents, to $43.90 a barrel after hitting a four-month high on Tuesday. 

Investec's Laura Lambie tells Today that oil will continue to creep up, however: "It's going in the right direction - we're probably looking at $50 to $60 a barrel over the medium term rather than the lows of $28 we saw recently." 

On the cards

Scotland business editor Douglas Fraser tweets:

View more on twitter

Calmer waters

Tesco booze
Tesco

Clive Black at Shore Capital says that compared with last year's stonking loss, Tesco's numbers this time round are "positively boring". 

The key word here though is 'positively', as one year on from a day of reckoning, Tesco has reported material steps forward on a road to recovery and, hopefully, a better place for its long-only investors. We believe that Dave Lewis, the group's likeable CEO, deserves considerable credit for steering this near retail shipwreck to calmer waters, where the group's 'engineers', can and are now making progress. We reiterate our 'Hold' stance on the group's shares, but ... a return to our Buy roster is closer today than it has been for some years."