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Summary

  1. US economic growth slows to 0.5%
  2. Sajid Javid says Tata Steel pension liabilities deter buyers
  3. WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell defends pay
  4. Average house price growth slows in April
  5. Lloyds Bank quarterly profits slump 46%

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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It's time to say goodnight. The livepage team will be back at 6am tomorrow as usual. 

US share markets sink in late trading

US stocks finished lower after a volatile session. The Dow Jones was down more than 200 points, or 1.1%, at 17,837.19. The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.9% to 2,076.11 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq sank 1.2% to 4,805.2.

Apple's shares came under further pressure after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn said in a TV interview that he had sold his entire stake in the tech company. On Wednesday Apple posted disappointing results that showed iPhone sales falling. Apple shares ended 3.1% down.

Amazon shares jump after profits beat estimates

Amazon Prime advertising
Getty Images

Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, reported net income of $513m (£351m) for the first quarter ending 31 March. The company made a loss of $57m a year earlier. Net sales rose to $29.13bn from $22.72bn.

The company said its Prime streaming service did particularly well. Amazon shares jumped more than 10% in after-hours trading on Wall Street.

Do we have a say over EU small business regulations?

Reality Check

Priti Patel saying: "We have no say over the amount of regulation and red tape that comes and affects UK small businesses."
BBC

The claim: Priti Patel says the UK has no say over the amount of regulation coming from the EU. She also says the UK is constantly being outvoted. 

Reality Check verdict: The UK does have a say over regulations affecting small businesses, both through its MEPs and government ministers who vote at the Council, where they have been on the "winning side" 86.7% of the time in recent years.

Read the full Reality Check here.

High pay rebellion gathers pace

Rolled up sterling notes
PA

A shareholder revolt against high executive pay deals gathered pace today with four more companies facing investor criticism. Read more here.

Amazon rapped over unauthorised in-app purchases

Amazon's logo
AFP

Amazon illegally charged parents for children's in-app purchases between 2011 and 2014, a US judge has ruled.

In 2014, the US Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon over its handling of in-app purchases on its app store for Kindle and Android devices.

The FTC reached out-of-court settlements with Apple and Google over their app stores in the same year.

The trading watchdog said it would urge the court to demand full refunds for affected Amazon customers.

Many mobile games and programs offer in-app purchases, which let people spend real money on extras in games, music downloads or to unlock premium features.

Amazon, Apple and Google were all criticised when the concept was first launched, after a number of parents complained that their children had run up huge bills while playing games.

Wall Street markets slipping

US stocks are slipping in afternoon trading. Disappointing data about US economic growth and further falls in Apple shares are weighing on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones is 0.6% down at 17,936 points, while the S&P 500 is 0.2% lower. The Nasdaq is 0.2% down at 4,851 and is on pace to fall for the sixth trading day in a row. Apple shares are down 2%.

Migrants, Australia and business

BBC World Service

What comes next for migrants being held in Australia's detention camps? The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea has ruled that a camp on its island of Manus is unconstitutional. The company that runs the camp, Broadspectrum, is currently fighting a hostile takeover bid by Ferrovial, the Spanish infrastructure company that owns London's Heathrow Airport. Roger Hearing, from Business Matters, speaks to Aaron Patrick, deputy editor of The Australian Financial Review and Shen Narayanasamy from the Australian group No Business In Abuse, who have been campaigning to close the camps.  

A camp holding migrants bound for Australia is ruled unconstitutional by Papua New Guinea
Lifts that go round corners: Thyssen Krupps develops new style of elevator
You might think they are straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but lifts that move around corners are set to be reality. Here are the facts, told by Andreas Schierenbeck, from the company behind the innovation, ThyssenKrupp.
Liberty Steel flag

Liberty House announces that it has completed the acquisition of two former Tata Steel mills in Lanarkshire.

Read more

Should we be worried about Facebook?

BBC World Service

Martin Moore from Kings College London says we should be worried about Facebook's growing power - including people's reliance on it for communicating in emergencies.  

One expert says we should be worried about people's increasing reliance on Facebook.

Would Brexit be good for the UK economy?

Reality Check

Economists for Brexit quoted as saying: Brexit will result in a better economic outcome than remaining in the EU.
BBC

The claim: Leaving the EU would make the UK economy grow more than staying in.

Reality Check verdict: This is not a mainstream view - but they are reputable economists. It is an optimistic vision of how the UK economy might fare outside the EU, although some of its assumptions are questionable. 

Read the full Reality Check here.

Tui sells Hotelbeds for £900m

Hotel beds website on tablet computer
HotelBeds

European tourism group TUI is selling its Hotelbeds division to private equity group Cinven and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in a deal worth €1.16bn (£900m). TUI put its Hotelbeds unit, which sells hotels rooms to wholesale customers such as travel agencies and tour operators, up for sale because it did not fit with its other tour operating, cruise and hotel businesses.

EU referendum road trip: Financial services

The second stop of Steph's EU referendum road trip, looking at financial services
There are just eight weeks until the EU referendum. This morning a group of economists is arguing that leaving the European Union would benefit Britain's financial services sector. In the second stop on her EU referendum road trip, BBC Breakfast's Steph McGovern is looking at both sides of the Brexit argument when it comes to the UK's financial services.

Weir Group suffers executive pay revolt

FTSE pares losses to finish flat

FTSE 100 graph
BC

The FTSE 100 index recovered in afternoon trading to finish barely changed at 6,322.4 points, up 0.04%. A rally in miner Anglo American, up 8%, helped the index pare losses. Legal & General was the biggest loser, down 4.4%. RBS bank initially fell about 5% after it said its sale of Williams & Glyn was likely to be delayed, but recovered slightly to finish 2.9% lower.

In Frankfurt the Dax ended 0.21% higher, while in Paris the Cac-40 was down 0.04%.

RBS: sale delay could be a bad omen for other disposals

Helal Miah
BBC

RBS's admission that the sale of its 316-branch Williams & Glyn business is likely to be delayed spooked investors. Helal Miah, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, tells the BBC that it does not bode well for other RBS disposals. 

"Holding onto Williams & Glyn for longer just means more cost," he says. "RBS is a huge business, it has so many assets around the world and it still needs to dispose of assets. If it cannot dispose of this one in an adequate or timely fashion, you just wonder how they are going to progress with other disposals."

Wall Street sees slight recovery

Strong profits and revenues from Facebook released late on Wednesday, plus some corporate dealmaking, are helping US stocks pare early losses caused by a surprising decision by the Bank of Japan to hold off from further monetary stimulus. 

Facebook jumped as much as 10.9% to a record of $120.79, a day after the company reported a 50% rise in revenues. DreamWorks Animation was up 24.2% after Comcast said it will buy the company for $3.8bn.

The Dow Jones is down 0.17%, the S&P 500 is 0.07% lower, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq is 0.47% down.

Vatican sees rise in suspicious financial transactions

Pope Francis
AFP

The Vatican's financial watchdog has revealed a sharp increase in the number of suspicious transactions reported last year. There were 544 reports in 2015, up from 147 the previous year.

Vatican officials say this shows progress on financial transparency, as it tries to dispel suspicions it is being used as a tax haven. But critics point to the fact that only 17 of those cases have been passed on to Vatican courts for investigation.

Last year, European evaluators criticised the Vatican for not indicting any of those accused of financial malpractice.

  The Vatican watchdog was created in 2010 to comply with international anti-money laundering norms after a series of scandals, including allegations that the Vatican Bank had been used by money launderers.

Shire faces shareholder anger over pay

Drugs group Shire has become the latest company to face shareholder anger over pay, with 49% of investors voting against chief executive Flemming Ornskov's 25% salary increase. Although his pay package narrowly passed a vote at the firm's annual meeting, several shareholders and advisory group opposed the rise, including Royal London Asset Management and Hermes.

Instagram gets heavy with UK anti-litter app

Littergram
Littergram

Instagram has ordered the owner of a British anti-litter app to change its name.

Littergram invites people to share pictures of rubbish and report the location to their council.

Lawyers for the US photo-sharing giant, which was bought by Facebook for $1bn (£629m) in 2012, said the name was "not acceptable".

Owner Danny Lucas has sent Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a video asking him not to "kill" his project.

Mr Lucas, 48, from Wrotham, Kent tried to register his brand Littergram in December 2015 and has since met lawyers for Instagram to explain his campaign.

RBS may miss Williams & Glyn deadline

Bank wanted a sale by end-2017

RBS shares have eased off their initial lows following news of likely delays in the Williams & Glyn sale, and are now down 3.76%. But investors are pretty worried. Joseph Dickerson, equity analyst at Jefferies, said the news was "negative on two fronts - a potential delay in capital return and also likely higher separation costs... Moreover the delays could call into question management execution of RBS's restructuring process."

Wall Street opens down after growth data

Wall Street stocks were falling at the start of trading after the US Commerce Department estimated first-quarter economic growth at a feeble 0.5%. The Bank of Japan's decision against additional stimulus measures also weighed on share markets.

About five minutes into the trading day, the Dow Jones was down 0.6%, the S&P 500 lost 0.4%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.2%.

RBS says it may miss Williams & Glyn sale deadline

Bank's shares sink

RBS logo in front office
Getty Images

RBS says its deadline to sell Williams & Glyn by the end of 2017 is likely to be missed. Shares in RBS fell immediately, and are currently down 4%. Here's the RBS statement:

"Since the last update provided with the 2015 Annual Results, we have undertaken further extensive analysis on the separation and divestment of Williams & Glyn. As a result of this analysis, we have concluded that there is a significant risk that the separation and divestment to which we are committed will not be achieved by 31st December 2017. 

"Due to the complexities of Williams & Glyn's customer and product mix, the programme to create a cloned banking platform continues to be very challenging and the timetable to achieve separation is uncertain. RBS is exploring alternative means to achieve separation and divestment. The overall financial impact on RBS is now likely to be significantly greater than previously estimated."

The economy and Brexit – a tangled tale

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Today, eight economists have struck out against much mainstream economic thinking and suggested that the UK economy would flourish outside the European Union.

The Economists for Brexit argue that if the Vote Leave campaign is successful on 23 June, the UK can look forward to faster growth, lower prices and a larger economy.

They are up against formidable opposition - what those who support Britain remaining in the EU call the "consensus view" that the UK would be poorer if Brexit were to happen.

The group that make this argument includes the Bank of England, the Treasury, the International Monetary Fund, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the London School of Economics.

Read more from Kamal here.

Kenya central bank 'sees Brexit as threat'

The governor of Kenya's central bank, Patrick Njoroge, has said Brexit would be "a disaster".

He said there would be "nowhere to hide" from market volatility should it occur, and that it would send "shockwaves" around the world, Bloomberg reports.

The internet never forgets

#EdBallsDay marks its fifth birthday

We nearly let this one go but then decided it would be simply wrong to. So let us not forget today is Ed Balls Day. It might be five years since the Labour's former shadow chancellor accidentally tweeted his own name, but the internet never forgets (even if, on occasion, it does forgive).

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Some people just want to make #EdBallsDay all about them...

View more on twitter

 ...before recovering their dignity and self-respect...

View more on twitter

...which is something most politicians will more than likely sympathise with...

View more on twitter

 ...especially, one imagines, Ed Balls.

View more on twitter

US economy grow 0.5% in first quarter

The US economy grew at its weakest pace for two years in the three months to the end of March, helping to put US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's comments on Wednesday into some context.

Consumer spending slowed, business investment dived and exports fell according to the US Commerce Department, which says the economy grew by 0.5% missing a Wall Street consensus forecast of 0.7%.

The growth figure is also markedly down on the 1.4% growth seen in the last three months of 2015. 

Since the financial crisis first quarter US economic growth has been weak in the first three months before rebounding in the spring. Economists currently expect growth to follow a similar pattern and are forecasting GDP of around 2% in the three months to June.

VW boss personally apologised to US president over emissions scandal

Guardian business reporter tweets...

Sun hacking claims can go ahead, judge rules

The Sun
Getty Images

Claims against the Sun newspaper by phone-hacking victims can go ahead, a High Court judge has ruled.

News Group Newspapers (NGN), which has previously settled a large number of cases brought against the now-defunct News of the World, has always said there was no hacking activity at its sister tabloid.

But on Thursday in London, Mr Justice Mann allowed the claims to proceed.

Airbus profit hit in 'challenging year'

The A400 military transport plane
Getty Images
The A400 - gear box troubles

Airbus shares have fallen 6% after it warned investors of mounting costs on its A400M military aircraft programme.

It also said delays in deliveries of its new A350 and A320neo airliners were creating a drain on cash.

The world's second largest aircraft maker reported a 23% fall in first quarter operating profits to €501m ($568m; £390m).

Chief executive Tom Enders said: "2016 turns out to be the challenging year we anticipated."

Finance director Harald Wilhelm said the financial impact from recent problems with the gearbox on the A400M's giant turboprop engines could be "significant".

The A400 military transport plane

Airbus profit hit in 'challenging year'

Airbus reports lower profits and warns of mounting costs on its A400M military aircraft and delays to its A350 and A320neo airliners.

Read more
Facebook profits triple: Shares jump as business grows
Facebook has reporting a tripling of first quarter profits from a year earlier but how is the social media site continuing to grow its success, where others fail?

VW to pay senior execs €63.4m

VW engine
Getty Images

Europe's largest car manufacturer, Volkswagen, says it plans to pay twelve members of its management team almost €63.4m for 2015 despite the company posting record losses after admitting cheating diesel emissions tests. 

Volkswagen boss Matthias Müller, said today that VW was doing well, despite the emissions scandal.

You are already familiar with the key figures. They demonstrate that the Volkswagen group's operating business is in good shape, despite all of the difficulties of recent months. In the fiscal year 2015 we again delivered about ten-million vehicles to customers worldwide. This was just short of the level of the previous year, despite the headwind in some key markets.

Matthias Müller

Lego admits 'mistake' in Ai Weiwei row

Lego bricks
Getty Images

Lego's decision to reject Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's request for a bulk order of its bricks last year was a "mistake", the toy firm has admitted.

Vice-Chairman Kirk Kristiansen told The Wall Street Journal an employee had misinterpreted the company's policy on political neutrality.

In October, Ai said his request was declined because Lego considered his planned exhibition to be too political.

The artist is known for criticism of the Chinese government.

Potential UK steel buyers baulk at pension liabilities, says Javid

Several potential buyers of Tata Steel's British assets have told the government they would not be willing to take on the company's UK pension liabilities, Business Secretary Sajid Javid said.

"A number of the potential buyers... have said that we won't have much interest if we have to take over the current pension plan as it is," he said.

"It's a very big plan, it's expensive compared to today's plans and it's not unreasonable for many buyers... to say 'look we're interested in the assets but this would be an issue'." 

Javid says no buyer for SSI

Business secretary Sajid Javid said SSI "racked up huge debts" and said "it didn't have a turnaround plan at all". He is asked why he refused the approach from a consortium of companies to keep the coke ovens open and mothball the blast furnace at Redcar.

Mr Javid said there was "no viable plan" for the firm.

"The liquidator was not able to find a single buyer for that business," said Mr Javid.

Nationalisation 'rarely a solution'

Mr Javid is accused of having been on the back foot and sending out mixed messages in the wake of the Tata Steel crisis. 

The business secretary denies this is the case arguing the government’s message has been consistent.

He points out that minister Anna Soubry didn’t rule out nationalisation, but adds: "Rarely is nationalisation a solution - the best companies are in private hands".

"There is a lot of work that goes on in the department that is commercially sensitive that we cannot talk about because if we did in future no one would trust us with that kind of information and often we need to know that information in order to put together a package and support and responses and second it would jeopardise the outcome that we want," Mr Javid says.

He adds: "What we all want to see here is a successful outcome to this process.. a commercial buyer for this business and sustainable business for the long term."

Was the government 'blindsided' by Tata?

Business secretary Sajid Javid rejects that he was "blindsided" by Tata over its plans to close its UK steel operations. "I think ... what we all have to accept ... is that there will be some information they will share with the government and some they won't," he says. 

Mr Javid adds that there are "many layers of management" at Tata and not everyone within the business may have been aware of the plans to sell the business. 

He argues that the government often sees commercially sensitive information that the it can't talk about ahead of any announcement by the company itself: "To do so might have made the situation worse."

Does he regret going to Australia at the time that Tata Steel held its board meeting in Mumbai to decide the fate of its UK steel operation?

If you are asking me with the benefit of hindsight knowing what they actually said and how it was reported? Of course I would have. But the reality was that I didn't know exactly what they were going to say and how it was going to be reported most importantly, especially around the timeline. We knew about the underlying decision, but not exactly how it was going to be reported or what the briefing might be around it.

Sajid JavidBusiness Secretary

He adds he turned around as and came home as quickly as he could once the story broke.

Was government mis-lead by Tata?

Sajid Javid
BBC

Business secretary Sajid Javid has arrived to answer questions from MPs on the Business and Skills Committee. 

Was he mislead by the company about its plans to sell its UK business? He says not. 

Mr Javid says the timeline and media speculation weren't helpful however. The speed at which it was decided to sell the business appears to have taken him by surprise though. 

"We did expect that there would be a board decision that would talk about the future of Port Talbot. But what we didn't expect was that the news surrounding that decision would set out or talk about a timeline...of a matter of weeks," he says.