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Summary

  1. Oil prices push higher following Saudi oil minister switch
  2. Greek debt relief to be discussed by creditors
  3. German factory orders bounce in March
  4. MPs to question Pensions Regulator over BHS deficit

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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That's all from us on the livepage. Please check in again from 6am tomorrow.

Wall Street ends little change

Wall Street ended little changed as rises in healthcare and pharmaceutical shares offset slumping oil-related equities.

Drugs firms benefited from more speculation about merger activity in the sector. Medivation rose 4.3%, while Biogen and Gilead Sciences rose more than 1%.

But oil-services giant Schlumberger and Apache lost more than 3% as oil prices retreated. 

The Dow Jones closed up 0.19% at 17,707.28 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.08% to 2,058.81. The Nasdaq ended or 0.3% at 4,750.21.

Oil price falls

Canada fires
Reuters

Oil prices have slumped on expectations that US crude stocks would again build to record highs, shrugging off fears about output slowing from Canada due to raging wildfires. Brent crude settled almost 4% lower, with US crude down almost 3%. In early trading, oil had rallied more than 2% as investors considered the loss of half, or more than 1 million barrels per day, of Canadian oilsands supply. Canada exports almost all its crude from oilsands to the US. 

Tyson Foods sees big jump in quarterly profits

corn field
Getty Images

Tyson Foods, the biggest US meat processor, has reported big rise in second quarter profits. It says net income rose to $432m in the three months to 2 April from $310m a year earlier. 

Tyson said feed and livestock costs fell and it also raised its earnings forecast for the year.

Feed costs have fallen in the United States as a global glut of corn and soybeans has kept grain prices depressed for the last three years. 

Livestock costs are also falling as US farmers build up their cattle herds, which hit a 63-year low in 2014 because of a drought.

Greece close to passing bailout review

Eurozone finance ministers have given themselves until 24 May to reach a deal to unlock the next tranche of bailout money for Greece. The ministers, meeting in Brussels today, were reviewing Greece's progress on economic restructuring, and were considering whether Athens had done enough to warrant more funds.

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that the Greek parliament's approval of fresh reforms in a vote on Sunday "paves the way for successful completion of the first review". The finance ministers are next due to meet on 24 May, but could agree a deal before then.

BHS: 'Uncomfortable questions' over pension

BHS shop front
Getty Images

The revelations that the BHS scheme had a 23 year deficit reduction programme and that the Regulator didn’t know about the sale of BHS until announced in the papers raises uncomfortable questions about the adequacy of the protection of pension scheme members generally. The pension scheme member and their ownership of their pension rights should be at the heart of the pension system. In defined contribution pensions, scheme members should have the right to dictate the pension into which their employer’s contributions are made.”

Tom McPhailHead of retirement policy, Hargreaves Lansdown

Wall Street update

The action on Wall Street has been muted today. An hour or so ahead of the close, the Dow Jones is currently just 0.3% lower at 17,693.45. The S&P is 0.08% higher and the Nasdaq 0.5% up.

BHS: Pensions regulator criticised

Sun's deputy political editor and Guardian business reporter tweet..

Unbelievable. Pensions Regulator still investigating sale of BHS to Retail Acquisitions a year ago - even though BHS has now collapsed.

View more on twitter

Post office computer says 'no'

Post Office sign
Getty Images

The Post Office has apologised after a technical glitch prevented people across the country temporarily being able to send parcels, collect post or pay bills this morning. 

All 11,500 Post Office branches were affected with some transactions prevented for around an hour from 9am this morning.

The Post Office said it was sorry for any inconvenience or delay.

"Our priority was of course to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and to do this there was a very short period when all branches were affected. 

"We are continuing to monitor services to ensure it is business as usual in our branches," a spokeswoman said.

BHS: MPs conclude their quizzing of Pensions Regulator

BBC business correspondent tweets:

BHS: MPs take evidence from Pensions Regulator

Lesley Titcomb is being questioned about whether her office has enough powers. Once again, MP Richard Fuller is taking the robust approach, arguing that the regulator does not have enough teeth. 

"I disagree," Ms Titcomb says. She admits that trying to investigate "irresponsible" employers can be difficult. "There will always be a few people who don't play by the rules... But I do not believe that is the case in the vast majority of situations."

BHS: Pensions Regulator assessing 70,000 documents

Nicola Parish
BBC

How long might the Pensions Regulator's review of the BHS pension scheme take? There are some 70,000 documents being assessed, Nicola Parish, director of case management, tells MPs. "We are hoping that we will be able to come to a view by the end of the year," she says.

BHS: MPs take evidence from Pensions Regulator

The BBC's Adam Parsons tweets:

BHS: MPs take evidence from Pensions Regulator

Pensions Regulator Lesley Titcomb is defending her department against criticism that it was not sufficiently proactive in investigating the BHS pension scheme at the time the retailer was being sold. "You're not much of a regulator, are you" says Richard Fuller after reeling off a string of complaints.

"I do not agree with that statement," Ms Titcomb says. "We, as a regulator, have to operate within the framework provided to us."

BHS: MPs hear from Pensions Regulator

Lesley Titcomb, chief executive, Pensions Regulator
BBC

The dividends paid by BHS to its owners in the years before it was sold last year will loom large in the MPs' inquiry into the pension scheme. It's something the Pensions Regulator looked at when BHS was sold last year, and the MPs want to know a bit more detail of what inquiries were made.

But the regulator, Lesley Titcomb, doesn't want to reveal more, as it's part of her department's current investigation, she says."That makes our job very difficult," responds Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

BHS: MPs hear evidence from Pension Protection Fund

BHS sign
EPA

The head of the Pensions Protection Fund, Alan Rubenstein, tells MPs that BHS offered a guarantee against the pension scheme deficit using a company called Davenbush, a holding company for BHS property. But Mr Rubenstein said that "it was not adequate" to meet the liabilities.

Real weakens on impeachment move

Brazil's real weakened more than 4% to the US dollar, while the Sao Paulo stock exchange fell more than 3% after the acting speaker of Brazil's lower house of parliament said he was annulling a vote for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. 

Seven potential Tata Steel UK bidders through to next stage

Tata issues statement on sale process

Steel work road sign
Getty Images

The Board of Tata Steel Europe has announced that seven expressions of interest submitted for Tata Steel's UK business have been immediately taken forward to the next stage of the sale process... As previously announced it is Tata Steel Europe's primary intention to assess expressions of interest for the whole of Tata Steel's UK business. The seven expressions of interest being immediately taken forward are on this basis. Expressions of interest for parts of the UK business are not being taken forward at this point. Mr Koushik Chatterjee, Group Executive Director (Finance and Corporate) of Tata Steel Limited, said: "The expressions of interest received have been through a robust initial assessment process with inputs received from the UK Government whose views have been considered by the Board. We believe that the bids being taken forward offer future prospects of sustainability for the UK business as a whole... In the next phase of the sales process the progressing interested parties will be given access to further business information and management team presentations in order for them to rapidly progress their interest to a binding stage."

Tata Steel Europe

Tata Steel UK sale progress

BBC industry correspondent tweets:

BHS: MPs hear evidence from Pension Protection Fund

The BBC's Adam Parsons tweets

MPs hear BHS evidence

Alan Rubenstein
BBC

The hole in the BHS pension scheme was flagged up as a potential problem in 2012, says the Pension Protection Fund's chief executive Alan Rubenstein.

He told MPs that it was one of a number of company schemes that the PPF was looking at.

The BHS scandal explained in two minutes

With MPs about to start hearing BHS evidence this afternoon, here's a quick explainer

Modest gains on Wall Street

It has been a modest, but positive start to the week on Wall Street. The Dow Jones gained 32 points, or 0.2%, to 17,772 points, while the S&P 500 picked up 7 points, or 0.3%, to 2,063.The Nasdaq rose 25 points, or 0.5%, to 4,760.   

The oil price, which was up earlier in the day, has fallen back. US crude fell 46 cents, or 1%, to $44.20 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil prices, fell 75 cents, or 1.7%. 

Brexit 'risks Scotch whisky exports'

Whisky bottling line
Scotch Whisky Association

Brexit could put more than £1bn worth of Scotch whisky exports at risk, according to the industry's representative body.

Whisky bottling line

Brexit 'risks Scotch whisky exports'

Brexit could put more than £1bn worth of Scotch whisky exports at risk, according to the industry's representative body.

Read more

Should we be worried about our pensions?

rolled up sterling notes
PA

As we wait for MPs to pick through the pieces of the BHS pension scheme, there are questions to be answered about the health of final-salary pension schemes collectively.

So we lined up a host of industry insiders and commentators to have a go at answering the key queries.

In summary: there is a big problem, and solving it is complex and probably painful, says BBC personal finance reporter Kevin Peachey. Read more here.

Don't expect a Greek debt deal today - Schaeuble

Wolfgang Schaeuble
EPA

A deal to unlock new loans to Greece is unlikely to be reached today, says Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

Eurozone finance ministers have been holding talks in Brussels about Athens' latest reforms and restructuring of its economy. 

Despite not expecting an agreement on Monday, Mr Schaeuble said "I'm still confident that we'll get a solution in May". Ministers are next scheduled to meet on 24 May.

On Sunday, rioters in Athens hurled petrol bombs and police fired tear gas as tens of thousands of Greeks took to the streets in protest at tax hikes and pension reforms approved by parliament. 

Bart Becht involved in Krispy Kreme deal

JAB Holding - the US firm taking Krispy Kreme private - is chaired by Bart Becht, who was previously chief executive of household cleaning product giant Reckitt Benckiser. You might remember that he raked in a record £90m in 2009 before stepping down two years later. Mr Becht is also chairman and interim chief executive of Coty, the fragrance maker, in which JAB as a majority stake (as it does in UK shoe maker Jimmy Choo).  

Grangemouth's golden anniversary

BBC Scotland business editor tweets:

German retailers fined for price-fixing

The German Cartel Office has fined several supermarket chains €90.5m (£71m) for fixing the price of some beers, sweets and coffee.

German-owned Edeka and Metro and Danish-owned Netto were fined for fixing the price of Anheuser Busch InBev beers.

Lidl was fined for the price-fixing of Haribo confectionery.

The cartel office said its six-year investigation into pricing agreements was now nearly complete.

Krispy Kreme taken private for $1.35bn

Krispy Kreme logo
Getty Images

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts says it will be taken private by a unit of investment firm JAB Holding for about $1.35bn. The $21 per share cash offer is at a 25% premium to its Friday closing price.

Tax havens 'just need to end'

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Tax havens are 'absolutely abusive" says Professor Jeffrey Sachs

New global rules forcing companies to report taxable activities country-by-country publicly have been called for by a group of 300 prominent economists.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, an adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, told the Today programme that tax havens were 'absolutely abusive".

"These abuses are not accidents or loopholes, they are the design of the system. This is a system that has been created over time for the convenience of very rich and powerful people," he told presenter Sarah Montague.

Markets: 'We're not listening Japan'

Megan Greene, chief economist at Manulife

View more on twitter

FTSE stays higher as oil prices hold onto gains

The FTSE 100 hasn't really moved much this lunchtime. It's currently 0.38% higher at 6,149.21, which isn't very far from where it started the day really.

Budget airline Easyjet is among the best performers after a broker upgrade. Shares are up 2.6%.

Oil prices remain higher after Canadian wildfires knocked out over a million barrels in daily production capacity from the country. Brent crude is up 0.86% higher at $45.75 and US light sweet oil is 1.37% higher at $45.27. 

Shares in security firm G4S are up more than 5% after it reported a rise in revenues.

The world's biggest security firm, reported a 4.5% increase in revenues in the first quarter to £1.5bn after it continued to wind down loss-making contracts.

HTC sales plunge pushes firm to a loss

HTC 10 phones
HTC

A sharp plunge in sales has pushed the Taiwanese phonemaker HTC into a loss for the three months to March.

Revenue for the first quarter dropped 64% to 14.8bn Taiwanese dollars ($456m; £315m), while the net loss was 2.6bn Taiwanese dollars, compared with a profit the year before.

The firm has been struggling to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung.

It is pinning hopes on its new HTC 10 phone to revive fortunes as well as its virtual reality headset Vive.

Would you miss the 1p piece?

Williams signs to Sony

Robbie Williams in Monaco
Getty Images

Twelve years after signing the UK’s biggest record deal, Robbie Williams has left EMI (which is now owned by Universal) and set up home at Sony Music.

The former Take That star will release his 11th studio album on Columbia Records in the UK, putting him on the same label as Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen and the Foo Fighters.

The record will reunite Williams with writer Guy Chambers, who was responsible for hits such as Angels. 

It's not known what the deal is worth – but it’s unlikely to match the £80m EMI handed over in 2002.  

I’m more ready than I ever have been and I’m totally convinced I’m in the right place. I look forward to working on this album, which is an album I’m immensely proud of, in this exciting new partnership with Sony Music."

Robbie Williams

Total powers into batteries

Total logo
reu

This is an interesting move for an oil company. Total is buying battery maker Saft (also French) in an all-share deal valuing Saft at €950m (£748m). 

Saft describes itself as the world leader in the design and manufacture of nickel-based and lithium batteries for industrial use.

So that includes batteries used for back-up power and batteries fitted in aircraft, satellites and trains.

The acquisition of Saft is part of Total’s ambition to accelerate its development in the fields of renewable energy and electricity, initiated in 2011 with the acquisition of SunPower."

Patrick PouyanneTotal chief executive

Control. Alt. Delete.

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Apple Music ad
Getty Images

This exasperated blog post by James Pinkstone about Apple Music has been doing the rounds in recent days. In short, after signing up to the Apple streaming service, the writer found - to his horror - that the software had deleted thousands of music files from his computer.

When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of MP3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize—which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself—it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted.

More people might get caught too given that Apple is launching its Apple Music Student Membership scheme in countries includind the UK, Ireland, USA, Australia and Germany on Monday. That means a half-price subscription - £4.99 versus the usual £9.99 a month.

Of course this is all covered in the fine print when you sign up, but it's yet another example of Apple turning into the corporate entity it once railed against. And I say that as an Apple user... (though not of Apple Music).

'A debt bust looms for China'

Roughly 40% of new debt raised by Chinese firms is swallowed by interest on existing loans says The Economist. Turmoil ahead it thinks.

View more on twitter

Oil prices continue to roll higher

Oil prices have moved higher. 

North Sea Brent Crude is 78 cents, or 1.7%, higher at $46.15 a barrel.

West Texas Intermediate is $1 or 2.2%, higher at $45.66 a barrel.

Since hitting a low this year of $27.88 a barrel, oil prices have risen by 65%.

"There is a slight fear that prices have recovered too quickly, and we risk repeating the same price trajectory seen around Q2 (second quarter) 2015, where the rally slowed down the market balancing process," said Barclays Capital commodities strategist Miswin Mahesh.