Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. IMF says Brexit 'bad to very, very bad'
  2. Manchester United post record revenues
  3. UK construction slumps 3.6% in March
  4. PPI victims 'should have got £5bn more'
  5. Apple invests in China's Uber rival
  6. UK banks shut 600 branches in 2015

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

Get involved

That's all from the livepage for another week. Been quite exciting, hasn't it. We're back on Monday from 6am.

Wall Streets ends lower

US stocks have ended lower as a decline in oil prices added to pressure from consumer companies as gloomy quarterly reports from retailers Nordstrom and JC Penney overshadowed upbeat official April retail sales data.

The Dow Jones finished down 185.38 points, or 1.05%, to 17,535.12, the S&P 500 lost 17.58 points, or 0.85%, to 2,046.53, and the Nasdaq fell 19.66 points, or 0.41%, to 4,717.68. 

GM halts car sales over fuel efficiency 'error'

General Motors says it is temporarily halting sales of about 60,000 new 2016 SUVs in the US because the vehicles' window labels overstated their fuel efficiency.

A spokesman for the largest US carmaker said GM discovered an "inadvertent error" on US 2016 GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse SUVs that caused the estimated fuel economy to be listed on the window label as 1-2 miles per gallon higher than it should have been.

Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Laura Allen says the agency has been notified by GM that it is correcting fuel economy labels on the three 2016 SUVs. "We have asked the company to provide all relevant information to the agency," she said. 

BHS: What went wrong?

BHS store
BBC

BBC Newsnight will be well worth watching tonight. There are still plenty of gaps in the BHS saga, but presenter Adam Parsons' report may help fill in some of them.

Dominic Chappell, who bought BHS for a £1, gives a rare interview. He says the problems at the retailer were worse than he expected. Even so, BHS would have broken even next year if he'd been able to run it as he hoped.

The plight of the pension fund has been a big issue this week, with MPs starting their investigations into what went wrong. One thing they may be interested in is something called Project Thor and a radical restructuring of the scheme.

And find out why former BHS owner Sir Philip Green is "furious" at the way he is being portrayed.

Newsnight is on BBC 2, at 10.30pm. 

France's Royal warns of 'colossal' Hinkley Point costs

Segolene Royal
BBC

French energy minister Segolene Royal has added to doubts over EDF's role in building the UK's Hinkley Point nuclear power station. "I am wondering if we should go ahead with the project," she says in an interview with the Financial Times. "The sums involved are colossal." 

EDF has said it is committed to the £18bn project, yet speculation refuses to go away. 

Ms Royal dismissed the argument of French economy minister Emmanuel Macron on the potential negative impact on the country's nuclear sector if EDF cancelled the project, according to the FT.

"I think that if Hinkley Point did not happen it would not put the French nuclear sector in danger," she said. 

That said, she admits that withdrawing from the project would damage the reputation of France, which owns 85% of EDF. 

Duncan Storrar asks his question on Q&A

An Australian man who asked politicians why he wasn't getting a tax cut has become a symbol for progressives and a target for conservatives.

Read more

Fifa: in the news for the right reasons - for a change

Retailers weigh on Wall Street

Stronger retail sales figures are failing to lift US markets. Despite official data showing a jump in high street sales in April, weak trading figures this week from major retailers, including JC Penney today, continue to cast a shadow over Wall Street.

In mid-afternoon trading the Dow Jones was down 66.91 points, or 0.38%, to 17,653.59. The S&P 500 was down 5.86 points, or 0.28%, to 2,058.25. The Nasdaq was up 2.45 points, or 0.05%, at 4,739.79. 

Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the energy index's 0.79% fall. The consumer staples index's dropped 0.4%, due in large part to a 3% fall in Wal-Mart.

Steel pensions: update from trustees

The chairman of the British Steel Pension Scheme has given a progress report on what could happen following Tata Steel's restructuring of its UK assets. Here it is in full:

Following Tata Steel’s announcement regarding UK portfolio restructuring, the Trustee has been working to understand potential outcomes for the British Steel Pension Scheme and its members. Although discussions between interested parties are ongoing, it is possible that the Scheme could be required to enter the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). Were this to happen, the entire Scheme membership of around 130,000 would see future pension increases significantly reduced and, in addition, some 58,000 members, including current pensioners, who have not yet reached age 65 would see pension payments reduced by at least 10%.

The Trustee has been discussing with Government officials ways in which the Scheme could remain outside of the PPF. As an alternative to entry into the PPF, a change in the law applying to the Scheme would allow modified benefits to be paid indefinitely on a low-risk basis. Whilst this would entail future pension increases being cut back from their current level, benefits would be more generous than those provided by the PPF for the vast majority of Scheme members.

The Trustee takes the view that Scheme assets are better used in paying member benefits than potentially swelling a PPF surplus or insurance companies’ profits. These measures, which have the support of the trade unions and the whole trustee body, would result in a better and fairer outcome for members. The Trustee will update members as soon as it is able to share any further information. Our primary focus as a Trustee is always to ensure the best outcome for members. We can make no further comment at this time."

Allan JohnstonTrustee chairman, British Steel Pension Scheme

BHS: Newsnight report

The BBC's Adam Parsons tweets:

FTSE 100 in late rally

FTSE 100
BBC

The FTSE 100 closed up 0.6% at 6,138.50 points, reversing losses from earlier in the day after strong US retail sales data boosted confidence.

The rally was broad-based, with supermarkets, banks and mining companies among the top risers. Fresnillo rose 3.7% as gold rebounded from recent falls.

However, a 4.2% fall in satellite communications company Inmarsat and a 3.5% fall in bottling firm Coca-Cola HBC limited further gains for the index.

Broadcaster ITV was also among the top fallers, down 2.4% and extending its losses from the previous session as brokers including Deutsche Bank, Barclays, JP Morgan, Citigroup and UBS cut their price targets on the stock.

Carney on Brexit: Round Two, perhaps?

BBC economics producer tweets:

Coal generation hits 'historic turning point'

Coal
AP

The amount of electricity generated from coal in the UK has fallen to zero several times in the past week, grid data shows. In what green energy supporters have described as a "historic turning point" for the UK's power system, coal-fired electricity first fell to zero late on Monday night and for the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to data from BM Reports.

The Press Association reports that on Thursday, there was no electricity from coal for more than 12-and-a-half hours, more than half the day, with it making no contribution to the UK's power supplies late at night when demand was low and for a period in the day, the data shows.

The news agency says that it is thought to be the first time the UK has been without electricity from coal since the world's first centralised public coal-fired generator opened at Holborn Viaduct in London, in 1882.

FTSE 100 in afternoon recovery

The FTSE 100 looks like it may finish Friday on a positive note. Having been in the red for much of the trading session, the index is now up 0.26% at 6,119.97 points.

It's a different story for oil, though. Brent crude is down 0.7% at $47.73 a barrel.  

Carmaker Opel faces questions over emissions claims

Opel factory
Reuters

German carmaker Opel, part of General Motors, is facing questions about alleged emissions irregularities.

Media reports, including from Der Spiegel, claim that some Opel diesel cars had "hitherto unknown devices" fitted to manipulate emissions. 

Opel issued a pretty robust response: "Our software was never programmed to deceive or defraud," the company said in a statement.

Even so, the German transport ministry, already investigating Volkswagen, has summoned Opel officials to a meeting next week.

The last bank in town

More on the rising number of bank branch closures

The most unloved man, or woman, in the office

How to survive one of the most stressful tasks

Lagarde rejects claims of Treasury interference in IMF forecast
IMF chief Christine Lagarde appears startled by suggestions the Treasury may have had input into the Fund's UK economic forecast.

Wall Street little changed at the start of trading

US stocks were little changed at the open as a drop in oil prices was offset by strong April retail sales data that suggested to some analysts that an economic recovery was gaining traction. The Dow Jones was down 15.55 points, or 0.09%, at 17,704.95. The S&P 500 was down 2.44 points, or 0.12%, at 2,061.67. The Nasdaq was down 6.40 points, or 0.14%, at 4,730.93.  

"The overall market sentiment has slightly changed towards positive since the release of the latest US economic data," said Markus Huber, trader at City of London Markets. "Somewhat lower producer prices and much better than expected retail sales are pretty much what the market needed." 

JC Penney sales slump

JC Penney
Getty Images

US retail sales in April may have jumped according to official figures out today, but not everyone is enjoying the benefit.

Times are particularly tough for US department stores, it seems. Today JC Penney joined rivals Macy's and Kohl's in reporting a drop in sales in a quarter marked by a slump in demand for clothing. 

Like-for-like sales fell 0.4% in the three months to 30 April - far worse than the 3.3% rise expected by analysts and the first slide in six quarters. 

However, J.C. Penney's net loss narrowed to $68m, down from $150m in the same period last year. 

Shares slid as much 13% in premarket trading.

"We believe that, like others, JC Penny struggled somewhat with apparel over the period, thanks to the unseasonal weather and a more reluctant consumer," said Håkon Helgesen, an analyst at retail research firm Conlumino.

US retail sales jump in April

US retail sales in April recorded their biggest increase in a year, with car sales doing particularly well, according to Commerce Department figures.

Sales jumped 1.3%, the largest gain since March 2015. 

April's increase is a welcome boost for the sector, which has seen sluggish demand in recent months. Macy's, Nordstrom and, today, JC Penney, have this week reported falls in sales.   

I, robot

Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones tweets:

View more on twitter

Ashley in frame for Austin Reed

Austin Reed store
Getty Images

Retail Week reports that Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has emerged as the frontrunner to buy Austin Reed. His bid is one of several for the menswear retailer, which fell into administration last month.

Touker Suleyman, the owner of Hawes & Curtis, and Edinburgh Woollen Mill owner Philip Day are also thought to have submitted bids for parts of the business.

Sports Direct - which is also interested in buying failed department store chain BHS - has muscled its way to the head of the queue, according to Retail Week.

What happens to your online life after you die?

A young widow explains how she dealt with her husband's social media pages.

A young widow tells Business Daily how she dealt with her husband’s social media pages after he passed away.

JC Penney sees surprise sales drop

JC Penney
Getty Images

JC Penney has reported a surprise 0.4% drop in like-for-like sales, which strip out new store openings, in the first quarter to the end of April. The US department store chain was expected to report a 3.3% rise by analysts.  It also reported a $68m loss, smaller than the $150m drop it lost for the same period a year earlier. 

Investors aren't impressed. The shares are down 13% in pre-market trading. 

European Commission to investigate steel subsidies

The European Commission has said it plans to investigate subsidies to Chinese exporters of hot-rolled flat steel - the main type of steel produced at Port Talbot. 

The Commission said the investigation was part of a new procedure allowing investigations to begin when there was the threat of injury to EU producers, rather than waiting for harm to be done. 

Business secretary Sajid Javid welcomed the investigation. 

This is welcome news for British steel, particularly Port Talbot which produces nearly a million tonnes of this type of steel every year. It’s exactly the action we have been pushing hard for in Europe and this type of investigation, the first of its kind, means anti-dumping tariffs can be imposed much earlier.”

Manchester scores in third quarter

Manchester United has reported a 29.9% rise in revenues to £123.4m for the third quarter, putting it on track for revenues of £500m to £510m for the full year with earnings of £178m to £188m.  

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary puts his money where his mouth is

Michael O'Leary
Getty Images

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, not someone known for holding back, has been speaking out on Brexit again. He believes a vote to leave the EU would lead to "extreme volatility" which could push air fares down short term. 

"After 9/11, after every crisis Ryanair is selling cheaper fares, we keep people flying. So the fact is it would have a downward effect on our pricing for six to 12 months, but we will keep people flying," Mr O'Leary said.

The airline is spending some €25,000 on adverts asking its customers to vote "Remain". On whether this will make a difference, Mr O'Leary is uncharacteristically modest. 

"I think not really. Around the margins, we may," he says. 

Oil price slide deepens

oil graph
bbc

The oil price fall has deepened, with Brent crude currently down by 1.1% to $47.55 a barrel. 

But oil cartel Opec, at least, is optimistic that the general direction from now on should be up, suggesting that the global oversupply problem may finally be easing.

"There have been consistent signs of declines in non OPEC-production which  should likely flip the global oil market into a net deficit in 2017," the  Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries noted in its May report, issued today.     

It's not all positive for Honda

Despite earlier forecasting a rise in net profit for the current year, Japanese car firm Honda says it plans to recall 21 million more vehicles to replace Takata air bags amid continuing fears of a potentially deadly defect.

Net income fell to 344.5bn yen for the full year to the end of March, with the car firm taking a 267bn yen hit related to Takata air bag recalls.

It's not just Brexit... IMF has also pitched in on housing

BBC economics correspondent tweets...

Vote Leave notes Osborne is a fan of Lagarde

Vote Leave head of media has had a pop at IMF chief Christine Lagarde. You may recall that Chancellor George Osborne nominated her for a second term running the Fund.

View more on twitter

Lagarde: 'Nothing positive about Brext'

One last salvo from Ms Lagarde in the Brexit debate. She says a vote by the UK to leave the EU would have "pretty bad, to very, very bad" consequences.

The IMF boss says she has "not seen anything that's positive" about Brexit,from the IMF's analysis.

Lagarde: Brexit might cause UK recession

BBC economics editor tweets

Is the IMF playing politics?

The BBC's economics editor Kamal Ahmed asks Ms Lagarde why last year's report into the economy was delayed ahead of the general election but this year the report hasn't been.

Ms Lagarde says the report is done pretty much around the same time every year. Last year's report was delayed at the request of the government, she says.

That's a regular arrangement whenever there is a major election however, she says. 

"In the case of a referendum that's another matter she says, the authorities are not going to be removed as a result of such matters," she adds.

Lagarde: UK decision on Europe causing 'global anxiety'

Christine Lagarde
BBC

The EU referendum is "a significant downside risk" to the UK economy, says IMF managing director Christine Lagarde. 

She adds however that not only does the prospect of a Brexit affect the UK. Ms Lagarde says there is a "level of anxiety" around the rest of the world about the UK's decision to leave or remain in the EU.

Ms Lagarde says:  "I don't think that in the last six months I have visisted a country in the world where I have not been asked 'what will be the economic consequences of a Brexit?'"

IMF's duty is to lay out the facts

BBC economic editor tweets

George Osborne: The IMF has been clear

Chancellor George Osborne welcomes the IMF's findings. "Put simply, Leaving the EU would cost our public finances more than we would gain from no longer contributing to the EU budget," he says at the IMF press conference.