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Summary

  1. Asda sales fall again amid price war
  2. Vauxhall Zafiras recalled over fire risk
  3. Thomas Cook shares fall 19% on weak Turkey bookings
  4. Retail sales rise 1.3% in April
  5. Royal Mail profits slump
  6. Bayer bids for Monsanto

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Bye for now

That's all from Business Live for this Thursday.Have a good evening and see you tomorrow - from 0600. We'll have all the news that moves from then.

US markets close

Jitters over the prospect of a June interest rate rise undermined sentiment on US stock markets. The S&P 500 fell to its lowest level since March. The Dow Jones fell 91.42 points to 17,435.2, the S&P 500 lost 7.61 points to 2,040.02 and the Nasdaq fell 26.59 points to 4,712.53.

EU to rule on Amazon tax by July

EU state aid regulators aim to rule on Amazon's tax deal with Luxembourg by July, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday, and it may order the country's tax authorities to recover about €400m ($448m) in back taxes. The European Commission's decision will come after a near-two year investigation into whether a Luxembourg 2003 tax ruling for an Amazon subsidiary allows the company to pay less tax there than other companies, giving it an unfair advantage. The €400m figure is a preliminary assessment and may be revised after discussions with other units in the Commission, one of the sources said. 

Wall Street heads for a loss

The S&P 500 share index is heading for its lowest close in two months as investors fret over the falling oil price and the possibility of an interest rate rise as early as June. 

On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve hinted that rates could rise next month, something that New York Fed President William Dudley repeated on Thursday.

In late afternoon trading, the S&P 500 had lost 0.65% to 2,034.41 points. The Dow was down 0.69% at 17,406, and the Nasdaq fell 0.9% to 4,696.38. 

Six of the S&P 500's 10 sectors were lower, led down by a 1.1% loss in industrials.

Microsoft fell 1.36%. But Walmart's shares surged 9% after the retailer's first-quarter results beat analysts' estimates. 

Puerto Rico sees 'important first step' to resolve debt crisis

The White House says it is encouraged by legislation in the US House of Representatives addressing Puerto Rico's financial crisis and called it an "important first step".

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: "We believe that overall the legislation provides a fair process for Puerto Rico to restructure its debts, enact fiscal reforms and create a foundation for economic recovery after enduring a decade of recession."

The US territory, which is weighed down by debt and recently defaulted on a bond payment, has blamed inaction by Congress for worsening its problems. 

The UK firm that wants to give big spenders a big shock

BBC technology reporter Zoe Kleinman writes...

One British firm is seeking to put the buzz back into budgeting by giving bank customers an electric shock if they overspend.

Intelligent Environments has launched a platform which can link the Pavlok wristband, which delivers a 255 volt shock, to a bank account.

If the funds in the account go below an agreed limit, the band kicks in.

It can also work with smart meter Nest to turn down the heating and save energy bills if funds are low.

Read more here.

Daimler trucks profts warning

truck
Daimler

Daimler says it has cut its outlook for its truck division on weaker-than-expected market developments. Earnings and sales of Daimler Trucks are now expected to be significantly lower in 2016 than in 2015, the company said in a statement.

Canada approves GM salmon as food

Salmon on display
Getty Images

Canadian health officials said on Thursday they have approved a type of genetically modified salmon as safe to eat, clearing the way for it to be sold in the country.

The salmon was approved in the United States to be farmed for human consumption last year but has since been a source of controversy. Environmentalists sued U.S. health regulators earlier this year to try overturn the decision.

The fish have been genetically modified by a firm called AquaBounty with the aim of making them grow faster.

Daimler to take around €500m provision for Takata airbag recall

An employee polishes the logo of a mercedes car at the Mercedes-Benz factory
Getty Images

Mercedes-Benz parent firm Daimler said it would set aside around €500m this year for the recall of some of its vehicles that contain Takata airbags.

Earlier this month the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said there would be an extension of the Takata airbag recall, which will take place in the period May 2016 to December 2019 in several stages.

Daimler said that it was not aware of any cases of defect but that it would make precautionary recalls in the United States and Canada.

"Daimler AG will recognise a provision in the mid hundreds of million euros in the financial year 2016 in connection with the extended recall," the company said.

Dean Foods: The SEC complaint in full

A bit of bedtime reading for you. 

Here's the SEC's case against the alleged Dean Foods insider traders William Walters and Thomas Davis. Golfer Phil Mickelson made $931,000 investing in Dean a week before the company's shares surged 40%. Mickelson, though, was an innocent beneficiary of insider knowledge, the SEC says.

Trump's businesses see campaign gains

Front entrance of Trump Tower
Getty Images

Donald Trump's business empire has seen revenues jump by $190m (£135m) since the real estate tycoon entered the US presidential race, according to newly released financial documents.  

The gains mostly came from book royalties and his golf courses. His latest book, Crippled America, generated between $1m and $5m in royalties.

Revenue nearly doubled at Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida from $16m to $30m. His bottled water line, Trump Ice, also saw growth.

Read more here.

Google fights data deletion order

Google sign
AP

Google has appealed to France's highest court after the country's data watchdog ordered it to delete some of its search results globally.

In 2015, the Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) said Google should respect French "right to be forgotten" rulings worldwide.

But Google said the ruling could lead to abuse by "less open and democratic" countries. The company is now appealing against a 100,000-euro (£76,000) CNIL fine.

Commodities stocks drag FTSE 100 lower

FTSE 100 graph
BBC

It was a bad day on the FTSE 100 if you're an investor in commodities. There were some heavy fallers, with Fresnillo ending the day down 6.9%, and Royal Dutch Shell and Anglo American down more than 4%. Financial stocks did better. 3i Group, up 2.4%, was the best performer on the index, followed by Royal Bank of Scotland, up 1.4%.

The FTSE 100 fell 1.8% to 6,053.3 points. In Frankfurt, the Dax ended 1.48% down at 9,795.8 points, and the Cac-40 in Paris finished 0.85% lower at 4,282.5.

Two charged in Dean Foods affair

US regulators may have decided that Phil Mickelson was an a innocent beneficiary of the Dean Foods insider trading affair, but not so two other people.

Famed Las Vegas gambler William "Billy" Walters and former Dean Foods chairman Thomas Davis have been charged.

Golfer Mickelson to return money from share deals

Phil Mickelson
reuters

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson says he has agreed to return gains he made in 2012 from trading in Dean Foods shares and said he felt "vindicated" that US authorities have not charged him with violating securities laws.

In a statement via his attorney, Mr Mickelson said he had no desire to benefit from any transaction that US authorities viewed as questionable and that he takes "full responsibility" for having become part of the probe.  

The three-times winner of the Masters was named as a relief defendant in a civil lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. A relief defendant is not accused of wrongdoing but has received gains as a result of others' illegal acts.  

BBC man wins prestigious Wincott Award

Business correspondent Joe Lynam tweets:

Deutsche Bank on 'demanding' path back to growth, says boss

John Cryan
AFP

More from Deutsche Bank's annual shareholders' meeting: 

Chief executive John Cryan says Germany's biggest lender is on the path back to growth - but he conceded it wasn't there yet.

"The whole (management) team... want to put Deutsche Bank back on the road to growth," he said in his first shareholder meeting since taking up his position last July.

"This journey is demanding. It requires effort, but it will be worth that effort," he added.

Investors have been angered at Deutsche Bank's heavy losses and apparent slow progress in resolving a large number of scandals and litigation cases. 

Unimpressive Asda

Guardian retail reporter Sarah Butler tweets:

View more on twitter

US share markets uneasy about possible rate hike

Wall Street stock markets have opened on the back foot as oil prices fall and investors remain nervous over prospects of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates as early as next month.

But Walmart is one of the stand-out gainers, rising 8.5% after the retailer reported higher sales and said it is optimistic about future trading.

The Dow Jones fell 65.67 points, or 0.37%, to 17,460.95, the S&P 500 lost 8.28 points, or 0.4%, to 2,039.35, and the Nasdaq dropped 22.67 points, or 0.48%, to 4,716.45. 

Iraq secures IMF funding

A worker walks at the Zubair oilfield in Basra, south of Baghdad,
Reuters

The International Monetary Fund is lending $5.4bn (£3.7bn) over three years to Iraq, whose oil-reliant economy has been hit hard by the fall in the price of crude.

Iraq has a budget of close to $90bn, with a deficit of about $20.5bn. The government hopes to narrow the spending gap with loans from local and international lenders. 

Iraq's finance minister Hoshiyar Zebari told a news conference that the IMF deal will allow the country to secure additional financial aid of around $15bn over the next three years, including in the form of international bonds

General Motors expands car sharing operation

US car giant General Motors is expanding its Maven car-sharing service to Boston, Chicago and Washington DC. The app-based service started in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in February, and then began services in New York City. 

The expansion to other cities comes as GM, Ford and other carmakers diversify from their traditional manufacturing roles into mobility companies. This year GM announced a $500m investment in ride-hailing company Lyft. 

Philip Morris won't appeal packaging ruling

Philip Morris cigarettes
Getty Images

Philip Morris has responded to the High Court decision on plain cigarette packaging: "We are certainly disappointed but understand that the English court ultimately deferred to parliament`s judgment about cigarette packaging. Despite the important principles in one case, we've decided not to appeal." 

BreakingHigh Court rejects cigarette challenge

Cigarette pack
Reuters

Tobacco firms have failed in their latest effort to prevent the introduction of plain packages for cigarettes in the UK.

A High Court judge dismissed the challenge from Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands (formerly Imperial Tobacco) and Japan Tobacco.

The new regulations are due to come into effect on Friday.

Earlier this month the European Court of Justice ruled that EU tobacco rules were lawful.

That directive also allowed individual countries to go further with their own regulations.

Deutsche 'prepared' for Brexit

John Cryan
Getty Images

Deutsche Bank is prepared for any fallout from the UK's Brexit vote, chief executive John Cryan told shareholders at the annual meeting in Frankfurt on Thursday. 

The bank is "well positioned to steer through possible short and long-term consequences of a Brexit", he said. "We are prepared for all scenarios. We've looked at the risks and done our analysis."

Observer and i benefit from Indy's demise

Guardian media business reporter Mark Sweney tweets:

View more on twitter

Walmart shares jump

Walmart store
Getty Images

The better-than-expected rise in Walmart sales has sent shares in the world's biggest retailer up more than 7% in pre-market trading in New York. 

The jump will be welcomed by investors, given the stock has fallen by a fifth over the past 12 months. 

Brexit warning from Michael Bloomberg

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, said that "the UK would be disadvantaged" if it left the European Union which, in turn, wouldn't benefit America.

"I don't know dire is the right word, I just think that the UK would be disadvantaged compared to the situation they have now," the US billionaire business magnate said on the Today Programme.

More below.

US billionaire Michael Bloomberg, argues that the UK should stay within the EU.

Tesco recovery hurting rivals

Every day low price (EDLP) is the latest mantra from the supermarket industry, who are desperate to keep us loyal by cutting prices.

Reacting to the Walmart/Asda results, independent retail analyst Steve Dresser tweets:

View more on twitter

Walmart profits fall; US sales up, UK sales down

Walmart sign
AP

Walmart has reported a net income of $3.2bn for the three months to 30 April, that's down 2% on the same period in the previous year.

However, US same store sales were up 1%, which was better than analysts had been expecting.

Walmart reported that like-for-like sales in the UK, where it owns Asda, were down 5.7% during the quarter.

Bayer shares slide on Monsanto talks

Bayer sign
Reuters

In Frankfurt, shares in Bayer have tumbled 7.6%, making it the biggest loser on the Dax index.

Investors have not embraced an announcement from the firm that it is discussing a takeover of US based Monsanto.

Bayer has a unit producing seeds, weed killer and other farming products, which competes with Monsanto.

Bayer also has a healthcare business.

Should Royal Mail scale back to three deliveries a week?

BBC Radio 5 Live

Ian Senior, an independent postal economist, told Wake Up to Money that delivering mail six days a week just isn't viable for Royal Mail, and that deliveries should be cut to just three deliveries a week."The business is still viable, particularly on the parcels side, but it's not got a very good long term future," he said. More below.

A postal expert says Royal Mail should cut post deliveries to three a week to cut costs.

Spain benefits from Turkey terror

Lanzarote beach
Getty Images

Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser says bookings for Turkey failed to recover as he had hoped after an attack on tourists in Istanbul in January.

The travel operator shifted airline seats from Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt to the Canaries, Balearics and mainland Spain where it had found extra hotel rooms, but it was not enough to compensate. 

However, holidaymakers could yet turn to Turkey at the last minute, Mr Fankhauser said: "There is no late market in Spain, because Spain is filling up extremely fast, and then there may be a shift back into Turkey."  

Thomas Cook shares are down 17.5% at 73.7p in late morning trading.

Retail sales and polls push pound higher

IHS economist Howard Archer tweets:

View more on twitter

Pepsi Max boosts Britvic

Pepsi Max
Getty Images

It's not just Fever-Tree reporting today - Tango and Robinsons maker Britvic has posted a 7.3% rise in pre-tax profit to £54.5m for the six months to 10 April on a 5.1% jump in sales to £678m. 

The company also bottles Pepsi drinks and says that Pepsi Max had another "particularly strong half". 

Chief executive Simon Litherland said the no sugar drink continued to prove popular with consumers and had been backed by marketing such as sponsorship of the Champions League.

Clothing sales still out of fashion

Panmure Gordon chief economist Simon French tweets:

View more on twitter

$13bn oil services merger

Oil pump
Getty Images

We've never heard of oil and gas services companies Technip, of France, and its US rival FMC Technologies, either - but they are planning to merge. 

The new company, to be called TechnipFMC, will be worth $13bn (£8.9bn) and generate sales of about $20bn. That's only By about half the revenues posted by global sector leader Schlumberger, however. 

Techip shares are up 11% in Paris this morning.

Brexit fears fail to deter consumers

shoppers
Getty Images

Vicky Redwood, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, says April's retail sales suggest that high street spending has emerged from its recent soft patch. 

"This stronger performance looks fairly plausible. After all, there are few signs that Brexit uncertainty is having a big adverse impact on consumer confidence. And real pay growth is still solid. Indeed, consumer spending should prevent the economy from slowing too much this quarter, even if referendum uncertainty has a bigger impact on business confidence and investment."

Philanthropy still rare in China

Hong Kong-based investor James Chen has given a "seven-figure sum" to his own charitable project. 

However, he tells the BBC's Ed Butler that philanthropy is yet to take off among China's billionaires.

Stronger dollar hits oil

Oil pump
AP

North Sea Brent Crude has fallen 2%.

Analysts are saying a stronger dollar is partly to blame. Commodities typically fall when the dollar strengthens. 

There are several explanations for this. One is that commodities are priced in dollars, so when the value of the dollar rises, it takes fewer dollars to buy the same amount of oil, copper or coffee, for example.

Fever-Tree shares fizz

Fever-Tree
Fever-Tree

A profit upgrade from Fever-Tree, the premium mixers company, has sent shares up almost 11% today. 

Fever-Tree says it has "outperformed expectations" in the first four months of the year.

As a result, Fever-Tree expects results for the full year, ending in December, to be "materially ahead' of expectations.

The company listed in November 2014 and since then shares have risen - wait for it - 290%.