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Summary

  1. Ladbrokes and Coral ordered to sell up to 400 stores
  2. Eurostar reports falling passenger numbers
  3. UK fracking: Key planning meeting underway

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night!

That's it from the Business Live desk for today. 

Thank you for staying with us over the last few hours. 

Have a good weekend and do join us again from 6am on Monday morning for all the latest from the world of business and finance. 

Wall Street closes higher

Wall Street sign
Getty Images

Wall Street rallied on Friday, led by tech stocks on the back of chip company Applied Materials' higher than expected profit forecast, ending a volatile week on a positive note.

Applied Materials shares closed more than 13% higher at $22.66

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.38% or 65.54 points higher at 17,498.48.

The Nasdaq gained 1.21% or 57.02 points and finished the day at 4,769.56

While the S&P 500 was up 0.6% or 12.28 points, closing at 0.60%. Its gains followed three weeks of losses. 

EU regulators 'set to conditionally clear AB Inbev SABMiller deal'

Brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev is set to win conditional EU approval for its $100 billion-plus takeover of SABMiller after agreeing to substantial asset sales, according to Reuters.

AB InBev, already the biggest brewer in the world, managed to allay EU competition concerns by agreeing to sell SABMiller's Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime beer brands to Asahi Group, the news agency said.

US to shake up food labelling

Michelle Obama at Health Summit in Washington
EPA

The US Food and Drug Administration is planning a big shake up of the way packaged foods are labelled.

Serving sizes will be adjusted to reflect how much people actually eat, and for the first time labels will list added sugars. 

Speaking at a health summit in Washington, first lady Michelle Obama - whose "Let's Move!" campaign is aimed at boosting young people's health - said she was "thrilled" about the new labelling and said she believes it is going to make "a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices.

The move will affect roughly 800,000 products from Coca-Cola and ice-cream to soup and spaghetti sauce. 

Shareholders vote through Goldman's executive pay packages

Lloyd Blankfein
Getty Images

Only 66% of investors at Goldman Sach's annual meeting on Friday backed its pay plans for top executives, reports Reuters. 

Although that was more than enough to pass the pay packages, it was way lower than the roughly 90% support that rivals Bank of America, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley won from their owners.

Goldman paid chief executive Lloyd Blankfein $22.6m (£15.6m) in 2015, his first pay decline in four years. He received $24 million in 2014. 

Strike hits Ghana's courts

BBC World Service

Court staff in Ghana have gone on indefinite strike, forcing legal proceedings to be cancelled across the country, BBC World Service reports.

The Judicial Service Association of Ghana, which represents court administrators, is protesting about poor conditions of service and the way its members are paid. 

The association says the government had promised to address their concerns by April but has not done so. There will be no court hearings until the dispute is resolved. 

Nearly two-thirds of over 75s have 'never used internet'

Shoppers looking at laptops in a shop
Getty Images

More on those ONS figures on internet usage we brought you earlier - this time our colleagues on the BBC Technology Desk have been taking a closer look at the stats ...

Almost two-thirds of people aged over 75 have never gone online, suggest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Despite this, net use among this group is growing with the numbers trying the net doubling since 2011, it found.

It also revealed that 25% of disabled people have yet to use the net - a figure campaigners called "shocking".

About 88% of all UK adults, about 46 million people, used the net in the last three months, it said.

How is the National Living Wage affecting horticulture?

British Retail Consortium tweets

Back to the future with Carlsberg?

Marketing Week magazine tweets

G7: Stimulus versus austerity

BBC World Service

Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau
Getty Images

The G7 finance ministers are meeting in Sendai in Japan and top of the agenda is how to kick-start global economic growth. 

The gathering will be considering whether stimulus or austerity is the way forward. 

One of the participants is Canada's finance minster Bill Morneau and he's been talking to Newshour on BBC World Service. 

He said his country has a very strong balance sheet so it's in a position to invest in infrastructure but he added: "One of the other things that we will be talking about with our G7 peers is how we can crowd in private investment and I think finding ways to encourage investment in our economies is going to be critical in enhancing growth.

"I think some of those ideas can be ones that are going to be applicable in most places."

Number who've never used internet falls

Office for National Statistics tweets

Minicab firms eye driverless cars

PA reports

Minicab firm Addison Lee says it's in talks to test driverless cars as part of a £12m technology investment plan. 

Chief executive Andy Boland told PA that the company's working with a car manufacturer on plans to test the vehicles as it steps up to the challenge posed by digital rival Uber. 

Just yesterday car-hailing app Uber confirmed that it was testing driverless cars in the US

Addison Lee says it's also looking at the viability of electric cars, although Mr Boland raised questions about the necessary infrastructure needed to run the vehicles.

Watchdog 'won't let betting shops close'

5 Live business presenter tweets

BBC Radio 5 Live

Northern businesses need to 'make investment happen'

BBC Radio 5 Live

Lord Adonis
PA

It's two months since the National Infrastructure Commission report said that HS3, the planned fast rail link between Manchester and Leeds, needs "kick-starting" as part of a broader plan to improve transport links in northern England. 

It also called for improvements on the most congested part of the M62 motorway to be sped up.

Now - in a speech at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner publication -NIC chairman Lord Adonis has told businesses in the North that it's up to them to make sure the investments happen  

It's very important that people don't see this as just things that can be done from London, you know big cheques that can be signed from London. Of course there do need to be national investments, and HS2 is the single biggest one … but business and political leaders in the North, in Greater Manchester, could take ownership themselves.

Lord AdonisNational Infrastructure Commission chairman

FTSE closes higher as mining stocks climb

London Stock Exchange sign
Getty Images

After a strong day's trading, the FTSE has closed at 6,148.68 - that's a rise of 95.33 points or 1.57%.

The biggest riser was Coca-Cola HBC after after Citigroup raised its rating on the stock to "buy". It gained 6.4%.

However, as a sector the best performer was mining off the back of increases in the price of metal. 

And in New York the main index - Dow Jones, Nasdaq and S&P 500 - are all still up as well.   

Travelling light

Light Rider
Airbus

It weighs 77 pounds, goes 50 mph, and has a range of 37 miles. But what's really remarkable about this electric motorbike is it's made from aluminium alloy particles using 3D printing.

Made by Airbus - better known for aircraft - the Light Rider was unveiled in Germany on Friday. The lightweight hollow frame, which contains the wiring and pipes, would not have been possible with conventional production methods, says Joachim Zettler, chief executive of Airbus subsidiary AP Works.

The company is now taking orders, but the motorbike will cost you €50,000.  

Winning in the workplace

BBC Capital tweets

Betting merger hurdles 'less onerous than feared'

The competition watchdog's requirements for the merger between Ladbrokes and Coral to get the go-ahead are not as bad as many feared, says  Hargreaves Lansdown's head of equity research Steve Clayton.

Horse race with prominent Coral logo
Gala Coral

The proposals from the Competition Authority are actually less onerous than many had feared, with up to a thousand shops having been mooted as ripe for closure as part of the merger. Ladbrokes and Coral now have a couple of weeks to decide if they want to jump or not. The merger between Ladbrokes and Coral could create a huge opportunity for the group, if they can execute it properly. The combined company would have a dominant retail position, even if many shops have to be sold off. We expect substantial cost saving will be possible because there will be vast areas of overlap, and unnecessary duplication of functions across the businesses.

Steve ClaytonHargreaves Lansdown's head of equity research

'Reasonable grounds' for Royal Mail investigation

Close up of post box
Getty Images

Ofcom says it has determined that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Royal Mail has contravened quality of service obligations, after the firm failed to meet performance targets for first-class mail.

The communications watchdog launched an investigation into the postal operator last week following Royal Mail's admission that it had “narrowly” missed a requirement to deliver 93 out of every 100 first-class items within one working day in the 2015-2016 financial year — instead of achieving a rate of 92.5.  

Big leap in Brits holidaying abroad

BBC personal finance reporter tweets

Wall Street opens

Wall Street sign
Getty Images

Friday's trading has kicked off on Wall Street.

Global markets generally are higher - the FTSE is at 6,147.38 - that's a rise of 94.points or 1.55% - so how's it looking at this early stage in New York? 

Dow Jones is up a shade at 17,513.23 - a rise of 78 points or 0.45%.

Nadaq is also heading higher - it's put on 36 points or 0.78% to hit 4,749.35 +36.81. 

And the S&P 500 is at  2,053.87 - that's up 14 points or 0.68%.

No more Peter Andre for Iceland

Peter Andre
Getty Images

No more Peter Andre or Kerry Katona for Iceland. The frozen food chain says it's now going to try to win over shoppers by using "real mums" in its advertising.

Kerry Katona's contract was cut short in 2009, while reality TV star Peter Andre's contract recently ended.

"I think the use of celebrities and supermarkets is a cyclical business - whether it's Ant and Dec for Morrisons or Sharon Osborne at Asda you are seeing a move away from them.  They do a great job of getting right to the point, so I don't think this will mean the end of it. However, shopping behaviours have changed and customers value realness more than ever," Iceland's UK managing director Nick Canning told The Telegraph.

How Ebola crisis could help tackle Zika

Doctor Scott Gottlieb says the Ebola outbreak should be informing how we deal with Zika.

Have enough lessons been learned from the Ebola outbreak to help tackle Zika?

@ScottGottliebMD talks to Business Daily’s Ed Butler.

Coca-Cola dismisses Venezuela reports

Coca-cola bottles
Getty Images

Coca-Cola has denied reports that it is suspending its production in Venezuela due to lack of sugar.

"Coca Cola Venezuela wants to inform that all our factories are working and will keep making the product until our inventory of industrial refined sugar runs out”, it told the BBC's Yolanda Valery in BBC Mundo.

However it adds that providers have told them “they have temporarily ceased operations due to a lack of raw materials”. Meaning that it might be a matter of time…

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro declared an economic state of emergency in January.  

The Latin America country has the world's highest inflation rate at 180% and there are shortages of basic goods as well as power shortages.

Campbell Soup sees sales fall

Campbell soup tins
Getty Images

Campbell Soup, the world's largest soup maker, has reported a 2% fall in third quarter sales to $1.87bn. 

Despite the drop, the firm said profit rose  to £185m for the three months to 1 May, thanks to a $25m gain from a legal settlement. 

We’re unsatisfied with our third-quarter organic sales growth, which was largely due to a weaker US soup season, some challenges in V8 beverages and a weather-related disruption to our fresh carrot supply. Importantly, we understand the factors affecting our top-line performance and are addressing them.

Denise MorrisonCampbell’s president and chief executive officer

Deere hurt by global farm recession

man on tractor
Getty Images

Farming equipment firm Deere & Co has posted a drop in second quarter earnings as low commodity prices continue to hamper the agricultural equipment industry.

The firm - known for its green and yellow machines - said net income fell to $495.4m, or $1.56 per share, in the three months to the end of April from $690.5m, or $2.03 per share, a year earlier. 

It also cut its full year net income forecast to $1.2bn from $1.3bn, sending its shares down 0.3% in pre-market trading.

John Deere’s second-quarter performance reflected the continuing impact of the downturn in the global farm economy and further weakness in the construction equipment sector.

Samuel R. AllenDeere & co chairman and chief executive

What's the world's most profitable product?

Apple profits from the iPhone are thought to be $44bn - so does that make the iPhone the world's most profitable product? Or is it Coca Cola, Microsoft software, Pfizer's Viagara - or even lemon cake?

Listen to the World Service's report to find out.

Is it the iPhone, Microsoft software, Pfizer's Viagra or Coca-Cola?

Pound heads for best week in 10 months

pound notes
Getty Images

The pound has slipped slightly from yesterday's three-and-a-half-month high, but is still on track for its best weekly performance in almost ten months. 

Against the dollar it's currently down 0.25% at $1.45675, while against the euro it's 0.35% lower at €1.2996.

The pound started its rally earlier this week after an Ipsos-Mori poll ahead of the 23 June EU referendum showed 55% of those surveyed supported staying in the EU, with just 37% saying they wanted to leave.

There is some position adjustment going on which is pulling sterling back a bit. But as investors price out the risk of Brexit, we will see more downside to euro/sterling, perhaps to as low as 75 pence.

John HardySaxo Bank chief currency strategist

Volkswagen workers to get 4.8% pay rise

Volkswagen car
AFP

Volkswagen workers are in line for a 4.8% pay rise next year, after Germany's industrial union reached an agreement with the carmaker.

Almost 120 thousand workers will receive a 2.8% rise on 1 September 2016, followed by a 2% rise on 1 August 2017.

At the moment there is negative inflation in Germany. While that could well have picked up by next year, the pay deal is likely to be ahead of inflation.

On average earnings here in the UK are increasing at a 2% annual rate.

Yahoo valuations are falling, WSJ says

Yahoo
AP

How much is Yahoo worth? Not as much as originally thought, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The web company has been looking for a buyer for its core business, which excludes a valuable stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The WSJ reports that bids have been in the $2bn - $3bn range, as recently as April sources had been saying the business could be worth more than $4bn, it said.

The next round of bids have to be tendered by the first week in June, according to the WSJ.

Manufacturing sector 'stable'

UK factory
Getty Images

Conditions in the UK manufacturing sector are "stable", according to the CBI's  industrial trends survey for May.

Total orders rose slightly and exports orders were largely unchanged, the survey of 489 manufacturers found.

Its findings follow official statistics at the start of the month which showed UK manufacturing activity contracted in April for the first time in three years, adding to fears over the economy's strength.

Conditions in the manufacturing sector seem to be a little better overall, with improving order books compared with a couple of months ago. But domestic and global uncertainty remains high, alongside lacklustre export demand.

Rain Newton-SmithCBI director of economics

Anti-fracking protesters gather

BBC industry correspondent John Moylan tweets:

FTSE 100 powers ahead

FTSE 100
Getty Images

The FTSE 100 is continuing to power ahead, currently up 1.3% at 6,132.20.

The strong performance is being driven by mining stocks with Anglo American up 5.7%, Glencore up 3.2% and Antofagasta up 2.9% - putting them all among the top five risers.

Currently the sole faller is British Airways owner IAG, which is 0.3% lower.

More from crucial fracking meeting

BBC industry correspondent, John Moylan tweets:

Executive pay 'too high'

fat cat
Getty Images

Executive pay should be slashed by more than half, according to a report by shareholder advisory group ShareSoc.

It calls for large businesses to cap executive bonuses and long-term incentive plans at 100% of salary.

The report comes amid a fresh outcry at top bosses pay, with shareholders at some of the biggest listed firms including BP and Anglo American voting against remuneration reports. 

"We are deeply concerned by the continuing trend towards excessive and unnecessary CEO remuneration.

Mark NorthwayShareSoc chairman

Crucial fracking meeting underway

BBC industry correspondent, John Moylan tweets:

View more on twitter

Overdraft fees boost banks

BBC Money Box presenter tweets...

Banks made £2.9bn from overdraft fees in 2014 (£1.2b unauthorised; £1.7b authorised). So 44% of customers pay for 'free' banking for rest

Ladbrokes to focus on shop sell-off

Bookmaker Ladbrokes has indicated it is happy to agree to the competition watchdog's suggestion that up to 400 shops will need to be sold, for its merger with Gala Coral to get the go-ahead.

"Our focus now will be on agreeing the shop disposals to satisfy the CMA," said a spokesperson for the group.

Ladbrokes' shares are currently up more than 10%, suggesting investors are already betting the merger's a done deal.

Richemont shares hold up well

Cartier shop
Getty Images

Richemont shares are holding up well, currently just 0.7% lower, despite the luxury watch maker earlier warning it expected no improvement in the current trading environment.

The firm, which owns Cartier, said full year sales had fallen 1% to €11.1bn, but net profit rose 67% to €2.2bn, boosted by a €639m gain from the merger of its Net-a-Porter business with Yoox last year.

It was expected to be bad but this is probably even worse with basically a more or less perfect storm of nearly all regions struggling and in watch product particularly.

Jon CoxKepler Cheuvreux analyst