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Summary

  1. Monsanto rejects $62bn Bayer bid
  2. Strike hits all French oil refineries
  3. Swiss criminal probe into BSI bank
  4. Nationwide profits rise to £1.3bn

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

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Samsung phones

Huawei is suing its tech rival Samsung in two countries over claims that several of its patents have been infringed.

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Over and out

That's all from Business Live today - thanks for reading. We're back at 06:00 tomorrow for Wednesday's happenings, so do join us then.

Wall Street closes higher

Technology and banking shares were among the big winners on Tuesday as Wall Street jumped on the back of greater confidence in the US economic outlook. 

Investors had been troubled by the prospects of a Federal Reserve interest rate increase, but "now they're starting to embrace it", said Charlie Bilello of Pension Partners. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.2%, the S&P 500 jumped 1.4%, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 2%.

Apple rose 1.5%, while Microsoft jumped 3.2%. JPMorgan Chase rose 1.8% and Citigroup 1.7%. 

High living

St George's Tower
Getty Images

If you live in London, it's hard to miss the 50-storey skyscraper at Vauxhall that dominates the skyline in that part of the capital. It is the tallest residential structure in the UK after all. Ever wondered who owns the apartments? 

Wonder no more. According to the Guardian, the owners include a Russian billionaire whose business partner is a close ally of Vladimir Putin, the former chairman of a defunct Nigerian bank and a Kyrgyz vodka tycoon. 

Read more here.

Hat trick for Palmerston

Palmerston, the Foreign Office cat

We're not going to pretend this is a business story, but it's important news nonetheless. 

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has told MPs that Palmerston, his department's cat, is on course to have more Twitter followers than him by the summer.

He was adopted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office last month to deal with an infestation of mice and has nabbed three thus far.

Perhaps Mr Hammond could lend Palmerston to the BBC's business and economics unit on occasion too?

Jersey cracks down on money laundering

UK notes and coins
Getty Images

Jersey's efforts to crack down on money laundering have been praised by a Council of Europe watchdog, the BBC's Channel Islands team reports. 

Moneyval, the body which examines jurisdictions' compliance with international laws, said Jersey had a "mature and sophisticated regime".

However, it did call for moves including more investigations into money-laundering.

The report also suggested more powers for authorities to be able to confiscate assets from offenders.

It said more rigorous checks could be done on who owned or benefited from particular funds and companies.

Chinese making beer 5,000 years ago

US National Public Radio tweets

Brazil's acting president aims to end recession

BBC World Service

Michel Temer
Getty Images

Brazil's interim president, Michel Temer has unveiled a series of economic measures aimed at cutting public spending and bringing to an end a deep recession, reports BBC World Service 

Mr Temer said the growth in government spending was unsustainable and he would seek a constitutional amendment to limit it. 

The measure, he said would help curb a budget deficit of about 10% of GDP. 

Mr Temer also said he would reform the pension system. 

He's standing in as his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, is facing impeachment over allegations of financial mismanagement.   

VW invests in taxi app Gett

FT's motor industry correspondent tweets

Would Brexit make a holiday £230 dearer?

Reality Check

Downing Street press release quoted: Treasury analysis shows £230 rise for a four person holiday to the EU
BBC

The claim: Leaving the EU would make an average holiday for four people to the EU £230 more expensive in two years. 

Reality Check verdict: It would be reasonable to expect a weaker pound to make foreign holidays more expensive, but it is hard to predict a precise figure.

Read the full Reality Check here.

Eurozone finance ministers discuss £8.4bn loans to Greece

BBC World Service

Euro notes and coins
Getty Images

Eurozone finance ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss further international assistance to Greece, reports BBC World Service.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the Eurozone finance ministers, said full approval of Greece's reform efforts by creditors would pave the way for the release of up to €11bn (£8.4bn) in loans. 

On Sunday the Greek parliament passed the latest package of spending cuts and tax rises, as well as a guarantee of further austerity measures in the event that the budget is not balanced.

Rush on foreign currency ahead of EU referendum

BBC personal finance reporter tweets

No answer...

  The Times retail correspondent Deirdre Hipwell tweets:  

View more on twitter

Dorsey: Make tweeting more 'intuitive'

More on those changes that Twitter's making in an effort to make itself simpler to use and more attractive to new users.  

Photos, videos and other media will no longer count against the current limit of 140 characters per tweet. 

The company's co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey has been talking to the BBC about the thinking behind the move. 

Jack Dorsey
Getty Images

We're focussing all of our energy on making sure that when people tweet it makes sense. And the other thing that was happening is people are tweeting out images, or tweeting out videos; they're tweeting out polls. What was happening is they add an image and then the character count goes down. We removed counting against any time you add an image or media or a poll - and, again, just making it a whole lot more visible and intuitive.

Jack DorseyCo-founder and chief executive

Monsanto rejects Bayer $62bn bid

Monsanto logo
Getty Images

Monsanto has turned down Bayer's $62bn (£43bn) takeover bid as incomplete and "financially inadequate," Reuters reports

German drugs giant Bayer made the offer for Monsanto. A deal would have created the world's biggest agricultural supplier.

However, Monsanto's board says it's open to continued and constructive conversations to assess if a transaction in "best interest of Monsanto share owners can be achieved". 

Shell shareholders approve executive pay packages

Shell logo above a forecourt
Getty Images

Earlier we mentioned a potential revolt over directors' pay at today's Shell AGM.

In the event nearly 86% of the votes cast were in favour of the remuneration report, including chief executive Ben van Beurden's €5.14m, (£3.51m) package. 

However, 14.17% of investors voted against the pay packages - that's up from 3.84% last year.  

Royal London Asset Management, which holds Shell shares worth nearly £1bn, said it was "disappointed" that van Beurden received very close to the maximum possible bonus in a year when the firm's overall financial performance was weak.

Daily Telegraph sheds jobs

BBC industry correspondent tweets

FTSE boosted by Kingfisher and banks

London Stock Exchange sign
Getty Images

The FTSE 100 closed up 1.35%  (or 83 points) at 6,219.26.

Banks did particularly well over the course of the day.  

 "UK banks are once again in demand, with a reported rise in mortgage activity at Nationwide further enhancing the attractiveness of names like RBS," Chris Beauchamp, senior market analyst at IG, explained in a note. 

The day's biggest gainer was Tesco - up nearly 7%. Mining company Fresnillo was the biggest loser - it shed 3.34%.

Screwfix and B&Q owner Kingfisher rose 3.5% after it reported an increase in first-quarter sales to £2.7bn.

Kingfisher said it had seen a "solid" start to the year with like-for-like sales up 3.6%, with Screwfix sales up 16.2%.

In the UK and Ireland sales rose 6.2%, helped by a 16.2% jump at Screwfix.

'If you want to rob a bank go to the Libor market'

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative Ken Clarke welcomes the Criminal Finances Bill.

He laments the UK's poor record of dealing with white collar crime - "If you wish to rob a bank you go to a Libor market. You don't put on balaclava."

He urges the government to tackle "not just tax evasion" but also money laundering - "London is the money laundering capital of the world."

Kenneth Clarke
HOC

Twitter shakes up tweet length rule

Marketing Week magazine tweets

92% of Shell shareholders back EY as auditor

Shell logos on forecourt
Getty Images

More on that story we brought you earlier about Standard Life's opposition to Royal Dutch Shell appointing  EY as its auditor.

Shell has this to say ...

EY was appointed as Shell’s auditor for the financial year 2016 following an extensive competitive tender, in line with industry best practice. Over 92% of shareholders supported the appointment at our 2016 AGM. We have full confidence in EY’s suitability for the role.

ShellSpokesman

Which US tech giants are sitting on the most cash?

Apple logo
Getty Images

Top stat of the day - and one that's so huge it's tricky to get your head around: According to Moody's, Just three companies own 23% of all US corporate cash outside the finance sector.

Which ones are we talking about?

You've probably already guessed - they are Apple, Microsoft & Google. 

Moody's reckons US non-financial corporates' cash pile increased to $1.68 trillion (£1.15 trillion) last year - so just three companies are sitting on an awful lot of money.

EU Referendum Reality Check graphic

A guide to what happens to the money member states contribute to the EU budget.

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Tax figures 'worrying' sign of slowdown in economic growth

£10 note and £1 coins
Getty Images

Government borrowing was higher than analysts' expectations in April after forecasts for company tax payments fell short of hopes.

This morning the Office for National Statistics said borrowing, excluding support for state-owned banks, was £7.2bn in April, and since then experts have been poring over the figures. 

Slower than expected growth in tax revenue is a worrying indicator of a slowdown in GDP growth, which hits both corporate and household income. The much-vaunted UK recovery always looked rather fragile because of its reliance on debt-fuelled spending. Fears of higher interest rates, especially if Brexit occurs, will have made this worse. It is no surprise that the UK government is struggling to meet its fiscal targets.

Professor Ben KnightWarwick Business School, Economic Modelling and Forecasting Group

Wall Street up on interest rate speculation

Wall Street sign with US flags behind
Getty Images

Wall Street opened higher on Tuesday, clawing back some of Monday's losses

Banks were some of the biggest gainers as investors speculated on the possibility of a June interest rate hike. 

Minutes of the Federal Reserve's April meeting suggested a June rate hike had not been ruled out, surprising investors who had thought the Fed would stand pat until the end of the year.

A short while ago the Dow Jones was up 1.06% at 17,677.90.

The Nasdaq was 1.32% higher at 4,828.33

And the S&P 500 was 1.03% up at 2,069.18 

Standard Life votes against Shell's auditor choice

Flag with Royal Dutch Shell logo
AP

Royal Dutch Shell shareholder Standard Life has voted against a resolution at the oil company's AGM today to appoint EY as auditors.

In a statement Standard Life said it didn't believe that the best interests of its clients were served by the appointment of EY and the proposed audit partner. 

This row goes back to last year's AGM when Shell said it had appointed EY as the company’s external auditor following a tender process.

At that meeting Standard Life questioned the appointment because EY was also auditor to BG Group. The investor thought there might be a conflict of interest because Shell was at that time trying to take over BG. 

Earlier this year, of course, Shell did take over BG Group. 

Standard Life - which invests in both companies - said it subsequently became clear that that the audit partner for BG Group was to become the new lead audit partner for the Shell audit.

"Given the size and importance of the transaction, we wished to ensure that the highest ethical standards and judgments were applied," it said in its statement.

"We believe that Shell’s appointment of the audit partner at EY who was responsible for the BG Group audit, compounds the perception of conflicts of interest that we highlighted at Shell’s 2015 AGM.

"It is our view that the objectivity of Shell’s proposed auditor could indeed be impaired by their prior connection with BG."

Committee to question minister on pregnancy and maternity discrimination

Women and Equalities Committee

Select Committee

Parliament

From 2:30pm, the Women and Equalities Committee will hear evidence on pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

The committee is holding an inquiry into the issue after research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission that showed 11% of pregnant women or new mothers had involuntarily left a job, that 20% had experienced harassment or negative comments, and that 10% had been discouraged from attending antenatal appointments during working hours.

First the committee will hear from Caroline Waters and Sue Coe of the EHRC and at around 3:30pm they will hear from Business, Innovation and Skills minister Nick Boles.

A pregnant woman
PA

MPs to hold inquiry into UK robotics industry

A parliamentary committee is holding an inquiry into robotics and artificial intelligence.
The Commons Science and Technology Committee is conducting an inquiry into the UK robotics industry to consider the social, legal and ethical issues raised by developments in the field.

Jo Coburn takes a look at the kind of thing they are talking about with committee witness Dr Rob Buckingham and playwright Bonnie Greer.

Science body boss calls for review of GM ban

BBC business editor tweets

Swiss authorities order bank closure

BBC World Service

The financial authorities in Switzerland have ordered the closure of a bank linked to the alleged embezzlement of $4bn from a Malaysian state investment fund, BBC World Service reports,

A criminal investigation has been opened against the private BSI bank which is suspected of failing to prevent crimes. Its chief executive has resigned.

The authorities in Singapore have ordered the closure of the bank's branch there for suspected money-laundering. 

The Prime Minister of Malaysia has been accused of diverting billions of dollars from the one-M-D-B fund to his personal bank accounts, though an inquiry by the Malaysian authorities has absolved him. 

Did Treasury hide Brexit scenario

Buzzfeed political reporter tweets

Kingfisher sales impress analysts

DIY chain's shares up 3% on trading statement

B&Q store
Kingfisher

The home improvement market is growing and buoyant sales at Screwfix reflect an increasing trend to call a man in rather than DIY. We are seeing the same in France with the consumer-facing business Castorama going backwards while trade-focused Brico Depot, put in a decent performance. Against the back drop of store closures, like-for-like sales at B&Q grew at a decent pace. The group is just a few months into the five-year One Kingfisher efficiency programme, with benefits promised for the years ahead. It’s too early to see the competitive impact of the sale of Homebase to Wesfarmers earlier this year, but this is set to be an increasing challenge. Kingfisher are nicely placed to benefit from a recovery in France and wider Europe, if and when it happens.”

George SalmonEquity analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown

Google offices in Paris raided - reports

French investigators have raided Google's Paris HQ as part of a probe over tax payments, Reuters is reporting. "A raid is underway at Google," a source told the news agency, confirming a report in French daily Le Parisien. About 100 investigators are part of the raid, Le Parisien wrote. 

Easyjet: 'Highly likely' air fares would rise after Brexit

Carolyn McCall, CEO of Easyjet, on the impact of airline fares if the UK leaves the EU.

Brexit would have limited impact on Total, oil chief says

Total building
AFP

The chief executive of oil and gas giant Total says that if Britain voted to leave the European Union on 23 June it would have limited impact on the company's business, Reuters reports.

"Being the chairman of a global company, we would like to have fewer borders," Patrick Pouyanne says, answering questions at the energy company's annual shareholders' meeting in Paris.

"I don't want to step into the UK debate... the impact for us in terms of business, to be honest, would be relatively limited," he adds.  

Carney on future direction of interest rates

Bank of England governor at Treasury Committee

Mark Carney says rate-setters at the Monetary Policy Committee expect interest rates to be higher three years from now than they are at present.

Speaking personally, he adds, the next move for interest rates was likely to be up rather than down if Britain voted to stay in the EU. 

But he says it was much less clear whether or not the Bank would have to tighten monetary policy in the event of a Brexit vote, although it would "reduce the probability" of a rate rise.

Alstom proposes double-decker trains

Proposed HS2 trains
Alstom

Alstom is proposing to bring back double-decker trains along the HS2 rail line. The company says today in its bid to supply HS2 trains that it would boost capacity on the line. 

Here's what the trains would look like at the Birmingham terminal - at least, according to an artist's impression.  

Alstom is the maker of France’s high-speed TGV train, which has been in service in France for over 25 years.

Business breakfast

Carney at Treasury Committee

Mortgage rates after Brexit vote?

Carney at Treasury Committee

Mark Carney "The combination of the effects on demand and supply in the exchange rate... could result in either a lower or a higher bank rate. What is more likely, where I'm on surer ground, is there's likely to be a risk premium on risky assets in UK sterling for a period of time, and so even in the case of a potentially lower bank rate the overall mortgage rate could be higher. It is not unreasonable to expect term premiums on UK assets to increase from the relatively low level and those are more relevant for mortgage rates." 

What impact would 'Brexit' have on travel and tourism?

BBC Breakfast

Could travel become more expensive if the UK leaves the EU?

Europe is the top destination for Brits when it comes to holidays and business travel. So BBC Breakfast went to Edinburgh airport to look at what impact EU membership has on travel and tourism.