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Summary

  1. EDF board approves Hinkley nuclear plant project
  2. Ford reports lower quarterly profit
  3. FTSE 100 slips 0.3% to 6,732 points
  4. Oracle agrees to buy NetSuite in $9.3bn deal
  5. Centrica profits fall as customers depart
  6. Lloyds Banking Group speeds up job cuts and branch closures
  7. Thomas Cook and Countrywide warn on profits
  8. BT and Sky report higher profits

Live Reporting

By Ben Morris

All times stated are UK

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Goodnight from London

That's it from the Business Live page. We'll be back tomorrow from 06:00.

Dow and S&P 500 flat; Nasdaq higher

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed higher towards the close, but just failed to break even.

It closed a little lower at 18,456.

Ford ended 8% lower.

The S&P climbed into positive territory, but only just ending 3 points higher at 2,170.

And the Nasdaq Composite climbed 15 points to 5,154.

Amazon sales surge 31% in second quarter

Amazon warehouse
Getty Images

Amazon reported a second quarter profit of $1.93bn. Sales were up 31% to $30.4bn.

Its AWS unit which supplies software and computing services over the internet (also know as cloud computing) continues to be a star performer.

AWS had sales of $2.89bn in the second quarter, up from $1.82bn in the same quarter of last year.

Google's owner reports strong profits

Alphabet, the owner of Google, has reported second quarter results.

Net income was $4.88bn, up from $3.93bn in the same quarter of last year.

Sales rose 21% to $21.5bn.

Google logo
Getty Images

Our terrific second quarter results, with 21% revenue growth year on year... reflect the successful investments we've made over many years in rapidly expanding areas such as mobile and video. We continue to invest responsibly in support of our many compelling opportunities"

Ruth PoratAlphabet chief financial officer

Watch the Bank of Japan on Friday

Bank of Japan governor, Haruhiko Kuroda
AP

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) will be under particular scrutiny on Friday. It is due to announce the results of its latest policy meeting.

Bank of Japan Governor, Haruhiko Kuroda holds a news conference at 07:30 BST.

Economists are expecting him to announce extra stimulus for the stagnant Japanese economy. 

The question is: how much?

"It's like trying to read Kuroda's mind - to be honest, we can't say we're very confident [about our predictions] and I think other analysts are the same," said BNP Paribas economist, Hiroshi Shiraishi.

"Unless the BoJ does something really big, it can't go above the already high expectations. But if it does do something really big, there's a chance the side-effects and future costs will be really big." 

Hinkley Point: Boost for Scottish industry

BBC Scotland business and economics editor

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Hinkley: It's not quite signed-off

John Moylan

BBC industry & employment correspondent

Following the EDF board decision to invest in a new nuclear plant in Somerset, the government and EDF were expected to sign a series of documents including the key 35 year contract that guarantees EDF a “strike price” for every unit of electricity the plant will generate.

The Department for Business now says the government will merely make a decision about signing that document in early autumn.

This from Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark:

The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the Government believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix. “The Government will now consider carefully all the component parts of this project and make its decision in the early autumn.”

Greg ClarkBusiness and Energy Secretary

Video: Experts discuss the Hinkley project

Tom Greatrex from the Nuclear Industry Association and Professor Paul Ekins from University College London discuss the pros and cons of the scheme.  

Hinkley: Experts discuss the case for and against

EDF board voted 10 - 7 in favour of Hinkley

The vote in favour of the Hinkley Project was pretty close among members of the EDF board.

Ten board members voted for the project, but seven voted against.

'20th century solution for a 21st century problem'

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, which lobbies for renewable energy, is less excited about the approval of Hinkley's new reactors:

“What’s really striking about Hinkley is that EDF and the French government aren’t just betting the farm on this project, they’re effectively betting the entire hillside, the river at the bottom and the next few hillsides as well.

“With similar reactors in France and Finland seriously over time and over budget, France needs a Hinkley success if it’s to persuade anyone in the West that it’s still a serious player in the global nuclear industry.

“So it’s a risk worth taking for France; but is it for Britain? In a world moving towards cheaper, flexible, decentralised power systems, investing in eye-wateringly expensive always-on ‘baseload’ power plants increasingly looks like a 20th century solution for a 21st century problem.”

Hinkley demonstrates UK 'open for business'

Unsurprisingly the Nuclear Industry Association has welcomed EDF's decision. Its chief executive Tom Greatrex said:

"This is an important moment for the UK nuclear sector. Over the last decade, the case has been demonstrated for nuclear power as part of a balanced, reliable, secure and low carbon electricity system of the future. 

"We are now entering an important new phase, creating jobs, security and skilled workers for the UK supply chain.

"This will be the first new nuclear power station to be built in a generation and the first to be built without direct state funding.

"This major infrastructure project will give a vital boost to UK industry, our manufacturing supply chain and construction industry - demonstrating that even with the prospect of leaving the EU, the country is open for business."

EDF to 'mobilise' all its engineering skills

This from an EDF statement

EDF building
Reuters

"The two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point will strengthen EDF's presence in Britain, a country where its subsidiary EDF Energy already operates 15 nuclear reactors and is the largest electricity supplier by volume.

"HPC [Hinkley Point C] will also enable the Group to mobilise all its significant nuclear engineering skills following the final investment decision.

"The first concrete of reactor 1 of HPC, scheduled for mid-2019, will coincide with perfect continuity with the start-up of the EPR at Flamanville, scheduled for the end of 2018."

EDF confirms Hinkley Point to go ahead

French energy giant confirms it has given the go-ahead for the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant development in the UK.

More Scottish rail strikes on the way

BBC Scotland Business Editor Douglas Fraser tweets...

France selects winning airport bidders

A plane lands at Nice Airport
AFP

Continuing with EDF-related business news from France....

The economy ministry has chosen the winning bidders for the sale of 60% stakes in the airports of Nice Cote d'Azur and Lyon-Saint-Expury. 

Italy's Atlantia in cooperation with EDF's investment arm EDF Invest was chosen for Nice airport, and a consortium of Vinci, state bank Caisse des Depots et Consignations and Credit Agricole's insurance arm Predica was picked for Lyon. 

The government, looking to raise cash to help meet budget deficit targets, expects proceeds of €1.22bn (£1.03bn) for Nice and €535m for Lyon. 

EDF board 'approves' Hinkley Point nuclear plans

Artist's impression of Hinkley Point C building proposals
PA

Sources in France are saying that the board of state-controlled energy giant EDF has given the go-ahead for its project to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, UK.

Board member Gerard Magnin, an advocate of renewable energy, had resigned in protest over EDF's strategy ahead of the meeting.

It is understood the remaining 17 board members voted 10 to 7 in favour of the plans.

Hinkley Point would be the first new nuclear plant to be built in the UK in 20 years.   

Video: Ford has 'no plans' to shut plants

  Ford's chief financial officer Bob Shanks says there are "no plans" to close plants.  

Ford says there are 'no plans' to close plants

L'Oreal says French market 'difficult'

L'Oreal images
L'Oreal

The French market for cosmetics "remains difficult" according to L'Oreal.

The company reported second quarter like-for-like sales of €6.34bn, a 4.3% increase compared with 2015.

How long has the 747 been going?

Boeing 747 September 1968
Getty Images

The first Boeing 747 was rolled-out on 30 September 1968.

Pan Am was the first airline to operate the Jumbo Jet, with its first flight from New York to London.

Since then the company has delivered 1,522 of the 747 aircraft in its various forms.

Boeing 'could decide to end' production of 747

Boeing says there has been "lower-than-expected" demand for large commercial aircraft. The company is cutting its production rate from 1 a month, to half a 747 per month.

If we are unable to obtain sufficient orders and/or market, production and other risks cannot be mitigated, we could record additional losses that may be material, and it is reasonably possible that we could decide to end production of the 747.

Boeing regulatory filing

Boeing may halt 747 production

The BBC's North America Business Correspondent, Michelle Fleury tweets:

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Ford denies plant plant closure plan

Ford is denying a report in the Financial Times that it is considering closing plants in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

However the company has told the BBC it is looking at everything, as it expects a $1bn hit to its performance due to the falling value of sterling and expected weakness in the UK car market.

Ford has two plants in the UK - at Bridgend and Dagenham.

Market movers: Rolls-Royce, Lloyds, Just Eat

Rolls-Royce
AFP

The FTSE 100 closed 0.4% lower at 6,721, hurt by a 4% fall in shares in Lloyds Banking Group. Standard and Chartered fell almost 3.6%.

The real eye-catcher was Rolls-Royce, shares jumped 13%, after the chief executive announced a big round of cost cuts.

An early rally for the FTSE 250 dwindled and it closed little changed.

Just Eat shares soared 7.6%, to an all-time high after it upgraded its profit forecast for the year. The company, expects to make up to £108m.

Sports Direct shares jumped 11% after it announced a share buyback.

Qatar to raise British Airways stake - report

British Airways planes
PA

Qatar Airways will raise its stake in British Airways owner IAG, adding to its holding after the shares plunged in the wake of the Brexit vote, Bloomberg reports.

The Gulf airline already holds 15% of IAG - making it the biggest shareholder - and is reported to be increasing that to 20%.

It would be a u-turn for Qatar's state-owned carrier, which only two weeks ago at Farnborough Airshow ruled out increasing its stake.

IAG shares have fallen more than 20% since the referendum result.

IMF criticised over bailouts

BBC business presenter Victoria Fritz tweets:

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Read more here.

How to communicate securely...

Comedy writer Tim Duffy tweets:

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BT 'has to be careful' in the TV business

Real Madrid"s Cristiano Ronaldo kisses the trophy after the Champions League final soccer match
AP

This interesting analysis comes from Neil Wilson, markets analyst, at ETX Capital:

"BT has carved out a very strong niche in sports, ending Sky’s dominance. EE is vital here as it allows BT to become a genuine quad-play provider and offer premium content via mobile.

"But sport doesn’t come cheap – the Champions League is attracting customers but if past experience is anything to go on, the potential for cost escalation is high.

"BT will have to keep a firm grip on costs – sports rights are very susceptible to inflation. BT’s £1bn for 48 Premier League games a season looks decent value against Sky’s £4.2bn splurge for 126 matches a year, but neither is cheap.

"BT has to be careful: it may be able to take on Sky – another traditional pay-TV provider - but the entire model is being upended by the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Over-the-top providers threaten both, especially if they choose to muscle in on the sports market."

Ford profits fall on weakness in the North America

Ford logo
Getty Images

Ford shares have tumbled more than 9%.

The carmaker reported a 9% fall in net income to $1.97bn, in the second quarter.

Sales in North American were flat compared to the same quarter in 2015 and it recorded a loss in Asia.

Ford also blamed the sluggish performance on weak auction values for its lease cars in the US.

The news from Europe was more encouraging, where sales rose 11% and profits almost tripled to $467m.

Lloyds clarification

Lloyds has confirmed that the decision to make further cuts to jobs and branches was taken before the EU referendum on 23 June.

Google 'wants to make more money from maps'

Google
Reuters

Google is going to try to make more money out of its mapping services, says senior research analyst, Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray.

He points out that Google's maps attract more than a billion monthly users, which puts it in an "elite camp" of five web services that attract that kind of traffic.

Mr Munster was speaking on Bloomberg TV.

Google's owner, Alphabet reports results after the close of trading on Wall Street on Thursday.

US shares head lower; Ford hit; Facebook surges

After a record breaking run over the last few weeks, US shares have started the session with losses.

A short while ago the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.3%, the S&P 500 was also down 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.2%.

Shares in Ford slumped more than 7% after reporting disappointing results.

Facebook shares are 2.3% higher, after it reported better than expected results late on Wednesday.

Investors are looking forward to results from Amazon and Google-owner, Alphabet later.

New York Times has a tough quarter

New York Times office
Getty Images

The New York Times reported a 14.1% decline in advertising from its print operations in the second quarter compared to the same quarter in the previous year.

Digital advertising revenue also fell, down 6.8%, as sales of tradition website display advertising fell.

Overall the company reported a net loss of $492m in the second quarter. Profits were hit by the costs of reorganising its international print operations and charges related to its employee pension plan.

We expect that situation to improve in the second half of the year; in fact, we are already seeing a marked turnaround in July. We expect to deliver strong revenue growth from both digital advertising and our digital consumer business in Q3.

Mark ThompsonChief Executive, New York Times

EDF board member quits before Hinkley vote

An EDF board member has resigned before a vote that is expected to approve the construction of the Hinkley Point nuclear plant in the UK.

Gerard Magnin, who is a specialist in the field of alternative energy, said the Hinkley project was "very risky".

Up in the cloud

Plane with Oracle logo
Getty Images

Software giant Oracle is targeting the fast-growing world of cloud computing. 

It has agreed to buy NetSuite, a pioneer of the cloud computing revolution, in a deal valued at about $9.3bn.  

Like rivals Microsoft, Oracle has focused on moving its business to the cloud-based model, essentially providing services remotely rather than selling installed software. 

NetSuite created the first company dedicated to providing business applications over the internet.

Culture shock

Protesters throw molasses that look like oil
Getty Images

BP has agreed to renew sponsorship deals with the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery and several other British cultural institutions.

The £7.5m deal also comes after BP reported a 44% fall in profit earlier this week.    

It won't include the Tate, though. The art gallery group has been repeatedly targeted by environmental campaigners for its tie-up with the oil giant. As well as the "oil spill" protest above (it was actually molasses), there was a "mass exorcism" in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.    

On the new five-year tie-up, BP’s UK head Peter Mather said, “Our industry is going through a period of rebalancing, but our commitment to the UK and to our partners is for the long-term.”   

Pension pots unlocked

More than 200,000 people have taken advantage of new pension freedoms since they were introduced last year, new figures show. 

The Treasury said 232,000 people have benefited from flexible access to their pension pots following the Government's reforms. In the second quarter of 2016 the number peaked at 159,000; however, this was partly down to the introduction of compulsory reporting in the industry in April. 

The new freedoms give people aged 55 and over a wider range of choices over how they use their pension pot, rather than being required to buy a retirement income called an annuity. 

The government is planning to extend the freedoms further from April 2017, giving millions more people the ability to sell income from their annuities, subject to agreement from their provider. 

Bristol shoots

Bristol Bullet
PA

Luxury British car maker Bristol Cars has its first new model in more than a decade. The Bristol Bullet is a handmade two-seater built to celebrate the founding of the company 70 years ago. 

The "sublime" sports car will cost less than £250,000, have a top speed of 155mph and can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds courtesy of a V8 Hercules engine made by BMW. 

A touch screen is embedded in the dashboard and there is even a button to provide direct access to the manufacturer's only showroom, in Kensington, west London. It's the first new model from Bristol since its two-seater Fighter in 2004. 

Ford stalls

Ford logos on an assembly line
Reuters

Ford says the US car market is starting to plateau after it went through an unprecedented growth streak. Cheap finance and low fuel costs had helped to power the buying frenzy.

In the last three months, Ford sold 815,000 vehicles in the US - a slight fall on a year ago. 

Ford responded to the slowdown with increased incentive spending, which helped it match rivals' pricing but hurt profits. 

Pretax profits from all its markets fell 9% to $3bn.