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Summary

  1. FTSE 100 closes above 6,900 for first time in 14 months
  2. Oil prices jump with Brent above $46 a barrel
  3. TUI: no Brexit travel slowdown
  4. BT's 'out of second chances' on broadband: former minister
  5. Housing market "took a breather" in July: Rics

Live Reporting

By Joe Miller

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night!

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

Pink Un arrives

A quick look at the front page of tomorrow's Financial Times:

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Brand Bradley

Sir Bradley Wiggins is about to raise the heat in Rio, as he takes off in the team pursuit event at the Velodrome.

While he whizzes around, take some time to read about how the cyclist, who became the first British man to win the Tour de France and Olympic gold in the same year, capitalised on "Wiggomania" to build a brand, very much on his own terms.

Sir Bradley leads Team GB team pursuit
Getty Images

BreakingNew highs for Wall Street

New York markets hit new highs on Thursday following strong gains in petroleum-linked shares and retailers. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.6% at 18,612 points, the S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 2,185, while the Nasdaq also gained 0.5% to 5,228 points. 

Twitter tosh

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Has someone been having some fun at Twitter's expense? The social media company has denied online rumours that it will be closing next year. 

"There is absolutely no truth to the claims whatsoever," a Twitter spokesman tells Reuters.

The hashtag #SaveTwitter has been trending and been mentioned in more than 100,000 tweets. It remains unclear how the rumour began, although some tweets said it originated from a user who complained about online bullying and Twitter's poor handling of such abuses. 

Our colleagues at BBC Trending have been taking a closer look.

Twitter shares are up 3.5% in New York, by the way.

Why Sony bought Ministry

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Rita Ora
Getty Images
Rita Ora

Earlier this week Sony Music bought the Ministry of Sound record label, which has been responsible for huge hit singles from the likes of DJ Fresh with Rita Ora (Hot Right Now) and Duke Dumont with (Need You) 100% and London Grammar's wildly successful debut album If You Wait.

Industry blog Music Business Worldwide has taken a look at the deal and explains why the rise of streaming is making it even harder for independent labels such as Ministry to survive.

Cool high?

Marijuana plant
Getty Images

Growing marijuana has always been good business, albeit of the illicit variety. But a company that wants to help those in the US states grow the green plant in their kitchen legally has raised a fair amount of cash.

Techcrunch reports that start-up Leaf has bagged $2m of, ahem, seed funding, after unveiling a fridge-like automated device that can be controlled by an app on your phone.

Roll up...

Oil still higher

The two main oil prices - Brent crude and West Texas crude, are both up 4.2% after the Saudi Arabian energy minister's statement. But Brent has come down slightly from its earlier high, trading at $45.90 a barrel.

Jim Ritterbusch, president of Chicago-based energy advisory Ritterbusch & Associates, comments: 

The Saudis benefit from talking this market up ... they buy a little time and give the market a chance to acquire better balance. If at the end of the day the Saudis don't go along with an agreement to cut production, the market will go right down, just like last time."

Deliveroo protest

Workers for the British online food delivery company Deliveroo are protesting a change to the way they are paid.

Previously, the Guardian reports, riders were paid £7 per hour, plus £1 per delivery. The firm now wants to move to £3.75 per delivery, and no hourly pay.

Deliveroo says its it designed the new pay scheme to "enhance flexibility, allowing riders to work whenever they want by logging on and off as desired".

Olympics, TM

rule40 home page
rule40.com

Perhaps no organisation is more protective of its branding and sponsorship model than the Olympics. 

Only a handful of brands, known as official sponsors, are allowed to put out ads that refer to the sporting spectacle. Even the smallest of infringements can incur the ire of the International Olympic Committee, such as an athlete mentioning words like “medal”, “gold” “summer” or “games" in a casual Instagram post or tweet, while wearing a non-Olympic brand.

As this Yahoo story explains, the restrictions are laid down in the IOC's "Rule 40", which has been the subject of much contention over the years, and led to a campaign for it to be axed and updated (see picture).

'Use your imagination?'

Oil trader Lee Saks wonders what the Saudi energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, meant when he said the Kingdom was ready to take "any possible action" to stabilise the market.

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'Work normally'

More on the suspension of the strike by North Sea oil workers.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union says employers Wood Group have agreed to "stop the implementation of the current proposals" on pay and conditions.

He added: "As a result of this welcome development your National Executive Committee has decided to suspend all industrial action in this dispute to allow these discussions to take place. Therefore members must work normally.

"Talks will begin next week which we hope will bring about a satisfactory resolution and I will keep members informed as matters progress."

Coffiest?

Coffiest
Soylent

Soylent, the company known for its meal replacement beverage, has launched a novel new product - coffee and breakfast in a few gulps. "Each great-tasting bottle contains 400 calories of complete plant-based nutrition and the same caffeine as a strong cup of coffee," the firm says. Ingredients include soy protein, algal oil and l-theanine. Yum.

Beam me up, Satya

Beam screenshot
Beam

Microsoft has announced that it's buying Beam, a live-streaming service for the gaming community. For the uninitiated, Microsoft's press release provides a handy explanation of what Beam actually does:

Using “Minecraft” as one example, with Beam you don’t just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them. You can give them new challenges and make real-time choices that affect their game-play, from tool selection to quests to movement; all through simple visual controls. In the highly anticipated “Sea of Thieves,” which is all about emergent adventures in a shared world, you can watch the drama play out between different crews from multiple player perspectives.  

Well there you have it. We aren't told how much Satya Nadella's Microsoft paid for the service, but presumably it's less than the $26bn it paid for LinkedIn a couple of months ago.

'Tone, not policy'

Energy expert Joe McMonigle is downplaying Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih's comments on Saudi oil policy. He points to the current rate of oil production by the kingdom - more than 10 million barrels a day.

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Oil above $46

Brent crude price
BBC

The price of oil is continuing to rise, after the Saudi energy minister said the Kingdom was ready to take "any possible action" to stabilise the market.

Brent crude is now trading almost 5% higher at $46.10 a barrel. Quite a jump, as our graph above illustrates. 

BreakingNorth Sea strike off

Industrial action by North Sea workers in a dispute over pay has been suspended to allow fresh talks, the RMT union said. 

FTSE ends above 6,900

The FTSE100 has had a strong day, closing 0.7% higher at 6,914.7 points. It's the first time the London blue-chip index has ended above 6,900 for more than 14 months.

The market was pushed higher after tour operator TUI said there had been no slowdown in UK bookings as a result of the EU referendum result. 

Shares rose nearly 3% to £10.41 as Europe's biggest tour operator said UK revenue and bookings were up 6% in the third quarter.

EU to investigate Dow and DuPont

The European Union's competition regulator has launched an investigation into the planned merger between the American companies Dow Chemical and DuPont, which would create the world's biggest crop protection and seeds company. 

The EU's anti-trust watchdog will look into how the $130bn merger could reduce competition in supplies of seeds and crop protection. It's worried that it could affect the livelihoods of farmers who depend on access to seeds and crop protection at competitive prices. The regulator is also concerned about a possible reduction of innovation in crop protection.

Alibaba revenues soar

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has released stonking quarterly revenue figures - up 59% for the three months to end of June. That's the strongest growth for the company since it listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. But net profits fell 77% to $1bn. 

"Despite its success at home, Alibaba has struggled to gain traction in already established markets like the US," said Hakon Helgesen, an analyst at the research firm Conlumino.

'Any possible action'

Reuters has more on Mr Falih's statement on the oil market. 

"We are going to have a ministerial meeting of IEF [International Energy Forum] in Algeria next month, and there is an opportunity for OPEC and major exporting non-OPEC ministers to meet and discuss the market situation, including any possible action that may be required to stabilise the market," the Saudi minister said.

"To reverse the declines in investment and output, oil prices have to go up from the current levels," he added.   

Oil above $45 a barrel

Oil
Reuters

Oil has perked up today, with Brent crude currently trading 3.5% higher, at $45.54 a barrel.

This is partly because of comments made by Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid Al Falih.

The FT reports that his ministry has said it "could participate in coordinated action" to help balance the oil market, in an email accidentally sent to journalists earlier.

Ministers of oil producing countries will meet informally in September in Algiers.

'Longest losing streak since 1984'

Simon Falush

Business reporter

The pound reached its lowest against the euro since the EU referendum, and this year it’s what the currency traders call a dog. The euro has soared by 17% so far this year, making it an expensive summer for British holidaymakers on the continent.

The pound has suffered from uncertainty about the future of the UK economy since Britain voted to leave the EU in June’s referendum.

Factors like a faltering housing market and lower manufacturing and services PMI data have convinced many investors that they would be better off in different currencies. Against a basket of other currencies, the pound is at its lowest since 2009, according to Reuters data.

Sterling has fallen 12% this year against the dollar, the biggest such fall since 2008 at the peak of the financial crisis when it slumped 26%.

Against the greenback it has fallen for five quarters in a row. That’s the longest losing streak since 1984.

Sterling slump

BBC Scotland's business editor has some bad news for Brits with holiday plans:

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Arianna's legacy

The Wall Street Journal's financial editor tweets:   

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'Shock’, ‘horror’ and even devastation

The respected National Institute for Economic and Social Research says employers in three sectors employing large numbers of EU migrants – hospitality, food and drink, and construction – reveal they were unprepared for the Leave result and believe it is bad for business. 

The in-depth study reveals employers were surprised by June’s referendum result and some expressed strong feelings including ‘shock’, ‘horror’ and even devastation. 

Employers are worried about recruitment once free movement ends, are concerned for the wellbeing of their EU workers who have been left in the dark about their future and they want a say in future immigration policy.

The company's say their workers feel unwelcome and some say they have even had hostile comments from customers.

Building
PA

Crackdown on sneaky ads

The BBC's technology correspondent tweets:

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Another win for #TeamGB?

Economist Frederik Ducrozet highlights a flattering statistic for the UK...

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Cineworld profits dive

The BFG
Reuters

Profits at Cineworld fell in the first half of the year. Profits fell 34.6% to £30.6m partly due to currency movements. Its films, including The Jungle Book, Deadpool and Captain America: Civil War helped revenue rise 8.4% to £356.7m. 

Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: "The results for the first half of the year are in line with our expectations. We have achieved growth in admissions, box office revenue, and retail sales, with a particularly strong performance in our Rest of the World segment, achieving double digit growth in admissions."

Forthcoming films include The BFG, Star Trek Beyond and Bridget Jones's Baby.

Room service for Trump?

A reporter for the Washington Post tweets:

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FTSE dragged down by ex-dividend shares

London's FTSE 100 is down about 17 points, or 0.25%, after a number of constituent companies went ex-dividend. Among them are Berkeley Group, down by more than 5%, BT, down almost 4%, and Direct Line, down almost 5%.

Soft drink bottler Coca-Cola HBC is leading the FTSE, up more than 7%, after results today showed it bottled more than a billion cases in the last six months - in 28 countries - giving it sales of €3bn. 

Britain's 'youngest bank'

Girl with phone
Mondo

The app-based start-up Mondo is now officially a bank, having been granted a license by UK regulators.

The company claims to be the youngest-ever to receive an official license, just 18th months after it was formed by Tom Blomfield, who is now also the youngest banking chief executive, at the gallingly youthful age of 31.

US weekly unemployment

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 266,000 for the week ended Aug. 6, the Labor Department said on Thursday. 

Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.

Reuters points out that claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong labour market, for 75 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1973. 

Hiring sign
Reuters

Oceans full of plastic

BBC World Service programme Business Daily looks at the rising tide of plastic clogging up our oceans. Millions of tons of plastic waste are finding their way into the sea every year. The programme hears from yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur, who describes the crisis of plastic pollution affecting the world's oceans. What is to be done? 

Ellen MacArthur describes the crisis of plastic pollution affecting the world's oceans.

Sterling near post-referendum low

Personal finance correspondent Simon Gompertz tweets...

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The pound has drifted down since last Thursday’s move from the Bank of England to cut interest rates. The sterling/euro exchange rate is currently holding just above the post-referendum low of €1.1601 from early July.

Huffington to run burnout charity

Arianna Huffington
Getty Images

Arianna Huffington explains she is leaving Huffington Post, and its owners AOL, to run Thrive Global, a charity aimed at tackling stress. 

Fresh from a successful funding drive, the charity provides support for people suffering from exhaustion and burnout.

"When I decided to create Thrive Global, I thought it would be possible to build a startup and continue as editor-­in­-chief of the Huffington Post," she said

"Today, it’s clear that was an illusion. As Thrive Global moved from an idea to a reality, with investors, staff, and offices, it became clear to me that I simply couldn’t do justice to both companies." 

The charity estimates stress costs businesses hundreds of billions of dollars per year worldwide, and $300bn in the US alone.  

BreakingArianna Huffington to step down

Co-founder of the Huffington Post announces she is stepping down 11 years after starting the news website...

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Housebuilders and insurers drag on FTSE

The FTSE 100 is still down. It's trading about 0.2% lower at 6,852 points, with housing and insurance stocks the worst hit.

Insurer Old Mutual is one of the biggest losers - down 5% - as falling government yields create problems for the returns needed for the insurance business model, according to Jasper Lawler, a market analyst at CMC Markets.

"A weak property market and a widening pensions funding gap have hit homebuilder and financial shares," he added.

Property stocks British Land, Land Securities, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon are all down by more than 2%.

Alibaba results

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba saw quarterly revenues leap 59% compared with a year ago. Revenue for the company, which closely tracks China's consumer behaviour, was 32.15bn yuan ($4.83bn) in the June quarter.

In case you were thinking "what?", here's a flowchart thingy of what the giant corporation - founded by flamboyant entrepreneur Jack Ma - is all about. 

Alibaba flowchart
Alibaba

Gold demand nears record

Gold ingots
Science Photo Library

Demand for gold has soared in recent months, for the usual reasons of economic uncertainty. More than 1,000 tonnes were bought by investors in the three months to June, up 15% on the same period last year. 

The World Gold Council says the US election, the economic uncertainty in the wake of the Brexit vote and worries about Italy's troubled banking sector are weighing on the minds of investors. Negative to flat interest rates are also driving investors into the arms of the gold bars.