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Summary

  1. SpaceX rocket explodes at launch site in Florida
  2. Zuckerberg "disappointed" by Facebook satellite destruction
  3. Pound rises after UK manufacturing rebounds sharply in August
  4. Apple boss Tim Cook goes on the attack over $13bn tax ruling
  5. Wimpy owner buys Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan and Dan Macadam

All times stated are UK

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That's all for another day of Business Live - thanks for reading. We'll be back bright and early at 06:00 tomorrow - do join us then.

Wall Street ends up ahead of jobs data

US stocks capped a changeable day with the Dow Jones ending the trading session higher.

The index closed up 16.91 points at 18,417 after seeing off market discomfort at economic data which showed manufacturing activity shrank in August - the first contraction since February. 

Investors are looking towards Friday when figures are expected to show that US employers added 180,000 jobs in August. Strong growth could nudge the US Federal Reserve towards a rate rise.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq finished 13.9 points ahead at 5,227 despite major falls by the likes of Tesla, the electric car maker whose co-founder and major shareholder, Elon Musk, was dealing with the aftermath of the SpaceX rocket explosion.  

The S&P 500 closed flat at 2,170.

Oil slides on fading Opec hopes

An oil pumpback in Sweetwater, Texas
Getty Images

The price of oil continued to slide on Thursday.

Brent crude shrank by more than 3% to $45.45, capping a week of falls for the black stuff. 

Until recently, the price had been buoyed by hopes that Opec, the cartel of major oil producers, may agree to freeze output at an informal meeting later this month at the International Energy Forum in Algeria.

However, optimism over a deal appears to be fading as stockpiles in the US are growing with data revealing that the country is grappling with a 2.3 million barrel stockpile. 

"Talk is cheap," according to Harry Tchilinguirian, global head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas, who told Reuters: "Reality will set in, and the market will realize that the agendas of various OPEC producers are not aligned."

Coffee cups

The Liberal Democrats call for the introduction of a 5p charge on disposable coffee cups, claiming it could cut their use by two billion per year.

Read more

US Air Force commiserates over SpaceX explosion

The Space and Missile Systems Center feels Elon Musk's pain.

Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves of the center, which is part of the Air Force Space Command of the US Air Force, had this to say: 

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A special gift for the Pope

Pope Francis meets Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg
EPA

Speaking of Facebook and Aquila, that happens to be the name of the model of a drone that Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, presented to Pope Francis on Monday.

You read that right - they gave the Pope a model drone.

However, it does have a charitable purpose since it was developed under the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to "beam internet connectivity to places that don't have it".

Pope Francis is on Twitter but not on Facebook. 

Surely it is only a matter of time.

SpaceX headache

Jonathan Amos

Science correspondent, BBC News

SpaceX rocket explosion
Reuters

It is usual for SpaceX to do a "hot fire" test a few days before a launch.

The procedure involves holding down the Falcon 9 on its launch pad and then igniting its Merlin engines.

Clearly, though, on this occasion, something went catastrophically wrong. The entire rocket and its satellite payload were destroyed in an explosion.

Undoubtedly, Launch Complex 40 as it is known, will have suffered significant damage. Twisted and bent metal was visible to long-range cameras.

But the repairs to the pad are only a part of SpaceX's immediate problems.

Its launch schedule will now be put on hold, perhaps for many weeks, as engineers try to understand what happened and to correct any procedural errors and hardware failures.

That is going to be a headache for SpaceX's many customers who are waiting patiently for a ride.

Click here to read more.

Facebook satellite partner counts blast cost

Facebook and Eutelstat satellite
Facebook

Eutelsat, the French satellite company which partnered Facebook, is already counting the cost of the SpaceX rocket explosion and it looks hefty.

The company said the impact on its business from the satellite's destruction will be €50m. 

Facebook and Eutelsat hoped to provide high speed internet access for sub-Saharan Africa by next year.

That plan is now up in smoke.

Zuckerberg 'disappointed' by SpaceX explosion

Mark Zuckerberg responds as the SpaceX rocket blast destroys a satellite belonging to Facebook and France's Eutelsat. 

The satellite was designed to provide internet access to Africa - where the Facebook founder is currently visiting.

He is not happy.

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, makes statement on SpaceX explosion
Facebook

Uber drives on with English test challenge

Uber app and black cab
Reuters

Taxi-hailing app Uber has won the right to challenge rules that would force its drivers to pass English tests. 

The company said it has been granted a court hearing to challenge the Transport for London (TfL) plans. 

TfL's licensing proposals - set to take effect on 1 October - would force thousands of Uber drivers to pass the language test before being able to work in the capital.

They would also make Uber open a 24-hour call centre in London and notify TfL of any changes to its operating model.  

Lagarde: Economic vigour only skin deep

Christine Lagarde
Getty Images

Christine Lagarde is warning that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may downgrade its global economic growth forecast for 2016 - again.  

The IMF's managing director told Reuters that "on the surface", the economy looks relatively rosy - including the impact of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

She said: "You could argue that Brexit is not really delivering the massive crisis that we had expected, you could argue that the Chinese transition is proceeding reasonably well, and you could argue that low commodity prices have gone up a little bit."

Ms Lagarde added: "However, when you look deep down at the economic growth prospects, at the growth potential, at the productivity, we are not getting very good signals, and we will probably be revising down our forecast for growth in 2016."

The IMF has already reduced its global outlook this year and before the Brexit in June, cut GDP forecasts to 3.1% for 2016 and 3.4% for 2017.

Musk on rocket explosion

Billionaire Elon Musk - the founder of SpaceX - says the explosion of its Falcoln 9 rocket had something to do with its "upper stage oxygen tank", although the exact cause is still unknown.

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'Here is the truth'

Tim Cook
AP

Apple chief executive Tim Cook says the European Commission is "picking on" Ireland and that "no one did anything wrong", but is he right?  

In two Irish interviews, Mr Cook hit back at the Commission's "maddening" ruling that Apple's tax benefits in the country are illegal.

The BBC has looked at some of Mr Cook's key claims to see if they were fair.  

Click here for the full explainer.

US car sales hit the skids

A worker checks the new General Motors 2016 Chevrolet Camaro
Getty Images

Some of America's largest carmakers reported steep falls in car sales for August. 

General Motors (GM), one of the car manufacturers rescued by the Obama administration during the financial crisis, said sales tumbled by 8% compared to August last year. Ford reported a 5% fall and Nissan said it had sold 6.5% less cars.

Volkswagen, still reeling from the emissions scandal, saw its US sales fall 9.1%.  

In contrast, sales rose by 3% for Fiat Chrysler as drivers bought more of its Jeeps. 

Manufacturers reported that people were paying more for cars. GM said the average price rose by $1,600 between July and August and $5,800 ahead of the industry average. 

However, Tim Fleming, an analyst at KBB, recently warned that price rises might send customers to used cars, "which could mark a big departure from the new-car sales growth the industry has seen during the past five years".

Smiler ride suffers 'temporary stoppage'

Smiler ride stopped
PA

Alton Towers said its Smiler rollercoaster ride suffered a "temporary stoppage" earlier, but none of the 32 people suffered any injuries.

It comes 15 months after a major crash on the Smiler, in which five people were seriously injured.

An eye-witness said the theme park visitors were left sitting on the £18m ride at the Staffordshire attraction for at least half an hour on Thursday. 

Crunch time for Campbell Soup

Pile of carrots
Getty Images

Campbell Soup disappointed today with a smaller-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter - and it is all the fault of the humble carrot. 

It appears it was more expensive to get the little orange blighters out of the ground. And Campbell admitted the carrots were harvested too quickly, which meant they were smaller and led to customer dissatisfaction.

The world's biggest soup-maker, which has a "fresh" division that houses the carrot business, reported adjusted profit down 6% to $253m.

BreakingFTSE dips after pound rise

The FTSE 100 gave up earlier gains to close 40 points lower at 6,741. 

The blue chip share index was dragged down by drug makers and Vodafone, which saw two of its European rivals - 3 Italia and Wind Group - agree to merge. 

Analysts said the rally in the pound - which rose 1% against the dollar - also scared investors off the FTSE 100 as it devalued the foreign earnings of multinational firms.

The FTSE 250, which has more UK-focused firms, rose 0.6% to 17,849.63.

Caterpillar cuts 250 UK jobs

Caterpillar machinery
EPA

More than 200 jobs are to be cut by US machinery manufacturer Caterpillar in Northern Ireland.

The world's largest maker of heavy construction equipment, Caterpillar employs 1,800 people in Northern Ireland with factories in Larne, Newtownabbey and west Belfast.

The firm has been hit by a global downturn in mining and oil exploration which has reduced demand for its products.

Co-Op Energy raises bills

Co-Operative Energy slogan
Co-Operative Energy

Away from exploding rockets, and back among more domestic news, one of the UK's energy suppliers has announced a price rise. 

Co-operative Energy said it would increase prices for both gas and electricity by 3% from 1 October. 

Customers on the company's standard dual fuel tariff will see their bills rise by an average of £32 a year, making the supplier one of the most expensive on the market.

It comes after figures released today showed the firm attracted the second-highest number of complaints of energy firms between April and June, at 850 per 100,000 customers.

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'How progress gets made'

The explosion of a SpaceX rocket on the launch pad is trending on Twitter, but some users are calling for the blast to be kept in perspective...

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View more on twitter

Blast shakes Tesla shares

Elon Musk and SpaceX rocket
Getty Images

Wall Street felt the reverberations of the SpaceX rocket explosion as shares in Tesla Motors, Elon Musk's electric car company, fell by 4.3%.

As well as the implications of the blast on Musk's SpaceX business, investors in Tesla were shaken by the company's dwindling cash position and the prospect it may have to raise additional funds this year to finance expansion plans.

Elsewhere in New York, the Nasdaq, the technology-heavy stock market which is home to Tesla, edged down 5 points to 5,207. 

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 34 points to 18,361 and the S&P 500 slid 5 points to 2,164.

Facebook satellite lost?

The SpaceX rocket in today's blast was due to carry Facebook's first ever satellite into space, it's emerged. 

The Amos 6 satellite - which Facebook hoped would provide internet coverage to large parts of sub-Saharan Africa - was scheduled to launch on the Falcon 9 rocket this weekend.

Eric Berger, senior space editor at tech magazine Ars Technica, suggests it was lost in the blast...

View more on twitter

Rocket man Musk

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX
Getty Images

SpaceX was set up by Elon Musk in 2002 who, at the time, was best known as the co-founder of online payments system PayPal, which was eventually sold to eBay.

He also co-founded Tesla, the company helping drive the electric car revolution.

Rumoured to be the inspiration behind billionaire inventor Tony Stark from the Iron Man movies, Musk's SpaceX is aiming to send people to Mars in 2024 with arrival on the red planet scheduled for 2025. 

The purpose? There are "big entrepreneurial opportunities" on Mars, said Musk in June, which could range from “the first iron ore refinery to the first pizza joint”.

'Bad news for SpaceX programme'

David Shukman

Science editor, BBC News, Karagandy

Whatever the details of what went wrong at the launch-pad, this is bad news for one of the most ambitious-ever space programmes.

SpaceX has big dreams for cheap, frequent and distant space travel. This test-firing was meant to be routine, part of an accelerating series of launches.

Beyond it, SpaceX is looking to make history by re-using one of the massive first stages that was returned to Earth intact. The company is also preparing to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

Most exotic of all, the company's boss, Elon Musk, is due later this month to unveil his plans for a Mars colony, and how that would take effect.

There had been talk of the first SpaceX unmanned mission to the Red Planet in a couple of years' time. All its timetables will now be jeopardy.

SpaceX blast: What do we know?

  • An explosion took place on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida, where the aerospace company SpaceX was readying an unmanned rocket for launch
  • SpaceX - set up by billionaire Elon Musk - said there were no injuries from the blast
  • Buildings shook and smoke was seen from miles away, but emergency services said there was no threat to the public
  • SpaceX  was believed to be test-firing a rocket which was due to take a satellite into space this weekend
  • The explosion was caused by an anomaly which led the rocket to abort its test fire

SpaceX: No injuries from explosion

Explosion smoke
Krisn99

SpaceX has just issued a statement on the blast at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida...

SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today's static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries."

SpaceX

Who are SpaceX?

SpaceX rocket
AP

Spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX is owned by billionaire Elon Musk - the founder of Tesla electric cars.

It has been developing rockets (pictured) and has a $1.6bn (£1.2bn) contract with Nasa to supply the International Space Station.  

One of Musk and SpaceX's main ambitions is to send a spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018.

In April, the California-based company successfully landed a Falcon-9 rocket on an ocean platform, after four previous attempts failed.

'No threat to public'

Emergency services in the area of the rocket explosion said there's no threat to the public. 

They also suggest the blast at the Florida launch pad was caused by the SpaceX rocket aborting during a test fire.

More images are also coming through of the huge smoke cloud. It's not yet clear if anyone was hurt in the blast.

View more on twitter
Smoke cloud
Frank Jakubetz
Smoke cloud visible from distance
Erin Head

'Buildings shook from the blast'

Nasa says SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when the blast occurred on Thursday morning, Associated Press reports. 

Buildings several miles away shook from the blast, and multiple explosions continued for several minutes. 

Photos show a cloud of dark smoke filling the overcast sky. Additional details were not immediately available, although AP reports that sirens could be heard in the aftermath. 

SpaceX launch site explosion

BreakingExplosion at Kennedy Space Center

An explosion has been reported on a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where SpaceX was readying a rocket for launch.  

Manufacturing 'defies all expectations'

Car factory
Getty Images

Sterling keeps going up following those figures showing a rebound for Britain's factories in August. The pound is now above €1.19 and is pushing towards $1.33.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Chris Saint explains why the manufacturing figures has given the currency such a boost.

“The latest purchasing managers’ gauge of UK factory activity has defied all expectations. Manufacturing activity saw its biggest monthly rebound in the survey’s 25-year history in August," he said.

Markets will now be looking to Monday’s reading for the services sector - which accounts for more than 70% of the UK economy - to corroborate signs that "the economy is indeed now finding a firmer footing", he added.

Wish you were here

Mark Zuckerberg with Kenyan entrepreneurs
Facebook

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is in the Kenyan capital Nairobi learning about mobile money - where the country is a world leader.

The billionaire is keeping his 78 million Facebook followers updated on his movements. So far he's met two engineers - Fausto and Mark - who designed a system to help people use mobile payments to buy small amounts of cooking gas.

For lunch, in case you're wondering, Mr Zuckerberg had a whole fried tilapia - a type of freshwater fish - and ugali - a cornmeal side dish - "for the first time and loved them both".

But it wasn't all leisure. He dined with Kenya's communications minister to discuss the government's ambitious internet plans for connecting everyone in Kenya.

Brown shoes and loud ties 'hinder investment banking hopefuls'

Brown shoes
Getty Images

Bright youngsters are being turned away from investment banks because of their lack of "polish", a report has said.

Candidates who wear brown shoes, "loud" ties or ill-fitting suits can fall foul of "opaque" codes of conduct, the Social Mobility Commission found.

Firms recruit for front office roles from a few elite universities and only hire those who "fit in", it said.

Chairman Alan Milburn said "arcane culture rules" were locking working-class candidates out of City jobs.

Read more here.

Brexit minister: EU trade deal in everyone's interests

David Davis
PA

The UK is ideally seeking tariff-free access to the European Union's single market, the minister in charge of negotiating the country's exit from the bloc said. "With respect to access to the single market, what we will seek to do is ideally have a tariff-free access but this is a matter of negotiation," David Davis told reporters during a visit to Northern Ireland.

He said: "We will be negotiating over an issue I suspect is in the interest of other members of the EU and others to get a good trading relationship in the long run," he said.  

Pound soars as FTSE loses early momentum

Pound note
Getty Images

UK shares surrendered early gains, but the pound soared after a survey indicated a strong rebound in manufacturing activity during August. The FTSE 100 is down just 0.04% at 6,778.9 points. However, on the currency markets, sterling rose 0.8% against the dollar to $1.3247 and was 0.9% higher against the euro at €1.1877. 

The rise came after the purchasing managers' index for manufacturing jumped to a 10-month high. The compilers of the survey said the weakness of the pound following the Brexit vote had boosted exports, although it had also increased companies' costs.

On the stock market, shares of housebuilders were in demand, with Taylor Wimpey, Berkeley Group and Persimmon all up by more than 3.7%.

One of our own is retiring

Transport union chief says Southern deal 'not enough'

UK government launches £20m fund to help troubled rail service

As Southern is the largest franchise in the network and working at 279% over-capacity, £20m is a mere fragment of the amount needed to upgrade the service so it is fit for the purpose commuters in the South East so desperately need. Chris Grayling and Chris Gibb are both calling for closer co-operation with unions to improve the service offered to passengers. If they aren't weasel words, TSSA will be delighted to take them up on the offer and I look forward to receiving a formal invitation. We'll start by telling the DfT that the only meaningful way forward for Southern passengers to be given a reliable service is to take the franchise back into public control."

Manuel CortesGeneral Secretary, TSSA

When asset managers go MAD

Nuclear explosion
Getty Images

What can fund managers learn from threats of a nuclear apocalypse? A lot, according to one staffer at the Bank of England. 

The Cold War warriors of the US and USSR had an incentive to strike first, as there was no advantage in being the one who had to retaliate, writes foreign exchange employee Thomas Belsham. 

Modern day investors are faced with similar dilemmas in their quest to sell-out before the markets crash.

Find out why Mutually Assured Destruction is not confined to war-game theory, in the Bank's often fascinating Bank Underground blog.