Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. FTSE 100 scrapes another higher close
  3. M&S beats Christmas sales forecast
  4. Tesco hails 'strong progress'
  5. Lloyds suffers online banking problems for a second day

Live Reporting

By Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night!

That's all we have time for today on Business Live, but fear not - we are back bright and early at 06:00 Friday. Do join us then and thanks for reading.

Flat out

Flats
Getty Images

Flats now make up a quarter of all housing in the UK after a big increase in recent years, according to a "study" by the Royal Mail. It finds there was an 18% rise in "multiple residencies" added to its postcode address file last year.

London has the most flats with 1.8 million, followed by Scotland with 971,000 and the South East with 824,000, according to the report. 

Kensington and Chelsea in west London has the most expensive multiple residencies, with the average flat costing £1.16m - more than 26 times the UK's lowest average in Blaenau Gwent, south Wales, the study found. 

Wall Street lower at close

Wall Street sign
Getty Images

All three of the main US share indexes ended lower on Thursday. 

The Dow Jones closed at 19,891.00, a fall of 63.28 points or 0.3%.

The S&P 500 was down 0.2% or 4.88 points at 2,270.44.

And the tech heavy Nasdaq finished at 5,547.49, a fall of 16.16 points or 0.3%.

It seems investors were disappointed by the lack of detail on economic policy in President-elect's Donald Trump's big speech on Wednesday. 

They had been hoping for some clues as to any economy boosting tax cuts or infrastructure spending he might be planning, but he gave nothing away. 

Living Wage for Levi Roots workers

Levi Roots
BBC

A restaurant run by Levi Roots, a former Dragons' Den winner, is the latest to be accredited as a Living Wage employer, with staff being paid above the statutory rate. 

About 50 employees of the Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse in east London will receive the voluntary wage of £9.75 an hour - well above the National Living Wage of £7.20. 

Living Wage Foundation director Katherine Chapman said nearly 3,000 organisations now want to pay more than the legal minimums because they recognise the value their staff add to the organisation, and the difference the real Living Wage makes to people's lives. "We hope Levi Roots' example will encourage many more restaurants to sign up," she said.

Roots, who won the TV competition in 2007, said he planned to open more restaurants.

Drone company crashes

Lily drone
Getty Images

Lily, the company behind an autonomous camera drone that had amassed $34m (£27m) in pre-orders, has announced that it is shutting down.

In an email to customers the start-up said it had failed to raise additional funds to start production of the drone.

It promised to reimburse all pre-order customers within the next 60 days.

Read more here.

Forex trader pleads guilty

A foreign exchange dealer who specialised in central and eastern European, Middle Eastern and African currencies has pleaded guilty to conspiring to fix currency prices, the US Department of Justice said.

It identified the trader as Christopher Cummins, but said only that his employer was a New York-based financial institution. 

He is the second trader to admit guilt in the probe. The first was Jason Katz, a former trader at Barclays who later worked at BNP Paribas, who pleaded guilty on 4 January. 

Sterling falls

Sterling
Getty Images

The pound has lost ground against the dollar after Downing Street said Theresa May will give a speech next week on her Brexit plans. There are fears the prime minister is charting a course for a "hard Brexit" from the EU.

Sterling is down just over 0.3% at $1.2170. 

"If you were to look back at recent performances, it's rare that [May] has said anything that's been taken positively, so the risk - if you had to go one way or another - is that she again pushes the market in the direction of a relatively hard exit, which is not a positive for the currency," said RBC Capital Markets currency strategist Adam Cole. 

Not quite VW...

Back to the Fiat Chrysler story for a moment courtesy of business correspondent Theo Leggett:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

M&S opens door for rivals

M&S
Getty Images

M&S shares finished 1% higher at 343.75p after its reasonably good Christmas trading.

But Phil Dorrell, partner at consultants Retail Remedy, says the focus on a strong performance in general merchandise at M&S has distracted from less stellar growth. 

"Fortunately for M&S, with the big clothing and home headline, attention has been diverted from food. A soft growth in food stands out after some excellent progress from Tesco, Morrisons and the discounters.

"Other food retailers have taken inspiration and are challenging M&S for its position on food. To retain its position M&S will need to reassert its quality and innovative range. One to watch in the next quarter."

Takata 'to plead guilty'

Takata
Getty Images

Japan's Takata is expected to agree to plead guilty to fraud charges as early as Friday as part of a $1bn settlement with the US Justice Department to resolve the government's investigation into deadly air bag ruptures, according to Reuters.

The settlement is also expected to include compensation to some victims and car makers, which have been forced to recall vehicles with the defective inflators. 

Takata air bag inflators have been linked to at least 16 deaths worldwide, including 11 in the US.

Regulators have said recalls would eventually affect about 42 million US vehicles, with nearly 70 million Takata air bag inflators, making it the largest safety recall in US history. 

AO World sinks

AO World
AO World

Not a good day for AO World. Shares in the online electrical goods retailer ended almost 12% lower after telling investors it was "cautious" about the final quarter, "given the uncertain UK economic outlook, currency impacts on supplier pricing and the possible effect on consumer demand". 

Verdict Retail analyst Zoe Mills remains optimistic about its prospects, however: "While growth has slowed considerably since last year, AO is still gaining significant market share in a sector that has been in decline for the majority of 2016."

Altmann sounds pensions alarm

A new savings product has been branded a "dangerous distraction" that could undermine pensions, in the Lords.

Tory former pensions minister Baroness Altmann said the government was "on the cusp of a major success" in extending pensions coverage to millions of people. However, it risked "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" with plans for a Lifetime ISA, (Lisa), she warned in second reading debate on the Savings (Government Contributions) Bill. 

The Bill, which has already cleared the Commons, includes the new product, which will give people saving for their first home or retirement a 25% bonus on up to £4,000 a year. 

Lady Altmann said she feared the Lisa could "derail" the auto-enrolment pension scheme, introduced to encourage more to save for their retirement. "It is a dangerous distraction that could undermine pensions and increase future poverty," she said. By "masquerading as a pension" the product risked becoming "a new mis-selling scandal" in the coming years. 

500 insurance jobs axed

Kwik Fit office
BBC

More than 500 jobs are to go at Kwik Fit Insurance Services in North Lanarkshire, after attempts to find a new operator failed.

Staff at the Uddingston contact centre were told it will close on 31 March.

Owner Ageas said it had suffered the consequences of a change in the way people buy insurance.

After closure plans were set out in November, a team involving the council and government agencies sought to find a way of keeping the workforce intact.

More here.

All above board?

The FT's Peter Campbell has been listening the Fiat Chrysler boss explain why his company's diesel engines did not break any US laws.

View more on twitter

Activist investor ups Johnston Press stake

So that's why shares in Johnston Press, owner if the i newspaper and the Scotsman, jumped 13% today. That means the company is now worth a princely £18m - although the figure is somewhat lower if you include its debt mountain. 

View more on twitter

European vehicles affected

One-sixth to one-seventh of the 104,000 vehicles in question will be in Europe, Sergio Marchionne says, given that diesels are more common there.

He adds that the US Department of Justice has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency on the emissions issue. 

'Sheer speculation'

Jeep Cherokee
Reuters

Sergio Marchionne tells the press conference "it would be sheer speculation on my part" to predict how the incoming Trump administration will handle the emissions allegations. 

He also declines to speculate as to why the outgoing Obama administration's EPA made today's announcements. 

Fiat boss: nothing illegal

Sergio Marchionne
Getty Images

Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne is holding a press conference in the wake of the EPA allegations.

He says the car maker did not cheat on diesel emissions tests and rejects comparisons to Volkswagen.

"We have done nothing that is illegal," he says, adding that the EPA's report has been "blown out of proportion".

Mr Marchionne adds that the company plans to keep selling the models affected by the claims.

'Disappointed'

Fiat Chrysler US has issued a statement saying it is "disappointed" with the EPA's decision to issue a "notice of violation" about the technology used in its diesel engines.

The company "has spent months providing voluminous information in response to requests from EPA and other governmental authorities and has sought to explain its emissions control technology to EPA representatives", it says.

"FCA US looks forward to the opportunity to meet with the EPA’s enforcement division and representatives of the new administration to demonstrate that FCA US’s emissions control strategies are properly justified and thus are not “defeat devices” under applicable regulations and to resolve this matter expeditiously.

FTSE scrapes higher

By the barest of margins, the FTSE 100 has ended the day higher at 7,292.37 (for once the decimal places actually matter). That's a rise of just 1.88 points. 

Primark owner ABF holds the wooden spoon with a 4.4% fall, with Dixons Carphone, Next, Shire and Carnival the other biggest fallers.

Mondi - one of those companies you've never heard of - was the biggest riser, up 5.6%, while another firm that is not quite a household name, Smurfit Kappa, was up 3.8%.

Fiat 'could be fined $4.4bn'

Financial Times motor industry correspondent Peter Campbell tweets:

View more on twitter

BreakingAnother BA strike

British Airways cabin crew will stage a 72-hour strike from 19 January in a dispute over pay, the Unite union announced. 

View more on twitter

Fiat Chrysler 'got caught'

Dodge Ram
Getty Images

EPA official Cynthia Giles said: "Failing to disclose software that affects emissions in a vehicle's engine is a serious violation of the law, which can result in harmful pollution in the air we breathe."

California Air Resource Board chair Mary Nichols said: "Once again, a major automaker made the business decision to skirt the rules and got caught." 

'Undisclosed software'

The Environmental Protection Agency said the undisclosed software on the 2014 to 2016 models of Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks sold in the United States allowed the vehicles to emit more nitrogen oxides than permitted. 

The company already is facing two class-action lawsuits over use of the defeat software. 

104,000 vehicles affected

The EPA says there was hidden software in 104,000 vehicles made by Fiat Chrysler. 

"This is a clear and serious violation" of the US Clean Air Act, an official says. 

Brexit speech 'on Tuesday'

Theresa May will deliver a major speech on Brexit on Tuesday, the Press Association reports, citing a source in Downing Street.

The prime minister responded to criticism of her government's approach towards Brexit, little of which has been made public, by saying on Sunday that she would set out her plans in the coming weeks. 

BreakingFiat Chrysler faces emissions cheating claims

Jeep logo
Getty Images

Shares in Fiat Chrysler have tumbled more than 12% after Reuters reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency will accuse the company of using software that allowed excess diesel emissions in just over 100,000 U.S. trucks and SUVs sold since 2014.

The EPA told the car maker it believes its undeclared emissions control software allowed vehicles to generate excess pollution in violation of the law. Fiat Chrysler declined to comment. 

The agency has for months declined to certify Fiat Chrysler's 2017 diesel vehicles. 

The move follows Volkswagen's admission that it cheated diesel emissions tests in 580,000 U.S. vehicles.

FTSE wobbles

GSK
Getty Images

Neil Wilson of ETX Capital blames Donald Trump for the London market's struggles today.

"The FTSE is close to snapping its record run of gains but a rally among mining stocks is offering support and it may just creep over the line higher. If it does it will be the miners that do the heavy lifting as retailers have failed to fire despite a round of broadly upbeat sales figures from the sector," he says. 

"Pharma stocks like AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline are still under pressure after Donald Trump’s remarks yesterday roiled the sector. A weak start to the US session has sent the UK blue chip index lower again."

BreakingEven more Southern strikes

Guards on Southern Railway will hold a fresh 24-hour strike on 23 January in their long-running dispute over staffing, the RMT union said. 

That's the day before drivers go on strike again in protest at driver-only trains.

Trump Toronto tower on the block

Trump Tower Toronto
The Canadian Press

Trump International Hotel Tower in Toronto and apartments that carry the US President-elect's name are being put up for sale for about $300m. 

The assets are being sold after being placed into receivership last year. The owner failed to make debt payments for more than a year.

Mr Trump does not have a stake in the business. The owner, Talon International Development, paid to license his name.

However, last year a group of small shareholders, who claim they were misled over investing in the project, won the right to sue Mr Trump as part of legal action.  

Shop til you drop

BBC News Channel

Shopping centre
BBC

The BBC's business team is out and about at a shopping centre in Essex. We are speaking to retailers, analysts and shoppers about how the industry is faring. We've had a set of generally positive figures from a range of major retailers - but what does the rest of the year ahead have in store?

Analysts at Hargreaves Lansdown say the first set of positive like-for-like sales in Marks & Spencer's Clothing and Home division for almost two years is the main headline for the high street stalwart. 

"While last year’s frankly abysmal performance was hardly a tough benchmark to beat, investors will be hoping that Steve Rowe’s plans to revitalise the group gain some traction and this marks the start of a more positive trajectory."

M&S shares are up a touch at 341p, by the way.

BreakingWall Street opens lower

US markets have opened lower after President-elect Donald Trump gave little clarity on his promises of boosting economic growth that had powered a record-breaking rally on Wall Street for two months. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 61 points, or 0.3%, at 19,892 points, while the S&P 500 also fell 0.3% to 2,268 points. The Nasdaq Composite shed 0.4% to 5,539.5 points. 

Amazon's hiring spree

Amazon warehouse
Getty Images

Amazon plans to add 100,000 US jobs over the next 18 months, to bring its US workforce to more than 280,000. 

"These new job opportunities are for people all across the country and with all types of experience, education and skill levels -- from engineers and software developers to those seeking entry-level positions and on-the-job training," the online retailer says.

But would you really want to work in an Amazon warehouse?

Deeper in debt

Let's start as we mean to go on, shall we? Here's a slightly depressing graph, courtesy of the Resolution Foundation - everyone's new favourite thinktank.

View more on twitter

Good afternoon!

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Thanks to Dearbail and Russell for keeping us up to date on what has been a very busy morning for the retailers. I'm here with the rest of the day's business news and views.

Want to express a point of view? Drop me an email at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or follow me on Twitter: @cajuk

BreakingTata Group names new chairman

Natarajan Chandrasekaran
Getty Images

Tata Group has named Natarajan Chandrasekaran as its new chairman.

He is currently the chief executive of IT service provider Tata Consultancy Services.

He replaces Cyrus Mistry who was fired in October 2016.

ECB minutes reveal dissent over stimulus

European Central Bank
Getty Images

A plan to increase the European Central Bank's (ECB) stimulus programme was met with dissent, according to minutes of its latest meeting

In December, the ECB said it would continue its quantitative easing scheme until March this year. The, in April, it would reduce monthly bond purchases from €80bn to €60bn until December.

Minutes from the ECB's governing council meeting show that some members rejected two options of either extending the money printing plan past December 2017 or limiting the period to six months at the lower €60bn monthly target.   

The minutes said: "A few members could not support either of the two options that had been proposed, while welcoming the scaling-down of purchases and other elements of the proposals, in view of their well-known general scepticism regarding the APP [asset purchase programme] and public debt purchases in particular."

RMT blames staff cuts for strikes

Tube strike
Getty Images

The RMT says that its decision to announce another possible strike on 6 February "allows ample time for London Underground to come forward with serious proposals as a basis for further negotiation".

Mick Cash, general secretary of the union, says: "RMT members have shown this week that they will not stand by while safety is compromised on London Underground off the back of cash-led cuts to staffing levels that the union has warned would have a serious, lasting and corrosive impact for staff and passengers alike.

"That is why our members have been forced to take this action."

Tube strike planned for 6 February

Tube strike
Getty Images

The RMT union says that following this month's "rock-solid strike action" taken by its London tube station members, "a new phase of action" is planned from 6 February.

It says: "The union’s executive has agreed, following extensive consultation with reps across the tube network, that further, escalated strike action will be called from Monday, 6 February unless London Underground meet RMT’s reasonable demands on station staffing and safety."

Savings eroded

Sky's economics editor tweets: