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  2. FTSE 100 and 250 close lower
  3. US stocks in negative territory
  4. Aslef rejects strike deal
  5. Austria to sue Airbus over warplanes

Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

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Good night

Thanks for tuning in to Business Live. We will be back tomorrow at 6am sharp with more news and views on the markets. 

US stocks close mostly lower

US trader
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Wall Street markets closed mostly lower on Thursday, bringing an end to the rally seen over the past five days.

The Dow Jones index gained 0.04% to 20,619.77, the S&P 500 lost 0.09% to 2,347.22, and the Nasdaq shed 0.08% to 5,814.90.

It comes after all three indexes chalked up records yesterday after Donald Trump pledged to slash business taxes from .

On Thursday Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank, said:  "It's certainly a market that has confidence. The problem with that is, when confidence gets that high, it's harder to push the market considerably higher."

Zuckerberg's letter in full

(All 5,500 words of it...)

Zuckerberg: my Facebook manifesto to re-boot globalisation

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Mark Zuckerberg
Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg has revealed deep-seated concerns that the tide is turning against globalisation.

In an interview with the BBC, the Facebook founder said that fake news, polarised views and "filter bubbles" were damaging "common understanding".

He said people had been left behind by global growth, sparking demands to "withdraw" from the "connected world".

In a call to action, he said people must not "sit around and be upset", but act to build "social infrastructures".

Read more.

Strike at BHP Billiton's mine in Chile rolls on

Strikers at BHP Billiton's Escondida copper mine
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A strike at BHP Billiton's Escondida copper mine in Chile is set to roll on after the union involved said it was some way off an agreement. 

Escondida's 2,500-member union walked off the job on 9 February after contract talks with the company collapsed. Workers have picketed the site since (see picture).

Copper prices spiked to 20-month highs then on supply fears, but cooled on Tuesday after the parties agreed to meet to see if talks could be restarted.

However, union spokesman Carlos Allendes told reporters on Thursday that the proposals of the company remain far from those of the workers.

Trump questions BBC impartiality

Auto union to run 'buy-USA' advertising campaign

US car plant, Ford
Getty Images

The United Auto Workers union is preparing an ad campaign urging people to buy US-made cars as it tries to tap into the nationalist upswell triggered by Donald Trump's election. 

Union president Dennis Williams said the ads could be similar to a 1970s campaign run on behalf of garment workers, which encouraged people to buy US-made clothing. 

Mr Williams said the UAW wanted to capitalise on efforts to bring jobs back to the US from cheaper-labour countries such as Mexico. 

Trump says new travel ban coming 'next week'

Italy's parliament approves bank rescue plan

Monte dei Paschi bank
Getty Images

With all the fuss about Vauxhall earlier, we forgot to mention that Italy's parliament has approved a government rescue plan to support the country's ailing banks.

As per plans outlined in December, a 20bn-euro fund will be created to help banks who are weighed down by some 350bn euros of bad loans. 

The first bank likely to benefit will be Monte dei Paschi (pictured), the world's oldest bank, which last year failed to win investor backing for a desperately needed capital increase. 

However, there are concerns the bailout will contravene EU laws that only allow governments to help viable banks. 

3D printer firm lays off a third of staff

Makerbot printer
Getty Images

A few years ago 3D printers were touted to become ubiquitous in households - but it seems reaching that point is taking some time. 

Today Makerbot, one of the leading operators in the field, said it was cutting 30% of its staff - the fourth time it's shed jobs in two years. 

The company, which was purchased by manufacturing firm Stratasys in 2013 for $403m, also closed a 175,000 square foot factory last year. 

Desktop 3D printers remain a tiny market as decent models are still too expensive for consumers, and the technology has not advanced quickly enough. 

In fact, only 278,000 desktop 3D printers were sold in 2015.

TED takes on India

BBC World Service

TED, the American company behind the popular TED Talks, has teamed up with the Bollywood star, Shah Rukh Khan, and 21st Century Fox's Star India to produce a Hindi TV version of the show, reports BBC World Service.

It's the first time TED's worked with a major network and star to produce TV talks in a language other than English. 

TED Talks, videos from expert speakers on a variety of topics, have become a global industry reaching hundreds of millions of viewers. Speakers have included Steve Jobs, Monica Lewinsky, Bono and Bill Clinton.

US stocks 'take a breather'

Wall Street trader

Let's take a quick look at Wall Street. The main US stock indexes are still in negative territory, as the record-breaking run of the last few days pauses for breath.

The Dow Jones is down 0.2% at 20,579.26 points. The broader S&P 500 is off 0.3% at 2343.11. And the tech-heavy Nasdaq is also 0.3% lower at 5,802.38.  

US stocks have hit record highs in recent days on hopes President Trump can push through lower business taxes and looser regulations. 

"And on top of that, we've had a pretty darn good earnings season" that has pushed stocks even higher, said Nate Thooft, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management. "It just needs a little bit of a breather today."

More on Vauxhall-PSA deal

After meeting with executives from Vauxhall-owner General Motors earlier, the UK business secretary Greg Clark has headed to Paris to speak to ministers there. 

Later he is expected to meet with execs from PSA, the French-listed owner of Peugeot and Citroen, the BBC understands.

It comes after the UK raised concerns that a proposed merger between PSA and GM-owned Opel (which incorporates Vauxhall) could cost jobs. 

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Netherlands to block takeovers 'in name of national security'

Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp
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The Dutch government has proposed a law enabling it to block takeover bids of communications firms by foreign companies "in the name of national security".

"There is no gain to our country from takeovers by businesses with links to criminal activities, or which are financially weak or do not have a transparent ownership structure," Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp said.

It comes a month ahead of general elections, already marred by concerns of foreign hacking into Dutch government websites. 

Mr Kamp said the law would be aimed at companies active in telecommunications, data collection and the internet. 

Snap IPO: fair value?

Snapchat app
Getty Images

As we reported earlier, Snap - which owns messaging service Snapchat - will list its shares for considerably less than previously thought. 

After talk of an IPO valuation of $25bn or more, it now looks like the firm will float with a market cap of around $18.5bn. 

Neil Wilson of ETX Capital says this may still be a bit steep, though. 

The company lost over $500m last year, up from $373m in 2015, and more worryingly it's user growth is slowing, he says.

"Loss-making tech firms with a limited prospect of making a profit listing on the stock market has an all-too-familiar ring about it," he says.  

"Snap’s IPO has the hallmarks of the dotcom bubble and this should have investors running for cover.

"Nevertheless there ought to be plenty of buzz around the IPO and with equity markets operating on rocket fuel at present, no shortage of demand.”

Vauxhall: UK business secretary to meet French minister

BBC Business Editor Simon Jack tweets...

Donald Trump 'to announce new pick for Labor Department'

Alexander Acosta
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US reports suggest that Donald Trump is about to announce Alexander Acosta as his new choice for head of the Labor Department, a day after Andy Puzder withdrew from consideration. 

Acosta,- who served as assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division under President George W Bush - would be the first Hispanic in Mr Trump's cabinet.

He has also been a member of the National Labor Relations Board and was most recently the dean of Florida International University College of Law.

Puzder, Trump's first choice, withdrew after failing to gain enough support from Senate Republicans for his nomination.

FTSE 100 and 250 close lower

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The FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 indexes both closed lower today following poor performances by commodities firms and a slump in shares in Cobham.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended the day down 0.4% at 7,273.95, as shares in miners Anglo American and Antofagasta lost 2-2.2% after the price of copper fell.

A seven-day winning streak for the FTSE 250 also came to an end, after engineering firm Cobham lost 15.1% following yet another profit warning. 

The firm took a £150m writedown on a troubled contract with Boeing, leading it to downgrade its 2016 profit target. 

Rail punctuality 'worst in 10 years'

Who owns Stoli vodka?

Stolichnaya vodka
Yuri Samoilov

A long-running trademark dispute over the Russian vodka brand Stolichnaya may be coming to a head, with the matter back in court this week. 

As the FT reports , 'Stoli' has ostensibly been owned for the last two decades by Spirits International - a Dutch-incorporated company owned by an exiled Russian billionaire.

But for about 15 of those years, Russia has disputed his ownership and tried to retake the formerly state-owned brand. 

Staring Thursday, the Hague will hear an appeal against a 2015 ruling that SPI should hand back the brand to Russia in the Benelux countries. 

A separate Hague court is also considering a call to extend that order to 13 other European countries.

Billions of dollars of revenues are at stake, as Stolichnaya was the world?s fourth best-selling premium vodka in 2015, according to industry figures.

US stocks lose steam

US trader
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The record-breaking run on US markets in recent days seems to be losing steam.

All the main indexes are now in negative territory, with the Dow Jones down 0.26%, the S&P 500 0.31% lower, and the Nasdaq down 0.26%.

Nonetheless, the Dow Jones and MSCI World Index (an average of 46 global stock markets) are still hovering around all-time highs, largely due to a raft of business-friendly news out of the US this week.

Connor Campbell of SpreadEx says: "It is interesting that, despite a fairly inept first month in charge for Donald Trump – with the Muslim ban debacle and now the (re)emerging Russian scandal – the markets are still indulging in this current rally, based on the as-yet-to materialise trade and tax promises made by the Orange One."

'No assurances' for Vauxhall workers - Unite

Len McCluskey
Getty Images

After a meeting with GM execs and government officials, Unite boss Len McCluskey (pictured) has said there are "no assurances at the moment? over the future of Vauxhall's workers. 

It comes after the government raised concerns that a proposed merger between GM's Opel (which incorporates Vauxhall) and PSA cars could cost jobs.

But Mr McCluskey  told the FT that the firms' would offer ?concrete proposals" within the next two weeks.

The union boss added: ?This is an unfolding story and we wait to hear what the next installment is.? 

Earlier, GM said it planned to "build on the success of Opel Vauxhall" without giving further details as to what that meant.

Tripadvisor shares dive on weak results

Tripadvisor site

Shares in Tripadvisor are down by about 8% in New York after the firm reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenues.

Blaming a fall in display advertisements on its websites, the bookings site said sales were $316m in the fourth quarter, missing analyst estimates of $326.5m.

Net income fell to $1m from $3m a year earlier.  

Mail Online soars

Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford tweets:

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Microsoft bumps up UK prices due to weak pound

Microsoft Surface laptops
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Microsoft's own-brand laptops are the latest tech products to face price rises in the UK due to the weakness of the pound.

The firm has added between £150 and £400 to the cost of Surface Books sold via its website.

The company had already increased the cost of its business software and cloud services in the country in recent months.

It indicated the latest move was due to the weakness of the pound against the dollar. Sterling has fallen by about 16% since the Brexit vote last June. 

Read more.

GM comments on Vauxhall's future

Vauxhall car
Getty Images

GM has commented on the future of Vauxhall in the UK after agreeing to sell the brand (as part of Opel) to PSA - maker of Peugeot cars.  

It comes after the UK and German governments raised concerns over potential job losses following the merger. 

GM said: "While we have no definitive news to report at this time, we can affirm that our objective in exploring opportunities with PSA Groupe is to build on the success of Opel Vauxhall and to put the business and the operations in the strongest possible position for the future.  

"We look forward to engaging with our stakeholders as part of these ongoing discussions."

AirBnB buys luxury holiday company

Luxury Retreats rental property, South Africa
Getty Images

Peer lodging app Airbnb says it has bought Luxury Retreats, a luxury vacation rental company, as it tries to widen the types of accommodation it offers. 

Luxury Retreats rents out more than 4,000 luxury homes in 100 destinations around the world (the Cape Town seaside villa pictured being one example). It also offers add-ons such as concierge services.

In the short-term, Luxury Retreats will continue to operate as a standalone entity but over time will be integrated into the Airbnb platform.

Wall Street opens higher

US trader
Getty Images

Yesterday's strong performance on Wall Street looks set to continue after all three main indexes opened higher.   

In the first few minutes of trade the Dow Jones is 0.06% higher at 20,624.18, the S&P 500 is up 0.08% at 2,351.18, and the Nasdaq is 0.15% higher at 5,827.88.

US stocks hit fresh highs yesterday after a pledge from President Donald Trump to slash business taxes and a round of strong economic data.

Southern wants to meet Aslef 'as soon as possible'

Southern drivers on strike
Getty Images

Govia Thameslink Railway, Southern Rail’s parent company, has said it is saddened by Aslef decision to reject a deal to end a long-running series of strikes.  

Chief operating officer Nick Brown says: “Naturally we’re hugely disappointed, as will be our passengers, with today’s decision by drivers, particularly as the agreement carried the full support and recommendation of the Aslef leadership. 

"We now need to understand the issues which led to this outcome and we’ll be seeking to meet with the union as soon as possible to see how we can agree a way forward.”

Airbus 'surprised by Austria claims'

Interestingly too, Airbus says it was "surprised by media reports of a criminal complaint" from Austria.

"We have received neither notification of a criminal complaint nor any other information regarding this matter or the Austrian Ministry of Defence's accusations," it said.

"We’re hearing these allegations today for the first time - through the media. [Austria] neither informed us of these allegations, nor have we been called upon to make a statement."

Airbus calls Typhoon lawsuit 'a political manoeuvre'

Typhoon plane
Getty Images

As we reported earlier, Austria is to sue Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium over a 2 billion-euro (£1.7bn) deal to buy Typhoon warplanes. 

Now Airbus has issued a full statement denying the claims.

"These new accusations have never been raised before; we thus cannot see any foundation in particular for the allegations of bad faith and fraud," it said. 

"Rather, they appear to be contrived, and we deny them vigorously. 

"We see today’s announcement as a political manoeuvre. We are of course continuing our policy of actively supporting the Austrian authorities in investigating concrete suspicions."

Unite fires Vauxhall warning shot

Unite chief Len McCluskey has warned the government that if Peugeot does buy Vauxhall/Opel, the union is "not prepared to accept a single job loss" in the UK.

He adds: "Britain is a huge market, it's the biggest single market for Vauxhall Opel in Europe, the fifth-biggest in the world for them and it's a very profitable market. So anybody who's buying those needs to commit themselves and give guarantees for our members jobs - Ellesmere Port and Luton. 

"I'm looking forward to meeting with the minister … this will be a test for the government's industrial strategy." 

Breaking'Some way to go' on Vauxhall

Vauxhall sign

Business Secretary Greg Clark has issued a statement:

“I had constructive talks with GM this morning where I emphasised the importance and successful presence of Vauxhall in the UK and welcomed GM’s recognition of the excellent and committed workforce at Ellesmere Port, Luton and across the UK.

“There is some way to go in discussions between GM and PSA but I was reassured by GM’s intention, communicated to me, to build on the success of these operations rather than rationalise them. This follows on from GM’s recent significant investments both at Ellesmere Port and Luton. We will continue to be in close contact with GM and PSA in the days and weeks ahead.” 

BreakingAslef members reject Southern offer

Jonty Bloom

Business correspondent

Aslef union members on Southern Rail have voted against a deal to end the long-running series of strikes on the railway.

The members have therefore rejected the recommendation of their own union to support a deal negotiated over two weeks and that means there is still no end in sight to the disruption on one of the country's busiest commuter networks.  

Austria to sue Airbus

Eurofighter in the air
Getty Images

Austria is to sue Airbus and the Eurofighter consortium over a €2bn (£1.7bn) deal to buy Typhoon jet fighters.

Its defence ministry said that following an investigation it believed Austria had been misled over the purchase price.

It could sue the two companies for €1.1bn, it said.

Airbus said it had only just been made aware of the legal action but that it co-operated with authorities.

Read more here

The zombie crossing

Light-up strips have been installed at a pedestrian crossing in Bodegraven, Netherlands, to help smartphone users cross the road safely.

The Lightlines are embedded in the pavement to catch the eye of people looking down at their device, and change colour to match traffic signals.

Crossing lights for smartphone zombies

Vauxhall talks

Business editor Simon Jack is outside the Department of Business in central London where GM bosses have been meeting government and union officials following news that the US company may sell Vauxhall and Opel to PSA, the Peugeot and Citroen owner.

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Bonds boost ECB profits

Euro sign
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The European Central Bank made a tidy profit last year: buying loads of government bonds helped net profit to rise €110m to €1.19bn, while its balance sheet soared to €3.7 trillion. 

The higher profits was mainly due to higher net interest income earned on the asset purchase programme portfolio and the US dollar portfolio", the ECB said. 

The bank responded to fears of deflation in the eurozone by expanding its bond-buying programme and resulted in the purchases hitting €1.65 trillion by the end of the year. Interest earned from bonds rose to €435m, helping push the ECB's overall interest income to €1.6bn - up 11%.

The ECB distributes its profits to the 19 national central banks that are part of the single currency.

Inflate the balloons...

Well this is certainly a reason to crack open the bubbly we say: 

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Fur flies

Spot of news from the worlds of both music and fashion from entertainment writer Mark Savage:

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