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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. BA cabin crew announce more strikes
  3. RBS to return to profit by 2018
  4. Pearson's problems persist
  5. Boeing puts Europe first
  6. StanChart underwhelms investors

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

Get involved

The live page is closing a little earlier tonight. Thanks for joining us on what's been a busy day of business news. We'll be back on Monday at 6am.

Have a good weekend.

Dow Jones on course to break winning streak

Wall Street's three main share markets remain in negative territory, although they have not moved much since the start of trading.

Financial stocks are under pressure, with JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs the two biggest losers on the Dow Jones. They are down 1.39% and 1.38% respectively.

The Dow is off 0.28% at 20,751 points and is on track to break a 10-day winning streak.

The S&P 500 is down 0.25% at 2,357.8 points, although retailer Nordstrom is 6.2% higher after posting strong sales figures on Thursday after the markets had closed.

The Nasdaq index is down 0.24% at 5,821.6 points.

Aston Martin: profits up, sales down

Aston Martin DBX
Aston Martin

Aston Martin's losses have widened due to a weaker pound and restructuring costs.

The luxury carmaker has reported a £162.8m pre-tax loss for 2016, up from £128m a year earlier.

But the 104-year old firm, made famous by fictional secret agent James Bond's 1960s DB5 sports car, said sales rose nearly 50% in the final quarter as its new DB11 model hit major markets. 

Aston Martin, which posted a 1.9% increase in full-year sales to 3,687 cars, has lagged behind rivals such as Ferrari and McLaren in recent years and is now updating its range of luxury sports cars to widen its appeal. 

Dr Andy Palmer, Aston's president and chief executive, said: "These results demonstrate the benefits of our Second Century plan, in which we have stabilised the company, strengthened the balance sheet and transformed our profitability. 

"We have seen extremely strong demand for the DB11 in the fourth quarter and, together with our continued financial discipline and growth plans, this has enabled us to increase our 2017 forecasts meaningfully.”

Trump's golf resort facing planning setback

The Doonbeg golf course
Getty Images

The Irish Times is reporting that the Doonbeg Golf Resort, from which US President Donald Tump resigned last month, has again run into planning problems.

Clare County Council wants more information on a scaled-back coastal defence scheme, the paper reports.

The resort has scrapped plans for a major coastal barrier involving a €10m, 200,000-tonne rock barrier, citing delays in the planning process.  

Arsenal's record spending

Arsenal players
Getty Images

Arsenal's latest financial results show a record £110.5m spent on players, and an increase in turnover to £191.1m, for the six months ending 30 November 2016.

During the summer, the club signed midfielder Granit Xhaka for £38.25m, defender Shkodran Mustafi for £34.85m, and forward Lucas Perez for £17m.

The club's profit before tax was £12.6m, compared to a loss of £6.2m for the same period in 2015.

Arsenal's cash reserves stand at £100.5m, down from £135.9m a year ago.

You can read the BBC's full report here .

Gold glitters

Gold bars
Getty Images

Gold, always a favourite investment in riskier times, rose 0.5% Friday as investors fled the stock markets for safety.

With the main markets in Europe closing down and Wall Street slipping, the gold price rose to $1253.65 an ounce.

And the dollar lost some of its recent shine against the euro and the yen, another sign that cracks may be appearing in investors' belief in the so-called Trump Rally.

BA strike: Airline says it is willing to talk

Unite cabin crew plan another seven days of strikes in ongoing pay dispute

BA aircraft at Heathrow
Getty Images

BA has responded to news that cabin crew are planning another round of strikes, these ones from 24 February.

The airline says: "We have flown all customers to their destinations during the previous strikes by Mixed Fleet Unite and we will ensure this happens again.

"We will publish more details next week once we have finalised our contingency plans.

"Our pay offer for Mixed Fleet crew is consistent with the deal accepted by 92% of colleagues across the airline, most of whom are represented by Unite.

"It also reflects pay awards given by other companies in the UK and will ensure that rewards for Mixed Fleet remain in line with those for cabin crew at our airline competitors."

A spokeswoman rejected Unite's claims that the airline was not prepared to negotiated.

"We have always made it clear that we are willing to talk provided there is no strike threat hanging over us," she said.

FTSE 100 closes 0.38% down

The FTSE 100 closed down, with Royal Bank of Scotland weighing heavily on the index. 

Another set of huge losses for the bank sent RBS shares 4.49% lower. Miners also fell, with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton each down about 3%.

British Airways-owner IAG was the biggest gainer, with a 4.46% rise.

The FTSE 100 finished 0.38% down at 7,243.7 points.

In Paris, the Cac-40 ended almost 1% lower, while Frankfurt's Dax fell 1.2%.

   0.38% at 7,243.7 points  

Mother's ruin

'Gin Lane' by William Hogarth
Getty Images

William Hogarth would be proud.

Gin exports hit record levels of nearly £500m last year, a rise of 12%,  the Guardian reports .

Domestic consumption of mother's ruin also rose, the article added.

Trinity Mirror pulls out of advertising talks

Front page of Daily Mirror
Trinity Mirror

The BBC's media editor, Amol Rajan, has a scoop about Trinity Mirror pulling out of talks to create a joint advertising initiative across Britain's national newspaper industry.

The talks have been hampered by personality clashes, the competing priorities of different groups, and the sheer novelty of companies whose commercial operations had hitherto been aggressive rivals.

You can read more here

BA 'can afford to address low pay

BA aircraft
PA

Members of Unite working as cabin crew for BA's mixed fleet have announced a further round of seven days of strikes - from 24 February - in their ongoing pay dispute, taking the total number of strike days to 26.

Here's what Unite national officer Oliver Richardson had to say about the move, announced on the day BA-owner IAG unveiled a rise in profits .

Striking mixed fleet cabin crew continue to demonstrate their determination to achieve a fair deal on pay in the face of British Airways’ bully boy tactics. It is clear from today’s £2bn rise in IAG’s pre-tax profits that British Airways can afford to address low pay among its mixed fleet cabin crew and settle this dispute. We would urge British Airways to meet Unite at Acas to resolve this dispute, as it claims to want to, and enable us to cancel these further damaging strike days.”

Sheffield's global ambitions

Boeing aircraft
AFP

More on the decision by Boeing to open a factory in Sheffield, the aerospace giant's first manufacturing plant in Europe:

The facility will be sited next to Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, where McLaren Automotive announced this month it would relocate chassis production from Austria.

Unsurprisingly, the people of Sheffield are pretty pleased. 

Says Professor Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of Sheffield University: “This is hugely important, not only for our region and the North of England, but also the UK’s global industrial ambitions in high-productivity, high-value manufacturing."

Wall Street's main markets open lower

Wall Street is being dragged lower at the open by falls in financial and technology stocks.

Traders said there were suggestions some investors felt the "Trump rally" has gone too far too soon. 

At the start of trading, the Dow Jones was down 0.31% to 20,745.83 points. The S&P 500 lost 0.40% to 2,354.29, and the Nasdaq fell 0.54% to 5,803.94. 

Ukrainian tycoon Firtash released on bail

Dmytro Firtash
AFP

A Vienna court has granted Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash bail, three days after a decision to extradite him to the US on bribery allegations and his arrest on charges of money-laundering in Spain.

"The application to impose provisional detention pending surrender was dismissed," the court said in a statement. Firtash would be released from jail immediately, a court spokeswoman said. 

The businessman, who strongly denies any wrongdoing, is a former supporter of Ukraine's ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich. 

Firtash made a fortune selling Russian gas to the Kiev government when Yanukovich was in power. 

Brazil jobless numbers underline recovery struggle

Brazil's unemployment rate hit a new record high of 12.6% between November and January, official data showed Friday, despite government assertions of economic recovery.

It means that about 12.9 million people are out of work in Latin America's biggest country after two years of recession. 

The unemployment rate has dented the popularity of the market-friendly government of President Michel Temer, who took over last year after the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff with promises to restore the economy to health.

Brazil's economy shrank 3.8% in 2015 and is expected to have contracted a further 3.5% in 2016, the most painful recession in a century. 

BA-owner IAG 'making reasonable progress'

BA plan tailfin
Getty Images

2016 was a challenging year for the airline industry - so how did BA-owner IAG manage to boost profits by 7.2%?

George Salmon, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: "Despite holding a premium position in the sector, IAG has been caught up in the trend for lower fares as increasing supply squeezes pricing.

"However, with much of the supply coming in to the bottom of the pricing scale, there is an argument to say the group has a degree of insulation that more value-focussed rivals lack."

He adds: "While things might be up in the air for the time being, it’s encouraging to see the group making reasonable progress. Costs are heading in the right direction and the dividend is being rebuilt.”

Vauxhall pension holders 'no worse off'

Vauxhall
Getty Images

Members of Vauxhall's pension fund will be "no worse off" if Peugeot-owner PSA Group buys the operation, according to the UK Business Minister.

Greg Clark said he had had a "constructive" meeting with PSA boss Carlos Tavares regarding takeover talks, adding: "We discussed how PSA's approach is to increase market share and expand production, rather than close plants. I was assured that the commitments to the plants would be honoured.

"There was also recognition that members of the Vauxhall pension fund will be no worse off."

Vauxhall, owned by General Motors Europe, is estimated to have a pension deficit if around £1bn. Opel, which is also part of the business that PSA want to buy, has a deficit of around £7bn.

JC Penney to shut up to 140 stores

JC Penney
Getty Images

US department store chain JC Penney is to close betweeb 130 and 140 stores over the next few months as it struggles with growing competition from online retailers.

The company, which reported a larger-than-expected fall in quarterly sales, said it would also initiate a voluntary early retirement programme for 6,000 employees and close two distribution facilities. 

Rivals Macy's and Sears both announced plans to shut stores which they blamed on decreasing footfall and the rise of online shopping.

JC Penney said the stores being targeted represent around 14% of its shop base.

Gold rises on US policy dearth

Gold ingots
Getty Images

Investors sent gold prices above $1,250 an ounce on Friday amid a fall in the dollar after the US Treasury Secretary said the new administrations economic policy will have little impact this year.

Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday: "We're going to have limited impact on our policies in 2017." But he said he wants some "very significant" tax reform passed before August. 

Gold prices rose to $1,257.30.

ICBC Standard Bank analyst Tom Kendall said: "We've got a vacuum of policy, real [interest] rates going down, the dollar going sideways and geopolitical [jitters] around the world ... all helping gold."

Consumer borrowing up in January, says BBA

UK shoppers
Getty Images

Consumer borrowing and mortgage approvals swelled last month, industry figures show, contrasting with earlier signs of a spending slowdown.

According to the British Bankers' Association (BBA), unsecured consumer borrowing grew at an annual rate of 6.7% in January - a figure that has only been beaten twice in the past 10 years.

Banks also approved 44,657 mortgages, up from 43,581 in December and the highest number since January last year.

Consumer spending underpins Britain's economy, but according to official data, retail sales and house price growth have slowed in the past few months as inflation squeezes Britons' incomes.

Future of Vauxhall's UK plants still unclear

Vauxhall in Luton
Getty Images

Unite the union has been given assurances that the production run of cars at Vauxhall's two plants in the UK will be completed, but what happens after is still in the balance. 

Peugeot-owner PSA Group in talks to buy General Motors Europe, which includes Vauxhall. 

Ellesmere Port has agreements in place to build the Vauxhall Astra until 2021, while the Luton plant is under contract to manufacture the Vauxhall Vivaro van until 2025.  

Following a meeting with PSA boss Carlos Tavares, Unite secretary general Len McCluskey said: "We will go on from here to continue to make the case for Ellesmere Port and Luton to continue to produce vehicles not just on the current models but obviously playing a role in the much wider issues that Peugeot will have if indeed this takeover goes through."

Why is RBS still losing money?

Simon Jack

BBC Business Editor

RBS logo , workers feet
Reuters

When RBS lost £24bn in 2008, my daughter was half way through junior school.

She's now doing her A-levels and RBS is still losing billions.

Next year she'll apply for university - next year RBS will lose another few billion.

Watching RBS develop has not been a very rewarding experience - for anyone.

Taxpayers have seen the £45bn they sank into the bank more than offset by £58bn of losses and counting.

Read Simon's blog.

Boss of 'cheapest smartphone maker' arrested

Freedom 251 smartphone
EPA

The former head of a firm that claimed to sell the world's cheapest smartphone has been arrested for fraud, according to reports.

Mohit Goel, boss of India's Ringing Bells, was taken into custody after a distributor complained it had not received phones worth 1.6 million rupees (around £19,100). 

Ayam Enterprises said it had paid 3 million rupees to distribute the Freedom 251 phone (pictured) in November 2015, but only received about half of the devices it was promised.

The Freedom 251, which was launched in February 2016, costs just 251 rupees (£2.50).

Banks drag FTSE lower

FTSE 100 chart
BBC

The FTSE 100 is now down 0.64% at 7,224.83, thanks to poor performances from RBS and Standard Chartered.

The banks have slumped 4.46% and 3.57% respectively after publishing disappointing results. 

RBS bonus pool declines

Money
Getty Images

Full-year losses at RBS have more than trebled but the bank's bonus pool has only shrunk by 8%.

The lender, which is 72% owned by the taxpayer after receiving a £45bn bailout, said its bonus pool has fallen to £343m from £373m.

Chief executive Ross McEwan earned a total £3.4m for 2016. 

Peugeot is 'pro-union', claims Unite

John Moylan

BBC industry & employment correspondent

Ellesmere Port
Getty Images

The head of the Unite Union Len McCluskey has described his first meeting with the Peugeot boss Carlos Tavares as "very open and relatively positive".

Mr McCluskey said that he was pleased about some of the assurances that he'd been given about honouring existing agreements at Ellesmere Port and Luton plants.

He said that he was coming away without his optimism being dented and that Mr Tavares had said that he was not here to shut plants.

Mr McCluskey said: "He was very pro union. He talked in terms of not being here to shut plants. That's not his nature. He pointed out that since being chief executive of Peugeot he hasn't shut a single plant. So I'm going to take him on face value at the moment and hope that I am not disappointed in the future."

One more year in purgatory for RBS

RBS
Getty Images

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown has a Dante-esque take on RBS's full-year figures this morning. 

He says: "RBS is still paying for the sins of the past, though the bank is now saying that 2017 is going to be its last year in purgatory, and that shareholders can look forward to a brighter, more profitable year in 2018.

"That may well be the case, there is a decent bank inside RBS struggling to get out, but it’s those “one-off items” which pop up with such alarming regularity which keep pushing the bank deep into the red."

He concludes: "The bank is certainly making progress, though it has been severely hampered by mopping up the mess left by the financial crisis. There is every reason to believe RBS can be a profitable bank, returned to private hands, the question is how long it will take to get there."

John Lewis sales drift lower

John Lewis
Getty Images

Fresh from announcing hundreds of job cuts , John Lewis has reported weekly sales and trade has fallen at its department stores.

Sales for the week were 0.2% below this time last year at £74.9m. The culprit was home products which declined 1.5%.

At Waitrose, which is also owned by the John Lewis Partnership, weekly trade jumped by 7% to £128.4m compared to 2016, helped by Valentine's Day when sales of flowers grew by 78%.

Overall, the partnership's weekly revenue jumped by 4.2% to £203.3m.

Samsung president and vice chair offer to resign

Samsung log
Getty Images

The corruption scandal at Samsung continues to cast a cloud over the South Korean giant.  

According to reports, president Chang Choong-gi and vice chairman Choi Gee-sung have offered to resign to take responsibility for an investigation that led to the arrest of Samsung's heir apparent Jay Y Lee. 

The company announced on Friday that it will introduce new measures to ensure transparency. Financial payments of 1 billion won (£705,722) or more will have to be approved by the board of directors and publicly disclosed.