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  2. Dow Jones opens above 21,000 points
  3. FTSE 100 rises 1.5% as sterling nears $1.23
  4. UK manufacturing growth dips
  5. Mitie offloads care homes for £2

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By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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We'll be back tomorrow morning at 6.00am sharp - we look forward to hearing from you then.

Snapchat owner 'prices shares at $17'

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Snap, the owner of instant messaging app Snapchat, has priced its shares at $17 ahead of its flotation on Thursday, Reuters reports. 

The initial public offering is expected to values the California-based business at $24bn despite the fact the company has never made a profit .

How the good times roll in Australia

Australia has avoided an economic downturn for a quarter of a century. How has the country managed it?

The BBC investigates...

Australian economy has been recession-free for 25 years

Dow blasts through 21,000 mark

The Dow has blasted through the 21,000 mark for the first time after US President Donald Trump's first speech to Congress lifted optimism.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 303.31 points, or 1.46%, to 21,115.55, the S&P 500 gained 32.31 points, or 1.37%, to 2,395.95 and the Nasdaq Composite added 78.59 points, or 1.35%, to 5,904.03. 

Dow blasts through 21,000 mark

The Dow blasted through the 21,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump's first speech to Congress lifted optimism.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 303.31 points, or 1.46%, to 21,115.55, the S&P 500 gained 32.31 points, or 1.37%, to 2,395.95 and the Nasdaq Composite added 78.59 points, or 1.35%, to 5,904.03. 

Boots to keep slimmed-down photo labs

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Boots may be closing some photo labs but that doesn't mean they are all disappearing.

Boots said it would continue offering photo services through the remaining 100 photo labs as well as 3,000 instant photo kiosks at 1,000 of its stores.   

They will be supported by a centralised photo facility in Nottingham. 

The closure of 220 out of 320 labs means 400 workers face losing their jobs. 

A spokesperson for Boots says: "Our focus will now be on supporting any impacted colleagues through this, as we continue to transform our photo offer."

Dollar retains strength on possible March rate rise

Dollar bills
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The dollar maintained its strength against a number of currencies on Wednesday as market watchers lent towards expectations of an interest rate rise this month.

Richard Franulovich, a senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking, pointed to comments made by US Federal Reserve members William Dudley and John Williams.

He said: "Williams and Dudley are very strongly signaling the fact that March is a live meeting, and that's occurring against the backdrop of consistently strong [economic] numbers."

Vassili Serebriakov, foreign exchange strategist at Credit Agricole, said: "The story has been an aggressive reprising of the March Fed hike. That's where the dollar has been taking cues from."

Greenspan: Trump populism 'a cry of pain'

Greenspan: Trump populism 'a cry of pain'

Donald Trump's populism is "not an economic policy" but instead is "a cry of pain", says former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan.

Mr Trump will not manage to attain 3% economic growth, as promised, but deregulation will help markets, he tells the BBC's Katty Kay. 

Dear Travis...keep it together

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick has been forced to apologise over his treatment of a driver with the company, and says he needs " leadership help".

The BBC has some suggestions for him... 

View more on twitter

FTSE relegation casts shadow over merger

Dixons Carphone

It has only been three years since Dixons and Carphone Warehouse announce their £3.8bn merger but the combined group is set to tumble out of the FTSE 100.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, says: "Dixons Carphone’s demotion from the blue chip index follows a rough period due to concerns over how Brexit will affect UK consumer confidence and the ongoing battle within the retail industry between bricks and clicks."

He adds: "Relegation ends a 19-year run in the FTSE 100, and clouds the legacy of the 2014 Dixons-Carphone Warehouse merger but boss Sebastian James will be looking to bounce back, just as Dixons has twice before following two previous demotions from the FTSE 100 [in 1985-88 and 1995-98] since its initial entry in 1985.

Capita's 'self-inflicted' problems

Capita share price over 12 months

Capita first entered the FTSE 100 some 17 years ago and, barring a brief spell in the FTSE 250 from 2003 to 2004, has been there ever since.

Until now.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, says Capita's exit from the FTSE 100 is "largely self-inflicted".

He says the support services company has joined sector peers G4S, Serco, Interserve and Mitie "in dishing out hefty profit alerts as big, complex projects prove difficult to manage and cash begins to flow out of these deceptively capital intensive businesses, where new tenders soak up money and require a good flow of wins to cover the costs".

Dixons Carphone and Capita dropped from FTSE 100

The FTSE 100 will have two new companies following the quarterly review of the blue chip share index.

Rentokil Initial and Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust have been promoted while Dixons Carphone and Capita have been relegated. 

Only 30 of the original FTSE 100 from 1984 still remain in the index.

A bubble or a bump?

SFO calls in ex-Lloyds traders in Libor probe

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has called in former traders from Lloyds Banking Group for questioning in connection with a long-standing investigation into alleged Libor manipulation.

Bloomberg reports that the traders have been asked to come un under caution, which means they will be read their rights and anything they say may be used in court.

Scooting to Athens

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Scoot plane
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If you were an Asian budget airline starting to offer long-haul flights to Europe, Athens may not be the first city that springs to mind as an initial destination.

That, however, is not the way Scoot - an offshoot of Singapore Airlines - is thinking.

"Athens will be our first destination to Europe, a good spot for us to expand our network," says  Lee Lik Hsin, boss of Budget Aviation Holdings, which manages Scoot and its sister airline Tigerair.

"There will be further routes to connect Europe with Asia Pacific but not at major capitals, where competition is already keen," he added.

Scoot will start flying to Athens on 20 June 20 with four flights a week on Boeing Dreamliner 787 planes.

McDonald's to speed up ordering

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McDonald's is determined to win back customers so the fast food chain is introducing "mobile order and pay".

It hopes this speedier way of ordering via a mobile phone will increase footfall at is restaurants, which has been declining for a number of years. 

The feature will only be available in the US later this year at its 14,000 outlets. But, who knows, if it does well McDonald's might want to roll it out worldwide.

Practice makes perfect for Trump

Donald Trump's speech to Congress last night has done wonders for US and UK stock markets today.

And this video shows that the US President was determined to get it right.

Donald Trump filmed 'rehearsing' Congress speech in his car

Boots photo lab closures put 400 jobs at risk

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Yet more potential job losses have emerged today, following announcements from car-manufacturer Ford and Walkers , the crisp-maker owned by PepsiCo.

This time Boots is threatening to cut 400 employees amid plans to close 220 of its 320 in-store photo labs across the UK.

Bull run set to continue in year ahead

Markets traders
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We can expect the bull run on stocks markets to continue in 2017, according to Tom Stevenson, investment director at Fidelity International.

He said: "Since last year’s low of 5,537 [on 11 February], the FTSE 100 index is up 1,846 points, or 33%."

He added: "Despite worries about the imminent Brexit negotiations, the growth outlook is positive on both sides of the Atlantic and bond yields should continue to rise. That will make equities more interesting than fixed income. The post-2009 bull market is long in the tooth but I expect it to continue this year.”

Overdraft costs hurt struggling customers

BBC personal finance and consumer affairs reporter Kevin Peachy writes

The world's toughest interview questions

Everyone hates job interviews, especially the inevitable question: "What is your biggest weakness?".

Hint: don't say "I'm a perfectionist".

Anyway, Business Insider and the World Economic Forum have rounded up some of the worst possible questions people have faced in interviews with major companies. 

If these don't break you out in a cold sweat, nothing will.

View more on twitter

Pound spurs UK stocks to new peak

Pound v dollar
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The rise on the FTSE 100 was fueled by a stock market rally in the US as well as a decline in the value of the pound against the dollar. 

Sterling is 0.46% lower against the greenback at $1.2323.

The FTSE 100 has closed at a record high 13 times since the beginning of this year.

BreakingFTSE 100 closes at record high

The FTSE 100 index ended trading on Wednesday at a record high.

The index of leading blue chip stocks rose 119.64 points, up 1.64% to 7,382.90.

FTSE 100

Union to fight with 'all its might' over Ford cuts

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Unite, the union, has promised to hold Ford accountable over  a decision to axe 1,100 jobs  at its Bridgend engine plant in Wales.

General secretary Len McCluskey, said: "Ford workers at Bridgend have every right to feel angry over the company’s behaviour. This loyal workforce and their union have been kept in the dark over recent months.

“But the focus now has to be saving these jobs."

He said union members "can be assured that Unite will use all its might to fight for the future of Bridgend".

“We will not allow Ford to walk away from its responsibilities. Ford must give this plant a chance and work with Unite to secure a better future."

Mr McCluskey added that "Brexit is clearly a factor" and said: "The prime minister must act now to because the very future of UK manufacturing, including car making, is at stake.”

Facebook to help prevent suicide

Put your money where your mouth is

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

ProPublica home page

Craiglist founder Craig Newmark is donating $1m to ProPublica, Poynter reports . ProPublica is a US independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

"A trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy," Newmark said. "As citizens we can only make informed decisions when we have news we can trust. Independent investigative reporting is essential to shoot down false claims and expose bad actors."

Hmm...just who could he be referring to?

Newmark also donated $1m to Poynter  in December. "It’s incumbent on me as an ultra-patriot to spend like a sailor on shore leave," he  told Nieman Lab's Ken Doctor .

Ford job cuts 'nightmare' comes true

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The GMB union has lambasted Ford over its plans to axe 1,100 jobs at its Bridgend plant .

GMB organiser Jeff Beck said: “The nightmare for our members at Bridgend has unfortunately come true. This is a real kick in the teeth for our hard-working members at the Ford plant – as well as their families and the community as a whole.

“These are good jobs which are vital to the economic health of the area."

He added: “Our first priority is to defend our members’ jobs. We will be consulting with them to decide what action we will take in the wake of this devastating news.”

The car-maker will reduce the workforce over five years, eventually leaving just 600 satff on the site.

Investors sidestep lack of detail

Donald Trump
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With the Dow Jones at a new high, a stronger dollar and the FTSE 100 powering ahead - up 111.73 points or 1.54% at 7,375.17 - investors are feeling pretty pumped after Donald Trump's speech last night .

But why?

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, says: "Despite basically just being a greatest hits of policy promises the speech has been enough to cause some extraordinary growth this afternoon. What is especially notable is that the Dow Jones’ muscular performance comes at the same time as a rate hike-eyeing run from the dollar, which surged 0.5% against the euro, 0.8% against the pound and 1.5% against the yen."

He says the prospect of an interest rate rise is helping the Dow's rise. "However, in the past – especially at the end of 2015 – rate hike chatter has been the index’s Kryptonite," Mr Campbell says.

"It will be interesting to see whether the next fortnight brings back that old strong dollar/weak Dow dichotomy, or whether this Trump-inspired optimism is enough to keep index and currency rising in tandem even if the Fed tightens monetary policy."

Wells Fargo cuts pay and bonuses by $32m

Wells Fargo
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Remember the Wells Fargo scandal ? That was when staff at the US bank created two million fake bank accounts for customers so that they could meet sales targets. It cost chairman and chief executive Officer John Stumpf as well as 5,300 other workers their jobs.

Wells Fargo has now announced it will cut pay and bonuses for eight executives, including chief executive Tim Sloan, to the tune of $32m.

The three-year equity awards made in 2014 will also be reduced by up to 50%.

IBM wins stupid patent of the month

Robot love?

In need of a mental workout this afternoon? Look no further than this article of the Bank of England's blog!

View more on twitter

Softer Trump buoys markets ahead of rate decision

Donald Trump
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US stocks are now up 1.14%, or 236.39, at 21,048.63.

JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs retained their place at the top of the risers - ahead 2.88% and 2.8% respectively - on the prospect of an imminent interest rate hike. While construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar continued to gain - up 2% - on US President Donald Trump's promise of major infrastructure investment.

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial, said: "The markets are trading higher on the softer approach by the President ."

Meanwhile the prospect of an interest rate rise in March gathered pace.

San Francisco Federal Reserve president John Williams said: "In my view, a rate increase is very much on the table for serious consideration at our March meeting."

New York Fed President William Dudley said the case for tightening monetary policy had become "a lot more compelling". 

Feel the animal magic

Bull market
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Stock markets are imbued with animal spirits, according to ETX Capital senior market analyst, Neil Wilson.

“Animal spirits have taken over," he said. "As expected, the Dow Jones has soared through the 21,000 mark just over three weeks after breaking the 20,000 level for the first time. It’s the quickest time ever to 1,000-point milestone, beating the record set in 1999."

However, Mr Wilson said this rally is different to the disastrous dotcom boom and bust "as we are dealing with a complete reversal in fund allocation in the form of a major shift away from bonds to equities".

He added: "Today’s boost is all down to the president’s speech to Congress last night . Trump’s rallying call to reignite the American spirit has produced the desired effect on the markets, pushing stocks to fresh all-time highs.

"Indeed it’s because of Trump that we are here – the prospect of stronger growth, lower taxes, more spending and higher earnings is like a magic cocktail for equities. Of course details of tax reforms will be crucial – there is still the scope for disappointment as markets are pricing in a huge surge in corporate earnings." 

US banks' shares jump on rate rise hopes

Janet Yellen
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US bank shares also rose on hopes that a rise in interest rates could be imminent. 

Investment bank Schroders is forecasting a rise in June though conceded an increase could come sooner. 

Banks were the biggest risers on a buoyant Dow Jones industrial average with JPMorgan Chase's shares up 2.6% and and Goldman Sachs' stock 2.1% ahead.

US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is due to speak at the Executive Club of Chicago on Friday 3 March.

BreakingDow Jones hits 21,0000

The US index of leading stocks hit a new high within minutes opening on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 188.69 points to 21,000.93 following US President Donald Trump's address to Congress last night.

Mexico's Cemex may provide estimate for Trump's wall

US/Mexico border in San Ysidro, California
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One of Mexico's largest companies appears to be embracing Donald Trump's proposed wall - and could supply materials to build it.

Rogelio Zambrano, president of cement making giant Cemex told daily newspaper Reforma "we will gladly do it" when asked if the company would provide an estimate for the project. 

The Us president reiterated his plan to build the wall along the southern border of American when he gave his first address to US Congress last night.

"It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime," he said though he made no mention of Mexico paying for it.

Union to challenge Walkers proposed closure

Walkers Crisps

The GMB union is to take a stand against PepsiCo's plan to shut down its Peterlee plant, which puts 380 under threat.

GMB regional organiser Michael Hunt said: "It wasn't long ago that the Government said they wanted to reinvigorate the region and inject business into the North East but the opposite appears to be true. For want of a better phrase, this isn't the Northern Powerhouse, it's the Northern Poorhouse."

He added: "This is terrible news for our members - the employees - and their families, and for the town of Peterlee."

Mr Hunt will meet with the company on March 15, the same day PepsiCo will begin a six-week consultation with workers. 

Walkers' Peterlee plant under threat

Walkers Crisps
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PepsiCo may close its Walkers Snacks factory in Peterlee, County Durham, placing 380 jobs at risk.

The US-owner of the crisps-maker says the proposal is part of an "efficiency" drive. It adds that crisps made at Peterlee will be produced at its other plants in the UK.

PepsiCo said: "Peterlee has been an important site for our business but the changes we are proposing present significant productivity and efficiency savings crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainable growth of our business in the UK."

Will savers' gloom continue?

Kevin Peachey

Personal finance reporter

Piggy bank

The typical interest rate for instant access savings accounts has dropped to a new low, according to Bank of England figures.

In January, the average rate was a paltry 0.37%.

However, there may be a silver lining for those willing to move their money around.

Anna Bowes, of Savings Champion, says: "Many providers are bucking the trend and actually increasing the rates of interest on best buy accounts, creating a battle for the top of the best buy tables."

They are often the less well-known challenger banks, she says, arguing that there is no reward for loyalty in this area.

When will the US Fed next raise interest rates

New York Stock Exchange

Analysts at Schroders are forecasting a rise in US interest rates in June, but say it could come earlier.

In a research note Schroders said that President Trump's job creation plans could spur inflation at a time when interest rate policy makers are indicating that rates should head higher.

"All eyes will now be on Janet Yellen when she speaks in Chicago on Friday – her last opportunity to comment publicly ahead of 15 March," said Schroders' chief economist, Keith Wade.