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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Sky/Fox deal 'concerning' - Culture Secretary
  3. WPP shares lead FTSE lower
  4. UK services growth slows in February

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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BBC

That's it for another week with Business Live.

Next week Chancellor Philip Hammond reveals his new Budget but until then, enjoy your weekend.

US shares flat following Fed boss comments

Snap Inc's float
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There was little change on Wall Street on Friday following comments by Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen that the central bank is likely to raise interest rates in March if employment and other economic data remain on target.

The Dow Jones closed at 21,005.71, a slight increase of 3 points or 0.01%.

The S&P 500 rose by 1 point or 0.05% to 2,383.12.  

The tech-heavy Nasdaq also edged up to  5,870.75, a rise of 10 points or 0.16%.  

Markets expects three rate rises

Three interest rate rises is looking likely for this year, according to Douglas Borthwick, managing director at Chapdelaine Foreign Exchange.

He said: "There's a lot of positive news now priced into the market, and I think we'll probably see some profit-taking, so I think we'll probably see the dollar weaken from here.

"Yellen's comments have caught up with market expectations, in that she's looking for three rate moves this year."

US Fed 'positive' on future growth

Janet Yellen
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The financial market took a positive view on Janet Yellen's speech today.

Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, said: "The real takeaway here is if the Fed is willing to start moving, they see the economy as not only doing better but likely to do better going forward.

"The Fed is notorious for waiting until the evidence of growth is absolutely undeniable.''

Deutsche Bank set to boost capital

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Deutsche Bank appears to be making progress on strengthening its balance sheet.

Bloomberg is reporting that the bank's board is considering a share sale and the partial flotation of its asset management business.

The supervisory board is due to meet for two days beginning 16 March. 

In January, Deutsche Bank was fined $630m by US and UK regulators in connection with a Russian money laundering plan.

And in December it agreed a $7.2bn penalty with US authorities over the sale of mortgage-backed securities. 

Mike Ashley 'not sexy enough' for Agent Provocateur

BBC Radio 5 live

Mike Ashley
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The co-founder of upmarket lingerie chain Agent Provocateur says the sale to a business linked to Sports Direct's major shareholder , Mike Ashley, is "scandalous".

Joe Corré, son of Dame Vivienne Westwood and former Sex Pistols manager, the late Malcolm McLaren, cast doubt on the new owner's strategy.

He said: "They've been quite clear about what they're going to do with the brand. They said that what they want, aside from the UK stores, is to keep the brand name which they are going to develop for their own store groups. So what does that mean? Where are they going to sell it Sports Direct?"

Mr Corré continued: "What's it going to be? Tracksuits with Agent Provocateur on it? Are we going to have some knock-off Juicy Couture line with "AP" on it?

"Listen, the guy's not a sexy guy. It is a very sexy brand. It is a terrible fit. Lets be honest, Sports Direct stores are not sexy places."

Four Holdings, which controls Four Marketing in which Sports Direct is a 25% shareholder, brought Agent Provocateur out of administration. It had been owned by private equity firm 3i.

Following the acquisition, Four Marketing will control Agent Provocateur. A Four Marketing spokeswoman the company "has built a strong reputation over 20 years, as distributor and agent for a number of premium fashion brands. We also service brands with retail, e-commerce, PR and marketing”.

A new French owner for Vauxhall and Opel

BBC World Business examines why General Motors is giving up its European business and what the buyer PSA Group has in store for Opel and Vauxhall. The BBC's Russell Padmore reports...

General Motors is closer to exiting Europe, as it finalises a deal to sell Opel to PSA.

Rate rises forecast for September and December

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Scott Anderson, chief economist and executive vice president of the Bank of the West Economics, reckons a rise of 150,000 jobs or more in February "would be sufficient for the Fed to move another time at the March meeting". 

He said the Bank of the West Economics is currently forecasting a payroll gain of +186,000 for February.

Non-farm payrolls will be announced next Friday on 10 March.

Mr Anderson expects three quarter-point interest rate rises from the Federal Open Market Committee [FOMC] in 2017. "We expect another FOMC rate hike in September and December," he said. 

Immigration 'contributes a lot' to US economy

Janet Yellen says that she and colleagues will "be patient and see what happens" in terms of fiscal policy.

She also said that immigration "contributes a lot" to the American economy.

US economic growth 'slowest since WWII'

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Janet Yellen has reiterated her concerns about the slow pace of economic growth in the US.

She says: "For instance, as we noted in our latest Monetary Policy Report to the Congress, the ongoing expansion has been the slowest since World War Two, with real GDP growth averaging only about 2% per year.

"This subdued pace reflects, in part, slower growth in the labor force in recent years, compared with much of the post-World War Two period, and disappointing productivity growth both in the United States and abroad."

BreakingUS rates will rise in 2018 and 2019

Janet Yellen says she and her US Fed colleagues have "projected additional gradual rate hikes in 2018 and 2019".

The US numbers to watch

The key numbers for the US Fed are inflation, the unemployment rate and wage growth.

The next US non-farm payroll data will be released next Friday on 10 March.

The current unemployment rate is 4.8%. The US economy added 227,000 jobs in January this year but wages grew at 2.5%, the lowest since last August.

Inflation is 2.5%.

US rate rise in March 'quite likely'

Gennadiy Goldberg, interest rate strategist at TD Securities, said: "[Janet] Yellen has given us the strongest signal that she could that a March rate hike is quite likely, without explicitly pre-committing. This is the firmest way that Yellen could have communicated that a March hike is likely."

Foreign risks have 'receded' says Yellen

Janet Yellen is upbeat. 

She says: "On the whole, the prospects for further moderate economic growth look encouraging, particularly as risks emanating from abroad appear to have receded somewhat.

"The [Federal Open Market] Committee currently assesses that the risks to the outlook are roughly balanced."

Cake is baked and ready to eat

Janet Yellen
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Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management, says: "Chair Yellen will endorse a rate hike in March unless next week's employment situation report is just miserable. Because a terrible payrolls report is highly unlikely, a rate hike isn't just baked into the cake, the cake is practically decorated and ready to have the candles lit.

"The only danger is that the Fed signals a faster pace of hikes than three for 2017. While it's most likely that we'll see a hike in March, September, and December, don't discount the possibility that we could see a hike in March, June, and September with the December meeting being the one where the FOMC announces it will taper its reinvestment program.

He adds: "If we see some fiscal stimulus in the form of tax cuts, then the pace of hikes can quicken from three per year to four with a more rapid normalization of the size of the Fed's balance sheet. Equities can handle hikes when it's in the face of stronger growth. It's the investment grade corporate market and Treasury market that will have to reckon with hikes more than equities will."

Three times a charm?

There has been widespread speculation that the US Fed will lift interest rates three times this year. It last increased the rate in December 2016 and a year before that, in December 2015.

US rate rises will be 'gradual'

Janet Yellen
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In her speech , US Fed chair Janet Yellen reiterates her point that rate rises will be "gradual", however, she appeared to indicate the central bank may move a little quicker than in previous years.

Ms Yellen said: "Looking ahead, we continue to expect the evolution of the economy to warrant further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate.

"However, given how close we are to meeting our statutory goals, and in the absence of new developments that might materially worsen the economic outlook, the process of scaling back accommodation likely will not be as slow as it was in 2015 and 2016."

US stocks subdued

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up just 4.95 points at 21,007.92 after the US Federal Reserve released a copy of Janet Yellen's speech.

BreakingMarch rate rise may be 'appropriate'

Janet Yellen, chair of the US Federal Reserve, said on Friday that another interest rate could be "appropriate" later this month if US employment and inflation remain in line with expectations.

In a pre-released copy of her speech , Ms Yellen also defended the Fed's performance, stating that the US central bank had not been too slow to raise rates because of a tepid recovery and sluggish inflation. 

Countdown to Yellen

Janet Yellen
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Investors, economists and market traders will all be on high alert as Janet Yellen, chair of the US Federal Reserve prepares to address The Executives' Club of Chicago in 10 minutes.

There is a growing expectation that the Fed will raise US interest rates this month so observers will be picking over Ms Yellen's words for clues.

Stayed with Business Live for regular updates.

Daimler recalls Mercedes over car fires

Mercedes
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More car news, this time from Daimler which is recalling one million Mercedes-Benz vehicles worldwide after 51 fires were reported.

The German carmaker will begin recalling cars in the US in July when parts to fix the problem, which involve a faulty fuse, become available. Daimler reported that there had been no injuries or deaths as a result of the fires.

A fix has been implemented in the production of new vehicles and those at dealerships will be fixed before they are sold.

PSA board 'approves' Opel deal

Opel
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The board of of Peugeot-owner PSA has approved a plan to acquire Opel from General Motors according to Reuters. 

A deal is expected to be announced on Monday, according to sources cited by Reuters

How cookery can build a team

FTSE drifts down to weak end

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The FTSE 100 ended the week in a fizzle after the bang of hitting a record high on Wednesday.

The index of blue chip stocks closed 10.88 points down at 7,371.47.

The day's biggest faller remained WPP , the advertising giant whose shares slumped 7.9% to £17.59 after it warned that "tepid" economic growth could hurt sales .

The FTSE 250 also declined to end 75 points down at 18,875.80.

Budget 2017: what to look out for

Philip Hammond
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Chancellor Philip Hammond will announce the Budget next week on 8 March. 

One of the key issues will be business rates, a review of which is threatening to cripple small and medium-sized companies..

To keep on top of all the key areas to watch out for next Wednesday, visit the BBC's Spring Budget 2017 page where you will find up to date news and analysis by experts including economics editor Kamal Ahmed. 

Opel moves meeting

Opel
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Opel - General Motors' European division - has scheduled a town hall meeting for workers at its headquarters in Ruesselsheim, Germany on Monday morning, a person familiar with the arrangements said. 

The car maker cut short a meeting earlier today, partly because management said it could not discuss details of a potential acquisition by Peugeot owner PSA. 

Some analysts expect a deal to be announced before the Geneva motor show starts next week.

BMW at risk of 'miscalculating growing anger'

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Commenting on discussions with BMW, Unite's general secretary Len McCluskey said: "Unite requested that BMW lift its deadline for the pension scheme’s threatened closure so that talks could be conducted in a meaningful way.

"Unfortunately that perfectly reasonable request has been refused by BMW bosses, who are in danger of miscalculating the growing anger among its UK workforce."

He added: “Unite will be entering talks in a positive manner. We would urge BMW to do likewise and engage meaningfully with Unite in finding a solution that safeguards car workers’ pensions and works well for the business.”

BMW faces UK strike vote over pension

Mini plant in Cowley
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Union members who make Minis and Roll-Royces will be asked to vote on strike action over plans to close a final salary pension scheme.

Unite the union said that BMW, the German manufacturer which owns the brands, has refused to lift a threat to close the scheme by 31 May.

Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, is set to hold talks with senior Unite shop stewards and senior BMW managers on Monday 6 March and Tuesday 7 March.

Voting is expected to begin from next Friday 10 March and finish on 31 March. The ballot will involve approximately 4,500 workers who are members of the BMW occupational pension scheme working at Cowley, Farnborough, Goodwood, Hams Hall in the West Midlands and Swindon. 

Investors wait and see on Sky deal

Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark
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Markets were unmoved on an announcement by the UK Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, that she is "minded" to order an investigation into 21st Century Fox's £18.5bn takeover of Sky .

The US company's stock edged up just 0.26 points to $30.46 while in the UK, Sky's shares slipped 1.5 points to 997p. 

And now for something completely different?

It was somewhat of a shock yesterday that a company linked to Mike Ashley, majority owner of Sports Direct who also controls Newcastle United, bought upmarket sauciness emporium Agent Provocateur

How will the two brands get along?

What next for Agent Provocateur?

Wall Street takes a nap

Wall Street trader
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Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, describes the Dow Jones industrial average on Friday as "lethargic". 

He said: "Janet Yellen is set to speak later this evening, with investors – or at least those who haven’t clocked off for the weekend already (and there seems to be a lot that have) – paying keen attention to just how hawkish the central bank chair sounds.

"There will also be speeches from Federal Open Market Committee member Charles Evans, Jerome Powell and Stanley Fischer, though the market will be most interested in what Yellen has to say."

NBCUniversal invests $500m in Snap

Snapchat co-founders Bobby Murphy (L) and Evan Spiegel (R)
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Snapchat co-founders Bobby Murphy (L) and Evan Spiegel (R)

The near 60% rise in share price in just two days proves that Snapchat-owner Snap Inc is wildly popular.

So much so that NBCUniversal has invested $500m in the camera company during its initial public offering "as part of a strategic investment and partnership", according to the media giant's chief executive, Steve Burke.

Mr Burke has recently invested in other digital media businesses, including $400m in Buzzfeed and $200m in Vox.

BreakingShap's shares still have plenty of pop

Snap Inc shares soared 9.3% to $26.75 on the second day of trading.

Oscar accountants 'wanted to appear on stage'

PwC accountants Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan
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PwC accountants Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan

"Envelope-gate" has taken another twist.

Variety, via The Guardian, is claiming that the two PwC accountants at the centre of the Oscars storm wanted to appear in a sketch on stage.

Variety alleges that accountant Brian Cullinan suggested to the show's producers that he and his colleague Martha Ruiz could interact with the host Jimmy Kimmel.

The producers said no.

PwC denies the accountants want to perform a sketch but wanted to counteract a joke that was made at their expense by the previous year's host, Chris Rock.

The accountancy firm said in a statement:“It is standard protocol for PwC to have conversations with the show’s producers about the firm’s involvement in the show.

"After last year’s sketch when the firm was cast in a defamatory way in front of millions of people, Brian Cullinan spoke with the producers to ensure that the firm would not be cast in the same light. Brian did not want to perform a sketch during the show.”

It just keeps getting worse doesn't it?

Markets hang fire for Yellen speech

Janet Yellen
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Market traders appear to be keeping their powder dry ahead of a speech by US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen later today.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose just 22.22 points to 21,025.19 within minutes of opening.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq advanced 5.61 points to 5,866.84 while the S&P 500 opened flat at 2,381.37. 

The future is female

Earlier this week, Business Live reported on a competition for girls launched by GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre .

It is aimed at encouraging young women to use their skills in the context of cyber security and hopefully inspire them to forge a career in this fascinating area. 

Meanwhile, in Latin America, there are "bootcamps" springing up to teach girls how to code... 

View more on twitter

Aluminium brings jobs to the Highlands

Aluminium
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After a week of job losses - Ford, Boots, Walkers Crisps - it is nice to hear of a company actually creating employment.

Liberty British Aluminium and SIMEC Lochaber Power who, as GFG Alliance, bought the UK's last remaining aluminium smelter, have announced plans to build a manufacturing plant for vehicle parts on the site, and hopes to create hundreds of jobs.

Buying the Fort William aluminium complex already secured 170 jobs. Expanding it could increase the workforce to 2,000 and bring £1bn into the local economy over the next decade.

Today GFG Alliance announced £120m worth of investment to upgrade equipment and create an aluminium wheel manufacturing facility.

Community comes together to rescue pub

Owning a pub would be dream come true for many people.

For the George and Dragon in Hudswell, North Yorkshire, it was a matter of survival.

View more on twitter

Mrs Merkel goes to Washington

Angela Merkel
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to make an official visit to Washington on March 14 in what is sure to be an interesting trip.

In the past, before he was US president, Donald Trump accused Mrs Merkel of “ruining Germany”. As president-elect, he said she had made a “catastrophic mistake” by "taking all of these illegals”.  

Fox responds to UK Culture Secretary

A pretty bland response from 21st Century Fox to government concerns over its bid for Sky.

"As we have previously indicated, we anticipate regulators will undertake a thorough review of the transaction, and we look forward to engaging with them as appropriate.

"We believe the combination of 21st Century Fox and Sky will create a company best suited to compete in a rapidly evolving industry, and are confident that the transaction will be approved based on a compelling fact set,”a spokesperson for 21st Century Fox said in a statement.