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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. BP shares jump on Exxon Mobil bid rumours
  3. Both oil firms declined to comment
  4. VW pleads guilty in US to three charges linked to emissions scandal
  5. US economy generates 235,000 jobs in February
  6. BT to legally separate Openreach

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Over and out

That's all we have time for tonight on Business Live - thanks for reading us this week. 

We are back bright and early on Monday from 06:00 - do join us then.

Wall Street boosted by US jobs growth

Wall Street traders
AP

US stock markets have finished higher after strong jobs growth lifted stocks across the board on Wall Street.

The jobs data - which showed US employers added 235,000 jobs last month - raised the odds of an interest rate rise next week even higher and buoyed stock markets. 

The Dow Jones rose 0.2% to 20,902.98 points.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.3% to 2,372.60 points.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq was up 0.4% to finish the week at 5,861.72.

IranAir gets new Western jet

IranAir and Airbus tail fins
Reuters

IranAir has taken delivery of its second Western jet following the country's nuclear sanctions deal.

The plane - an Airbus A330 long-haul aircraft - was handed over in Toulouse, France on Friday. Initially, the plane is expected to be used on European routes and on flights to Beijing and Kuala Lumpur. 

It joins a smaller A321 delivered to Iran earlier this year, the European planemaker said.   

Google car firm files Uber injunction

BBC tech reporter Dave Lee tweets...

Africa gets its own web address

People using laptops
AFP

Africa now has the unique web address .africa, equivalent to the more familiar .com, following its official launch by the African Union.

AU commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma hailed its creation as the moment when Africa "got [its] own digital identity".

The AU says the .africa domain name will "bring the continent together as an internet community".

Addresses can now reflect a company's interest in the whole of Africa. Read more here

'Mini' B&Q launches launches

Retail journalist tweets ...

Pipeline protesters take to streets in DC

BBC World Service

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in Washington
Getty Images

Many hundreds of people, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and their supporters, have marched through the streets of Washington to protest against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline 

Banging drums and chanting, they held a rally in Lafayette Square near the White House, demanding respect for the rights of indigenous people. Native American tribes say leaks from the oil pipeline will pollute water supplies and endanger sites they consider sacred. 

Last month, President Trump signed an executive order authorising the $3.8bn (£3.1bn) project to proceed, reversing a decision to halt construction taken at the end of the Obama administration.

China property firm hit by currency restrictions

BBC World Service

One of China's biggest property development firms has closed some of its mainland China sales offices which were promoting its $40bn flagship project in Malaysia, reports BBC World Service. 

Country Garden Holdings said it needed to better fit with China's current foreign exchange policies and regulations.

In January, the Chinese government banned its citizens from converting Chinese money into foreign currencies in order to buy property overseas. 

The Chinese authorities are trying to strengthen the fragile banking system by making it more difficult for citizens to shift money out of the country.

Country Garden Holdings is to open showrooms in other markets, including the Middle East and India, to promote the Forest City Development. 

Oil prices continue to fall

Nodding donkeys with sun behind
Thinkstock

Let 's get an update on the oil price now, and it's continued to fall on Friday.

Brent crude is down by 1.4% at $51.44 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate is down by 1.5% at $48:53 a barrel.

Prices began falling earlier this week following news that US crude oil inventories had hit record highs, stoking fears that OPEC production cuts won't reduce global oversupply.  

"We have not seen production cuts undertaken by the world's producers really alleviate the overhang in inventories," said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. 

Juncker hopes UK will rejoin EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said he hopes "the day will come when the British re-enter the boat" - rejoining the EU at some point in the future, after Brexit.

Speaking in Brussels Mr Juncker added: "Brexit is not the end of the European Union, nor the end of all our developments, nor the end of our continental ambitions."

'British will re-enter the boat, I hope' - Jean-Claude Juncker

Pound down amid fears of slowdown

Pound, euro and dollar notes
Getty Images

A quick check on the currency markets now and the pound is down against both the euro and the dollar.  

It's fallen by 0.90% to 1.1399 euros and it's down by by a tiny 0.01% against the dollar at $1.2163. 

As the euro has risen, amid talk of a eurozone interest rate rise, the pound has been damaged by fears that the UK economy is heading for a slowdown. 

"We're now seeing the consequences of the Brexit vote feeding through into the economy, whereas immediately after the vote the data was surprisingly strong," said Alex Edwards, head of dealing at money transfer company OFX in London.

"But I think a lot of the negatives around Brexit are quite heavily priced in already, and ... sterling is going to be supported around $1.20 - I can't see it falling much below that," he added.  

Nothing new in Exxon's 'interest' in BP?

It seems it's not the first time Exxon Mobile has been rumoured to be interested in bidding for BP. 

Back in 2013 The Guardian reported on "vague talk" that the company was keen, though then, like now, the speculation was treated with a pinch of salt"

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

US jobs back from the brink?

More on those strong jobs figures out of the US ...

As we posted earlier, US businesses added 235,000 jobs in February and the  Bureau of Labor Statistics  said the unemployment rate had also edged lower to 4.7%.

The figures suggest that the robust US jobs market maintained its strong growth in the first full month under President Trump.

So how did his predecessors do?

This graphic makes interesting reading ...

Graphic of jobs lost or created under Bush, Obama and Trump
BBC

VW: Who knew what, when?

BBC business correspondent analyses VW's US guilty pleas

Theo Leggett

BBC Business News Reporter

It comes as no surprise that VW pleaded guilty to criminal charges - it agreed to do so as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice agreed in January.

But the humiliation of the company continues. Its lawyer said VW was pleading guilty because it was guilty - such breastbeating making it clear that this was not simply a convenient way to appease the US authorities. 

One prosecutor told the court the systematic distortion of emissions tests was a "well thought out, planned offensive that went to the top of the organisation". That's a significant statement. 

It is still not entirely clear who in VW's more senior ranks knew what was going on in the US. 

But given that the American authorities have already charged seven current and former executives with crimes relating to the scandal, others may now be sleeping rather uneasily at night.

VW shares rise following US guilty pleas

VW badge
Getty Images

Following the news that VW had formally pleaded guilty in the US  to three charges in connection with diesel emissions scandal, shares in the car giant edged up slightly in Frankfurt. 

But the boss of Brand Finance doesn't think that is very surprising. 

The impact of the emission scandal had a devastating initial impact on the Volkswagen’s brand, with the company losing over half of its value in the days following the scandal, and the continued publicity of its ongoing court cases is certainly not helping. The company is, however, a good example of how a strong brand can help weather a crisis. Over the past year, Volkswagen’s brand value has bounced by 32% as the company took steps to earn back the trust of its customers. Whilst the ongoing nature of this scandal does present a number of risks, as each stage of the court cases remind the public of what could well be one of the biggest corporate scandals in recent memory, the market seems to have priced in the plea and the share price appears to have upward momentum.

David Haigh Chief executive officer, Brand Finance

Growing attachment

Unbelievably it's, 25 years since the invention of Mime, or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions - the system that made it possible to send attachments.

Since 1992, people have gone on to send rather a lot of them, as the BBC's technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, explains.

25 years since first email attachment

How to speak with authority

BT and BP lead FTSE 100 higher

London Stock Exchange sign
Getty Images

The  FTSE 100  closed at 7,343.08, a rise of 28 points or 0.38%. 

The biggest gain was seen by BT which was up by 3.71% after that announcement that it is to legally separates its Opereach network division.

Oil giant BP, was the second biggest climber, up by 3.68%, following speculation that Exxon Mobil was considering making a takeover approach for the company. 

Chocolate price hike if Brexit deal fails

Mars and Snickers bars
Getty Images

Chocolate prices could rise if the UK does not secure a trade deal post-Brexit, according to Mars' top boss.

Fiona Dawson, global president for Mars, said the absence of a deal with EU member states would see tariffs of up to 30% for the industry.

Speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU, she warned this would "threaten [the] supply chain and the jobs that come with it."

Theresa May has promised to push for the "freest possible trade". Read more here

US rate hike a 'slam dunk'

BBC New York business correspondent tweets

VW guilty plea explained

VW car in factory
Getty Images

Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to three charges as part of a $4.3bn (£3.5bn) agreement with the US regulators over the diesel emissions scandal.

The German car maker has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, obstruction of justice and entry of goods by false statement.

VW general counsel Manfred Doess told a court in Detroit the company was "guilty on all three counts".

He said the criminal acts occurred in both Germany and the United States.

Under the deal with the Department of Justice, VW agreed to major reforms and scrutiny by an independent monitor for three years after admitting to installing secret software in 580,000 US vehicles. Read more here

Consumer support softening?

Shopping bags
Getty Images

The UK economy grew by 0.6% between December and February, down from 0.8% in the three months to January, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

A key factor behind the slowdown was  the pressure on consumer spending power, said the think tank.    

"Robust consumer spending growth has supported the economic expansion throughout 2016, but there are now signs that this support is beginning to soften," said research fellow Rebecca Piggott.

"Consumer price inflation is expected to continue to increase throughout the rest of 2017, further reducing the contribution from consumer spending to economic growth." 

She said a key question was the extent to which the domestic economic weakness would be offset by the boost to UK exports as a result of a weaker pound. 

VW pleads guilty

Business correspondent Theo Leggett tweets:

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Why does US jobs growth mean higher rates?

Andrew Walker

World Service economics correspondent

Welder
Getty Images

Employers in the US have added more than two million jobs in the past 12 months, and the latest figures show that labour market strength continued into February.

For the Federal Reserve, one of the key issues is that the continued job growth is likely in time to contribute to higher wages and price rises.

Already financial markets were expecting that the Fed will try to pre-empt a sharp future rise in inflation by raising interest rates at a policy making meeting next week.

Today's figures reinforce that expectation.

BP and Exxon Mobil decline to comment

BP petrol station
Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, both the oil giants are declining to comment on speculation that Exxon is sounding out BP shareholders about a takeover.

They're both saying they don't comment on market speculation - which is all it is at the moment.

We can assume a bid hasn't been lodged. Under corporate rules, BP would have to disclose if Exxon had made an offer. 

Can you hear the cheers?

Commenting on the 235,000 jobs created in the US in February, Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics, said the figures would "erase any lingering doubts that the Fed might not hike interest rates next week".

"It will also be greeted with a cheer from the White House," he added.

US shares rise after jobs figures

Wall Street sign with several US flags
Getty Images

Unsurprisingly shares on Wall Street have reacted positively to those strong jobs figures.  

A sshort while after the open the  Dow Jones  was at 20,909.90, a rise of 52 points or 0.25%.

The  S&P 500  was at 2,373.57, that's up 9 points or 0.37%.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq  was up 0.41% or 24 points at 5,862.67.

Tune in to Tech Tent

BBC technology correspondent tweets

Catch up with the latest tech stories at 15:00 GMT on BBC World Service ...

View more on twitter

BP shares jump on bid speculation

Dearbail Jordan

Business reporter

BP
Getty Images

BP shares are looking punchy today. The reason? Renewed speculation that the world's largest listed oil company, ExxonMobil, is considering making an approach for the UK group.

In fact, the London Evening Standard is reporting that Exxon had sounded out BP's major shareholders to gauge their interest in a potential takeover.

Shares in BP rose 3.52% to 470p.

The hawks have it?

And if you were in any doubt about what the experts think about an imminent increase in interest rates ...

February’s jobs report confirms the ongoing resilience and strength of the US economy. Rising inflation plus strong economic data have led to more hawkish commentary from the Fed recently and today’s numbers strengthen the case for an interest rate hike next week. It is generally the case that the best stock market performance during a rate hiking cycle comes when the Fed moves slowly in the first year, but quicker in the second year. That pattern appears to be panning out in this cycle.

Kully Samra UK managing director, Charles Schwab

US rate hike a 'done deal'

Federal Reserve building
Reuters

More reaction is coming into to those strong US jobs figures.

The consensus seems to be that an interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve is a foregone conclusion.

A March (US interest rate) hike is a done deal. The report was the last piece in the puzzle and there is nothing here that will make the Fed want to step back from their recent signalling. The challenge for the Fed now is to ensure that the market doesn’t start extrapolating a much more rapid series of hikes. Investors are comfortable with three hikes this year but any suggestion of four will probably cause a wobble.

Luke Bartholomew Investment manager, Aberdeen Asset Management

More US rate rises in the pipeline?

Dennis de Jong from UFX.com says the latest US jobs report has raised the possibility of four interest rate rises this year:

“We already knew that the Fed was practically guaranteed to raise interest rates this month and the February non-farm payroll reading hasn’t delivered the curveball that could have stopped it.

“In fact, it is the complete opposite with the continued strong jobs growth, combined with rising inflation and accelerating wages, likely to lead to even more rate hikes this year.

“The Fed forecast three rises in 2017, but the odds on a fourth have just come tumbling down.”

US wages continue to rise

Average hourly earnings for private sector employees rose by 6 cents to $26.09 in February.

Over the year wages rose by 2.8%.

Jobs growth in construction, education and manufacturing

The US labour market was boosted by a 58,000 gain in construction employment in February.

Manufacturing added 28,000 and employment in private educational services rose by 29,000.

BreakingUS economy created 235,000 jobs in February

Burgers with US flags
get

The US economy created 235,000 jobs in February, according to official data . That was more than analysts had been expecting.

BreakingLloyds takes £350m hit on loan insurance

Lloyds Banking Group is putting aside another £350m to cover compensation for mis-sold loan insurance.

The charge will be accounted for in the company's first quarter results due next month.

It is in addition to the £17bn Lloyds has set aside to to cover mis-sold payment protection insurance.

Pilot jailed after boarding flight while drunk

A pilot has been jailed for ten months for boarding a flight from Scotland to the United States while drunk.

Carlos Roberto Licona from Texas was supposed to be the co-pilot on a United Airlines flight from Glasgow to Newark in August last year.

He was taken off the plane after security staff smelled alcohol on his breath as he entered the airport.

Dulux-owner urged to consider takeover approach

Cans of paint
Akzo Nobel

Akzo Nobel should continue talking to US rival PPG Industries about a takeover - so says Akzo Nobel shareholder Henderson Global Investors.

On Thursday Akzo Nobel, which owns paint maker Dulux, rejected a $22bn takeover offer from PPG.

Akzo said the offer was not in stakeholder interests and that it would prefer to sell its speciality chemicals business instead.

Henderson Global holds a stake worth more than 150m euros in Akzo.