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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. FTSE 100 falls as pound gives up gains
  3. Kingfisher shares slide on cautious outlook
  4. Crude oil prices fall
  5. Thames Water fined £20m for river pollution

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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Goodnight

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Thank you for joining us on Business Live.

We'll be back tomorrow at 6.00am sharp with breaking news and analysis.

Wall Street regains ground

The Dow Jones clawed back some ground on Wednesday to finish 6.71 points at 20,661.30.

The S&P 500 edged up 6 points to 2,348 and the Nasdaq rose 27 points to 5,821.

Oil keeps head above $50

Oil
Getty Images

The oil price is just hanging on to the right side of $50 a barrel.

Brent crude is currently $50.64 after the International Energy Agency reported that oil inventories climbed by almost 5m barrels to 533.1m. There had been forecasts that it would rise by 2.8m barrels. 

US businesses suspend Google advertising

Verizon
Getty Images

US companies have joined the stream of businesses  pulling their advertising from Google and YouTube.

The Times is reporting that the telecom giants Verizon and AT&T and car rental company Enterprise have suspended their adverts after it was discovered that content was appearing on extremist videos on YouTube, which is owned by Google.

The newspaper also states that GSK, the UK pharmaceutical giant, has suspended its advertising.

Starbucks goes big

Seattle Times business reporter Janet Tu tweets

You've got to hand it to America. At their investor meetings, they really push the boat out. At Starbucks's gathering today, the extraordinarily talented singer Leon Bridges is performing.

In the UK, you're lucky if you get a dried-up old sandwich and a cup of tea. 

View more on twitter

Courage and coffee

Howard Schultz
Getty Images

Stirring stuff from Starbucks's Howard Schultz at his final investor meeting.

Commenting of the coffee chain's reasoning behind plans to hire 10,000 refugees globally over the next five years , he says: "Not every business decision is an economic one."

He also says: "Leadership and moral courage is not a passive one."

And he adds: "We know there's a better America because we see it in our stores."

Sears shares fall further

As we reported earlier shares in the US retailer Sears are falling, now down around 14%, as doubts about its survival persist.

Read more about those doubts here

Swapping hot drinks for politics?

Howard Schultz
Getty Images

It will be an emotional day at Starbucks' shareholder meeting today.

Howard Schultz, co-founder, chairman and chief executive, is giving his final address before chief operating officer Kevin Johnson takes over. 

This poignant moment aside, there is some speculation that Mr Schultz may emerge as a Democratic contender for the White House in 2020.

Stranger things have happened...

Snap Inc gets confidence boost

Snap Inc
Getty Images

In a day of falling or static stock markets, there is a ray of light - Snapchat-owner Snap.

Shares in the company rose 5.7% to $21.55 after In the newest vote of confidence for Snap, Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White made a "buy" recommendation on its stock.

In the most anticipated stock market debut so far this year, Snap Inc listed its shares at the beginning of this month at $17.   

Markets test Trump's tough talk

US stock market trader
Getty Images

The Dow Jones industrial average has pared back earlier falls but remains in negative territory.

It fell 26.36 points to 20,641.65, with Nike leading the biggest losers after its third quarter results missed analysts expectations.

However, the S&P 500 nudged up 2.84 points to 2,346.86 and the Nasdaq rose 2.84 points to 2,346.86.

Ryan Larson, head of US equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management, said: "Most of what we're seeing this morning is uncertainty on the outcome of the (healthcare reform) vote tomorrow or if the vote will even happen tomorrow.

"The market was giving Trump some leeway. It was supportive of what the administration was talking about. We're starting to get into a phase where that grace period is coming to an end and what the market wants is to see more walk-the-talk as opposed to talk-the-talk."

Fraudster tricks major firms out of $100m

Dodd-Frank will be overhauled 'this year'

Jeb Hensarling
Getty Images

The Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee is confident that the Trump administration will act to overhaul financial regulations introduced following the global banking crisis this year.

Jeb Hensarling told Reuters: "Every conversation I've had with the president, the vice president and the speaker is that [Dodd-Frank] remains a priority this year."

US home sales slow

US home for sale
Getty Images

US home sales fell by more than expected in February.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said re-sales were down 3.7% to 5.48 million houses. Economists had been expecting a 2% decline.

NAR's chief economist and senior vice president Lawrence Yun, said: "The significant shortage of listings last month along with deteriorating affordability as the result of higher home prices and mortgage rates kept many would-be buyers at bay."

Presidents and the stock market

Ritholtz Wealth Management boss Joshua Brown tweets

Eurogroup chief regrets 'Dutch directness'

Jeroen Dijsselbloem
Getty Images

The Dutch head of the eurozone group of finance ministers is clearly feeling a little more conciliatory today after claiming some indebted nations had spent their money on "drinks and women".

Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem who on Tuesday appeared reluctant to apologise, said today: "I regret it if one is offended by the remark. It was direct, and can be explained from strict Dutch, Calvinistic culture, with Dutch directness."

"I understand that this is not always well understood and appreciated, elsewhere in Europe. That is another lesson I take on board.

"At the same time, I think I am appreciated for keeping my own style and that I with some strictness I address all ministers, and I have to be strict sometimes. And yes, my style is direct and again if people take offence in that I am sorry of course." 

He added: "I have no intention to step down."

Pension age should rise sooner to 68

Pensioners
Getty Images

An independent review has recommended that the state pension age should increase to 68.

John Cridland, the former director of the Confederation of British Industry who is leading the review, proposes increasing the retirement age from 67 to 68 between 2037 and 2039. 

The age is already expected to rise, heading to 67 by 2028 and to 68 by between 2044 and 2046.

However, the review said an accelerated rise provides greater "intergenerational fairness", and helps the fiscal sustainability of the state pension.

The report will help the Government's review of the state pension age which is due in May.

UK markets close lower

London stocks finished the day lower on Wednesday.

The FTSE 100 closed down 53.62 points at 7,324.72.

The FTSE 250 tumbled 155 points to 18,832.94.

UBS charges for deposits

UBS
Getty Images

Swiss bank UBS will start charging customers who deposit more than a million euros, as negative interest rates hit banks' profits.

The annual 0.6% charge will take affect from May.

UBS already imposes charges for large accounts held in Swiss francs by companies and some wealthy clients.

Banks' profits have been hit by the European Central Bank's policy of stimulating growth through negative interest rates and increased liquidity.

Read more here.

Trump trade goes both ways

The Dow Jones industrial average over 12 months
BBC

Commenting on the stock markets' downwards trend, Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist at JP Morgan Private Bank, says: "The markets were reminded yesterday the 'Trump trade' is not a one-way trade and there's room for disappointment as actions on tax cuts and infrastructure spending might not materialize as quickly as we want."

Ian Lyngen, head of US rates strategy at BMO Capital Markets, adds: "People are losing confidence in a swift moving set of congressional reform."

The graphic shows just how far the Dow Jones industrial average has climbed since Donald Trump was elected as US President on 9 November and his promise to cut tax and invest in infrastructure .

Watch the moment House was suspended after shooting
The moment the House was suspended following reports of shots fired close to the Houses of Parliament in central London.

Commons suspended for remainder of the day

House of Commons

Parliament

Commons Leader David Lidington has just announced that business in the Commons will be suspended for the rest of the day:

"I hope the House would agree that in the current circumstances it would not be right to continue with the day's business."

The business will be re-scheduled for a mutually convenient date, he says.

With that, Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle adjourns the Commons, promising to keep MPs informed.

Oil prices stumble

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Oil pump
Getty Images

Brent crude is hovering around the $50 a barrel level after slipping to $49.71 a barrel - close to a four-month low - while US oil fell as low as $47 a barrel. 

The falls followed data showing stocks of US crude rising faster than expected, putting pressure on Opec to extend output cuts beyond June.

Abhishek Kumar at Interfax Energy in London said: "The market remains nervous about rising US production, which is also reducing the effectiveness of output cuts by Opec and some non-Opec countries."

Nike just misses it

Nike
Getty Images

Shares in sportswear giant Nike are taking a belated beating after its third quarter results narrowly misses forecasts.

Last night, Nike revealed that revenue reached $8.4bn compared to expectations of $8.47bn, its forward ordered ticked 1% lower and its profit margin narrowed. 

However, its shares tumbled 6.33% to $54.34.

Stock exchange merger 'heads for veto'

LSE
Getty Images

It appears that the merger between the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Deutsche Boerse may be drawing its last, shuddering breath.

Reuters is reporting that the European Commission is set to veto the combination. 

The deal was already looking shaky after the LSE refused to off-load its Italian bond trading platform in response to a demand by EU competition authorities.

Pause blows froth off shares

Stock market trader
Getty Images

There is no reason to panic at the sight of tumbling stock markets.

Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of consultancy Solaris Group, says: "I don't think Trump's agenda will be a total failure.

"We look at this as short-term profit taking and scaling back of time expectations. We're just taking off some of the froth."

Since Donald Trump won the presidential election last November, US stock markets have soared on hopes of tax cuts and infrastructure investment.

Nate Thooft, co-head of global asset allocation at Manulife Asset Management, says: "This has been a really long rally and we finally saw a crack develop yesterday and some people are looking to true-up their portfolios and rotate a bit," 

Black clouds gather over Sears

Sears
Getty Images

It looks like dark days for the US retailer Sears.

Its shares are down 13.4% today after it admitted: "Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company's ability to continue as a going concern."

The loss-making Sears has been attempting to cut costs and reduce its debt. However, it now says it may not be be able to access new funds, and an inability to generate liquidity may limit its ability to buy new merchandise.

Twitter clamps down on 'terrorism' accounts

Union backs independent Unilever

Marmite
Getty Images

Here's something you don't see everyday - a giant multi-national corporate and a union singing from the same song sheet. 

Following Kraft Heinz's unsuccessful $143bn (£115bn) bid for Unilever, the GMB union has popped up to point out the Anglo-Dutch company's virtues. 

It arguing that the £32bn value of its brands, that include Marmite, Dove and every lady's favourite, Brut - is worth double that of Kraft Heinz.

The GMB's national office Eamon O'Hearn, says that Unilever proves that sustainable capitalism can be profitable.

”Companies like Unilever, with a reputation for treating staff with respect, don’t need to embark on slash and burn missions just to maintain margins.

He adds: “This is more proof – if it were needed – that treating workers well and recognising trade unions go hand in hand with good business.” 

Enjoy your lunch

Brazil meat
AP

Some of China's largest supermarkets have pulled Brazilian beef and poultry from their shelves in the first concrete sign that a deepening scandal over Brazil's meat processing industry is hitting business in its main export market.

The moves by Sun Art Retail Group, China's biggest hypermarket chain, and the Chinese arms of global retail giants Wal-Mart and Metro come days after China temporarily suspended Brazilian meat imports.

US stocks slide on tax reform fears

Donald Trump
Getty Images

The Dow Jones industrial average took up where it left off last night - in negative territory.

The index shed 65.40 points to 20,602.61 on concerns that Donald Trump's administration may struggle to deliver on its tax cut and infrastructure spending promises following the difficulty it has faced with its healthcare reforms. 

The S&P 500 also continued downwards albeit at a slower pace of 3.69 points at 2,340.33.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq was the only bright(ish) spot. It was trading marginally ahead at 5,794.20. 

Instagram milestone

Speaking of things tech, FT reporter Hannah Kuchler tweets:

View more on twitter

Tech bonanza

Tech City chair Eileen Burbidge tells Today that workers in the UK's tech sector make 44% more than those in other industries.

The annual report from Tech City says 1.6 million people are now employed by tech companies in the UK.

BreakingSunday deadline

The UK's cabin baggage ban on laptops and tablets must be implemented by Saturday, the Department for Transport said. 

'Noticeable decline in Thames fish stocks'

Thames Water has been fined a record £20m after pumping nearly 1.5 billion litres of untreated sewage into the River Thames in 2013 and 2014.

Barry Mullen, chairman of Thame Angling Club, said the impact of the pollution had been twofold:

"We've seen a noticeable decline in the stocks of fish in the river to such an extent that we understand that there's been a decrease of at least 10% per annum... as a result, we've been losing members."

Mr Mullen said the club had gone down from having in excess of 300 members to about 100.

Thames Water 'failed the environment'

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

Sewage spill
Environment Agency

Some strong words from Richard Aylard, sustainability director at Thames Water, after the firm was fined a record amount over sewage spills.

"We have failed in our responsibility to the environment, and that hurts both personally and professionally, because we do care. In the three years since the last of those incidents, we have learnt our lesson. There have been sweeping, far-reaching changes across the waste-water business", he said including hiring more people, improving systems and more investment.

Ordnance Survey to cut up to 70 jobs

OS map
BBC

Ordnance Survey says it needs to cut up to 70 jobs as part of a restructuring programme - about 6% of the workforce.

The government-owned company, which is based in Southampton, has been making maps since 1791.

The firm wants to create three new units, one of which will concentrate on projects abroad.

Workers who are affected will have to apply for new jobs or take voluntary redundancy.

Ordnance Survey, which currently employ 1105 people, says all departments are affected by the changes.

A consultation involving staff and the PCS and Prospect unions started last month and is expect to last until May. 

What comes under the cabin baggage ban?

Urgent question

devices
BBC

The cabin baggage ban on laptops and tablets, announced by the UK government on Tuesday, applies to certain direct flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The ban applies to any device larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide or 1.5cm deep. It includes smart phones, but most fall outside these limits.

No further details on electronics ban

Urgent question

House of Commons

Parliament

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says he cannot give details on the kinds of threats the government has been made aware of, or precisely why flights from certain countries have been included in the electronic devices ban.

He goes on to say that the UK must make its own security arrangements, and that measures taken by the United States "is a matter for them".

Mr Grayling says he will be writing to UK insurers to make them aware that insurance will be required to cover electronic devices carried in hold luggage where the risk of theft is greater.

'Major change' to airport security questioned

Urgent question

House of Commons

Parliament

Gavin Shuker
HoC

Labour's Gavin Shuker has a series of follow-up questions to the transport secretary's statement.

"This is a major change to our airport security," he says, before asking why the UK's ban on electronic devices differs from that imposed by the United States, and why it applies to flights from different countries.

Mr Shuker wants to know what passengers who have paid for cabin baggage-only tickets will do, and whether insurance will be available to cover the carriage of electronic devices in the hold.