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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Next profits fall but shares jump
  3. Retail sales rise in February
  4. Sterling above $1.25
  5. Doubts over Co-op Bank

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 bright and early tomorrow at 6.00am with all the latest news and analysis.

Stock markets back in wait-and-see mode

US market trader
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So, after a day of ups and downs , the Dow Jones industrial average closed 4.72 points lower at 20,656.58.

The S&P 500 fell 2.49 points to finish at 2,345.96 and the Nasdaq ended 3.95 points at 5,817.69.

The vote on repealing ObamaCare will now be held on Friday and the White House says it is "confident" it will pass.

Markets stoic after postponed US vote

Despite the delay to the vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the fall on stock markets is fairly modest.

The Dow Jones industrial average is trading 20.61 points down at 20,640.69.

The S&P 500 is 3.18 points lower at 2,345.27. The Nasdaq is down 10.65 points down at 5,810.99.

Branson's 'tears' over Virgin America name

Virgin and Alaska Airlines tailfins
Alaska Airlines

It was just last year that Alaska Airlines snapped up Virgin America for $4bn.  Yesterday it announced  it would scrap the Virgin America name and logo "likely sometime in 2019". 

Today, Virgin founder Richard Branson  has penned a letter to Virgin America staff

"Many tears are shed today... over Alaska Airlines’ decision to buy and now retire Virgin America," he wrote.

"Mr Branson signed off with the following thought: "George Harrison once said, 'All Things Must Pass.' This was the ride and love of a lifetime."

BreakingMarkets fall on US 'vote delay'

Reports are emerging that the Congressional vote to repeal ObamaCare may be delayed.

Dow Jones is trading 23.94 points lower at 20,637.36. The S&P 500 has tipped into negative territory, down 2.59 points at 2,345.

US rolls back internet privacy rules

Internet
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The US Senate has voted to undo rules that would have forced internet service providers to get customer approval before they used or sold on personal information such as their browsing history.

Under President Obama, the Federal Communications Commission put regulations in place that meant companies must get the nod from users before telling an advertiser what websites customers visited, what apps they used, their health and financial information, or their physical location.

The rules are not in effect and axing them will require a further vote.

Out with the old...

For sale sign
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Yesterday, data emerged that showed re-sales of existing US homes fell in February. Today, figures reveal that sales new US houses jumped to a seven month high in February. 

The US Commerce Department said sales rose 6.1% to 592,000 homes, the highest level since July 2016.

Eton Park hedge fund to close

The hedge fund Eton Park is being shut down. 

The fund, which was set up by former Goldman Sachs banker Eric Mindich, reported a 9% loss last year. Its assets shrank from $9bn to $7bn. 

Mr Mindich told investors: "We have made the very difficult decision to return your capital, from a position of relative strength."

He said: "Recently, a combination of industry headwinds, a difficult market environment and, importantly, our own disappointing 2016 results have challenged our ability to continue to maintain the scale and scope we believe necessary to pursue our investment program consistent with our founding principles." 

Could this be Britain's cheapest supermarket?

Nathaniel Richards fell on hard times in 2011 and had to turn to food banks.

When he heard that supermarket suppliers were throwing away food that was still safe to eat he decided to do something.

He set up Nifties in Dover in 2016, where the average price of an item is just 60p.

Google 'can't guarantee' advert placement

Google
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Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet which owns Google which, in turn, owns YouTube, says the internet giant cannot guarantee that adverts will not appear next to offensive material online.

In an interview with Fox Business, Mr Schmidt said: "We can't guarantee it, but we can get pretty close."

Major companies have been pulling their advertising from Google's platforms after The Times discovered they were appearing alongside extremist content. 

Mr Schmidt said: "We're very good at detecting what's the most relevant and what's the least relevant. It should be possible for computers to detect malicious, misleading and incorrect information and essentially have you not see it. We're not arguing for censorship, we're arguing just take it off the page, put it somewhere else...make it harder to find.

"I think we're going to be ok."

Keeping fresh and fruity

Markets waver on a taxing vote

Donald Trump
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The Dow Jones industrial average remains in positive territory but it has given up earlier gains.

The index is up 30.98 points at 20,692.28. The S&P 500 is 3.21 points ahead at 2,351.61 and the Nasdaq is ahead 3.1 points at 5,824.85. 

All eyes are on whether the Trump administration can get enough Congressional votes to reform the Affordable Care Act. Failure to do so would cast doubt on the US president's ability to secure subsequent legislation including changing tax rates. 

Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank, said: "There's been a lot of optimism regarding the Trump administration so this could very well be the first setback.

"What the market wants is to get through the healthcare question so that we can move on to tax reform."

Deutsche 'committed' to London

Deutsche Bank
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Deutsche Bank's UK chief executive Garth Ritchie says: "The move underlines the bank's commitment to the City of London and the importance it attaches to being an employer of choice in the capital. 

"It will advance the bank's strategic goals of increasing efficiency, reducing complexity and strengthening links between the business divisions and infrastructure functions."

Deutsche Bank gives London a vote of confidence

BBC business editor Simon Jack tweets

RBS: cutting too far?

RBS
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Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, acknowledges that RBS has to reduce costs after reporting a £7bn annual loss while more regulatory fines loom on the horizon.

However, on the decision to close more than 150 branches , he says: "The bank has already cut costs at a rate of roughly £1bn a year for the last three and shed around a third of posts since 2013.

"It cannot keep slashing the core business without damaging future earnings and growth. A lack of profits has already dented RBS’s ability to invest in new platforms and IT."

He adds: "Investors will want to see a lot more than just cost cutting before RBS starts to perform like its peers, and a profit still seems a long way off.”

Shareholders vote against Crest Nicholson pay report

Housebuilding
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Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has been given a bloody nose by its shareholders over pay.

While the majority investors voted in favour of the company's pay policy for the next three years, 58% were against this year's remuneration report because it does not feel that the element that measures pre-tax profit growth does not stretch management far enough. 

Crest Nicholson says it is disappointed by the result but will continue to engage with shareholders.

London shares finish ahead

The FTSE 100 finished 15.99 points ahead at 7,340.71 today.

Next led the risers, up 8% at £41.99 despite reporting its first fall in annual profit for eight years

Miners and commodity firms stayed on the biggest losers list. Randgold Resources's shares gave up 2.7% at £70.95 and Glencore fell 2.4% to 321.65p.

The FTSE 250 ended 169.33 points up at 19,002.27. 

A case of simple maths

Valeant Pharmaceuticals is a Canadian company which is $30bn in debt, reported a $2.4bn loss for 2016 and has cut its outlook for this year.

It just has handed its chief executive Joseph Papa, who joined last May, a pay package worth $62.7m.

This includes an $8m signing on bonus and various stock awards worth a combined $52m.

Here is Valeant's share price performance over 12 months.

Valeant
BBC

Fin.

Happy mothers' day!

US stocks gain ground

Dow Jones industrial average
BBC

US stocks have rebounded ahead of a key congressional vote on healthcare reforms.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 69.93 points to 20,731.23. The S&P 500 was also up, 8.87 points at 2,357.3 and the Nasdaq gained 18.24 points to 5,839.97.

Today vote to repeal Obamacare is viewed by financial markets as a key test of US President Donald Trump's ability to deliver on his legislative agenda, including planned tax cuts.

Nice work if you can get it

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Bob Iger
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Disney boss Bob Iger has postponed his departure for a third time. He had been due to go in June 2018, but the entertainment giant said today that his contract had been extended to July 2019.

Just to sweeten the deal, he will get a bonus of $5m in cash on top of his pay package.

However, many shareholders are likely to welcome the continuity so any criticism of the bonus is likely to be muted. 

After 2019 Mr Iger then becomes a consultant for three years. 

He became Disney chief executive way back in 2005.

In your debt

Guardian business reporter Graham Ruddick tweets:

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RBS is 'turning its back on communities'

RBS
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Unite the union claims that Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by the taxpayer, is "turning its back on local communities" by closing down 150 RBS and NatWest branches, which leaves 470 staff facing redundancy.

It says: "Banks have a duty to the wider community and that is especially the case for banks like RBS that have large taxpayer-owned shareholdings."

Unite argues that pensioners, people with mobility issues and those without internet access will be particularly hard hit.

“It’s time for banking regulators and government to intervene, to force banks to maintain an adequate network that properly serves communities across the UK.” 

Akzo in the dog house with investors

PA
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More on PPG's 22.7bn euro pursuit of Akzo Nobel , owner of Dulux paints.

A number of the company's shareholders want it to engage with PPG, which has made two offers for the business.

PPG's chief executive Michael McGarry said: "It was shocking that [our] enhanced proposal was turned down in basically a day."

McGarry argued that the second approach addressed the major concerns raised by Akzo Nobel following the first tilt in early March, adding: "I think that's what probably upset shareholders the most."

Business lunches: what not to do

Etiquette consultant Jacqueline Whitmore explains how not to make a total fool of yourself - and the company you work for - during a business lunch.    

Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore retells some culinary horror stories.

Credit Suisse may tap shareholders for funds

Shares in Credit Suisse are trading 3.2% lower on reports that it may tap its shareholders for funds instead of selling off a stake in its Swiss banking division. 

RBS to close 150 bank branches

Natwest branch
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RBS has announced it will shut 150 of its branches.

This will include 30 RBS and 128 Natwest outlets and will cost 470 jobs.

It said it has taken the decision following a shift in the way its customers like to bank.

"We have seen a dramatic shift in the way our customers are choosing to bank, with more using mobile and online over traditional branch counters.

"Simple transactions undertaken in branch at NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland have fallen by 43% since 2010, while online and mobile transactions have increased by more than 400%." 

Writing on the wall for Dulux-owner?

Brighton Colour Run
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PPG is piling the pressure on Dulux paint owner-Akzo Nobel to enter takeover talks.

Executives from PPG have landed in Amsterdam to talk to the company that has so far rebuffed its advances.

PPG chief executive Michael McGarry says he wants to meet Akzo Nobel "stakeholders", adding: "I offered to come over here any time, any day, any place."

He might get short shrift from Akzo boss Ton Buechner who told Reuters last night that based on PPG second offer of 22.7bn euros, he saw no point in talks. 

SEC chair nominee in the hot seat

SEC
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Jay Clayton, potentially the next leader of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, is currently being questioned by the Senate Banking Committee.

He is a partner at one of America's leading law firms, Sullivan & Cromwell, so he's no pushover. Though Rolling Stone points out he may face questions over his ties to Wall Street.

Anyway, so far he has said that companies are not going public because it is too costly. 

He claims individual prosecution, particularly in the white collar area (i.e. shifty business types) has a significant effect on criminal behaviour. 

And he says the question of whether Dodd-Frank financial regulations have been effective is on the minds of people in the US administration. 

Band-Aid solution?

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

J&J products
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Johnson & Johnson is the latest company to pull advertising from YouTube , following US mobile operators Verizon and AT&T as well as a host of UK brands including Marks & Spencer. 

All are concerned that their ads may have appeared on channels that carry extremist videos. 

J&J said it wanted to ensure its advertising did not appear on channels that promote "offensive content". 

Google, which owns YouTube, raked in ad revenue worth $5.6bn globally last year, according to research firm eMarketer.

Trump's big test

Donald Trump
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Commenting on the significance of US Congress's vote on Donald Trump's changes to Obamacare, FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunuga, says: "Today will be the first major test for Trump's legislative ability and the outcome may either create a Trump slump or technical bounce for bulls to exploit."

While Oanda analyst Craig Erlam, says: "Trump's healthcare vote could be key to markets. 

"Should the healthcare plan be approved by Congress then we could see a resumption of the Trump rally while a failure could leave markets vulnerable to a larger correction."

Wall Street in wait-and-see mode

US stock trader
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US traders took a cautious approach to the market today ahead of a crucial congressional vote on healthcare reforms. 

The Dow Jones industrial average opened down 14.89 points at 20,646.41. Nike's regained a little ground from a drubbing yesterday after the sportswear giant narrowly misses third quarter forecasts. Its stock rose 1.75% to $54.86.

The S&P 500 was also in negative territory, down 1.87 points at 2,346.58.

While the Nasdaq was 4.44 points lower at 5,817.21.

Emirates launches laptop-packing service

A US made Boeing 777-300ER, owned by Dubai carrier Emirates
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Air carrier Emirates says it is launching a free laptop-packing service for customers on flights affected by the US and UK laptop ban.

Customers travelling to the US via Dubai will be able to use their laptops until they get to the departure gate, the airline says.

"They must then declare and hand over their laptops, tablets, and other banned electronic devices to security staff at the gate just before boarding their US-bound flight. The devices will be carefully packed into boxes, loaded into the aircraft hold, and returned to the customer at their US destination," Emirates says.

But passengers starting their journey in Dubai "are encouraged to pack their electronic devices into their check-in luggage in the first instance, to avoid delays," it adds.

UK rate rises will trail well behind US - economist

UK golf fans
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Traders are betting that there will be at least three interest rate increases in the US this year.

So what about here in the UK?

Well, Capital Economics argues that the Bank of England will not closely follow its US counterpart.

"The most obvious factor is Brexit, which has added a considerable degree of uncertainty to the UK’s outlook," said Jonathan Loynes, chief economist at the research firm.

Meanwhile, US inflation reflects the strong economy and wages there are likely to grow. However, "higher UK inflation largely reflects the drop in the pound and will slow growth by squeezing real wages," he says.

And while President Trump has promised to boost spending, "fiscal policy in the UK will continue to drag on the economy for a number of years yet."

Early signs of falling EU immigration

Douglas Fraser

Scotland business & economy editor

FCA 'revisits Barclays probe'

Barclays logo
PA

UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority has resumed an investigation into payments made by Barclays in the course of a 2008 emergency fundraising, the Reuters news agency reports.

The FCA has reviewed new evidence and may reconsider a £50m fine imposed in 2013, Reuters says.

Barclays and the FCA declined to comment. 

Audio: Baroness Altmann calls for more pension flexibility

Former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann says we need to think differently about retirement and pensions. In particular, she would like to see more flexibility over when workers can take a state pension, as there are big differences in life expectancy across the nation.

Baroness Ros Altmann says a set pension age is not a good idea

Ted Baker's international expansion

Ted Baker sign
PA

Shares in Ted Baker are down more than 5% and are the biggest losers on the FTSE 250 .

Nevertheless some analysts are optimistic about the future for the fashion retailer.

"“It’s difficult not to be impressed with Ted Baker," says Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

In particular he highlights the company's international expansion.

"That expansion is costing money, with spending on a new European distribution warehouse weighing on profits this year.

"But Ted’s strategy of licensing out underdeveloped markets mean that others are bearing much of the capital expense of its rapid expansion, while its distinctive patterned products are continuing to perform well in the department store setting – another relatively low cost route to market," he added.

Not all good news...

Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics tweets:

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