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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Lloyd's of London insurance will open an office in Brussels as a result of Brexit
  3. Palm oil or coconut oil could be used instead of animal fat in new bank notes
  4. US economic growth rate for the final months of 2016 revised higher
  5. Oscars organisers will continue using PricewaterhouseCoopers despite the best film mix-up.

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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Topsy-turvy feeling

Former US Ambassador to the EU has picked up on this cartoon in The Economist. 

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Fraud rise down to increase in smaller amounts of cash being stolen

Colletta Smith

Radio 5 Live presenter

£770m was stolen last year in financial fraud.

Despite all the warnings we hear about keeping our personal data safe, that's more than the amount taken in 2015. 

Impersonation and deception scams, as well as online attacks to compromise data, continued to be the primary drivers behind financial fraud losses in 2016. 

Katie Worobec, Director of Financial Fraud Action UK, told me that the rise in cases of fraud was due to an increase in smaller amounts of money being taken.

The @FFAUK tell me the increase is because more people had smaller amounts nicked…

Wall Street holding on to gains

Wall Street's main markets are holding on to gains in afternoon trading - just. The Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are all up just over 0.3%. Revised GDP growth data gave stocks a boost after markets opened, although there has been little news since to drive shares.

"Equities are ending the first quarter in a reasonably good place," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management. "I do think equities trend sideways, probably for the next month. 

"The rally since the election has centered around improved sentiment regarding tax reform and infrastructure spending, and that's still a work in progress,' he said.' 

What's Ivanka up to?

Brussels has got talent

Lloyd's of London building
Getty Images

The chairman of Lloyd's of London, John Nelson, has told the Financial Times he expects other insurers to follow them to Brussels.

The firm confirmed on Thursday they would be opening a subsidiary in the Belgian capital to ensure business-as-usual when Britain leaves the EU.

"I’d expect a little ecosystem to gradually develop there. I think some [companies] could follow us," he told the FT. 

He said there were several reasons they'd chosen Brussels over other possible locations, one of which was the "good talent pool" they could recruit from there.  

Tech firms 'share government commitment on terrorism'

Rory Cellan-Jones

Technology correspondent

Wall Street Update

A quick check on the US share market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is 0.3% higher at 20,723.

The S&P is 0.27% higher at 2,367.

And the Nasdaq is up 0.24% at 5,911.

The market has been choppy in the past few days as investors assess the impact of the Republicans' failure to pass a healthcare bill on tax reform and the rest of President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda, hopes for which have helped drive stocks to record highs.

H&M to launch new 'more upmarket' fashion brand in London

H&M shopping bag
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Maybe H&M's motto should be: "you can never have too many brands". 

The Swedish fashion company says its launching its eighth High Street brand later this year, with the first outlet opening in London this autumn.

The new brand, Arket, will provide "simple, timeless and functional designs" according to the company's statement. 

The clothes will be priced a bit higher than the stuff in their H&M branded stores and you will be able to grab some "Nordic food" from on-site cafes in many of the branches. Arket will also stock some "external" brands.

The move comes as competition online and on the High Street is squeezing profits at the fashion giant. The company admitted it was in response to "very tough market conditions".

Budget clothing retailers 'look set to expand'

BBC Radio 5 live


Expect to see more budget clothing retailers on the high street, says analyst Paul Thomas.

The consultant at Retail Remedy says a decision by discount chain Poundland to sell clothes in more branches could be just the start.

He told BBC 5 live Drive: "Ultimately, the customers always decide if they need another value retailer or not... it seems to be something that's wanted."  

More than 100 Poundland stores will be selling clothing by the end of the year - enabling the chain to take on the likes of Asda and Primark - with the firm aiming to double that over the next three years.

Many of the budget clothing retailers have moved in to former Woolworths or M&S stores, Thomas said. "These are stores that previously sold clothing - and now they're bringing it back. It's a good thing." 

Pound perky

The pound has pushed higher, boosted by investor relief in the wake of Article 50, as well as a weaker euro following disappointing German inflation figures. Sterling rose 0.8% to 1.164 against the euro, which wobbled after German harmonised consumer price inflation came in below economist expectations at 1.5%, knocking hopes the European Central Bank might trim its stimulus programme.

The UK currency also gained some ground against the US dollar, rising 0.4% to 1.248. 

HSBC gives transgender customers choice of 10 new titles

HSBC building
Getty Images

HSBC is to let customers choose more non-gender specific titles for their retail bank accounts. Instead of Mr, Mrs, Ms or the gender neutral Mx, customers can choose from nine honorifics including "M" and "Misc", the banking giant said. 

The prefixes are designed to give non-binary people more choices if they don't want to be identified by gender. HSBC added that it had simplified the process that lets customers change their gender on an account. The titles will be applied across a customer's account, including their bank cards and correspondence.

The banking giant will let people choose between: 

• Mx (pronounced "Mix" or "Mux") 

• Ind (abbreviation of individual)

• M (abbreviation used in France) 

• Misc (abbreviation of miscellaneous)

• Mre (abbreviation of "mystery") 

• Msr (combination of Miss and Sir

• Myr (an abbreviation used in other parts of the world)

• Pr (abbreviation of person, pronounced "per")

• Sai (pronounced "sigh", used in Asia)

• Ser (pronounced "sair", used in Latin America)

FTSE 100 stages late recovery

The FTSE 100 attempted a recovery in late trading and finished just 4.2 points - 0.06% - down at 7,369.5. The index had lost early gains by the late morning, but staged a comeback, helped by rises on Wall Street.

Miners were among the gainers, led by a 2.9% rise for Antofagasta. The main loser was Mediclinic, down 3%.

Europe's two other main markets, Germany's Dax and France's Cac-40, both finished 0.4% higher.

Brexit: May goes big on the economy and security

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Theresa May at the dispatch box

Philip Hammond was very visibly sitting alongside Theresa May as the prime minister made her statement on Article 50.

And the push and pull between the UK's two most important addresses as Britain starts the process of leaving the European Union - No 10 and No 11 - was evident in every word of the statement and the following letter triggering our exit from the EU.

Mrs May talked of prosperity, quite deliberately, more than once.

She said that Britain would be a "magnet for international talent", that entrepreneurs would be welcome and that the UK would be a committed partner for the EU, which Britain wanted to flourish.  

You can almost see the hand of the Treasury in every part, with its concern that the toughest economic period is not behind us, but is still to come. 

Read the rest of Kamal's blog here.

Palm oil in polymer bank notes 'must be sustainable'

BBC Radio 5 live

polymer bank notes
Bank of England

Any use of palm oil in bank notes "has to be sustainable" to limit its environmental impact, according to an anthropologist from Durham University.

It follows an announcement from the bank that it's considering using palm oil or coconut oil in the production of the new £20 note, following criticism of the use of animal fats in the plastic £5.

The £10 note - which also contains tallow - is still scheduled for release in September this year. 

Dr Jo Setchell, who's concerned about palm oil production because of deforestation and its impact on primate populations, told 5 live's Afternoon Edition that if the bank "can commit to sustainable palm oil they have a real opportunity here."

US debt outlook gets worse

Dollar bills
Getty Images

US debt levels will surge above the record levels seen just after World War Two at some stage in the next 30 years, if current levels of tax and spending are maintained.

That's according to the US budget watchdog, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Its latest projection shows debt mounting up more quickly than its estimate made last year.

The CBO says debt will balloon to 150% of GDP by 2047.

It blamed an acceleration in spending on health care schemes, social security and interest payments on government debt.

VW makes another diesel settlement

VW logo
Getty Images

Volkswagen has agreed a $157.45m settlement over environmental claims from 10 US states following the diesel emissions scandal.

The German carmaker's settlement covers states including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Washington, and also covers some consumer claims. 

In 2016, VW reached a $603m agreement with 44 US states, but that settlement didn't cover claims resolved on Thursday.

In total, VW has now agreed to spend up to $25bn in the US to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and to make vehicle buy-back offers. 

New John Lewis boss says retailer needs reinventing

Paula Nickolds
John Lewis

The new boss of John Lewis says the department store needs re-inventing for a new generation of shoppers.

Paula Nickolds is the first female managing director of John Lewis, having worked her way up the ranks as a graduate trainee.

In an interview with BBC business correspondent Emma Simpson, Ms Nickolds says: "I've inherited a business in really good shape, but we need to change.", she says.

Ms Nickolds has taken over the helm during what she describes as a "pretty challenging" time. You can read more of the interview here .

Wall Street markets little changed at the start of trading

Wall Street has opened little changed despite the revision of fourth-quarter GDP growth rate underlining the strength of the domestic economy. 

A few minutes in to the trading day, the Dow Jones was down 0.5 points to 20,658.82, while the S&P 500 lost 0.46 points to 2,360.67. The Nasdaq dropped 0.81 points to 5,896.74.    

Energy and financial stocks are among the main gainers. A stand-out loser is high-end sportswear maker Lululemon, down 21% after poor trading forecasts. 

Lulumelon shares plunge 21%

Lulumelon free yoga class
Getty Images

Shares in sportswear maker Lululemon Athletica have plunged 21% at the start of trading on Wall Street.

Investors have been upset by the company's outlook for this year . For the first quarter it expects sales to fall, saying that it's range had not been selling well.

"We've clearly identified the issues: an assortment lacking depth and color for spring," said Chief Executive Officer Laurent Potdevin.

For last year the company reported a profit of $303m, up 14%.

Scotland 'facing economic hit'

BBC Scotland business editor tweets:

Former Met chief: Security should be separated from trade

Oral questions

House of Lords


Lord Blair

Crossbencher and former Met Police Commissioner Lord Blair of Broughton says in Brexit negotiations, security should be addressed "first and foremost and separately from trade, to ensure there is no moment when we fall off a security cliff". 

Home Office Minister Baroness Williams describes the UK as "world leaders" in this area and says the government will place it at the "forefront" in negotiations. 

Luxembourg claims right to host London-based banking body

EU and Luxembourg flags

Luxembourg has claimed the legal right to host the London-based European Banking Authority after Brexit, reports the AFP news agency.

The London headquarters of the European Union's financial regulator, in the Canary Wharf district, has 170 staff. 

Citing a European Union law dating back to 1965, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel made his case in a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, AFP says.

Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris and Vienna are also reportedly trying to woo the EBA away.

Video: Lloyd's of London boss on Brussels base

The chief executive of Lloyd's of London has said that only "tens of staff" will be moved from London to its planned hub in Brussels.

Inga Beale told Sally Bundock that the vast majority of its business will remain in London after Brexit.  

Lloyd's of London sees limited impact from Brussels move

Driving 'may become luxury pursuit'

Peter Campbell is Motor Industry Correspondent at the Financial Times.

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US economic growth revised upwards

US construction
Getty Images

The US economy grew at an annual rate of 2.1% in the October to December quarter, according to the final estimate from the Commerce Department .

That was faster than the previous estimate of 1.9%.

However, it is a sharp slowdown from the previous quarter, when then the economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.5%.

Is the living wage a smart bet?

The National Living Wage (NLW) will rise from  from £7.20 to £7.50 an hour on Saturday. Commenting on a report by the Low Pay Commission IFS director Paul Johnson tweets:

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A trip down memory lane

The London School of Economics has published a handy archive on Britain's history of referendums and who said what ahead of the vote for the UK to leave the European Union.

You can access all the material here .

'Business as usual' for the EU

Jean-Claude Juncker
Getty Images

Speaking at the congress in Malta, European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker was upbeat about a post-Brexit union. 

And he had a few choice words for US President Donald Trump.

He said: "Brexit isn't the end. A lot of people would like it that way - even people on another continent where the newly elected US President was happy that Brexit was taking place and has asked other countries to do the same.

"If he goes on like that, I am going to promote the independence of Ohio and Austin, Texas, in the United States.

He added: "It's business as usual in Europe. We must continue, we must forge ahead."

EU sees 'something positive' Brexit

          Tim Barrow delivers Theresa May's Article 50 letter to Donald Tusk
Getty Images
Tim Barrow delivers Theresa May's Article 50 letter to Donald Tusk

European Council President Donald Tusk believes there is "something positive" in Brexit.

Speaking at a congress in Malta, Mr Tusk said: "Yesterday, right after receiving the letter from Prime Minister Theresa May invoking Article 50, I said that paradoxically there's also something positive in Brexit. Brexit has made us, the community of 27, more determined and more united than before.

"I am fully confident of this ... and I can say that we will remain determined and united in the future, also during the difficult negotiations ahead."

Europe's highest court will have no role in UK law

David Davis
Getty Images

Brexit Minister David Davis has announced that the European Court of Justice will have no future role in interpreting British laws after the country leaves the European Union.

The Government has published its Great Repeal Bill which will convert EU regulations into UK law.

He told the House of Commons: "The Great Repeal Bill will provide no future role for the European court in the interpretation of our laws and the bill will not oblige our courts to consider cases decided by the European Court of Justice after we have left."

Government reveals the Great Repeal Bill

Markets subdued in afternoon trade

The FTSE 100 continues to trade lower, down 14 points at 7,359.65.

Fund manager Schroders leads the biggest fallers with its shares down 2.2% at £30.26. Plant hire specialist is the biggest gainer, up 2.9% at £16.86.

In contrast, the FTSE 250 is up 9.93 points at 18,988.58.

Germany's DAX index has added 1.48 points at 12,204.48 while in France, the CAC-40 fell 5.46 points at 5,063.58.

Company faces backlash over high heels for babies

This is not an April Fool's joke.

Pee Wee Pumps
Pee Wee Pumps

A US company is facing criticism for making high heel shoes for babies.

You read that right. High heel shoes for babies.

Pee Wee Pumps calls the soft shoes "her first fashion statement" and offers a range of styles such as the "Wild Child" and "Diva".

Some people aren't so keen on putting babies in shoes modeled on designs that adults wear.

Read all about it here

Banker fined for sharing client details over WhatsApp

Getty Images

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined a former investment banker more than £37,000 for sharing confidential client information over WhatsApp.

Christopher Niehaus, previously a managing director in the investment bank division at Jefferies, was discovered to have sent confidential details via the messaging app to a friend who was also a client of the bank in order to "impress" him.

The FCA said that Mr Niehaus also boasted that if a deal was successful "he may be able to pay off his mortgage".

The financial watchdog found that Mr Niehaus failed to act with due skill, care and diligence and ordered him to pay £37,198.

JP Morgan in talks to buy Dublin office - Bloomberg

Capital Dock artists impression
Capital Dock

JP Morgan Chase is in talks to buy an office building in Dublin, that could house 1,000 workers, reports Bloomberg.

The building, which is under development, is in Dublin's Capital Dock .

“Other options are still very much on the table. We want to see how negotiations progress,” JPMorgan told Bloomberg. “No final decisions have been made.”  

Government pressed on security after Brexit

Oral questions

House of Lords


Getty Images

Lib Dem Lord Paddick asks whether the government plans to continue sharing sensitive personal information with EU states for the purposes of crime prevention after Brexit. 

He asks: "Less than a week after four people were killed in Westminster, is the implied threat that the UK will withhold security co-operation insensitive, reckless or an empty threat?"

Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford says our co-operation will be "undiminished". 

She describes Theresa May's words on security as "not a threat at all but a matter of fact".

Exit first, trade later

Theresa May and Francois Hollande
Getty Images

France's President Francois Hollande has told Prime Minister Theresa May that Brexit talks must first deal with Britain's breakaway from European Union before tackling how the UK and Europe will deal with each other. 

In a statement from the Elysee Palace, detailing a phone conversation between Mr Holland and Mrs May, it said: "The President indicated that the talks must at first be about the terms of withdrawal, dealing especially with citizens' rights and obligations resulting from the commitments made by the United Kingdom.

"On the basis of the progress made, we could open discussions on the framework of future relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union."

Love for Morrisons from analysts

Shares in Morrison Supermarkets are among the big winners on the FTSE 100 today .

They are up almost 2%.

Analysts at Bank of America raised their view of the shares to "buy", saying it has one of the strongest balance sheets in the sector and generates strong cash flow.

They note that soon the cash on its balance sheet is expected to exceed all its debts and liabilities.