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  1. Get in touch:
  2. EU sets out Brexit negotiating strategy
  3. House price growth slows
  4. Eurozone inflation in March falls to 1.5%
  5. South Africa finance minister exit shakes investors

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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Thank you for joining Business Live in a truly momentous week.

Have a great weekend and we look forward to bringing you all the latest business and economic news from 6.00am on Monday.

Twitter drops egg to beat abuse


Twitter has changed its egg profile picture to a silhouette after noting links between people who use the image and online abuse.

The company the neutral silhouette is designed to look empty or like a placeholder in order to encourage people to upload their own picture. 

Twitter said: "We've noticed patterns of behaviour with accounts that are created only to harass others - often they don't take the time to personalise their accounts.

"This has created an association between the default egg profile photo and negative behaviour, which isn't fair to people who are still new to Twitter and haven't yet personalised their profile photo.

"The new default image feels more like an empty state or placeholder, and we hope it encourages people to upload images that express themselves."

US markets close lower

US stock market
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US shares closed lower after investors cashed in profits on the last trading day of the quarter.

The Dow Jones lost 0.31% to 20,663.22, the S&P 500 was down 0.23% at 2,362.72, and the Nasdaq shed 0.04% to 5,911.74.

Financials did poorly, with the S&P 500 financials index losing 0.72%. 

Despite the falls, it was a strong quarter for stocks, with each of the three major indexes posting gains of at least 4.6%. 

Heathrow-bound plane has near miss with drone

HMRC: we do not settle for less

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HMRC is refusing to specifically comment on the amount of tax that Google paid in the UK for its last financial year.

However, it did say this: "Everyone has to pay the tax due under the law and we do not settle for less.

"Our most recent figures show that HMRC brought in a record £26bn in extra tax for our public services, with £7.3bn of that total coming from the 2,100 largest and most complex businesses in the UK."

Data analytics is where it's at

Eric Schmidt
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The skill that future employers are looking for is not just the ability to string a sentence together. According to billionaire Eric Schmidt, companies will want workers with data analytics knowledge.

The executive chairman of Google's parent company Alphabet told CNBC: "I think a basic understanding of data analytics is incredibly important for this next generation of young people. That's the world you're going into."

He explains: "By data analytics I mean a basic knowledge of how statistics works, a basic knowledge of how people make conclusions over big data." 

Trump's tweets - there is a solution

Global palm oil industry under threat from weevil

Palm oil treatment
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If the Bank of England is seriously considering using palm oil in the production of the new £20 note , they may be facing a foe - the red palm weevil. 

This little critter is so vicious - it ravages coconut, date and oil palms - that agriculture ministers have had to agree a plan to combat this "global threat".

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says the red palm weevil has spread to 60 countries from the Caribbean to Southern Europe. 

The plan involves improved pest monitoring and a proposed ban on the import of palms larger than 6cm wide from infested countries.

Oil prices fall on rig rise

Oil rigs in the US
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A rise in US rigs sent oil prices lower on Friday.

Brent oil fell 31 cents to $52.65 a barrel and prices at the end of the first quarter are around 7% lower compared to the final three months of 2016.

US oil prices were volatile, at one point falling below $50 a barrel before climbing back to $50.42.

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes said the number of rigs in operation in the US rose by 10 to 662. 

A rise in rigs signals that the US is producing more oil, therefore adding to global oil supplies.  

Gold bar and jewels seized in Credit Suisse probe

The Dutch office for financial crimes prosecution (FIOD) has tweeted some of the goods it seized as part of a tax fraud investigation into Credit Suisse.

As part of raids across the Netherlands, the UK and France, the FIOD took items including bank accounts, real estate, jewellery, a luxury car,  paintings and a gold bar from houses in four Dutch towns and cities.

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South Africa's night of the long knives explained

ExxonMobil leads Dow Jones fallers

Stock market trader
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The Dow Jones industrial average has clawed back some losses but it is still trading lower, down 28.81 points at 20,699.68. 

Oil giant ExxonMobil is currently the biggest faller, with its shares 1.85% lower at $82.15. Chip-maker Intel is the largest gainer, up 1% at $36.13. 

The Nasdaq is 8.45 points ahead at 5,922.79 while the S&P 500 is flat at 2,367.87. 

Dutch may share Credit Suisse tax fraud details

Credit Suisse
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More on that tax fraud investigation into investment bank Credit Suisse. 

Although Credit Suisse is based in Switzerland, raids only took place in UK, France and the Netherlands.

Now the Dutch authorities are saying that their counterparts in Switzerland were not informed about the investigation because there were no Swiss suspects. 

However, Reuters reports that Dutch prosecutors say they are "willing to discuss" sharing information with the Swiss.

The biggest headlines of the political week.
A 60-second look back at the biggest headlines of the political week.

South Africa Cabinet reshuffle hits London

Stock markets
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The final reading of the FTSE 100 on Friday shows that the blue chip stock index closed 46.60 points down at 7,322.92.

South African insurer Old Mutual was Friday's biggest loser, down 7.52% at 200.06p, after President Jacob Zuma sacked Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan which sent the rand and government bonds lower.

On the FTSE 250 another South African business - this time Investec - led the fallers with its shares down 9.9% at 544p.

The FTSE 250 fell 40.10 points to 18971.83.

Maradona considers legal action over video game

Handsy football legend Diego Maradona has taken umbrage at Pro Evolution Soccer video game developer Konami.

He claims the Japanese has used his likeness without his permission. 

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Glencore strikes $775m oil storage deal

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FTSE 100 commodities giant Glencore has agreed to sell a 51% stake in its oil storage and logistics business for $775m to China's HNA Innovation Finance Group.

The jointly-owned group will be incorporated as a new business called HG Storage International Ltd and will have its own board of directors.

Meanwhile, earlier today Glencore's Access World, its metals warehouse unit, was fined $1.4m (£1.1m) by the London Metal Exchange (LME) over alleged falsified documents.

Glencore's Access World has agreed to pay the fine "without admitting any of the alleged breaches".

The LME, which is owned by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd, said: "The exchange reminds the market that it expects its listed warehouses ... to act with integrity at all times."

London stocks close down

The FTSE 100 closed down 27.25 points at 7,342.27.

The FTSE 250 ended 7.22 points lower at 19,004.71.

Breaking'Disappointed' BMW is open to talks

A spokesman for BMW Group says the company "has always prided itself in providing excellent pensions for its staff and wants to act now to protect future pension provision for its UK workforce".

He adds: "The company has had a number of planned meetings on the proposed changes since the start of the consultation process in September last year, and while it is disappointed by the result of the ballot it remains open to negotiation." 

Union members at BMW in the UK have voted "overwhelmingly" in favour of strike action over the planned closure of the pension scheme.

South Africa's Gordhan battled to protect Treasury

Pravin Gordhan
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South Africa's sacked Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan "fought tooth and nail" to protect the nation's coffers from president Jacob Zuma "and his cronies", according to his opposite number from the Democratic Alliance.

Shadow Finance Minister David Maynier told BBC World News: “The former finance minister was in the first instance had the confidence of the markets, and had worked with national treasury to avoid a ratings downgrade, but most important he had  fought tooth and nail during his tenure to avoid the capture of the National Treasury by President Jacob Zuma and his cronies.”

Mr Maynier added: “Under president Jacob Zuma, the rand has declined and the economy has been in deep trouble but I do think its fair to say that the former finance minister did the best he could under the circumstances in which he found himself and did certainly have the confidence of the ratings agencies.

BMW urged to 'stop pinching pensions'

BMW UK is facing strike action by up to 3,500 workers across its sites in Cowley, Goodwood, Hams Hall and Swindon.

Unite the union said employees are taking industrial action because of the planned closure of BMW's pension scheme.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "Over the coming days Unite representatives will be considering our next steps and what form industrial action could take.

"We would urge BMW to stop pinching pensions and negotiate a settlement which is good for the business and good for the workforce.”

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BreakingBMW workers to strike

Workers at BMW have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike in a dispute over pensions, the Unite union has announced.

Ford Motor boss enjoys pay bump

Mark Field
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Mark Field, chief executive of Ford Motor, was awarded a pay package worth $22.1m for last year. This compares to a previous $18.8m and includes a £2m pension payment.

Ford's pre-tax profit fell to $10.4bn in 2016 compared to $10.8bn in the previous year.

US markets set for strong first quarter finish

It is the final day of the first quarter for US stocks and it has been a strong month.

The Dow Jones industrial average over three months
The Dow Jones industrial average over three months

The Dow Jones industrial average  is on track for a gain of nearly 5% since the beginning of January despite trading 39.61 points lower at 20,688.88.  

The S&P 500 over three months
The S&P 500 over three months

The S&P 500  is set to record a 5.8% rise for the three months. On Friday it is down 1.57 points at 2,366.49.

The Nasdaq over three months
The Nasdaq over three months

The Nsadaq  is also heading for a significant gain for the quarter but is down 4.85 points at 5,909.49 despite a 14.53% rise in BlackBerry's share price to $7.96 after it reported strong quarterly figures.

Adam Sarhan, chief executive officer at 50 Park Investments, said: "It's been a decent start to the quarter for stocks, and so far the market has navigated a somewhat uncertain terrain with grace.

"It's perfectly normal on the last day of the quarter and the last day of the month to see some profit taking, especially after a strong run."

Risk of South Africa downgrade 'so much greater'

BBC World Business senior producer Jonathan Joseph tweets...

An online magazine is running a competition to find a post-Brexit passport design.
An online magazine is running a competition to find a post-Brexit design for UK passports.

US stock markets open lower

US stock market trader
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The Dow Jones industrial average began trading 31.29 points lower at 20,697.20.

The S&P 500 gave up 3.85 points at 2,364.21.

The Nasdaq opened 9.58 points down at 5,904.76.

BreakingGoogle taxes fall as profit rises

Despite a dip in revenue, Google's UK pre-tax profit rose from £110.7m to £148.2m for the year to June, 2016.

BreakingGoogle: we are investing in Britain

A spokesperson for Google says: "As an international business, we pay the majority of our taxes in our home country, as well as all the taxes due in the UK.

"We have recently announced significant new investment in the UK, including new offices in Kings Cross for 7,000 staff.”

BreakingGoogle pays less UK tax this year

Google announces it paid tax of £36.4m in the UK for the 12 months from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 on a turnover of £1.03bn.

This compares with £46.2m for the previous 18 months, January 2014 to July 2015, when Google changed its tax structure.

BreakingGoogle's UK tax bill revealed

Brexit talks: the key points

Americans spend less in February

US shopping mall
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US consumer spending grew less than expected in February, according to the Commerce Department .

Spending rose by 0.1% compared to expectations of 0.2% growth and down from 0.2% in January. 

However, the US Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates twice more this year. 

Willing and able

As the higher minimum wage comes into effect tomorrow, 5 live tweets:

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Brazilian jobless woe

Rio de Janiero
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If you think things are getting worse in the UK, you could be living in Brazil. Admittedly there is more sunshine, but fewer jobs it seems: the unemployment rate hit a new record high of 13.2% for the three months to February. 

That was worse than expected and means 13.5 million people are out of work following the country's worst recession, which has caused the economy to contract for eight consecutive quarters. 

The rate is up from 12.6% for the three months to January.

Smarter, not harder?

Business presenter Ben Thompson tweets:

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Karen Millen declared bankrupt

Karen Millen
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The Times is reporting that Karen Millen has been declared bankrupt after failing to pay a tax demand of about £6m arising from her involvement in a tax avoidance scheme.

She could lose her £3m Kent home as well as other assets as a result. 

Ms Millen, who was made OBE in 2008, told the Times she was “deeply devastated” and that she had been a victim of fraud by Kaupthing.

The failed Icelandic bank financed the buyer of her eponymous fashion label in 2004 for £95m.

Shawbrook bid

Some more on the bid for Shawbrook that has sent shares in the challenger bank up almost 11% today.

Two private equity firms, Pollen Street and BC Partners, made a 330p per share firm offer for the company - a 24.2% premium to the closing price before the original bid was announced. 

The board has recommended that shareholders reject the offer. But Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett says that with Pollen Street holding a 38.8% stake in Shawbrook and 6% of the outstanding shareholders already on board, the rejection might not stop the bidders gaining effective control.

Shares are trading at 337.6p, valuing the bank at £845m.

Less red ink for Blackberry

Blackberry sign

Blackberry reported a smaller quarterly loss on Friday as operating costs nearly halved. 

The Canadian company's net loss narrowed to $47m in the quarter to 28 February from $238m compared with the same period for the previous year. 

The smartphone maker, which has switched its focus to software, said operating expenses fell 49% to $229m. However, revenue also plunged 38% to $286m.