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Summary

  1. US stock markets give up gains
  2. Sterling slips below $1.25
  3. Shares in Apple chip designer plunge
  4. Plans to tackle credit card debt
  5. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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Good night

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BBC

Thank you for joining Business Live today.

We'll be back bright and early on Tuesday morning at 6.00am to bring you all the breaking business and economic news as it happens. 

US markets close lower

US and China flags
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US stock markets all closed down on a lacklustre day of trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended Monday down 10.60 points at 20,652.62.  

The Nasdaq finished 17 points lower at 5,894.68.

The S&P 500 closed 3.88 points down at 2,358.83.

Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial, said: "If there's not one big reason, there's many little reasons. Right now I think it's a little reason day."  

Activity is likely to pick up as the week progresses. On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve will publish minutes from the March meeting when the Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise interest rates.

On Thursday and Friday, US President Donald Trump will meet with China's President Xi Jinping.

Also on Friday, new US non-farm payroll data will be released.  

Revenge is sweet for Musk

What a gratifying moment for Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive of electric car maker Tesla.

Shares in Tesla soared 6.7% on Monday to $296.95 after it beat forecasts by selling a record  25,418 vehicles in the first quarter.

Short-sellers, who bet that a company's stock will fall, were therefore left feeling rather bruised...

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Companies told to watch out for hack attacks

Gilts glide lower

The yield on UK government bonds continues to slide, pushed down by a fall in the return on US Treasuries and other government debt.

The 10-year gilt yield reached a low of 1.062%, down about 8 basis points on the day. 

As recently as 21 March, the yield stood at nearly 1.3%, as inflation hit its highest in more than three years and some investors bet on the possibility of the Bank of England raising interest rates sooner than previously thought. 

Bombardier bows to pay protests

It's not just in the UK where shareholders are bristling against executive salaries. Canada's Bombardier, which is a major employer in the UK, has bowed to public anger over its pay plans.   

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Russia resolves energy feud with Belarus


          Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko (L) Russia's President Vladimir Putin
Getty Images
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko (L) Russia's President Vladimir Putin

Russia and Belarus has reached an agreement over energy following a meeting between presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko. 

Belarus will pay Russia's energy giant Gazprom more than $720m (£577.1m) in arrears for gas supplies.

Russia will renew oil supplies to Belarus of 24 million tonnes a year and that Gazprom would give Belarus discounts on gas supplies in 2018 and 2019.

BP to 'cut chief executive's pay'

Bob Dudley
Getty Images

Sky News is reporting that BP has agreed to reduce chief executive Bob Dudley's pay package by millions over the next three years to stem a tide of investor unrest over corporate remuneration.

Among a number of changes, Sky says that BP will reduce the maximum award Mr Dudley can receive under under a long-term incentive scheme.

Instead of seven times his basic salary of $1.85m (£1.48m), he can be awarded up to five times.

At last year's Annual General Meeting, nearly 60% of investors voted against BP's pay report - an unprecedented defeat for the oil giant.

In its most recent financial year, underlying replacement cost profit fell to $2.58bn (£2.07bn), down from $5.90bn in 2015.

J Crew design chief to leave

Jenna Lyons
Getty Images

Upmarket fashion chain J Crew is parting ways with its creative director, who is leaving the business after 26 years. 

Jenna Lyons, president and executive creative director whose personal style often influenced the designs sold at J Crew, will continue to work at the company until her contract expires in December.

She is being replaced by Somsack Sikhounmuong who will be promoted to chief design officer.

J Crew has been battling to grow sales in a highly competitive retail market. In its most recent financial year, total revenue fell 3% to $2.4bn but like-for-like sales tumbled 7%.

More Italian bank troubles

The small Veneto Banca has revealed a loss for last year of 1.5bn euros.

It is asking the Italian government to help it by guaranteeing a fund raising exercise, in the shape of a new bond issue aimed at borrowing 1.4bn euros from investors.

Veneto Banca said that last year it had written off bad loans to borrowers worth 1.3bn euros, under pressure from the European Central Bank.

It has warned that it may have to make provision for more dud loans this coming year too.

Zapped!

razor claims
Thinkstock

A controlled trial of a controversial method of catching razor clams using electricity has been authorised by the Scottish government.

Electro-fishing involves probes being slowly dragged across the sea bed.

Razor clams - or spoots - are increasingly in demand by overseas markets, and fishermen can command a high price for their catch.

They can only be legally harvested by hand, by divers or by different types of dredges.

Read more here.

South Africa's junk rating - Treasury responds

Malusi Gigaba
Getty Images

The South African Treasury department has issued an anodyne response to the downgrading by S&P of the government's credit rating to junk status.

The Treasury says it is "committed to a predictable and consistent policy framework".

And it will make sure that "it works with business, labour and the civil society [to] improve business confidence", according to Reuters.

There will be a press briefing tomorrow by the new minster of finance, Malusi Gigaba.

Laptop makers 'overstating' battery life

Woman using laptop
Getty Images

Some brands of laptop have less than half the battery life promised by their manufacturers, a study by consumer group Which? has found.

Only Apple's Macbook Pro lived up to its 10-hour battery life claim in the tests, which included watching films and using the net via wi-fi.

Models by Dell, Acer, Lenovo and HP came in with around half the advertised battery life.

Manufacturers tend to test in "optimum conditions", one analyst told the BBC. Read more here

US car sales run out of gas in March

Ford Motors
Getty Images

March was a "tough, tough, tough" market for car sales in the US.

Ford reported a 7.2% fall to 236,000 vehicles, with "fleet" supplies to rental agencies, businesses and government groups down 16.9%. Retail was down 2%. 

Toyota's sales fell 2.1% in March compared to the same month last year. 

US sales at Honda declined by 0.7%.

Conversely, General Motors reported a 2% rise to 256,000 vehicle sales. However, its shares fell 3.87% to $33.99.

Ford's shares dipped 2.36% at $11.36.

Judy Wheeler, vice president of US sales at Nissan, which reported a 3.2% rise for the month, told Reuters that March "was a tough, tough, tough market".

She added: "It's going to be an aggressive year and I think everybody realizes that."

Chips are down for Imagination

At the end of surely one of its worst days in business, Imagination Technologies shares finished down 61.6% at an eight-year low of 103p.

Its shares crashed after its largest customer Apple, said it would stop using the UK chip designer's products in 15 months to two years time.

The question is whether Apple can now develop its own products without infringing on Imagination Technologies's patents.

Imagination Technologies
BBC

London markets close lower

WS Atkins
WS Atkins

The FTSE 100 closed down 0.55%, or 40.23 points, 7,282.69.

Retailer Next was the biggest faller, down 3.5% at £41.66 followed by broadcaster ITV whose shares gave up 2.5% at 213.3p.

Provident Financial led the risers up 1.57% at £30.44.

The FTSE 250 finished 17.59 points lower at 18,954.24.

WS Atkins made the biggest gains, up 26.6% to £19.50 after Canada's SNC-Lavalin made a £2bn offer for the engineering and consultancy group.

Zuma's re-shuffle puts South Africa's growth 'at risk'

Jacob Zuma
Getty Images

S&P Global said: "In our opinion, the executive changes initiated by President Zuma have put at risk fiscal and growth outcomes.

"We assess that contingent liabilities to the state are rising."

S&P said it was therefore lowering its long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating on the Republic of South Africa to BB+ from BBB-.

If a country loses its investment grade status, it becomes more expensive for it to borrow in the international finance markets because the risk of it defaulting on its debt is higher. 

BreakingSouth Africa downgraded to junk status

S&P, the credit rating agency, has downgraded South Africa credit rating to junk. 

It follows a Cabinet re-shuffle by President Jacob Zuma last week when he suddenly dismissed finance minister Pravin Gordhan. 

Mr Gordhan has been replaced by Malusi Gigaba however that has failed to stop a fall in the rand which today shrank a further 1.5% to a two-month low. 

Clinton Cards says it with chocolate

Clinton Cards
Clinton Cards

First Majestic Wines reveals plans to launch its own-brand vino. 

Now, Clinton Cards will begin selling its own label chocolate. 

If you're in the doghouse with your better half, one of Clinton Cards 12 varieties of Cocoa Paradise chocolate bars will more than likely get you back in the good books. 

The company, which went into administration in 2012 and was rescued by American Greetings, already sells chocolates such as Ferrero Rocher in its stores.

Volkswagen loses court bid over seized papers

Volkswagen
Getty Images

Volkswagen has failed to stop documents seized from its law firm being used by German prosecutors in the emissions scandal case.

VW had filed a complaint with a Munich court to stop prosecutors from retaining and assessing material taken during a 15 March raid on Jones Day.   

The US law firm has been retained by VW's supervisory board in 2015 to investigate the diesel emissions test-cheating scandal

However, the local court has decided that the raids on Jones Day as well as those on VW and Audi during the same day, were legitimate.

Watch: Imagination Technology's next step

James Marshall, a partner specialising in intellectual property law at Taylor Wessing, examines what Imagination Technology should be doing now that it is losing its major customer Apple.

Imagination Technologies will be 'consulting its lawyers'

Majestic Wine to launch low-cost wine range - report

Majestic Wine
Majestic Wine

Majestic Wine is launching its first-ever own-label low costs wines, according to Retail Week .

The industry newspaper says that Majestic is taking aim at the grocers, who compete fiercely for wine customers.

US markets' rise reverses

China and US
Getty Images

An early rise in US stocks proved short-lived. 

The Dow Jones industrial average is now down 25.24 points at 20,637.98.

The Nasdaq is down 2.67 points at 5,909.06 despite a 4.74% rise in Tesla's share price to $291.49 - making the electric car maker more valuable in terms of market capitalisation than Ford.

The S&P 500 is 2.12 points lower at 2,360.60.

Markets are looking ahead to Donald Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday and Friday which the US President said would be "a very difficult one".

Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital, said: "The market was a little taken aback by Trump's comments recently about the meeting.

"The market will be anxious and will be eager to glean whatever they get from those talks."

Ford overtaken by Tesla

CNBC's Steve Kopack tweets:

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US manufacturing growth eases

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Plant in the US
Getty Images

Manufacturing activity in the US eased in March to 53.3 from 54.2, according to the Markit/CIPS US Manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI).

It found that new orders rose at the weakest pace since October 2016 and input cost inflation rose at a two and a half year high.  

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit said: “The post-election resurgence of the manufacturing sector seen late last year is showing signs of losing steam.

"Output growth slowed to a six-month low in March, optimism about the outlook has waned and hiring has slowed accordingly."

Mind that drone!

Union rejects Southern rail deal

Members of the Aslef union have rejected a deal aimed at ending the long-running dispute over driver-only operated trains on Southern railway.

Members voted by 51.8% to 48.2% against the proposed deal.

General secretary Mick Whelan said: "We understand and support the decision arrived at in a democratic vote."

Donald Trump on tax reform

Donald Trump
Getty Images

Anyone hoping for clues about tax reform from Donald Trump's interview with the Financial Times will be sorely disappointed. 

Here's what the US President said when the FT asked if he can cut a deal this year.

"Well, I don’t want to talk about when and I don’t want to talk about timing. We will have a very massive and very strong tax reform. But I am not going to talk about when . . . Right now I am working very much on the . . . You know that we didn’t take a vote but with healthcare . . ."   

US stock markets open up

US stock market
Getty Images

The Dow Jones industrial average began the day - and the first trading session of April - up 6.90 points at 20,670.12.

The Nasdaq rose 7.76 points at 5,919.50.

The S&P 500 rose 1.2 points to 2,363.99. 

Windfarm deaths prompt call for safety review

Whitelee wind farm
Getty Images

Safety must be improved on windfarms after two workers were killed in the last fortnight, according to Unite.

The union, which represents construction workers, says that 37 year-old Antonio Linares was killed from a fall at Scottish Power’s Kilgallioch Windfarm in South Ayrshire on 15 March. He was working for contractor Gamesa.

Another worker lost his life at Scottish Power’s Whitelee Windfarm in East Renfrewshire. He fell to his death on 29 March while undertaking maintenance on a turbine.

Steve Dillon,  regional co-ordinating officer at Unite, says: "These two deaths are terrible tragedies and our thoughts go to the families of the two victims.

“Swift action needs to be taken to understand how and why these accidents occurred and to ensure that there are not similar fatal accidents in the future.

"The Health and Safety Executive needs to summon Scottish Power, and specialist contractors together to learn the lessons and dramatically improve safety in this sector.”

BreakingWS Atkins shares jump on takeover offer

Shares in WS Atkins have soared 29.2% to £19.90 following a takeover bid for the engineering and consultancy group from Canada's SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.

WS Atkins says the company is offering £20.80 pence per share.

It says: "The board of Atkins has indicated to SNC-Lavalin that the possible offer would deliver value to Atkins shareholders at a level that the board would be prepared to recommend, subject to reaching agreement on the other terms and conditions of the offer."

Tesla's record deliveries

The electric car maker reported its best-ever quarter for car deliveries in the first three months of the year. The chart below shows how its 25,000 deliveries compares with previous quarters...

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'Uncertainty still a certainty'

Tim Barrow delivers Article 50 letter to Donald Tusk
AFP

Trading in the pound has been "erratic" and "volatile" against the dollar since the UK fired the starting gun on Brexit talks last week, says one analyst.

It's swung between $1.2370 and $1.2570 as traders wait for the next key steps, says Lukman Otunuga, an analyst at currency trading platform FXTM.   

"With uncertainty still a certainty when dealing with Brexit, sterling may be exposed to further downside shocks," he adds.

It's currently hovering around $1.25 - a 0.4% fall on the day.

On the cheap?

Business Live reader Keith Woodward writes:

Nigeria's tanker drivers down tools

BBC World Service

Oil tanker drivers in Nigeria have gone on what union leaders have called an indefinite strike, reports BBC World Service.

There have been warnings of shortages of petrol in Africa's second biggest economy, which is a major oil-producing nation, as deliveries come to a halt.    

Members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, one of the country's two main oil industry unions, say they are protesting against low pay and badly maintained roads that damage their trucks.

But a senior union official has told the BBC that talks aimed at ending the strike are underway.  

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Would you like honey with that Mr Putin?

Bloomberg markets editor Tracy Alloway tweets:

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Burberry gets a Coty makeover

Suki Waterhouse and Cara Delevingne in Burberry trenchcoats
Getty Images

Burberry - best known for its distinctive check pattern and trenchcoats - is licensing its beauty business to US group Coty. The deal will bring in about £180m, plus there will be royalty payments in the future. 

Burberry will retain creative control over the business - which includes make-up as well as the My Burberry and Mr Burberry fragrances.

"Working with a global partner of their scale and expertise will help drive the next phase of Burberry Beauty's development and position this business for future growth," said Christopher Bailey, Burberry's chief creative officer.

Burberry's shares are up by 1.4%, making them the third highest riser on the FTSE 100.

Consumer under the cosh?

Some comment now on those figures showing that growth in the UK's manufacturing sector slowed slightly last month.  

Shoppers on street
Getty images

Today’s data certainly doesn’t set off any alarm bells but it does signal that the consumer, one of the big props of UK growth in recent years, is already under the cosh and if there is any loss of momentum in the global economy, these strong manufacturing indicators could falter.

Lee Hopley Chief economist, EEF, the manufacturers' organisation

Pound fall in context

Pound to euro exchange rate
BBC

The pound has edged lower against the dollar and euro after the release of underwhelming data on the UK manufacturing sector.

It's currently trading at $1.2499 and 1.1734 euros - down 0.4%.

But sterling is off the low levels that it hit in the months after the Brexit vote. As the chart above shows, the pound is still trading near a four-week high against the euro.