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  1. FTSE 100 loses further ground
  2. Pound falls back below $1.28 and 1.19 euros
  3. Burberry shares sink almost 8%
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Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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That's all from Business Live for today - thanks for joining us.

We'll be back from 06:00 tomorrow with all the breaking business and economics news and views, so do join us then.

eBay profits soar

In more results after the bell on Wall Street, eBay reported a modest rise in quarterly revenue as more shoppers visited its e-commerce websites and efforts to revamp its platform paid off. 

Net profit rose more than doubled to $1.04bn for the three months to 31 March, while revenue rose 3.7% to $2.22bn.

AmEx suffers

American Express posted a 13% fall in first-quarter profit as it spent more on premium rewards to retain customers in a very competitive credit card market.

Net profit fell $180m to $1.21bn in the three months to 31 March.

BreakingDow and S&P fall

The S&P 500 and Dow closed lower while the Nasdaq rose as investors digested the latest round of results. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6% to 20,403 points - its lowest level since February - while the S&P 500 lost 0.2% to 2,338 points.

The Nasdaq gained 0.2% to 5,863 points. 

On the road?

North America technology reporter Dave Lee is at the Facebook developers shindig:

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And another observation after seeing some of the company's VR endeavours:

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Hotels hacked

InterContinental Hotels says 1,200 of its franchised hotels in the United States, including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, fell victim to a three-month cyber attack that sought to steal customer payment card data. 

The London-listed company declined to say how many payment cards were stolen in the attack - the latest in a hacking spree on prominent hoteliers including Hyatt, Hilton and Starwood Hotels, now owned by Marriott International.

The breach lasted from 29 September to 29 December, an InterContinental spokesman said 

Lightning does strike twice...

Financial Times media editor Matthew Garrahan tweets:

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Springer buys Uber stake

Getty Images

Some fascinating news about Uber from the Wall Street Journal tonight: it reports that the German newspaper publisher Alex Springer has bought a stake in the taxi, sorry, ride-sharing firm.  

A spokeswoman for Springer, whose titles include Bild and Die Welt, said the stake was “minimal” and was a financial rather than strategic investment. 

Neither company would reveal the value of the stake or when it was acquired.

Springer has made early-stage investments in about 100 companies, the spokeswoman said, in a bid to find growth outside publishing.

Oil prices slide

US oil rigs
Getty Images

The price of Brent crude tumbled  3.6% on Wednesday to $52.89 a barrel after a surprise increase in inventories.

US crude prices also fell, down 3.8% at $50.44 a barrel. 

Oil stocks in the US fell by 1 million barrels last week, according to the US Energy Information Administration - less than anticipated.

21st Century Fox praises O'Reilly's ratings

Business Insider politics editor Oliver Darcy tweets:

Fox and O’Reilly 'agree' he will not return

Bill O'Reilly
Getty Images

21st Century Fox, which owns the Fox News Channel, says: "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”

Read the background to the story here.

BreakingFox News parts ways with host Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly will not return to Fox News amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Ryan: US-UK relationship 'more important than ever'

Here's the man himself

Ryan: time for bold leadership

Journalist Simon Cullen tweets

Ryan vows the US will stand by the UK

Paul Ryan, leader of the US House of Representatives, is in London today and taking the chance to honour the "special relationship.

Bloomberg TV's chief Washington correspondent Kevin Cirilli tweets: 

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US economy - born to be mild

US Federal Reserve stamp
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The US economy grew at a modest to moderate pace between mid-February and the end of March, according to the Federal Reserve.

According to its Beige Book, which gauges the strength of the economy via the responses of businesses nationwide, prices rose. However, it said companies mostly expected price growth to be mild to moderate over the coming months.

The US Fed has raised interest rates twice within the last few months - in December and March - to keep inflation under control and close to its target of 2%. Producer price inflation reached 2.3% in the year to March.

Headphones app 'violates privacy'

Australian cyclist Bridie O'Donnell
Getty Images

Forget microwaves, it is headphones we should all be afraid of.

A lawsuit in the US claims that Bose Corp, purveyor of fancy music gear, can spy on customers using its wireless headphones by using an app from Google Play or Apple that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to.

The suit also alleges that Bose violates customers' privacy rights by selling the information without permission.

US stock markets pare gains

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell further on Wednesday.

After opening up, it is now down 71.52 points at 20,451.76 with IBM continuing to dominate the biggest losers. Its shares are off 4.81% at $161.87.

The S&P 500 has pared earlier gains and is now just 1.61 points ahead at 2,343.80.

The Nasdaq has also eased slightly and is up 24.96 points at 5,874.43.

Everyone gets a camera!

North America technology reporter Dave Lee is at Facebook's developer conference. 

View more on twitter
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ExxonMobil applies for Russian sanction waiver

Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin
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Rex Tillerson (L) and Vladimir Putin

ExxonMobil has, according to The Wall Street Journal, applied to the US Treasury for a waiver from American sanctions against Russia so that it can resume a joint venture with the Russian state-owned energy giant Rosneft.

That's the same ExxonMobil where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used to be the chief executive.

The deal - to drill with Rosneft in a number of areas banned by the US sanctions - was struck in 2012 when Mr Tillerson was still the boss of ExxonMobil.

Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Mr Tillerson Russia's Order of Friendship after signing deals with Rosneft.

A state department spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that Mr Tillerson is recusing himself for two years from any matters involving ExxonMobil. He will not be involved with any decision made by any government agency involving the company during this period.

South Africa rating in further danger

Jacob Zuma
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South Africa's credit rating could be cut even further according to S&P Global Ratings.

The credit rating agency reduced the country's rating to junk after President Jacob Zuma sacked the respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Gardner Rusike, the associate director and lead analyst for South Africa at S&P, said: "There are risks that potential growth outcomes could be weakened, especially with uncertainty that's been brought along in a year where you may not get strong decisions for strong reform programs."

Pounds falls against the dollar

The pound is trading a little lower against the dollar. 

Following Theresa May's announcement of a snap election, sterling had soared over $1.28. However, on Wednesday it eased back by 0.45% to $1.27840.

Gnomes massacred

Gnome thugs
Warwickshire Police

In the sense that Echills Wood Railway in Warwickshire is a tourist attraction, this is unquestionably Serious Business News.  

Police investigating the "massacre" of 100 gnomes at the railway have released images of four men they want to speak to.

Many gnomes had been donated by local families after a similar collection was smashed last year.

Police described the incident as "mindless vandalism" and have urged anyone who recognises the men to come forward.

More gnome news here.

Dead gnomes
Echills Wood Railway

Revealed: big business and Trump

Donald Trump
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Some of America's biggest businesses contributed to Donald Trump's inauguration in January.

A Federal Election Commission filing shows that President Trump's inaugural committee raised $106.7m - $2m of which came from telecoms giant AT&T, some of which was for mobile software and equipment. 

The financial services industry also coughed-up. Bank of America gave $1m while JP Morgan handed over $500,000.

ExxonMobil, once led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, contributed $500,000. 

Technology companies also chipped in. Microsoft to the tune of $500,000 - some of which was for equipment - Intel gave $500,000 and Google gave $285,000.

Unions wade into Akzo battle

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Dulux paint
Akzo Nobel

Dutch trade unions will consider meeting with PPG Industries to discuss its planned 24bn euro takeover of Dulux paint owner AkzoNobel after the company announced a strategic plan that would lead to job cuts. 

Erik de Vries, of the Dutch Federation of Dutch Trade Unions, said job cuts appeared to be certain if PPG wins control, or in Akzo's stand-alone strategy. 

"What happened today was a game changer," he said. "If PPG were to approach us to discuss this we would consider it."

Strong pound forces FTSE 100 lower

Pound and dollar
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The FTSE 100 failed to claw back the gains it has made since the beginning of the year when it closed 24 points down at 7,123.43 on Wednesday. The blue chip index of leading stocks began 2017 at 7,142.83.

Although sterling eased a little against the dollar, down 0.26% at $1.28090, its recent strength has impacted companies on the FTSE 100, many of whom are internationally-focused and report in dollars.

Burberry remained the day's biggest faller, down 7.64% at £15.71, after the fashion house reported a slowdown in growth over the last three months

Conversely the domestically focused FTSE 250 finished 125.18 points higher, up 0.65%, 19,423.09.

Another day...another Apple patents case

Emirates cuts US flights

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Emirates, the Dubai airline, has announced that it is cutting flights on five of its US routes following restrictions placed on airline travel by the Trump Administration.

Direct flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will drop to five a week in May from daily flights, while Seattle and Boston flights would be reduced to a daily service in June from two flights a day. Twice daily Los Angeles flights would also be reduced in July to one a day.  

Last month, the US banned laptops from cabin baggage on flights from some Middle East and African countries into the US. 

IBM punctures Dow Jones's rise

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After a brief gain, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen, down 5.98 points at 20,517.30. 

The biggest loser is Big Blue AKA IBM which is down 5.6% at $160.52 after revealing on Tuesday its 20th quarter of falling revenue.

The Nasdaq is buoyant, up 31.34 points at 5,880.81, as is the S&P 500 which is 7.40 points ahead at 2,349.59.

Fujitsu UK staff to stage strike

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UK-based staff at Fujitsu, the Japanese electronics giant, are going on strike for 48 hours from Thursday over cuts to pensions and jobs.

Unite the union said workers at a number of sites including London, Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester will take part in the strike. 

National officer Ian Tonks said: "The way Fujitsu is treating its workforce and keeping them in the dark over its plans for the future is beyond contempt.

"This is a workforce that has worked hard to make Fujitsu in the UK highly profitable, yet their reward is job cuts and pension reductions, while the company frustrates Unite's attempts to minimise compulsory redundancies.

"Fujitsu needs to start seriously engaging with Unite to avoid further industrial action, which could stretch into the summer." 

Virgin Money chief keeps it real

BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed writes

US stocks rise on stronger economy

US stocks
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It's the bigger picture that counts for investors. 

Commenting on the rise in US stock markets, James Athey, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, said: "This bounce today in US equities is perhaps investors looking beyond daily moves.

"While there has been some disappointment, the big picture has not vastly changed. We're still talking about a global economy which is doing better... and central banks that are looking to normalise, and all of that should be supportive for risk assets."

Akzo Nobel plan fails to salve activist Elliott

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Activist investor Elliott Advisors has brushed off Akzo Nobel's attempt at staying independent as "incomplete".

The Dutch-owner of Dulux has promised to separate its chemicals business and pay a 1.6bn euro special dividend in an attempt to see off a 22.4bn euro takeover by US rival PPG Industries.

Akzo Nobel has so far refused to talk to PPG - much to the chagrin of a number of shareholders - and Elliott said it noted "with concern" a "questionable" statement from Akzo chairman Antony Burgmans that Akzo's plan would deliver more value.

You've got the power

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweets

US stock markets open up

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has opened up 15.65 points at 20,538.93.

The S&P 500 is 8.92 points ahead at 2,351.11.

The Nasdaq is up 31.45 points at 5,880.92.

Morgan Stanley upbeat as clouds gather

Morgan Stanley
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US results season continues and so far so good...for now.

Morgan Stanley reported a 74% rise in first quarter profits to $2.9bn on revenues of $9.7bn, compared to $7.7bn in the first three months of last year. 

However, chief financial officer Jonathan Pruzan said: "At the end of the first quarter, some of the clouds that were far off into the distance are becoming closer into view.

"The outlook of these is uncertain and so I still have continued caution." 

Testing, testing...

Element Materials

It is nice to see a bit of domestic deal-doing for once.

Edinburgh testing services business Exova has agreed to a £620m takeover by its rival, Element Materials Technology Group.

The combined business will have 6,200 staff, nearly 200 laboratories and operations in more than 30 countries.

Presumably it will mean a nice little earner for the private equity firms involved.

CD&R owns 54% of Exova while Bridgepoint owns Element Materials. 

US tax reform will not meet August deadline

Steve Mnuchin
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If US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's plan for "very significant" tax reform in August seemed overly ambitious, that's because it was.

In a fascinating interview with the Financial Times, Mr Mnuchin admits that because of Donald Trump's first failed attempt to repeal and reform the Affordable Care Act, it is unlikely tax reform will be passed before that deadline. However, he says it will be in place for the 2017 tax return deadline.

Head the transcript here