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  1. Brent Crude rises 1%
  2. Pound holds gains
  3. Debenhams plans closures
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Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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Thank you for joining us on Business Live today - that's all we have time for.

Fear not, we are back on Friday at 0600 with all the breaking business and economics news. Do join us then!

'I love China'

We leave you with this mesmeric montage of the Leader of the Free World as tweeted by our very own New York business editor John Mervin.

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Blade Runner here we come...


It won't be long until life is like the opening scenes of Blade Runner if a German company has its way.

Lilium claims it has successfully tested a "flying taxi" and is now developing a five-seat version. 

The firm, which is backed by investors including Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, said the planned five-seater jet will be capable of vertical take-off and landing.

In flight tests, a two-seat prototype executed manoeuvres that included a mid-air transition from hover mode - like a drone - to wing-borne flight - like a conventional aircraft. Clever, eh?

BreakingWall Street rebounds

Wall Street rallied on Thursday, with the Nasdaq closing at a new record, as a round of solid corporate results led by American Express pushed markets higher. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose almost 0.9% to 20,579 points, the S&P 500 gained 0.75% to 2,355.8 points and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 0.9% to 5,916.7 points. 

US considering privatising infrastructure

Gary Cohn
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Gary Cohn, Donald Trump's chief economic adviser, says that the administration is considering privatising some of the country's infrastructure.

Mr Cohn told the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington that the administration is thinking of bringing in private capital or privatising the infrastructure to avoid the Government becoming a "piggy bank".    

He says there is a list, "not a complete list", of the infrastructure that can be managed by the private sector.

Fox News counts the cost

Bradd Jaffy, an editor at NBC Nightly News, has highlighted this gem from a New York Times report about Fox News.

We wonder what shareholders in Twenty-First Century Fox might make of that...

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Carney: UK banks are 'well prepared' for election

Mark Carney
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The Governor of the Bank of England says the UK's banks and financial institutions are all set for the upcoming election compared to the EU referendum.

Mark Carney, who is attending the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington says: "I would make a distinction between last year's referendum, which was a binary decision for which markets and institutions were potentially not prepared... and the normal political process, which is what we're seeing happening in the UK and for which institutions are well prepared."

'Painful' Brexit will deter copycats, claims Finland

Petteri Orpo
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Brexit will be so painful it will put other countries off leaving the European Union, according to Finland's Finance Minister.

Petteri Orpo tells Bloomberg: "“This divorce, after 40 years of marriage, is inevitably going to be so painful that no one will want to feel it for themselves.

"I believe it’s going to be a precedent no one will want to follow.”

The success and chaos of Trump's first 100 days

Mnuchin: US tax reform will be sweeping

Some more details on US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his tax reform plans. 

Mr Mnuchin said the Treasury was working on tax reform options "day and night". 

He said: "It will be sweeping, it will be significant and it will create a lot of economic growth."

Speaking on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, Mr Mnuchin said tax changes will go ahead regardless of whether Donald Trump can push through his reform of the Affordable Care Act.

"Whether health care gets done or health care doesn't get done, we're going to get tax reform done," he said.

Philip Hammond 'to meet with Wall Street banks'

UK Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to meet a number of Wall Street banks in New York before going to the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

PA is reporting that he will hold meetings with Morgan Stanley's chief executive James Gorman, and Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein.

Brexit, the upcoming election and the UK economy are set to top the agenda.

And here is Mr Hammond being interviewed on Fox Business:

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Diageo to cut jobs in Scotland

Diageo whisky
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Drinks giant Diageo has announced that it is cutting 100 jobs at its Scottish operation after reviewing its "spirits bottling footprint".

Read the full story here.

US will reveal tax reform plan 'very soon'

Steve Mnuchin
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US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he expects to unveil a tax reform plan "soon, very soon".

Speaking to Reuters at the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, he added that he expects tax reform legislation to be passed by the end of the year.

Tesla recalls cars over parking brake fault

Tesla cars
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Shares in Tesla traded lower after the electric car maker said it was recalling 53,000 Model S and Model X vehicles.

The company said it has discovered a potential issue with electric parking brakes on some cars. It said it is "able to begin replacing parts immediately and will have sufficient parts for all affected vehicles by October 2017".

US steel stocks bounce

US steel
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average extended its gains and is now up 174.16 points or 0.83% to 20,578.65.

American Express continued to lead the risers, up 5.5% at $79.73. 

Steel stocks were given a boost after Donald Trump launched an investigation into whether steel imports were a threat to national security. 

Among the biggest risers are Steel Dynamics, up 4.28% to $34.10, AK Steel added 7.3% to $6.74 and Nucor rose 3.4% to $59.62.

The S&P 500 rose 16.96 points to 2,355.13.

The Nasdaq rose 52.92 points to 5,915.95.

Nobody moves this man?

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Fox News HQ
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Bill O'Reilly will get a maximum of one year's salary after being sacked from Fox News, a source tells Reuters. 

The cable news network has parted ways with its highest rated presenter after more than two decades following allegations of sexual harassment from numerous women. 

CNN reported that Mr O'Reilly's recently signed new contract was worth about $25m a year.

We presume Fox has now removed this poster for the O'Reilly Factor from its New York headquarters... 

C'est l'économie stupide

Steel probe 'nothing to do with China', says Trump

Donald Trump (L) and Wilbur Ross
Donald Trump (L) and Wilbur Ross

The US investigation into steel imports "has nothing to do with China" according to President Donald Trump. 

Speaking earlier today, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is leading the probe, said Chinese steel exports have continued to rise "despite repeated Chinese claims that they were going to reduce their steel capacity when in fact they have been increasing it consistently ... It's a very serious impact on the domestic industry."

Carney: Brexit could hinder progress on bank reforms

Mark Carney
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The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that Brexit negotiations could undo measures taken to strengthen the global financial system following the banking crisis.

Mark Carney told delegates at the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington said Brexit was one of a number of risks that could damage trust and restrict trade leading to "fewer jobs, lower growth and higher domestic risks".

He said: "There are, however, other nascent risks that, if left unchecked, could threaten the progress made, and ultimately undermine the G20's objective for strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

"These risks include the impact of reform fatigue on implementation momentum, the outcome of Brexit negotiations, the need to complete Basel III, and the importance of finishing the job of ending too big to fail."

Trump claims foreign steel may threaten security

Donald Trump
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Donald Trump could restrict imports of foreign-made steel under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

It allows the US to restrict imports for reasons of national security. It has been used in the past to curb oil imports.

A research note from Height Securities, said: "Making the case that steel imports threaten national security may be a... high legal hurdle, although we suspect the Trump administration will argue the potential loss of domestic steel manufacturing capacity could hinder the ability to respond to urgent defense needs."

Debenhams extends restructure to chairman

The Daily Telegraph's retail editor Ashley Armstrong tweets

Debenhams's stock finishes down

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The FTSE 100 closed 6.23 points higher at 7,120.59. 

Wealth management company St James's Place ended Thursday's biggest gainer, up 1.89% at £10.78 while Intu Properties led the mjor losers, down 4.1% at 274.9p.

The FTSE 250 finished down 40.71 points at 19,377.05. Debenhams's shares ended 5% lower at 52.5p after investors gave short shift to the department store's turnaround plans

BreakingUS to launch investigation into steel industry

The US is launching an investigation into whether Chinese and other foreign-made steel is a threat to America's national security. 

Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross says that China has increased its steel exports to the US despite promises to reduce them. He added that China now commands 26% of the US market. 

US workers are in demand

Commenting on the health of the US jobs market, Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors, says: "Layoffs remain low and employers feel no need to aggressively trim their payrolls.

"As labor market conditions tighten, the pool of available unemployed skilled workers continues to dry up."  

London stock markets close up

The FTSE 100 has closed 6.23 points lower at 7,120.59.

The FTSE 250 has ended Thursday down 40.71 points at 19,377.05.

The pound is trading up 0.39% against the dollar at $1.2828.

More to follow...

US unemployment claims rise

US jobless
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New applications for US jobless benefits rose a little more than expected last week but the number of unemployed Americans is dropping.

Claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 244,000 for the week to 15 April. The number has remained below 300,000 for 111 weeks, which is the longest run since 1970.

The number of people still receiving aid fell by 49,000 to 1.98m in the week to 8 April, the lowest reading since 2000. 

IMF warns against 'protectionist measures'

Christine Lagarde
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More comments are emerging from the opening of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank spring meetings in Washington where the new US administration is the hot topic.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said that while she saw the need to reduce subsidies in order to increase competition, she warned that "protectionist measures" should be avoided.

She said: "From the various contacts that I've had with the administration so far, I have every reason to believe that we will make progress, that we will cooperate all together in order to support and indeed improve the system as we have it."

The big squeeze

Apparently it is just as easy to make fresh fruit juice using your hands as it is using a $400 "smart juicer" that harnesses "industrial-strength power".

If you're the type of person who is happy to spend $400 on a wifi enabled juicer, or you like stories about people with more money than sense, then read on: 

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Opec and Russia may extend output cuts

Khalid Al-Falih
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Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister

Opec, the powerful cartel of oil producing nations, could be nearing an agreement to continue curbing crude supplies into the second half of 2017.

Saudi Arabia's energy minister Khalid al-Falih, said: "There is consensus building but it's not done yet."

While Kuwait's oil minister Essam al-Marzouq said he expected the agreement to be extended. "Russia is on board preliminarily ... Compliance from Russia is very good."

Opec and Russia agreed to cut oil production by 1.8m barrels a day for six months from January to mop up excess supplies of crude.

Brent crude rose 0.5% to $53.17 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate prices grew 0.4% to $51.03.

IMF: we can cooperate with Trump

Christine Lagarde
Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund has joined the World Bank in embracing US President Donald Trump.

Speaking at the World Bank and IMF's spring meetings in Washington, managing director Christine Lagarde says that she believes that the IMF can cooperate with the Trump administration to improve the global trading system.

US stocks build on gains

American Express
Getty Images

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased its gains since the opening minutes of trading and is now up 48.08 points at 20,452.57.

American Express led the risers, up 2.87% at $77.72, following better than expected first quarter results which it announced last night after the markets closed.

Mobile telecoms operator Verizon is the biggest faller, down 2.1% at $47.88, after it reported the loss of 307,000 monthly customers during the first quarter.

The S&P 500 is up 4.52 points at 2,342.69.

eBay was one of the biggest fallers on the Nasdaq after narrowly missing first quarter forecasts. Its shares are down 4% at $32.50.

And Foot Locker has confounded expectations after it warned on profits. Its shares are up 3.5% at $75.21.

Hinkley nuclear plant workers threaten strike

Hinkley Point
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Workers at the Hinkley Point C nuclear project in Somerset are threatening to go on strike over bonus payments.

The GMB and Unite trade unions will ballot 700 employees between 2-5 May.

The workers are employed by the Bouygues-Laing O'Rourke (BYLOR) construction consortium which has been commissioned by energy giant EDF to build part of Britain's first new nuclear plant for decades. 

The unions said: "The bonus rate offered by BYLOR is insufficient to attract the quality of workers needed to ensure that the civil works phase of the £18bn project is completed on time."

An EDF spokesman said: "We are committed to a continuing dialogue on this issue."

US stock markets rise in opening minutes

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has opened up 18.39 points at 20,422.88.

The S&P 500 is 6.22 points ahead at 2,344.39.

The Nasdaq has added 26.26 points at 5,889.30.

World Bank chief 'encouraged' by Trump

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim
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Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, says he is "encouraged" by the interest the Trump administration has shown in the lender's mission and its plan to seek more private capital for development finance.

Mr Kim told Reuters: "Speaking with President Trump directly, I told him about the need to make this shift, to work more effectively with the private sector, he was very enthusiastic about that."

Foot Locker profits stumble

Basketball player Shaquille O'Neal
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Basketball player Shaquille O'Neal at Foot Locker

One US stock to keep an eye on when US markets open soon is Foot Locker, the destination for trainer aficionados and sports lovers everywhere. 

Unfortunately the retailer has warned that first quarter profit is expected to be equal or lower compared to the same three months last year. While same store sales are forecast to rise in the low single digits.

Stay tuned. 

Verizon sheds customers

Verizon store
Getty Images

Keep an eye on shares in the biggest US provider of mobile phone services, Verizon Communications.

In the first quarter it lost 307,000 subscribers, the steepest decline in at least 12 years.

Those losses might have been worse had the company not launched an unlimited data package during the quarter.

Sales fell 7.3% to $29.8bn during the quarter.

Oil 'sensitivity' will continue

Oil pump

Oil prices have regained some ground after steep losses on Wednesday after leading oil producers signalled they would extend Opec-led supply cuts beyond the middle of the year.

Brent crude is up half a cent at $53.40 a barrel. 

But one analyst thinks there are more gyrations to come.

"With anticipation likely to heighten ahead of the scheduled 25 May conference when Opec and non-Opec oil producers will meet, oil price sensitivity could become a dominant theme moving forward," says FXTM Research Analyst Lukman Otunuga.

"Although Opec remains optimistic that production cuts with non-members may uplift oil prices, the resurgence of US shale continues to sabotage the cartel's efforts to stabilize the saturated markets."

Debenhams shares slide further

Debenhams share price

Department store chain Debenhams' shares are now down nearly 6% after announcing plans to boost its appeal as a "destination" shop and improve its online service. 

It's the second biggest faller on the London market - behind only Tanzanian gold producer Acacia Mining.

Acacia shares have tumbled after a senior executive said it would have to review its mining operations if the government's ban on gold and copper ore exports remains in place.

BMW profits jump 27%

BMW bonnet
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German car maker BMW has beaten analyst expectations with 27% growth in pre-tax profits to 3bn euros (£2.5bn) in the first quarter.

It's largely because of higher profits from its Chinese joint venture, and an investment by chipmaker Intel driving up the value of its stake in mapping service Here.

Sales at BMW, which also makes Rolls-Royce, Mini and motorcycles, grew 12% to 23.5bn euros.