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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. US stock markets edge lower
  3. FTSE 100 down 0.2%, sterling at $1.29
  4. Annual profits and sales slip at Sainsbury's
  5. Adam Crozier quits as ITV chief

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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Thank you for joining us for another non-stop day here on Business Live.

We'll be back at 6.00am on Thursday with all the breaking business and economics news.

Zuckerberg: we had a good start to 2017

Mark Zuckerberg
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Facebook also reported a strong rise in first quarter profit, which rose to $3bn compared to $1.7bn last year.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said: "We had a good start to 2017. We're continuing to build tools to support a strong global community."

Facebook monthly users rise

Facebook also reported that the number of monthly active users (MAU) rose to 1.94bn in the first three months of the year, a 17% rise on last year. 

Analysts had expected the social media company to report 1.91 MAUs.

BreakingFacebook revenue soars

Facebook's first quarter revenue hit $8bn, ahead of an estimated $7.38bn and above last year's $5.2bn.

Facebook: what to look out for

Facebook
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Facebook is set to announce first quarter results shortly.

Investors will be looking for improvements on the $5.3bn revenue it reported in the first three months of 2016 when profit hit $1.5bn.

The number of daily active users rose to 1.09bn and mobile daily active users hit 989m.

US stock markets close

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has closed 5.95 points higher at 20,955.84.

The S&P 500 has ended Wednesday down 3.22 points at 2,387.95.

The Nasdaq has finished 22.82 points lower at 6,072.55.

Markets stagnant on Fed decision

US stock markets remained nonplussed at the US Fed's interest rate decision

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up momentary gains to edge lower to 20,949.59.

The S&P 500 fell 4.46 points to 2,386.71.

The Nasdaq traded 32.24 points lower at 6,063.13.

Jim O'Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics, said: "In short, more evidence that the underlying trend in growth is not suddenly slowing, as suggested by the GDP data. If anything, the trend appears to be up, not down."

Happy together?

Is it possible to strike a Brexit deal that will please the UK and the EU?

US economist Irwin Stelzer (@IrwinStelzer) of the Hudson Institute in Washington doesn't think so.

The 'Brexit divorce bill' is the latest sticking point for both sides.

Reading between the lines

The US Federal Reserve building
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The US Federal Reserve building

It is only an hour since the US Federal Reserve announced its decision to hold interest rates and everyone is already fixated on June.

Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody's Analytics, said: "The Fed is communicating its mantra of gradual rate hikes. The next time they will likely raise rates would be June."

Meanwhile, Lou Brien, a market strategist at DRW Trading, said: "The Fed doesn't need the economy to excel from where it is now in order to raise rates further.

"They want to move the rate higher than where it is given the current conditions, and I don't think they want to take that anticipation off the table just because we've had some slowing data." 

WTO: Brexit will be turbulent and painful

BBC business reporter Joe Miller tweets

Rate rises 'still on the table'

The US Federal Reserve is not worried about the disappointing GDP growth in the first quarter.

Heidi Learner, chief economist at Savills Studley, said: "They went out of their way to emphasize this is not something they see persisting and pretty much says to me that their two rate hikes are still on the table for the balance of the year."

Wheeling out the big guns

US Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen
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US Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen

June is now the focus for investors.

Commenting on the US Fed, Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said: "If the Fed really is to hike in June, and market pricing suggests it is, we can expect various Fed officials to get wheeled out over the coming weeks to start talking up the prospect in order to smooth the path for the hike.

"The Fed is doing a very good job of pre-warning the markets under [Janet] Yellen and they will have to talk up the growth prospects and show that the Q1 number was indeed transitory."

Fed expects 'transitory' slowdown

The US central bank said in its statement following the meeting of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee: 

The Committee views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory and continues to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, labor market conditions will strengthen somewhat further, and inflation will stabilize around 2% over the medium term.

US stock markets shrug off Fed decision

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose marginally, up 2.29 points at 20,952.18, after the US Federal Reserve held interest rates.

The S&P 500 remained down, off 4.05 points at 2,387.12.

The Nasdaq also continued to decline, down 23.44 points at 6,071.92.

Fed sees softness in US economy

The US Federal Reserve said in its statement, following its decision to keep interest rates on hold, that the employment market continues to strengthen "even as growth in economic activity slowed".

US GDP grew at a disappointing 0.7% in the first quarter.

It added: "Household spending rose only modestly, but the fundamentals underpinning the continued growth of consumption remained solid."

BreakingUS Fed keeps rates on hold

The US Federal Reserve has kept rates on hold at between 0.75% to 1%.

Baby, you can't drive my car

Uber driverless car
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Uber is heading back to court today to contest a lawsuit which potentially threatens the future of its self-driving car business.

Waymo, the driverless car divison owned by Alphabet Inc which also controls Google, has accused former employee Anthony Levandowski who now works at Uber of taking technical secrets to help his new employer.

If it is proven that Mr Levandowski and Uber conspired in taking the information, that could have dire consequences for Uber

Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University, tells Reuters:   "If Google can't launch their self-driving car for 10 years instead of five, this will be a little blip in Google's multibillion-dollar revenue. Uber is the one that really depends on it."

It's all about June

Janet Yellen
EPA

US stock markets are little moved ahead of the Federal Reserve's latest interest rate decision. 

The Dow Jones is down 0.1%, the S&P 500 has dropped 0.3% and the Nasdaq has fallen 0.5%. 

Investors expect the US central bank to leave interest rates unchanged this evening.

But they'll look for signs that Janet Yellen and the other Fed policy makers may hike them in June. Traders are currently pricing in a 70% chance of a hike next month. 

No lift off for SpaceX shares

SpaceX rocket takes off
Reuters

SpaceX, the rocket company owned by Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, has no plans at the moment to list its shares on the stock market, according to Reuters.

Rumours had circulated that SpaceX was preparing for a stock listing, but president Gwynne Shotwell said in an email that was "not true." 

Mr Musk will be busy later. Tesla is reporting first-quarter results after the bell, fresh from overtaking Ford and General Motors as the most valuable US car maker.

Hello President Zuckerberg?

Could the billionaire co-founder of a major social media business run for President of the United States?  

Sage Lazzaro, senior technology and business editor of US web site Observer, thinks Mark Zuckerberg might have his sights on Washington.

View more on twitter

May is 'an impressive negotiator'

Martin Selmayr
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At last some good news from the EU for Theresa May.

Martin Selmayr, the hugely influential chief of staff to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, heaped praise on the Prime Minister.

Speaking to Politico Europe, Mr Selmayr said Mrs May is "a very impressive woman - an impressive negotiator. She aims to unite her nation and she is strong and tough".

Mr Selmayr attended the now infamous Brexit meeting last Wednesday which he said he found "constructive".

The cost of breaking up with Europe

The BBC's World Business Report tots up how much the UK should hand over to leave the European Union.

View more on twitter

Sainsbury's weighs on FTSE 100

Sainsbury's
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The final trades in London are done and the FTSE 100 has finished Wednesday down 15.52 points at 7,234.53.

Sainsbury's was the day's biggest faller, with its share price down 5.72% at 263.5p, after the supermarket group revealed an 8.2% fall in annual profits and warned of rising prices. 

Strong interim profit growth at accountancy software group Sage sent its shares to the top of the risers, up 3.44% to 707p. 

The FTSE 250 closed down 121.90 points at 19,683.39.

Construction group Galliford Try was by far the biggest faller - its shares tumbled 10.67% to £10.03 - after it said it would take a £98m hit after a financial review of two joint infrastructure projects.

Everlasting love

BBC business editor Simon Jack might have found the key to a long-lasting relationship...

View more on twitter

Fireworks over Westminster

Westminster
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Today the future of the economy moved centre stage in the election battle.

And the fireworks started, writes BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed.

Overnight, the Conservatives claimed that Labour had a £45bn "black hole" in its spending plans.

Read Kamal's full blog here

UK stock markets close lower

Trading on the FTSE 100 has finished for the day and the index is down 20.53 points at 7,229.52.

The FTSE 250 ended Wednesday down 131.75 points at 19,673.54.

UK not trying to 'wriggle out' of obligations

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

The UK does "not seek to wriggle out of the things we have committed to," Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner has said. 

Mr Gardiner was speaking in regard to the reported 100bn-euro (£84bn) "divorce bill". 

"There are different elements that comprise this figure... some of those are contingent liabilities," Mr Gardiner said, which he added, the EU might want to be paid upfront.  

CVs at the ready

More on the new jobs at Facebook. Looks like only those with a strong stomach need apply...

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook

No deal better than bad deal

BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed tweets:

Pound slips on May's Brexit fight back

Following a speech by Theresa May on the steps on 10 Downing Street, the pound has fallen against the dollar.

It has fallen by 0.29% to $1.290 after the Prime Minister took a tough stance against the EU.

Pound v dollar
BBC

The events of the last few days have shown that whatever our wishes and however reasonable the positions of Europe's other leaders, there are some in Brussels who do not want these talks to succeed, who do not want Britain to prosper."

May: some in EU do not want us to succeed

Theresa May
Getty Images

Theresa May is coming out swinging over Brexit.

Following a series of unfavourable reports about the Prime Minister's meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last week, Mrs May said on Wednesday that events of the past few days "have shown whatever our wishes there are some in Brussels who do not want talks to succeed".

US stocks track lower

Groupon
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Now that the US stock markets have settled a bit, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has clawed back some earlier falls but the index is still down 29.69 points at 20,920.20.

The S&P 500 has barely budged and remains 5.46 points lower at 2,385.71.

While the Nasdaq has fallen further, giving up 33.71 points or 0.55% at 6,061.66.

Among the biggest fallers is Groupon, the money-saving coupons business. It reported first quarter revenue of $673.6m, below forecasts of $724.4m.

Its share price fell 13.25% to $3.47.

The world's worst job

Facebook will report its first quarter results this evening. 

In the meantime, City A.M. editor Christian May tweets:

View more on twitter

Nissan steps back in time for car safety

Nissan Juke
Getty Images

Nissan has turned to a 19th century British scientist to stop 21st century idiots from crashing their cars.

The car-maker has installed a "Signal Shield" - based on Michael Faraday's cage - into the armrest of its Nissan Juke. It means drivers can put their mobile phones into the box which blocks all signals. 

No longer will people be distracted by bleeps from their mobiles whist driving.

Or they could just turn their phones off.

US looks to June for rate rise

The US Federal Reserve is set to announce its interest rate decision later on Wednesday. 

It is widely expected to hold off raising borrowing costs but economist forecast two more increases this year following March's hike.

Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, says: "Currently the market is pricing in a roughly 70% chance of a 25 basis point increase in the fed funds rate at the 14 June FOMC meeting. The meeting today could just shift the needle here a touch but is not going to alter the longer-term trajectory for interest rates."

Alitalia goes on sale in two weeks

Alitalia
Getty Images

Italian airline Alitalia will be put up for sale in the next 15 days, economic development minister Carlo Calenda said on Wednesday.

The business was put into administration on Tuesday after workers rejected a 2bn euros rescue plan.

Mr Calenda said that while "no negotiations are currently underway, the administrators will draw up a working programme and it is expected that they will start soliciting expressions of interest within the next 15 days." 

He said putting Alitalia into administration means it will remain more or less intact.

"Clearly, our priority is to sell the entire company in a way that would allow it to be relaunched."

Apple's share price slides

Apple store
Getty Images

Apple's share price began Wednesday down 1.57% at $145.19.

It follows disappointing second quarter results, released last night, which showed that sales of iPhones had slowed between January and March.

BreakingUS stock markets open down

US stock market
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened 42.59 points lower at 20,907.30.

The S&P 500 is down 6.67 points in the opening minutes of trading at 2,384.50. 

The Nasdaq has fallen 22.10 points at 6,073.27.

Construction and retail put brakes on US hiring

US construction
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Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, reckons that the construction and retail sectors were responsible for the slower US jobs market in April.

He says: "The softness in construction is continued payback from outsized growth during the mild winter.

"Brick-and-mortar retailers cut jobs in response to withering competition from online merchants."

But commenting on Wednesday's jobs figures, Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president of the ADP Research Institute, said: "The growth is more than strong enough to accommodate the growing population as the labor market nears full employment."