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Summary

  1. Retail shares drag down Wall Street
  2. Snap's shares fall by more than 20%
  3. Bank of England cuts GDP forecast
  4. Inflation expected to outpace wage growth
  5. BT to cut 4,000 jobs
  6. Snapchat shares plunge
  7. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

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Good night!

That's all for today from Business Live - thanks for reading. We're back at 06:00 tomorrow so do join us then.

We leave you tonight with a sneak preview of the New Yorker's next issue. 

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Snap keeps sinking

Snap shares ended the day 21% lower at $18.06 - barely above the $17 float price.

The plunge has been a boon for short-sellers, however, who made $192m on Thursday, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky, head of research at S3 Partners: "They were in the red as of yesterday; today they are in the black."

The stock had dipped as low as $17.60 earlier in the session.

The sun always shines...

Nordstrom misses too

More woes for the US department store sector after Macy's and Kohl's disappointed today.

Now Nordstrom has reported a 0.8% fall in first quarter sales, compared with forecasts for flat growth. At least revenue was every so slightly above expectations at $3.35bn.

After falling 7.6% today the retailer's shares have so far sunk another 5% in after-hours trading.

BreakingWall Street falls

Wall Street fell after worse-than-expected sales at Macy's and Kohl's sparked a selloff in department store shares and stirred fears that consumers are not spending enough to drive strong economic growth. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 0.1% to 20,919 points, the S&P 500 lost about 0.2% to 2,394.5 points, while the Nasdaq Composite also slipped 0.2% to 6,115.9 points.  

Did Trump really invent the term 'prime the pump'?

Donald Trump
Getty

Students of 1930s economics are no strangers to the idea of 'priming the pump' - public spending to get the economy back on its feet.

But US President Donald Trump appears to be laying claim to the phrase for himself.

In an interview with The Economist published on Thursday, he used the metaphor to describe his hopes for tax reform (see earlier post).

Then he asked: "Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven't heard it. I mean, I just… I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It's what you have to do."

His claim immediately raised eyebrows.

Or, as The New York Observer put it: "The Entire Internet Is Trolling President Trump Over 'Priming the Pump." Read more here

Robert Lighthizer confirmed as US trade rep

BBC World Service

Robert Lighthizer
Getty Images

The American Senate has approved President Trump's nominee for US Trade Representative, a critical position ahead of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, reports BBC World Service

The veteran trade lawyer Robert Lighthizer was confirmed by a vote of 82 to 14. 

During his election campaign, Mr Trump described the agreement as the worst trade deal ever signed by the United States.  

Man who hacked employer to pay damages

Hands on keyboard
Scyther5

A former private security officer in California must pay nearly $319,000 (£248,000) in damages for attacking his employer's computer systems.

Yovan Garcia accessed payroll records at Security Specialists, which provides private security patrols, to inflate the number of hours he had worked.

He later hacked the firm's servers to steal data and defaced its website.

District Judge Michael Fitzgerald said Garcia had used the stolen data to help set up a rival business. Read more here

Vermont legislature votes to approve cannabis legalisation

The Vermont legislature has voted to approve legalising the use of cannabis as a recreational drug.

The measure could be vetoed, passed, or be allowed to pass unopposed by Republican governor Phil Scott.

A spokeswoman for Mr Scott said: "On the issue of legalising marijuana, the governor has said he is not philosophically opposed, but we must ensure certain public safety and health questions are answered."

If allowed to pass into law, the state would be the ninth to legalise the drug.

Neighbuoring Massachusetts and nearby Maine have also legalised the drug, doing so after statewide ballots showed that a majority of voters approved of the idea.

Snap shares still struggling

Intraday Snap Inc shares graphic 11 May 2017
BBC

There's been no respite for Snapchat owner Snap's shares. They're down by more than 21% in New York. 

The fall has been prompted by disappointing results released after the close of trading on Wednesday. 

These revealed poor growth in the first three months of the year and showed Snapchat had attracted fewer than expected daily active users. 

Ex-wife gets £453m divorce payout

Exterior of Royal Courts of Justice
BBC

A Russian billionaire has been ordered to pay his estranged wife £453m in a divorce settlement at a British court.

The payment from the 61-year-old, a former oil and gas trader, to his ex-wife, 41, has been described as one of the biggest awards made by a UK court.

During a High Court hearing, a judge said the couple met and married in Moscow before moving in Surrey.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said he had awarded the woman 41.5% of the "total marital assets". Read more here

Deliveroo overhauls courier contracts

Deliveroo rider on bike
Getty Images

Deliveroo has changed the contract for its couriers after receiving a drubbing from MPs over the so-called "gig economy's" treatment of workers.

The takeaway delivery business has removed a clause that banned couriers from challenging their self-employed status before an employment tribunal.

The clause was legally unenforceable.

However, the Labour MP Frank Field called it "egregious", adding: "It does seem a business model if you can get away with it." Read more here

Sterling still down

Let's check in on sterling now, and the pound is still trading down against the dollar and euro.

The dip follows the Bank of England's warning that consumer spending will be squeezed this and economic growth is likely to be slightly lower than previously forecast. 

The pound is at $1.2882, a fall of 0.44%.

Against the euro it's down at 1.1851 euros, that's 0.47% lower.

Intraday graphic pound-dollar 11 May 17
BBC

Barclays boss targeted by 'email prankster'

The FT's banking editor tweets

Merlin closes water rides

Splash Canyon
ThemeParks.ie
Drayton Park's Splash Canyon ride

Rapid water rides at theme parks across the country have been closed after Evha Jannath, 11, fell from a circular raft on Splash Canyon at Drayton Manor on Tuesday.

Alton Towers and Legoland Windsor are among those to have closed similar water-based white knuckle rides.

Merlin Entertainments said it had closed the Congo River Rapids at Alton Towers, Legoland Windsor's Vikings River Splash and Thorpe Park's Rumba Rapids.

More here.

96% vote for RBS executive pay plan

RBS logo
PA

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has also been holding its AGM in Edinburgh today.

It's been coming under fire over its new plans for executive pay. According to these, chief executive Ross McEwan would be eligible for a long-term award of 175% of his salary and finance chief Ewen Stevenson 200%, both a cut from the previous 400%.

Two advisory groups - Pensions and Investment Research Consultants (PIRC) and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) - asked shareholders to vote against the pay plans. ISS said the bank's attempts to reduce the pay awards were not "sufficient".

However, more than 96% of shareholders voted to back the executive pay plan.

At the AGM RBS said it had recognised that its pay policies had become too complex and the new plan would reduce excessive risk-taking. 

"The time is right for a new, simpler approach, developed specifically to align with RBS's culture and our thinking on pay," said Sandy Crombie, the chairman of RBS's remuneration committee.

Bollore moves on Havas

Vincent Bollore
Getty Images

French tycoon Vincent Bollore has taken a first step in his attempt to merge media giant Vivendi and advertising company Havas - two groups he controls through his family-run conglomerate. 

Vivendi. which owns record label Universal Music, is offering to buy the 60% stake owned by Group Bollore in Havas for 9.25 euros a share - an 8.8% premium over the closing price for Havas on Wednesday.

It values Bollore's stake in Havas at 2.36bn euros ($2.56 billion), Group Bollore said in a separate statement, adding that its board welcomed the offer. 

Bollore, Vivendi's chairman and controlling shareholder with a 20.6% stake, has pledged to turn the group into an integrated European media powerhouse and has launched a spree of acquisitions, including in Telecom Italia and Italian broadcaster Mediaset. 

Havas is led by Mr Bollore's son Yannick. 

US retail shares follow Macy's lower

The results from Macy's pulled down shares in rival US department stores. 

Shares in Nordstrom are down by 7.8%, shares in Kohls were down by 5.8%, J C Penney is 7.5% lower and fashion retailer L Brands fell by 4.5% 

Home improvement chain, Home Depot, was down by 1.12%. 

Macy's shares dive after results

Macy's sign
Gett

Shares in Macy's have plunged after the US department store owner said quarterly sales slid 7.5%.

Although some of the decline was due to stores being closed, like-for-like sales fell a worse than expected 4.6%.

Chief executive Jeff Gennette said the company, which also owns Bloomingdales, did not have its "head in the sand".

However, Macy's also expected sales this year to fall by up to 4%, causing investors to send its shares down 14% in afternoon trading in New York. Read more here

Bitcoin hits new all-time high above $1700

bitcoin
Reuters

Bitcoin has hit a new record high, above $1,700 (£1,313). On Bitstamp - a bitcoin exchange based in Luxembourg, the digital currency is trading at around $1,790 per unit. 

Analysts say the latest surge is due to broader interest in the crypto currency markets, which has been bringing in new investors. 

The price for one unit of bitcoin has surged by more than 80% this year. One bitcoin was pricing around $997 in January.

Slamming the brakes on Uber

BBC World Service

A top EU lawyer says that taxi app Uber should be regulated just like a traditional cab company - but are European lawmakers failing to catch up with the fast-moving world of digital companies, who have an entirely new business approach? 

World Business Report's  Mike Johnson spoke to tech lawyer Steve Kuncewicz from Slater Gordon.

A top EU lawyer says that taxi app Uber should be treated like a traditional cab company.

Lloyds to pay compensation 'within weeks'

Exterior of Lloyds branch
Reuters

More on the Lloyds AGM now ...

In April the bank announced that it was setting aside a further £100m, to compensate customers who lost money in a fraud scandal.

Six people, two of whom had worked for Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) - owned by Lloyds - were jailed in February, though the case dates back to the time before Lloyds took over HBOS. 

Chairman Lord Blackwell told shareholders he was is "determined" the victims in the case were "fairly, swiftly and appropriately compensated" now that the trial has finished.

He said that meant within "weeks rather than months". 

He told one shareholder: "You have our full sympathy for what you've been through and I'd like to express our regret and apologies for what happened in HBOS at that time." 

Saudi jobs for Saudi citizens

BBC World Service

Saudi Arabia's government has told its ministries and other departments to phase out the employment of foreign nationals, reports BBC World Service.

There are currently believed to be around 70,000 expatriates in the Kingdom's public sector. 

The aim is replace them all with Saudi citizens over the next three years. 

This is part of a job nationalisation programme that's intended to tackle unemployment among local people. Plans were announced last month to reserve all employment at shopping malls for Saudis.   

FTSE flatlines

London Stock Exchange sign
gett

The FTSE 100 has closed little changed at 7,386.63, that's a tiny increase of 1.4 points or 0.02%.  

There were three miners among the top five risers; Fresnillo was up 5%, Randgold up 3.6% and Antofagasta was up 2.2%. They were boosted by a rise in the price of gold and copper. 

The biggest fall was in Hikma Pharmaceuticals whose shares were down by 8.2% at the close of play after it reported that a second application for a cut-price version on an asthma and chronic lung disease medicine had been turned down by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Taxpayers stand to gain from Lloyds sale

Antonio Horta-Osorio
Getty Images

2016 was also a significant year for the group as the UK Government substantially reduced its shareholding. We are now just days away from a major milestone as the group returns to full private ownership.We take great pride in the fact that the Government has already received more than its original investment of £20.3bn. With further proceeds to come as the sale is completed this will ensure that the UK taxpayers get back at least £500 million more than was originally put in.

Antonio Horta-Osorio

Lloyds' return to full private ownership 'just days away'

Exterior of Lloyds branch
Reuters

UK taxpayers are expected to make a profit of at least £500m from the government's bailout of Lloyds Banking Group, shareholders were told at the company's AGM in Edinburgh.

Directors confirmed that the government now has a 0.25% stake in the bank, and that itsl return to full private ownership is "just days away". 

At one point taxpayers owned a 43% stake in Lloyds after the government spent £20.3bn to save it at the height of the financial crisis. 

Earlier this year the government announced it had recovered all of that money. 

Uber under pressure?

Theo Leggett

BBC Business News Reporter

Uber logo
EPA

Uber is a transport firm that requires a licence to operate, a senior member of European Union's top court has said (See post at 10:21am).

The decision is a set-back for Uber, which had argued it only provided technology to help drivers find passengers. 

But what does that actually mean?

This isn't a final ruling - although judges at the ECJ do follow the reasoning of the Advocate General in most cases.

Uber says if it loses the case, its operations in most countries won't be affected. This is true - Uber has spent the past few years fighting a raft of legal cases, and has generally found a solution acceptable to national and local authorities.

But it still regards the rules in many areas as "outdated and disproportionately restrictive". It maintains that it's a different kind of company to traditional taxi firms, with a new business model, and it says laws should be updated to take that into account.

That idea doesn't go down well with many European taxi driver unions, which regard Uber as an interloper, intent on undercutting their members and determined to use any legal loopholes it can find to do so.

If the court decides that under European law Uber is not simply an intermediary - a platform for putting passengers in touch with drivers - but is in fact a transport company, it will set an important precedent, which national governments will be able to refer to. In law, it will effectively be just another taxi firm.

That, the company thinks, could undermine the "much needed reform of outdated laws" which it is anxious to promote.

Why is sterling down?

More thoughts on why the pound has lost ground now ...

ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson says it's not only the Bank of England's 7-1 vote to keep rates unchanged, and its warnings about consumer spending this year, that are weighing on sterling. 

The pound's fall is also partly because of dollar-strength, driven by better-than-expected US jobless and inflation data, he reckons.

Oil price rises again

Intraday Brent Crude price graphic Thursday 11 May 2017
bbc

The oil price has continued its upward path.  

Brent Crude is at $50.79 a barrel, a rise of 01.1%.

West Texas Intermediate is up 1.2% at $47.88 a barrel. 

Prices have been boosted over the last couple of days by a fall in US inventories and a larger than expected cut in supplies from Saudi Arabia to Asia.

However, earlier on Thursday prices rose even higher, but retreated after Opec released a report saying that higher than expected production from its competitors would reduce demand for its crude this year.

Hikma shares dive on drug ruling

Shares in Hikma Pharmaceuticals have taken a serious hit today after it reported that a second application for a cut-price version of an asthma and chronic lung disease medicine had been turned down by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Its share price is currently down 7.1% at £18.16.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals intraday share graphic 11 May 2017
BBC

Why is BT struggling at the moment?

BT is to shed 4,000 jobs worldwide over the next two years and is stripping the chief executive of his annual bonus (See earlier posts). 

Neil Wilson, senior analyst at ETX Capital, outlines the challenges facing BT

Why has the pound fallen?

Pound, dollar and euro notes
Getty Images

The pound is still trading lower.

It's down 0.49% against the dollar at $1.2875 and 0.53% lower against the euro at 1.1844 euros.

You’d think, with the Bank of England stating that interest rates may rise faster than expected, that sterling would be pretty happy. You’d be wrong. That’s because there was a lot of BoE data to digest this afternoon, and not much of it good. First of all sterling was likely disappointed that Kristin Forbes was the sole MPC member to vote for a rate hike, missing out on the potential hawkish hand rumoured from Michael Saunders. Then there was the slight downward revision to the 2017 GDP forecasts, which were trimmed from 2.0% to 1.9%. Even the pound-positive news that inflation is expected to hit 2.7% in this quarter – a decent whack higher than the 2.4% initially expected – was joined by a warning that average earnings growth will be a mere 2% this year, down from the 3% previously stated 3%, marking a huge fall in real wages and living standards.

Connor CampbellFinancial analyst, Spreadex

What should Snapchat do?

BBC World Service

After announcing it had got fewer new users in the first three months of 2017 than it was expecting, the share value of Snapchat fell by over 20%. 

BBC Minute on World Service asked staff in the BBC’s business unit what they think the company should do next.

Fewer people have signed up for Snapchat than expected, so what next?

So when will rates rise?

Analysts have been poring over what the Bank of England had to say earlier and have been coming up with forecasts for the future direction of interest rates.

Barring an unexpected, sharp and protracted drop in demand at home or in a major trading partner such as the Eurozone or the US, we look for a first hike of 0.25% in the first quarter of 2018. Despite the BoE’s high tolerance for above-target inflation, it could still surprise with a hike this year. Given the BoE focus on labour market slack, stronger-than-expected growth in average weekly earnings would probably be the critical factor that could push the BoE toward a first hike sooner. We see a 40% chance of a first hike in 2017.

Kallum PickeringSenior UK economist, Berenberg

Snap shares plunge 22%

Snap logo in form of soft toy in front of computer screen
get

Shares in Snapchat owner Snap Inc are down by 22% so far on Thursday.

On Wednesday the company reported disappointing user growth and revenue numbers and said its net losses had soared to $2.2bn from $104m. 

Wall Street down at open

Wall Street sign
Getty Images

All three key US stock indexes have opened lower on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 20,857.04, a fall of 86 points or 0.41%.

The S&P 500 is down 14 points or 0.58% at 2,385.69. 

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq is at 6,091.50, that's down 38 points or 0.61%.

'Futility and frustration'

Yanis Varoufakis
Getty Images

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is no stranger to tortuous talks with the European Union, having tried, fruitlessly, to re-negotiate Greece's bailout in 2015.

He's now written to Theresa May warning about what awaits her if she is re-elected next month. In an open letter in the Evening Standard, he says negotiations will probably "be an exercise in futility and frustration".

The only two options left to the UK, as he sees it, are to request an off-the-shelf deal, like Norway's; or to end talks and unilaterally leave the EU. "Never fear to walk away from their phoney negotiations," he concludes.

CBI: mixed messages on economy

The CBI says the Bank of England is in "wait and see mode", following slower first quarter growth, tepid wages and signs that household spending is coming under pressure.

Chief economist Rain Newton-Smith says: “There are mixed messages on economic momentum, with survey indicators pointing to stronger growth than official data. Any changes to monetary policy are unlikely in the near future, particularly amid ongoing uncertainty over the impact and outcomes of EU negotiations."