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  1. FTSE 100 closes at new record high
  2. Labour plans corporation tax rise
  3. Inflation hits 2.7% in April
  4. Vodafone reports 6bn euros loss
  5. EasyJet takes £80m hit on weak pound
  6. Get in touch:

Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

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Thanks for tuning in to Business Live - we will be back tomorrow at 6am sharp.

Can knowing your genetic make-up lead to a healthier life?

Suzanne Bearne, Technology of Business reporter...

Mandy Mayer
Mandy Mayer

The latest health and fitness trend involves taking a DNA test to find out more about how our bodies respond to different types of food and exercise. But how accurate and effective are these kits?

Fitness fanatic Mandy Mayer, 56, took a DNAFit test, which tests the body's genetic response to key foods and exercise.

After sending off a swab of her saliva, she received a report on her fitness and diet in January. 

Three months later and she has dropped from a size 12 to a size 10 and lost several kilos. 

She attributes her leaner figure to understanding more about her genetic code.

"Without a shadow of a doubt it was down to the test," says Mandy, who lives in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

"It's made me follow the right training and make little changes to my diet."

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BMW partnering on driverless technology platform

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BMW has revealed it is working on a driverless technology platform that can be adopted by other car makers.

The firm, which is working in partnership with tech firms Delphi, Intel and Mobileye, says the system will help car makers who do not have their own tech to lower their costs, achieve scale, and deal with tricky questions of safety and liability.   

“There will be a consolidation of platforms, and there’s most likely to be a small number of platforms remaining that will for a longer time determine the market," Richard Rau, director of product development at BMW, told Bloomberg.

"That’s why we believe it’s so important to not just build now an exclusive BMW solution, but really start to process opening this approach to as many original equipment manufacturers as care to join.”

JP Morgan boss defends Trump advisory role

Jamie Dimon meets Donald Trump and others
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JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon has shrugged off criticism from shareholders of his role advising President Donald Trump on economic matters, adding that he would not give up his efforts.  

At the bank's annual general meeting in Delaware, several attendees called him out on his role on a White House business council and JPMorgan's involvement with financial deregulation efforts in Washington.

"I would try to help any president of the United States, because I'm a patriot," Dimon responded. "That does not mean we agree with all the policies that an administration comes up with."

EasyJet eyes bigger planes to boost profits

EasyJet plane

After posting a bruising first-half loss on Tuesday, EasyJet said it was looking to use bigger planes to help it cut costs.

Europe's second largest low-cost carrier said it had arranged to convert part of an Airbus order to larger planes, which would cut costs per seat, and was also postponing some orders of smaller planes.

The group, which reported a pretax loss of £212m, partly due to the impact of the lower pound, said it was hopeful of doing better in the second half. 

"Our bookings for the summer are ahead of last year showing that demand to fly remains strong," chief executive Carolyn McCall said.

Wall Street closes flat

US markets were a bit of a mixed bag at the close after mixed economic data and earnings.

US manufacturing production showed its biggest increase in more than three years for April.

While home improvement chain Home Depot reported a better-than-expected first-quarter performance, TJX, the owner of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores, reported slowing like-for-like sales growth and a disappointing current-quarter profit forecast.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2.19 points, or 0.01%, to 20,979.75. The S&P 500 had lost 1.65 points, or 0.07%, to 2,400.67 easing from an all-time high of 2,405.77. 

Yahoo announces $3bn share buyback

Yahoo logo
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Yahoo is to buy back up to $3bn (£2.3 billion) of its own shares to provide liquidity to stockholders looking to cash out ahead of the firm's merger with Verizon.

The news pushed Yahoo's stock up by 2.3% to $50.99.

Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo's core internet platforms last year for $4.83bn in cash. It lowered the original offer by $350m in February following two massive cyber attacks at the internet company.

After the Verizon deal, Yahoo will be renamed Altaba, a holding company whose primary assets will be its 15% stake in Alibaba and a 35.5% stake in Yahoo Japan.

Does Labour manifesto follow Nordic model?

BBC business presenter tweets...

US stocks tread water

Wall Street stocks are a mixed bag after energy and healthcare stocks edged lower. 

Having hit an intraday high, the S&P 500 index is now 0.15% lower at 2,398.77, while the Dow is down 0.04% at 20,973.21.

But the Nasdaq - which also hit a fresh intraday high - is up 0.18% at 6,160.47. 

Hotel groups target Cuba despite Trump rhetoric

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Major hotel chains Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt are attending The annual Latin American Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference in Havana this week, in the latest sign that the US hospitality industry believes President Donald Trump will not block their access to Cuba.

“We are very interested in Cuba as a destination for our guests,” David Tarr, senior vice president for real estate and development at Hyatt, told Reuters. 

"Certainly we hope relations will be normalised. Our guests want to visit, which is why we are here."

President Obama visited Cuba last year, ushering in a detente between the feuding nations, but Mr Trump criticised the move. 

Only one US hotel has been granted a licence to operate in Cuba, but others are keen, as US travel to the island picks up speed. Major cruise companies and airlines have also announced plans to run more Cuba services. 

Twitter shares pop on news co-founder will return

Macron a 'big step forward' for business

‎Business producer and reporter Josh Thorpe...

Emmanuel Macron, the new French President
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The BBC’s Joshua Thorpe is in Paris where as Emmanuel Macron starts the first week of his presidency, the business community is eagerly awaiting what it sees as much-needed reforms to labour rules.

Paul Armbruster runs a company called HopBuddy which delivers craft beer all over France. He told Joshua Thorpe that so far he has been unable to employ full time staff as it is too costly. 

He says he is continually getting letters in the post with more charges to pay for his business. "I have no idea what they are for," he says.

On Emmanuel Macron's labour reform plans he says: "It's a very big step forward. We are one of the last countries in europe that haven't reformed our labour laws in the last 30 years. Maybe we will have the courage it takes to do it all the way this time and not fix bit by bit.".

Labour: We can't reverse benefits freeze

Radio 4 PM

The shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, has said Labour cannot reverse the benefits freeze, despite leader Jeremy Corbyn's earlier comments which seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I don't think we can reverse it entirely and we shouldn't be promising things that we can't afford," she told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone to rejoin the company

witter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams pose for a photo after Twitter's IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on 7 November, 2013
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Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams after the firm's IPO in November 2013

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has said he will return to the social media firm in an unspecified role.

Mr Stone, who set the firm up with Jack Dorsey, Ev Williams and Noah Glass, left in 2011 and went on to co-found the online publishing platform Medium.

He rejoins Twitter at a time when the network is fighting to boost user growth and advertising revenue. 

"My top focus will be to guide the company culture, that energy, that feeling," Mr Stone said in a blog post, adding that Jack Dorsey had asked him to come back to work at the company.

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What Labour's income tax proposals look like

Reality Check

Labour chart

Here's a handy chart showing what Labour's income tax plans would do to tax rates.

The chart is already a bit bumpy. When people earn above £100,000 the taxman starts clawing back their income tax-free allowance at a rate that means it's all gone if they earn more than £123,000.

In that band, people are paying a higher rate of tax on each extra pound earned than people earning over £123,000. 

£123,000 is also the rate at which Labour wants to introduce the 50p rate of tax on each pound earned.

This chart does not include other bumps in the system such as the loss of child benefit for parents earning between £50,000 and £60,000 a year, which raises the marginal tax rate in that band considerably.

Inflation outpacing 'rock bottom' saving rates

Inflation vs saving rates graph
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The gulf between inflation and interest rates on cash savings is at its widest since December 2011, according to research from asset manager M&G Investments. 

While the Consumer Price Index (CPI) shot up to 2.7% in April 2017, banks and building societies offered average rates of just 0.15% on instant-access cash savings accounts, it said, citing Bank of England data. 

It means consumers could be seeing real returns of -2.55% per year on their cash savings, M&G said.

At that rate, £5,000 saved in an average bank account would lose £127.50, in real terms, over the course of a year.

Ritu Vohora, investment director at M&G, said: “We naturally want our hard-earned savings to grow, but the corrosive combination of rising inflation and rock-bottom interest rates makes them more likely to shrink."

Dow and S&P 500 turn negative

US traders
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After a positive start, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 indexes have entered negative territory - down 0.02% and 0.09% respectively. 

The tech-focused Nasdaq is up 0.19% though.

Earlier, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 touched record intraday highs. 

UK government 'sells remaining Lloyds stake'

Lloyds logo
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The government has sold its remaining stake in Lloyds Banking Group, fully reprivatisatising the lender, the FT has reported quoting sources. 

It comes nearly a decade after taxpayers bailed the bank out during the financial crisis, with the government taking a 43% stake, worth £20.3bn. 

The sell-off - due to be announced on Monday - is set to generate a profit of more than £500m, sources said. 

The government began selling off its stake in Lloyds in late 2013, "drip-feeding” shares into the market under a programme run by Morgan Stanley.

Labour's economic plans unpacked

BBC World Service

The leader of the UK's main opposition party has laid out his vision for the country. World Business Report discusses the Labour party's economic policy with Peter Dowd, who is a member of Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet.  

'Red letter day' for London market

UK-based traders
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A we have been reporting, the FTSE 100 has closed above 7,500 for the first time despite inflation being at the highest rate since September 2013.

Laith Khalaf, a senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says it's a "red letter day for investors" who continue to see the value of their pensions and ISAs rise with the market. 

An improving global economy, a weaker pound and higher commodity prices are behind the surge in share prices. It's quite amazing to think the footsie has gained 2000 points in the last fifteen months against a background of weak investor confidence. In the short term the market can of course move in either direction but investors will be thinking that the 8,000 mark is hovering into view.

FTSE 100 winners and losers

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The FTSE 100's best performer today was Vodafone, as investors ignored news of a hefty annual loss and focused on its upbeat outlook, sending the stock 3.6% higher.

It was followed by miners Fresnillo and Rio Tinto, up 2.9% and 2.68% respectively, thanks to higher commodities prices.

The biggest loser was investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, which dived 8.5% on news that US peer Vanguard is launching a new service to attract personal investors in the UK.

Easyjet fell 7.25% after the airline reported larger-than-expected half-year losses.

Why is the FTSE 100 doing so well?

FTSE 100 graph

The FTSE 100 reached a new milestone today when it hit 7,500, but what's behind its recent record-breaking run?

Analysts says investors are feeling confident ahead of the General Election, anticipating a large Conservative party majority. 

The continued recovery of key commodity stocks - such as BP, Rio Tinto and Anglo American - has also helped.

On top of this, the FTSE 100 shrugged off the steep rise in inflation reported earlier, as the prospect of interest rate rises from the Bank of England remains remote. 

The internationally-facing firms of the index won't be overly exposed to a projected slowdown in consumer spending, either. 

Finally, the pound has fallen in recent days, which in general lifts the FTSE 100 as many companies on the index have significant revenues from overseas. A weak pound means these revenues are worth more when converted back into sterling.

BreakingFTSE 100 hits new closing high

London Stock Exchange logo
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London's benchmark index has closed above the 7,500 mark, a new closing record. 

At 4.35pm the FTSE 100 was 0.92% higher at 7,523.31, having surged on rebounding commodity stocks and a dip in the value of sterling. 

Ridicule and condemnation for Chanel's $1,500 boomerang

Chanel boomerang

You've done your shopping but there's just one thing missing, the thing you absolutely don't need but somehow still want to set yourself apart?

But now you need look no further. French luxury brand Chanel has your back: a boomerang for $1,460 (€1,260; £1,130). A hefty price tag.

Surely it must be designed by a famous indigenous artist. Sadly, no.

The indigenous community in Australia says this is yet another example of crass cultural appropriation.

Read more.

Osborne praises Corbyn's honesty

Here's a turn up for the books. Former Chancellor George Osborne - who has a freer rein to speak his mind now he's editor of the Evening Standard - has rubber stamped an editorial giving Jeremy Corbyn "marks for honesty" for the Labour manifesto, published today.

The article says Mr Corbyn is right to remind us that "more public spending means more taxes" - although it swiftly goes on to say his policy plans will make Britons "a lot poorer".   

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Rail strikes announced for 30 May

Tata nears deal to spin off British Steel pension scheme

British steel worker
British Steel

India's Tata Steel says it is close to a deal to spin off its giant UK pension scheme into a standalone entity and end its liabilities.

In February, thousands of workers backed changes to the scheme that will mean less generous retirement payouts, as part of a deal to stop Tata Steel closing its loss-making UK operations.

Tata had warned the huge £15bn British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) had become too much of a burden to carry.

On Tuesday, Tata said intensive discussions had been held with the Pensions Regulator and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), and a draft deal was now on the table.   

This will see all members of the BSPS offered an option either to transfer to a new pension scheme sponsored by Tata offering modified benefits, or to remain in the BSPS and receive PPF compensation.  

'Only' £9.6m from BHS...

Sunday Times City editor Oliver Shah tweets:

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ECJ ruling could 'slow down trade deals with EU'


As reported earlier, the European Court of Justice has clarified the approval process for EU trade deals, in a ruling which some UK business leaders said could help with Brexit. 

The case concerned the Singapore-EU FTA that was negotiated in 2014.

But Will Arthur, an analyst at Oxford Analytica, tells the BBC the ruling may have negative consequences.

"The European Court of Justice has ruled that the European Commission needs national and subnational legislatures’ permission when it comes to negotiating free trade agreements (FTA) on the aspects of portfolio investment and investor-state dispute resolution," he says. 

"The case could see the EU’s existing FTAs being revisited, and this could make for delays of the kind seen when the EU and Canada were negotiating and finalising their FTA recently, and concerns were raised by the Wallonia government. 

"The case could also diminish other countries’ enthusiasm for FTAs with the EU."

S&P 500 and Nasdaq touch fresh record highs

US traders
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The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have already touched record intraday highs on Tuesday, thanks to strong performances from tech and consumer staples stocks. 

A short while ago the S&P 500 was up 0.07% at 2,404.00, the Nasdaq had gained 0.18% to 6,160.81, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.23% at 21,029.20.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sector indexes have climbed today, although healthcare, real estate and discretionary consumer goods are slightly lower. 

Do Labour's spending commitments add up?

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

Labour has unveiled pledges totalling £48.6bn in its election manifesto - all of which the party says is fully costed. 

But when challenged on many of the spending commitments, including capping the state pension age at 66, Labour's shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said they would "be setting out our stall on that in due course" and gave no precise figures or further details. 

Sales slow at TK Maxx owner

TK Maxx shop

Shares in TJX - the US group behind such brands as TK Maxx, the low-cost retailer - dived by up to 6% in early trade after it posted a disappointing set of results.  

Sales at the firm, which also owns TJ Maxx and Marshalls, grew at their slowest pace in three years - climbing 1% in the 13 weeks to the end of April undershooting expectations. 

The company, which blamed unseasonable weather in the US and Canada, is the latest US retailer to report disappointing results. 

Macy’s and Kohl’s both posted weak quarterly figures last week, as they continue to grapple with the rise on online competitors and fast fashion names like Zara and H&M.

Body Shop receives bid from Italian private equity firm

Body Shop products
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The Italian private equity firm Investindustrial says it is interested in buying The Body Shop.

The sale by L'Oreal, which has owned the ethical beauty retailer since 2006, has drawn interest from a series of private equity investors and a decision is expected in the coming months.

The Body Shop was a pioneer in the ethical beauty industry for four decades but has recently seen sales slide, prompting the decision to sell it.

Investindustrial's founder, Andrea Bonomi said: "We are trying [to buy it] and if we manage to do so, we hope a woman will lead it."

Labour Manifesto: Three things you need to know
The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg was at the launch and has been looking at the paperwork so you don't have to.

GS1 trade association criticises Labour manifesto

Trade association GS1 UK - which licences barcodes for major retailers across the UK - says the Labour manifesto is a "missed opportunity". 

The group, which has 31,000 business members, welcomes the party's calls for networks of regional trade and investment champions, but says a plan to put up the main rate of corporation tax is ill-judged. 

Chief executive Gary Lynch says: "In a poll of our 31,000 members, 61% told us they want the next government to lower corporation tax to 12.5% similar to Ireland - not increase it.  

"And our members tell us they don’t care about immigration either. In the Brexit negotiations, 74% of British business want the government to focus on negotiating barrier-free trade – just 6% would rather the next government prioritised ending free movement.”

EU court ruling 'may help Brexit'


Europe's highest court today clarified the approval process for EU trade deals, in a ruling which UK business leaders said could help with Brexit.

The European Court of Justice decided that an EU-Singapore free trade deal cannot take effect fully unless parliaments in all 28 member states approve it.  

However, the aspects that need sign-off from parliaments mainly concern investment, which so far hasn't been a major part of Brexit discussions, according to the Institute of Directors (IoD).

"This ruling will likely make it easier for the EU to conclude trade deals without fear of as many hold-ups from national and sub-national legislatures," said Allie Renison of the IoD.

FTSE 100 surpasses 7,500

FTSE 100

The FTSE 100 has surpassed 7,500 on another record breaking day for the blue chip index.

It added 58.46 points to hit 7,512.83. 

The top riser and faller have retained their places since early Tuesday morning,

Vodafone's share price is up 4.15% at 219.85p after the telecoms operator gave an upbeat outlook despite reporting a large full year loss. 

Conversely, easyJet's share price is now down 6.2% at  £12.28 after its interim losses widened on weak sterling and a late Easter

Manchester United tumbles into a loss

Manchester United
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Manchester United has reported a loss for the first three months of the year despite quarterly revenues rising.

It lost £3.8m between January and March, down from a £13.7m profit in the same period last year.

If the club beats Ajax in the Europa League final on 24 May it would secure a coveted place in the Champions League for next season.

Read the full story here.

£300bn pension promise

Steve Webb, former pensions minister and now policy director for Royal London, tweets:

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