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Summary

  1. FTSE 100 eyes record high
  2. UK first-quarter growth cut to 0.2%
  3. April car production falls by almost a fifth
  4. Oil producers discuss production cuts
  5. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

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That's it for today...

We're wrapping up slightly earlier than usual today, but do join us for more Business Live tomorrow if you can. We'll be here from 6am sharp.

Progress - of sorts...

RBS
Getty Images

Progress "continues to be made" towards settling a multimillion-pound high court action brought by thousands of shareholders against Royal Bank of Scotland.

Jonathan Nash QC, representing the shareholders, told Mr Justice Hildyard: "Progress continues to be made. There is nothing that has happened over the last 24 hours which makes us feel that the progress is changing direction or that there is any problem."

The civil case was due to begin on Monday and last for 14 weeks, but the judge has granted a series of adjournments to allow settlement discussions to continue between investors and the bank.

Proceedings have been formally adjourned until 7 June.

China takes protectionist stance to football

China has moved to limit football clubs signing and fielding foreign players, amid fears it is restricting development of young talent. World Business Report investigates:

Opec has 'disappointed investors'

Nizam Hamid, exchange traded funds strategist at WisdomTree, says Opec's plans to extend production cuts for nine months in order to bolster prices are "disappointing".

"Opec’s long-awaited meeting has disappointed investors, after members dashed expectations of deeper cuts to production and merely reiterated the status quo.

“The falls [in the oil price today] may provide a buying opportunity for investors who believe in the long-term story for oil, but they also highlight the environment of heightened volatility which the commodity is facing.

“With supply side dynamics undergoing a fundamental shift thanks to the impact of US shale, only decisive action from Opec will boost prices from current levels, and so far investors have not been satisfied that Opec is tackling the issue aggressively enough.”

GM accused of rigging diesel truck emissions

A Chevy Silverado Coupe Cab HD truck
Getty Images

GM has been accused of rigging diesel truck emissions in a lawsuit filed on Thursday.

Complainants claim hundreds of thousands of diesel trucks were fitted with so-called "defeat devices", similar to those used by Volkswagen AG, to ensure they passed required emissions tests.

The lawsuit was brought by owners of Silverado and Sierra trucks fitted with "Duramax" engines from the 2011 to 2016 model years.

A spokesman for the Detroit-based automaker did not immediately respond to a request for comment, according to Reuters.

GM shares fell as much as 3.8% after the lawsuit was filed.

FTSE 100 closes slightly higher

UK traders
Getty Images

London's FTSE 100 share index ended tantalisingly close to a record level on Thursday, but the mid-cap FTSE 250 index enjoyed the greater action.

The FTSE 100 ended the day 3 points, or 0.04%, ahead at 7,517.71 - not far from its record close of 7,522.03.

However, one of the more eye-catching performances came in the FTSE 250 from budget airline Wizz Air.

Wizz shares jumped 13.3% after reporting a 19% rise in passenger numbers and 10% increase in revenues.

Read more.

What will Opec do after March 2018?

Khalid Al-Falih, minister of energy for Saudi Arabia, says Opec is prepared to extend its cuts again when this latest batch come to an end in March next year.

However, he says "we will cross that bridge when we come to it".

Russia calls agreement 'optimal'

Russian energy minister, Alexander Novak
Opec

Russian energy minister Alexander Novak says Opec's decision to extend cuts by nine months was an "optimal" outcome.

He says the cuts already in place have worked well and member and non-member states have adhered to them closely.

He also says the extension should help global oil prices to readjust.

Investors don't seem so sure though - Brent Crude has slipped further, trading 1.6% lower at $52.35 a barrel.

Cuts will help 'Opec hit 2017 targets'

Khalid A Al-Falih, minister of energy for Saudi Arabia,
Opec

Khalid Al-Falih, minister of energy for Saudi Arabia, is discussing Opec's agreement to extend output cuts for nine months.

He says the plan should help Opec and non-Opec exporters reach their price target by the end of 2017, and this will be good for consumers and the global market.

However, he accepts there are "many variables in the market" and that the deal will need close monitoring to ensure it works.

In total, 24 states have agreed to the cuts, he says.

Oil down 1.3% on reports of Opec cut

Price of Brent Crude chart
BBC

We are still awaiting a formal announcement from Opec, but it seems like its deal to extend cuts for nine months is now in the bag - and investors aren't happy.

Brent Crude is now down 1.13% at $52.83.

Neil Wilson, an analyst at ETX Capital, says the fall, in spite of the extension, is a sign that the recent rally for oil was, in part, built on pretty "sandy foundations and the hopes that Opec would do more cutting and faster".

"A nine-month extension just isn’t enough to really lift oil prices as we’ll continue to see US shale fill the gap. Having said they’d do whatever it takes, Opec is looking a bit toothless now."

Non-Opec countries agree to cuts

Non-Opec oil producers led by Russia have agreed to join Opec in extending production cuts for nine months until March 2018, Opec delegates told Reuters.

The combined cap on oil output for the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-members was agreed at around 1.8 million barrels per day.

'More interest rate rises on the way in US'

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Janet Yellen
Getty Images
US Fed chair Janet Yellen is expected to raise rates next month

As we mentioned, last night the US Federal Reserve put out its latest minutes, suggesting an interest rate rise next month is all but a done deal.

It also hinted that a stronger US economy lies ahead, which may explain why US stocks are up today.

Steven Bell, chief economist at BMO Global, told the Today programme earlier on that he thought it may not be the last rise this year.

He explained: “We [the US] will certainly get one next month. Barring some bolt from the blue – a stock market crash or something like that – it’s as near as certain as we can ever get.

“After that we are peering through the glass darkly because we don’t know how the economy is going to perform or how inflation is going to perform. My guess is we get two more.”

And the UK? Can we expect a rise?

“I think early next year, but it all depends on our economy – what will the new government do with its budget – that’s a big determinate, but we just don’t know,” Mr Bell said.

Pound slips after GDP revision

Pound vs dollar
BBC

The pound has fallen 0.3% against the dollar after first quarter GDP figures were revised downwards on Thursday.

Sterling is currently trading at $1.29360 against the dollar, and is down 0.21% against the euro at 1.15410 euros.

According to the ONS, the UK only grew by 0.2% in the first three months of 2017, down from a previous estimate 0.3%, and well below the 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Jasper Lawler, an analyst at London Capital Group, said: "The slowest household spending in three years as well as a fall in exports were a significant drag."

However, he added: "We think any resulting softness in sterling will be short-lived as long as the politics trumps economics in the run up to the general election."

Still in fashion

Hollister helps A&F

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

A&F store
Getty Images

Shares in the troubled teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch have jumped close to 10% in New York after a decline in sales was not quite as bad as expected.

The retailer, which is itself up for sale, said strong demand for its California beach-themed surfwear brand Hollister meant like-for-like sales fell by a slightly better than forecast 3% in the three months to 29 April.

However, the net widened to $61.7m from $39.6m, with revenue down 3.6% to $661.1m.

Sears shares surge

Sears sign
Getty Images

It's been an unusually strong start to the day for US retailers on Wall Street.

As mentioned earlier, Best Buy has reported a welcome rise in sales, and now shares in Sears have surged 16% after it reported its first quarterly profit for nearly two years.

The retailer reported a profit of $244m, helped by cost-cutting moves and the sale of its Craftsman tools brand to Stanley Black & Decker earlier this year.

However, underlying sales still saw steep declines. Same-store sales at Sears stores in the US dropped 12.4%, and they were down 11.2% at the group's Kmart stores.

Last orders?

FT political correspondent Henry Mance has been reading the UKIP manifesto...

View more on twitter

US stocks open at record highs

US traders
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In the US, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes have opened at record highs following the release of minutes from the Fed's May meeting, which showed policymakers expect the economy to pick up speed.

Policymakers said they expected to raise interest rates sooner rather than later, but also agreed to hold off until it was clear a recent slowdown in the economy was temporary.

The S&P 500 is up 0.43% at 2,414.63, the Nasdaq is 0.56% higher at 6,197.56, and the Dow Jones has gained 0.39% to 21,093.38.

Softbank makes $100m investment in Brazilian taxi app

Japan's SoftBank Group Corp has just agreed to invest $100m in Brazilian taxi app 99, capping off a fund-raising round totaling more than $200m, Reuters reports.

The cash injection underscores strong investor demand for ride-hailing in Latin America's largest economy, despite ongoing legal battles for firms operating there.

99's discount service, known as 99 POP, competes directly with Uber, seeking to lure drivers by retaining a smaller share of what passengers pay for a ride.

The Brazilian firm - which is also backed by Didi Chuxing, China's largest ride-hailing company - claims to have more than 14 million registered users.

What is going on with global oil prices?

A US oil field
Getty Images

If you want some background on why the Opec cartel of oil-producing nations is meeting today, take at look at this primer from BBC economics correspondent Andrew Walker.

He points out that the problem for Opec and other oil exporters started almost three years ago, when the price of oil began to slide.

North Sea Brent crude oil - a widely used price benchmark - hit a high of around $115 (£88) a barrel in June 2014, but by January 2016 had slumped to below $28.

Since then it has rebounded, thanks partly to an agreement to curb output last December, but has not got much beyond the mid-$50s per barrel.

A large part of the problem is the American shale oil industry, which has grown from very little 10 years ago, to become a major player.

Whether Opec countries can agree further cuts today remains to be seen...

Oil price volatile on Opec fears

Oil worker Iraq
Getty Images

As we have been reporting, the oil price fell as much as 1% on Thursday after reports claimed Opec countries had agreed to extend output cuts by nine months.

The move - which is yet to be officially confirmed - would extend a current agreement to March 2018. However, investors seem to feel this won't be enough to offset the global supply glut that has depressed oil prices for the last few years.

"Hopes of deeper cuts, in addition to an extension to existing curbs, seem to have been dashed," said Neil Wilson of ETX Capital.

Brent Crude Oil is currently down 0.45% a barrel at $53.51.

Mario and Luigi to Best Buy's rescue

Mario and Luigi
Gett

As the US wakes up, the country’s biggest electronics retailer Best Buy reported a welcome rise in sales thanks to the Nintendo Switch console drawing in shoppers.

Bosses revealed that like-for-like sales were up 1.6% in the three months to 29 April to $8.5bn (£6.6bn) and said they expect sales to continue at similar levels for the next quarter too. Net income fell from $229m to $188m during the period.

The good news for Best Buy followed similar noises from rival Target, which also said Nintendo’s Switch had helped sales rise in a tough market.

Nintendo launched the console in March and it has been well-received by critics and gamers.

To infinity and beyond?

Good news! The UKIP candidate for South Suffolk reckons he's solved the UK's investment problems, with this fabulous leaflet.

Aidan Powlesland reckons the mining companies that dominate the FTSE 100 are not adventurous enough and by 2026 a government-backed company should be mining the asteroid belt, along with Jupiter and Saturn's moons.

View more on twitter

FTSE eases back

FTSE 100
BBC

The FTSE 100 has dropped a bit after flirting with a record high in morning trade.

The share index peaked at 7,529.74 - less than four points shy of the record intraday high of 7,533 it hit last week - before slipping back around midday.

It's partly being pulled lower by falls in the oil price. Brent crude is down 1% amid nerves that a deal between oil nations to cut supply won't go far enough.

Commodity stocks - which make up a large part of the FTSE 100 - are among those to have slipped on the oil drama.

Catch the pigeon

B&M: slowdown, what slowdown?

B&M Bargains store
B&M Bargains

The economy may be slowing, inflation on the up and the house market moving sideways, but at B&M Bargains, the discount chain’s High Street takeover continues at pace.

Bosses say they want to have 950 stores in the UK, instead of their initial target of 850 – making them one of the biggest discount chains in the country. There are currently 537 stores.

By comparison, WHSmith has 600 stores and Poundland has around 700 sites.

If you haven’t been in a B&M – just think of a 21st century version of Woolworths.

The decision comes as B&M said pretax profits for the year to end of March were up 18% to £182.9m, with sales growing 19% to £2.4m. Like for like sales were up 3.1%.

B&M plans to open 40 to 50 new stores in the UK this year and 15 in Germany.

Listen: 'UK needs global talent post-Brexit'

Apple's chief designer Sir Jonathan Ive tells the BBC that the UK should keep its doors open to global talent after Brexit for its tech firms to thrive.

Sir Jonathan, one of the most influential Brits in the US, was speaking to Today presenter Mishal Husain after being appointed Chancellor of the Royal College of Art.

BT confirms bonus cut for chief executive

Gavin Patterson
Getty Images

BT has confirmed that it cut chief executive Gavin Patterson's bonus after an accounting scandal in its Italian operation.

The company's annual report has just come out and shows Mr Patterson (pictured) took home £1.35m versus the £5.28m he pocketed last year.

The annual report also revealed his base pay rose by 2.5% to £993,000 and his benefits package fell from £57,000 to £53,000.

For those wondering what a chief executive's "benefits" look like, BT say it includes a "company car, fuel or driver, personal telecommunication facilities and home security, medical and dental cover (for the directors and immediate family), life cover, professional subscriptions, personal tax advice and financial counselling".

Soft border?

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - and how it will be affected when the UK leaves the EU - is likely to be one of the first issues in the Brexit talks.

BBC Northern Ireland economics and business editor John Campbell has this update:

View more on twitter

Carnival chief tops BAME list

Arnold Donald
Getty Images

Arnold Donald, who runs cruise operator Carnival Corporation, has topped a new list of executives from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Carnival is the world's biggest leisure travel company, with a fleet of 103 cruise ships that visit more than 700 ports globally and is worth $45bn.

Mr Donald says: "We are very proud of the diversity of our workforce and believe that the power of diversity of thinking drives innovation."

The EMpower 100 Ethnic Minority Leaders List is in its second year and features business leaders from the UK, Ireland, US and Canada.

Karen Blackett, chair of Mediacom is in second place, while Ron Kalifa, deputy chairman of Worldpay, is third. Rankings are based on the executives' seniority and influence.

The name's Jissbon...

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

Jissbon condoms
Ansell

There is a brand of condom in China - I kid you not - called Jissbon. According to Reuters, it "sounds like James Bond in Chinese". Whether this was a factor in today's sale of Australian condom maker Ansell remains unclear, however.

The world's second-largest condom maker after Durex is being bought by China's Humanwell Healthcare Group and CITIC Capital China Partners for $600m (£462m) cash.

The consortium is betting on stirring demand in China as sex becomes less of a taboo and more emphasis is placed on public health education.

More here.

People voting with their feet?

Reality Check

Figures out today show a significant increase in EU nationals leaving the UK. BBC Reality Check journalist Chris Morris tweets:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Wizz Air takes off

Wizz Air planes flies over the Danube
Getty Images

Wizz Air, the budget airline which mainly flies to central and eastern Europe, is one of the biggest winners on the UK stock market this morning.

Its shares are up nearly 10% after hailing record profitability for the past year, with passengers up 19% and revenues rising 10% to 1.57bn euros (£1.4bn).

The Hungarian carrier (seen flying over the Danube river above) also reiterated it had seen no fall-off in demand from UK customers following the Brexit vote.

BreakingOpec agrees nine-month cut - reports

Opec president Khalid al-Falih
Reuters

The Opec group of oil countries has agreed to extend supply cuts by nine months to March 2018, according to reports.

Big oil producers which aren't part of Opec, including Russia (but, significantly, not the US), will meet later to decide if they will keep up the cuts as well.

Late last year, 24 countries agreed to cut production by 1.8 million barrels a day in a bid to cut down on excess supply and push up prices.

However, the reports haven't been enough to boost oil yet in London.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, is currently down 0.5% at $53.70 a barrel after Khalid al-Falih (pictured), Opec's secretary general and Saudi Arabia's energy minister, seemed to rule out deeper cuts.

How shocking was the GDP cut?

If you want a sense of just how surprising the GDP cut today was, financial newswire Reuters revealed that just one of 42 economists asked reckoned GDP would be revised down...

View more on twitter

The Opec deal explained

BBC Business Live

Do you want to understand why Opec and non-Opec oil producers are working together on a cut in production?

Of course you do.

Here's Business Live's Sally Bundock to explain why the cuts are happening.

View more on twitter

GDP downgrade reactions

Food
Getty Images

Reaction to the revised cut in GDP from 0.3% to 0.2% in the first quarter is starting to filter in.

John Hawksworth, chief economist at accountant PwC, said the numbers were "confirming that the slowdown was focused on consumer spending and related industry sectors such as retailing, hotels and restaurants, transport and communications.

“It was not all bad news. Business investment picked up somewhat in the first quarter and government investment was noticeably stronger, helping to offset the consumer slowdown."

Neil Wilson, senior analyst at EXT Capital, said: "The rather ugly set of growth figures suggest that post-Brexit resilience may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

"Household spending is slowing, inflation is rising and wages are not keeping pace – the consumer-led bounce since last June could just about be running out of steam."

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, also blames the rising cost of living on the fall.

He said: “High inflation is hitting consumers, but a weak pound and a recovering global economy are helping businesses.

"UK growth is likely to tilt away from the consumer towards exports, manufacturing and investment this year. This should keep the UK economy growing at a similar rate to last year.”

All eyes on Opec as FTSE aims high

trader looking at Bloomberg terminal
Getty Images

Hold onto your hats everyone... The FTSE 100 has passed the highest closing price ever, hitting 7523.67 points.

If it can stay at this level until closing time at 4.30pm it will be a new record (beating the previous record, set nine days ago).

All eyes will be on Vienna today to determine whether the record can be surpassed.

The Austrian capital is hosting an important Opec meeting to discuss plans for a cut in oil production among some of the world's biggest suppliers.

Hopes have been raised and dashed all week with Saudi Arabia - Opec's biggest producer - and Russia - the world's biggest non-Opec producer - agreeing in principle to cut supplies until March.

But there were wobbles when Iraq said it wasn't keen on cutting production for such a long period.

The FTSE 100 is dominated by oil and mining companies, who rely heavily on a strong oil price.

Therefore, if Opec formalise the oil production cuts, the price of a barrel should rise, pushing shares in the FTSE 100's oil and mining companies up, and helping the index hit a new high.

Migration numbers in detail

Border control
Reuters

A bit more detail on the latest immigration figures, which show the number of people arriving in the UK was 588,000 last year, versus 339,000 who left.

According to the Office for National Statistics, There was a big increase in emigration, up 40,000 on 2015, with mainly EU citizens heading back home.

Coming to the UK to work remains the biggest reason for migration with the majority having a job to come to. The number arriving without a job fell significantly to 95,000 – a drop of 35,000 on 2015.

There was a significant drop (of 32,000 people) coming to the UK for the long-term, although the number of visa handed out to non-EU students for a year or more was up 3% to 141,248.

People leaving the UK with a definite job to go to was significantly up and the estimated number of non-British citizens going home to live increased from 29,000 to 52,000 in 2016.

A total of 9,634 people were granted asylum or an alternative form of protection.

Oh, and if you're wondering why we keep using the word "significant", that's the ONS's preferred way of defining which numbers of worthy of attention or not.

Sidebar of shame

Daily Mail newspaper
Getty Images

The speed of the decline in print advertising may be slowing for the owners of the Daily Mail newspaper, but that’s not stopped the share price from diving today.

Daily Mail and General Trust said print advertising fell by 8% in the six months to the end of March – which was better than the 12% fall last year. The company also said it was helped by a 19% rise in revenues from MailOnline and a 2% boost on physical newspaper sales.

The company has been attempting to move away from focusing all its attentions on newspapers and journalism, expanding its portfolio to include property websites and media businesses for education and the energy sector.

But shares plunged 9% to 66.5p - making it the second worst performing stock on Europe's Stoxx 600 behind Petrofac (which is caught up in a bribery investigation) – due to a fall in operating profits of 11% to £100m.