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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Pound climbs above $1.29
  3. FTSE 100 falls back
  4. Oil prices fluctuate

Live Reporting

By Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

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Wall Street eases lower

Wall Street stocks dipped as a fall in Apple's shares partly offset gains in energy and financial stocks, which have been some of the market's worst-performing sectors so far this year.

Apple shares fell 1% despite the iPhone maker unveiling new products and services at its annual developers conference.

Energy stocks rose despite a decline in oil prices, down on concerns that Saudi Arabia and other countries are cutting off ties with Qatar.

The Dow Jones ended the day 0.1% lower at 21,184 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.12% to 2,436. The Nasdaq fell 0.16% to 6,295.7.

Apple's HomeKit hopes

Another observation from CCS Insight's Ben Wood:

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Super Siri?

Tim Cook
Getty Images

Apple will also make Siri more aware of context, enabling it to recommend and remind users more accurately based on how they use their device.

The digital assistant will better understand follow-up questions and scheduling as well as handle language translation for the first time.

The features more closely rival Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant - two virtual assistants that have become increasingly popular and powerful in recent months.

Apple also announced a new software kit called ARKit, which will enable app developers to build augmented reality apps on Apple's platforms more easily. Augmented reality is a mixture of live images with virtual animations and objects placed over them.

Another reinvention?

Apple says it wanted to "reinvent home music" and thus came up with the HomePod - though for once it is playing catch-up with rivals such as Amazon and Google.

Powered by Apple's smart assistant Siri, the device can play music as well as answer queries and control other smart home appliances.

The HomePod will use its six microphones to pick up voice commands and uses the same processor chip as the iPhone to pump out "spatially aware" sound, Apple said.

The device goes on sale in December in the US, UK and Australia.

Smart move

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood tweets:

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Hello HomePod

It looks like Apple has taken a leaf out of Amazon's book and released the HomePod - a home speaker akin to the Echo.

It will be "just under seven inches" high and be available later this year for $349.

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New iPad Pro

Dave Lee says Apple has also revealed a new iPad Pro, with a 10.5 inch screen that will be available from next week.

Meanwhile, iOS11 will be a free download available later this year, Tim Cook says.

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App store makeover

More from WWDC:

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More bumps in the road for Uber - and Lyft...

Uber logo
Getty Images

San Francisco's city attorney has issued subpoenas to "taxi" firms Uber and Lyft for records of driving practices, access for disabled passengers and whether certain neighborhoods are underserved.

The city and Uber are already also engaged in a legal fight over San Francisco's demands for drivers' names and addresses and comes at a time when Uber is beset by a host of other legal problems.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the subpoenas sought four years of records from the companies, which are based in San Francisco and have some 45,000 drivers between them in the city.

Black is black

Financial Times reporter Hannah Kuchler is also at Apple's WWDC event:

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Benedict Evans adds:

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iMessage payments

Potentially quite a significant move for mobile payments:

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Fitness, not luxury...

North America technology reporter Dave Lee is also watching the Apple keynote:

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Siri gets a face

Tim Cook
Getty Images

More from Apple's WWDC conference. Tim Cook has also revealed a "Siri face" for the Apple Watch that will enable the voice-activated assistant to give users information such as commute times for upcoming appointments.

The face for Siri is a bid to help it compete against Amazon's Alexa and the Google Assistant helper. While the assistant was previously available on the Apple Watch, Siri only had a limited ability to automatically show information.

Apple is also reportedly working on a home speaker powered by Siri that could be unveiled during the conference, which runs until 9 June.

BreakingAmazon comes to Apple

American Gods
Amazon

Apple chief executive Tim Cook told the WWDC event in San Francisco that Amazon Prime Video would be available on Apple TV and other Apple devices later this year.

Apple has about 50 media partners that supply content to its Apple TV and on the television app on iPhones and iPads.

However, Amazon's service, which includes hit shows like Transparent and American Gods (pictured) has been a notable absence.

BA 'will recover'

Ba passengers
EPA

IAG chief Willie Walsh again apologised to BA customers and admitted the incident had damaged the British Airways brand, but that the airline would recover.

"This is something I wouldn't wish on anybody," he said. "When you see customers who suffered, you wouldn't want it to happen to any airline or any business."

Walsh: 'difficult to understand'

Willie Walsh
Getty Images

More from Willie Walsh in Cancun, who has effectively confirmed that the BA computer chaos which left 75,000 people stranded over the bank holiday weekend was caused by human error.

The IAG boss said the incident occurred when an electrical engineer disconnected the uninterruptible power supply, therefore shutting down the data centre.

That would not have been a big problem in itself, he said, but the damage was caused when the power was restored in an uncontrolled fashion.

"It's very clear to me that you can make a mistake in disconnecting the power," Mr Walsh said. "It's difficult for me to understand how to make a mistake in reconnecting the power."

On the fence

Diplomatic editor James Landale tweets:

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Lagarde's Greece solution

Christine Lagarde
Getty Images

IMF chief Christine Lagarde has offered Greece's European creditors a way out of their impasse over Athens' debts that would allow the eurozone to release some funds later this month.

The IMF believes Greece needs a debt haircut, which Germany rejects. Ms Lagarde suggested agreeing a deal whereby the IMF would stay on board in the bailout, as Berlin wants, but not pay out further aid until debt relief measures are clarified.

"There can therefore be a programme in which the disbursement only takes place when the debt measures have been clearly outlined by the creditors," she told German newspaper Handelsblatt.

The compromise could allow eurozone finance ministers to give the go-ahead for their next payment of their tranche of aid at their meeting on 15 June, Handelsblatt said. "It is a possibility for an agreement," Ms Lagarde said.

Computer says no

Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference starts in San Francisco very shortly. It's expected to reveal updates to its major platforms, such as iOS and Siri, and maybe some new hardware as well.

The shindig is being livestreamed - but only if you're using an approved device or browser, unlike this one (Chrome, of course):

Apple.com
Apple

BreakingBA to probe IT disaster

BA tail fin
Getty Images

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said British Airways has commissioned an independent study to examine the computer problems that disrupted its operations the weekend before last.

"We have commissioned an independent company to conduct full investigation, it will be peer reviewed and we will be happy to disclose details," he told the IATA annual conference in Cancun on Monday.

Flower power

A380
Getty Images

The Airbus A380 is my favourite plane - even in cattle class (here at Business Live Towers no one turns left I'm afraid) - but many airlines have fallen out of love with the superjumbo.

Airbus plans to cut production to one plane a month and has plans to make even fewer if sales do not rise.

However, the plane maker's sales chief John Leahy told the IATA meeting in Cancun he saw a future for the world's largest airliner as air traffic continues to double every 15 years. But then again he would say that.

The A380 pictured above has been turned into a floral installation, in case you're wondering...

Qatar riddle for US

BBC World Service

Flights are cut to Qatar and borders shut, prompting fears of food shortages.

Peter Salisbury, senior research fellow with Chatham House's Middle East and North Africa Programme, has been talking to Susannah Streeter on BBC World Business Report.

The US has major investments in Qatar. Exxon Mobil has a huge gas project, one of the biggest gas export projects in the world and the former CEO is Rex Tillerson, now Secretary for State in the US. This is the first major foreign policy crisis to test this administration. They will struggle to work out a solution to this. What this looks like from the Saudi and Emirati side is a real push to pick a side. I do think we will see further reciprocal measures in this trade war. Qatar imports 90% of its food and there are reports of food stockpiling. As this squeezes Qatar who knows what the response will be."

FTSE falters

London Eye
Reuters

The FTSE 100 has slipped 0.3%, or almost 24 points, to 7,523 points amid uncertainty about the outcome of the election.

One of the biggest fallers was Madame Tussauds and London Eye owner Merlin Entertainments, which slipped 2.3%, while easyJet fell 3.1% in the wake of the London terror attack.

BreakingNew C4 chief

Alex Mahon
Foundry

Alex Mahon is the first female chief executive of Channel 4. She has been running Foundry, the visual effects and virtual reality firm, and was previously boss of indie producer Shine Group until 2015.

Charles Gurassa, Channel 4 chair, said: "She brings an impressive combination of relevant experience and is brilliantly placed to help steer Channel 4 through the competitive challenges and opportunities ahead."

Ms Mahon said: "There is nowhere in the world like Channel 4 and, in these changing times, its mission is more important than ever."

She will start in the autumn, succeeding David Abraham, who announced his intention to step down in March.

A350 back on track

Airbus A350
Reuters

Aviation watchers will know that deliveries of Airbus A350 widebody jets have been held up by delays with the cabin equipment supplied by Zodiac Aerospace.

However, deliveries are getting closer to their scheduled dates, says Pekka Vauramo, chief executive of Finnair.

"Recently they've been fairly good. We just got one two days ago, our ninth, and it was shipped within one or two days of when it was supposed to be," he said on the sidelines of an IATA meeting in the Mexican resort of Cancun.

Finnair was the first European operator of the A350 and is due to receive two more this year, taking its total to 11. The carrier expects to have 19 by 2023.

BreakingGoogle shares hit $1,000

Google IPO in 2004
Getty Images

It's Google's turn to reach the milestone. Shares in the firm's parent company, Alphabet, have reached $1,000 for the first time, just days after Amazon achieved the same feat.

Google listed on the New York Stock Exchange for just over $50 back in 2004, with a youthful Larry Page (centre, signing his name) there to ring the bell.

In case you're wondering, that's an increase of 1,900% in less than 13 years. Alphabet is now valued at a whopping $694bn - bigger than the GDP of Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Sweden to name a few.

Alphabet share price
WSJ

Airline profits to soar

Plane
Getty Images

Global airlines are set to post higher profits this year as the world economy enjoys strong growth, boosting demand for air travel.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents more than 200 carriers, said profits should total $31.4bn this year, $1.6bn higher than its previous forecast.

IATA's forecast for 2017 industry revenues was also raised by $7bn to $743bn.

US mobile test case

Cell tower
Getty Images

More Supreme Court action today: it has agreed to hear a major case that will determine whether American police need warrants to access mobile phone location information kept by mobile networks.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal brought by a man who was arrested in 2011 as part of an investigation into a string of armed robberies at Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in the Detroit area over the preceding months.

Police helped establish that the man, Timothy Carpenter, was near the scene of the crimes by securing data that tracked the location of his phone from his network operator.

Take your pick

Dan Macadam

Business reporter

Comptoir Libanais restaurant
Comptoir Libanais

Restaurant chain Comptoir Libanais - best known for its Lebanese sharing platters and wraps - has served up a mezze of reasons for a profit warning.

The company blamed "incremental wage costs and related taxes (apprenticeship levy), higher food and drink costs (driven by depreciation in sterling versus the euro) and increases in rent and business rates".

In a slightly startling admission, it also said much of the benefit it had reaped over the Easter holidays was "subsequently lost in the final two weeks" of April, and that its newly opened sites are not doing as well as hoped.

Investors aren't digesting the news well. Comptoir's shares have plunged 28% on London's Alternative Investment Market - meaning they've now dropped 66% since the firm floated almost a year ago.

Supreme Court blow to SEC

The US Supreme Court has scaled back the Securities and Exchange Commission's power to recover ill-gotten profits from defendants' misconduct, handing Wall Street firms a victory and dealing another blow to the regulator's enforcement powers.

In a 9-0 ruling, the court found that the SEC's recovery remedy known as "disgorgement" is subject to a five-year statute of limitations.

The justices sided with New Mexico-based investment adviser Charles Kokesh, who previously was ordered by a judge to pay $2.4m in penalties plus $34.9m in disgorgement of illegal profits after the SEC sued him.

Wonder Woman wows

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman
Warner Bros

Wonder Woman took just over $100m (£78m) in North America this weekend - the biggest domestic debut for a female director.

Patty Jenkins beat the previous record set by Sam Taylor-Johnson for Fifty Shades of Grey, which opened with $85.1m in 2015.

Wonder Woman, starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot, has received largely positive reviews from film critics.

The flick was also the most popular at the UK box office, taking £6.2m over the weekend.

More here.

Hermes rejects union's insurance claims

Drivers at delivery firm Hermes are at risk of working without insurance because the firm is "dodging" its responsibility, the GMB union has claimed.

It accused Hermes of failing to ensure drivers have informed their insurance companies that they are using their vehicle for businesses purposes and has raised its concerns with the Association of British Insurers.

Hermes said it "categorically refuted" the allegations and had been in contact with the ABI to satisfy their queries.

"Every courier that delivers for Hermes is required to have insurance for their vehicles and, where this does not include 'commercial use', they are covered by our group scheme. This is charged for at 55p a day but only for the days that service is provided on behalf of Hermes. Hermes does not profit from this," the delivery firm said.

Wall Street opens flat

US flag
Getty Images

US stocks were little changed as trading gets underway for another week in New York. It seems investors shrugged off the weekend attacks in London, while awaiting a string of economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 13 points to 21,193, the S&P 500 lost 2 points to 2,436.9, while the Nasdaq was flat at 6,305.5 points.

'Tighten the rules on self-employment'

Election 2017

With just three days until the general election, we're hearing from business leaders on what they want from the next government.

Cleaning firm boss Jennifer O'Donnell wants tighter rules on employment and self-employment, to stop some firms exploiting loopholes in the law.

Uber to refund users after London attack

Person wearing Uber t-shirt holding smartphone with Uber app on it
Getty Images

Uber has said that passengers who used the app around the area of the London Bridge attack on Saturday night will be refunded.

The taxi company was criticised on social media for allowing its prices to rise after the incident, which occurred around 10pm.

Uber cancelled surge pricing later that night, which meant that prices went back down to normal. Read more here

Maldives joins Qatar boycott

The island of Male which is the capital of the Maldives
Getty Images
The island of Male, which is the capital of the Maldives

The Maldives has become the latest country to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar following a coordinated move by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who allege that the Gulf state is funding terrorism

"The Maldives took the decision because of its firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism," the government of the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago nation said.

Despite its reputation as a tourist paradise, the largely Muslim Maldives is struggling with a large number of youths enlisting to fight for Islamic State in the Middle East.

RSA to open Luxembourg office because of Brexit

RSA logo
PA

Insurance giant RSA says it will open a new office in Luxembourg in response to Brexit, following similar moves by AIG, FM Global and Hiscox.

According to the Telegraph, the new office will house up to 10 people and be the headquarters for RSA's existing EU offices in Belgium, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

A spokeswoman said RSA chose Luxembourg because of its experienced regulator, strategic location and multi-national expertise.

"While Brexit is not a major issue for RSA, the move allows the sensible reconfiguration of the branch network in light of the UK’s exit from the EU," she said.

Qatar Airways offers passengers alternative travel options

Qatar Airways plane
Getty Images

Qatar Airways has said that anyone booked on affected flights to and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be offered alternative travel options, after several Arab states cut ties with the Gulf state.

For the airline's full statement click here.

Japanese company holds 'macho' competition

A Japanese builder
Crassone JP

A Japanese company is hoping to attract workers to the country's understaffed demolition industry through the medium of bulging muscles.

While it may have an unfashionable 1970s ring to it, the Nagoya-based Crassone company recently held a "macho" competition for demolition workers in order to raise public awareness of jobs in the sector, The Japan Times website reported.

According to the paper, which called the contest "unprecedented", some 68 workers submitted entries, ranging from rippling muscles in front of large wrecking equipment, to one man in a suit doing administrative work on a laptop.

All the entrants were male, although one worker brought his daughter along to pose with him.Read more