Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. RBS shareholders reach settlement, avoiding need for a trial
  3. FTSE 100 slips
  4. AO shares dive as much as 10%
  5. Conservatives promise new Board of Trade
  6. Dollar hits lowest point since Trump election
  7. Shoppers will spend '£1 in every £7 at discounters by 2022'

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night

That wraps it up for today's Business Live page. Join us again tomorrow from 6am.

Sexual harassment: not just an Uber issue

Uber sign in window
Getty Images

The BBC's technology reporter in San Francisco is covering the Uber sexual harassment sackings. Here's his take on the fall-out.

It goes without saying that this issue doesn’t go away with these firings. Uber has major questions still to answer - some of them will hopefully be addressed when more details of the report are made public.

Most troubling is why Uber’s own internal HR measures weren’t thorough or fair enough to see that the actions of 20 employees warranted dismissal. Instead it took a brave former employee - and then an expensive, lengthy investigation - to get to that point.

So as well as detailing what it has done to address those existing complaints, Uber will now have to be very clear about how it will handle such issues in future. Crucially, the lessons from this report should not be heeded by Uber alone. As many people have pointed out to me since we began reporting this story, this is a problem that affects the technology industry across the board."

Super-rich 'underpay most tax'

Super-rich people underpay the most tax, according to a study written up in the Economist.

Three economists crunched data from the "Swiss leaks" and "Panama papers" data leaks to estimate the extent of tax evasion.

They found the richest 0.01% of the population in Scandinavia underpaid tax by about 30%, compared with the average household underpaying by 3%.

Wall Street closes lower ahead of UK vote and Comey hearing

US stocks have closed lower as investors shunned riskier assets ahead of what is expected to be a busy Thursday.

The UK will go to the polls and former FBI director James Comey will testify before Congress.

Mr Comey, who was investigating alleged ties between President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia, was fired in May.

The European Central Bank will also make policy announcements.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 45.78 points, or 0.22%, at 21,138.26 and the S&P 500 was down 6.76 points, or 0.28%, at 2,429.33. The Nasdaq Composite was down 20.63 points, or 0.33%, at 6,275.06.

US and Mexico reach sugar pact

A worker cuts sugar cane in Atencingo, Puebla state, southern Mexico
Getty Images

The US and Mexican governments have reached a new agreement in principle on trade in sugar, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said.

The agreement, which calls for Mexico to export a smaller proportion of refined sugar and a larger proportion of raw sugar to the US, was not endorsed by US producers, news agency Reuters reported.

May 'could change human rights laws'

US 'reaches sugar trade deal with Mexico'

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said the US has reached a deal with Mexico over the sugar trade, Reuters reports.

Uber 'fires more than 20 after harassment probe'

More than 20 people at Uber have been fired after a workplace practices review, Bloomberg reports.

The review came after Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, said she had been sexually harassed by a supervisor, the New York Times reports.

Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi dies

Adnan Khashoggi
Getty Images
Adnan Khashoggi (second right) during his legendary party days in the 1980s

Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a billionaire businessman known for his lavish lifestyle, has died in London at the age of 82.

His family said in statement that he died peacefully while being treated for Parkinson's disease.

Mr Khashoggi became one of the world's richest men in the 1970s and '80s by brokering international arms deals.

His parties became legendary, often lasting for days, but there was also controversy about his business.

Read the full story here.

Investors look ahead to Comey's testimony

Donald Trump and James Comey
Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (L) shakes James Comey's hand

Stock markets are lower and subdued before what could potentially be a dynamite Thursday.

In the UK, there is the general election. In the US, the former director of the FBI James Comey will testify in front of US Congress.

Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab, says: "We have a relatively light week in terms of economic data and investors are awaiting Thursday's events.

"The market's reaction to Comey's testimony would depend on if he says something new that nobody knows about, although, a lot of what he might be asked could be classified information."

Share and share alike

Uber
Getty Images

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have been ordered to hand over details about their San Francisco operations.

The city attorney wants access to four years' worth of data about driver practices and the areas they serve.

Uber and Lyft have 15 days to comply or face charges of contempt and other court-imposed penalties.

Read the full story here.

Oil volatile amid Middle East diplomatic row

The stand-off in the Middle East is causing the price of oil to flip-flop.

From an earlier fall, Brent crude is now trading up 0.8% at $49.85 a barrel. US oil has also rebounded, up 1.1% at $47.90.

Mexico to cut share of refined sugar sent to US

Workers cut sugar cane in Atencingo, Puebla state, southern Mexico
Getty Images

Mexico will reduce the proportion of refined sugar it can export to the United States to 30% under a new agreement likely to be announced later on today, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo has said.

Currently, the proportion of refined sugar exports from total sugar exports Mexico can send to the US is 53%.

Mexican sugar has been duty-free in the US since 2008 in return for the Mexican market being opened up to US corn-based fructose.

After protests from US sugar companies and farmers, both governments agreed to Mexican sugar export quotas in 2014.

But complaints from US sugar producers continued, and Washington had threatened to impose tariffs of up to 80%t on Mexican sugar unless a deal was reached.

Dollar falls to lowest level since Trump elected

Donald Trump
Getty Images

The dollar index, which tracks the US currency against a basket of others, earlier hit its lowest level since 9 November, the day Donald Trump was elected.

According to the Financial Times, traders are nervous that the Trump administration will not be able to push through proposed tax cuts, financial deregulation and infrastructure spending.

Simon and Kamal answer Brexit questions

Could UK exports rival Germany's?

Simon Jack
BBC

If there is no deal, would a collapse in the pound make us an exporter to rival Germany?

BBC business editor Simon Jack says: "There is a general thought that if we do leave and we do have a hard Brexit the pound will go down further... Now that is obviously good news for exporters, and there is some evidence that some exporters are seeing a build-up in their order books... However, there's a flipside to that... it means that all the stuff we import... goes up in price, and that is beginning to show up both in supply chains... [and] prices."

China's HNA eyes global growth

China's HNA eyes big global growth

Chinese firm HNA could very well be the largest company most people have never heard of.

Only founded in 1993, it now owns aviation firm Swissport, Hainan Airlines, 25% of Hilton Worldwide and 10% of Deutsche Bank.

Its chief executive Adam Tan explains how HNA aims to become one of the top 10 biggest companies in the world.

How important is UK trade to the EU?

BBC News Channel

Kamal Ahmed
BBC

Does the EU export more to the UK or vice versa?

BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed says the UK is an important market for the EU, but looking at trade in purely monetary terms could be misleading.

"If you look in brute terms, it is right that the EU imports into the UK are worth about £290bn, our exports to the EU are worth about £230bn... But if you look at percentages, which is actually rather more revealing, 43% of our exports go to the EU, [but] only between 8% and 17% of their exports come to us. Britain is the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world, it is an important market... but the notion that we're more important than the EU is to us is a slight misnomer because it relies on those brute money numbers."

HNA: The biggest firm you've never heard of

Hainan Airlines
Getty Images
HNA Group owns Hainan Airlines, one of China's biggest airlines

From aviation to banks, China's HNA Group is snapping up businesses to become a major global firm.

Hainan Airlines

HNA: The biggest firm you've never heard of

From aviation to banks, China's HNA Group is snapping up businesses to become a major global firm.

Read more

Forbes: Man United 'world's most valuable football team'

Wayne Rooney of Manchester United lifts The Europa League trophy
Getty Images

Manchester United has regained its title as world's most valuable football team after five years off the top spot, according to Forbes.

The team is worth $3.69bn (£2.86bn), topping Barcelona at $3.64bn and Real Madrid at $3.58bn, Forbes says.

Demand for safe haven assets climbs amid uncertainty

Gold bars
Getty Images

Investors turned to safe-haven gold and German government bonds on Tuesday amid increasing political and economic uncertainty around the world.

Gold rose to six-week highs and German 10-year borrowing costs to six-week lows. Meanwhile, world stocks fell and the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, fell to its lowest level since the US election.

Analysts at German bank BayernLB say investors are feeling nervous about so called "Super Thursday", when British voters will go to polls in an increasingly unpredictable general election, the European Central Bank is due to meet, and former FBI director James Comey will testify before Congress.

Fears are also growing about tensions in the Middle East after six Arab nations cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

US stock markets open lower

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has opened 52.96 points down at 21,131.08.

The S&P 500 is off 6.58 points at 2,429.52.

The Nasdaq has fallen 14.88 points lower at 6,280.81.

Volkswagen workers opt for retirement

Volkswagen
Getty Images

Volkswagen continues with its "transformation" plan amid the ongoing diesel emissions scandal - this time it has announced that nearly 9,300 staff have agreed to an early retirement scheme.

The scheme is aimed at people born between 1955 and 1960.

Volkswagen has guaranteed that there will be no forced redundancies as part of its "Transform 2025+" plan to cut the workforce and improve productivity by 25% until 2025.

Those opting for the proverbial carriage clock have until 31 July to make up their minds.

Consumer slowdown hits South Africa

South Africans at a restaurant in Johannesburg
Getty Images

Analysts had forecast that South Africa's economy would expand by 0.9% in the first quarter, instead of the 0.7% contraction. And it appears the trade, catering and accommodation sector was one of the main culprits.

Capital Economics Africa economist John Ashbourne says: "The slowdown in [the first quarter] was due to much worse results from usually stable consumer-facing sectors that had been the key drivers of growth in recent years."

Trade, catering and accommodation shrank by 5.9% between January and March - "awful data" which Standard Chartered Bank's Chief Africa Economist Razia Khan says shows weakness where it was not expected.

Money well spent?

BBC economics correspondent Andrew Verity asks a key question about the RBS shareholders legal action. What do you think? Tell us at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

View more on twitter

Amazon offers cheap Prime to people on food stamps

Amazon
Getty Images

People on food stamps are being offered cheaper access to Amazon Prime.

Amazon said people receiving government assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can get free shipping and unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows for $5.99 a month.

The service usually costs $10.99 a month.

Overseas investment in UK firms tumbles

Corporate handshake
Thinkstock

Overseas investment in UK firms fell to its lowest level for more than two years in the first quarter, the Office for National Statistics says.

Foreign firms were involved in 40 buy-outs or mergers with UK firms worth £5.1bn - a fraction of the £50.4bn seen a year earlier and the lowest value since the end of 2014.

It comes amid Brexit uncertainty, which is seeing many companies put investment decisions on hold, and follows the pound's slump since the EU referendum.

However, the ONS said there were a number of very high valued deals seen last year and added the average number of deals has held "broadly stable" since the financial crisis.

FTSE still in negative territory

London Stock Exchange sign with shadow of woman in front
get

The FTSE 100 is little changed this lunchtime. A short while ago it was at 7,512.32, that's a fall of 13 points or 0.18%.

Miners Randgold - up 2.13% - and Fresnillo up 1.97% - posted the biggest gains, followed by EasyJet, which was 1.12% ahead.

The biggest fall was seen by medical products company Convatec, which fell 5.26% after shareholders Nordic Capital and Avista sold 250 million shares, raising £805m.

Merlin Entertainments, the company behind Alton Towers and the London Eye, fell for the second day running. A short while ago it was 3.05% lower.

B&Q-owner Kingfisher was down by 3.03%.

RBS investors agreed settlement Monday night

More on the RBS settlement story.

A spokesman for the RBS Shareholder Action Group said: "The directors met last night to consider the legal advice and took the decision that this matter will not now go to court."

Qatar shares fall again

Qatar's stock market closed down for the second day running on Tuesday, however, it only lost 1.54%.

On Monday it plunged by 7.3% after six Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism in the region.

First cash Lifetime ISA launched

BBC personal finance reporter tweets

Rangers fraud trial: Craig Whyte found not guilty

Craig Whyte, former owner of Rangers
PA

Craig Whyte has been found not guilty of acquiring Rangers football club by fraud.

The former owner bought Rangers in May 2011 for £1 while agreeing to take on obligations, which included paying an £18m bank debt and £5m for players.

Mr Whyte was acquitted of using the club's own money for the deal while claiming the funds were his.

The jury also found him not guilty of breaching company law to achieve the takeover.

Read more

Vodafone: New rules to stop hate speech ads

Vodafone shops
Getty Images

Vodafone has strengthened controls to stop its advertising appearing on sites that share hate speech and fake news.

The telecoms giant said its ads had been placed next to offensive content "in a small minority of instances" due to automated ad technologies.

It said it would use a "whitelist" approach to ensure Vodafone ads were only placed on sites identified as highly unlikely to be focused on harmful content.

Earlier this year big brands including M&S, Audi and McDonald's pulled their online ads from Youtube over concerns they were appearing next to offensive content.

RBS down by nearly 2%

Following the news of the agreement struck between RBS and disgruntled shareholders, RBS shares are now trading 1.9% lower.

RBS deal will cost bank £200m

The deal announced today with the RBS shareholders will cost the bank about £200m.

The 2008 rights issue at the centre of the dispute aimed to raise £12bn for the bank after it headed up a consortium to buy ABN Amro.

'Help us tap into new export markets'

We asked business leaders what they want from the next government. British Hovercraft Company managing director Emma Pullen wants help to reach new export markets after the UK leaves the EU.

View more on twitter

AO shares recover some lost ground

Intraday graph for AO world shares showing 6.48% fall
BBC

AO World's shares have clawed back some of the ground they lost earlier.

They're currently about 6.5% lower, having been down by 10% earlier in the morning, after it warned that growth at its UK business was expected to slow "significantly" in the first quarter.

Manufacturing drags down South Africa's economy

Matthew Davies

Editor, BBC Africa Business Report

Rand notes and coins
BBC

South Africa's economy has slipped back into recession for the second time in a decade.

Analysts had expected a better performance - they predicted a slight expansion of South Africa's economy. But in the event, it shrank by 0.7% in the first quarter of this year, following on from a quarter-on-quarter fall in the last quarter of 2016.

The last time the country was in a technical recession was in 2009, following the fallout from the global economic crisis.

While there were encouraging signs from South Africa's mining industry, the main sector that pulled back the GDP figures was manufacturing, which shrank by nearly 4% in the second quarter.

It comes just a matter of weeks after the ratings agencies Standard and Poor’s and Fitch downgraded South Africa's foreign-denominated sovereign debt to non-investment grade, or so-called junk status.

And last week they said weak economic growth and political uncertainty could lead to further downgrades.

The South African currency, the rand, fell by about 1% on the news.

RBS deal agreed last night

The RBS Shareholder Action Group voted to accept the 82p a share offer last night, avoiding the need for a trial, according to a spokesperson for the group.

They would not say whether the vote was unanimous or not.