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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Philip Hammond withdraws from Mansion House speech
  3. Pound jumps by almost a cent after BoE announcement
  4. UK retail sales growth slows
  5. BA says computer meltdown to cost £80m
  6. DFS shares plunge after profit warning

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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Good night

That's all for tonight from the Business Live page. Join us again tomorrow from 06:00.

Renault boss gets pay backing

Renault shareholders have narrowly backed the pay package of long-serving chief executive Carlos Ghosn, overcoming protests about an issue that has divided the carmaker and the French government for several years.

Shareholders voted in favour of a resolution on Ghosn's €7m package for 2016 and his 2017 deal, which has yet to be defined.

The 2016 package received the backing of 53% of shareholders meeting in Paris, while the outline of the 2017 deal was backed by 54%.

The Brazilian-born head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance was last year locked in a tussle with Renault shareholders who voted to reject his salary.

Macron sets out vision

Emmanuel Macron
Getty Images

France's new president Emmanuel Macron laid out his vision for a digital future, saying he wants the country to undergo a revolution so that it "thinks and moves like a startup".

Speaking in Paris, Macron repeated he wanted to reform labour laws to give more decision-making powers to companies and lower corporate tax.

The state should act as an enabler - not a constraint - for innovators and entrepreneurs, he said.

The French president said he would limit the wealth tax to cover just property in order to help businesses, and would create a single levy of 30 percent on capital income so as not to scare businesses away.

"When an entrepreneur has too much success, he gets stigmatized and, in general, he gets taxed. This is over", he said.

Macron told a crowd of start-up founders, investors and students. "I'm proud of you... Everywhere, women and men want to innovate. France is in the middle of becoming a nation of startups," he said.

Wall Street stumbles after tech slide

Wall Street fell on Thursday as a recent selloff in technology stocks deepened and investors fretted about the economy's health as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.

The S&P technology sector fell 0.5%, continuing a slide that began last Friday.

Apple shares fell 0.6% while Google parent Alphabet dropped 0.9% after analyst reports on the two tech heavyweights.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14.66 points, or 0.07%, to 21,359.90, the S&P 500 lost 5.46 points, or 0.22%, to 2,432.46 and the Nasdaq dropped 29.39 points, or 0.47%, to 6,165.50.

Greece deal: IMF backing crucial

Here are the thoughts of BBC World Service economics correspondent Andrew Walker.

Time was beginning to press for this payment. Greece has repayments on other loans due next month, which it could not otherwise have made. The decision by eurozone finance ministers reflects economic policy actions already taken by Greece and the new commitment by the International Monetary Fund's managing director Christine Lagarde to recommend that her board contribute financially to this bailout.

It is however a qualified commitment that she has made. She is proposing that any IMF funds be paid only when the eurozone has made further commitments to ease Greece's debt burden. An IMF contribution was politically important for Germany especially to strengthen the perceived credibility of the bailout."

The end in sight?

Eurogroup chief tweets:

Debt weight

Alexis Tsipras
Getty Images

Greece's international creditors have promised a total of €86bn - paid in tranches as Athens implements economic reforms - to rescue the country.

After three bailouts, Greece's debt currently stands at a staggering 180% of annual output, by far the biggest national debt pile in Europe.

In an emotional editorial published on Wednesday in France, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (above) said today's meeting was "essential" for the "future of Europe".

IMF backs Greece funding

The release of the money was to ensure Athens did not default on €7bn of debt repayments due to fall next month.

The International Monetary Fund had wanted clarity over the conditions imposed on Greece in return for the money.

But in a statement this evening IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the organisation would support the deal.

"We have recently seen significant progress by the Greek government on policy reforms... We have also seen progress on debt relief, although further discussions are needed on the scope and type of measures to be provided by Greece’s European creditors," she said.

BreakingGreece: deal done over aid

Eurozone ministers have struck a long-delayed deal to unlock the latest tranche of Greece's bailout cash and avert a fresh debt crisis this summer.

The 19 finance ministers have been meeting in Luxembourg to discuss the release of €8.5bn.

Here's the full statement.

BAE Systems: Denmark promises action

The Danish government says it will tighten export controls of high level cyber surveillance equipment following a BBC Arabic investigation into sales by a BAE Systems division in the country to Middle East states.

Working with Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information, the BBC uncovered evidence that some of these sales have included decryption software, which could be used against the UK and its allies.

Danish minister of Business Brian Mikkelsen said his department would look into "higher requirements for company documentation regarding the... risk of human rights violations" when it comes to issuing export licences for spyware classed as a potential weapon under international law.

The Danish company had been exporting intrusive surveillance kit to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Morocco and Algeria.

BAE say its technology plays a crucial role in combating terrorism and insist they're fully compliant with all export regulations.

Snap snaps winning streak

Snapchat icons

Shares of Snapchat owner Snap fell 4.5% and briefly touched its initial public offering price of $17, highlighting investors' loss of confidence in the social media company that faces fierce competition from Facebook.

Snap's listing in March was the hottest US technology IPO in years, with the shares climbing to $29.44 in the days immediately after its market debut.

Boeing secures fighter jet deal

F-15 jets
Getty Images

Qatar has signed a $12bn deal to buy F-15 fighters jets from the US.

The sale of the Boeing-made aircraft was finalised at a meeting in Washington between US defence chief Jim Mattis and his Qatari counterpart.

It comes days after US President Donald Trump accused Qatar - a major US ally - of funding terrorism "at a very high level" - a charge Qatar denies.

Other Gulf countries recently cut ties with Doha, accusing it of destabilising the region through its alleged support of extremist groups and links to Iran.

Qatar is home to the biggest US air base in the Middle East, Al-Udeid. It houses around 10,000 troops and plays a key role in the US-led operations against the so-called Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Mr Trump's comments appeared at odds with the US Department of Defence, which had praised Qatar's "enduring commitment to regional security" just days earlier.

Making the grade - just

Royal Bank of Scotland has had its credit rating upped by Moody's.

The bank has only been given a Baa3 - the lowest investment grade. But it does mark another step in the long road to recovery for the bailed-out bank.

RBS said it welcomed the upgrade, which reflects it restructuring progress.

Now, if only RBS could sort out that pending massive settlement with US authorities for allegedly misselling mortgage securities before the financial meltdown....

Banker ashamed

Jorge Arzuaga

A former banker at Julius Baer and Credit Suisse has pleaded guilty to a US money laundering conspiracy charge in connection with a wide-ranging corruption probe of FIFA, the world soccer governing body.

Jorge Arzuaga, 56, of Argentina, entered his plea before US District Judge Pamela Chen in the Brooklyn federal court as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

"I deeply regret what I did," Arzuaga said in court. "I am ashamed."

He is one of more than 40 people and entities charged in the US probe, in which prosecutors say soccer officials took more than $200m in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for marketing and broadcast rights.

Wall Street update

US share markets have recovered some lost ground, but are still in negative territory.

The S&P 500 is 0.35% off, the Nasdaq 0.75% lower, and the Dow Jones has lost 0.12%.

Nike is the Dow's biggest loser, down 3.5% after the company said it would cut about 2% of its 70,000 global workforce and eliminate a quarter of its shoe styles.

Mattel dropped 8.7% to an 18-month low after the toymaker cut its dividend.

Facebook acts on terror-related content

Facebook logo
Getty Images

Facebook has announced details of steps it is taking to remove terrorist-related content.

The move comes after growing pressure from governments for technology companies to do more to take down material such as terrorist propaganda.

In a series of blog posts by senior figures and an interview with the BBC, Facebook says it wants to be more open about the work it is doing.

The company told the BBC it was using artificial intelligence to spot images, videos and text related to terrorism as well as clusters of fake accounts.

"We want to find terrorist content immediately, before people in our community have seen it," it said.

Uber rape victim files legal action

Tavis Kalanick
Getty Images

A woman who was raped by an Uber driver in India has started legal action against the company over revelations executives obtained her medical records.

The lawsuit, filed in a California federal court, says Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and two other executives intruded into private affairs and defamed her.

Kalanick, whose mother died recently, announced this week that he was taking a leave of absence.

The founder of the taxi-hailing company has been under fire for fostering a culture of sexism and rule-breaking.

Is McCoy calling time on Avon

Sheri McCoy
Getty Images

The rumour mill is going into overdrive about the future of Avon's chief executive Sheri McCoy.

The Wall Street Journal and Reuters are among media groups reporting she is stepping down at the cosmetics firm.

Activist investor Barington Capital has been pressuring Avon to search for a new chief executive, saying Avon's shares have suffered under McCoy.

Avon's stock has sunk about 84% since she took charge in 2012. One of her first moves as boss was to reject a $10.7bn takeover bid from Coty

Nestle may sell US arm

Swiss food group Nestle may sell its US confectionery business, which has annual sales of 900m Swiss francs (£724m).

The business includes brands like Butterfinger, BabyRuth, 100Grand, SkinnyCow and Raisinets.

"Nestle will explore strategic options for its US confectionery business, including a potential sale," the company said in a statement.

The review of options does not include Nestle's Toll House baking products in the US or its international confectionery business.

"Nestle remains fully committed to growing its leading international confectionery activities around the world, particularly its global brand KitKat," Nestle said.

Sterling up, FTSE down

Sterling surged to its highest in a week against the euro after as many as three members of the Bank of England's policy committee surprised financial markets by voting for a rise in interest rates. The pound rose 0.69% to €1.1448.

Trading below $1.27 before the Bank's decision, the pound also leapt by a full cent to $1.2795 after it emerged that Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders had voted with existing policy hawk Kristin Forbes for higher borrowing costs.

That didn't help stocks markets, however, with investors already nervous about UK economic growth and company profits.

The internationally focussed FTSE 100, which has tended to rise as the pound falls, closed down 0.74% to 7,419. 3 points. The more domestic FTSE 250 fell 2% to 19,553.6.

Kroger shares tumble

Barack Obama at a Kroger's store
Getty Images
Even Barack Obama knows the value of Kroger's

US retailer Kroger, which with 2,792 outlets is the biggest supermarket by store count, is having a torid time on the stock market.

A profit warning sent the shares tumbling 12% in early trading, and Kroger also said pay talks with unions could be "challenging" as it seeks to cut costs.

It doesn't help investor sentiment that Lidl and Aldi have recently unveiled big expansion plans in the US.

Praise for pre-release prohibition


Banning ministers from accessing pre-released data from the Office for National Statistics - those jobless figures, for example - has been welcomed by statisticians.

Indeed, the Royal Statistical Society can claim a victory. It's long campaigned about the absue of pre-release and the damage it does to the profession.

The society's executive director, Hetan Shah, says:“This is extremely welcome news. It’s a major achievement for the RSS and our members. It will reduce the opportunities for figures to be ‘spun’ and increase public confidence in official statistics.

"It will also lower the risk of market-sensitive information being leaked or abused. We hope it will set an example for other government departments to follow and bring forward the day when pre-release access to all official statistics is ended.”

Next time a minister pops up on your TV screen minutes after a big announcement, they may not be looking so self-assured.

Saudi conglomerate backs taxi app

Saudi woman in a taxi

Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding Company has bought a $62m stake in local car ride-hailing business Careem, its latest venture in the sector.

In 2015, Kingdom Holding invested more than $100m in Lyft, a San Francisco-based rival to another US-based ride-hailing operation, Uber.

Car booking apps are popular in Saudi Arabia, particularly among women who are banned from driving in the country.

Kingdom Holding, chaired by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has stakes in a variety of sectors, including banking, through Citigroup, and media with Time Warner.

Is he worth it?

Carlos Ghosn
Getty Images

Are we going to get more fireworks over pay at Renault this afternoon? Shareholders of the French car giant were meeting on Thursday to discuss the salary package of long-serving chief executive Carlos Ghosn - a subject of controversy with the company in recent years.

Ghosn, who heads the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, earned €7m last year, but not before a tussle with Renault shareholders who voted by 54% to reject the executive's pay package.

The shareholders' decision is not binding and the Renault board dismissed their concerns and signed off on Ghosn's salary.

The then-economy minister Emmanuel Macron, who swept to the French presidency in May, was a frequent critic of Ghosn's pay and the two also clashed over the state's influence over the carmaker.

Wall Street opens down

US stocks have opened lower, with technology shares leading a broad decline. The S&P 500 technology sector dropped 1.2%, led by declines in index heavyweights such as Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. All 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower.

About 30 minutes into trading the Dow Jones was down 0.28% at 21,315.6 points, the S&P 500 was down 0.61% at 2,423, and the Nasdaq was 1% lower at 6,130.8.

Pre-release of ONS data to end

Pre-release access to official figures from the Office for National Statistics is to end. It means government ministers, for example, won't be given early sight of things such as the monthly unemployment data.

A statement from the UK Statistics Authority says the growing use of early-access does "damage to trust in official statistics".

The authority had tried to tighten up on the protocol of pre-release of ONS figures, but it was not working.

Sir David Norgrove, chair of the authority, says: "I have therefore decided that pre-release access to ONS statistics will stop with effect from 1 July 2017. Should there be a need for exceptional pre-release access to particular individuals for a specific release this would be fully transparent."

You can read the full statement here.

Gushing praise for Petrofac shares

Oil refinery

Shares in oilfield services business Petrofac are having a good day, rising as much as 9% before falling back to around 5% up in early afternoon trading.

The company is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office as part of a huge probe into Unaoil over allegations of bribery (all sides deny any wrongdoing).

But investors brushed that aside today thanks to a positive research note from analysts at Jefferies, who have recommended the shares as a "buy".

Their reasoning is that any potential fine could be recovered by cutting the dividend and argue that all the share price falls since Petrofac was dragged into the scandal (shares hit 941p less than three months ago) have probably been overplayed.

Analyst Mark Wilson writes: "Unless the company truly is a deck of cards, we see support [in buying shares] at this level."

Schaeuble confident Greece will get bailout money

Man carrying Greek flag

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was confident that Greece will win sorely needed funds at bailout talks on Thursday.

"I remain confident that we will find an agreement today on the payment of the latest tranche (of Greece's bailout)," Schaeuble said as he arrived for talks in Luxembourg to discuss the delayed Greek bailout with his eurozone counterparts.

BreakingCity of London cancels Mansion House Dinner

The City of London has now cancelled tonight's Mansion House Dinner because of the Grenfell Tower fire, Reuters reports.

Chancellor Philip Hammond pulled out earlier citing the tragedy in West London. Bank of England governor Mark Carney was due to speak at the event, too.

Pound falls back

Pound vs dollar chart
Getty Images

It's been an up and down day for the pound. It slipped earlier, then jumped by almost a cent after the Bank of England's monetary policy update, which suggested we may see rate rises sooner than expected.

Now it's given up those gains to trade 0.16% lower against the dollar at $1.27300.

Second time Mansion House speech cancelled

BBC economics editor tweets

BA bosses apologise over IT meltdown

Theo Leggett

BBC Business News Reporter

International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, is holding its Annual General meeting in Madrid.

Both the chairman, Antonio Vasquez and the chief executive Willie Walsh have apologised for the catastrophic IT failure that caused disruption for thousands of British Airways passengers in late May.

Mr Walsh acknowledged that it had been a "dreadful experience" for many of the airline's customers.

But he insisted it had "absolutely nothing to do with the way we resource our IT".

The crisis had resulted in the cancellation of 728 flights, he said, and cost the company in the order of £80 million.

MPC could become dovish with Forbes' departure

While today's MPC vote on rates was the tightest since 2011, the departure of one of its most hawkish members, Kristen Forbes, at the end of the month could lead to a more dovish committee.

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BreakingChancellor pulls out of Mansion House speech

Dog day for the FTSE 100

If anyone is in any doubt on how hard the blue chip index is being hit today, just two of the 100 companies listed on the FTSE 100 have shares in the green.

FTSE riser chart

'Summer hike' on the cards?

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Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, reckons the hawks are circling, following the Bank of England vote.

He says: "The main takeaway is that the Bank is a lot closer to hiking than previously thought. It looks like rising inflation and falling real incomes are at the forefront of policymakers’ minds.

"A hike could derail what growth there is, hurt homeowners with mortgages and sap business confidence further. But failing to act could hurt the credibility of the Bank in terms of its mandate.

"There is certainly an argument that hiking now will help limit the drop in real wages and support consumer spending. If the gap between inflation and pay growth widens much further over the summer we could easily see the Bank hike.”

FTSE 100 down 1. 2%

Getty Images

London's benchmark index has slipped further after it emerged three members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee voted to raise rates this month.

It's down almost 90 points at 7,384.78, with poor-performing retail stocks also weighing on the index.

Bank MPC vote 'surprising'

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown writes:

"Set against a backdrop of disappointing retail sales, slowing growth, shrinking real wages and heightened political uncertainty, it was somewhat surprising that three MPC members voted for higher rates at this week’s policy meeting.

"If inflation continues to surprise we could see higher rates by the end of the summer.

"The minutes show policymakers are more optimistic than many economists about the UK’s prospects.

"[They] believe lacklustre consumer spending will be offset by a pickup in other components of demand – notably exports, which are being helped by the depreciation of sterling and stronger growth elsewhere in the world."

Bank worried over inflation 'overshoot'

Carney and Ben Broadbent

Delving through the minutes from the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, the nine-strong members appear to be weighing up how to tackle the high inflation levels, while also recognising that wages are under pressure.

The minutes said: "there were arguments in favour of a moderate tightening in monetary policy... Inflation was projected to overshoot the target [of 2%] by more than previously expected, and to remain above it throughout the three-year forecast period."

It added: "But there were also arguments in favour of leaving the policy rate unchanged. A slowdown in household consumption, and GDP as a whole, had recently begun, and it was too early to judge with confidence how large and persistent it would prove to be."

Pound jumps after rate announcement

The pound jumped after it emerged that three members of the panel that set interest rates voted in favour of an interest rate rise.

Before the announcement, it was trading at $1.27, but it's rallied to $1.2788.