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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Amazon buys supermarket Whole Foods for $13.7bn
  3. Tesco reports better than expected sales growth
  4. Hammond calls for pragmatic approach to Brexit
  5. FTSE 100 lifted by strong oil shares

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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Retailers roiled

Wall Street ended little changed on Friday although Amazon.com's $13.7bn deal to buy upscale grocer Whole Foods rocked shares of a string of companies, including Wal-Mart and Target.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones was up 0.11% to 21,384.28 points, the S&P 500 gained 0.03% to 2,433.15, and the Nasdaq ended 0.22% better at 6,151.76.

Energy sector shares helped buoy the S&P and Dow, while a 1.4% drop in Apple weighed on the Nasdaq.

But the big movers were in retail. Wal-Mart fell 4.65% and Target fell 5%. Kroger, the biggest US supermaket by store numbers, closed down 9.2%.

Kohl: go easy on Brexit Britain

Kohl, Thatcher, Reagan
EPA
Despite occasional differences, Mr Kohl forged alliances with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan

Much has been written today about Helmut Kohl, who, among many things, was an architect of European integration.

Kohl, who has died aged 87, gave a rare interview in 2016, just after Britain voted to leave the EU. He urged the bloc's members not to apply too much pressure on London.

The article in Bild, which did not include direct quotes, said he "pleaded for prudence and warned against unnecessary toughness and haste", adding that it "would be an enormous mistake for the EU to close its doors now".

In Trooly we trust

Airbnb app
Getty Images

Home rental site Airbnb is buying a company that does background checks on people in a bid to root out scams.

Fraudulent listings on Airbnb, or people who search the site and then contact home owners directly - usually via social media - to escape fees, has been a growing problem for Airbnb.

Now, Bloomberg reports, the company has bought California-based Trooly, started in 2014.

Trooly's website says it "uses public and permissible digital footprints to understand and predict the trustworthiness of individuals and businesses. Using minimal and non-intrusive identity information as input, we return Instant Trust™ ratings which incorporate verification of the input identity, screening for undesirable past behaviors, and, using robust machine learning, prediction of likely future behaviors."

Race against time

The Italian government has stepped in help struggling lender Veneto Banca from imminent financial crisis.

The repayment of bonds due to mature next week has been suspended. Reports in Italy this evening say Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni's cabinet approved an emergency decree.

The move comes as Italy races against the clock to win EU approval for a bail out of Veneto Banca and rival regional bank Banca Popolare di Vicenza, which together need €6.4bn in new capital while they try to offload bad debts.

Hard, soft, or just sensible?

Arlene Foster
BBC

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster says there can be a "sensible Brexit" that works for Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Her comments came after talks with new Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who is also holding separate talks with Sinn Féin in Dublin later.

Mrs Foster was asked if she expected a deal with the Tories within a week and to be NI first minister in a fortnight.

She replied: "It takes two to tango and we're ready to dance."

She described her meeting with Mr Varadkar as "very useful and pleasant".

"We want to see a Brexit that works for everybody, not just in Northern Ireland from my perspective but in the Republic of Ireland as well, so it is about a sensible Brexit.

"I know people want to talk about soft Brexit, hard Brexit, all of these things but what we want to see is a sensible Brexit and one that works for everybody."

Media move

Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov has sold his RBC media to a fellow businessman, Grigory Berezkin,

ESN has bought 65% of RBC shares and its outstanding debt from Prokhorov's holding company, Onexim. Financials details were not been disclosed.

RBC has a reputation for independent journalism, and when an editor was fired last year over articles about President Vladimir Putin there was a mass walk-out of staff.

Apple recruits Sony TV executives

Scene from Breaking Bad
AMC
Breaking Bad has been a global hit

Apple has hired two senior executives from Sony Pictures Television is a move that underlines the tech giant's ambitions to expand TV operations.

Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg were responsible for hit shows such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and The Crown.

They join Apple in newly created positions that will oversee all aspects of video programming, the company said in a statement.

The pair have been Sony Pictures presidents since 2005.

"Jamie and Zack are two of the most talented TV executives in the world and have been instrumental in making this the golden age of television," said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services.

Wall Street update

The main markets are slightly in the red, although that hides some big movers.

Wal-Mart is down 4.4% as investors digest the impact of Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods. And Kroger, the largest US supermarket by store numbers, is down 11%. Whole Foods itself has surged 29%.

Elsewhere, oil-related stocks have moved higher on the back of a rise in crude prices. Chevron was up 1% and Exxon added 0.86%.

Bubble power

Prototype SeaBubble
AFP

An electric boat taxi whose inventor believes it could be an eco-friendly transport solution for cities worldwide was put to the test in Paris for the first time today.

The boat is similar to a hydrofoil, with fibreglass foils that deploy to hoist it into the air, powered by electric batteries, and capable of reaching the maximum allowed speed of 18 kilometres (11 miles) per hour.

The brainchild of French yachtsman Alain Thebault, the aerodynamic Sea Bubble made no noise as it took a star turn on the River Seine with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo aboard.

"It was a perfect flight," Thebault said after putting the prototype through its paces between the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d'Orsay.

"It works like the wings of an airplane in the air. After it reaches a certain speed the Bubble lifts off," Thebault said.

A Sea Bubble means "zero noise, zero waves and zero (carbon) emissions," he added. Thebault said he has received "an avalanche of requests" from cities including Miami and Seattle, Tokyo, Bangkok and no fewer than 15 cities in India.

Wheel of fortune?

Picture of Katrina Bookman
Katrina Bookman

A US woman is suing a casino that told her the slot machine displaying a $43m (£34m) jackpot was faulty and offered a steak dinner instead, reports say.

Katrina Bookman took a selfie showing the machine saying "printing cash ticket $42,949,672.76" at the Resorts World Casino in New York last August.

But she was escorted out and was told the next day she could have only $2.25 (£1.76).

Her lawyer, Alan Ripka, says she is entitled to the full amount displayed.

The lawsuit filed at the Queens County Supreme Court said the Sphinx slot machine's "bells, noises and lights" as well as the message on the screen told Ms Bookman she had won the jackpot, Courthouse News reported.

The subsequent disappointment left Ms Bookman anxious and depressed, the report said.

She is seeking damages from the casino for failing to maintain the slot machine as well as two companies that make and operate games machine, reports said.

A Resorts World spokesman said at the time that the machine had suffered an "obvious malfunction".

Fresh questions over dei Paschi rescue

Bank branch
Getty Images

The Italian state rescue of Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank faces another hurdle, according to Reuters. The news agency, citing unamed sources, says two US private equity funds have quit talks to buy a mountain of bad loans from ailing lender.

Fortress and Elliott were negotiating to buy some of the €26bn in bonds that Monte dei Paschi, Italy's fourth largest bank and the world's oldest, must sell to private investors as a condition of the bailout.

Reuters says three sources have told it that the two US firms had backed out of the talks in a dispute over sale terms.

FTSE 100 closes 0.6% up

Tesco and Sainsbury, down 4.9% and 3.8% respectively, were the main FTSE 100 losers. Marks & Spencer also fell 1.9%. Investors were spooked by Amazon's surprise deal to buy supermarket chain Whole Foods.

Whole Foods, although based mainly in the US, has nine outlets in the UK. Amazon already has a limited partnership with Morrison.

Away from the retail sector, shares in Rolls-Royce rose 1.4% after the engineering group said it had made a good start to 2017, with "all businesses performing in line with expectations".

The company also revealed that the weakness of the pound was set to lift revenues by £400m and profits by £50m. The drop in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote means that Rolls-Royce's dollar earnings are worth more when converted back into sterling.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were St James's Place, up 4.2%, and Mondi, up 4.1%. The blue chip index itself closed up 0.6% at 7,463.5 points.

On the currency markets, the pound rose 0.2% against the dollar to $1.2787, but slipped 0.16% against the euro to 1.1424 euros.

Amazon-Whole Foods reaction

Analysts are united that this deal will be a game-changer

  • "I think that I would not like to be somebody playing in the grocery space right now." Jan Rogers Kniffen, Retail Consultancy.
  • "Amazon doesn’t so much park its tanks on a sector’s lawn as crash them through the store frontage. If we thought the supermarkets in the UK had trouble with the emergence of the German discounters, it is as nothing compared to the ramifications of Amazon’s expansion into grocery." Chris Beauchamp, IG.
  • "Implications ripple far beyond the food segment, where dominant players like Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, and Target now have to look over their shoulders at the Amazon train coming down the tracks, but also the potential for multi-channel, which Amazon up until now has largely eschewed." Charlie O'Shea, Moody's.
  • "This comes at a moment when the sector is very sensitive to bad news." Fernand De Boer, Petercam.
  • "Every so often an event occurs that shakes the industry to its core. Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods is one of those." Neil Saunders, GlobalData Retail.
  • "Amazon's got its tentacles everywhere and that's another place to go. Amazon sees that industry changing significantly." Bruce Bittles, RW Baird.

Reality Check: Can the government requisition homes?

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader
BBC

The claim: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says the government should requisition housing if necessary for those made homeless by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Reality Check verdict: Doing so would not be allowed under current rules, and legislation to allow property to be seized in peacetime would be controversial.

Read more.

Wall Street edges lower

We mentioned earlier that US supermarket shares have been hit heavily by the Amazon-Whole Foods deal. But what of the rest of the market?

The Nasdaq and Dow Jones are 0.15% down, while the S&P 500 is 0.2% lower.

Four of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower. Technology was a big drag, led by declines in International Business Machines and Apple.

UK supermarkets in Amazon's sights?

Shares in UK supermarkets have not been unscathed by Amazon's Whole Foods acquisition.

Tesco, already lower after unveiling its first-quarter sales figures, sank after announcement of the Amazon deal. Tesco is down 3.6%. Sainsbury's is down 2.4%.

Why the reaction this side of the Atlantic?

Whole Foods has nine UK outlets - seven in London, one in Glasgow and one in Cheltenham. What's more, Amazon is already trialing a partnership in London with Morrisons of a same day delivery service.

'Seismic shift'

Whole Foods store
Whole Foods

Here's ETX Capital's verdict on news that online giant Amazon is buying US supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7bn.

Analyst Neil Wilson writes: “A big, big play by Amazon... that is leaving rivals quaking. This is a huge development for US retail, yet another signal of the seismic shift in the market caused by the Amazon model.

"Amazon looks set to dominate the food sector now just as much as it does non-food. Amazon brings incredible scale and pricing power that will make life a lot tougher for anyone else. But there are increasingly serious anti-trust concerns - how long until Washington takes note of what’s going on and clamps down?

"It’s caused carnage among retailers. Big US retailers are being smashed. Wal-Mart is down 6% and Target has shipped 10% on the announcement. Costco fell 8% and Kroger plunged 15%. It’s fair to say there will be crisis board meetings at these companies after this move. Amazon shares jumped 3% on the deal, although it remains shy of its all-time peak. Whole Foods has surged 27%."

Price rise

There's one US supermarket share price that hasn't been hit by the Amazon purchase. Whole Foods has rocketed 28%.

BA strike 'completely unnecessary'

British Airways has issued a response to the planned cabin crew strike.

"As for previous periods when Unite called strikes of Mixed Fleet cabin crew, we will fly all our customers to their destinations.

"This proposed strike action is extreme and completely unnecessary. We had reached a deal on pay, which Unite agreed was acceptable. Unite has already confirmed it is pursuing the non-pay issues in this dispute through the courts.

"We urge Unite to let its members vote on the pay proposals."

Retail shares slide

Whole Foods store
Whole Foods

It's a bit of a bloodbath for retail shares on Wall Street.

Amazon's purchase of the trendy supermarket chain Whole Foods has shocked the sector, with retail rivals big and small taking a hit on fears about having a new competitive kid on the block.

A few minutes into trading, Kroger was down 14.5%, Sprouts Farmers Markets fell 13% and Supervalu Inc slide 19%. Even the giant Wal-Mart is 6% down.

Amazon deal catches markets by surprise

The move by powerhouse Amazon into supermarkets has stunned the markets.

Ahead of the start of formal trading on Wall Street, Walmart shares are being marked down 4% and Kroger - the biggest retailer by store numbers - has dived 12%.

Solaris Asset Management investment chief Tim Ghriskey owned up to being wrong-footed.

"That [deal] was rumored, I totally dismissed it. Wow. Amazon can pour money into any investment and they don't need to make money."

Amazon buys Whole Foods

Whole Foods, which has faced pressure from activist investors, will continue to operate stores under its brand and will be led by co-founder and chief executive John Mackey, the companies said.

The firm has more that 400 stores, including nine outlets in Britain.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2017.

Here's the statement in full.

BreakingAmazon in $13.7bn deal

Amazon is buying the trendy US supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7bn cash.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive, was gushing about why he wanted the chain.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy.

“Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

BT has 'much pain to come'

BT logo
AFP

BT shares are among the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 today.

Why the drop?

A punchy analyst note from Saeed Baradar at Louis Capital could be partly to blame.

He warns the company is spending too much money on football rights, has Ofcom breathing down its neck over its wholesale Openreach network, and its pension deficit is becoming more troublesome.

On the football rights, he says: "BT continues to destroy shareholder value by paying huge content costs - £2bn for football alone for the next 3 years implying a break even of £34.30/month/subscriber which will never be achieved.

"Add to that the fact that BT TV customers growth is also grinding to a halt at a time of 32% content cost inflation and it becomes evident that there is still much pain to come."

Ouch.

Unite threatens BA with legal action

BA plane
Getty Images

Unite, which has announced another British Airways cabin crew strike for July, has also threatened the carrier with legal action.

The union accused BA of drawing up a "blacklist" to impose sanctions on striking cabin crew, including cutting bonus payments and removing staff travel concessions.

Assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “Unite believes the divisive way British Airways has targeted striking members of cabin crew is unlawful.

"The airline should be under no illusion of Unite’s intent to pursue justice on behalf of its members all the way to the highest court in the land."

BA is yet to issue a statement on the strike plans.

Why is the FTSE 100 climbing?

UK trader
Gett

The FTSE 100 is up more than half a per cent this morning, having regained ground after yesterday's sell-off.

It's partly a relief rally, but also driven by Brent Crude oil prices, which are up 0.6% at $47.60 per barrel. This has led both BP and Royal Dutch Shell more than 1.2% higher.

It also helped that sterling couldn’t build on yesterday’s rally; the pound is little changed against the dollar, and down 0.1% against the euro.

A weak pound means firms' international profits are worth more when converted back into sterling.

Pound holds gains

Pound versus dollar
BBC

The pound has held the gains it made yesterday after three members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee voted to raise rates (although a majority supported keeping them on hold).

It's currently flat against the dollar at $1.27630 - although that's still more than a cent lower than where it was before the general election last week.

It's down by 0.1% against the euro at 1.14290 euros.

McDonalds ends sponsorship with Olympics

McDonalds at Olympic Park
AFP

McDonald's has ended its pricey sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee - meaning the famous golden arches will not appear at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It will be the first time the burger brand has been missing from the Games in 44 years.

The company had been a top sponsor - forking out a reported $100m per summer and winter games - but both the IOC and McDonald's are said to have mutually parted company.

McDonald's will still appear as a sponsor at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

BreakingBritish Airways cabin crew planning strike in July

British Airways cabin crew are planning a two-week strike from 1 July in their dispute over pay and other benefits, Unite Union said.

Earlier this month Unite suspended a four-day strike, over the same dispute.

Negotiations have been made more difficult by union claims that the airline had unfairly treated staff who had participated in earlier strike action.

Brexit: Talks every month through the summer

BBC Europe Correspondent Damian Grammaticas tweets:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Admiral warned over renewal paperwork

Kevin Peachey

Personal finance reporter

Insurer Admiral has given inaccurate information to customers on their renewal paperwork - just weeks into a new system designed to make prices clearer and make shopping around easier.

Insurers have been ordered to include the previous year's premium in renewal notices, under regulations that began in April.

But the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said Admiral gave last year’s quoted premium, before discounts were applied, rather than the amount that the customer actually paid. It has been told to contact those affected and make changes as soon as possible.

It is understood that tens of thousands of customers have been affected. The company has apologised.

Morrisons fined over marketing emails

Morrisons
get

Morrisons has been fined £10,500 for ignoring the wishes of customers over marketing emails, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said.

The supermarket chain sent 130,671 emails to people who had already opted out of marketing related to thier More card.

“These customers had explicitly told Morrisons they didn’t want marketing emails about their More card. Morrisons ignored their decision and for that we’ve taken action,” said ICO eeputy commissioner Simon Entwisle.

Tesco fined £8m for pollution incident

Petrol leaked from a Tesco filling station leaked into the River Irwell
Environment Agency
Petrol leaked from a Tesco filling station leaked into the River Irwell

It's not all been good news for Tesco today. The supermarket has been hit with an £8m fine after pleading guilty to a pollution incident in Lancashire.

In July 2014, about 23,500 litres of petrol escaped from a tank at a petrol station in Haslingden operated by Tesco.

According to the Environment Agency: "The petrol entered the sewerage system with the odours affecting residents up to 1km away causing people to seek medical attention with headaches and sickness.

"Some of the petrol also entered Langwood Brook and the River Irwell causing a significant environmental impact killing fish and other aquatic life."

A Tesco spokesperson said: "We sincerely regret the fuel spillage incident at our petrol station in Haslingden and we're sorry for the impact it had on the local environment, our customers and the community."

Delivering a good service?

Kevin Peachey

Personal finance reporter

Parcel delivery
Getty Images

Online shopping has led to a surge in parcel deliveries in recent years but a survey by Citizens Advice suggests there are some frustrations with the service.

Two-thirds of those asked said they had encountered at least one problem in the last year, such as delayed, lost or damaged parcels.

One major gripe was parcels being left in bins when the recipient was not at home.

However, delivery firms can point to the finding that 94% of those asked were generally satisfied with the service they received.

Tesco 'still faces challenges'

Tesco sign
Getty Images

Despite Tesco's continued recovery the retailer still faces challenges, says Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The sector is still highly competitive and a rising pound will put pressure on supermarket margins. "So it remains to be seen just how much [its recently] higher sales will feed through into profits," he says.

It also faces the prospect of a rise in pension contributions and still has to compensate shareholders for its 2014 accounting scandal.

Inflation falls across Europe (but not the UK)

The UK’s 2.9% inflation rate was the third highest in the EU in May, EU data shows.

Eurostat, the EU's data agency, said inflation across the bloc grew at 1.6% during the month, down from 2% in April.

Across the Eurozone it was 1.4%, slowing from 1.9% in April, with rising petrol prices the biggest factor in the shift.

Ireland, Romania and Denmark had the lowest rates of any EU country.

EU inflation data
Eurostat

FTSE 100 rebounds

FTSE 100 chart
Google

The FTSE 100 is up 0.7% as stocks recover from yesterday’s sell-off, says David Madden at CMC Markets.

He says traders have got to grips with the surprise that three members of the Bank of England voted to hike interest rates (although a majority backed keeping them on hold).

The political situation in the UK also seems to be improving, as the Queen’s speech will take place on Wednesday, even if the Conservatives don’t have a deal in place with the Democratic Unionist Party by then.

"This sign of political stability has added to the boost in investor confidence," Mr Madden says.

Three fined £1.9m for emergency call service failure

Policewoman in emergency services call centre
PA

Mobile phone provider Three has been fined £1.89m for failing to ensure customers could contact emergency services at all times.

It follows a temporary loss of service for customers in Kent, Hampshire and parts of London on 6 October.

Networks are supposed to allow emergency calls to be connected, even when they experience technical problems, but Ofcom said vulnerabilities in Three's network made this impossible.

"The fine reflects the seriousness of the breach, given the potential impact on public health and safety," it said.

Foreign tourists spending more in UK

Spending by foreign tourists in the UK jumped 20% in April compared with the same month a year ago, data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

The rise is due to the fall in the pound since the Brexit vote, which has made visiting Britain cheaper.

The ONS data also shows that UK residents made 6.1 million visits abroad in April; up 2% compared with April 2016.

Britons spent slightly less on their holidays, at £3.5bn, but this was put down to Easter falling in March last year, making a comparison less accurate.

ONS spending chart
ONS

Video: Hammond says economy 'priority' in Brexit

Brexit talks should 'prioritise' economy