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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Oil price flutters around $45 a barrel
  3. China banks told to examine overseas deals
  4. West Coast mainline shortlist is revealed
  5. Mortgage lending rises 12% in May
  6. Imagination Technologies is up for sale

Live Reporting

By Simon Neville

All times stated are UK

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And with that, we too are going to call it a day.

Thank you once again for joining us today, sending us your comments and thoughts on the day's events and following the unfolding developments.

Do join us again tomorrow from 6am and we'll be doing it all again.

US markets close

Trading floor cleaner
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Well. That was a pretty quiet day all round, after yesterday's Queen's Speech excitement, and oil prices swinging all over the place.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring a little more action ahead of the weekend.

Wall Street's three major indexes moved by 16 points combined today.

The Dow Jones fell 12.74 points, or 0.06%, to 21,397.29

The S&P 500 lost 1.11 points, or 0.05%, to 2,434.5

And the Nasdaq added 2.73 points, or 0.04%, to 6,236.69

Tesla in early discussions to open China plant

Tesla car
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Electric car maker Tesla is in talks to potentially open a car plant in China, according to the company.

Tesla has said in the past it wants to build cars in China to avoid the 25% tariff charged in the country for imported vehicles.

Talks are only in their early stages, with "exploratory" talks taking place with the Shanghai municipal government.

Bosses said they expect to "more clearly define" its China production plans by the end of the year but must first team up with a local company, because of strict rules over foreign companies setting up in the country.

Tencent, a Chinese internet giant already has a 5% stake in Tesla, which it bought for $1.8bn, so it is seen as the most likely partner.

The news helped Tesla shares jump 1.5% to $382.

Accenture takes a hit

Accenture signage

One company not to be benefitting from the pronouncements of the Republican party's healthcare reforms is Dublin-based Accenture.

The outsourcing business gets 17.5% of its revenues from healthcare and public service clients, but bosses said that uncertainty in the US over the future of healthcare was causing its customers to spend less than Accenture had expected.

Everyone seems to agree that even though the Republicans have made their announcement today, there is a long road ahead before it becomes law.

Accenture said it now expects net revenues to rise no more than 7% for the year to the end of August, compared with hopes of it hitting an 8% rise previously.

The warning overshadowed a decent set of numbers for the third quarter, with revenues up 5.1% to $8.87bn thanks to investments in its digital and cloud services.

US markets update

A quick update on Wall Street's major markets as traders start to wind down for the day.

Shares in healthcare companies continue to benefit from the Republican healthcare bill put before Congress.

Oil prices are holding up (or, to put it another way, not continuing their recent falls) with Brent Crude up $0.42 to $45.24 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate up $0.20 to $42.73 a barrel.

"Oil's had a tough run in the last handful of weeks. I wouldn't say oil being up today gives anybody a high degree of confidence we've seen a floor in oil yet," Michael Scanlon, managing director, portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management in Boston, said.

The Dow Jones is up 24.45 points at 21434.48

The S&P 500 was up 1.37 points at 2,436.98

Nasdaq is up 17.22 points at 6251.17

Warren Buffett splashes the cash, again

Warren Buffett
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America's most famous investor, Warren Buffett (pictured), has stumped up a $1.51bn loan for Canada's largest non-bank lender.

Through his Berkshire Hathaway group, the money will be offered as a credit facility to Home Capital Group, which has been suffering a deposit exodus in recent months.

The deal comes just a week after Home Capital settled a series of fraud cases with Canada's regulators over allegation it made misleading statements about its mortgage underwriting.

"Home Capital's strong assets, its ability to originate and underwrite well-performing mortgages, and its leading position in a growing market sector make this a very attractive investment," Buffett said in a statement.

It is the latest in a long line of investments by Berkshire Hathaway in companies that have been under scrutiny, including Wells Fargo, which paid fines for opening bank accounts without customer's permission, and Coca Cola, which remains under fire for its high levels of sugar in its drinks.

And, although $1.51bn may seem a lot of money, to Buffett's investment vehicle it is only a small dent in the $96.5bn hoard of cash, equivalents and Treasury bills it holds.

American Airlines boss speaks out on Qatar deal

Doug Parker American Airlines CEO
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The boss of American Airlines has commented on the 10% stake bought in the airline by rival Qatar Airways, announced earlier today.

Doug Parker (pictured, left) said he wasn't "particularly excited" about the $808m deal, especially since his airline, and other American airlines, are battling Middle Eastern rivals for dominance in the US market.

American Airlines, United Continental and Delta Air Lines have been pressing the US government to take action to curb US flights by Qatar Airways, Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways.

They have accused the Arab carriers of receiving unfair state subsidies worth billions of dollars.

Parker added that the Qatar stake deal was "puzzling given our extremely public stance on the illegal subsidies that Qatar, Emirates and Etihad have all received over the years from their governments."

Oracle predicts great things

Oracle boss Larry Ellison
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Shares in computer tech firm Oracle soared to record highs today, as the company revealed better-than-expected earnings in the fourth quarter, up 9.9% to $50.39.

Chief executive Larry Ellison (pictured) said revenues jumped 3% to $10.9bn, compared with an expected $10.5bn, and subscriptions for software hit more than $1bn for the first time.

Oracle has been battling hard in the cloud-based arena - taking on the might of Amazon Web Services.

The company was helped by a recent deal with US phone giant AT&T, where it was brought in to transfer thousands of databases to its cloud.

Oracle share price

Uber staff want Travis back

Travis Kalanick

Could Travis Kalanick (pictured), the disgraced former chief executive of Uber, make a stunning return?

According to online tech site Recode, an email is circulating among Uber employees asking the board to let Mr Kalanick return to the helm.

Recode say they have seen the email, which reads: "Nobody is perfect, but I fundamentally believe he can evolve into the leader Uber needs today and that he’s critical to its future success.

"I want the Board to hear from Uber employees that it’s made the wrong decision in pressuring Travis to leave and that he should be reinstated in an operational role.

"My ask is simple: one click (and an optional note) to express your support for Travis’ return. The form is totally anonymous. I will deliver the results to the Board.”

If you want to read exactly why Mr Kalanick left the company, here's the BBC's take.

US unemployment slightly up

US jobs data is out and it shows the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased slightly last week.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 241,000 for the week ended June 17, according to the Labor Department.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast first-time applications for jobless claims rising to 240,000 in the latest week.

But the numbers are well below the 300,000 figure, seen by most as a sign that the jobs market is struggling.

It is now two years since it hit 300,000.

Sean Parker quits Spotify

Sean Parker
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Sean Parker (pictured), the founder of Napster, who also helped Facebook get off the ground, has stepped down from the board of online music streaming business Spotify.

The early supporter and investor in Spotify also quits alongside another early backer, Klaus Hommels, as the company eyes up a stock market listing.

The company want to get itself ship shape for potential investors and have hired four new corporate heavyweights to woo the cash.

Padmasree Warrior, chief executive of electric car maker NIO, Disney’s former chief operating officer Thomas Staggs, ex-YouTube executive Shishir Mehrotra, and investor Cristina Stenbeck have all joined the board.

Spotify is now thought to be worth $13bn, based on how much has been raised in funding, but the company will need to make sure jitters in the market that tech companies could be overpriced, have abated.

Big pharma enjoying a boost thanks to Republicans

Drug packaging

Sticking with the US, and the Dow Jones is enjoying a steady rise so far today.

It is now up 20.68 points to 21,430.71 (not a huge rise, we'll grant you).

But a look at the biggest risers on the index show that investors seem to believe the Senate Republican's heathcare bill to replace Obamacare, will be approved.

Four of the five biggest risers are all pharmaceutical companies - United health. Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer - enjoying a boost on the news, which is expected to see a windfall for the sector.

The fifth biggest riser, aircraft maker United Technologies, is enjoying heady heights thanks to an update from Morgan Stanley.

risers and fallers on New York Stock Exchange

Deutsche Bank dragged into Trump scandal

Donald Trump
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Turning to the US for a moment.

Deutsche Bank could be dragged into the Trump-Russia scandal as five democrats in Congress sent a second letter to the German bank demanding information on President Trump, his family and potential ties with Russia.

The first letter was sent earlier this month, but the bank turned down the request claiming: "Federal law requires that institutions such as Deutsche Bank maintain the privacy of their customers and the confidentiality of information relating to those customers"

But the Democrats dispute Deutsche's claims, saying the law cited only covers government authority, and not Congress.

They also point out most of the information they want won't breach the rules, and suggest Mr Trump himself may want the information released if he wants to clear his name.

FTSE closes

Traders are heading home for the day, as the FTSE 100 closes.

It ended the day down 8.50 at 7439.29.

London-based brokerage announces move to Germany over Brexit

Europe flag

Japanese brokerage firm Daiwa Securities has planted its flag firmly in Germany on the back of the upcoming Brexit.

It becomes one of the first banks to publicly chose Germany to keep its interests in the European Union alive after Brexit.

The firm had previously said it favoured the German city, as London-based staff can easily be transferred to its investment banking branch there.

Daiwa said it will apply for a license in Germany and that its move would "ensure that Daiwa can continue to service its clients in EU after the United Kingdom leaves".

Most banks have said they will probably move operations to Dublin, rather than mainland Europe, if London loses its ability to process euro-denominated transactions.

Provident Financial's "dead cat bounce"

Provident share price

As we wait for the FTSE 100 to close, it's worth taking a quick look at the biggest risers on the blue-chip index.

The biggest riser on the market was Provident Financial - up 98p, or 4.2%, to 2,458p.

Regular readers might remember that yesterday Provident hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when bosses issued a profit warning.

Shares plunged 17.5% on Wednesday after the company admitted profits would be dented by its doorstep lending unit struggling.

This kind of bounce can happen - sometimes called the "dead cat bounce" - and typically happens when investors see an opportunity to buy shares on the cheap.

Enough investors think the price is too low, and it subsequently rises. But don't expect the rise to last.

Even Volkswagen's shares bounced after the massive falls when it was revealed to be faking its diesel emissions tests.

Bank of England rate rise imminent - Nomura says

Andy Haldane

The Bank of England will raise interest rates for the first time in a decade in August, according to Japanese bank Nomura.

Analysts at Nomura reckon the Monetary Policy Committee who decide such things will vote for a rise at its next rate meeting on 3rd August.

They write: "With the Bank growing increasingly intolerant of above-target inflation, it has begun to feel that weaker data would now be needed to prove the case for keeping policy on hold, rather than stronger data being required to justify higher rates."

The central bank's chief economist, Andy Haldane (pictured), speaking out earlier this week in favour of a rate rise before the end of the year, along with the 5-3 split at the last meeting, are the two main factors driving Nomura's view.

But, as the last month has proved, anything can happen...

Whole Foods bidding war?

Whole Foods store
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Could a bidding war about to be kicked off for everyone's favourite organic quinoa purveyor, Whole Foods?

Investors seems to think so, as shares in the grocery chain pushed above the $42 a share offer tabled by Amazon earlier this month.

Analysts at JP Morgan reckon rival chain Walmart (owners of Asda in the UK) could step in with a new bid, to fight off Amazon's dominance.

In a note to clients, JP Morgan wrote: "We do think there is a chance that Walmart makes a bid.

"[Walmart] stands out as the only company in our coverage with the means and motive to counter bid, but the motive is ultimately more driven by a defensive strategy."

Walmart has been suffering in recent years at the hands of Amazon, especially more recently with the launch of the latter's groceries home delivery service.

The analysts also said, Whole Foods "seems unusually excited by the prospect of having Amazon as a parent. We do not think an alternative suitor would evoke the same reaction."

Whole Foods

US markets open

stock market trader
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Ding ding!

US stock markets have opened with little movement, thanks, in part to oil prices seemingly stablising.

The wobbles in oil yesterday had impacted the Dow Jones and S&P 500 (while leaving tech-heavy Nasdaq unscathed) but today was calmer.

The Dow Jones is up just 10.24 points at 21,420.27simonss

S&P 500 is up just 0.27 points at 2,435.34

And Nasdaq is 4.18 points down at 6,229.78

We will bring you all the business news from the States as it comes.

A trip down memory lane

Sonic the Hedgehog

Sega has started to release free mobile versions of classic games from its back catalogue.

The first five, including Sonic the Hedgehog, are available now via the Apple and Android app stores.

The gamemaker said it planned to release additional titles every two weeks for the Sega Forever service.

Read more here...

Ritz-Carlton group expanding into yachts

Ritz Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel group, owned by Marriott International, is hoping to cash in on the super-yacht luxury market with the launch of its very own yacht collection today.

Bosses will unveil three small ships , which can accommodate just 300 guests per trip, for seven to 10 day cruises.

No word on how much each cruise will cost, or how much each boat is setting back the company, but the first bookings won't be ready until 2019.

Marriott has been splashing the cash in recent times - overtaking rival Hilton in the process.

Last September, the company spent $13.6bn snapping up Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which added such iconic brands as St. Regis, Westin, and W to Marriott’s roster.

Obama for Uber?

Barack Obama

An amusing thought on the next boss of Uber is doing the rounds.

Apparently some think former US president Barack Obama should think of applying.

After all, he did spend eight years of trying to run a country while being accused of being a Kenyan spy, intent of overthrowing America and installing Sharia Law.

How hard could running Uber?

Rob Wigglesworth from the FT tweeted an email he got from analysts suggesting Mr Obama would be an exceptional "out-the-box" candidate...

View more on twitter

ECB economist says fear fueled the Brexit vote

Peter Praet

The chief economist of the European Central Bank has said the UK voted for Brexit because of popularist forces fueling fear.

Peter Praet told the German news site, Spiegel Online that "fear is a bad advisor".

He believes the UK's decision to leave the EU was a "big mistake".

"The damage is done; British economic growth is already slowing down.

"Now it's about minimizing the negative impact. I hope there is still a reasonably sensible solution."

Southern Rail in "poor and unreliable" condition

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Taking the strain

A long-awaited rail report into Southern Rail's performance says all elements of its operation are under strain.

Its author Network Rail director Chris Gibb criticised industrial action take by Aslef and the RMT over driver-only trains.

He said the strike action magnified the deficiencies in the system.

Mr Gibb said the government, Southern's owners, Network rail and the unions all knew the franchise was facing multiple problems and needed attention.

"On Southern, all elements of the system have been under strain: unreliable infrastructure, a timetable that is very tight and with overcrowded peak services, some key stations that are overcrowded, depots that are full and for historic reasons are in the wrong place, and people involved in informal and formal industrial action.

"The system cannot possibly work to passengers' satisfaction with these components in this state," Mr Gibb added.

Qatar and its relationship with the US

F-15 fighter jets
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The timing of Qatar Airways' proposal to buy a 10% stake in American Airways is likely to provoke some comment.

US President Donald Trump recently gave his backing to a decision by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE, and the internationally recognised Yemeni government to sever their diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Earlier this month he said: "The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”]

However, a few days later it emerged that Qatar had signed a $12bn agreement with the US to buy up to 36 F-15 fighter jets.

Qatar to invest more than $800m in American Airlines

American Airlines
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In a regulatory filing, American Airlines said that Qatar Airways intends to invest at least $808m in the US company.

It also said: "In a conversation between the chief executives of the two companies initiated by the Qatar Airways chief executive, Qatar Airways indicated that it has an interest in acquiring approximately a 10%.

BreakingQatar Airways 'to take 10% stake' in American Airlines

American Airlines has announced that Qatar Airways says it wants to take a 10% stake in the company.

FA ends sponsorship deals with Ladbrokes

Arsenal beat Chelsea in the English FA Cup final
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Arsenal beat Chelsea in the English FA Cup final

The Football Association has ended its sponsorship deals with Ladbrokes and confirmed it was ceasing all commercial agreements with gambling businesses

The FA said: "At May's board meeting, it was agreed that The FA would end all sponsorships with betting companies starting from the end of the 2016-17 season.

"The decision was made following a three-month review of The FA's approach to it as a governing body taking betting sponsorship, whilst being responsible for the regulation of sports betting within the sport's rules.

"As a consequence, The FA has mutually agreed with Ladbrokes that its current partnership will be terminated from June 2017."

Shares in Ladbrokes Coral fell 1.1% to 114.2p.

OPEC 'not doing enough' to support oil prices

Legs of oil worker

Nitesh Shah, commodities strategist at ETF Securities, says there is a belief that the Opec cartel of oil producing nations is not doing enough to stop crude prices from falling.

He says: "The market is unconvinced that Opec is doing "what it takes" to reduce the glut in oil. We don't think that Saudi Arabia can convince other Opec members to do more.

"Oil will remain weak, with a floor around $40 a barrel and cap around $55 a barrel."

Brent Crude has risen slightly, up 0.8% to $45.17 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate is up 0.5% to $42.76 a barrel.

Hornby says bid 'significantly undervalues' firm

Hornby model train
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Hornby has announced that a 32.375p per share bid from shareholder Pheonix UK "significantly undervalues" the company.

Pheonix UK made the offer after buying shares in Hornby from New Pistoria Income, taking its total holding in the company to 55%.

Hornby, whose brands include Scalextric, Airfix and Corgi, also said on Thursday that it has appointed David Adams as interim chairman after Roger Canham resigned as a result of his relationship with Phoenix UK Fund".

Big business in dancing

Legs & Co

Ever wanted to dance like no-one is watching? Do you shimmy and shake like an inebriated Basil Fawlty?

Worry not.

There is a now a company - No Light No Lycra - which offers people the chance to give it some Legs & Co in complete darkness with like-minded strangers.

Read all about it here.

Eurozone sees 'solid' second quarter growth


The European Central Bank has given a favourable forecast for growth in the second quarter.

In its regular economic bulletin it said inflation will hover near the current level in the coming months with early signs of price pressures in the production and pricing chain.

Inflation in the eurozone was 1.4% in May.

It said domestic demand is likely to be buoyed by a number of factors.

"Very favourable financing conditions and low interest rates continue to promote a recovery in investment in the context of rising profits and lower deleveraging needs."

Pressure grows on buy-to-let market

Home sale signs
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Paul Smee, director general at the Council of Mortgage Lenders, said that remortgaging and first-time buyers continued to drive lending this year.

"Looking ahead, we expect to see this trend continue, but not as strongly, as the factors supporting lending are blunted by less favourable economic conditions," he said.

"While falling mortgage interest rates have helped support borrowing, tax and prudential measures are exerting pressure on the buy-to-let market.

"Following the distortion of the stamp duty change on second properties last year, we expected a slight recovery in lending levels. However, this has not materialised, and we therefore have lowered our forecast for buy-to-let lending this year and next."

A ray of light for Provident Financial

Provident Financial's shares are leading the biggest risers on the FTSE 100.

However, a 3% rise to £24.34 is not enough to make up for a sharp fall on Wednesday when the sub-prime lender warned on profits.

Provident Financial's share performance over one month
Provident Financial's share performance over one month

As trading heads into midday, the FTSE 100 is down 26.31 points at 7,421.48.

The FTSE 250 is 42.38 points lower at 19,640.23.

The pound 0.06% down on the dollar at $1.2664.

Listen: Brits don't want fruit picking jobs

Zoe Conway spoke to managers in the fruit industry who are struggling to recruit workers

CBI: government must put the economy first

Flag maker
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Commenting on the latest UK manufacturing figures, the CBI's chief economist Rain Newton-Smith says that companies are continuing to see demand for goods “Made in Britain”.

"Nevertheless, with cost pressures remaining elevated it’s no surprise to see that manufacturers continue to have high expectations for the prices they plan to charge.

“To build the right future for Britain’s economy, manufacturers and workers, the Government must put the economy first as it negotiates the country’s departure from the EU. This approach will deliver a deal that supports growth and raises living standards across the UK.”

UK factory orders hit highest since 1988

UK factory orders have reached the highest level for nearly 30 years, according to the CBI’s latest Industrial Trends Survey.

The CBI said the factory order book balance jumped to +16 in June from +9 in May.

It found improvements in the food, drink & tobacco and chemicals sectors. Export orders also improved to a 22-year high, hitting similar peaks to those seen in 2011 and 2013.

China banking watchdog calls for scrutiny of overseas deals

Wolverhampton Wanderers
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Reuters is reporting that China's banking regulator has asked a group of commercial banks to assess their exposure to offshore deals by a number of the country's companies.

They include Fosun International, owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, HNA Group, Dalian Wanda, Anbang Insurance and Zhejiang Luosen.

They may say Donald's a dreamer

Donald Tusk
Getty IMages
Donald Tusk daring to imagine

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, has hinted that Britain's withdrawal from the EU may not be inevitable, despite the British vote last year to leave.

As EU leaders began gathering in Brussels on Thursday for a summit, Mr Tusk was asked if the Brexit negotiations that began last week could result in Britain staying.

Quoting the John Lennon song "Imagine", he replied: "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

The EU summit is the first since the Conservatives in Britain lost their majority in the general election.

Southern Rail 'amazed' at pay deal rejection

Southern Rail
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Southern Rail said it is "amazed" that the Aslef union has rejected its latest pay deal which will reportedly earn drivers £75,000 a year.

Aslef has reinstated an overtime ban and drivers will start voting for strike action on 29 June, with the first walk out potentially on 27 July.

Southern Rail said: "This ballot is a real chance for drivers to end this dispute by showing they want to accept the 23.8% pay offer and work with us to modernise the congested Southern network as updated infrastructure, trains and working practices provide the service passengers need and deserve."

It said the deal would be withdrawn if the overtime ban went ahead.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef said the company had only began to negotiate with it recently and it had reinstated the overtime ban because of the "company's failure to engage over driver-only operation".