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  1. Get in touch:
  2. The pound has risen over $1.27
  3. CMA launches probe into online gambling
  4. EU hopes to capture euro clearing from the UK
  5. Toshiba's problems worsen

Live Reporting

By Simon Neville

All times stated are UK

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'Til next week

That's all from the BBC's Business Live page for this week.

Join us bright and early again on Monday morning when we're expecting more details on the government's plans for Brexit and MPs have scheduled a debate on the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Good night.

Generation game

border wall

Earlier this week President Trump came up with a plan to save Mexicans paying the full cost of the border wall which he still fully intends to have built, but which has proved a little tricky to get off the ground.

Instead of the Mexicans footing the entire bill, they'll install solar panels along the wall, generating electricity and therefore cash.

Well, journalists at Bloomberg appear to have had some time on their hands (quiet summer Friday?) and have calculated that panels tilted towards the sun along a 3,207km long wall would generate enough electricity for the wall to pay for itself by.... the year 2168.

As they said "That's more than a few election cycles away".

Markets close

Stock market
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That's it.

The US markets have shut for the week.

As has been the mood for most of the day, all three major indexes remained quiet and obedient.

There were a few wobbles over slightly weaker than expected manufacturing data, but the recovering oil price helped keep things steady.

The Dow Jones was down 0.96 points or 0.01% at 21,396.3.

The S&P 500 was up 3.81 or 0.16% at 2438.3.

Nasdaq was up 28 or 0.46% at 6265.2.

A little more would help

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Tesco has said it's putting up its hourly pay rate for shop staff. Not enough to start planning a blow-out shopping spree, but above the statutory minimum set out by the government.

It amounts to a 10.5% rise over two years and will put Tesco workers on £8.42 an hour by November 2018.

If you're looking for a checkout job, worth bearing in mind though that the budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl are already paying more: £8.53 and £8.45 respectively.

Plus Tesco are cutting back the premiums the pay for Sunday and bank holiday work.

Have your say: Woman and engineering

Syngenta's woes

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Just heading back to the Syngenta story, which can trace its roots back to 2010.

Back then the Swiss company starting selling a genetically modified corn in the US that was an insect-resistant strain called Agrisure Viptera.

In 2013 it started selling a second strain called Agrisure Duracade, but the farmers claim that they were sold the strain without being told that China - a major purchaser of US corn - had not approved it.

Syngenta deny the allegations.

But the company will be hearing lots more about China - it is about to be taken over by ChemChina, as the country's leaders look to take greater control over its food supply to feed its ever-growing population.

Healthcare insurers worried by Republican plans

Obamacare sign
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Pharmaceutical companies may be seeing a boost to their share prices in the last two days, thanks to the unveiling of the Republican's new healthcare plans.

But health insurers are less impressed, with the industry's largest lobbyist for the sector warning against the plans to scrap Obamacare.

Kristine Grow, spokeswoman at America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said: "We're worried about the burden it creates for the states."

The group represents dozens of insurers who already offer Obamacare, but are worried by the consequences if it disappeared.

Molina Healthcare, which has more than 1m customers in Obamacare plans, said the changes will lead healthy people to forgo coverage and lead to premiums rising.

Syngenta sued for millions over GM seeds

Syngenta sign

A US court has ruled today that Swiss seed and pesticide firm Syngenta must pay up $217.7m to more than 7,000 farmers in Kansas over its decision to mass produce a genetically modified strain of corn before China approved importing it.

The farmers said that they suffered tremendous losses after Chinese officials starting returning corn shipments in 2013.

It is the first case of its type, but thousands of other corn producers and traders are also seeking damages over China's non-approval of Syngenta's corn seeds for importation.

Lawyers for the farmers reckon Syngenta could end up having to pay out $5.77bn in lost revenues, but the company said it will appeal the verdict.

US markets update

Wall Street sign
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US markets are starting to edge up in afternoon trading.

The Nasdaq is on course to record its first weekly gain in three week, thanks to strength in tech firms.

Apple, Facebook and Microsoft all helped push up the index, as investors regained their nerve after fears over the past few weeks that the tech sector is overstretched.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones were also both up, with rises helped by the oil price recovery and cautious optimism among big pharma that the new Republican healthcare plans will benefit them.

Dow Jones is up 5.25 points to 21,402.54

Nasdaq is up 29.74 points to 6,266.42

S&P 500 is up 5.35 points to 2,439.85

Bed Bath & Beyond: shares start to sink

Bed Bath and Beyond store
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Turning to the US, and Bed Bath & Beyond has seen its share price hit a nine year low today.

Shares are down $4.12, or 12.2%, to $29.62 after the retailer revealed a weak set of results, we were well below what the market had been expecting.

The company said revenues in the first quarter remained flat at $2.74bn, short of an expected $50m boost, and earnings also under performed.

Bosses blamed “softness” in in-store sales (they didn't get enough shoppers through the doors) and higher shipping costs, due to extra promotions.

Brexit: big winners

The best performing stocks this year have been materials companies, including miners who report in dollars and have benefitted from the weak pound, while the worst performers are telecoms and utilities, which tend to be solely focused on the UK.

However, the really big winners have been the British government debt with yields (or the interest we pay to our creditors) dropping by a quarter over the past year.

By comparison, German and U.S. equivalents have risen. "Gilts will outperform as growth will ultimately disappoint and increase the risk of a harder Brexit outcome," Morgan Stanley market strategist Andrew Sheets to Reuters.

Brexit: the stock market a year on

One year on from the Brexit vote, how has the stock market done?

The main FTSE 100 index has risen impressively by 17% over the 12 months since Britain voted to leave the European Union.

However, this has been driven almost exclusively by sterling's fall against the dollar.

If you were to look at share price performance from a dollar viewpoint, they've actually underperformed every developed index in the world.

FTSE 100 chart

Corbyn: Teens should get £10 hourly wage

Jeremy Corbyn
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Following on from Tesco raising its wages for shop floor workers, Jeremy Corbyn has weighed into the low pay debate.

The Labour leader suggests his party's £10-an-hour living wage pledge should extend to 16-year-olds.

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn: Teens should get £10 hourly wage

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Bank of England cleared in SFO probe

Bank of England crest
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As the City heads home for the weekend, there will probably be some mighty sighs of relief at the Bank of England.

Earlier this afternoon, the bank was told by the Serious Fraud Office that police have closed a probe into whether the BoE broke the law during the financial crisis.

After two years, the SFO said there's "no evidence of criminality" in the unprecedented actions the bank took during the height of the financial crisis.

They were looking to see whether the bank gave help to certain institutions to assist them in bidding for newly issued bank bonds.

FTSE closes

That's it for the week in London. The FTSE 100 index has closed for the day.

The FTSE 100 closed down 15.16 points at 7,424.13.

In a pretty lacklustre day, investors seemed content with shares bobbing along gently, with no real movement.

It will be welcome news to some, as the sinking oil prices of recent days have hit markets hard.

Mike Ashley sells his Rangers FC stake

Protester at Rangers FC
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Mike Ashley, the owner of Sports Direct, has sold his entire stake in Rangers Football Club.

The billionaire businessman offloaded the 9% to a consortium of supporter groups and a Hong Kong based investor.

BBC Sport has all the details, and brings to an end one of the uglier business battles of recent times.

Many supporters were angry with subsequent deals set up between Rangers and Mr Ashley's Sports Direct after the businessman bought his stake.

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Tesco pay rise analysis

Sticking with the pay rise to £8.42 an hour by November 2018 at Tesco for a moment.

The generosity may not be quite what it seems.

Tesco (and everyone else) must increase its minimum pay to £9 an hour by 2020 - because it will be the law (the national living wage rises to £9 an hour by then).

What is laudable is, the supermarket appears to be starting the process earlier and quicker than rivals.

But, by comparison, Aldi already pay staff at least £8.53 per hour, or £9.75 per hour for those in London.

Tesco pay boost for shop staff

Tesco store

Tesco has announced a 10.5% payrise for its store staff this afternoon.

It means hourly rates for staff will go from £7.62 to £8.42 by November 2018.

The company claim "These increases, alongside Tesco’s benefits package which includes colleague bonus plan and pension, will take the average store colleague to an equivalent hourly rate of £9.52 by November 2018".

(Although, we can't think of too many workers that think of their equivalent hourly rate including pension contributions).

Oil in context - it's still not great

oil production
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Oil might be stabilising, but Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, reminds everyone to just think how far oil has fallen in recent months.

He says: "The black stuff’s gains haven’t inspired a more robust rebound from either of the oil giants [Shell and BP] or the FTSE, however, as the commodity is still in serious trouble.

"At the start of the week Brent Crude was trading above $47 per barrel - but go back two months and it was grazing $55 per barrel.

"Even if it has found a bottom there is little reason for investors to pour back into the oil sector."

Currency update

To put the impact of the PMI data on the dollar into context:

the euro immediately rose 0.3% to $1.1186 and the dollar fell 0.1% against the yen, making it worth 111.13 yen

US manufacturing stalls

Car plant
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An update on the state of US manufacturing has dented the dollar against some foreign currencies this afternoon.

The widely-followed Markit PMI numbers show that output in the US was slightly down in June compared with May, although they were still looking good.

Output was measured at 53.0, compared with 53.6 in May - a three month low.

The services sector was at 53.0, compared with 53.6 in May - also a three month low.

Manufacturing PMI is at 52.1 versus 52.7 in May - a nine month low.

And manufacturing outpute is at 52.9 versus 53.7 in May - also a nine month low.

Anything below 50 is seen as a sign of contraction. Earlier today the eurozone PMIs also came out and were ahead of expectations.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit said: "The average expansion seen in the second quarter is down on that seen in the first three months of the year, indicating a slowing in the underlying pace of economic growth."

He added: "There are signs, however, that growth could pick up again: new orders [spending] showed the largest monthly rise since January, business optimism about the year ahead perked up and hiring remained encouragingly resilient."

The numbers are a good indicator, because they generally track a country's GDP, as the chart below shows.

Markit PMI data

Wall Street opens

New York Stock Exchange open
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Ding ding!

Wall Street is open for business.

The quietness of yesterday seems to be repeating itself, with all three major indexes opening relatively flat.

Investors will be waiting to see what happens with the price of oil - which fell earlier in the week, dragging down share prices with it.

But two days of relative stability in the price of oil has meant no sudden jerks in the markets.

A stress test by the Federal Reserve on the US banking sector also calmed things, as the largest institutions were deemed able to withstand a severe recession.

The Dow Jones is down 27.84 points (or 0.13%) at 21,369.45

S&P 500 is up 0.35 points (or 0.01%) at 2,434.85

And Nasdaq is down 2.92 points (or 0.05%) at 6,233.77

Lloyds' internet banking down

Kevin Peachey

Personal finance reporter

Lloyds Bank
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Lloyds Bank has apologised for problems with its internet banking service.

Customers say they are unable to log onto the website, and the bank has confirmed it is "experiencing difficulties".

It assured customers that it was "working to fix" the problem, and that the app remained available.

Faults in online banking are relatively common, but Fridays tend to be busy for transactions as people prepare for the weekend.

Toshiba gets relegated

Toshiba washing machine

Going back to Toshiba for a moment, things are going from bad to worse for the Japanese electronics and nuclear business.

Bosses sought, and got, an extension on revealing their results after auditors failed to sign off their accounts, and they also said today that losses to come in at 995bn yen 950bn yen.

But the massive losses have also come with another price - prestige - as the Tokyo Stock Exchange demoted Toshiba from the top tier of the exchange (think of a British company getting demoted from the FTSE 100 to the FTSE 250)

To make matters worse, if Toshiba don't get its accounts signed off by 10th August, it could be delisted entirely.

ECB bids for more euro clearing oversight

European Central Bank

The European Central Bank has put forward a proposal to boost its oversight over euro clearing.

The legal amendment would give it a "significantly enhanced" role in regulating the lucrative market.

London currently processes most of the trade in this financial sector, providing thousands of jobs.

The ECB's proposal comes shortly after the European Commission published a draft law to give it the power to move euro clearing business out of London.

Clearing is where a third party organisation acts as a middleman for buyers and sellers of financial contracts tied to the underlying value of a share, index, currency or bond.

The ECB said the amendment would give it "clear legal competence" in the area of central clearing, which is currently dominated by London firms.

Economists say eurozone growth steady

German steel worker

Growth in the eurozone is on "cruising speed not acceleration" according to economists at Morgan Stanley.

A survey of purchasing managers' plans in the eurozone indicated steady growth if not as much as expected.

Bert Colijn, ING senior economist for the euro zone, said: "Businesses experienced the strongest growth quarter in six years.

But risks remain.

In other data, Italy, the currency bloc's third largest economy, reported a sharp fall in industrial sales and orders in April.

BlackBerry's first quarter sales fall

Sales at BlackBerry fell to $235m in the three months to May, down from $400m compared to the first quarter of 2016.

The company, which once produced the handsets of the same name but now focuses on software and services, reported falling revenue across all geographical regions.

However, BlackBerry returned to profit during the first quarter with net income of $671m compared to a $670m loss a year ago.

ITV leads the FTSE 100

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The FTSE 100 is trading down 25.80 points at 7,413.49.

ITV remains the top gainer - its share price is up 2.6% at 181p - after the broker Morgan Stanley upgraded its view of the broadcaster's stock for the first time in more than a year.

The FTSE 250 has reversed earlier falls and is now up 16.49 points at 19,674.91.

The pound is 0.35% up on the dollar at $1.2728. Here is how sterling has fared over the last month, including the general election.

The pound v the dollar

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Government orders investigation into Hotpoint fridge

Grenfell Tower
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The blaze at Grenfell Tower destroyed 151 homes

The Government has ordered an immediate examination by technical experts of a Hotpoint FF175BP fridge freezer which has been determined by the Metropolitan Police Service to be the initial source of the Grenfell Tower fire.

At least seventy-nine people are feared dead after the blaze.

In a statement, the government said the product, which was manufactured between 2006 and 2009, has not been subject to product recalls and testing will establish whether any further action is required.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said consumers who believe they may own a Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP (white) or FF175BG (grey) should call Whirlpool Corporation’s freephone hotline on 0800 316 3826 or visit to register their details for further updates.

It said: "At this stage there is no specific reason for consumers to switch off their fridge freezer pending further investigation."

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The safety of consumers is paramount. The device is being subject to immediate and rigorous testing to establish the cause of the fire. I have made clear to the company that I will expect them to replace any item without delay if it is established that there is a risk in using them."

Read the full statement here.

Hotpoint issues statement on Grenfell Tower

Members of the emergency services work in the charred remains of Grenfell Tower
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Members of the emergency services work in the charred remains of Grenfell Tower

Hotpoint has issued a statement after the Metropolitan Police identified a FF175BP fridge freezer as the initial source of the Grenfell Tower fire.

It said: “Words cannot express our sorrow at this terrible tragedy. We offer our most profound condolences to the victims, those who have lost loved-ones, homes, and possessions, and to their friends and families.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved, including the emergency services who risked their lives to extinguish the blaze and rescue those in the building."

It says: "We are working with the authorities to obtain access to the appliance so that we can assist with the ongoing investigations.

"Under these circumstances, we are unable to speculate on further details at this time. We are addressing this as a matter of utmost urgency and assisting the authorities in any way we can. We will provide additional updates as our investigations progress."

Hotpoint advises that consumers who believe they may have a Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP or FF175BG should call its freephone hotline on 0800 316 3826.

Or they can visit

Oil prices rise but stay below $50

Oil production

The price of Brent crude rose on Friday but remains well below $50 a barrel.

It increased by 0.4% to $45.42 a barrel on Friday morning. West Texas Intermediate also rose by 0.4% to $42.92 a barrel.

Frank Schallenberger, head of commodity research at LBBW, expects prices to bottom out between $40-45 per barrel before returning to $50 until the end of the year.

Commenting on current price, he said: "There is selective perception in the market at the moment. Bearish factors like higher output in Libya or Nigeria result in lower oil prices but bullish factors, like the really high OPEC commitment, are ignored."

Hotpoint named as Grenfell Tower fire fridge supplier

Virus helps drivers dodge fines

Peak hour traffic in Melbourne
Getty Images

Hackers behind the infamous WannaCry virus have inadvertently helped lead-footed Australian drivers avoid costly speeding fines.

Some 55 traffic cameras, most in inner-city Melbourne, were infected by the ransomware.

A maintenance worker unknowingly uploaded the malware to the camera network using a USB stick on 6 June.

Victorian Police have cancelled 590 speeding and red-light fines despite the belief they were correctly issued.

Read the full story here.


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