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Summary

  1. Government brings forward increase in state pension age
  2. FTSE 100 closes higher
  3. Morgan Stanley beats forecasts as profit and revenues rise
  4. Reckitt Benckiser sells its food business to US firm McCormick for $4bn
  5. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

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Good night

That's all from the Business Live page for tonight. Join us again tomorrow from 06:00 for more business news and views.

World faces 'plastic waste crisis'

Plastic waste in a landfill
Getty Images

Scientists in the United States have calculated that humanity has manufactured 8.3 billion tonnes of plastics since the 1950s - enough debris to cover an entire country the size of Argentina.

The study found that the use of the synthetic material has been accelerating, and half the total has been made during the past thirteen years.

The researchers say most plastics are used just once and then discarded (in landfills or the natural environment) - only 9% has been recycled.

They warn that the waste could be with us for thousands of years, and that new solutions are urgently needed.

S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit record highs

The Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 hit record highs, powered by technology stocks and a more than 20% jump in Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Gains on the Dow were tempered by a sharp drop in IBM shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 66.02 points, or 0.31%, to 21,640.75, the S&P 500 gained 13.22 points, or 0.54%, rising to 2,473.83, and the Nasdaq Composite added 40.74 points, or 0.64%, up to 6,385.04.

Regulators to scrutinise board of German Stock Exchange

Deutsche Boerse boss, Carsten Kengeter
Getty Images

German regulators will assess the suitability of Deutsche Boerse's management board after allegations of insider trading against the company's chief executive officer earlier this year.

The regulator has the power to remove a board member it deems unfit.

Earlier in 2017, police and prosecutors searched chief executive Carsten Kengeter's office and home amid concerns over Deutsche Boerse share purchases he made shortly before the announcement of merger talks with London Stock Exchange.

Mr Kengeter has always denied the allegations and has Deutsche Boerse's backing.

This week German prosecutors said they would drop their investigation into Mr Kengeter and ask Deutsche Boerse to pay 10.5m euros in fines to settle the claims.

Nafta negotiations to begin next month

Donald Trump, US president
Getty Images

Negotiations on reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) will begin next month in Washington, US officials have said.

It comes after Washington this week laid out its bargaining position, with a focus on reducing trade deficits with Mexico and Canada and pressing for other concessions.

On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump called Nafta the "worst" trade pact ever signed by the US, but he has stopped short of exiting the deal.

Analysts said the US' demands were workable, but that the timetable for negotiations was tight due to the Mexican and American political calendars.

United airlines shares plummet

A United airlines check in
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Shares in United Continental Holdings have fallen by as much as 5% after the airline forecast "disappointing" revenue per passenger figures for the third quarter.

United, the third biggest airline in the US, said that passenger unit revenue - a key industry metric - would be flat versus a gain of 2.1% in the second quarter.

It also warned that its operating costs, excluding fuel, had risen more than 3% thanks to an increase in payroll costs.

US stocks climb

US trader
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Wall Street stocks are still in positive territory after investors welcomed key data on the housing market and Morgan Stanley posted better-than-expected results.

The S&P 500 has gained 0.4% and the Nasdaq is up 0.6%. The Dow has climbed 0.2%, held back by a 4% fall in IBM stock sparked by a weak set of quarterly results.

Housing starts jumped 8.3% last month, hitting their highest level since February. Mortgage applications, meanwhile, rose 6.3%.

Bank Morgan Stanley earlier said it had increased profits by 11% in the second quarter, with gains across its business.

Demand for Irish passports climbs ahead of Brexit

More than 500,000 new Irish passports have been issued so far this year, with almost a fifth going to UK residents amid a surge in demand sparked by the EU referendum.

View more on twitter

A longer wait for your pension...

B&Q in payouts over bad paint smells

B&Q store
Getty Images

B&Q says it will compensate hundreds of people who experienced bad smells after painting their homes with Valspar paint that it sold them.

Customers have likened the smell to cat urine and rotten animals. They say the smell gets stronger in hot weather and if the windows are open.

Valspar says the problem is caused by an additive being removed from some of its paint. It has now re-added it.

Valspar and B&Q say they will pay for the cost of redecoration.

Read more

Virgin complaint bans Sky broadband ad

The banned Sky advert
SKY

Sky has had another TV broadband advert banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following a complaint from rival Virgin Media.

The advert featured the cast of The Secret Life of Pets, with one dog becoming frustrated with its broadband connectivity.

Virgin Media challenged a claim in the ad that Sky broadband was "super reliable".

The ASA drew on data from Ofcom to uphold the complaint.

Read more

Morgan Stanley to increase EU presence after Brexit

Morgan Stanley logo
Getty Images

Morgan Stanley will add headcount to “all of” its EU operations in the aftermath of Brexit, chief financial officer John Pruzan has told the Financial Times.

“As you can imagine we’re well advanced in our planning, we have an extensive network in the EU 27… we’ve got a bunch of options, the base case is that all of those offices will be larger,” he said.

Pruzan said Morgan Stanley had no plans for an imminent announcement on its Brexit strategy.

However, a source told the paper the bank would mainly send London-based staff to Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin in the wake of Brexit.

Rabobank traders see Libor convictions quashed

Rabobank logo
Getty Images

A US appeals court has overturned the convictions of two former Rabobank traders accused of manipulating the Libor rate.

Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti, both from Britain, were convicted of fixing Libor - the rate at which banks lend to each other - by a federal jury in New York in 2015.

However, lawyers for the pair argued prosecutors had taken documents out of context and that cooperating witnesses lied about their clients’ role in the scheme in the hope of getting lenient sentences.

What will media industry make of BBC pay?

Unite extends BA strike

BA plane
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The union Unite said some British Airways cabin crew would strike for a further 14 days as part of an ongoing dispute over pay.

The additional industrial action extends a previously announced walkout which began on Wednesday and means that British Airways "mixed fleet" cabin crew will effectively be on strike for the next four weeks.

A BA spokesman told the BBC the action would not affect flights.

Chipotle to reopen restaurant after food poisoning scare

Chipotle restaurant
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Mexican food chain Chipotle says it will reopen a US restaurant on Wednesday, two days after it was closed due to a food poisoning scare.

Shares in the firm fell more than 4% on Tuesday after Chipotle reported the closure and are 0.4% lower today.

It follows a spate of food poisoning outbreaks across the chain in 2015 which caused its stock to plummet.

About 13 people became sick last week, according to Reuters, with Chipotle linking the incidents to the vomiting bug novovirus.

FTSE 100 closes higher

Exterior of London Stock Exchange
Getty Images

The FTSE 100 has closed 0.6% higher at 7,430.91 points.

Top of the stocks was accounting software firm Sage, up 2.7%, followed by housebuilders Barratt and Persimmon, both 2.4% higher.

Shares in Reckitt Benckiser gained 1.6% after the company announced plans to sell its US food business for $4.2bn.

The fund generated from the deal will be used to reduce the company’s debt.

Pension move 'creates uncertainty'

The government’s decision to bring forward state pension age changes creates "further uncertainty" for those planning for retirement, says David Newman at Close Brothers:

State support is being withdrawn from future retirees at an increasing rate and this move will add further unwanted uncertainty. It’s vital that savers understand at what age state support will now kick in given changes over recent years, so that they can plan ahead.

Despacito 'most streamed music track of all time'

Despacito
Youtube

Catchy summer dance song "Despacito" is the most streamed music track of all time, having chalked up 4.6 billion plays across leading platforms, according to Universal Music.

The song, first released in January in Spanish by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and rapper Daddy Yankee and then in a remixed version featuring Justin Bieber, has topped charts in 35 countries around the world and dominated radio play.

Its 4.6 billion streams surpasses the record set by Mr Bieber with his 2015 single "Sorry", and makes it the most successful Spanish-language pop song of all time.

If you haven't heard it click here - but beware, it's an earworm...

Former Burberry exec to head Topshop

Topshop
Getty Images

Former Burberry executive Paul Price has been appointed to run Topshop, the most valuable part of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire.

Mr Price, who oversaw accessories and clothing at Burberry, joins as Sir Philip seeks to shake up his top team following a 7% fall in UK sales last year.

Karren Brady, the Apprentice star and football executive, was made chair of Arcadia on Monday, replacing Lord Grabiner QC, who had been highly criticised by MPs during last year's BHS scandal.

Revenues at Topshop fell nearly 2% in the year to August 2016, with international sales down 6%, despite the firm expanding into new markets such as China.

Bosses 'silent' over race in boardrooms

An all male, all white boardroom meeting
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There is a deafening silence over race in Britain's boardrooms.

So say the professional bodies that represent UK management in a report on ethnic diversity .

Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME), it says, are hugely under-represented in key management roles.

Only 6% of management jobs in the UK are held by minorities - yet they make up 12.5% of the working population. And businesses doesn't want to talk about it, the report says.

Read more

FTSE 100 climbs

FTSE 100 chart
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Let's catch up with the FTSE 100, which is now half a per cent higher at 7,429.36 points.

This is partly due to a fall in the pound, which amplifies the foreign earnings of firms on the index. Sterling is down 0.1% against the dollar at $1.30240.

RMT suspends strikes on Southern Rail

Southern train, overfull
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The RMT Union has suspended a series of planned strikes on Southern Rail, after an approach for direct talks from the transport secretary.

This means there will be no conductor walkout on 1 August, and no driver strikes on 1-2 August and 4 August.

The union, which will give an update on the progress of the talks on 1 August, said it would be making no further comment at this stage.

US stocks open higher

US trader
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US stocks opened higher on Wednesday as investors digested data on the housing market and more quarterly earnings reports.

A short while ago the S&P 500 was 0.3% higher at 2,467.44, having hit a record intraday high at the open.

The Nasdaq composite was up 0.38% and the Dow Jones had gained 0.35%.

Investors welcomed a strong second-quarter report from Morgan Stanley which lifted its shares more than 3%.

Meanwhile, official figures showed rising demand in the housing market, with housing starts up 8.3% in June - their highest level since February.

Lords to launch inquiry on artificial intelligence

An AI robot
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The House of Lords will hold an inquiry on the economic, ethical and social implications of artificial intelligence.

The Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence will look at potential risks in the technology, in areas such as data protection, as well as how to harness the benefits.

Lord Clement-Jones, chairman of the committee, said: “This inquiry comes at a time when artificial intelligence is increasingly seizing the attention of industry, policymakers and the general public. The Committee wants to use this inquiry to understand what opportunities exist for society in the development and use of artificial intelligence, as well as what risks there might be."

Pension move 'ironic'

Office workers
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Steven Cameron, pensions director at professional services firm Aegon, said the government's plan to bring forward an increase in the state pension age was "ironic".

This is because it comes just days after statistics showed improvements in life expectancy could be levelling off.

The government will change the state pension from 67 to 68 in 2037 - seven years earlier than planned - a move that will affect those currently aged between 39 and 47.

He added:

Requiring everyone to wait till an ever increasing age to draw a state pension is inflexible and increasingly out of sync with private pensions which can be taken from as early as age 55 and offer people a flexible and personalised transition into retirement

Sweet results for Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat products
Hotel Choclat

Sales at upmarket choclatier Hotel Chocolat jumped 12% in the year to 25 June, beating expectations.

The firm credited the growth of cafes in its stores and a website overhaul.

The company, which posted sales of £104m, also hailed "encouraging" results for new summer ranges, including cocoa-infused ice-cream.

Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of Hotel Chocolat, said: "We are excited about the progress made with our new shop+cafe format stores and our seasonal ranges continue to perform well."

Labour criticises pension plan

Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP
BBC

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams has criticised the government's plans to bring forward the increase in the state pension age.

Labour has said it wants to cap the state pension age at 66 in the early 2020s.

Ms Abrahams said rises in life expectancy were slowing down, partly due to austerity.

She said increasing the state pension age would not account for rising levels of ill-health linked to social inequality.

And she said that young people would bear the brunt of the cost of the plan.

Government 'taking responsibility'

Work and pensions secretary David Gauke said that bringing forward the increase in the state pensions age showed the government was "taking responsibility for growing demographic and fiscal pressures".

He pointed out that in 1968, when the state pension was introduced, a 65 year-old could expect to live for a further 13 and a half years.

However, by 2007 this had reached 21 years and by 2035 it's expected to hit 25 years.

The government's plan will reduce pension spending by around £400 per household, he said.

BreakingChange will 'make pension system sustainabile'

David Gauke
Parliament

The government's pension age change follows an in-depth review by head of the CBI, John Cridland.

David Gauke, secretary of state for work and pensions, said increasing longevity meant funding the state pension was getting harder.

"Failing to act now would place an unfair burden on future generations," he said.

BreakingRaising of UK state pension age bought forward

The state pension age will be raised to 68, from 67, over two years from 2037.

That brings forward the raise by seven years, it was orginally supposed to happen in 2046.

This is the government's response to the Cridland review on state pensions.

Glaxo to invest more in drugs

medicine
Science Photo Library

Glaxo also said it now planned to invest more in drugs over the next three years, saying it would invest £140m in total to expand the manufacturing of its respiratory and HIV medicines.

It said this was on top of the £275m funding it announced last year.

“We have a substantial manufacturing presence in the UK and continue to support the network with new investment of more than £140million in the next 3 years.

"At the same time, we have had to make some decisions which we know will cause uncertainty for some of our employees. We will do all we can to support them through this process," said Roger Connor, president of GSK Global Manufacturing and Supply.

Sale is Glaxo's boss' first major move

Emma Walmsley
GSK

The sale is the first major move by chief executive Emma Walmsley who succeeded Sir Andrew Witty in April.

Earlier this year, when revealing her first set of results as GSK's boss, Ms Walmsley said that she wanted to prioritise GSK's drugs business.

The Horlicks brand, which is more than 100 years old, is housed within the consumer healthcare division, which Ms Walmsley led prior to taking over the top job at GSK. It generated £7.2bn in sales over 2016.

GSK to cut 320 jobs in Slough

Horlicks
Getty Images

GlaxoSmithKline has confirmed plans to sell its Horlicks brand in the UK and is proposing to close the associated manufacturing site in Slough where UK product is made.

In addition, GSK intends to sell the MaxiNutrition brand in the UK.

GSK said it was also exploring the sale of some other smaller non-core nutrition brands.

Spanish banker found dead

Miguel Blesa
Getty Images

Spanish banker Miguel Blesa, former head of Madrid-based savings bank Caja Madrid, has been found dead on a country estate.

A family member said his body had been found with a shotgun wound in the chest.

A spokesman for Andalusian emergency services confirmed a body had been found, but would not give an identity.

Mr Blesa chaired Caja Madrid from 1996 to 2010, the bank was merged with six others in 2011 to create Bankia.

Mr Blesa was sentenced in February to six years in jail over a scandal involving the widespread misuse of company credit cards while at the bank's helm. He had appealed against the conviction.

All eyes on the ECB

Euro sign
Reuters

The pound is currently trading 0.2% higher against the euro at 1.13060 euros.

The European Central Bank is widely expected to announce an end to its stimulus programme when it announces its latest monetary policy decision, according to analysts.

RationalFX ceo Paresh Davdra says:

"The euro’s recent strength may have been predicated on the anticipation of a shift towards the tapering of quantitative easing.

"However, should the central bank remain dovish, it could see pressure eased on the pound, as investors still look towards the diminished possibility of a rate rise for the BoE following yesterday’s inflation data."

Morgan Stanley 'better than forecast'

Morgan Stanley logo
Getty Images

Morgan Stanley results are better than analysts were expecting.

Adjusted earnings per share were $0.87 in the three months to June, far better than the $0.76 expected by analysts and the $0.75 a year earlier.

Wealth management was the best peforming division, delivering $4.2bn in revenues which was slightly above the $4.1bn forecast by analysts.

Equities trading was flat year-on-year at $2.2bn, while investment management revenues were $665m, higher than the $603m forecast.

Wall Street set to open higher

us trader
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The Nasdaq is expected to open higher when Wall Street opens, while the S&P and the Dow are expected to be pretty much flat.

Morgan Stanley profits rise

Morgan Stanley is one of the last US banks to report its second quarter. Both profit and revenues are up at the bank.

It reported $9.5bn in revenues for the three months until the end of June, up from $8.9bn for the same period a year ago. Profit was $1.8bn, up from $1.6bn.

Boss James Gorman says the results demonstrate the bank's "resilience in a subdued trading environment."

Any questions for BBC boss Tony Hall?