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  2. UK economy expands at 0.3% in Q2
  3. FTSE 100 higher, sterling at $1.30
  4. Ban on petrol and diesel cars from 2040
  5. Employment tribunal fees ruled unlawful

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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Good night

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Thanks for joining Business Live on Wednesday.

We'll be back on what is being called "super Thursday" because a huge number of companies are reporting their results. We'll bring you as many as humanly possible.

See you then.

Whitman move 'effective immediately'

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HP Inc has announced that Chip Bergh will replace Meg Whitman at the chairman of the business.

Ms Whitman is stepping down from the HP board "effective immediately".

Dion Weisler, president and chief executive of HP, said: “I will be forever grateful to Meg for her many contributions. She is a terrific friend and adviser and will remain so as we continue executing on our strategy of reinvention."

Ms Whitman remains as president and chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.

The business was split into HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company in 2014.

Facbook profits jump 71%

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Profit at Facebook rose by 71% during the second quarter to $3.89bn

Mobile ad revenue accounted for 87% of the company's total advertising revenue of $9.16bn, up from 84%.

Analysts had expected total ad revenue of $9.02bn.

BreakingFacebook beats sales forecasts

Facebook has reported second quarter sales of $9.32bn, ahead of expectations of $9.20bn.

BreakingMeg Whitman steps down from HP board

Meg Whitman is stepping down as chairman of HP.

More to follow

US stock markets close at record highs

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 96.49 points at 21,709.92.

The S&P is up 0.69 points at 2,477.82.

The Nasdaq ended 10.57 points ahead at 6,422.75.

Film trailers to appear on Google search results


Google has confirmed that it is trialing videos that automatically start playing when they appear in its search results.

The test comes at a time when its rival Apple is preparing to make it easier to prevent videos from self-starting within its web browser.

Facebook has also faced criticism for recently automatically turning on sound for auto-play videos on its platform.

Read the full story here.

Bitcoin fraud suspect arrested in Greece

Brexit transition could last more than two years - Hammond

Chancellor Philip Hammond has told Channel 4 News that the Brexit transition period cold last for more than two years.

He said: "I have said that I think it is going to be more than months, it is going to be a couple of years, probably, something in that range."

Asked whether it could be longer: "It possibly could. I think this is something we will want to discuss with our European Union partners."

Whole Foods sales slide

Whole Foods
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Whole Foods, the US company that Amazon is buying for $13.7bn, has reported its eighth consecutive quarter of falling like-for-like sales.

Comparable revenue declined by 1.9%. Net profit also declined from $120m to $106m.

Watch: Pay your fare with your face

A facial recognition system designed to replace the need for tickets on trains is being tested in the UK.

An early version that uses two near-infrared lights to help a single camera determine texture and orientation of each pixel it captures was shown to BBC Click.

How your face could replace the need for ticket gates

Coke Zero to be replaced in the US

Coke Zero cans
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Coca-Cola says it is to replace Coke Zero in the US next month with a new sugar-free drink.

The drink, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, is already available in some countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

The company adds that the look and taste of Coke Zero Sugar will be closer to the original Coca-Cola.

VW: Cooperation has helped electric car industry

Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes and BMW logos
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More on those German car cartel claims by the EC.

VW says: "Cooperation of this kind is particularly appropriate when it does not concern individual model specifications.

"In the past, such cooperation existed in particular among car manufacturers on subjects and issues which did not involve competition-specific vehicle features and as such were not relevant for or restrictive to brand competition.

"One example is the envisaged standardisation of charging connections for electric vehicles."

Volkswagen: It's good to talk

Volkswagen logo
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Volkswagen has issued a statement regarding claims by the European Commission that German car makers have been operating a cartel which discussed a wide range of issues surrounding vehicle development.

While VW's board declined to comment on the specific claims, it said: "It is quite common for car manufacturers all over the world to engage in an exchange on technical issues in order to accelerate the pace and quality of innovations.

"This brings benefits in many respects, not least for customers, because innovative solutions become available more quickly and at a lower price than costlier individual solutions."

Gradual US interest rate rises on the way

The US Fed also said in its statement on Wednesday: "The [Federal Open Market] committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate."

US Fed: market reaction

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is trading up 97.68 points at 21,711.11.

S&P 500 is up 1.86 points at 2,478.99.

The Nasdaq is up 10.05 points at 6,422.22.

Fed to unwind balance sheet 'relatively soon'

The Fed also said in its statement that it expects to start unwinding its balance sheet "relatively soon".

After pushing rates nearly to zero, the Fed pumped over $3 trillion into the economy in a bond-buying spree to further reduce rates. Its balance sheet has grown to $4.5tn.

BreakingUS Fed holds interest rate

The US Federal Reserve has held interest rates. It repeats guidance that it sees inflation rising to 2%.

US Fed set to update market

The US Federal Reserve is to make a statement on its latest monetary policy decision in a few minutes.

Reality Check: Does US have 'highest taxes in world'?

US new home sales rise in June

But prices retreat from record...

US home for sale
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Sales of new US homes rose slightly last month, hitting their highest level in three months, as demand for housing remained keen.

But prices dropped from an all-time high as supplies rose, according to the Commerce Department report.

Sales of new homes rose by 0.8% in June to an annual rate of 610,000, seasonally adjusted, a second straight month of increases.

Brexit: McDonnell says UK size will give it special status for EU trade
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says the size of the UK means it will enjoy "special status" for EU trade after Brexit.

Premier League wins match streaming order

Surmounting a major hurdle

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RBS had to sell Williams & Glyn as a condition of receiving state aid during the financial crisis in 2008.

The EU said it had to divest the 300 branches to boost competition in the UK banking market.

The UK taxpayer still owns a majority stake in RBS and earlier this year, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the government would not sell any more shares in the bank until the Williams & Glyn issue had been cleared up.

On Wednesday, the European Commission said the latest plan would "remedy the distortion in the UK's SME banking market resulting from the state aid to RBS, with greater speed and certainty than would the divestment of Williams & Glyn."

Louis Vuitton drives LVMH profits

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

Louis Vuitton
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LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group, said first-half profits rose by a worse than expected 23%, driven by growth for its Louis Vuitton brand.

The French group, whose other key brands include Dior, Fendi, Hennessy cognac and jeweller Bulgari, said it was approaching the second half of the year with caution given the uncertain environment.

Profit from recurring operations was 3.64bn euros, lower than the 3.75bn euros analysts had forecast.

RBS may finally offload Williams & Glyn

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The UK Treasury and the European Commission have come up with a solution to rid RBS of Williams & Glyn, the division which focuses on small and medium sized businesses.

Under an agreement with the Europe, RBS had to sell the 300-branch bank in return for receiving billions of pounds of state aid. However, it has failed to do so.

The Treasury and the EC announced on Wednesday that a £425m "capability and innovation fund" will be set up to support other banks who lend to SMEs.

Also, it will provide £275m worth of "dowries" to challenger banks to help them lure SME customers away from Williams & Glyn.

An additional £75m will be made available by RBS to cover customers’ costs of switching.

The deal has been agreed in principal with the EC.

London markets close up

The FTSE 100 has closed up 14.98 points at 7,449.80.

Mining group Anglo American was Wednesday's biggest riser, up 2.52% at £12.01.

Shares in GSK led the biggest losers, down 2.8% at £15.41.

The FTSE 250 finished 130.78 points up at 19,772.06.

Watch: Newfangled decimal coins

Overwatch trolls face tougher penalties

Activision Blizzard
Overwatch is an online multiplayer game in which skilled heroes work as a team

Overwatch players will face harsher penalties if they abuse or harass others, developer Blizzard has announced.

The company said "verified reports" of "bad behaviour" would lead to players being silenced, temporarily suspended or banned from the game completely.

Abusing other gamers over voice-chat or deliberately wasting time in games were examples of bad behaviour, it said.

Read the full story here.

Oil prices rise on US output fall

Oil rig workers
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It is another good day for oil prices.

The US Energy Information Administration reported that oil output fell by 7.2m barrels in the week to 21 July compared to an expected fall of 2.6m barrels.

Brent crude is up 0.9% at $50.64 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate is ahead 0.8% at $48.28.

Electric Cars: 'Technical and cultural shift needed'

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

James May, who used to present the TV motoring show Top Gear, says more infrastructure is needed in order for there "to be a massive technical and cultural shift" to electric cars.

Mr May, who's now on Grand Tour with Jeremy Clarkson, told Radio 4's World at One programme that currently there are too many technicalities that need sorting out before more people will buy this kind of car. He said: "Do we have replacement batteries on the cars and can the national grid cope with the increased use of electricity?"

Trump to make jobs announcement

Donald Trump
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Fresh from tweeting a ban on transgender people serving in the US military, President Donald Trump is expected to make a major jobs announcement later on Wednesday.

It is widely expected that Foxconn, the Taiwan electroninics maker, will set out plans to build a plant in Wisconsin.

Stay tuned folks.

Zuckerberg fires back in AI debate

The Science Museum's Robots Exhibition at London's Science Museum
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The Science Museum's Robots Exhibition at London's Science Museum

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has fired back at fellow tech billionaire Elon Musk over the thorny issue of artificial intelligence.

In a nutshell, Musk is fearful and he thinks Zuckerberg's understanding of AI is 'limited'.

Zuckerberg now says: "One reason I'm so optimistic about AI is that improvements in basic research improve systems across so many different fields — from diagnosing diseases to keep us healthy, to improving self-driving cars to keep us safe, and from showing you better content in News Feed to delivering you more relevant search results.

"Every time we improve our AI methods, all of these systems get better."

Over to you. Elon.

Unicredit data breached

RAC: UK nowhere near ready for ban

Electric car being charged
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The RAC's roads policy spokesman, Nick Lyes, says that a plan to end the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by2040 "is a bold move".

"But the reality is that the UK is nowhere near ready for such a sweeping shift to fully electric vehicles and a huge amount of work will need to be done to meet this deadline."

He says that while drivers are concerned about emissions, they are also worried about the cost and battery range of cars, citing RAC research that only 2% of motorists believe their next vehicle will be electric.

Charging point
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Mr Lyes adds: “There is little evidence to suggest that the UK’s energy infrastructure will be ready for the large scale shift to electric vehicles.

"Right now public charging facilities are patchy, there is very little on-street charging in residential areas and unlike filling up a petrol or diesel car, drivers cannot recharge a vehicle in a matter of minutes."

Boeing shares flies high

Boeing at the Paris Air Show
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Aircraft maker Boeing is leading share price risers on the Dow Jones Industrial Average which hit a new intraday high on Wednesday.

Boeing's shares rose 5.3% to $223.90 following strong second quarter results. The Dow is up 94.91 points at 21,708.34.

Conversely, Coca-Cola has fallen a bit flat. Its shares are the biggest loser, down 1.48% at $44.57 despite reporting better than expected quarterly results.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also reached fresh intraday highs.

The S&P is up 2.10 points at 2,479.23 and the Nasdaq is ahead 14.88 points at 6,427.05.

Beware the valley of death

Aston Martin's Rapide
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Aston Martin's chief executive Andy Palmer says that the government needs to support the car industry's move to electric engines in time for the petrol and diesel ban in 2040.

He told the FT: "If the government is going to legislate then they have to assist as well, otherwise they will destroy part of the industry."

He also said that the UK has a “valley of death” between battery technology moving from universities where it is developed to manufacturers.

He said: “If we’re going to compete, we need to be the centre of manufacturing for batteries. But if you walk round any battery factory in China, we’re 10 years behind them”.

Aston Martin's first all electric car - the RapidE - will enter production in 2019.

American Eagle's wings clipped

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

American Eagle

American Eagle the US fashion retailer, has abandoned the UK less than three years after swooping across the pond.

Retail Week reports that the chain closed its store at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent last week, while outlets at both Westfield centres in London have also shut up shop.

American Eagle's UK website is also biting the dust.

The retailer could not be reached for comment, the trade journal reported.