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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. FTSE 100 dragged down by ex-dividend stocks
  3. Tui eyes Tunisia return
  4. Lego boss departs after eight months
  5. Co-op Bank cuts losses

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

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Good night

That's all for tonight from the Business Live page. Please join us again from 06:00.

US stocks close down after escalating North Korea and US tensions

US indexes closed lower as investors continued to fret over escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.

President Donald Trump on Thursday escalated his rhetoric on North Korea, saying his "fire and fury" comment might not be "tough enough."

"Maybe that statement wasn't tough enough," Trump told reporters as he prepared to meet with top national security advisers. "If anything, that statement may not be tough enough."

His comments came after North Korea said it was completing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the US Pacific island territory of Guam, in an unusually detailed threat.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.9% at 21,844.01 and the S&P 500 was down 1.5% at 2,438.21. The Nasdaq Composite lost 2.1% to 6,216.87.

Tech entrepreneurs on acid

LSD blotter tabs on top of a US quarter coin
Getty Images

A fascinating piece in the FT digs into a San Francisco fashion among entrepreneurs for taking microdoses of LSD.

At a small dose, the illegal hallucinogen stimulates the mind, rather than causing a full-blown acid trip, the entrepreneurs claim.

They take it as an alternative to coffee as a bit of a pick-me-up, apparently.

And it certainly seems to explain some of the impenetrable, jargon-heavy press statements issued by Silicon Valley firms, too.

Kylie Jenner's make-up brand could be worth $1bn by 2022, says her mum

Kyle Jenner
Getty Images

She may be only 20, but Kylie Jenner may soon have a beauty business worth more than a billion dollars.

For the first time, the youngest Kardashian-Jenner has revealed how much money her Kylie Cosmetics brand makes.

In an interview with WWD, Kylie and her mum Kris Jenner revealed she's made $420m (£323m) in retail sales in 18 months.

Her cosmetics brand has outsold established companies like Bobbi Brown and Lancome.

Read more here.

'Our addiction to economic growth is killing us'

Investors 'want Soundcloud founder to be replaced as chief exec'

Alex Ljung
Getty Images

Investors in troubled Soundcloud want to replace its chief executive as part of a new funding deal, according to tech publication Recode.

Kerry Trainor, the former chief executive of video-sharong website Vimeo, would run SoundCloud instead of founder Alex Ljung (pictured left), who would chair the company’s board, Recode says.

Trump says maybe NK statements haven't been tough enough

US President Donald Trump has said that perhaps his statements on North Korea haven't been tough enough, according to reports.

North Korea should be "very, very nervous" if it does anything to the US, Mr Trump reportedly said.

Global markets have been on the wane due to escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.

'Twenty tonnes of insecticide-tainted eggs sold in Denmark'

Mueller's legal team 'overmatches Trump's'

Robert Mueller
Getty Images

US President Donald Trump doesn't yet have enough legal firepower behind him to deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

Mr Trump's lawyers are competent, but there aren't yet enough of them to deal with Mr Mueller, the article says.

Uber exec to step down

Ride-hailing firm Uber's head of operations, Ryan Graves, a long-time ally of former chief executive Travis Kalanick, is stepping down from his full-time job, CNBC reports.

Mr Graves will, however, continue to serve on Uber's board, it said.

Akzo Nobel wins again in court battle with hedge fund Elliott

Dulux propmotion
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Dulux-owner Akzo Nobel doesn't have to let shareholders vote on whether to dismiss its chairman, a Dutch court has ruled.

It's another victory for the paint company against activist investor Elliott Advisors, which is Akzo's largest shareholder.

The activist investor, which has a 9.5% stake, holds chairman Antony Burgmans responsible for Akzo's rejection of a 26bn euro (£23.56bn) takeover proposal from US rival PPG Industries earlier this year and wants him dismissed.

Can Facebook's new video channel challenge Netflix?

The social media giant's Watch service will offer shows ranging from comedy to sports

The social media giant's Watch service will offer shows ranging from comedy to sports.

It could signal a shift from Facebook being a technology company to a media firm, as we hear from Mark Scott, the chief technology correspondent at Politico.

FSA: 'People deserve food they can trust'

BBC Radio 5 live

Eggs
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The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is investigating the importation of around 700,000 eggs from potentially contaminated Dutch farms, has told 5 live why it decided to withdraw some products from supermarkets despite saying the risk to health was "very unlikely".

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, said: "We think people deserve food they can trust and part of that is not having to eat food that's got chemicals in it that aren’t authorised, and that's the case with this. It's not supposed to be in food."

Eleven products containing egg - including sandwiches and salads - have been withdrawn from supermarkets. Asda, Waitrose, Sainsburys and Morrisons are affected.

Mr Wearne added: "We've been working closely with UK industry to trace eggs up and down the food chain and that's helped us to come to this new figure: 700,000.

"It is a small proportion of the 10 billion eggs we eat in the UK each year."

Off the menu...

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

Blue Apron box
Getty Images

Shares in Blue Apron, the US meal kit delivery company, have sunk 13% in New York today following its first results as a public company.

No prizes for guessing why they weren't appetising: despite a rise in the number of active customers to 943,000, they are spending less on orders amid stiff competition from the likes of Hello Fresh and Amazon. Costs also soared and the company reported a net loss of $31.6m (£24.3m).

Blue Apron only listed in late June, but its shares have since fallen 45% to $5.42. Ouch.

US 'to use Reagan-era trade weapon'

Chinese workers look as a cargo ship is loaded at a port in Qingdao
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The US risks using a dud in bringing back a 1980s era trade weapon, Bloomberg Politics reports.

It's weighing up an investigation into alleged Chinese intellectual property infringement using section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act.

But that was only successfully used in retaliatory action twice, Bloomberg says.

The US has had a far better hit-rate under WTO arbitration, it adds.

Besides, China has levers it can pull if a trade war erupts, including targeting imports of soya beans from the US, which exceeded $14bn (£11bn) last year.

Sterling touches three week low against the dollar

Pound vs Dollar
BBC

Sterling touched a three-week low against the dollar as a mixed bag of output and trade data did little to boost investor enthusiasm for an economy struggling to meet Bank of England targets.

The pound fell by as much as a third of a percent in early trade to as low as $1.2952 before recovering some ground after industrial production numbers just beat analyst forecasts.

It's trading about 0.1% down at $1.2989.

Construction output was weaker than expected and other data showed the UK's external trade gap expanded further despite the weakening of the pound over the past year.

North Korea tensions take Dow back down below 22,000 points

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has been above 22,000 points since the beginning of August - but today is back down below that.

Investors are concerned about escalating tensions between the US and North Korea, which has said it is finalising plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land near the US territory of Guam.

TalkTalk fined £100,000 for inadequate data security

TalkTalk logo
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Communications firm TalkTalk has been fined £100,000 by the UK data protection watchdog for leaving customers open to scams.

TalkTalk gave too much access to customer data to IT services firm Wipro, the Information Commissioner's Office said.

"A specialist investigation by TalkTalk identified three Wipro accounts that had been used to gain unauthorised and unlawful access to the personal data of up to 21,000 customers," the ICO said.

Dow slips 100 points as tensions with North Korea escalate

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down more than 100 points as investors fret over escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.

North Korea has outlined details for a missile strike near the US territory of Guam, adding fuel to rising tensions with the US.

The S&P 500 is down more than 20 points, and the Nasdaq is down about 70 points.

Paypal to buy online lending firm Swift Financial

Paypal
Getty Images

PayPal is to buy online lending company Swift Financial in a bid to expand its business that provides capital to merchants.

The acquisition will mean PayPal can offer loans to larger businesses that use it to process payments, and provide credit to firms that don't use its services, the company said.

Look for British Lion eggs, says industry body

The British Egg Information Service has this to say about the fipronil scare:

"British egg producers have reiterated the need for consumers and food producers to look for British Lion eggs and egg products, following the Food Standards Agency (FSA) announcement that some processed foods are being withdrawn from sale as they may have been made with non-UK eggs contaminated with fipronil...

"Shell eggs on sale to consumers are not affected and the Food Standards Agency says that there is no need for people to change the way they consume or cook eggs.

"All major UK retailers stock British Lion shell eggs and tests have shown that there is no risk from British eggs...

"Food manufacturers, retailers and caterers using processed egg should look for egg products produced within the British Lion Egg Products scheme."

How many Dutch eggs affected by food scare?

Eggs
AFP

The Food Standards Agency said the number of eggs that came to the UK that may have been exposed to fipronil insecticide is "closer to 700,000 than the 21,000 we previously believed had been imported."

"However, as this represents 0.007% of the eggs we consume in the UK every year, it remains the case that it is very unlikely that there is any risk to public health from consuming these foods," it said.

As previously mentioned, supermarkets have pulled some products from the shelves as a precaution.

Egg products off the shelves after contamination scare

The Food Standards Agency has said a number of products have been withdrawn from supermarket shelves after a Dutch egg contamination scare.

Some eggs may have been exposed to an insecticide called fipronil, which can potentially harm people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

The eggs then may have got into the UK food chain.

The agency said: "It is very unlikely that these eggs pose a risk to public health, but as fipronil is unauthorised for use in food-producing animals we have acted with urgency to ensure that consumers are protected."

The list of products is:

  • Asda Baby potato and free range egg salad
  • Asda Spinach and free range egg snack pot
  • Asda FTG Ham and Cheddar ploughman’s salad bowl
  • Morrison’s Potato and Egg Salad
  • Morrisons Egg and Cress Sandwich
  • Morrisons Cafe Sandwich Selection
  • Sainsbury’s Ham and Egg Salad
  • Sainsbury’s Potato and Egg Salad
  • Waitrose Free Range Egg Mayonnaise
  • Waitrose Free Range Reduced Fat Egg Mayonnaise
  • Waitrose Free Range Egg and Bacon

The latest use by date on these potentially affected products is 16 August.

Most have a limited shelf life.

Economic growth softens

n/a
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British economic growth has softened again following a modest improvement in the second quarter, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

"The service sector, which was the main driver for economic growth in the second quarter, appears to have slowed," said Amit Kara, head of UK macroeconomic forecasting at NIESR.

"We see a modest recovery in the second half of this year in response to strengthening global growth and a weaker currency, but on the flip side, consumer spending is likely to be weighed down by weak wage growth and investment spending held back by Brexit-related uncertainty."

Earlier today, official data from ONS showed that UK industrial production shrank in the second quarter of the year.

Cineworld to make a splash with 4DX technology

n/a
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Cineworld is upgrading its flagship cinemas at London's 02 and the Empire at Leicester Square to introduce 4DX technology.

It will give film fans rocking seats and see them sprayed with water from their chairs.

It has also revealed plans to open 11 more sites in the UK, including its first cinema in Leeds.

Its pre-tax profit for the last six months climbed 57.5% to £48.2million. The chain is expecting a bumper second half too on the back of upcoming films such as Paddington 2 and Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Aldermore continues its challenge

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Challenger bank Aldermore has reported a 32% rise in profit for the first half of the year.

The news helped its share price climb 2.85% to 227.20p.

The bank, which was founded in 2009 by a former Barclays executive to lend to small and medium-sized businesses, said net loans to customers rose 8.4% to £8.11billion.

Total customer deposits also grew more than 10% to £7.3billion.

Aldermore's profit before tax climbed to £78million in the six months ending inJune 30, from £59million a year earlier.

Greggs' broker boost

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Shares in baker Greggs have climbed 4.66% today - a rise of 52 points - after it was been given the thumbs up by German investment bank Berenberg.

Analyst Ned Hammond said: "After seeing the company present twice we feel increasingly confident that it can continue to achieve underlying growth above the market level."

The bakery chain is targeting net cash of £40million by the end of the year, although it has said that if it rises significantly above this, it will return capital to shareholders.

Mr Hammond thinks that is very likely.

Got a minute or two...

BBC business presenter Ben Thompson plugs today's show. It's worth a watch...

FTSE slide continues

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The FTSE 100 has continued to slide today. It's down 92.87 points, 1.24%, which points to more than the drag of some key company shares going ex-dividend.

Saying that four out of the five biggest losers are ex-dividend, the exception being InterContinental Hotels, which has slipped 2.64%.

Across the winder indices, the biggest loser is Leicestershire brick-maker Ibstock, down 5.24% to 234.90p. This morning it revealed that pre-tax profits for the last six months climbed almost 3% to nearly £39million.

Is the Pru planning to sell-off its UK business?

Analysts think that today's merger of fund manager M&G with the Prudential's insurance division could be the first step to a sale...

"The combined business would bear a remarkable resemblance to several other UK life businesses, and the success of the DC pension scheme focused PruFund would seem to provide a model for a viable standalone future. There’s no need to get rid of the UK business, but today’s move would make it a lot simpler."

Nicholas HyettEquity analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown

"Selling the UK business is something the company has been mulling over in private, and cutting loose the underperforming domestic operations, where Pru no longer writes new annuity business, could stick a rocket under the share price. News that the M&G asset management business will merge with its Prudential UK & Europe life insurance operation adds fuel to the fire that this is preparation for an eventual sale."

Lee WildHead of equity strategy, Interactive Investor

Live and loud

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

Lady Gaga
Getty Images

Despite the rise of streaming, most music acts now rely on performing live to make money - which is also helping companies such as Live Nation.

The world's biggest concert promoter sold 68 million tickets in the six months to July - 22% higher than the same period last year. That produced a 28% rise in revenue for the concerts division to $3.1bn.

Chief executive Michael Rapino said 2017 is "on track to be another year of growth and record results" for Live Nation, which also owns Ticketmaster.

Its new Verified Fan product, launched earlier this year, had sold more than 1 million tickets for 50 artists in the US and Europe to "true fans, with a dramatic reduction in these tickets then being sold on secondary sites", he added.

Investors liked the numbers, sending Live Nation shares up 7% to $40.25 in after-hours trading in New York. The stock has risen more than 40% this year.

Overseas boost for Savills

Savills sign
PA

Estate agency group Savills pushed up pre-tax profit by 27% to £32.4m in the first half of the year despite a slowdown in the UK.

In fact the boost came from Asia and its real estate management arm: Savills gets nearly two-thirds of its revenue outside the UK.

Fee income from UK residential sales fell by 4%, with the number of transactions lower than a year earlier when trading had been lifted ahead of changes to stamp duty in April 2016.

For the UK, it said: "Increased levels of political and economic uncertainty created by the general election and the ongoing negotiations to leave the EU make it difficult to predict market volumes for the rest of the year."

UK stuck with 'sluggish growth'

The latest trade and industrial output data suggests the UK economy had a poor end to the second quarter of the year, according to Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club.

“June’s official output data for industry and construction did nothing to change the impression of an economy stuck in a pattern of sluggish growth", he says.

He notes that the "buoyancy of manufacturing surveys continues to be at odds with the weakness of the official numbers".

"With sterling’s deprecation and a healthy world economy supporting exporters, one would hope that the gap between the two will narrow in a favourable direction."

However, he says the latest trade figures, which saw June’s trade deficit nearly double from the month before, suggest there is little sign of this happening.

"Evidence of rebalancing, at least in the ‘hard’ data, remains absent,” he says.

Pru to merge M&G with insurance divisions

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Prudential says it will merge its UK asset management business M&G with its UK and European insurance divisions.

The move comes as fund managers face increasing pressure on charges and competition from low-cost tracker funds.

"Combining these businesses will allow us to better leverage our considerable scale and capabilities," said chief executive Mike Wells.

The combined business will manage £332bn in assets for more than six million customers, Prudential said.

Prudential's operating profit climbed to £2.36bn in the first half, boosted by growth in Asia.

UK trade deficit widens

Containers
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The UK's trade deficit in goods and services widened by £2bn between May and June to £4.6bn, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It said this was mainly due to an increase in imports of £1.7bn.

In the second quarter of the year, the trade deficit widened by £0.1bn to £8.9bn as imports and exports grew at about the same rate.

Traces of meat in British banknotes to continue

BBC personal finance correspondent Simon Gompertz tweets...

Output and manufacturing figures paint depressing picture

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Industrial output in Britain unexpectedly picked up by 0.5% in June, according to official figures published by ONS today.

But that simply reflected a lack of seasonal oilfield maintenance in the month, which normally depresses output and instead is likely to come later in the year, ONS warned.

More worryingly, car production dropped by 3.6% in June after a 2.3% decline the previous month. That's the sharpest fall since December 2013.

Overall manufacturing, which includes car production but not oil, was flat on the month.

Construction, which accounts for 6% of the economy, fell by 0.1% in June and dropped by 1.3 percent in the second quarter as a whole - the sharpest drop in almost five years.

Mortgage arrears and possessions fall again

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The number of mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance fell to 88,200 in the second quarter of this year.

That's the lowest level since at least 1994, according to UK Finance, when the data was first tracked.

The number of properties repossessed also fell, from 1,900 to 1,800, which accounts for 0.02% of all mortgages, the trade body pointed out.

The total was the same as in the final quarter of last year, and is the lowest figure since quarterly data was first published in 2008, it said.

"Borrowers are being helped by low interest rates," pointed out UK Finance head of mortgages Paul Smee.

Lack of housing supply dragging down property market

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More comment on that downbeat Rics housing survey which suggest that the slowdown is spreading outside London to the south east...

"The long-running issue of housing supply remains, and it’s vital that the Government continues to find and act on ways to address our limited housing stock to boost housing supply and give more younger buyers a better chance at homeownership.”

Jeremy DuncombeDirector, Legal & General Mortgage Club

"The fundamental issue which remains and prevents a significant advancement in our housing market is a chronic lack of supply. The Government must begin to put words into action and address this problem, sooner rather than later, to enable more first-time buyers to step onto the property ladder and increase market fluidity.”

Richard SextonDirector, e.surv