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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Sterling slides on weak wage growth
  3. UK jobless rate falls to lowest since 1975
  4. easyJet unveils long-haul alliance with airlines
  5. Jean-Claude Juncker says UK will 'regret' Brexit

Live Reporting

By Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night!

That's all from Business Live for another day - thanks for reading.

We're back again at 06:00 tomorrow so do join us then.

Why so expensive?

Lastly tonight, a little something to spice up your evening:

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Deutsche Boerse fined

Deutsche Boerse will pay hefty fines for allowing its chief executive to make share purchases that became the subject of insider trading allegations.

Carsten Kengeter made the purchases shortly before the announcement of formal merger talks with the London Stock Exchange and a subsequent sharp rise in Deutsche Boerse's share price.

In July, the German exchange operator said that the Frankfurt prosecutor had offered a deal to settle the case for fines totalling 10.5m euros.

Deutsche Boerse said it had now decided to accept the fines but maintained that the allegations were unfounded in all respects.

Wall Street at new highs - again

NYSE
Getty Images

For the second day in a row, all three major indices on Wall Street were at new peaks, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.2% to 22,156.3, the S&P 500 up 0.1% to 2,498.1 and the Nasdaq Composite 0.1% higher at 6,460.1 points.

Oil jumps

Oil pump
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Crude prices are higher after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said a global surplus of crude was starting to shrink.

US oil rose $1.04, or 2.2%, to $49.27 a barrel and Brent crude added 84 cents to $55.11 a barrel.

"A sharp rebound in US oil production compared with last week has limited gains in crude prices as concerns grow that oil output is recovering faster than refining capacity coming online," said Abhishek Kumar at Global Gas Analytics in London.

Fintech vow

Philip Hammond's speech comes after the Chancellor chaired the first meeting of the Business Advisory Group.

He, along with Brexit Secretary David Davis and Business Secretary Greg Clark, met the five main business organisations - the Confederation of British Industry, British Chambers of Commerce, Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses and the EEF - to hear their concerns and priorities.

Mr Hammond will stress his commitment to maintaining the UK's position, including its leading role in financial technology. "It is my priority as Chancellor to ensure that the UK remains the financial services centre of the world," he will say. "And the global hub of fintech. We have the timezone, the language, the legal system, the talent, the capital markets, and the tech centre to succeed."

Hammond: no smokescreens

Philip Hammond
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Brussels will not be allowed to use Brexit to introduce "protectionist" measures designed to target the City of London, Philip Hammond will tell finance chiefs.

The Chancellor will accept the European Union has legitimate concerns about the supervision of financial markets in London that provide services across the continent.

But in a speech at the UK Finance annual dinner in the City tonight he will warn that those concerns must not be used as a smokescreen to support EU financial centres at the expense of the UK: "We will not accept protectionist agendas, disguised as arguments about financial stability."

On Target

Target store
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Who said retail was dead? Target plans to hire 100,000 temporary workers this Christmas - 43% more than last year - as the US discount department store seeks to build on a recent rise in sales.

Retail Metrics analyst Ken Perkins said: "I think Target sees an opportunity to take market share in an environment where we have so many store closures in the specialty apparel and department store space."

Having more staff appears to be aimed at stopping customers walking out because checkouts are too busy or there are no shop assistants available, Moody's analyst Charlie O'Shea said.

Target last week cut prices on thousands of items in a move that could bring in more traffic. "I think they have the potential to have a (better) holiday season than any of their competitors," Mr Perkins added.

From pom poms to the Olympics

Curtains for Kaspersky

The Department of Homeland Security has told US government departments and agencies to remove Kaspersky Lab products from their IT systems.

"The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks," it said.

Kaspersky has denied it has ties to any government and said it would not aid cyber espionage.

The company said there is no evidence for accusations by US officials and politicians that its antivirus software may be used to provide espionage services to the Kremlin.

'We will take action'

Jon Cunliffe
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The Bank of England is taking a close look at financial institutions' plans to handle Brexit and will take action if they pose risks, deputy governor Jon Cunliffe said.

"We are monitoring the plans of the financial institutions in the UK, their plans for how they are going to deal with Brexit. We are also monitoring the plans of all of the European Union firms that operate in the UK," he told Sky News.

"And if we start to see financial stability risks coming out of those plans ... then we will take action."

Many banks are starting to implement plans to move some staff and operations out of the UK before Brexit in March 2019.

Boeing Dreams harder

Boeing Dreamliner
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Boeing will raise its production of 787 Dreamliner jets to 14 a month in 2019, chief executive Dennis Muilenberg says, pressing ahead with plans that had been placed on hold as it gauged demand for wide-body jets.

The decision to raise output from 12 a month was announced shortly after Boeing struck a preliminary deal to sell eight of the planes to Malaysia Airlines.

Why are wages so weak?

Simon Jack

BBC Business Editor

Wages rally
Getty Images

Presiding over an economy in which working people are getting poorer every day is not a very comfortable political position to be in. We have seen the cap on public sector workers' pay loosened this week, under pressure from a TUC threatening strike action and a rejuvenated Jeremy Corbyn.

The government will be dearly hoping the Bank is right about wage growth exceeding inflation next year.

We will get an inkling of how confident the Bank is in this prediction when it votes on interest rates tomorrow.

Last time only two out of the nine rate setters thought the time was right to nudge rates higher. Previously one other, chief economist Andy Haldane, has said he might join them later this year.

It will be worth keeping an eye out for how he votes.

Read more from Simon here.

Osborne using Evening Standard to criticise PM

George Osborne
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George Osborne has reportedly claimed he will not rest until Prime Minister Theresa May is "chopped up in bags in my freezer", according to a profile of the chancellor-turned-newspaper editor.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries said the reported comment was an "insight into the way his mind works", while Mrs May's former aide Nick Timothy also took a swipe at the former cabinet minister.

The profile in Esquire highlighted the way Mr Osborne had used his editorship of the London Evening Standard to criticise Mrs May's leadership.

The Prime Minister sacked Mr Osborne when she took over at Number 10 and he quit as an MP after the surprise announcement of his move into journalism.

Asked for the prime minister's reaction to the Esquire piece, her official spokesman said: "The contents of the former chancellor's freezer are probably not a matter for me."

Tall tax?

CMA chair departs

Lord Currie
BBC

Lord David Currie (pictured), the chairman of the competition watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority, is stepping down to allow his successor to tackle Brexit.

The departure comes during a busy time for the CMA, which is facing the prospect of investigating 21st Century Fox's bid for broadcaster Sky on top of ongoing probes, such as the £3.7bn merger between Tesco and wholesaler Booker.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will appoint his successor. Sir David joined the CMA as its first chairman in September 2012.

Dimon comments hit Bitcoin

Bitcoin logo
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Bitcoin fell more than 10% on Wednesday as investors sold the cryptocurrency following a warning by JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon that it "is a fraud" and will eventually "blow up".

The cryptocurrency tumbled to as low as $3,7201 on the Bitstamp exchange before recovering to trade about $3,810, still down 8.7% on the day.

Bitcoin, the first and biggest cryptocurrency, hit a record high just below $5,000 earlier this month but has slipped since then after China banned initial coin offerings, or ICOs.

The market was further spooked by reports early this week that Chinese authorities were planning to forbid any trading of cryptocurrencies and by a warning on ICOs from Britain's financial watchdog, raising fears of a wider crackdown.

"[Mr Dimon] joins a long line of market commentators that have been critical of bitcoin and it potentially being in a bubble, so his comments could have been the tipping point," said James Butterfill at ETF Securities in London.

FTSE falls

The London market slipped about 21 points to end the day at 7,379.7 points, with miners leading the fallers.

On the FTSE 250, Dunelm enjoyed a 8.3% jump after reporting rising sales.

Sky's the limit for Darroch

Jeremy Darroch
PA

Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch's annual pay more than trebled to £16.3m last year after he benefited from a generous share award.

The satellite broadcaster's annual report shows that Mr Darroch received an £11.8m share payout as part of his long-term incentive plan on top of his £1m base salary, a £1.9m bonus and £1.4m awarded as part of a co-investment plan.

The £16.3m is more than three times the amount Mr Darroch netted in 2016, when he took home a total of £4.6m.

The annual report also shows Sky's finance chief, Andrew Griffith, took home £9.2m, up from £2.4m, after selling shares worth £6.8m.

A win-win...

Norwegian planes
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The partnership easyJet has struck with longhaul carriers including Norwegian and Westjet will be a win for all airlines it seems.

Norwegian chief commercial officer Thomas Ramdahl says the firm expects a big rise in passengers due to the easyJet partnership, which could lead to more orders for Boeing 787 planes.

Norwegian is still in talks with Ryanair about a flight connection partnership, he adds.

And that's a wrap - session over

Amazon pushed on fradulent income

At the end of the session, MP Caroline Flint pushed Amazon's Mr Dishman as to whether his company was making money from fradulent sellers on their site.

All sellers on Amazon pay the company a fee and her point was that as a result, the retailer was collecting money from companies who were "defrauding the British public".

Seller reviews crucial - HMRC

HMRC's Mr Harra says seller reviews are a crucial incentive for online sellers to stay the right side of the law with regard to VAT payments.

"Research has shown us that one of the top four reasons why a consumer chooses a particular seller is their seller review profile on the platform," he said.

"When they are picked off the platform they lose their reviewer history, when they come back as a phoenix they do not have a history to support them."

HMRC cannot stop payments

Can HMRC suspend the payments of companies who are non-VAT compliant?

HMRC's Mr Harra said: "I'm not aware we have any powers to do that but I guess that is something we can look at."

Data sharing issues hit speed of action - eBay

"The limit on going even faster on this has been the data and the ability to share data. When it comes to bulk data there is a challenge," said eBay's Mr Billante.

MP offered discount for lack of VAT number

Committee chair MP Meg Hillier produced a product she had bought on Amazon Prime. She said when she had requested the company's VAT number, they said they couldn't provide it but instead offered her a 20% discount.

She asked Mr Dishman what Amazon would do with such evidence.

He said: "If we received information, we would take them through our own takedown process. We would validate the evidence - we would give them 30 days to rebutt the evidence and then we would take them down.

"If they then set up as another company, we would have processes to stop them doing that. We would stop them re-emerging in another form."

'Broad solution' needed

On online VAT fraud, Amazon's Mr Dishman said: "I think the broad solution has to be a legislative solution that deals with this."

EBay 'would act immediately' over VAT fraud

EBay's Mr Billante said: "If someone came on to the site today with an invalid VAT number, they would be removed today."

Amazon speak on VAT numbers

"We have 280,000 sellers on Amazon UK - the majority are from the UK," said Amazon's Mr Dishman.

"There are 16% of sellers who are non-EU. Of those, approximately half use fulfilment by Amazon so have stock in our UK warehouses.

"In terms of VAT registration numbers, our policy the last six or nine months has not been to actively collect those numbers, the numbers don't guarantee that a company is compliant.

"67% of the revenue of that population, we have VAT numbers on file for."

HMRC want to tackle all three parts of system

HMRC's Mr Thompson said: "We want a system where all three parties comply so we can collect the tax.

"The number of online retailers registered for VAT has risen from 700 at the end of 2015 to 17,537 to the end of last month.

"We have issued 399 joint liability notices - all those sellers have been removed from the market we have made significant progress on the seller although there is more to do.

"The fulfilment house will have to check that all goods entering there are registered for VAT.

"We have tried to tackle all three elements of the system and there is a strong pace that it is making a systemic difference. The estimate of the extra revenue is that it is £350m per year."

Education the key, say Amazon

Amazon's Mr Dishman said: "We also take the issue very seriously and we want sellers to trust in our marketplace.

"We think the vast majority of sellers want to be compliant. If they are selling internationally they may not understand the rules.

"We are working on extensive educational efforts to educate people in the requirements - this is for overseas sellers selling into the UK and UK sellers selling into the EU.

"The second piece is how do you make compliance easier for the sellers.

"We have invested in reducing the rates with some of the big accounting firms to do the compliance and have also been working on a technology tool to be able to do the VAT returns in three or four clicks of the button. We think that is a really important step.”

'We can't know who is compliant' - eBay

Mr Billante continued: "We can't know who is compliant or not, it is something HMRC have to help us with.

"We require that foreign sellers display a valid VAT number which we check.

"We have also asked them to put that on their listing. We have been told by HMRC that is not a legal requirement but we ask for that.

"98% of our listings display a valid VAT number. What we can't know is who is complying and paying their tax.

"What we can control is that people follow our policy."

Ebay 'take problem very seriously'

On online VAT fraud, eBay's Mr Billante said: "We take this problem very seriously. We've been working on this for quite a long time with quite a lot of resources.

"We have 210 people working just on VAT fraud and other risk management we do on eBay.

"We think we have had a lot of success. What we see is we have taken action on our own site. We have blocked many sellers on our platform where HMRC have said they are not compliant."

Progress made on Border Force

Back at the Public Accounts session on online VAT fraud.

In front of the Committee now are:

Steve Dishman, Vice President for Taxes, Europe, Amazon

Joe Billante, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for EMEA, eBay

Jon Thompson, Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary, HM Revenue & Customs

Jim Harra, Director General, Customer Strategy and Tax Design, HM Revenue & Customs

Public pay: What will unions do next?

Len McCluskey
PA
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

Away from the Public Accounts Committee for a minute....

After the lifting of the public sector pay cap, how will unions respond if the government fails to use its new flexibility to award bigger increases next year?

Read more from our political correspondent Iain Watson here.

Amazon and eBay up next in session

That is the end of the first part of the Public Accounts Committee session on online VAT fraud.

They expect to publish their report in October or November.

Amazon and eBay are up next - you can follow on Twitter via #VAT as well, of course, as on this live page!