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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Sterling struggles, FTSE rises
  3. Toys 'R' Us files for bankruptcy protection in US
  4. Number of zero-hours contracts falls
  5. Ocado revenue and orders jump, shares dip
  6. French Connection cuts losses

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

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.

Trump administration prepares to ease export rules for US guns

The Trump administration is preparing to make it easier for American gun makers to sell small arms, including assault rifles and ammunition, to foreign buyers, Reuters reports.

Will the government really accept 'No Deal' with the EU?

Chris Cook

Newsnight Policy Editor

Dover traffic jam

One slightly baffling element of the government's Brexit strategy is that it insists it is working on preparing for a "No Deal" scenario.

But I am not sure that they really are.

A lot of memos are being circulated, but not a lot beyond that.

Britain does not seem to be taking the idea of No Deal very seriously.

The government is not currently behaving like it is plausible.

Read more here.

Wall Street edges up as US Fed meeting in focus

US stocks closed slightly higher, helped by gains in financial, technology and telecom stocks, but investors stayed away from making major bets ahead of the outcome of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting on Wednesday.

The US central bank is widely expected to announce that it will begin paring its bond holdings, with reductions likely to start in the coming months.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 39.45 points, or 0.18%, to 22,370.80, the S&P 500 gained 2.78 points, or 0.11%, to 0.11% and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.68 points, or 0.10%, to 0.10%.

Toys 'R' Us gets funding lifeline

Toys R Us story
Getty Images

The US bankruptcy judge overseeing the Chapter 11 of Toys 'R' Us said on Tuesday he would approve the company's request to borrow more than $2bn to help stabilize the largest US toy chain as it builds inventory for the year-end shopping season.

Toys 'R' Us filed for bankruptcy yesterday, squeezed by online shopping and discount chains.

The firm was once a dominant player in the US toy market, but has struggled against larger rivals such as Amazon.

The bankruptcy casts a shadow over the future of the company's nearly 1,600 stores and 64,000 employees.

The firm's European operations are not part of the bankruptcy proceedings and Toys 'R' Us says it does not expect any immediate impact on its UK stores.

Pelting Peltz

Nelson Peltz

It's a battle of the giants - one a global consumer goods behemoth and the other a legendary billionaire activist investor.

Nelson Peltz has been stalking Procter & Gamble for months, trying to get a seat on the board so that P&G can tackle what he calls "chronic underperformance".

Now, in a somewhat unusual move, P&G has hit back, filing a 100-plus page document with the Securities & Exchange Commission that questions the record of Peltz and his hedge fund Trian.

In short, the report says Peltz has brought little value to some of the companies he's pursued, including Wendy's, Heinz and Mondelez.

Don't expect Peltz to take this lying down.

BA union hits back at pension plans

The biggest union at British Airways, Unite, has issued a statement after the airline said earlier today that formal talks have begun to close its final salary pension and launch a new retirement scheme.

And the union's first reaction is not good. "Wholly inadequate and unacceptable," Unite said in a statement.

However, it did add: "Now that we have finally seen BA's set of proposals, we will study them carefully and listen to your comments before putting forward our formal response."

'Abuse and disloyalty'

Gordon Derrick
Rex Features

FIFA has suspended Caribbean Football Union president Gordon Derrick (above) from the sport for six years after he was found guilty of several ethics violations.

Derrick becomes the latest in a long line of football executives sanctioned by FIFA's ethics committee, which has thrown dozens of people out of the sport.

In a statement, FIFA said the case centred on "alleged conflicts of interest, offering and accepting gifts and other benefits, mismanagement of funds, abuse of position and disloyalty".

He has also been fined £23,000.

Twitter and terrorism

Twitter logo

Twitter says that between the start of August in 2015 and June 30 of this year it has suspended 935,897 accounts for "promotion of terrorism".

The messaging firm's latest transparency report adds that less than 1% of these take-down were because of government requests.

Internet firms are coming under increasingly pressure to tackle online extremist content.

Twitter classified terror-related accounts as those "that actively incite or promote violence associated with internationally recognized terrorist organizations, promote internationally recognized terrorist organizations, and accounts attempting to evade prior enforcement".

John Veihmeyer
Getty Images

As mentioned earlier, the Global Chairman of KPMG, John Veihmeyer, issued a statement this afternoon over the firm's role in South Africa and its links with the billionaire Gupta family. Here's the statement in full, and if you want some background on the affair, see our story from Friday.

"I sincerely apologise for what went wrong in KPMG South Africa. This is not who we are. KPMG International undertook an investigation, with the help of independent legal advisers, which found a number of failings in a report prepared for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and in the decisions made, over time, to continue working for the Guptas. KPMG South Africa made serious mistakes and errors of judgement in these engagements.

"As a first step, significant actions were taken last Friday including the appointment of Nhlamu Dlomu as the new CEO of KPMG South Africa. She immediately issued an apology to the country. Nhlamu represents the best of KPMG, and has proven to be a strong and effective leader. Other actions included the announcement of significant governance reforms and 8 partners leaving the firm. Further appropriate steps will be taken if any new information comes to light.

"The work on these specific engagements is not reflective of the quality of KPMG's work in South Africa over many years, or indeed the work we do for clients globally. We are determined to learn from the failings that we have found in these specific client activities. In particular, we will further strengthen the monitoring of which clients we choose to work with and how we handle potentially sensitive client engagements.

"The public, our clients and our 200,000 people across the globe rightly expect us to demonstrate that we consistently hold ourselves to the highest standards. We are committed to making sure this happens."

Wall Street holds onto gains

US stocks are holding onto their gains, helped largely by risers in telecom shares. Trading remains lacklustre, however, as investors await the Federal Reserve's policy meeting.

The US central bank, which begins its two-day meeting on Tuesday, is widely expected to announce on Wednesday that it will begin paring back its stimulus programme.

While an interest rate increase is not expected, investors will closely watch Fed Chair Janet Yellen's views on inflation, which remains stuck below the Fed's 2% target rate. "People are in wait-and-see mode," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial.

The Dow Jones, which notched up its 41st record high this year, was up 0.16% at 22,368 points. The Nasdaq was very slightly ahead at 6,460.6, and the S&P 500 was also fractionally up at 2,506 points.

Fiat recall

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling 494,000 medium and heavy-duty Ram pickup trucks worldwide because of a water pump that could overheat and potentially cause a fire.

The recall includes 2013-2017 model year Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks with 6.7-litre diesel engines, including 443,000 vehicles in the US.

Fiat Chrysler said it is not aware of any injuries related to the issue, but has reports of a small number of fire-related incidents. The company will inspect and potentially replace the water pump.

Amazon bomb review

Amazon logo

Amazon is to "review" how products are presented on its website, following revelations about bomb-making ingredients for sale.

A Channel 4 investigation found the retailer's algorithms grouped together household ingredients that when combined could make a lethal bomb.

Less than a week ago, a home-made explosive device was detonated on a London Underground train.

Amazon said it now intended to display products "in an appropriate manner".

KPMG apologises for S Africa failings

The chairman KPMG has apologised after the global accountancy firm became embroiled in a political scandal involving South Africa’s billionaire Gupta family, which has close links to President Jacob Zuma.

KPMG's top team in South Africa left on Friday after an internal review, and the firm has lost audit clients.

John Veihmeyer said today: "I sincerely apologise for what went wrong in KPMG South Africa. This is not who we are...The public, our clients and our 200,000 people across the globe rightly expect us to demonstrate that we consistently hold ourselves to the highest standards. We are committed to making sure this happens."

BA pension plan readies for take-off

BA aircraft on runway

British Airways has started a formal consultation on plans to close its final salary pension scheme and launch a new one it said would benefit more than half its staff.

The airline said this afternoon that its proposal was aimed at addressing the "significant and growing" funding deficit faced by the company's defined benefit scheme, the New Airways Pension Scheme, which would be closed to future accrual.

From next April, it is proposed that all employees would be members of the new scheme. Since 2003, the airline said it has pumped £3.5bn into NAPS, but the deficit, resulting from record low interest rates and increased life expectancy, had risen to £3.7bn by March this year.

Steve Gunning, British Airways' chief financial officer, said: "Our proposal today, very importantly, will help secure the benefits our colleagues have already earned in NAPS, and also offer better terms to colleagues in our existing defined contribution scheme.

"In addition, it will allow us to continue to invest in products and services for our customers to strengthen the business for everyone."

Pepe fights back

Pepe the Frog
Matt Furie

The artist who created Pepe the Frog has issued several takedown notices against alt-right commentators he accuses of stealing his work.

The cartoon frog has been hijacked by nationalists, says Matt Furie.

The figure has been used to accompany hate speech.

Lawyers for Mr Furie have contacted both individuals and sites such as Reddit and Amazon, where images featuring Pepe have been posted, on the grounds of breaking copyright law.

But one recipient, Mike Cernovich, described the action as "frivolous".

FTSE 100 closes higher

FTSE 100 graph

Marks & Spencer led the FTSE 100 higher, up 3.53% on the back of industry data showing that some retailers are seeing stronger sales. Travel company TUI was the biggest loser. Its shares fell 2% on reports of cost-cutting.

The FTSE 100 closed up 0.23% at 7,270 points. The mid-cap FTSE 250 finished 0.5% higher at 19,535.4.

Equifax must 'pay for mistakes'

Equifax shares on New York Stock Exchange

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a lawsuit against credit reporting firm Equifax following a breach that exposed personal data on up to 143 million people, 3 million in Massachusetts.

"We allege that Equifax knew about the vulnerabilities in its system for months, but utterly failed to keep the personal information of nearly three million Massachusetts residents safe from hackers," said Healey said in a statement.

"We are suing because Equifax needs to pay for its mistakes, make our residents whole, and fix the problem so it never happens again."

Equifax faces dozens of legal claims over the breach, which the US Federal Trade Commission is investigating.

Social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driving licence numbers were exposed.

Does Ryanair have a pilot shortage?

Pilot in cockpit of Ryanair plane
Getty Images

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary insists the airline's flight cancellations are not due to pilot shortages. But some current and former pilots say otherwise.

Who's right? The BBC's transport correspondent tries to answer this question in this article.

Mobile merger?

Shares in US telecoms groups T-Mobile and Sprint are rising on fresh reports of merger talks. T-Mobile, up 4%, and Sprint, up 5%, are the third and fourth biggest mobile firms in the US.

They have been the subject of merger talk before amid analysts' expectations of further consolidation in the telecoms sector.

Earlier this year, Japan's Softbank said it was interested in a deal with T-Mobile, which is 64%-owned by Germany's Deutsche Telekom.

Muller invests in UK

BBC business editor tweets:

Not the Best price

Alibaba Group-backed logistics company Best has cut the expected price range of its US flotation, one day before its market debut.

The move suggests investors are lukewarm about the listing. The shares will be priced at $10 to $11, against a initial price range of $13 to $15.

German investor confidence grows

The Open Hybrid Lab Factory in Germany.
Getty Images

German investor confidence rose by higher than expected, according to the ZEW research institute's monthly barometer.

The index, which measures financial firms' expectations rose to 17 points in September, up from 10 in the previous month and ahead of analysts' expectations of 13.5 points.

ZEW president Achim Wambach says: "Solid growth in the second quarter, recent big increases in banks' lending business and growing investment from firms and the state."

Onwards and upwards

US stocks opened slightly higher on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones hitting another record, ahead of the two-day Federal Reserve meeting that is expected to roll out a plan to pare the central bank's bond holdings.

The Dow rose 31.18 points, or 0.14%, to 22,362.53. The S&P 500 gained 3.04 points, or 0.12%, to 2,506.91. The Nasdaq added 10.62 points, or 0.16%, to 6,465.26.

Volvo's US drive

New Volvo hybrid car

Is Volvo about the double its investment in South Carolina with a $1bn expansion of its production line in the US state?

The local Charleston-based Post and Courier newspaper says Sweden-based Volvo's plans are well advanced. Now Reuters in Stockholm reports that a Volvo source has confirmed the investment.

Volvo, owned by China's Geely, has seen sales revive in the US in the last couple of years. The carmaker recently announced a big expansion of electrified vehicles.

Venha voar com a Ryanair

Business producer Mark Syred tweets:

View more on twitter

Sterling claws back ground

Sterling has reversed earlier falls against the dollar and is now trading 0.27% ahead at $1.35330.

The 5 Ws...

Those Ryanair cancellations in full:

View more on twitter

Internet is 'having midlife crisis'

Baroness Lane-Fox
Getty Images

The rise of cyber-bullying and monopolistic business practices has damaged trust in the internet, pioneering entrepreneur Baroness Lane-Fox has told the BBC.

The founder also called for a "shared set of principles" to make the web happier and safer.

She said the internet had done much good over the last 30 years.

But she said too many people had missed out on the benefits and it was time to "take a step back".

Read the full story here.

Watch: Will Jollibee buy Pret a Manger?

Will 'Philippine McDonald's' swallow Pret?

South African broker fires KPMG

South African broker Sasfin Holdings has fired KPMG as its auditor.

It said: "In view of the well-publicised concerns recently raised with regard to KPMG as well as Sasfin's commitment to good governance in respect of auditor independence and auditor tenure, Sasfin has decided to put its audit out to tender."

Last week, KPMG announced a major clear-our of its South Africa management team following its audit of companies affiliated with the controversial Gupta family.


Oh dear. Emily Gosden of The Times encounters some everyday sexism from Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe today:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Retailers lead FTSE higher

Getty Images

Retailers topped the FTSE 100 index as lunchtime nears, boosted by data from Kantar Worldpanel showing a rise in supermarket sales to 10 September.

Marks & Spencer shares are 2.8% higher to 338p, while Sainsbury's is ahead by 2.4% at 242.8p.

Bottling company Coca-Cola HBC leads the fallers, down 1.6% at £25.33, followed by BT Group, 1.4% lower at 283.4p.

Overall the FTSE 100 is up 21.67 points at 7,274.95 and the FTSE 250 is also ahead, up 70.90 points at 19,508.75.

Calendar tricks

Ryanair plane
Getty Images

The Irish pilots' union makes an interesting point shedding light on why Ryanair had to change its annual calendar for pilots last year.

"Other European Authorities still used 1 January as their 'calendar year' commencement date and as a result a considerable commercial advantage resulted for Ryanair and the other Irish airlines. The commercial advantage for Ryanair initially arose from a peculiar practice of simply 'zeroing the clock' on pilots accumulated flight hours on 1 April each year. The cumulative effects of hours flown in the previous month or even year, were simply erased for the purpose of starting off a new 'calendar year'.

"The second advantage arose due to Irish airlines’ crew hours only being measured from 1 April at the start of the busy summer season, whereas the crew of all other European airlines would have accumulated three months flying hours by that time. As a result, competitor airlines had less hours available to use for the busy summer schedule before reaching the 900 hours annual limit."

The pilots' union also calls Ryanair's explanation for the high number of cancelled flights “strange and unsustainable”, with the real problem being a shortage of flight crew - something chief executive Michael O’Leary categorically denies.

Inner-city debt swells

High street

In at least 10 areas of the UK more than a fifth of the residents are missing bill payments repeatedly, according to new figures from the Money Advice Service.

The research suggests that inner-city areas are the worst affected.

In Newham, in the east end of London, and Sandwell in the West Midlands, at least 22% of residents have problem debts.

Read the full story here.

Next stop (not) Luton...

Luton airport sign

Luton airport may have been declared the worst in Britain a couple of weeks ago, but that has not deterred its boss from saying the number of fast trains serving it should be quadrupled.

Chief executive Nick Barton is urging bidders for the new East Midlands rail franchise to increase the number of inter-city services that call at Luton Airport Parkway station from one an hour to four.

He claims the existing timetable means Luton is the only London airport without an express-style train service.

"The current service we get from East Midlands on the line that runs literally just past the threshold of the runway is that we have 160 trains a day and just over 10% of those trains actually stop at Luton Parkway," Mr Barton says. "Nearly 90% of them go straight past, which intuitively seems entirely wrong."

Non-stop trains between the station and London take just 20 minutes.

US oil price above $50

Texas oil field
Getty Images

Oil prices are higher, with US crude tipping over the $50 a barrel mark.

West Texas Intermediate rose by 0.8% to $50.76 a barrel, while Brent crude added 0.5% to $55.77.

Prices were boosted by as major Opec oil producers Saudi Arabia and Iraq indicated that they had reduced supplies.

Saudi crude exports fell to 6.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in July, from 6.8 million bpd in June.

Iraq's oil minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said crude oil production was at 4.32 million bpd, down from May and June.

Business as usual

Kid with toys

Toys R Us says it doesn't expect any immediate impact on its 110 UK stores after filing for bankruptcy protection in the US. It has faced challenging market conditions, with competition from both discount and online retailers.

Gary Grant, founder of rival toy shop chain The Entertainer, tells the BBC:

"I think people's buying habits are changing. We're seeing it even in the supermarkets where the big sheds aren't being visited as frequently as more convenient in-town locations. So we're seeing in grocery the convenience stores are much more successful now than some of the over-spaced units that the grocers have."

No happy travels

Ryanair passengers are revolting...

Ryanair passengers left stranded

Buy our toys, or the giraffe gets it...

Toys R Us
Getty Images

Telegraph retail editor Ashley Armstrong tweets:

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