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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Aldi will continue to take old £1 coin for further fortnight
  3. Nicky Morgan demand Equifax answers
  4. FTSE 100 and sterling broadly flat
  5. eBay pays £1.6m UK corporation tax
  6. Energy price cap needs legislation, Ofgem says
  7. Dunelm sales soar

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

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Good night

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Many thanks for joining us for another day of Business Live coverage.

We hope you'll click on us again tomorrow morning from 06:00, when we'll bring you all the latest news, reaction and analysis from the world of business.

IMF warns on financial stability

Andrew Walker

World Service economics correspondent

Asian stock market ticker boards
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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says in a report published on Wednesday that the risks to global financial stability in the near future have declined, but it warns of increasing risks over the longer term.

The report says that stronger economic growth is reducing the immediate danger of financial turbulence. It means that borrowers are less likely to get into difficulty and lenders are at less risk of incurring serious losses.

But the IMF also has a warning. The very low interest rates and other central bank policies that have underpinned the economic recovery have also led many investors to seek better returns by buying riskier assets.

And as policies return to normal and interest rates are increased there's more danger of borrowers struggling and causing their creditors a problem.

Wall Street stocks close at record highs

Shares on Wall Street clawed back earlier losses to finish ahead on Wednesday, with all three main indexes hitting record closing highs.

The Dow Jones rose 42.21 points to close at 22,872.89, while the S&P 500 went up 4.6 points to 2,555.24.

Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 16.3 points to 6,603.55.

Trump wants to be 'very creative' with Nafta

President Trump said negotiations with Canada and Mexico on NAFTA could go either way.

It's possible we won't be able to reach a deal with one or the other. But in the meantime, we'll make a deal with one. But I think we have a chance to do something very creative that's good for Canada, Mexico and the United States.

US President Trump

Trump: 'We'll see what happens with Nafta'

More from that meeting between Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump.

President Trump was asked if Nafta was dead. This is what he said.

Trump and Trudeau walking
Getty Images

We'll see what happens. It's possible we won't be able to make a deal, and it's possible that we will. We have a relationship now as two countries, I think that's as close as ever. But we'll see if we can do the kind of changes that we need. We have to protect our workers, and in all fairness, the prime minister wants to protect Canada and his people also. So we'll see what happens with Nafta. But I've been opposed to Nafta for a long time in terms of the fairness of Nafta. I said we'll renegotiate. And I think Justin (Trudeau) understands this - if we can't make a deal, it will be terminated and that'll be fine. They're going to do well, we're going to do well. But maybe that won't be necessary, but, it has to be fair to both countries.

US President Donald Trump

US-Canada trade pact minus Mexico?

Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump
Getty Images

President Trump says he could envisage a new trade pact with Canada that might exclude Mexico, reports BBC World Service.

Speaking at the White House with the visiting Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, Mr Trump said US workers had to be protected.

On Tuesday the Mexican Foreign Minister said that if the US tore up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which covers the three countries, cross-border relations, including cooperation in the war on drugs, would suffer badly.

NAFTA oversees a trillion dollars in annual trade.

MPs launch inquiry into chicken supplier

Raw whole chicken
PA

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) says it is to inquire into the allegations of food safety breaches at the 2 Sisters Food Group.

Earlier this month 2 Sisters - one of the UK's largest supermarket chicken suppliers - suspended operations after an investigation allegedly exposed food safety breaches.

The 2 Sisters Food Group said staff at its site in the West Midlands will need to be "appropriately retrained" before it starts resupplying customers.

The move came after allegations that workers had changed slaughter dates to extend the shelf life of meat.

Among other things the MP's inquiry will look into the "potential ramifications of the allegations made against 2 Sisters for the poultry sector and the wider food chain", the committee said in a statement.

Later this month, it will take evidence from 2 Sisters boss Ranjit Singh Boparan, the Food Standards Agency, Assured Food Standards and the British Poultry Council.

US Federal Reserve debates inflation

Natalie Sherman

New York business reporter

Federal Reserve building exterior
Reuters

Lagging inflation rates and what they mean for future increases in interest rates were a focus of the most recent meeting of the US central bank.

Federal Reserve policymakers are puzzled by the slow pace of price and wage increases, which they have attributed to temporary factors such as lower priced cell phone plans.

Changes in future months will be hard to interpret because of the impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

But several members now expect it to take longer than previously forecast to hit the Fed's 2% target rate for inflation, according to minutes released on Wednesday.

Many expect the Fed to raise interest rates one more time before the end of the year.

But the minutes showed that several said they want to have more confidence that inflation is picking up before taking further action. A few said they thought further increases should be deferred until higher inflation is confirmed.

"All agreed that they would closely monitor and assess incoming data before making any further adjustment to the federal funds rate," the minutes said.

Watch: 'Superyacht' hotel opens

A new £25m luxury hotel built to resemble a superyacht has opened in Southampton.

It is hoped the 85-bedroom Harbour Hotel on the waterfront at Ocean Village will gain a five-star rating.

A new £25m hotel has opened at Southampton's Ocean Village

Trump's threat to NBC

President Donald Trump
AFP

US President Donald Trump has raised the prospect of challenging media licences for NBC News and other news networks after unfavourable reports.

He took aim at NBC, which made him a star on The Apprentice, after it reported he wanted to boost America's nuclear arsenal almost tenfold.

Mr Trump labelled the report "fake news" and "pure fiction".

NBC also angered the White House last week when it said the secretary of state had called Mr Trump "a moron". Read more here

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How the Chancellor is preparing for a 'no deal' Brexit

Money to be spent on 'no deal' Brexit at 'very last moment'
The Chancellor Philip Hammond has been reassuring MPs that the Treasury is preparing for a range of Brexit scenarios - including "no deal" and a "bad tempered breakdown" in negotiations. And he raised the prospect of all flights between the UK and the EU coming to a halt on Brexit Day.

     He told the Treasury Committee that 250 million pounds had already been allocated to government departments but, as Kristiina Cooper reports, he said he wasn't going to start spending taxpayers' cash until the "very last moment". 

You can hear more from Today in Parliament at 11.30pm on Radio 4.

More metres for your money?

Map showing average price per square metre in England and Wales
BBC

Blaenau Gwent homes are on average the cheapest per square metre in England and Wales, new figures have shown.

Homes in the south Wales county were worth £777 per sq m in 2016, versus £19,439 in the most expensive council area, Kensington and Chelsea.

The Office for National Statistics figures showed the average home in Wales was worth £1,408 per sq m, compared to £2,463 in England.

The most expensive place to buy in Wales was in Cardiff. Read the full story here

Centrica 'welcomes' Ofgem's tariff plans

Hand on knob of an oven
get

More from Centrica on its response to Ofgem's report (see post at 3:12pm).

Ofgem said it would have to wait for new legislation before it could take action on Standard Variable Tariffs - the sometimes expensive price plans that have led to the most anger over energy bills.

In its statement Centrica said with more than 50 energy suppliers in the UK there was "intense competition in the market".

However it added: "We agree more can be done to improve the functioning of the market, particularly regarding default tariffs and the nature of the Standard Variable Tariff.

"We therefore welcome Ofgem's intention to change the default mechanism at the end of fixed contracts, and to permit different default tariffs other than the Standard Variable Tariff.

Facebook fault hits users

Facebook logo
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Trending on Twitter #facebookdown.

Thousands of people are reporting on social media that they can't access their Facebook or Instagram accounts.

A Facebook spokesperson told the BBC: “We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing Facebook and Instagram. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Monarch owner 'expects PPF to be paid in full'

Ian Pollock

Business reporter

Greybull Capital, which has owned Monarch for the past three years, has put a more optimistic gloss on its indebtedness to the Pension Protection Fund.

The owners of Monarch say that if the administrators of the insolvent airline can sell its valuable landing slots at airports for enough money then there should be enough available to pay the PPF the £7.5m it is owed.

In a statement Greybull said: “The administrators are working to maximise the proceeds from the sale of assets. If the recovery on assets is as speculated on in the press, we expect the PPF loan note to be paid in full.”

PPF 'owed £7.5m' from Monarch

Ian Pollock

Business reporter

Sign at airport saying Monarch was ceasing to trade
EPA

The Pension Protection Fund has confirmed that it is owed £7.5m from the now-collapsed Monarch airline.

When the airline was sold for £1 back in 2014, the PPF agreed to take on the Monarch pension scheme and has been fully responsible for paying the pensioners since last year.

At the time, Monarch agreed, among other things, to pay £7.5m to the PPF in three annual instalments – £2.5m this year, in 2018 and in 2019.

That money may not now be paid, and the PPF has become a secured creditor joining the queue at the airline’s administrators KPMG.

The PPF expects eventually to receive just a few pence in the pound.

But the loss of the £7.5m would be small beer.

The assets which support all the pension scheme members it has rescued over the years – including those of Monarch – stand at more than £30bn.

And that PPF fund has a surplus of £6bn, bolstered each year by a levy on solvent employers, who this year will pay in a further £615m.

Wall Street in positive territory

Wall Street sign with flags behind
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Let's check in on how shares are doing in the US now - and whereas at the open the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were in negative territory, things are looking a big more positive now.

The S&P 500 is now up at 2,552.67, that's 2 points or 0.08% higher.

And the Nasdaq has also risen to 6,595.50, 8 points or 0.13% up.

Meanwhile the Dow Jones has extended its gains and is now at 22,850.67, a rise of 20 points or 0.09%.

Old £1 good in Aldi for further fortnight

Old and new £1 coins
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Shoppers have been expressing their annoyance at receiving old £1 coins in change, ahead of the 15 October deadline when businesses can refuse to accept them.

Tesco has already said it will take them for a week after the deadline.

Now Aldi has gone even further.

We’ve been ready to accept the new £1 coins since they first came into circulation in March. To make the transition as easy as possible for our customers, we will continue to accept the old £1 coins as payment across our stores until the 31st of October.

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Whitbread up and Mondi down at London close

London Stock Exchange logo
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The FTSE 100 was slightly lower at the close of trade on Wednesday at 7,533.81, that's a fall of 4 points or 0.06%.

Whitbread shares were up by 3.4% - the strongest gainers - after the company paid £35m to take full control of its Costa Coffee joint venture in China.

The biggest decline was seen by packaging and paper products maker, Mondi, which warned on profits earlier today. Its shares finished the day 7.8% lower.

The FTSE 250 edged up a tad to 20,167.78, that's 21 points or 0.11% higher.

Homeware retailer Dunelm saw the the biggest rise on the mid-cap index. Its shares rose by 6.3% on Wednesday after it said like-for-like sales jumped 9.3% in the 13 weeks to 30 September.

Hurricane not as bad as thought for Delta

Irma
Reuters

US airline Delta weathered the effects of Hurricane Irma to post better-than-expected earnings.

The carrier posted $1.7bn (£1.29bn) pre-tax profits for the three months to 30 September, $182m (£138m) lower than last year.

It was forced to cancel flights when the hurricane hit the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia and Delta’s hub in Atlanta.

Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer, said: “We faced a number of challenges this quarter, including multiple hurricanes and an earthquake in Mexico.

"I am proud of how Delta people responded and still delivered an outstanding performance this quarter."

PPF 'better off' than if Monarch had failed in 2014

Monarch desk at airport
AFP

The PPF says if Monarch had gone bust in 2014, rather than being bought for £1, the pension scheme would have received nothing. As it was, the PPF and Greybull came to an arrangement which saw £30m being pumped into the scheme.

“In addition to the cash, the scheme also took debt in the business and a 10% equity stake. These were taken on the basis that if the business were to become successful again there would be a further return," the PPF said.

"Recent events have shown that, while we hope to receive some further recovery in respect of our debt, sadly Monarch did not return to being a successful business.

"Despite this, we believe that the protections we negotiated in November 2014 to ensure our debt and equity could not be superseded or watered down have operated as intended."

The upshot? By agreeing to a restructuring in 2014, the PPF says it's "better off" than if Monarch had been allowed to fail back then.

Monarch pensioners getting 'much more' under PPF

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has reacted to the Work and Pensions Committee's questions about the Monarch Airlines pension scheme.

In November 2014 the Monarch pension scheme was heavily deficit and the PPF faced an "inevitable claim of £200m", the PPF said in its statement.

"Without the protection of the PPF that shortfall in the pension scheme would have meant very significant losses to members. Following the transfer of the scheme to the PPF in November 2016, members are receiving much more than the pension scheme could have afforded to pay," it added.

Lufthansa to buy Air Berlin assets say reports

Air Berlin plane
AFP

Lufthansa is on the verge of agreeing a deal to snap up assets from insolvent Air Berlin, a source has told Reuters.

Germany's biggest airline will buy Air Berlin's Niki leisure unit, its LG Walter regional airline and some additional short-haul aircraft, the source said, adding, "The deal with Lufthansa is done, there is agreement."

Lufthansa did not comment on whether it was about to sign a deal.

Frank Field queries Monarch pensions deal

Monarch planes on the ground
Getty Images

The Chair of the Work and Pension Committee Frank Field has written to the Chief Executive of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) with some questions about the Monarch Airlines pension scheme.

The PPF took over the running of the pension scheme when Greybull Capital bought Monarch for £1 in 2014.

The questions centre around whether a £7.5m owed to the PPF by Greybull Capital will be paid in full.

Under the terms of the arrangement the PPF had been due to receive the money in instalments.

Media reports have raised the possibility that because of the way the buyout was structured, the PPF may lose out entirely on its claim while Greybull could make a big profit from its investment.

Mr Field said: “How can it be that once again, mega rich individuals could walk away from a collapsed company with a bumper profit while ordinary people pick up the bill?

"This massively supports the case for the law to change, to robustly protect pension schemes against owners seeking to line their pockets while avoiding their responsibilities, in line with our recommendations. Do we need another illustration of the ethics of some of the billionaire class in this country before we act?”

Spot the difference

Talking Business presenter Aaron Heslehurst's body language bears more than a passing resemblance to Sharon Stone's infamous leg cross in the Basic Instinct film as eagle eyed viewer Alex Kunawicz has pointed out.

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MPs will 'hold Equifax boss to his words'

Equifax logo
EPA

In its statement issued on Tuesday Equifax's chief European executive, Patricio Remon, said: "Once again, I would like to extend my most sincere apologies to anyone who has been concerned about or impacted by this criminal act."

Mr Remon also said the immediate focus of Equifax was to ‘support those affected by this incident’.

Treasury Committee Chair, Nicky Morgan, said the committee would "hold him to these words, and will consider taking public evidence from Equifax, particularly if it does not receive a full and timely response to these questions”.

MPs demand answers about Equifax breach

Equifax logo with credit cards and padlock
Reuters

On Tuesday, credit reference agency Equifax admitted that 694,000 customers in the UK had their data stolen between May and July this year.

The firm's original estimate of its UK cyber-theft victims, made last month, was fewer, at nearly 400,000.

Now Chair of the Treasury Committee, Nicky Morgan, has written to the chief executive of Equifax in the UK asking for further details about the scale of the breach, and what compensation it will provide.

Equifax has taken too long to notify those affected by its widespread cyber-security breach. People have been left in the dark for too long, which has increased the risk that they fall victim to identity theft and fraud. It is particularly concerning that the breach occurred in a business that sells identity protection services, and is looking to take advantage of the commercial opportunities afforded by data sharing initiatives, such as Open Banking.

Nicky MorganChair, Treasury Committee

Centrica agrees with Ofgem

Pan of water on gas ring
Getty Images

The energy regulator, Ofgem, has said it will extend its prepayment price cap to one million vulnerable households this winter. It said it was looking at extending price protection to another two million next winter, after the government announces its price cap (See previous posts).

Now the UK's biggest energy supplier Centrica has responded.

It says it agrees that more vulnerable customers should receive price protection, beyond those on pre-payment meters.

"This is in line with our own recent voluntary actions to protect an additional 200,000 customers for the whole of this winter," it adds.

Mazda' investigating' Kobe's steel in bonnets

Japan's third-biggest steelmaker Kobe Steel has admitted fabricating data about the strength and durability of some aluminium and copper products (See earlier posts).

Now a Mazda spokesperson has told the BBC: "We use Kobe Steel Aluminium on bonnets of cars."

However, the company is still "investigating what vehicles that metal is in and deciding what action we need to take".

Mazda "won’t know if we need to take any action until those investigations are complete," they added.

Little change on Wall Street

Wall Street bull
Getty Images

On Wall Street, all three key share indexes edged down at the start of Wednesday's trading amid caution about third quarter bank results which are due this week..

"Third quarter results of large banks are expected to be tepid," said Stephen Biggar, an analyst at Argus Research.

"Trading revenue (will be) down due to low volatility and loan growth remaining flat to slightly negative."

However, a short while ago the Dow Jones was ahead by 7 points or 0.03% at 22,837.37.

The S&P 500 was at 2,550.14, a fall of 0.5 points or 0.02%.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq was at 6,583.64, down 4 points or 0.05%.

Ebay explains tax affairs

ebay logo on a mobile phone
PA

The UK arm of eBay paid only £1.6m in corporation tax last year, even though the US company had total revenues from its UK operations of $1.32bn (£1bn).

Ebay is a huge international business that makes money mainly from advertisers and the commission on sales made through its auction site.

The company declined to explain how its UK revenues were not booked though its UK business.

An eBay spokesman said its tax affairs were entirely legal.

"In all countries and at all times, eBay is fully compliant with national, EU and international tax rules including those of the OECD, including the remittance of VAT to the appropriate authorities," he said.

Have you had money taken from your bank account?

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If you have been in the unfortunate position of having money removed from your bank account, then Radio 4's Money Box want to hear from you.

Scottish airport passenger numbers taking off

Aberdeen Airport
Aberdeen Airport

Passenger numbers at Aberdeen Airport have increased for the fifth month in a row, despite a further fall in helicopter traffic.

Nearly 285,000 people used the airport in September, a year-on-year increase of 3.9%.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Airport reported its busiest September on record, following a surge in international passenger numbers.

A total of almost 1.3 million people used the airport last month - up 8.4% on the same period last year.

International traffic was up by 14.1% over the period.

Want your energy questions answered?

Donate your old pound coins to Pudsey

Dame Barbara Windsor and Pudsey Bear
Children In Need
Dame Barbara Windsor and Pudsey Bear launch the hunt for round pound coins

If you still have some old pound coins lying around in pockets and down the back of the sofa, why not put them to good use by donating them to this year's BBC Children In Need?

The appeal has launched Pudsey's Round Pound Countdown to encourage people to donate the old round coins to the fund via special boxes in banks, building societies and some retail outlets.

This year's Children in Need takes place on Friday 17 November.

The company meeting music demand in China

Chinese tech giant Tencent is dominating the music streaming market after clamping down on piracy.

From Disney to Pompey

Fratton Park stadium
Getty Images
Fratton Park stadium

Why would the former head of Disney take over a lower division English football club?

Business reporter Bill Wilson finds out.

Alibaba pledges $15bn investment

Alibaba
Getty Images

Online retail giant Alibaba is showing off its might.

It's said it will invest a whopping $15bn to build overseas research hubs as it tries to take on rivals such as Amazon.

The Alibaba "Damo" academy will include eight research bases in China, Israel, the US, Russia and Singapore and initially it will hire 100 researchers to work on artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and fintech, the company has said.

Hurricane Irma hits Delta profits

Delta tailfin
Delta Air Lines

Delta has reported much better-than-expected third quarter results.

The US airline said for the three months to September revenue rose 5.5% to $11.1bn compared to the same period last year, just ahead of expectations.

Net profit fell 6% to $1.17bn, largely due to disruptions caused by Hurricane Irma.

The storm caused widespread destruction across the Caribbean and killed at least nine people.

Bombardier workers lobby MPs

MPs with Bombardier workers
Reuters

MPs have joined Bombardier workers outside the Houses of Parliament as part of a campaign to protect jobs in Belfast.

The workers, along with the trade union, Unite, displayed a large banner stating "#BackBombardier".

The group is due to meet Business Secretary Greg Clark later.

Bombardier, a Canadian aerospace company, is in a trade dispute with rival firm Boeing over alleged below-cost selling of its C-Series jet.