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Summary

  1. FTSE 100 ends at 7,556.2 points
  2. Pound has rollercoaster day
  3. Government confirms energy price cap plans
  4. HSBC names new chief executive
  5. Sky in strong Q1 as shareholder revolt looms
  6. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

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Good night

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That's it for Thursday's Business Live - thank you for staying with us.

We'll be back again at 06:00 tomorrow, so do join us again if you can to get all the news, views and analysis from the world of business, money and economics.

VisitScotland to shut 39 tourist offices

Portree's tourist information centre
VisitScotland
Portree's visitor centre will be extended

Nearly two-thirds of Scotland's tourist information centres are to close as part of "radical" plans to change the service.

VisitScotland said 39 of its 65 centres would shut over the next two years, leaving 26 "high-impact regional hubs".

Explaining the decision, VisitScotland said there had been a 58% drop in the number of tourists visiting their information centres over the past 10 years. Two out of three visitors to Scotland now get their information online, so they would be investing £10m in digital activity and the new regional hubs.

Staff affected by the centre closures are to be offered redundancy packages or the chance of redeployment.

The centre at Portree on Skye is one which will be extended into a regional hub.

The centres and Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports will be among those due to close.

Read more here including which centres will close and where the new hubs will be located.

Bank woes drag down Wall Street

What a difference a day makes.

On Wednesday, all three key US share indexes hit record highs.

On Thursday, they all closed lower, following lacklustre quarterly results from JP Morgan and Citigroup.

The two banks beat profit and revenue estimates, but reported a fall in trading revenue. JP Morgan shares were down by 0.88%, while Citigroup lost 3.43%.

The Dow Jones closed down 0.14% at 22,841.01, while the broader S&P 500 fell 0.17% to 2,550.93. The tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 0.18% to close at 6,591.51.

Trump: Puerto Rico aid can't continue' forever'

Damaged roads in Puerto Rico
Getty Images

US President Donald Trump has griped about emergency relief efforts in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, saying federal aid cannot continue "forever".

In tweets, he accused Puerto Rico of a "total lack of accountability", adding that "electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes".

The island, whose 3.4 million residents are US citizens, is 90% without power, some three weeks after Hurricane Maria.

Congress is weighing a multi-billion dollar aid package for the territory.

Lawmakers are expected to approve $36.5bn (£28bn) in emergency storm relief for Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and the US Virgin Islands, as well as wildfire-ravaged California.

In Thursday's tweets, the US president noted it was up to "Congress to decide how much to spend".

But he added: "We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!" Read more here

Rare Rolex fetches £230,000

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Wristwatch in box
Lockdales Auctioneers

A Rolex watch which was once rescued from a cement mixer has sold for £230,000 at auction.

Auctioneers said the watch, which was originally purchased in 1965, was one of the "great rarities".

Lockdales Auctioneers said bidders had flown over from Italy, the USA and the Netherlands to take part in Wednesday's sale at Martlesham Heath, Suffolk.

Its estimated value was £8,000. The auctioneers said the market for vintage watches "seems to be very hot". Read full story here

Sausage factory

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Who knew: Germany has around 1,200 different types of sausage - just one of the fascinating facts BBC Radio 4 has dug up.

Frankfurters, Bratwurst, Munich Weisswurst and hundreds more. Germany’s varieties of sausage far outnumber the many kinds of French cheese.

Current estimates suggest that France can now offer around 400 cheeses. This is still outnumbered three to one by German sausages. Read more here

Goldman buys 'flipping' lender

Natalie Sherman

New York business reporter

Goldman Sachs
AFP/Getty

Home-flippers looking for cash to fuel their businesses have a new bank: Goldman Sachs.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman has purchased Los Angeles-based Genesis Capital, which provides short-term loans to investors that buy, renovate and quickly resell distressed, single-family homes.

Such rehabbers have relied heavily on private, non-bank lenders since the financial crisis, as banks shied away from risky investments.

Goldman has been working to build up new revenue streams, as traditional money-makers such as bond trading face challenges. The firm also started an online bank for consumers.

Other major Wall Street firms, including affiliates of Blackstone Group and Fortress Investment, have made similar moves. Alternative asset manager Oaktree Capital Management previously invested money in Genesis.

Wall Street's interest in rehabbers comes as a new paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research argues that real estate investors were largely responsible for the rise in mortgage defaults in the US during the run-up to the financial crisis.

Scottish Widows buys Zurich business

Edinburgh-based Scottish Widows is to take over the UK pensions and savings division built up by Zurich.

The long-rumoured deal was announced on Thursday by Scottish Widows' parent company Lloyds Banking Group.

It adds £15bn of assets under management to the £124bn already under management from the Edinburgh office. It also adds 500,000 customers.

Two hundred Zurich employees in Cheltenham are expected to transfer to Lloyds.

Zurich sign
BBC

Treasury Secretary 'applauds' Trump over Obamacare

I applaud the President for taking this important step to relieve the American people of the burdens of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This executive order will empower individuals and small businesses to improve their healthcare coverage, and unleash the power of the free market to increase accessibility, affordability, and options. By reducing the regulatory barriers that limit choice and competition, we will make sure that Americans have access to the healthcare coverage they deserve.

Steve MnuchinUS Treasury Secretary

Trump signs order to weaken Obamacare

President Trump signing order
Reuters

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order allowing the sale of health insurance plans that are exempt from some Obamacare regulations.

The order directs federal agencies to consider easing rules allowing small businesses and some individuals to buy cheaper plans with fewer benefits.

Consumers could also buy short-term policies that would skirt protections in place for pre-existing conditions.

The order comes after Congress has repeatedly failed to repeal the law.

Mr Trump said the White House was "starting the process" of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, in announcing the executive order at a news conference on Thursday.

Read more here

Facebook 'fully committed' providing details of ads

Sheryl Sandberg
Getty Images

Let's get a bit more detail on Facebook boss Sheryl Sandbeg's comments about ads bought in Russia during the US election (see post at 2:38pm).

On 11 October, Ms Sandberg and others from Facebook appeared before US congressional panels looking into reports of Russian interference in the election.

Today she told the news site Axios that Facebook was "fully committed" to providing detailed information about the ads.

The ads, pages they linked to and who they were targeted at have been given to investigators, said Ms Sandberg.

The ads and the fake accounts used to get them on Facebook had been found and removed, she said.

However, she added, if the ads had been placed by real accounts, Facebook would not have removed them.

Read the full story from our technology team here

Swiss investigate former FIFA boss again

BBC World Service

Jerome Valcke
Getty Images

Prosecutors in Switzerland say they've opened a second criminal investigation into the former Secretary General of football's world governing body, FIFA, reports BBC World Service.

They're investigating Jerome Valcke on suspicion of receiving what they call undue advantages from two businessmen over the awarding of media rights for forthcoming World Cups.

One of the men has been named as the Qatari, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who's the chairman of Paris St-Germain football club. Mr Valcke is the subject of another Swiss investigation that began last year. He denies wrongdoing.

Mr Khelaifi has yet to respond to the allegations.

Equifax sit faces another attack

Natalie Sherman

New York business reporter

Equifax logo with padlock and credit cards
Reuters

Equifax has taken down a customer help web page amid reports of another attack on the credit reporting giant.

The firm said it took down the link for credit report assistance temporarily "out of an abundance of caution".

It said its IT and security teams are investigating the incident. Equifax is still reeling from its discovery of a breach that compromised personal data of more than 145.5 million Americans and about 8,000 Canadians.

Equifax has also said a file containing names and birthdates of 15.2m people in the UK were accessed.

The new attack involved a webpage that asked visitors to download fraudulent Adobe Flash updates, according to Ars Technica.

The issue was first publicly identified by an independent security analyst. "We are aware of the situation identified on the equifax.com website in the credit report assistance link," spokesman Wyatt Jefferies wrote. "When it becomes available or we have more information to share, we will."

Pound jumps against the euro

pound euro graphic intraday Thursday 12 October 2017
BBC

The pound also jumped against the euro following the reports in the German newspaper Handelsblatt that the EU could offer the UK a transitional Brexit deal (see previous post).

A short while ago the pound was at 1.1193 euros.

Pound hits eight-week high against dollar

Pound dollar graphic intraday Thursday 12 October
BBC

Sterling jumped by more than a cent to reach an eight-day high against the dollar on Thursday.

Reports said it was buoyed by a report in Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper that the European Union could offer Britain a two-year transitional Brexit deal.

Earlier the pound had fallen sharply after the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said negotiations about the UK's divorce payment had become deadlocked.

The pound subsequently went down to $1.3122, but after the Handelsblatt report it rebounded to reach $1.3267, a rise of 0.3%.

Read: Check it out

The BBC's Reality Check team delves into the US President's economic claims.

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Starmer: Brexit deadlock a 'serious failure'

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

Shadow Brexit Secretary says deadlock in EU talks means UK will miss Brexit of March 2019

The shadow Brexit secretary has said that the deadlock in the talks with the European Union over the UK's withdrawal is "a serious failure to hit a very important deadline."

Sir Keir was talking as the European Union's Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier confirmed insufficient progress had been made for discussions on a future trade deal to begin. The Brexit secretary, David Davis, insisted considerable headway had been made.

Sir Keir told Radio 4's World at One that "it's blindingly obvious that we're not going to reach a full agreement by March 2019 and unless there's a transitional arrangement in place soon, then companies are making plans about what they will do in the event of a no deal". He added "a no deal is very bad for Britain and for the EU".

Ryanair recruits pilots

Last month Ryanair announced it was cancelling thousands of flights blaming a mix-up over pilots' holiday rotas.

At the time past and present Ryanair pilots blamed a lack of pilots.

Ryanair boss Micheal O'Leary insisted there was no shortage.

Nevertheless, the airline is tweeting about how well its pilot recruitment is going.

View more on twitter

FTSE's 'winning streak' continues

FTSE 100 close graphic Thursday 12 October 2017
BBC

More on the FTSE 100's record high close ... The index often benefits from a fall in sterling, as a weaker currency increases the value of companies' overseas earnings when they are brought back to the UK and converted back into pounds.

"The UK stock market continues its winning streak despite concerns over economic performance and the unfolding Brexit process," said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

"The question is whether the market's strong run means it's fit to burst."

He added that it was "vital to recognise that the level of the Footsie is not a measure of value in UK stocks, seeing as it doesn't take account of the level of earnings of companies in the index.

"Basing investment decisions on the level of the FTSE is therefore like deciding whether to buy something based on its price, without actually knowing what the item is," he added.

Why is the FTSE 100 at record high?

Analysts say the FTSE 100's record high is mainly to the fall in the pound.

The bullish move was achieved for the wrong reasons, as the dip in the pound on the back of the stalled Brexit talks helped the British index.

David MaddenMarket analyst, CMC Markets UK

FTSE ends at new high

London Stock Exchange sign
Getty Images

The FTSE 100 has closed at a record high of 7,556.24 points, partly following a fall in sterling sparked by concerns about the state of Brexit negotiations.

Ryanair to challenge Air Berlin deal

Ryanair plane on ground
AFP

Ryanair has said it will refer Lufthansa's 210m euro deal to buy large parts of insolvent Air Berlin (see earlier posts) to European Union competition authorities.

"We will be referring the matter to the EU competition authority in due course," a Ryanair spokesman told Reuters.

The Irish airline had previously described the Lufthansa deal to snap up bits of Air Berlin as a "a stitch-up".

CWU says strike 'inevitable' without 'good' agreement

The company are deluded if they believe their court room politics will resolve this dispute. Instead the company’s actions will have the complete opposite effect. Postal Workers’ attitude towards the company will harden and it makes us more determined than ever to defend our members pensions, jobs, service and achieve our objectives. Unless the company significantly shifts its position on a range of issues and we can quickly conclude a good agreement for our members then strike action is inevitable.

Dave WardGeneral secretary, CWU

Postal union 'disappointed' at strike injunction

Pile of letters
Getty Images

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says it's "extremely disappointed" that the Royal Mail has won a High Court injunction to prevent next week's 48-hour strike.

It described Royal Mail's action as "nothing more than a desperate delaying tactic from a board who are increasingly out of touch with the views of its workforce".

In a statement, the CWU went on to say that it had "nothing to fear from mediation and unless there is significant movement from the company on a range of issues and a satisfactory agreement is concluded, the union will be calling further strike action once the mediation process has been completed.

Lagarde 'cannot imagine' Brexit without trade deal

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Christine Lagarde head shot
getty images

The managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has said that she "cannot imagine" Britain leaving the European Union without a new, bespoke trade deal.

Speaking at the IMF's Autumn Meeting in Washington DC, Mme Lagarde said that World Trade Organisation rules had little to say on rights of citizens for example or on freedom of the skies agreements allowing airlines to fly across the continent.

Answering my question on what the economic impact of a "no deal" scenario would be, Mme Largarde said that the UK and the EU were so intertwined there would need to be a "specific approach" taken - a signal that she does not believe a "no deal" World Trade Organisation relationship is sustainable.

She said it would be difficult for "the people" across Europe to understand that approach.

The Government has made it clear that the "no deal" option is still on the table, despite it wanting a bespoke trade agreement with the EU once the Brexit process is complete.

Why are postal workers in dispute?

Royal Mail vans
Getty Images

Postal workers who are members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) were due to strike for 48 hours in a dispute over pensions, pay and jobs.

If the strike had gone ahead it would have been the first national walkout since Royal Mail was privatised four years ago.

Royal Mail said that the CWU should enter into mediation before taking part in any industrial action.

The union said it had been trying to resolve the dispute for 18 months.

BreakingRoyal Mail wins strike injunction

The Royal Mail has won a High Court injunction preventing next week's 48-hour strike by postal workers.

Virgin invests in Hyperloop One

Hyperloop One pod
Getty Images

Richard Branson's Virgin Group has pumped an undisclosed amount of investment into the futuristic transport system, Hyperloop One, one of several firms trying to create a pod-based transport system.

Hyperloop puts pods in an airless tunnel and seeks to accelerate them to very high speeds to cut travel times for freight and passengers.

Backers of the hyperloop idea claim that eventually the pods will travel at speeds of about 1,000 km/h.

In a statement Mr Branson described it as "an incredibly innovative and exciting new way to move people and things at airline speeds on the ground", adding that the company would be rebranded as Virgin Hyperloop One.

How will Gucci make its shoes now?

The FT's Katie Martin has an idea:

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Oh we do like to go to the UK

seaside
Getty Images

There were a record 19.2 million visits to the UK in the first half of this year, up 9% on the same period last year, according to new figures from Visit Britain.

The tourist promotion agency predicted earlier this week that it expects 2017 as a whole to be a new record, with nearly 40 million overseas people expected to visit the country.

Aside from the weak pound, what's luring them all here?

According to the Assocation of Leading Visitor Attractions it's mainly London's top quality museums.

Top five UK visitor attractions in 2016 were:

  • British Museum - 6.4 million visits
  • National Gallery -6.3 million
  • Tate Modern - 5.8 million
  • Natural History Museum - 4.6 million
  • Southbank Centre - 3.9 million

BreakingPolice reopen Weinstein probe

Harvey Weinstein with his wife Georgina Chapman
Getty Images
Harvey Weinstein with his wife Georgina Chapman

New York police said Thursday they have reopened a investigation into allegations of a 2004 sexual assault by disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

An avalanche of claims of sexual harassment, assault and rape by the Hollywood heavyweight have surfaced since the publication last week of an explosive New York Times report alleging a history of abusive behaviour dating back decades.

Wall Street opens lower

Wall Street sign
Getty Images

All three key US stock indexes opened lower on Thursday, despite both JP Morgan and Citigroup kicking off the bank results season by reporting a rise in profits.

A short while ago the Dow Jones was at 22,838.63, a fall of 34 points or 0.15%.

The S&P 500 was a 2,549.59, that's 6 points or 0.22% lower.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 17 points of 0.26% at 6,586.62.

Facebook boss: 'Things happened that shouldn't have'

Eye with Facebook logo in it
PA

Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has said the company was fully committed to helping US congressional investigators publicly release Russia-backed political ads that ran during the 2016 US election.

Ms Sandberg told the Axios news website that "things happened on our platform in this election that shouldn't have happened."

Last week Facebook said about 10 million people in the US saw Facebook adverts bought in Russia before and after the US presidential election.

It said most ads focused on "divisive social and political messages" on issues like immigration and gun rights.

Russia has denied trying to influence the election.

Lufthansa buys parts of Air Berlin

Air Berlin planes on the ground
Reuters

Lufthansa has agreed to buy parts of insolvent German airline Air Berlin for around 210m euros, Air Berlin has confirmed.

The deal includes Air Berlin's Austrian leisure travel airline Niki, its LG Walter regional airline and 20 further aircraft, its said in a statement.

The deal still needs to be given the go-ahead by the European Commission.

Negotiations with Britain's easyJet for other parts of the business are ongoing, Air Berlin said..

Shell boosts electric charging network

Electric written on road of parking bay
Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell is to take over NewMotion, the owner of one of Europe's biggest electric vehicle charging networks.

Shell has started providing charging points for electric vehicles at some of its retail stations and said the acquisition of NewMotion would help it offer electric vehicle services at home, at work and on the go.

"Today's announcement is an early step towards ensuring customers can access a range of refuelling choices over the coming decades," said Matthew Tipper, Shell's vice president for new fuels.

NewMotion has more than 30,000 electric charging points in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Britain.

BreakingJames Murdoch reappointed at Sky

James Murdoch
Getty Images

James Murdoch has survived an attempt by shareholders to oust him as chairman of British broadcaster Sky.

Shareholders voted 78% in favour of his re-appointment, although he only had the backing of 50.5% of independent shareholders, the company said.

That is an improvement on last year when 53% of independent investors - i.e. excluding the stake held by the Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox - voted against his re-election.

Citigroup profits rise

Citi Canary Wharf office
Getty Images

US bank Citigroup - well-known in the UK for its Canary Wharf skyscraper - is the second Wall Street titan to report profit growth. It said third quarter net income rose 8% to $4.1bn - after JP Morgan also reported an increase in profits.

The profit figure was flattered by the sale of its fixed income analytics business. Without the sale, net income would actually have fallen by 2%.

Nonetheless, chief executive Michael Corbat hailed it as "a strong quarter".

"We had revenue increases in many of the products we have been investing in, tightly managed our expenses, and again saw loan growth in both our consumer and institutional businesses," he says.

Slip or fall?

The pound is back below €1.10 - having fallen more than 0.6% after Michel Barnier said there was a "deadlock" over what Britain would pay when it leaves the EU.

Sterling is also down 0.6% against the dollar. Foreign exchange service WorldFirst tweets:

View more on twitter

Why is the pound lower?

Pound coins
Getty Images

Currency traders are watching the progress of the Brexit talks - and the rhetoric used by both sides - very closely. The fall in the pound after EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier's comments about a "deadlock" on the divorce bill is the latest example, analysts said.

The UK had hoped the EU might agree to open trade talks when it meets at a crucial summit next week. Andrew Lilico - a director at consultancy Europe Economics, who backs Brexit - says Mr Barnier's comments have made it less likely that the talks will progress this month.

View more on twitter

Apple gets go-ahead for data centre

Apple logo
Getty Images

Tech giant Apple has won a court case giving it the go-ahead to build a new data centre in the west of Ireland.

The project, first announced in 2015, had been delayed due to planning objections.

But the High Court has now dismissed the environmental challenge made by three people.