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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Pound hits six-month high against euro
  3. But it's now fallen to €1.14 and $1.34
  4. US firms add 228,000 jobs but wages stall
  5. Bitcoin falls to $15,000 after bumpy ride
  6. BA to close defined benefit pensions

Live Reporting

By Dan Macadam

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night

Test card F

That's all for this evening and this week - thanks very much for reading. Do join us on Monday when we'll be back from 06:00am.

Here's a quick recap of the main developments today:

Wall Street finishes on a high note

The Dow Jones index ended the week up around 0.49%, or 117.68 points, to 24,329.16

The S&P 500 closed up 0.55% to 2,651.50, a rise of 14.52 points.

The Nasdaq also ended on a high, at 6,840.08, up 0.340% or 27.24 points for the session.

Rates to rise under Powell?

Jerome Powell

The markets overwhelmingly expect the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at a meeting next week.

And one analyst says the next hike is likely to come when Jerome Powell takes over from Janet Yellen as chair of the central bank early next year.

"By the time the Fed meets in March, we expect to see sub-4% unemployment, accompanied by a clear uptick in wages and no softening in the payroll trend," says Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

"We think Mr. Powell's first meeting will bring a rate hike."

Mr Powell, a multi-millionaire lawyer-turned-investment banker, still needs official approval from Congresss, although he took a step closer this week when he was backed by a Senate banking committee.

Bitcoin steadies after rollercoaster ride

Bitcoin price

The chart above shows the wild day of trading for Bitcoin - in which it's crossed $17,000 but also dropped $3,000 in a matter of hours.

Since then the digital currency has steadied a bit, and is now hovering at around $15,000.

Bitcoin - which many see as a speculative investment rather than a currency - went through a similar hairy ride last night, as warnings of a bubble continue to mount.

What's new pussycat?

'Kicking the can down the road'

Union Jack umbrella
Getty Images

What are analysts saying about sterling falling back to levels seen before the Brexit breakthrough?

"There's a sense here that we're just moving on to the next issue. Have we really done anything more than kicking the can down the road a little bit?" said Societe Generale macro strategist Kit Juckes.

But it's also "just a December Friday - no one's going to go in and buy lots of pounds. We've had a decent run and nobody wants to enter the weekend with a lot of risk on the table".

RBC strategists said Brexit negotiations aside, the economy remained in a fragile state.

Figures from the ONS this morning showed construction output unexpectedly fell by 1.7% in October, although manufacturing performed better, rising by 0.1%.

US economy gets better and better?

The all-new 2018 Ford Expedition SUV goes through the assembly line at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant October 27, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky
Getty Images

Analysts at Fitch Ratings offer a rosy picture of the US economy in the new year.

In a report published Friday, Fitch says it expects US economic growth to accelerate to 2.5% next year, after "outperforming expectations" in 2017.

"Consumption is growing steadily, supported by improving labour markets, and global trade conditions have been supportive." a report published Friday said.

It says a package of tax cuts promised by Republicans will provide a boost - and add to the debt.

But that's not likely to knock the US from its position as the most highly indebted nation with its top AAA rating, given demand for the dollar, Fitch adds.

"it would take a significant shock to affect the US rating," the report says.

Watch: Beware Christmas knock-offs

Millions of pounds of fake goods seized ahead of Christmas

Oil rallies

Oil pumpjack

Oil prices are up by more than 1% on Friday after sliding backwards for most of the week.

Brent crude is nearly a cent higher at $63.10 a barrel on the back of rising Chinese crude demand and threats of a strike in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil exporter.

But prices are still on track for weekly losses amid concerns that rising US production could undermine the supply cuts masterminded by oil cartel Opec.

Sterling slides further

Getty Images

The pound has now fallen back below €1.14 and $1.34 - the levels it was at before last night's breakthrough in the Brexit talks.

Analysts said the pound remains volatile as traders try to weigh up the potential pitfalls in the next round of negotiations.

Sterling is down 0.6% against the dollar at $1.33950, and has fallen 0.5% against the euro to €1.13910.

Brexit deal: How the night unfolded

Jean Claude Juncker receives Theresa May
European Commission

A dramatic dawn breakthrough saw the prime minister secure a last minute deal to move Brexit talks onto the next phase.

Reports overnight - and then the confirmation this morning - saw the pound rise against the dollar and hit a six-month high against the euro, before easing back this afternoon.

A night of telephone diplomacy finished with Theresa May and David Davis heading to Brussels, where they had this breakfast meeting with Jean Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier.

You can read the full story of what happened here.

This week's FTSE winners

Costa coffee

It's been a tricky week for the FTSE 100 index, as it slumped to a 10-week low on Thursday before an impressive rebound on Friday meant it finished the week just below 7,400 points.

Here were the companies which gained the most this week:

  1. Whitbread +12.4% The owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn hotels saw its shares surge after an activist investor took a stake in the business. Recent reports suggested Whitbread could face pressure to unlock more value from the company by spinning off Costa into a separate business.
  2. Berkekley Group +7.7% The house builder jumped up the leaderboard after reporting a 36% rise in pre-tax profits and upgraded its long-term forecast.
  3. Mediclinic International +7.12% The South African hospital operator appointed a new chief executive last week - its chief clinical officer, Carel Aron van der Merwe. It also benefited from a fall in the South African rand.
  4. Sky +6.8% The broadcaster gained on the back of reports that 21st Century Fox - which owns 39% of the business and is seeking to buy the rest - is in talks to be acquired by Disney.
  5. Ashtead Group +6% The machinery hire firm was upgraded by analysts from Numis, RBC and Deutsche Bank ahead of its half-year results next Tuesday.

Business beasts

In case you missed our A-Z of animal-inspired business jargon...

Who bought the $450m Da Vinci?

It was one of the mysteries in a story that was already like a blockbuster novel.

The buyer of the Salvator Mundi painting, which sold for a record $450m last month, has now been revealed.

Abu Dhabi has confirmed it bought the world's most expensive artwork for the state's new Louvre gallery.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum - which opened earlier this month and cost an estimated £1bn to build - said it was looking forward to "displaying the painting".

The 500-year-old artwork of Christ is believed to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci.

In 1958 it was sold at auction in London for a mere £45.

At the time it was generally reckoned to be the work of a follower of Leonardo, but most scholars now believe it was by the Renaissance master himself.

FTSE gains from pound pain

Union jack and UK coins
Getty Images

The UK's 100 share index put on a spurt in afternoon trading to finish 1% higher at 7,393.96 points.

The FTSE 100 hit a 10-week low yesterday on the back of gains in the pound.

Today it was the opposite story, with falls in sterling giving the index a boost.

Many of the firms on the FTSE 100 make their profits abroad. When sterling falls, those overseas earnings are worth more when converted back into pounds.

"The early positive momentum in sterling ran out of steam and then the pound turned negative – which propped up the FTSE 100," said David Madden of CMC Markets.

Apple fixes smart home flaw

Getty Images

It's not what you want really if you have a "smart home".

A bug in the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system could have let criminals unlock internet-connected doors or control their lights.

The tech giant says it has now fixed the security flaw in its HomeKit system that could have let unauthorised people control smart home gadgets.

It has disabled remote HomeKit access for shared users, as a temporary solution to the problem.

Read more from the BBC tech team here.


London skyline
Getty Images

There's another twist in the ongoing battle for control of UK hotel chain, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels.

Singaporean billionaire Kwek Leng Beng's investment vehicle has upped its offer for the company - which has seven hotels in London, including the Millennium at Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge stadium.

Millennium & Copthorne has agreed to the improved offer, which values it at about £2bn.

And investors seem to like the deal. The FTSE 250 company's shares are almost 5.5% higher in late trading in London to 612 pence - slightly less than the offer from Kwek Leng Beng's CDL Group.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

'Raise UK rates to stop overheating'

Steel making
Getty Images

The UK economy grew at 0.5% in the three months to November, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), following stronger manufacturing data for October.

Economist Amit Kara says: "If, as we expect, the economy continues to expand around this pace and inflation remains elevated, there is a case for the Bank of England to gradually raise the policy rate to stop the economy from overheating.”

So, did 'soft Brexit' just win?

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

'No hard border' billboard
Getty Images

Here's an extract from Kamal's blog on today's first-round Brexit agreement. For the full article, click here.

If Britain does become a "third country" - that is trading with the EU as other non-EU countries outside the single market and the customs union do - then border controls will be necessary.

And that open border will become very much more closed.

There is at least a partial way around this conundrum. And it necessitates the comprehensive free trade deal the British government has said it wants.

And at least closely mirroring customs arrangements we presently adhere to as members of the EU's customs union.

That equates for many with a "soft Brexit" and is the trajectory many economists argue would be best for the UK economy.

Trump takes aim at Wells Fargo

Donald Trump has got his smartphone out again (unless his lawyer has been given the password again...).

Wells Fargo shares have shrugged it off - they're up 0.8% at $59.84 a share.

View more on twitter

Pound braced for 'bumpy road'

Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker
European Commission

Sterling has slipped further from the six-month high it hit against the euro this morning when the UK and EU agreed a first-round deal.

The pound is now hovering just above €1.14, having fallen 0.3% against the euro. Against the dollar, sterling is trading 0.4% lower at about $1.34.

Analysts said the markets were turning attention to the task ahead as the Brexit talks turn to trade issues.

"We could see more upside in the pound in the coming months but as it was before, the road ahead is bumpy and that will be reflected in the currency markets," said OANDA analyst Craig Erlam.

US markets welcome jobs figures

Time Square
Getty Images

Wall Street stock indexes have opened higher after a strong set of jobs figures which showed US firms added 228,000 jobs last month.

Analysts said the figures bolstered the case for a hike in interest rates next month, despite wages growing more slowly than expected.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average index rose 0.2% to 24,258 in early trading.

The S&P 500 gained 0.3% to 2,645 points.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 0.7% to 6,862.

No hands

Theo Leggett

Earlier we brought you this photo of BBC business reporter Theo Leggett taking a self-driving car for a spin on the motorway. In case you were worried, he did have some safety support...

View more on twitter

Spotify strikes deal with Tencent

Dua Lipa
Getty Images
British singer Dua Lipa is the most streamed artist on Spotify this year

It's the world's most popular music streaming service - with more than 140 million active monthly users and counting - but Spotify also faces questions about how it plans to stay ahead of the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google.

The firm has gone some way towards answering that by striking a deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent, in which the two companies will take a stake in each other's businesses.

It comes at a particularly interesting time for Spotify, as the Swedish firm, which is yet to make a profit, considers plans to list on the stock market.

Spotify founder Daniel Ek said the Tencent deal would "allow both companies to benefit from the global growth of music streaming", but didn't say how much money was involved.

EU-Japan deal 'overshadowed'

Andrew Walker

World Service economics correspondent

Tokyo skyline
Getty Images

As reported earlier, the EU struck another major agreement today - it has concluded trade negotiations with Japan. BBC World Service correspondent Andrew Walker explains:

For the EU the agreement is overshadowed by another set of trade negotiations that seem to be about to start – with the departing UK. But it is an important moment.

Japan represents the biggest economy with which the EU has so far signed on the dotted line. And there could be more next week involving Mexico and a group of countries in South America.

There is however no current prospect of a trade deal with the world’s two largest economies.

Negotiations with the United States – known as the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – are stalled. The EU is negotiating with China on investment not for a general free trade deal.

Now, much of the EU’s negotiating capacity will be tied up with the UK.

Will the Fed still raise rates?

Janet Yellen

The figures on US jobs and wages are particularly important ahead of next week's meeting of the US central bank, where policymakers are being tipped to raise interest rates.

Aberdeen Standard strategist Luke Bartholomew says wage growth of 2.5% - below analysts' estimates - is "pretty awful yet again".

But the Federal Reserve - led by outgoing chair Janet Yellen (pictured) - is "almost certain to still hike next week in part because this is what they have led investors to expect".

"The big question going into the end of the year is exactly what needs to be done to stir some life in wage growth.

"Trump’s tax cuts will play into the debate but they won’t solve the riddle,” Mr Bartholomew adds.

US jobs steady after hurricanes

Florida after Hurricane Harvey

November's US jobs report is the first clean reading since Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which also impacted September's employment data.

It showed that US firms added 228,000 new jobs last month - with the unemployment rate unchanged at a 17-year low of 4.1%.

Employment gains in October were boosted by the return to work of thousands of employees who had been temporarily dislocated by the fierce storms.

BreakingUS firms add jobs but wage growth disappoints

US companies created 228,000 new jobs in November, according to the US Department of Labour.

The figure is down from 244,000 in October, which was revised down from an initial estimate of 261,000. However, November's count was ahead of forecasts for 200,000 new roles.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%.

Wages grew by 2.5% in the year to November, below expectations of a 2.7% increase.

EU 'concerned' about Lufthansa/Air Berlin deal

Lufthansa and Air Berlin planes
Getty Images

Europe's competition chief says that she has concerns about the acquisition by German airline Lufthansa of routes operated by the failed Air Berlin.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, said on Friday: "We have quite deep competition concerns because there is a risk that on some routes Lufthansa becomes de facto a monopoly."

Lufthansa offered to buy half of Air Berlin's assets for around €210m (£183.6m) in October.

The German airline has offered concessions to secure the deal. The EU competition authority is now seeking feedback from rivals and interested parties.

Power companies rapped over exit fees

Gas rings
Getty Images

Three energy companies appear to have admitted to some fairly basic errors this morning.

Npower and E.On wrongly told over 22,000 customers that they would have to pay an exit fee when they tried to switch supplier near the end of their contracts.

While Utilita has had to refund some of its prepayment customers £3.61m, after it failed to implement the charge cap imposed by the regulator Ofgem.

Around 350,000 customers will get about a tenner each.

Ofgem said there’s be no fines against Npower and E.On, as both firms had taken steps to put things right.

Pearson turns to Snap for new board member

Michael Lynton
Getty Images

Education publisher Pearson has appointed the chairman of Snap Inc, the owner Snapchat, to its board to help drive its "transformation to be a more focused, simpler digital learning company".

Michael Lynton, who was also previously chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment for 10 years, will join Pearson as an independent non-executive director from February next year.

Putting the dumb into dumbells

FT How to Spend It

The FT's "How to Spend It" magazine is always a source of wonder.

The "eclectibles" section has some particularly jaw dropping items.

Today it contains a pair of designer dumbbells priced at £800, a backpack for £950 and a coffee pot for £5,850.

So if you are not sure what to buy your billionaire friends for Christmas - take a look.

Banks and builders spur FTSE 100

FTSE 100

Shares in big building firms are powering the FTSE 100 higher today. The index is up 0.5%.

Berkeley Group is up more than 9%, Barratt is up 4.5% and Taylor Wimpey is 3% higher.

That follows strong results from Berkeley.

Banks are also doing well, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays are both up more than 3%.

Late on Thursday a compromise was announced over new global banking rules that was seen as more sympathetic to the industry.

"This appears to be a far better outcome than we and the market had feared," Citi analyst Simon Nellis said in a research note.

"This is a big positive for all European banks, which should now be able to quantify excess capital and M&A budgets in due course."

Mission impossible?

Presenter of the BBC's Daily Politics Andrew Neil tweets:

View more on twitter gets down to business

'Gasoline on the fire' fears over US inflation

US flag
Getty Images

At 13:30 GMT the US Labor Department releases its closely watched monthly employment report.

It's expected to show the US economy created around 200,000 jobs last month.

In October 261,000 jobs were added, but that report was distorted by the return to work of thousands of staff who had been temporarily idled by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The unemployment rate is expected to be unchanged at a 17-year low of 4.1%.

Average hourly earnings will also be closely watched. That figure is expected to rise 0.3% in November - it was flat in October.

"I think that in the next three to six months we will see a broader uptick in wage pressures," said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Atlantic Trust.

He says that planned tax cuts could spur inflationary pressure.

"Given where we are in the economic cycle, if you throw some gasoline in the fire with fiscal stimulus, that will ultimately spark some higher inflation."

EU and Japan conclude trade negotiations

BBC Business Reporter Joe Lynam tweets:

View more on twitter

Buzzfeed to cut UK jobs

Buzzfeed badges
Getty Images

Online publisher Buzzfeed is planning to cut nearly a third of its staff in the UK.

Buzzfeed has already announced proposals to axe 100 jobs in the US and on Thursday it told staff in London 45 positions could be cut from its editorial and commercial operations.

Driving into the future

BBC business news reporter Theo Leggett tweets:

It's complicated

Getty Images

The pound is flat on the dollar at $1.34750 but is up 0.30% on the euro at €1.14790.

Karen Briggs, head of Brexit at accountancy firm KPMG, says: "We are now entering a period that will be a lot more complicated. The Irish border issue showed how fragile Brexit discussions can be and now negotiation failure could happen at the end of the talks rather than at the start. That’s why companies are planning for a no deal scenario and some are already making investment decisions they can't reverse."

She adds: “We continue to urge our clients to stress test their logistics network, supply chain exposure, customs approvals, working capital and customer expectations.”