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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. House of Representatives clears tax reform bill
  3. Uber classed as a cab company in EU ruling
  4. Sterling rises on the dollar
  5. CMA clears Tesco's takeover of Booker
  6. Government rejects BT broadband plan

Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good Night

BBC Testcard
BBC

That's it for today on Business Live.

We'll be back bright and early at 06:00 on Thursday.

Do join us then for all the latest breaking news and analysis from the business world.

Wall Street mixed on close

Wall Street at Christmas
Getty Images

US shares were mixed on close, despite jubilation from the Trump administration after the US House of Representatives approved a long-anticipated tax cut bill.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 0.11% or 28.1 points to 24,726.65. The top loser was Disney, down 1.8% to $109.80.

The broader S&P 500 meanwhile closed flat, falling just 0.08% or 2.2 points to 2,679.25. The top faller was Linux software firm Red Hat Inc, down 5.3% to $122.00, despite reporting better-than-expected earnings in the third quarter ended 30 November.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended flat as well, down 0.04% or 2.9 points to 6,960.96, dragged down by internet applications firm Chinacache International Holdings, down 36.4% to $1.94, after its stock increased by almost 200% earlier in the day.

AT&T to pay bonuses, invest $1bn once tax reform signed

AT&T logo
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Major US telecommunications provider AT&T has announced that it will pay $1,000 bonuses to over 200,000 employees, and invest an additional $1bn in the US in 2018, once the tax reform bill is signed into law.

BreakingBritish deputy PM Damian Green resigns

Breaking News graphic
BBC

British deputy prime minister Damian Green has resigned from cabinet after investigation finds he breached UK ministerial code.

He quit after he was found to have made "inaccurate and misleading" statements about what he knew about claims pornography had been found on a computer in his Commons office in 2008.

In his resignation letter, Mr Green apologised for his actions.

In her response, Mrs May expressed "deep regret" at his departure.

Mr Green, who as first secretary of state was the PM's deputy, had been under investigation regarding allegations of inappropriate conduct.

'It's always a lot of fun when you win'

Donald Trump and fellow Republicans cheer at celebratory tax cut press conference
Getty Images

The Republicans are jubilant over the passing of the tax cut bill - members of the Trump administration have been thanking each other and President Trump for their work on the bill.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan said that President Trump had "exquisite Presidential leadership".

"It's always a lot of fun when you win," said President Trump. "I hate to say this, but we essentially repealed Obamacare...I know you don't like this expression, but we are making America great again.

"The people behind me have worked so hard, I just want to turn around and thank them all - they are very, very special people."

'It's been an amazing experience'

President Trump speaks at tax cut press conference
ABC News

President Donald Trump has spoken at a live televised press conference about the Republicans' tax bill.

"It's been an amazing experience, I have to tell you - it hasn't been done in 34 years but really it hasn't been done," he said.

"3.2 trillion dollars in tax cuts for average families and doubling standard deduction and doubling child tax credit."

President Trump also said that he is helping farm owners and encouraging entrepreneurship.

"For the most part, state tax has been wiped out so they can keep their farms in the family," he said.

"[And] we have companies pouring back into our country. This means the formation of new young companies."

US Dept of Commerce issues decision on Bombardier dispute

Bombardier aeroplane
Getty Images

The US Department of Commerce has investigated the Boeing-Bombardier dispute and determined that "exporters from Canada sold 100 to 150-seat large civil aircraft in the United States at 79.82% less than fair value".

The department also determined that Canada is "providing unfair subsidies to its producers of 100- to 150-seat large civil aircraft at a rate of 212.39%".

As a result of the decision, the Department of Commerce will instruct US Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of these aircraft based on the final rates.

'Paygo' rule to be waived

White House at Christmas
Getty Images

The White House expects the US Congress to soon waive a rule known as "Paygo" that could trigger deep spending cuts in areas such as Medicare and agriculture, according to a White House official.

The spending cuts are needed in order to cover the costs of the recently passed tax cut bill.

The Paygo rule requires the Senate to find offsets for all tax cuts. Congress will need to pass spending resolution soon, in order to keep the government running.

RMT 'inflicting unnecessary misery on our passengers'

RMT Union member striking over guard roles
Getty Images

South Western Railway has responded to news that rail workers are planning a series of 24-hour walkouts over a long-running row about the role of guards.

“Already trying to ruin New Year’s Eve, the RMT executive seem set to start the New Year in the same way they ended the old – by inflicting unnecessary misery on our passengers," said a South Western Railway spokesperson.

“Despite our repeated reassurances that no one will lose their job, that we plan to retain a second person on all our trains, and that we will create more jobs as we introduce more and longer trains, the RMT is just not listening and pressing ahead with this pointless industrial action.

“As before we will put in place contingency plans to keep our passengers moving should these strikes go ahead.”

What happens now?

Donald Trump addresses media at Cabinet meeting on tax cuts
Getty Images

The White House is holding a press conference to discuss what happens now that the tax overhaul plans have been passed.

A White House official says that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can now begin working on changing the tax code, even before President Trump signs the bill into law.

As for Obamacare, the spokesperson said that the President will work with the House of Representatives to pass "cost-sharing discounts" to subsidise the healthcare programme.

Switzerland lowers tariffs to tackle inflation

Main street of Rolle Switzerland
Getty Images

Switzerland plans to remove tariffs on imported industrial goods, in a bid to bring down inflation.

Tariffs will be reduced on selected agricultural goods brought into the country too.

"These measures should lead to considerable savings of around 900m Swiss francs ($911 million) for businesses and consumers," the government said.

Trump tweets on tax

Trump: Tax reform pours 'rocket fuel' into economy

Congress building at night
Getty Images

More from President Trump statement welcoming the outcome of House vote on the tax reform legislation.

"Unemployment continues to fall, the stock market is at a record high, and wages will soon be on the rise," he said.

"By cutting taxes and reforming the broken system, we are now pouring rocket fuel into the engine of our economy.

"America is back to winning again, and we’re growing like never before. There is a great spirit of optimism sweeping across our land.

"Americans can once again rest assured that our brightest days are still to come."

Trump hails 'big, beautiful tax cut'

Donald Trump
Getty Images

President Donald Trump has issued a statement in response to the passing of his tax overhaul plans in the House of Representatives.

"I promised the American people a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas.

With final passage of this legislation, that is exactly what they are getting.

"I would like to thank the members of Congress who supported this historic bill, which represents an extraordinary victory for American families, workers, and businesses."

House votes to pass Republican tax bill

US House of Representatives
Getty Images

The House of Representatives has voted once again on the Republicans' tax overhaul plans and have voted to clear the bill by 224-201.

Democrats firmly against tax bill

Richard Neal
Getty Images

Over in the US House of Representatives, the House has convened to re-vote on the Republicans' tax overhaul plan, because of technical changes in the Senate.

A debate is currently being carried out on the floor of the House between the GOP and the Democrats.

The Democrats have repeatedly stated that the changes will have a severe impact on middle class families.

They complained during the debate that they were not able to provide input on the tax bill, and they have not seen evidence from the Republicans to justify the tax cuts.

In particular, Richard Neal, Democratic Representative for Massachusetts's 1st congressional district, said that the bill is the "worst piece of tax legislation in 29 years", and that the American economy has been growing for the last 88 months straight, long before Trump became president.

Four sentenced over misleading investment scheme

Handcuffs
Getty Images

Defendants Samrat Bhandari, Dr Muhammad Aleem Mirza, Michael Moore and Paul Moore appeared at Southwark Crown Court today to be sentenced for operating an investment scheme which led to investors losing just over £1.4m between 2009 to 2014.

Samrat Bhandari's sentencing was adjourned to January 2018. Dr Muhammad Aleem Mirza was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment. Michael Moore was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment and his brother Paul Moore to 9 months imprisonment.

“The perpetrators of this scheme repeatedly misled investors for their own gain," said Mark Steward, director of enforcement and market oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority.

"The FCA is committed to ensuring that the operators of unauthorised investment schemes are brought to justice and are accountable for their misconduct.”

Unfortunate timing

Southern rail trains at a depot
Getty Images

Govia Thameslink Railway, the parent company of Southern, says it is very disappointed that RMT has announced further strike action.

"Their decision is even more regrettable as it comes on the same day that we had invited them to talks in the hope of reaching a resolution to their long-running dispute," said Govia Thameslink Railway's human resources director Andy Bindon.

"We ask them to call off the strike and come to the negotiating table as we have suggested on many occasions."

London mixed on close

London Stock Exchange
Getty Images

The FTSE 100 has closed on a low, falling 0.31% or 23.3 points to 7,520.81.

The biggest loser on the index was NMC Health, down 4.4% to £27.27 after it announced that operations in the second half of the year have continued to perform in line with expectations.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 ended flat, up just 0.04% or 8.8 points to 20,350.29.

Tullow Oil led the winners, up 5.6% to 192.8p after its stock was upgraded by an analyst.

Three rail strikes in new year over RMT guards row

Platform closed sign boards at a train station
EPA

Train strikes are looming in the new year as rail workers plan a series of 24-hour walkouts in the long-running row over the role of guards.

RMT members at five operators will walk out on 8, 10 and 12 January. Workers at Southern will strike on 8 January.

The five involved are South Western Railway (SWR), Greater Anglia, Merseyrail, Northern and the Isle of Wight's Island Line run by SWR.

Northern rail said it would work to keep customers on the move.

Greater Anglia said it would run a full service on all the strike days.

The other companies affected have not yet commented to the BBC.

Eni and Shell on trial in Italy over Nigeria 'corruption'

Shell and Eni logos
AFP

Two global oil giants, Eni and Shell, are to stand trial in Italy over allegations of corruption in Nigeria.

The case involves the purchase of an offshore oil block in Nigeria for $1.3bn (£1bn) in 2011.

The companies deny wrongdoing, saying they acquired the rights in accordance with Nigerian law.

'Today, the experts fought back.'

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

IMF chief Christine Largarde
BBC

I asked Christine Lagarde at the launch of the IMF report how she responded to critics who said the IMF had been too gloomy before the referendum.

It's worth reproducing her answer in full.

"The numbers that we are seeing the economy deliver today are actually proving the point we made a year and a half ago when people said, you are too gloomy," she said.

"We were not too gloomy, we were pretty much on the mark, I mean within 0.1% or so - our forecast actually turned out to be the reality of the economy.

"Sterling has depreciated, inflation has gone up, wages have been squeezed as a result, and investments have been slowed down and are certainly lower than where we would expect them to be."

Yes, there are many positives in this report on record high employment and praise for progress on those Brexit talks.

But the big takeaway is this - in a world of strong global growth, the IMF stands by its analysis that the UK economy has suffered since the referendum.

Toys R Us talks continue

BBC personal finance reporter Simon Gompertz tweets:

View more on twitter

'Jobs, jobs, jobs'

US President Donald Trump is feeling very positive about the tax bill, which will give businesses permanent tax cuts of 21% - the "magic number" Trump wanted, down from 35% - while individuals and families receive temporary tax cuts.

View more on twitter

So what's happening with the tax bill?

US House of Representatives
Getty Images

The US Senate approved the Republicans' proposed tax overhaul plan in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but it has had to be sent back to the House of Representatives for another vote, despite the fact the House already passed it on Tuesday.

The vote is expected to take place before noon in Washington DC on Wednesday (before 5pm GMT).

Good Afternoon

Oxford St at Christmas
Getty Images

Thanks to Dearbail and Lucy for this morning's live coverage of all things business.

Mary-Ann Russon with you until 21:30 for the rest of the day's news and views from Britain and beyond, as you rush to get your Christmas shopping done.

Got a point of view? Tweet me at @concertina226 and @BBCBusiness

Wall Street opens higher

Wall Street at Christmas
Getty Images

US shares opened higher on Wednesday, boosted by the Senate approving the Republicans' proposed tax overhaul plan.

The Dow Jones is up 0.23% or 58.1 points to 24,812.82, led by JP Morgan Chase, up 01% to $107.54, and Intel, up 0.9% to $47.46.

The S&P 500 has risen 0.14% or 3.7 points to 2,685.17, led by Alcoa Corporation, up 4.3% to $48.52.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq has risen 0.39% or 27 points to 6,990.82. The winners were led by NXT-ID Inc, up a whopping 67.6% to $3.05.

But free trade in financial services should be possible

BBC Economics Editor Kamal Ahmed tweets on Mark Carney's comments to the Treasury Select Committee...

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An EU/UK trade deal 'is unlikely'

BBC Economics Editor Kamal Ahmed tweets on Mark Carney's comments...

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Carney: Give it a year

Mark Carney in November
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Mark Carney is speaking to the Treasury Select Committee about how the Bank of England plans to deal with European banks that continue to operate in the UK after Brexit.

The central question is whether they can continue to operate branches here as they do now, or whether they need to set up subsidiaries (with added capital and different rules and regulations).

Mr Carney says if the banks pose any kind of systemic risk to the UK and we don't have supervisory cooperation in place with their home regulators, then they'll have to set up subsidiaries.

"We had to take a judgement: do we take a glass half empty approach to the negotiations... and say, no you have to subsidiarise now and unsubsidiarise later if there's an agreement?"

They decided they could put that kind of instruction off for a year to see what kind of arrangements are forthcoming.

Read more about this issue here.

Scammers use iTunes to rip-off the vulnerable

'We were right to be gloomy', say IMF

Christine Lagarde
Getty Images

Head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, says the Fund was right to predict the UK economy would suffer after the vote to leave the EU.

“The numbers that we are seeing the economy deliver today are actually proving the point we made a year and a half ago when people said, you are too gloomy,” she said.

“We were not too gloomy, we were pretty much on the mark, I mean within 0.1% or so - our forecast actually turned out to be the reality of the economy."

Disasters cost $306bn in 2017

Aftermath of hurricane in Dominica
AFP
Dominica was badly affected by hurricane Maria

Total economic losses from natural and man-made disasters soared by 63% in 2017, according to Reinsurance firm Swiss Re.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, made 2017 the second costliest hurricane season after 2005.

Combined with wildfires in California and earthquakes in Mexico, total costs reached an estimated $306bn (£230bn).

Insured losses totalled $136bn which is "well-above the annual average of the previous 10 years," said Swiss Re.

That wasn't accompanied by any rise in the number of lives lost, however.

"Globally, more than 11,000 people have died or gone missing in disaster events in 2017, similar to 2016."

A small mercy.

Bitcoin insider trading probe

Bitcoin image
Reuters
Bitcoin Cash was created four months ago

One of the US's leading cryptocurrency exchanges is carrying out an insider trading investigation.

Coinbase fears its own workers may have exploited its move into Bitcoin Cash - a spin-off of the original Bitcoin.

The San Francisco-based firm began letting its users buy, sell, send and receive Bitcoin Cash on Tuesday in a surprise decision but has temporarily suspended trade.

Read more here.

Have your say: Delivery drivers wanted

Britain's lost workforce

City of London workers
Getty Images

Commenting on the IMF's decision to downgrade the UK, Geraint Johnes, professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School, says: "Following the great financial crash, many workers were displaced from their previous jobs and found work that did not match their skills.

"They represented a hidden reserve of talent that could be used in an economic upswing. It now appears that that the loss of that talent is permanent.

He says: "Fixing the productivity problem will require substantial new investment in innovation, capital, and new skills. The uncertainties surrounding Brexit do not serve to encourage this investment, so moving on quickly to establish the country’s new trading relationship with the EU is a prerequisite for solving the country’s long term problems.”