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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Dow Jones index breaks 25,000 points
  3. FTSE 100 closes at record high
  4. Debenhams shares hit by profit warning
  5. Aldi reports record Christmas sales
  6. UK house prices up 2.6% in 2017

Live Reporting

By Dan Macadam

All times stated are UK

Thank you and good night

That's it from us today, but don't worry we'll be back first thing in the morning. We'll be with you from 6am UK time.

Here's a quick recap of today's top stories:

  • US and UK stock markets finished at record highs, with the Dow Jones breaking through 25,000 points for the first time
  • Oil also surged to a two-and-a-half year high on the back of continued unrest in Iran
  • Mark Zuckerberg said his New Year's pledge was to "fix" Facebook's problems
  • There was grim news for department stores on both sides of the Atlantic, as Britain's Debenhams issued a profit warning and Macy's in the US announced it was slashing thousands of jobs

Amazon 'explores Premier League rights bid'

Chelsea's Marcos Alonso scores against Arsenal
EPA

This would be a major shake-up for football in the UK. The Telegraph is reporting that Amazon has explored a possible bid for the UK rights to the Premier League ahead of next month’s auction.

It says the US tech giant - which is seeking to bolster its streaming service - hired external advisers to look at a potential bid, although it hasn't formally made a move yet.

The Telegraph adds that Amazon declined to comment on whether it was exploring bidding for the rights to the three seasons between 2019-22.

It comes after Sky and BT - the two broadcasters which currently hold the UK rights - signed a truce last month and agreed to sell their channels on each other's platforms.

BreakingDow Jones finishes above 25,000

NYSE traders
Reuters

Wall Street's benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average has finished above 25,000 points for the first time, having passed the milestone at the start of trading.

Strong employment data added to a US stocks rally that's been running for months on hopes that Republican tax reforms will boost the economy.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.6% to close at 25,073.

The broader S&P 500 gained 0.4% to 2,724, while the tech-rich Nasdaq index rose by 0.2% to 7,078. Both added to records from yesterday.

Norway wins Arctic oil case

Norway's Arctic archipelago Lofoten
AFP

Earlier, we brought you the news that the Trump administration is opening nearly all US offshore waters to oil exploration, dropping protections in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific.

There's been another significant development in the sector, with Norway winning the right to push ahead with plans to explore for the black stuff in the Arctic.

The Norwegian government has won a court victory against environmental groups which had sought to block a raft of licences in the Arctic region.

Norwegian judges ruled that the government was not responsible for carbon emissions from oil and gas exported abroad.

Worried about the chip security scare?

Here's all you need to know about the major security flaws found on millions of computer chips.

One of the security flaws, dubbed "Spectre", was found in chips made by Intel, AMD and ARM. The other, known as "Meltdown" affects Intel-made chips.

Weinstein Company close to a sale?

Harvey Weinstein
AFP

The Oscar-winning film production company co-founded by Harvey Weinstein could be sold for less than $500m, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Weinstein Company's board has narrowed down about 20 bids to a shortlist of six potential buyers, the paper reports citing unnamed sources.

The highest offers are near $500m and could see the firm's shareholders receive no cash from the sale, it adds.

Talks over a potential sale to US private equity firm Colony Capital collapsed in November.

Mr Weinstein, who is facing a number of sexual assault allegations, owns about 20% of the Weinstein Company.

Intel shares hit by chip scare

Computer chip
Getty Images

Concerns about major bugs in Intel-made computer chips continue to hit the company's shares.

Intel's stock dropped as much as 8% since the news emerged yesterday, before recovering some of those losses.

Tech firms including Google and Apple are working to fix two bugs which could allow hackers to steal sensitive data.

Some fixes, in the form of software updates, have been introduced or will be available in the next few days, said Intel, which provides chips to about 80% of desktop computers and 90% of laptops worldwide.

Intel shares are currently trading at $44.29, a fall of 5% in the last two days.

Will Moorside nuclear plant go ahead?

A computer image of the Cumbrian plant
Nugen

Just in case you're wondering, Toshiba's sale of its troubled nuclear division, Westinghouse Electric (see earlier post), will have no impact on plans for a new nuclear power station in Cumbria.

Originally the Moorside plant was due to use a Westinghouse reactor.

But last month, Korea Electric Power Corp reached a provisional agreement to buy the Toshiba subsidiary NuGen, which has the contract to build the plant.

The deal was hailed as "a lifeline" for Moorside, but Kepco will still need to clear several hurdles before construction can actually begin.

Macron heading to Davos

Emmanuel Macron
Reuters

Here's one for your diaries. French President Emmanuel Macron will be speaking at Davos, the annual get-together of the global elite, on 24 January.

France's youngest ever president could end up being one of the star attractions, similar to Chinese President Xi Jinping last year.

Macron has seen his popularity rebound in recent weeks, although opinion polls show that some see him as a "president of the rich". Davos should help with that...

More sunshine from Gatwick

BA plane at Gatwick
Getty Images

British Airways will use take-off and landing slots it bought following the collapse of Monarch to increase the number of flights from Gatwick to holiday destinations this summer.

The airline will offer about 1,150 flights a week this year - 150 more than in 2017.

The number of weekly flights to Malaga will rise from 27 to 35, Alicante from 14 to 22 and Faro from 17 to 21. BA's summer flights to Tenerife will increase from 6 to 13 a week, while Madeira will go from six to nine and Lanzarote from three to five.

Chief executive Alex Cruz said it was also offering new destinations from Gatwick, including Palma (Majorca), Mahon (Menorca) and Gibraltar.

The collapse of Monarch, which was owned by private equity firm Greybull Capital, led to 1,858 workers being made redundant and the flights and holidays of about 860,000 people being cancelled.

Its slots at Gatwick and Luton were reportedly worth in the region of £60m, with the latter bought by Wizz Air.

Turkey bristles at US banker ruling

Halkbank
EPA

Turkey has reacted angrily to the conviction of a Turkish banker in New York, calling it an unprecedented intervention in its internal affairs.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a former deputy chief executive of the Turkish lender Halkbank, was found guilty of five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy, as part of a large scheme to help Iran evade US sanctions.

A Turkish presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kahlin, said it was "a scandalous decision of a scandalous case".

Trump's offshore oil move

oil rig
Getty Images

The Trump administration has proposed opening nearly all US offshore waters to oil and gas drilling, reversing protections in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific.

The bid to expand American energy production faces objections from environmentalists, state officials and some business groups worried about spills and the potential impact on coastal tourism.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the proposal would make more than 90% of the outer continental shelf available for leasing, including areas put off-limits by the Obama administration.

"We want to grow our nation's offshore energy industry, instead of slowly surrendering it to foreign shores," Zinke said, saying the plan is part of the Trump administration's "American Energy Dominance" agenda.

Watch: End of an era for Colman's Mustard

Mustard maker Colman's will leave its base in Norwich where the condiment has been produced for 160 years.

Colman's, which employs 113 people in the city, will move most of its production to other UK sites.

The company is keeping the "Colman's of Norwich" name, however, and says it will retain its production of mustard powder in the local area.

Are Poundland and Harveys through the worst?

Poundland
Getty Images

We reported earlier on the latest departure at embattled South African retailer Steinhoff, which owns Poundland and furniture store Harveys.

There was some good news for the company yesterday, when it announced that its European subsidiary had secured a two-year loan worth £180m.

Analysts at Peel Hunt said today that "should allay some of the concerns that customers will be put off shopping at the likes of Harveys and Poundland".

"But it still remains the case, especially where the former is concerned that these assets are up for sale and there will be a good deal of distraction on the shop floor," they added.

Return of the Bond-mobile

Aston Martin has re-started production of its DB4 model - which is similar to the car driven in the James Bond novels.

It's making 25 of the classic cars and has sold all of them already for £1.5m each...

'Facebook has a lot of work to do'

Here's a bit more from Mark Zuckerberg's personal pledge to fix Facebook this year:

"The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do -- whether it's protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent," he wrote on his Facebook profile page.

"My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won't prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we're successful this year then we'll end 2018 on a much better trajectory."

Zuckerberg's New Year resolution? Fix Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg
Getty Images

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has revealed his personal challenge for 2018: to "fix" the social site and how it handles hate, abuse and fake news.

The social network platform's founder said the firm was making "too many errors" when enforcing its policies and stopping misuse of the site.

The platform has faced heavy criticism for its attitude to removing extreme and abusive content, and faced questions over the spread of fake news on the site.

Zuckerberg's previous New Year's pledges included visiting every US state, learning Mandarin and building an artificial intelligence system for his home voiced by Morgan Freeman.

Steinhoff finance chief steps down

Poundland store
AFP

Steinhoff, the embattled owner of Poundland, has said its chief financial officer is stepping down as it looks to plug a hole in its finances after an accounting scandal.

The South African retail group admitted last month to accounting irregularities stretching back to 2015 and parted ways with its long-serving chief executive.

Finance chief Ben la Grange is also leaving his role, although the company said he would stay on to bolster the company's cash position and finalise its 2017 accounts.

The company also said it planned to hire a debt restructuring expert in the role of chief restructuring officer.

But it's not all good news...

UK stocks are at a record high, but there are fresh signs that Britain's 'real' economy is slipping behind.

The UK is set to fall to seventh in the world economy, behind France and India, according to Andrew Sentance, a senior economic adviser at PWC.

Analysing data from the International Monetary Fund, he found that India's rapidly expanding economy is likely to overtake the UK's earlier than many had expected.

View more on twitter

The FTSE's latest record

FTSE 100 in the last 12 months
BBC

The FTSE 100 of leading blue chip companies has passed through many record highs over the last 12 months - albeit with some swings along the way, as the chart above shows.

Analysts have attributed the rise to the weaker pound - which benefits companies with earnings overseas - as well as gains in global stock markets and faster growth in the world economy.

The index initially got off to a sluggish start to the year, having finished 2017 at a record high.

But gains today for shares in commodity firms - helped by rising oil prices - and a US-led rally in world stock markets helped the FTSE 100 finish at a fresh record high of 7,695.88 points.

BreakingFTSE closes at fresh high

The UK's FTSE 100 index has finished the day at another record high after rising 25 points to 7,695.88 points.

US record run carries into 2018

As the US Dow Jones index hits a fresh record high...

Samira Hussain

New York business correspondent

Wall Street trader wearing a Dow 25,000 cap
Reuters

In the past, the Dow passing a milestone like 25,000 points would elicit many cheers from traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. And of course, many, many baseball caps.

But that wasn't the case on Thursday. There was cheering but you'd be hard pressed to find many people showing that kind of exuberance or wearing a hat (although we did find a photo of one, above).

And that's because these milestones have stopped being news, given just how quickly we have crossed them. It was only in January 2017 the Dow crossed the 20,000 mark. In 2016, the only record the Dow broke was when it crossed 19,000 points in November.

What this milestone really shows is that the absolute tear that markets were on in 2017, is continuing in to 2018.

Toshiba's Westinghouse set for $4.6bn rescue

Westinghouse plant in US
Reuters

Toshiba's financially-troubled US nuclear division, Westinghouse, has been thrown a lifeline by a $4.6bn takeover deal.

Westinghouse went into bankruptcy in March last year amid deep losses due to cost over-runs and competition from cheap natural gas.

It is set to be bought by Canadian investment group Brookfield, which manages $265bn in assets and specialises in infrastructure, energy and real estate.

The deal - which Westinghouse said "reaffirms its position" as a global nuclear leader - still needs to be cleared by a US bankruptcy court.

Trump applauds Dow record

China 'to target Bitcoin factories'

Bitcoin
Getty Images

Bitcoin's staggering and often volatile rise in value over the last 12 months is attracting the attention of regulators across the world.

The latest is China, which is apparently preparing to target factories that create Bitcoin by restricting their electricity supply, according to state media reports.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are created by running powerful computer servers which solve mathematical problems to generate Bitcoin codes, which can then be sold off to investors.

Though Bitcoin mining has not yet been outlawed in China, the Chinese authorities have signalled their disapproval of cryptocurrencies because of concerns they will undermine the traditional banking system.

The price of Bitcoin has gone from $1,000 a year ago to nearly $20,000 at its peak, before dropping back to about $15,000.

FTSE heading for record

London trader
Getty Images

It's not only Wall Street which is in record territory today. The UK's FTSE 100 index is on course for another record closing high after crossing 7,700 points for the first time.

Analysts said some of the optimism for US stock markets had spread to UK equities too, giving the FTSE a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

The index of the UK's 100 biggest stocks hit 7,702.51 points - an all-time high for during trading.

Commodity stocks are among the winners - helped by oil reaching a two-and-a-half year high - while retailers are among the losers after Debenhams issued a warning about its Christmas sales.

New Year, new home?

If buying your first home is one of your resolutions, this chart is a pretty handy way of working out how long it might take...

How long it takes to save for a deposit in different regions
BBC

Trebles all round...

Garry White, chief investment commenatator at stockbroker Charles Stanley, points out one result from the slide in Debenhams' results today.

The department store chain's shares are down 17% after it issued a profit warning because of disappointing trading over the key Christmas period.

View more on twitter

The Dow's headlong rise

Dow Jones index
BBC

It was only a year ago that the Dow Jones broke through 20,000 points for the first time.

In the 12 months since then, the benchmark US share index has gone up a whopping 25%, and at the start of trading today crossed the 25,000 milestone (as shown in the chart above).

A mix of optimism about Donald Trump's tax cut plans, rising global growth and the strong performance of US tech giants have all contributed to the rise.

So, could the market be due a "correction", or in other words a crash? We'll have to wait and see...

US jobs market to overheat?

US welder
Getty Images

The US economy is continuing to create jobs at a rapid pace, according to a survey of employers. The figures gave US shares a boost in early trading - tipping the Dow Jones index past 25,000 points for the first time.

But could the jobs market be growing too quickly?

Private sector companies added 250,000 jobs in December, a report by ADP Research Institute found. That was the biggest monthly increase since March and far stronger than the 190,000 estimate by analysts.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which jointly developed the report, said: “The job market ended the year strongly. Robust Christmas sales prompted retailers and delivery services to add to their payrolls. The tight labour market will get even tighter, raising the spectre that it will overheat.”

The figures come a day ahead of the closely-watched non-farm payrolls report from the US Labor Department, which includes both public and private-sector employment.

BreakingDow Jones crosses 25,000 milestone

The champagne corks will be popping on Wall Street.

The benchmark Dow Jones share index has gone above 25,000 points for the first time.

It rose by more than 100 points at the start of trading to hit 25,036, helped by strong US jobs figures.

Festive spending tops $800bn in the US

Time Square
Getty Images

We've been getting the festive sales figures this week for UK retailers, with Next and Aldi among the winners and Debenhams among the Christmas turkeys.

On the other side of the Atlantic, US shoppers went on a record spending spree over the holiday period.

Total spending topped $800bn (£590bn) on the back of surging consumer confidence and increased use of mobile devices, according to MasterCard.

Department store operator JC Penney has said it did well during the key selling months of November and December, with same-store sales up 3.4%.

The news was slightly more mixed for rival Macy's, which said sales rose 1% during the period but also announced it was closing more stores and cutting more jobs this year.

Would you pay $60 for water that could make you sick?

It's the latest health trend but it could give you cholera

There's a growing health trend in America where people are drinking untreated spring water.

Some claim it is better for your health than drinking sterilised tap water, because natural minerals are preserved.

One company in California has reportedly been selling an 11-litre jug for up to $60.

But health experts are warning drinking untreated water can be harmful and spread dangerous infections such as cholera and E. Coli.

EasyJet to increase its fleet

EasyJet aeroplane
Getty Images

UK budget airline EasyJet is to increase its fleet of aeroplanes from 280 to about 330 by the end of 2018.

The airline will be adding at least 10 Airbus A320 aircraft, as well as 28 A321neo aircraft, in a bit to reduce carbon emissions and noise pollution.

EasyJet is also to trial a hybrid all-electric nine-seater commercial aircraft made by electric aeroplane pioneer Wright Electric in the next 12 months.

In November, the airline said its pre-tax profits in the year to 30 September fell 17.3% to £408m, while passenger numbers rose by 9.7%.

Taking the fizz out of energy drinks

Poundland secures crucial loan

Poundland
Reuters

Poundland has secured a key investment to reduce its dependence on scandal-hit parent, South Africa's Steinhoff.

Pepkor Europe, which owns Poundland in Europe, said it had received a £180m loan from US investment firm Davidson Kempner.

The loan will replace investment Pepkor Europe expected to be granted by owner Steinhoff to help with expansion plans.

Steinhoff is under investigation by German authorities for an estimated $7bn (£5.3bn) accounting scandal.

Read more here.

Better get saving...

LGA: Local areas will need £8.4bn funding post-Brexit

On the back of Michael Gove setting out farming subsidy plans, the Local Government Association says that local areas are going to need £8.4bn of regional funding to replace EU funds that will dry up after Brexit.

“Brexit cannot leave local areas facing huge financial funding uncertainty as a result of lost regional aid funding," said LGA chairman Kevin Bentley.

"This has been used by local areas to create jobs, support small and medium enterprises, deliver skills training, invest in critical transport and digital infrastructure and boost inclusive growth across the country."

Post-Brexit farming funding set out by Michael Gove

Combineharvester
PA

Plans for the way farming subsidies will be dealt with after Brexit have been set out by Michael Gove.

Farmers will receive payments for "public goods", such as access to the countryside and planting meadows.

The environment secretary told farmers the government will guarantee subsidies at the current EU level until the 2022 election. The current payments are based on how much land farmers own.

The National Farmers Union said it was time for "a new deal" for the UK.

Read more here.

Is Tony Blair right about five years of slow growth?

Reality Check

Tony Blair saying: What it’s doing is actually setting out for the next five years a pattern of growth which for the first time I think in decades is going to be below 2%.
BBC

Former prime minister Tony Blair was on Today this morning talking about how the Brexit process was damaging the economy.

He pointed to the Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR) forecast for the next five years, which was published at the time of the Budget in November, and said that the pattern of sub-2% growth over that period had not happened for decades.

The OBR is indeed predicting growth of below 2% every year from 2018 to 2022. That's only happened once since records began in 1948, but it was quite recent.

Between 2007, when Mr Blair stepped down as prime minister, and 2011, there were five years of sub-2% growth, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The figures were: -0.5%, -4.2%, 1.7%, 1.5% and 1.5%.