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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. TalkTalk shares recover slightly after 18% fall
  3. M&S to close up to 14 more stores
  4. Capita shares plunge on profit warning
  5. Up to 30,000 cash machines under threat
  6. First fall in UK car production in 8 years
  7. Sterling under $1.42, FTSE 100 flat

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

Good night

Pembroke Clock Tower
Reuters

Thanks to everyone who has joined us on another busy day of business news. We'll be back at 6am tomorrow. And to all you Britons still to do your tax return... get a move on, the witching hour approaches.

Facebook's revenue jumps by 47%

Facebook sign
Reuters

Facebook has reported a 47% rise in quarterly revenue.

Total advertising revenue was $12.78bn (£9bn) in the three months to the end of December, compared with $8.3bn for the same period in 2016.

Mobile ad revenue accounted for 89% of the total ad sales, up from 84% a year earlier.

Facebook said about 2.13 billion people were using its service every month up 14% against the same time a year earlier.

Total quarterly revenue rose 47% to $12.9bn, while full-year revenue was also up 47% at $40.65bn.

Microsoft reports quarterly loss

Microsoft logo
Getty Images

Microsoft reported a quarterly loss on Wednesday, dented by a $13.8bn (£9.7bn) charge related to US tax reform.

The company posted a net loss of $6.3bn, for the three months to 31 December, compared with a profit of $6.27bn for the same period in 2016.

The company's revenues rose by 12% to $28.92bn.

Wall Street closes up - just

New York Stock Exchange sign with traders' legs visible
Getty Images

All three key US share indexes managed to scrape gains at the close of play on Wednesday.

After two days of losses they had been trading much higher earlier on in the day but lost momentum after the US central bank, the Federal Reserve signalled that more interest rate rises were in the pipeline.

The Dow Jones rose by 73.19 points or 0.28% to 26,150.08

The S&P 500 ended the day at 2,823.83, just edging ahead by 1.4 points or 0.05%.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq was at 7,411.48, up 9 points or 0.12%.

Search for Boardriders boss called off

Pierre Agnes
AFP

France's coastguard has called off searches for the head of the US firm that owns the Quiksilver surfwear brand, a day after his boat washed up empty on the country's Atlantic coast.

Pierre Agnes had gone out fishing in his 36-foot (11-metre) boat on Tuesday morning and later sent out a message to port authorities indicating that he was delaying his return because of thick fog.

The former surfing champion joined Quiksilver in 1998 and rose in the ranks until he became chief executive in 2014 of surfwear retailer Boardriders, which owns Roxy and DC shoes along with Quiksilver.

Earlier this month, Boardriders announced it was buying Australia's Billabong International.

Ryanair promises easier compensation

Ryanair plane
Getty Images

Ryanair has promised to make it easier for passengers to claim compensation when flights are delayed or cancelled.

The Dublin-based airline says it will set up a team team to process valid claims in 10 days.

It also says it will help disrupted customers find out what their options are using the Ryanair website or app rather than having them to call a helpline.

About 700,000 passengers were affected when Ryanair cancelled flights between September 2017 and March 2018 after it mismanaged pilots' annual leave.

Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said the airline wanted to "take away anxiety" and "make it as simple as it possibly can be".

US rates: Dollar up, shares down

The dollar turned positive after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged but said it expected inflation to rise this year.

The Fed left the target interest rate unchanged at 1.25-1.50%. But it said it anticipated the economy to expand at a moderate pace and the labour market to remain strong in 2018, citing solid gains in employment, household spending and capital investment.

Against a basket of six currencies, the greenback was up 0.04%. It means that the dollar is still on track to fall more than 3% in January, its biggest monthly drop since March 2016.

The three main Wall Street share markets rose immediately after the Fed's announcement, but are now fractionally down.

Think tank suggests 'the Jersey option' for Brexit

Rob England

BBC News Online

A pro-Europe think tank has suggested the UK and EU forge a Brexit deal similar to the agreement currently held between the EU and Crown Dependencies.

The Centre for European Reform calls this arrangement "the Jersey option", which would involve the UK staying in a "comprehensive customs union with the EU and the single market", but only for goods.

For this to work the think tank's Director John Springford and research fellow Sam Lowe suggest the UK would have to follow certain rules:

  • EU customs union regulations
  • The inclusion of value added tax
  • EU laws around state aid, including a financial contribution to the development of Central and Eastern European countries
  • EU industrial emissions standards
  • EU employment rules, to avoid UK employers using cheaper labour whilst outside EU law
  • A new law court to settle disputes between the EU and UK over goods

Members of the think tank also said this deal could help solve the Irish border issue, as goods transported over the border would already comply with EU standards, with no need for border checks.

Fed holds rates: 'Elevated uncertainty'

The Fed clearly wants to wait a little longer to see how the economy performs this year before continuing its hiking cycle. Despite the decision today, the underlying strength of the economy, combined with wage growth, low unemployment and strong corporate earnings, provide a strong platform from which to continue normalising monetary policy throughout the year.

We still expect two to three rate hikes in 2018, however there may be some surprises. Fuelled by consumer and business spending, the economy should grow at about 2-3% but the recent tax cuts could precipitate a boom for businesses and lead to faster growth, and more hikes than anticipated.

With Jerome Powell taking over the Fed chair position this coming February, uncertainty is somewhat elevated... Although the immediate horizon appears clear, the Fed may be challenged early in the new regime if inflation should flare up, or if growth starts to lag.

Kully SamraUK managing director, Charles Schwab

US rates held, but...

In its policy statement, the Fed repeated that it expected that "further gradual" interest rate hikes will be warranted.

Fed policymakers have been encouraged in recent months as the US economy picked up speed and the unemployment rate fell to 4.1%, a 17-year low.

The Fed raised rates three times last year and sees three more hikes in 2018 even as it continues to trim its balance sheet on a largely pre-set schedule.

Investors, who had all but ruled out a move this week, are betting heavily on a rate increase in March, followed by two more hikes by the end of December.

US rates held, as expected

Janet Yellen
Getty Images

The US Federal Reserve has kept interest rates unchanged but said it anticipated inflation would rise this year, in a sign it is still on track to raise borrowing costs again in March under incoming central bank chief Jerome Powell.

Citing solid gains in employment, household spending and capital investment, the Fed said it expected the economy to expand at a moderate pace and the labor market to remain strong in 2018.

"Inflation on a 12-month basis is expected to move up this year and to stabilize" around the US central bank's 2% target over the medium term, it said in a statement following a two-day policy meeting, the last under Fed Chair Janet Yellen (above).

Samsung enters crypto-currency chips business

A bitcoin coin
Getty Images

Samsung Electronics has revealed it is making chips designed specifically to harvest crypto-currency coins.

The firm made the disclosure in its latest earnings report, where it said the activity should boost its profits.

For now, Samsung is providing little detail about its new crypto-currency business.

"Samsung's foundry business is currently engaged in the manufacturing of crypto-currency mining chips," it said in a statement given to the BBC.

Mining, in this context, refers to solving complex mathematical problems as a means to verify crypto-currency transactions - a task for which the owners of the computers involved are rewarded with new digital tokens or "coins".

Ryanair makes it easier to claim compensation, at last

Ryanair plane
Getty Images

Ryanair has pledged to make it easier for passengers to claim compensation when flights are delayed or cancelled.

The Dublin-based airline said it will set up a dedicated team to process valid EU Regulation 261 claims in 10 days.

It has also committed to help disrupted customers find out what their options are using the Ryanair website or app rather than forcing them to call a helpline.

The company faced the wrath of around 700,000 passengers whose flights were cancelled between September 2017 and March 2018 after Ryanair bungled pilots' annual leave.

The airline was then accused by the Civil Aviation Authority of not complying with the law in relation to what it told affected passengers they were entitled to during the pilot shortage.

Touchdown? Fox scores America's Thursday night football

Natalie Sherman

New York business reporter

A 2012 Thursday night football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts
Getty Images

Fox Sports has scored a five-year deal to air America's popular Thursday night football games, adding to its sports coverage.

The agreement comes as the network's parent, 21st Century Fox, plans to sell its entertainment assets to Disney and focus more on news and sport.

Fox already has the rights to America's Sunday night football.

Terms were not disclosed, but prices for sports broadcasts have increased as new digital players such as Amazon and Facebook get into the game.

The deal gives Fox rights to make the games available to subscribers on a wider array of devices, including mobile phones for the first time.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell also said his organisation will work with Fox as it selects a partner to live stream the events.

The contract goes into effect next season.

This season, the games broadcast on CBS and NBC, while Amazon held digital rights.

Builders weigh on FTSE 100

FTSE 100 graph
BBC

Housebuilders were the big casualties on the FTSE 100. Persimmon, Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey were all down more than 2%.

Reports that the government could rescind planning permission on unused land spooked investors.

Shares in mid-cap housebuilders such as Berkeley and Bovis were also hit.

The FTSE 100 closed 0.72% at 7,533.5 points. Johnson Matthey was the biggest riser, up 4.6% after an announcement it is selling part of the business.

On the FTSE 250, outsourcing group plunged 47.5% after a profit warning and decision to scrap its dividend.

'World class'

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Disney/LucasFilm

More on the BFI's report that UK film and TV production spending is at a record...

There's also some good news about cinemas in the BFI's annual report.

UK box office revenues rose 3.7% last year to £1.38bn, with admissions rising marginally by 1% to 171m people.

Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, says: "From Star Wars to The Crown, the UK is a creative powerhouse for developing many award-winning films and shows enjoyed by millions globally.

"We have world-class studios, a talented workforce and highly competitive tax reliefs, and these fantastic stats show investment in our screen industries is booming."

BP finds more oil in the North Sea

North Sea oil platform
Getty Images

More upbeat news for the North Sea oil industry.

BP has announced two new North Sea oil and gas discoveries.

The finds - in the Capercaillie and Achmelvich fields - were made in the central North Sea and west of Shetland after wells were drilled last year.

Tests have been carried out to discover how much oil and gas is present, with the data currently "under evaluation".

BP said in 2017 it hoped to double North Sea oil production to 200,000 barrels by 2020 through a range of projects.

In the 2016-17 financial year North Sea oil and gas production was at the highest level since 2011-12.

London market update

TalkTalk shares have pulled back from earlier lows, but are still 8.5% down after a gloomy report on its prospects by analysts at Exane.

But there's no such recovery for fellow FTSE 250 stock Capita, still down 45% after its profit warning.

On the blue chip FTSE 100, housebuilders are the main casualties. Barratt, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey are all 2% lower.

Johnson Matthey leads the pack with a 4.38% rise on the back of a disposal of part of the business.

Are UK passports expensive?

Reality Check

Chart showing fees for passports in the G8
BBC

Following the news that UK passports are going up to £85 by post or £75.50 for online applications, how will that compare with other countries?

The online fee will be pretty cheap compared with the other countries in the G8, with only Germany and Russia coming out cheaper.

But in Germany there's the added bonus that you don't need to pay adult passport rates until you're 24. Too bad you're not allowed to shop around.

The UK online rate is just below the US rate, although in the US you have to pay an extra $25 (£18) execution fee for your first passport.

All of the G8 comes out cheaper than Switzerland at £110 and Australia at £162.

Inward investment boosts UK film spending

Christopher Plummer
Reuters

More details on the record £2.8bn UK film and TV spending in 2017...

The BFI figures show that there were 68 major inward investment films based in the UK, spending a total of £1.69bn.

The films include Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story, Guy Ritchie's version of Aladdin and Ridley Scott's All The Money In The World, which required last-minute reshoots when Kevin Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer (above).

Some 130 British films were produced in the UK, with a total spend of £189.6m.

These include Mike Leigh's Peterloo, Joanna Hogg's The Souvenir, Tom Harper's Country Music and Chiwetel Ejiofor's The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.

Wall Street turns positive

US stocks are bouncing back after two days of falls, helped by a rise in Boeing shares and a controversy-free State of the Union speech by President Donald Trump last night.

Boeing forecast full-year profit well above market estimates as it expects its busiest year ever for deliveries, sparking a 6.4% surge in its shares at the start of trading.

There was also a boost from the tech sector, which gained 0.8%. Microsoft and Facebook were both up more than 1% ahead of their results after the bell.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow was up 252.68 points, or 0.97%, at 26,329.5, the S&P 500 was up 15.72 points, or 0.55%, at 2,838.1, and the Nasdaq was up 48.13 points, or 0.65%, at 7,450.6.

UK film and TV spending at a record

Still from Dunkirk
Warner Bros

Spending on UK film and TV production reached a record £2.84bn last year, boosted by investment from overseas.

Industry body the BFI says spending on film hit a record £1.9bn, up 12% on 2016.

For TV, spending reached £938m, with a record £684m (up 27%) coming from foreign productions.

Four of the five top-grossing film in Britain last year – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast, Dunkirk (above) and Paddington 2 - were made in the UK.

The rise in TV spending was boosted by production of high-end projects, with 49 inward investment productions, including series eight of Game Of Thrones, Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams, Kiri, The Miniaturist and Peaky Blinders.

Amanda Nevill, chief executive of the BFI, says: "Once again, UK film and high-end TV surpass expectations and records are broken, with a staggering almost £3bn spent on film and high-end TV production.

"We have a consistently growing industry, and doing so at speed - up 11% from last year and outstripping most other sectors."

Italy challenges medicine move

Adam Fleming

Brussels reporter, BBC News

The Italian government and the city of Milan are going to the European Court of Justice to challenge the EU's decision to relocate the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam.

Milan lost out to the Dutch bid when the race to host the agency ended in a coin toss during a ministerial meeting in Brussels in November.

Italy has complained that the agency will have to be housed in temporary accommodation in Amsterdam until its permanent base is completed.

An official involved in the organisation of the original competition said the challenge would be taken seriously but was a product of election season in Italy.

Nintendo Switch overtakes the Wii U

Nintendo controllers
BBC

The Nintendo Switch games console has outsold its predecessor, just 10 months after its launch.

Nintendo sold 7.23 million Switch consoles in the previous quarter, bringing total sales to about 14.86 million devices.

The Wii U, which went on sale in November 2012, sold 13.56 million units before it was discontinued in 2017 and was considered a commercial failure.

Nintendo reported its most profitable quarter since 2009.

Read more

Not so stable?

Telegraph business news editor Jon Yeomans tweets:

View more on twitter

Two Coca-Cola UK sites to close

Coca-cola bottles
Getty Images

Fizzy drinks giant Coca-Cola is planning to close two of its UK sites with the loss of almost 300 jobs.

The proposal would affect a manufacturing site in Milton Keynes and a distribution centre in Northampton.

A company statement said: "We know today's news will be upsetting for our people at these sites, and our immediate priority is to support them throughout the consultation process."

It added that the closures "would provide significant productivity improvements and create greater efficiency across our manufacturing and distribution operations in Great Britain".

Some 288 jobs would be lost when the sites shut in 2019.

Breaking: 'Everyone uses photocopiers'

Girl on photocopier
Getty Images

A stern reprimand arrives from solicitor Jeffrey Shaw in response to our question about who still uses photocopiers.

"Almost everybody in a professional office does," he writes.

"Modern photocopiers are multi-functional work tools: they usually print, collate, staple, scan, fax, and e-mail. Without them, business would grind to a halt.

"Whichever trend-obsessed millennial told you otherwise is either delusional or has never had a real office job."

So it turns out they're the very bedrock of business - although some people still find novel uses for them, as our picture shows.

Breaking300 jobs to go at Coca-Cola in Milton Keynes and Northampton

Coca-Cola is planning to close its manufacturing site in Milton Keynes and a distribution centre in Northampton with the loss of almost 300 jobs, the company has announced.

Met Office warns on global warning

BBC science and tech correspondent tweets...

Capita was audited by KPMG

Frank Field MP
Getty Images

Struggling outsourcing group Capita has had its accounts audited by KPMG, it has emerged.

The "big four" accountancy firm is currently under investigation over its handling of Carillion's accounts, with regulators questioning why they were signed off despite the construction firm's massive debts.

The Rt Hon Frank Field MP, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: "Another day, another outsourcing firm with massive debt, a huge pension deficit, a KPMG audit and the Big Four popping up at every turn in the company’s chequered history.

"Sadly, Capita goes on the growing list of firms we are investigating to see if their conduct has endangered current and future pensioners’ rights.”

Boeing flying high

Boeing logo
Getty Images

Net profits at Boeing surged in 2017, climbing 67% to $8.2bn, the firm says.

The world's biggest plane maker said the soaring profits reflected "record deliveries... as well as favorable tax reform" in the US.

The company said it expected to deliver between 810 and 815 commercial aircraft in 2018, higher than the 763 deliveries it managed in 2017.

French government warns supermarkets after Nutella 'riots'

Nutella jars
Getty Images

The French government says supermarkets should think carefully about their promotion deals after cut-price jars of Nutella led to in-store scuffles.

Videos of French shoppers jostling as they tried to grab heavily discounted tubs of the chocolate spread have gone viral over the past week. The three-day promotion in Intermarche stores prompted shoving and even full-blown fights.

"I met with the director of Intermarche yesterday," Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday. "I told him that this must be stopped - we can't have scenes like this every few days in France."

France's consumer watchdog has launched an investigation into the discounts.

Fujifilm to buy Xerox

FujiXerox logo
Reuters

Talking of photocopiers, a short while ago Japan's Fujifilm said it would take over Xerox in a $6.1bn deal.

Fujifilm, which already runs a joint venture with Xerox, said the deal would help it find growth and cut costs amid falling demand for office printing equipment. Xerox has been facing similar pressures.

Earlier Fujifilm said it would cut 10,000 jobs by 2020 at the Fuji Xerox JV as it faced an "increasingly severe" market.

Where do you find photocopiers in the UK?

Man using a photocopier
Getty Images
Photocopiers have been around for decades, but are they still being used?

Our question about who still uses photocopiers was met with incredulity by reader Paul Baxter.

"You obviously have never worked in the Civil Service. It’s what we do all day!" he told us. We wondered what goes on in Whitehall!

Another photocopier-user writes...

A photocopier
Getty Images

Earlier we asked if anyone actually still used photocopiers - and it turns out quite a few of you do.

Reader Chris Marsden writes: "As a retiree to Thailand I have to renew my visa every year. That requires copying most of my passport, my rental agreement for the property I live in, my local bank account details including my balance and funds in and out of my account for the previous three months.

"I recently renewed my retirement visa and took 30 pages of photocopies and all the original paperwork to back up my request, ridiculous."

Keep your photocopier updates and any pictorial evidence coming in to bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Bryon: 99% of creditors back restructuring plan

A Byron outlet
Getty Images

A plan to shut 20 Byron restaurants has been approved by creditors who are seeking to turn the struggling hamburger chain around.

Will Wright, restructuring partner at KPMG and joint supervisor of the firm's company voluntary arrangement (CVA), said: "Today’s creditor vote... will allow Byron to conclude its previously negotiated financial restructuring and is a key step in the directors’ turnaround plan.

“As with all CVAs, more than 75% of creditors had to vote in favour in order to pass the resolution. Today’s vote saw us secure significantly more than this majority with 99% of all voting creditors choosing to approve the CVA.”

The CVA will become effective following a shareholder meeting to be held on Thursday.

TalkTalk tanks

TalkTalk sign
Getty Images

Capita isn't the only company whose shares have tanked today. Broadband provider TalkTalk is down more than 17% to 108p, largely it seems on the back of a cut in the target price to 90p by the broker Exane.

It argues that broadband customers are increasingly seeking bargains, putting pressure on revenues across the industry.

Exane says TalkTalk had been the main beneficiary of consumers downgrading, but that was is no longer the case: "Their trading momentum appears to have peaked, and their share of the discount market is coming under renewed pressure."

In November TalkTalk spooked investors with a profit warning and cut the dividend.

Pound hovers near $1.42

After flirting with $1.42 the pound is trading at $1.414 against the dollar, while the currency has shed 0.4% against the euro. It follows a strong performance by the currency last week.

Connor Campbell of SpreadEx says today's slip came about "after Reuters claimed that the European Commission has rejected a proposal from the City of London detailing a plan for a post-Brexit free trade agreement on financial services".

"That’s the latest bit of Brexit bad news this week, with a string of troublesome reports starting to undermine the pound’s recent, and rapid, rise."

Record transfer spending in the Premier League

Virgil Van Dijk
Getty Images
Virgil Van Dijk

Premier League clubs have been splashing the cash this season, even ahead of today's transfer deadline.

Total spend by the 20 clubs in the top flight currently stands at around £1.7bn compared to last season's high of £1.4bn, reports Deloitte.

The January transfer record has already been smashed with clubs having spent close to £250m on players, far exceeding the January 2011 record of £225m.

Top fee, so far, in the current transfer window was the £75m Liverpool paid Southampton for defender Virgil Van Dijk.