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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Dollar and Dow Jones end the day lower
  3. Actress paying the Queen paid less than Prince Philip
  4. Government floats idea of abolishing 1p and 2p coins
  5. Chancellor signals stronger growth in Spring Statement
  6. OBR revises 2018 GDP forecast upwards, from 1.4% to 1.5%
  7. Government borrowing expected to decrease
  8. Inflation predicted to fall 'back to target' by 2019
  9. Labour warns of further austerity

Live Reporting

By Lucy Hooker

All times stated are UK

It's goodnight from the Live Page. We return at 6am. Hope you can join us.

Adidas plans bumper buy-back

Adidas shoe
Getty Images

The German sportswear brand Adidas is planning to buy back up to €3bn ($3.72bn) of its shares over the next three years.

That represents nearly 9% of its share capital, the firm said.

It will finance the buyback mostly with current net cash and through its expected strong cash flow in coming years the firm said.

Adidas is reporting fourth-quarter results on Wednesday and it's expected to show a pick-up in profits.

It undertook a previous €1.5bn shareback in 2014, when the company was trying to placate angry investors after a string of profit warnings.

Trump aide 'escorted out of White House'

Getty Images
Mr McEntee (left) had been Mr Trump's personal assistant throughout his campaign and presidency

John McEntee was fired amid an inquiry over alleged financial crimes, reports say.


Trump aide 'escorted out of White House'

John McEntee was fired amid an inquiry over alleged financial crimes, reports say.

Read more

Heavy cost of metal tariffs

Steam is emitted from U.S. Steel Clairton Works, March 11, 2018 in Clairton, Pennsylvania.
Getty Images

The US could lose an estimated 18 jobs for every one gained as a result of planned steel and aluminium tariffs.

The figure comes from Trade Partnership Worldwide, a Washington think tank, which examined the potential cost of retaliation on industries such as agriculture.

Including retaliation, the firm forecasts that the tariffs could lead to a net loss of 470,000 jobs.

Previously, the firm estimated that the tariffs could lead to a net loss of about 146,000 jobs in the US.

Pennies: pointless or perfect?

Predictably there are differing views on the future of the 1p and 2p coin.

Not so many voicing regret for the loss of the £50 note.

Here's a snapshot.

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US markets fall

chart of Dow Jones day activity

There was plenty of news for US investors to digest.

It didn't all go down well. In particular news of Rex Tillerson's departure as Secretary of State and his replacement with Mike Pompeo whose views are closer to President Trump's on matters such as the Iran nuclear deal.

At the end of the trading day in the US the Dow Jones Index was 0.68% or 172 points lower at 25,006.68.

The broader S&P 500 fell 0.64% or 17 points to 2,765.31.

The Nasdaq ended the day 1.02% down or 77 points lower at 7,511.01.

The dollar fell against most currencies but gained marginally against the yen, rising 0.1% to 106.51.

New boss for Vice

Shane Smith
Getty Images
Shane Smith, co-founder of Vice, is moving aside

Vice Media, where executives last year apologised for creating a "boys club" culture, will be led by a woman.

Vice co-founder Shane Smith is stepping down as chief executive. He will be replaced by Nancy Dubuc, who most recently led A&E Networks.

Mr Smith will remain with the company as executive chairman.

Vice last year was the subject of a New York Times investigation about sexual harassment. The company has also missed key financial targets.

The plot thickens

Matt Smith

The justification for paying actors different amounts largely boils down to how high profile the actor is and Matt Smith's turn as the eleventh Doctor Who made him a bit of a box office draw.

But in part it's also down to how much they've earned on previous projects. It's something Vanity Fair looked into recently.

Now though there's a new law in California banning employers from asking potential employees about their previous levels of pay in an effort to close the gender-wage gap.

Tune in to see how that resolves.

Pushing for a tough line on Russia

As we wait to see what measures the UK government opts for in response to the poisoning in Salisbury last weekend, critics of Russia are pushing for them to take a tough stance.

Foremost among them is American financier Bill Browder, who ran a business in Russia for ten years but fell foul of the authorities.

He's been speaking to BBC World Service.

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Dollar falls on Tillerson departure

Rex Tillerson's replacement as Secretary of State is being blamed for a slide in the dollar today.

The dollar's fallen 0.4 cents against the euro- a fall of 0.51%. One dollar buys 0.8065 euros.

It fell a similar amount against sterling to £0.7156.

A pay rise for the Queen

The Queen shot from the Crown

Claire Foy was paid an estimated $40,000 per episode for playing Queen Elizabeth. But Matt Smith was paid more as Prince Philip. The Crown isn't a series produced on a shoestring budget.

It had a budget of $7m per episode, according to Vanity Fair.

We don't know how much of a pay rise "the Queen" will see, now they've been called out over the discrepancy.

But it won't be Foy who benefits.

Because the upcoming third series jumps forward in time to the 1970s they're casting a slightly older actor to play the Queen: Olivia Coleman.

The OBR looks on the bright side of bankruptcy

A zombie businessman
Getty Images

A Tigger moment you might have missed from the OBR forecast.

Explaining why there might be increases in productivity over the next five years, it cites the expected rise in interest rates.

Why do higher interest rates boost productivity?

Because they will force the less productive firms, which the OBR calls "zombie firms", out of business.

That's cheerful isn't it?

We are not amused

Shot from The Crown

It turns out the Queen could do with a pay rise.

Well, the actress who plays the Queen in Netflix's popular series The Crown at any rate.

Variety Magazine has just discovered that Claire Foy was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith (playing Prince Philip).

“The producers acknowledged that [Smith] did make more due to his Doctor Who fame, but that they would rectify that for the future,”Variety reported.

“Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen,” creative director Suzanne Mackie said.

Is Larry Kudlow next in line?

US conservative commentator and economic analyst Larry Kudlow speaks on the set of CNBC at the closing bell of the Dow Industrial Average at the New York Stock Exchange on March 8, 2018 in New York.
CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow

President Trump has told reporters Larry Kudlow has "a very good chance" at becoming the next head of his National Economic Council, the position just vacated by Gary Cohn.

Mr Kudlow - a contributor on the CNBC business channel - has acted as an informal adviser to Mr Trump during the election campaign.

He is a more orthodox Republican than the president; like Cohn he opposed recent steel and aluminium tariffs.

But Mr Trump says he can overlook this.

"Larry has been a friend of mine for a long time," he told reporters on Tuesday. "He backed me very early in the campaign; I think the earliest."

Taking care of the pennies

Can this be right?

The government's paper which is looking at whether to scrap 1p and 2p coins says: "Surveys suggest that six in ten 1p and 2p coins are used in a transaction once before they leave the cash cycle.

"They are either saved, or in 8 per cent of cases are thrown away."

Probably not even into the recycling.

And then you've got to keep minting more to replace them.

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Greencore falls 30%

wraps from Greencore

One big loser on Tuesday was Greencore, the Irish food-to-go supplier.

It flagged up a weak performance in the US and said profits would be lower than expected.

Its shares fell 30%.

FTSE closes lower

FTSE share graph for Tuesday

The FTSE 100 share index fell 1.05% on Tuesday, that's a fall of 76 points, to 7,138.78.

The pound was up 0.008 pence or 0.55% against he dollar at $1.3982.

And against the euro it was almost unchanged at €1.1277,

The pound's gain against the dollar was as much to do with news of Rex Tillerson's departure from the White House as the Spring Statement analysts said.

Co-op copes with IT problem

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A Co-op spokesperson says the depot is now fully operational "and we’re working hard to get products into stores as quickly as possible.”​

What about wages?

Lab technicians at work
Getty Images

Philip Hammond mentioned real wages beginning to grow again in early 2019.

The IFS are unpicking the numbers for the longer term.

Despite a very marginal upgrade to the forecast for earnings growth today, real average earnings are now expected to grow by just 3.5% over the next five years, meaning their level in 2022-23 would be similar to 2007-08."

Robert Joyce, Associate Director

And he adds that the freeze on working-age benefits means we're looking at "a further period of weak growth in the living standards of working age households."

OBR: productivity uptick 'looks a little fishy'

Charlie Bean
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The OBR does not believe the recent surge in productivity will last.

Sir Charlie Bean, a former Bank of England official who sits on the OBR’s Budget Responsibility Committee, explains why.

He says the recent improvement in productivity growth was triggered by a fall in hours worked. Therefore a sustained improvement “looks a little fishy."

But he says the main problem is how hard it is to tease out meaningful information from all the "noise" when it comes to this kind of economic analysis.

“One would need a much longer run of data to be confident that productivity has picked up in a sustainable way.”

Not much copper

2p and 1p coins
Getty Images

One of the consultations in the Spring Statement is looking into cash and digital payments in the new economy and it says the Treasury is considering withdrawing the 2p and 1p pieces as well as the largest note the £50.

"The writing looks to be on the wall for 1ps and 2ps," says Sarah Coles, at Hargreaves Lansdown.

"When it costs more to produce and distribute a coin than the coin itself is worth, governments tend to decide it’s a spent force."

Time to go empty out that jar of coppers on the kitchen shelf.

As for the £50 there is a perception that they're used for money laundering and there are no plans to produce a plastic version.

'Inching towards' a tech tax plan

Google office

Stella Amiss, head of tax policy at PwC, isn't overwhelmed by the chancellor's proposals for doing something on the tech giants' tax bills.

She says the government is "inching towards" some new form of tax while not giving any details.

“On the one hand the Government says international agreement is essential, but the raft of options published today suggest there is a way to go if the government is to avoid confusion, double taxation and undermining the Chancellor's ambition to deliver an open and outward looking economy.

“The chancellor has reiterated that a short-term measure, likely to be tax on revenues, will be needed pending an agreement on the long-term solution.”

Too Eeyore-ish?

Is the OBR too gloomy in its forecasts?

It predicts growth of 1.5% this year and 1.3% in 2019.

A compilation of forecasts from economists in the City as well as academics predicts the economy will grow by 1.5% this year and next.

Mr Chote insists that the OBR’s predictions are a “central forecast” and that there is “a 50% chance things could turn out better or worse.”

Why isn't this year's borrowing even lower?

OBR chairman Robert Chote has more to say on the lower-than-expected borrowing figure for this year.

While it came in at £45.2bn - down from November's prediction of £49.9bn - analysts were expecting it to be even lower.

So why isn’t it?

The OBR believes projected under-spending by local councils is less than the Office for National Statistics currently forecasts.

It also thinks tax revenues outside those received from employed workers will be slightly weaker, and believes that the UK will pay around £800m more to the EU before the end of this financial year in budget payments.

More tax coming in from the self-employed

Robert Chote

Chairman Robert Chote is talking the press through today's forecasts from the OBR.

He says we're borrowing less than forecast this year thanks to more tax coming in from self-employed workers - revenues are £2.9bn higher than predicted.

However, he adds: “we don’t expect much of that good news to push forward into future years”.

Why not? Some self-employed workers shifted dividend income forward to avoid a tax increase. But the impact of that will run out.

Mr Chote adds that capital gains tax receipts are £1bn lower than expected. The recent turmoil on financial markets is also expected to have an effect on future revenues.

Just to be clear...

Debt is falling... not in nominal terms, of course, in pounds and pence it continues to rise. But, as BBC's Reality Check explains, as a percentage of the national economy its getting smaller - which most people consider is the most sensible way to measure how much of a burden it places on a growing economy.

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Changes to UK's borrowing forecasts

Borrowing forecasts paint a more optimistic picture than the one we were looking at last November, though bear little relation to last spring's outlook for the years 2019 -21.

Graph of net public sector borrowing

Predictions for UK growth

This graph illustrates pretty neatly how forecasts for growth in the longer term have become more pessimistic over the last year.

Graph of UK growth predictions

To sum up....

The chancellor - as promised - didn't make any big policy pronouncements.

He did give us the OBR's latest forecasts showing:

  • growth is likely to be higher this year than they suggested in November
  • borrowing will be lower than they predicted in November

And he launched consultations on several matters including:

  • how tech giants are taxed
  • how to discourage plastics that are non-recyclable
  • encouraging the use of less polluting delivery vans
  • measures to end late payments for firms

How much is the Brexit 'divorce bill'?


Chris Morris

BBC Reality Check

Assumed annual path of EU financial settlement payments

The OBR estimate that the Brexit financial settlement (or ‘divorce bill’) will be £37.1bn falls right in the middle of the £35bn-£39bn range presented by the Treasury in December.

Most of the money will be paid out in the first five years after Brexit, but the OBR forecasts that smaller payments will have to be made until at least 2064.

The OBR emphasises that there are numerous uncertainties surrounding any estimate of the size of the bill.

It will have to be paid in euros, so the exchange rate is a significant factor.

It also depends on assumptions of how long pension liabilities will last, and of the percentage of proposed EU spending projects that may be cancelled in the future.

Finally, the estimate assumes that a transition period after Brexit ends on December 31st 2020, which coincides with the end of the EU’s current seven-year budget period.

If the transition were to be extended, the EU would be looking for further financial contributions from the UK.

Late payments 'deserve government's attention'

Commenting on plans announced in the Spring Statement to tackle late payers, Adam Marshall, director general of The British Chambers of Commerce, said:

"Affected firms are often unwilling to jeopardise customer relationships by calling out bad practice. The government must use its convening power to tackle this issue in sectors where it is clear that problems exist.

"Changing payment terms mid-contract, and burying payment terms in the small print when suppliers register for business, are issues that deserve ministers’ attention.

Why so cheery?

Chancellor Philip Hammond predicted a bright future for the UK in his first Spring Statement - but why was he in such an upbeat and jovial mood? Read our full write up.

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Stamp Duty relief will cost a fifth more...

BBC Personal Finance correspondent Kevin Peachey tweets...

Spring Statement - 'Little to cheer'

Aberdeen Standard Investments chief economist Lucy O’Carroll has commented on the Spring Statement:

There is little to cheer by way of economic progress. A woeful growth outlook by past standards. Potentially massive dislocation for the economy just around the corner. And all subject to huge, Brexit-related uncertainties.

Stamp Duty relief could cost £1bn

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Bean counters at accountants Blick Rothenburg have worked out that the Stamp Duty tax relief could cost the government £1bn in the first year.

Partner Nimesh Shah said: "Based on the Chancellor’s claim that 60,000 people have benefited, it means the relief has cost the Treasury up to £300m in just under four months. At that rate, it will cost the Treasury close to £1bn in the first year."

UK to remain in 'slow lane' of global growth - PwC

London financial district
Getty Images

Despite its revised projections, the OBR expects the UK economy to remain in the "slow lane of global growth for some time to come", says John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC.

"In particular, the OBR has stuck to its view that productivity growth will remain relatively subdued over the next five years.

"While noting the surprisingly strong growth in output per hour during the second half of 2017, they have put this down to a potentially erratic decline in average hours worked rather than any increase in output growth.

"As such, they remain sceptical that this better productivity growth trend will persist or translate into higher GDP growth going forward."

Fallible forecasts?

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, said the revised OBR growth forecasts put the UK in a better position "to face the moment of truth on Brexit". But he added:

We should not get carried away. These forecasts are likely to be no less fallible than earlier ones and, despite an improving trend in public borrowing, the burden of debt in the UK is still at its highest in over 50 years.