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Summary

  1. Smiths shares fall 11% on revenue drop
  2. Global markets hit by Trump tariffs
  3. Next posts 8.1% fall in pre-tax profits
  4. US Congress passes huge $1.3tn spending bill
  5. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Robert Plummer and Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

Good night

That's all for the week from the Business Live page. Please join us again on Monday from 06:00.

South Africa's lucrative funeral insurance industry

Laying your loved ones to rest is big business in South Africa. The funeral insurance industry is valued at nearly half a billion dollars and people are spending large sums on items such as caskets and tombstones.

As the financial burden on surviving relatives increases, many are putting money aside for extravagant arrangements.

The BBC's Vumani Mkhize reports.

South Africa's lucrative funeral insurance industry

Sonos pulls Facebook ads

Sonos, the maker of digital music kit, is pulling its ads from Facebook next week. It says it is concerned over privacy.

You can read the Sonos blog here.

That move prompted a wry tweet from Tesla and SpaceX boss, Elon Musk.

View more on twitter

Leave campaign 'linked to Facebook scandal firm'

The Guardian US west coast bureau chief tweets...

Watch what you wish for

Russell Hotten

BBC Business Reporter, Basel

Jean-Claude Biver
AFP

Jean-Claude Biver, the luxury watch sector's big cheese, has been shaking up things for four decades.

Now the man who runs Tag Heuer, Hublot, Bulgari and Zenith - plus a lot more - has a new plan: bring smartwatch makers Apple and Samsung into the heart of Swiss watchmaking.

Speaking to BBC at Baselworld, the planet's biggest watch jamboree held in the Swiss city of Basel, Biver says it's time for the country's traditionalists to move with the times.

"The Apple watch is a watch," he says. "It's a bracelet that gives you information: hours, minutes, the date. But there are too many people here who don't think it's a watch. There are people who say, if you're not Swiss you can't be here."

Mind you, his invitation is not entirely altruistic. Luxury watchmakers need more younger consumers, many of whom are turning to smartwatches.

"The Apple watch teaches people to wear something on their wrist," he says. Eventually, after a few years, they will want a "real" watch. Ouch.

Wall Street tumbles on trade war fears

Wall Street traders
Getty Images

Wall Street tumbled on Friday as investors shied away from risky bets going into the weekend while they braced for a potential US trade war with China.

President Donald Trump's plans for tariffs on up to $60bn in Chinese goods moved the world's two largest economies closer to a trade war as China declared plans to levy duties on up to $3bn of US imports including fruit and wine even as it urged the United States to "pull back from the brink."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 424.69 points, to 23,533.20, and the S&P 500 lost 174.01 points, falling to 6,992.67. The Nasdaq fell 174 points to 6,993.

'Investigators search Cambridge Analytica offices'

ITV presenter tweets...

Finally...

Goldman raises chief executive Blankfein's pay by 9%

Goldman Sachs has said chief executive Lloyd Blankfein’s total compensation was about $22m in 2017, compared with $20.2m a year earlier.

ICO to execute Cambridge Analytica search warrant 'shortly'

Rory Cellan-Jones

Technology correspondent

Data watchdog gets Cambridge Analytica warrant

A judge sitting at the High Court has granted an application by the Information Commissioner's Office for a warrant to search the London offices of Cambridge Analytica.

Corbyn sacks new EU referendum supporter

Owen Smith
Getty Images

Owen Smith has been sacked from the shadow cabinet after breaking ranks with Jeremy Corbyn by calling for a new EU referendum.

He was replaced as shadow Northern Ireland secretary after saying Labour should keep asking whether Brexit remains the right choice for the UK.

Mr Smith said he had been sacked for his views on the "damage" Brexit will do to the UK's economy and the Good Friday Agreement.

In an apparent message to Mr Corbyn he added: "Those views are shared by Labour members and supporters and I will continue to speak up for them, and in the interest of our country."

Mr Smith, who unsuccessfully challenged Mr Corbyn for the party leadership in 2016, insisted Labour needed to do more than "just back a soft Brexit".

List of Prezzo-branded restaurant closures

Here's a list of all the Prezzo-branded restaurants that are closing in the UK:

• Abergavenny • Alton • Amersham • Arundel • Barnet • Barnstaple • Belfast • Belfast - Boucher Road • Beverley • Blackpool • Blandford • Braintree • Brentwood • Carlisle • Carmarthen • Catterick • Chelmsford • Cramlington • Dalton park • Darlington • Deansgate, Manchester • Edinburgh • Falmouth • Farnham • Formby • Fort Shopping Park, Glasgow • Gloucester • Guildford • Halstead • Haywards Heath • Hereford • Kingston • Leicester • Lewes • Midhurst • Newcastle • Newquay • Northwood • Norwich • Nottingham • Penarth • Poulton • Ripon • Sheffield • Southampton • St Annes on Sea • St Austell • Stamford • Stevenage • Stratford Upon Avon • Sudbury • Taunton • Tewkesbury • Wandsworth • Warrington • West Bromwich • Wokingham • Woodley • Yate • Yeovil

Government bins car scrappage scheme promise

Exhaust fumes
Getty Images

Ministers have just ditched proposals for a national car scrappage scheme, according to a Defra response to a public consultation on air quality.

Greenpeace UK clean air campaigner Morten Thaysen said:

"The government has just performed a tyre-burning U-turn on the national scrappage scheme... Illegal levels of toxic air pollution are a serious problem, but government action is shifting from first gear to reverse.”

A number of car manufacturers offer scrappage schemes, including Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and VW, according to What Car?

Elon Musk pulls brands from Facebook

Elon Musk
Getty Images

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has had the official Facebook pages for his Tesla and SpaceX companies deleted.

The #deletefacebook movement has grown after data firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of obtaining the personal information of about 50 million users.

Mr Musk had poked fun at speaker brand Sonos after it said it would suspend advertising on Facebook for one week.

His followers challenged him to have his own companies' pages deleted, which he did within minutes.

Read more here.

FTSE recovers slightly but remains down

A trader in London
Getty Images

The FTSE 100 has recovered slightly but remains 0.4% down at 6921.94.

It opened down at 6952.59 on Friday, with investors edgy over the prospect of a US-China trade war.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.35% to 23873.51, the Nasdaq Composite is 0.86% down at 7104.95 and the S&P is 0.46% down, at 2631.49.

Advertisers 'committed to keeping pressure on Facebook'

Facebook logo
Getty Images

The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (Isba) says it welcomes the changes Facebook says it is going to make after the Cambridge Analytica data-scraping scandal.

"It is clear from our meeting today that this is a priority for Facebook and that they now have a lot of work to do as they commence and conduct their forensic audit..." Isba said.

"This issue is a key priority for us and we are committed to keeping up the pressure on Facebook to deliver clarity and action."

Vauxhall is 'reviewing dealer contract framework'

Vauxhall says it is looking carefully at its contracts with dealerships, but the BBC understands that it has no plans to close any.

"The Opel/Vauxhall PACE! plan is improving the efficiency of the business in all areas. Within the plan, the go-to-market strategy is being carefully reviewed, including the contractual framework with dealers," Vauxhall said in a statement.

Reuters reported earlier that Vauxhall could cut the number of its showrooms by a third.

Vauxhall 'to cut showrooms by a third'

Vauxhall dealership
Getty Images

Peugeot's UK brand Vauxhall plans to cut its dealership network by roughly a third to around 200 outlets, the chief executive of a dealership group has told Reuters.

"The whole UK Vauxhall network is around 300 dealerships and that will be reduced to around 200," the chief executive said.

"They've told us it's a plan. They're driving it... It keeps the sales per outlet in a good place and maintains the viability of their network," the boss added.

Dropbox shares surge in biggest tech debut since Snap

View more on twitter

Dropbox shares soared in their market debut as investors rushed to buy into the biggest tech IPO in more than a year.

The stock opened at $29 on the Nasdaq and shot up to as high as $31 in early trading.

At the stock's opening price, the company touched a market valuation of $12.67bn, above the $10bn valuation it had in its last private funding round.

NY traders 'numb' to White House trade announcement

Bombardier welcomes Boeing decision to drop trade case

Bombardier C-Series plane
Reuters

Boeing's decision to end its trade case over the sale of Bombardier CSeries jets to US carriers is good news for the aerospace industry and the public, the Canadian plane and train maker says.

"Boeing's claim was meritless and should never have been brought," Bombardier said. "We are happy that it has come to an end."

Boeing said late on Thursday it would not appeal a US trade commission ruling that allows Bombardier to sell its CSeries inthe US without hefty duties.

EU recalls Russia ambassador

French president Emmanuel Macron has said a number of European Union countries, including France and Germany, will soon announce coordinated measures against Russia, following the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.

He classed it as an attack on European sovereignty.

The EU has recalled its ambassador Markus Ederer from Moscow.

Speaking in Brussels European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU's move was unprecedented and indicated the seriousness of the situation:

"We did agree yesterday night that we are sharing the assessment by the British authorities that it is highly likely that Russia is behind this awful attack," Mr Juncker said.

"We decided to call back our European ambassador in Moscow, first to debrief him on the outcome and the development of the discussions we had yesterday night and second to listen to him when he is explaining what is happening in Russia. This is an extraordinary measure. We never took it before."

Read more here.

WTO chief warns against global trade war

Roberto Azevedo
Getty Images

The head of the World Trade Organization has called for restraint and urgent dialogue within the WTO system to stop trade frictions damaging the world economy, which he said was experiencing a fragile recovery.

His comments come after US President Donald Trump announced tariffs of $60bn in Chinese imports. Mr Trump also said the WTO had been a "disaster" for the US and that arbitration had been "very unfair".

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedosaid in a statement: "Actions taken outside these collective processes greatly increase the risk of escalation in a confrontation that will have no winners, and which could quickly lead to a less stable trading system."

"Disrupting trade flows will jeopardise the global economy at a time when economic recovery, though fragile, has been increasingly evident around the world. I again call for restraint and urgent dialogue as the best path forward to resolve these problems."

Suzuki pulls Ant & Dec advertising

View more on twitter

TV presenter Ant McPartlin was charged with drink driving following a collision involving three vehicles in south-west London on Sunday.

Read more here.

Prezzo restaurant chain to close 92 outlets

Pizza
Getty Images

Creditors of the Italian restaurant business Prezzo have backed a restructuring plan that will see it close 92 outlets - about a third of the chain.

It's estimated the move, backed by most creditors, could jeopardise up 1,800 jobs.

The chain, which is owned by private equity firm TPG Capital, employs about 4,500 people.

Prezzo is closing all of the 33 outlets of its TexMex chain Chimichanga.

Read more here.

US places sanctions on Iranian alleged hackers

Security breach graphic
Getty Images

The Trump administration has said nine Iranians and an Iranian company attempted to hack into hundreds of US and international universities including in the UK, dozens of companies and parts of the US government on behalf of the Iranian government.

The cyber attack pilfered more than 31 terabytes of academic data and intellectual property from 144 US universities and 176 universities in 21 other countries, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

It said it was placing sanctions on those accused and the Mabna Institute, a company described by US prosecutors as designed to help Iranian research organisations steal information.

Dow gains some ground

Wall Street traders
Getty Images

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained a little bit of ground after steep losses on Thursday due to fears of a global trade war. The US had announced tariffs of $60bn on Chinese imports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 0.3%, to 24,033. The S&P was flat at to 24,033. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.05%, to 7,163.

EU: Tariffs 'cannot be justified on national security grounds'

World Trade Organisation building
BBC

European Union leaders have complained at a World Trade Organisation meeting that they felt as though President Trump had held "a gun to our head" over his proposed steel and aluminium tariffs.

They have said that Mr Trump cannot use national security concerns as a pretext for US attempts to keep its steel industry alive and prosperous.

Russia, Japan, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, Norway, Switzerland and India have also criticised Mr Trump's actions at the WTO meeting.

The virtues of waiting

President Donald Trump
Getty Images

A Federal Reserve policymaker has told a conference that while protectionsim and trade tariffs are bad for economic growth, if you look at the actual policies put in place by the Trump administration, rather than the hype, the negative impact tends to be not as bad.

"One of the things I've tried to do, I'm learning to do this more and more, is wait," Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic said at the Knoxville Economic Forum.

"Don't react to the first sound of a policy, but actually wait to see what policy actually gets put in place."

In particular, Mr Bostic was referring to the steel and aluminium tariffs President Trump announced this week.

Although the EU has only been given a 40-day exemption, he feels the tariffs have ended up affecting a much smaller group of countries than previously thought.

Trump threatens to veto spending bill

Donald Trump is peeved that the US Congress's newly approved $1.3tn (£921bn) spending bill, intended to fund the government until September, doesn't provide all the cash needed for his beloved Mexican border wall. It gives him just $1.6bn for the project, far short of the $25bn the White House had sought.

View more on twitter

Merged rail firm 'will be French'

TGV trains
Getty Images

As France's Alstom and Germany's Siemens prepare to merge their rail operations later this year, Siemens president Joe Kaeser has moved to reassure French unions that oppose the move.

Mr Kaeser said the resulting company "will not be a sub-division of Siemens".

He added: "Siemens Alstom will be a French company, with its headquarters in France, listed on the French stock market and with a very competent French boss."

Mr Kaeser made the comments in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro.

Siemens makes the inter-city ICE trains that run on German long-distance routes, while Alstom makes the French equivalent, the TGV (pictured). Workers at Alstom fear the merger will lead to job cuts.

Kroger and Target 'in talks on possible merger'

Kroger logo
Reuters

Kroger, the biggest supermarket chain in the US, and Target, the country's number two discount store retailer, are discussing a possible merger, according to business magazine Fast Company.

The talks come as the US grocery industry consolidates in the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of the Whole Foods chain last year.

Fast Company says the two companies began talking last summer about a partnership, with the aim of improving Target’s grocery business and giving Kroger customers more access to merchandise and e-commerce.

"The companies appear to be struggling to decide whether a merger is the best path forward," says the magazine.

Virtual reality as sharp as the human eye can see?

Matthew Wall

Technology of Business editor

Virtual reality headsets
Getty Images

Finnish start-up Varjo has developed a prototype virtual reality (VR) headset that its makers claim gives an image 50 times sharper than most other headsets currently on the market.

When I tested the prototype - looking round the virtual cockpit of a passenger plane - the level of detail in the small central area of vision was certainly impressive, as close to the real thing as I've come across.

Image quality outside this area, simulating standard VR headsets, was noticeably fuzzier.

Founder and chief executive Urho Konttori says the firm has managed to achieve this by mimicking how the eye sees.

Air France strike grounds a quarter of planes

Air France plane
Getty Images

Those French strikes have started up again sooner than we thought. Now it's the turn of Air France crew, who've walked out in support of a 6% pay claim.

Theirs is a separate dispute from Thursday's public sector stoppages, but it does mean that air travel is being disrupted for the second day in a row, after French air traffic controllers went out on strike yesterday.

About a quarter of the airline's flights have been cancelled.

Smiths shares recover slightly

Smiths Group shares are now about 7.5% down on the day, while GlaxoSmithKline is up nearly 3.5% and Next is up a whopping 6.1%. The FTSE 100 is now 0.6% lower at 6,909.91.

Cambridge Analytica taken to court over data storage

Clinton vs Trump badges
Getty Images

A US citizen is taking Cambridge Analytica to court to get access to data he says it holds on him.

Prof David Carroll filed his legal challenge on the same day Facebook announced it had banned the company from its network.

He also wants Cambridge Analytica to disclose how it came up with the profile it had on him.

Legal experts believe the case could set a precedent for how such companies collect data.

Melrose issues final offer for GKN

Women working at GKN
GKN

Turnaround firm Melrose has issued a final offer to purchase British engineering giant GKN.

Melrose's hostile takeover bid is worth $7.8bn. GKN shareholders have until 1pm on 29 March to accept the offer.

Melrose has offered 81 pence in cash and 1.69 of its own shares for each GKN share, valuing the group's shares at 450p each.

According to Reuters' columnist Neil Unmack, Melrose has a record for turnarounds, while GKN is better known for missing targets.

He points out that although the shares will be worth 450p each - a big chunk of that is Melrose stock.

"Investors might side with Melrose if they believe that its turnaround pros can do a better job of improving operating profit margins at GKN, which missed its targets last year. Yet that is far from certain. Melrose has never tried to fix a company of this size," he wrote.

"It has published far less detail on how it plans to improve GKN's performance than its target, which has promised to boost operating margins from 7% to more than 10%. Besides, Melrose is not perfect; it recently wrote down its investment in generator maker Brush."

Watchdog raids firm suspected of 200 million nuisance calls

Bemused lady on the phone
Thinkstock

A business premises suspected of making 200 million illegal calls has been searched by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

Some calls may have put lives at risk as they were made to Network Rail's control centre near Fort William.

As a result, drivers and pedestrians were unable to check if it was safe to cross the rails at unmanned crossings.

The raid in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, followed public complaints about automated calls.