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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. FTSE 100 soars 2.3%
  3. Final gender pay gap figure emerges
  4. New car sales plunge by 15.7% in March
  5. Rank shares plunge on profit warning

Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon and Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

Good night!

That's all we have time for on Business Live tonight - thanks for reading.

As always we're back bright and early tomorrow at 06:00 so do join us then.

Sacked cyclist sues

Juli Briskman makes a hand gesture at Trump's motorcade
Getty Images

A US cyclist who was sacked over a viral photo of her making an obscene gesture to President Donald Trump's motorcade is suing her former employer.

Juli Briskman was fired by government contractor Akima LLC in November 2017 after a press photographer travelling with the president captured the image.

"Americans should not be forced to choose between their principles and their paychecks," her lawsuit states.

Her lawyers argue her right to free speech was violated by the firing.

Three in a row...

The Dow and S&P 500 ended higher for the third consecutive day - the longest winning streak for about a month - as fears of a trade war between the US and China abated and attention turned to the upcoming results season.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% to 24,505 points; the S&P 500 gained 0.7% to 2,662.8 points and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.5% to 7,076 points.

Apple Music hits the top 40 (million)

Steven Huon tweet
Steven Huon

Industry website Music Business Worldwide points out that Apple Music now has 40 million subscribers - 4 million more than when the iPhone maker last gave an update on its music service in February.

The figure comes courtesy of a tweet from Steven Huon, Apple Music's content director in France.

Streaming market leader Spotify, in contrast, had 71 million paying subscribers as at 31 December - and 157 million active users in total.

Lost in space...

We all know scientists are terribly clever, but this feat may raise the bar just a little higher.

View more on twitter

Wall Street still higher

US flag
Getty Images

Wall Street has held on to its gains with about 45 mins left in the trading day.

The Dow Jones is 1.3% higher, the S&P 500 is up 1%, while the Nasdaq has added 0.8%.

Peter Tuz of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia says: "We're going into earnings season with a fair amount of optimism, largely driven by the new, lower tax rates and also driven by other bits of evidence the economy is doing very well."

de Havilland 'dismayed'

Olivia de Havilland
Getty Images/FX
Olivia de Havilland, pictured in 2011, was played by Catherine Zeta Jones in Feud

Dame Olivia de Havilland says she is "dismayed" by a court's decision to dismiss her lawsuit over her portrayal in Feud: Bette And Joan and has vowed to continue fighting.

The 101-year-old double Oscar-winner sued FX Network over the docudrama, alleging it defamed her by falsely showing her as a hypocrite and a gossip.

But appeal court judges in California threw out her case, saying stars cannot "dictate" how their legacy is portrayed.

Dame Olivia said on Thursday she is "deeply disappointed, perplexed and dismayed" by the ruling. "I feel very strongly that I must appeal to the supreme court for my sake and for the sake of many others in the future," the Gone With The Wind actress added.

Sweet tooth?

BBC Newsnight

No guns for BlackRock

Guns at Walmart
Getty Images

BlackRock plans to offer investment funds that exclude retailers which sell guns - as well as gun makers - following through on plans it outlined last month in the wake of the high school shooting in Florida.

The world's largest asset manager will offer a new line of firearm-free products to big institutional investors and pension funds that track indexes such as the S&P 500.

The world's largest asset manager also said two new exchange-traded funds would exclude gun makers and retailers, and add similar screens to existing stock and bond ETFs that already screen stocks for social, environmental and governance factors.

Strong investor interest in the products in theory could weaken demand for shares of gun makers such as American Outdoor Brands Corp and Sturm Ruger, where BlackRock funds have large stakes, although it could take some time for clients to move enough money to make an impact.

BlackRock has about $6 trillion under management.

Switching off

Chiltern Railways train passes Wembley Stadium
Chiltern Railways

In a bid to get passengers off their smartphones (and fancying a bit of free publicity no doubt), Chiltern Railways has held a yoga class on a train.

Passengers were invited to join in with the yoga class and take part in other mindfulness activities such as adult colouring.

Chiltern Railway's commercial director, Eleni Jordan, says taking time to switch off is a great benefit: "We wanted to create a space to promote mindfulness - where our passengers can sit back, reflect and re-energise."

The class was held in collaboration with mental health charity Mind and Oxford University's mindfulness centre.

Qatar Airways to fly to Wales

Qatar Airways
Getty Images

Qatar Airways is launching a new route flying direct from Cardiff to Doha from 1 May.

The journeys will be flown using the Airbus A350-900 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Qatar Airways currently serves London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh, with a new service to London Gatwick commencing on 22 May 2018.

China complains to WTO about US trade tariffs

US and Chinese flags
Getty Images

China has filed an official complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over US President Trump's $50bn trade tariffs on Chinese imports of various goods, including machinery and electronics.

China and the US now have 60 days to resolve their complaint, or they face litigation at the WTO from a neutral panel of arbitrators.

In response to the US tariffs, on Tuesday China imposed $3bn in retaliatory tariffs on US exports, but it also warned that it would take other measures against the US.

China's complaint claims that the US is violating provisions of existing WTO agreements that date back as far as 1948.

The WTO was formerly known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and China was one of the original 23 countries that signed the agreement 70 years ago.

It's us or no one, say Dolce & Gabbana

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
Getty Images

Italian fashion icons Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana want their fashion label to be shut down when they die, rather than being taken other by new designers.

"Once we're dead, we're dead. I don't want a Japanese designer to start designing Dolce & Gabbana," Mr Gabbana, 55, tells Corriere della Sera.

The two designers launched Dolce & Gabbana in 1985 and were a couple for 19 years, but have continued to work together after their break-up.

Mr Dolce, 59, said that they had refused "every offer to buy the brand".

"You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not free, what do you do? You don't go to the grave with a coffin stuffed with money," he said, admitting that he is so busy working that he "doesn't have time" to spend their fortune.

'A negotiation'

Larry Kudlow
Getty Images

The sharp rebound on Wall Street last night - which has continued into today - was apparently sparked by comments from President Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, who said the administration is involved in a "negotiation" with China - but not a trade war.

"The bounce on Wednesday was really quite impressive, especially as there was not much of a catalyst for the turnaround given that neither the US or China is backing down on tariffs and negotiations were always going to take place in the background," says Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda.

As well as Boeing recovering some ground, shares in Caterpillar also rose more than 1% today.

China 'unlikely to change'

BBC World

Claire Reade, the former assistant US trade representative for China Affairs, tells Talking Business that China is unlikely to change its trade practices - and the US government needs to consider solutions other than trade tariffs.

View more on twitter

Social media under investigation

Facebook logo
PA

More on that investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office.

Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham says it is looking at how "data was collected from a third party app on Facebook and shared with Cambridge Analytica. We are also conducting a broader investigation into how social media platforms were used in political campaigning."

She adds: "Facebook has been co-operating with us and, while I am pleased with the changes they are making, it is too early to say whether they are sufficient under the law."

A total of 30 organisations including Facebook are being investigated for their use of personal data.

Micro Focus wins

Micro Focus was the big winner on the FTSE 100 today, rising just over 8%, with Evraz and easyJet also among the top risers.

The favourable sentiment extended to the mid-cap FTSE 250 as well, which rose 1.6%.

The biggest gained was cyber security firm Sophos, up 15.5% after raising its forecasts.

However it was not such a lucky day for Rank Group, which fell 15.7% after the bingo and casino operator warned on profits.

Facebook probed

Thirty organisations, including Facebook, are being investigated by the Information Commissioner's Office as part of its probe into the use of personal data and analytics for political purposes, the body has said.

BreakingFTSE soars

The FTSE 100 has jumped 2.3%, or 165 points, to 7,199 points as global markets bounce higher after fears of a US/China trade war recede.

Frankfurt soared 3% and Paris added 2.6%.

Going round in circles...

baggage carousel
CAGP

Fancy buying a baggage carousel or an escalator? How about one of 2,000 security cameras - or maybe some 1950s artwork?

All these things and more could be yours when the contents of Heathrow's Terminal 1 are auctioned off on 21 April.

Daniel Gray, from auctioneers CA Global Partners, says "a sale comprising the entire contents and infrastructure of an entire major airport terminal is unprecedented".

More here.

Heathrow
CAGP

'Drastic measures'

Manuel Olle
Reuters

The high court in Madrid has rejected a Swiss request to remand in custody a former HSBC computer engineer who exposed tax evasion.

It conditionally released Herve Falciani after his arrest in Madrid on Wednesday, while it reconsiders his extradition to Switzerland.

The court turned down a similar request in 2013. Spain now wants Switzerland to extradite two Catalan separatists who have taken refuge there.

Mr Falciani took a list of 130,000 individuals and companies from the Swiss branch of HSBC and reported them to the French authorities. Several were prosecuted for money-laundering and tax evasion.

His lawyer, Manuel Olle (pictured), spoke to reporters outside the high court in Madrid:

We believe the measures are quite drastic, at least the one preventing him from leaving the city. Considering the fact that there has already been an extradition request in the past and the prosecutor and the high court at the time decided not to agree to his extradition, it is therefore a decision that should have never been taken. A release should not even have been necessary because Switzerland should never have filed this extradition request."

Time to buy?

Facebook logo
Getty Images

So is this a buying opportunity for Facebook shares?

Several Wall Street analysts said recent falls in the social network's shares presented a good opportunity to buy - but they caution that much will still depend on Mark Zuckerberg's testimony to Congress next week.

"We suspect that looking back a year from now, if not sooner, this episode will have been a uniquely compelling buying opportunity in the mega cap internet space," say Deutsche Bank analysts.

Facebook shares started the year at $181 and are trading at just over $158 today.

US trade deficit up

container ship
get

The US trade deficit widened in February for the sixth consecutive month, hitting a new nine-year record even though US exports were at a record high.

Soaring US imports of industrial supplies and capital goods pushed the monthly US trade deficit up 1.6% to $57.6bn, seasonally adjusted, the highest level since October 2008.

Economists had expected the trade deficit to hold steady at January's $56.6bn.

'Completely unacceptable'

Culture secretary Matt Hancock takes a pop at Facebook on Twitter today:

View more on twitter

Wall Street rises

NYSE
Getty Images

Speaking of Wall Street, all three indexes have held on to Wednesday's gains, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.45% to 24,374 points. The S&P 500 gained 0.5% and the Nasdaq jumped 0.8%.

Boeing has gained 2% and Amazon is 1.6% higher.

Facebook shares jump

Mark Zuckerberg
Reuters

Shares in Facebook at 3% higher as Wall Street opens after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said last night that the company had not seen any meaningful impact on usage or ad sales in the wake of the data privacy scandal.

The social network also revealed last night that the data of up to 87 million people was improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica - many more than previously disclosed. That doesn't seem to have put investors off, however.

Saudis get to see Black Panther too

Saudi cinema
Getty Images

Saudi Arabia's first cinema in more than 35 years will open on 18 April, showing the action movie Black Panther.

It is part of a deal done with the world's biggest cinema chain, AMC, to open up to 40 cinemas in some 15 Saudi cities over the next five years.

The past year has seen the start of a huge drive to bring entertainment to Saudi Arabia as part of Vision 2030.

That is the ambitious plan for economic and social reform by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The conservative Muslim kingdom had cinemas in the 1970s, but they were closed at the behest of hardline Islamic clerics.

More here.

Good afternoon

Tower Bridge
Getty Images

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

Mary-Ann Russon and Chris Johnston with you until 21:30 for the rest of the day's news and views.

Are you enjoying the sunshine today? We are.

Got a point of view? Tweet us at @concertina226, @cajuk and @BBCBusiness

Sugar tax 'could subsidise healthy food'

Fruit
Getty Images

Charles Fowler in Edinburgh believes there is merit in the new sugar tax on fizzy drinks.

He says: "I can understand why people would react to the tax in calling it another move by the nanny state.

"But let’s be clear, the more unhealthy a person’s diet and lifestyle is the more they will be taking out of the system when their health deteriorates. As such, does it not make sense for these unhealthy habits to be taxed in order to compensate for this extra burden.

"One argument is that unhealthy food is cheaper than healthy and therefore we are taxing the poor, but why not use the contribution from taxing cigarettes, alcohol and sugar to subsidise healthy food, would that not benefit everyone? Is taxing unwanted activities to subsidise wanted ones not the perfect use of fiscal policy?"

First Saudi cinemas in decades to reopen

Saudi women watching a film
AFP

Saudi Arabia's first cinema in more than 35 years will open on 18 April, showing the action movie Black Panther.

It is part of a deal done with the world's biggest cinema chain, AMC, to open up to 40 cinemas in some 15 Saudi cities over the next five years.

The past year has seen the start of a huge drive to bring entertainment to Saudi Arabia as part of Vision 2030.

That is the ambitious plan for economic and social reform by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The conservative Muslim kingdom had cinemas in the 1970s, but they were closed at the behest of hardline Islamic clerics. Read the full story here

Bargain Booze owner in administration

Tops of wine bottles
Newscast

The group which owns the Bargain Booze, Central Convenience, Select Convenience and Wine Rack drinks chains has gone into administration.

Matthew Callaghan, Ian Green and David Baxendale of PwC have today been appointed as joint administrators to Conviviality.

The administrators will continue to hold talks with parties interested in buying the stores. In the meantime, the stores are still trading and all staff are still employed.

On Wednesday Conviviality's wholesale business was sold to Magner's owner C&C Holdings in a pre-pack administration. the Matthew Clark and Bibendum businesses were included in that deal.

Beast from the East hits Jersey Royals

Hands holding Jersey Royals
PA

The Jersey Royal potato season is at least three weeks behind schedule this year after the Beast from the East storm delayed planting.

Jersey Royal's are usually available from April to mid-July, but hard frosts and heavy rainfall in December and January left the ground saturated and "undesirable for planting", growers says.

Jersey normally exports about 30,000 tonnes of the potatoes to the UK each season, but producers reckon that could fall by about 20% this year.

Sugar tax will make people 'change their ways'

Sugar
Getty Images

Rob Dickens from the West Midlands doesn't think the sugar tax, which will be applied to soft drinks from Friday, unfairly punishes those people who try to stick to a healthy diet.

He says: "It doesn't unfairly penalise people who take on board the advice, because they'll stop buying sugary drinks."

He also says: "It doesn't give those who ignore the advice less money to spend on healthier options, because they wouldn't have spent money on them anyway, and will be forced to change their ways."

Spain holds HSBC whistleblower

Herve Falciani
AFP

Spanish police have arrested a whistleblower convicted in Switzerland for sending thousands of HSBC clients' secret bank details to tax authorities.

In 2015, a Swiss court sentenced the French national, Hervé Falciani, to five years in jail for industrial espionage. He had fled to France from Geneva in 2009.

He had worked in the IT department at HSBC's Swiss private banking unit.

Mr Falciani said he wanted to expose massive tax evasion via Swiss accounts.

Last November, HSBC agreed to pay €300m ($368m; £262m) to French authorities to settle a long-running investigation into tax evasion by French clients via Switzerland.

Read more here

Zuckerberg: I'm still the man to run Facebook

Dave Lee

North America technology reporter

Mark Zuckerberg
Getty Images

Despite the turmoil that continues to surround his company, Mark Zuckerberg has insisted he is still the best person to lead Facebook.

"When you're building something like Facebook which is unprecedented in the world," he said on Wednesday, "there are things that you're going to mess up.

"What I think people should hold us accountable for is if we are learning from our mistakes."

Read more here

Gender pay gap: what now?

Sugar tax is 'nanny state gone mad'

Girl drinking from soft drinks bottle
Getty Images

We asked for your views on the sugar tax which comes into force on Friday - will it help combat reduce obesity or is it the nanny state gone mad?

Simon Newman emailed us with this response:

"Yep, nanny state gone mad for me. Two reasons.

"Firstly, I think it unfairly penalises those people who take on board the advice given by health practitioners about eating a sensible, balanced diet (in effect, we're being punished for doing what Government tells us to do).

"Secondly, as we know, high-sugar foods are generally cheaper than healthier options, such as fresh fruit. Potential consequence for high-sugar consumers is that it gives them less money to spend on healthier food options exacerbating the problem, not improving it.

"It's about changing behaviour, which unfortunately takes longer than a five year term of Government."

Stocks up, sterling dips

The FTSE 100 has hung onto gains and is now ahead 1.24%, or 87.11 points at 7,121.12.

Commodities giant Glencore is now leading the blue chip index, with its share price up 4.2% at 359.5p.

The FTSE 250 is ahead 1%, or 194.42 points at 19.458.64.

The pound is trading 0.11% lower against the dollar at $1.40650.

Sterling is 0.14% down on the euro at €1.14510.

Tackling pollution the Parisian way

BBC international business reporter Theo Leggett tweets

Pick your own loyalty points

Kevin Peachey

Personal finance reporter

Sainsbury's
Getty Images

The battle to retain the loyalty of promiscuous grocery shoppers takes another turn today.

Sainsbury’s, which now owns the Nectar card, is launching a trial in which shoppers can choose from a personalised list of products that qualify for loyalty points.

An app or email alert will be available for shoppers in the Isle of Wight. The trial will run indefinitely, but eventually could be made available to the supermarket’s 19 million cardholders.

Sainsbury’s says it will reward loyalty, rather than just how much is spent in their shops.

Waitrose recently scrapped its pick your own offers system. Customers said it was difficult to use.

Many have called into question the future of loyalty cards as our shopping habits change.