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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Shire accepts Takeda takeover offer
  3. House prices fall 3.1% in April
  4. FirstGroup shares dive after Apollo drops takeover bid

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

Hold - Good night

That's all from the Business Live page for another day. See you again tomorrow from 06:00.

US stocks end flat after Trump exits Iran deal

Wall Street traders
Getty Images

Wall Street stocks finished essentially flat as investors tried to assess the potential fallout from President Donald Trump's decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear accord.

The Dow Jones ended the session at 24,360.2, just a hair above Monday's close. The broad-based S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1% to 2,671.92, while the tech-rich Nasdaq edged higher to 7,266.9.

Wiped out

Wet wipes, used for sticky fingers and removing eye make-up, as well as on other parts of the anatomy, could themselves be wiped out over the next couple of decades.

The government says its plan to eliminate plastic waste "includes single use products like wet wipes".

The wipes contain non-biodegradable plastic.

So manufacturers will either have to develop plastic-free wipes or consumers will have to go without.

Read more here.

First quarter profits surge at E.on

Eon
Getty Images

Profits at German energy provider E.on leapt in the first quarter as the firm added 50,000 more customers in its home market.

The group, which has seen two years of huge losses, reported adjusted net profits of 727m euros between January and March - up 38% on last year. That was despite an 11% slide in sales caused partly by new accounting rules.

Like other European power firms, Eon has been battered by low wholesale electricity prices and competition from subsidised renewable energy.

Google AI to make calls for you

Google developers' conference
Google

Google has unveiled artificial intelligence software that books appointments over the phone on behalf of users by conducting voice-based conversations on their behalf.

Chief executive Sundar Pichair said that Google Duplex would launch as an "experiment" over the coming weeks.

The facility was unveiled at the firm's annual IO developers conference (above).

Experts have said that if it works it could give the firm a major advantage over rival virtual assistants.

Pre-recorded demonstrations played back to the audience featured the software first booking a haircut and then making a restaurant reservation by speaking to two human employees.

Brent recoups majority of losses after Trump quits Iran nuclear deal

Oil engineer with valve
Reuters

Brent crude futures briefly turned positive before straying back into negative territory after US President Donald Trump said the US will withdraw from a 2015 international agreement designed to deny Iran the ability to build nuclear weapons and said the US will institute the "highest level" of sanctions on Iran.

"As an energy investor, Trump announced everything that one could possibly have wanted him to say," said Eric Nuttall, partner and senior portfolio manager at Ninepoint Partners in Toronto.

"It gives one confidence that there could be a reduction in the physical movement of barrels and this also puts at stake the medium and long-term growth ambitions of Iran to grow their production and capacity."

Boeing 'not dependent' on Iran deals

So what does the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran mean for US companies? Not that much, the firm has said.

Boeing had previously signed deals worth nearly $20bn with Aseman airlines for 30 737 jets and with Iran air for 80 aircrafts – including 5 777-300ERs and 15 777-9s.

However, in a Boeing earnings call on 25 April, chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said: "We've ensured that from a skyline management standpoint and from a production systems standpoint, we are not dependent on those aircraft."

The broad line on the call was that if the contracts come to fruition it would be a win, but if they didn't Boeing wasn't reliant on those contracts.

There are going to be 90 day and 180 day wind down periods for Iran contracts.

Lagarde: Argentine discussions 'will be pursued in short order'

Christine Lagarde
Getty Images

Argentina is seeking a financing deal with the International Monetary Fund to try to stabilise its finances after two weeks of financial market volatility that saw the peso hit new lows and the central bank jack interest rates up to 40%.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, said: "Discussions have been initiated on how we can work together to strengthen the Argentine economy and these will be pursued in short order."

Wall Street remains lower after Trump quits Iran deal

Wall Street remained in negative territory on Tuesday while energy stocks cut earlier losses after US President Donald Trump said the United States would ditch the Iran nuclear deal, confirming what many investors had expected.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.34% at 24,273.85 points, while the S&P 500 had lost 0.38% to 2,662.39. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.27% to 7,245.33.

Macron 'regrets US decision' on Iran

Brent crude pares losses after Trump announcement

Oil price
BBC

Brent crude prices have risen, but remain in negative territory after US president Donald Trump said he was pulling his country out of the Iran nuclear deal.

But the descent in the price of New York crude accelerated after the announcement.

BreakingTrump ditches Iran deal

US president Donald Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, which he described as having a "decaying and rotten structure".

He said Iran would be subject to the "highest level of sanctions".

"America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail," he said.

Argentina to begin IMF talks

Daniel Gallas

BBC South America business correspondent

A man watches the currency exchange values in the buy-sell board of a bureau de change in downton Buenos Aires
Getty Images

The president of Argentina announced on Tuesday his country began talks with the IMF to establish a credit line.

The country is facing a run on its currency and recently increased its interest rates from 27.5% to 40%.

It has been using its reserves to fight off devaluation, but it is believed more money from the IMF will be needed to contain the crisis.

In a recorded television statement, President Mauricio Macri said Argentina is suffering with high oil prices and expectation of changes in interest rates in the US.

So his country will begin immediate talks with the IMF to establish a credit line.

Last week, interest rates were raised to 40% to contain a run on the national currency, the peso.

Analysts say Argentina's failure to cut its national spending and bring down inflation are partly to blame for the current crisis.

Argentina and the Monetary Fund have a rocky relationship.

In 2006, the country broke off relations with the IMF - blaming it for a severe debt crisis.

It was only two years ago that an official delegation was finally invited back to Buenos Aires.

Oil rises after Trump move reports

Brent crude oil futures prices are rising, albeit not by much, after reports that US President Donald Trump is to pull the US out of a nuclear deal with Iran.

Mr Trump has been highly critical of the 2015 accord, under which Iran limited its nuclear activities.

Mr Trump re-imposing sanctions would reduce global crude supplies and could feed tensions in the Middle East.

Brent crude is trading at about $74.42 per barrel, a drop of 2.3%.

Trump 'to pull out of Iran nuclear deal'

Comcast 'preparing to gate-crash Disney-Fox party'

Actors dressed as Mickey and Minnie Mouse
Getty Images

US media giant Comcast is preparing to make an all-cash offer of $60bn for the assets 21st Century Fox has agreed to sell to Walt Disney for $52bn, Reuters reports.

Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts will only go ahead with the bid if a US federal judge allows AT&T’s planned $85bn acquisition of Time Warner to go ahead, the news agency says.

Intergenerational divide

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Argentina in talks with the IMF

Daniel Gallas

BBC South America business correspondent

Mauricio Macri
Getty Images

The President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, said a few minutes ago his country is in talks with IMF – and the country will require financial help.

Speaking on television, Mr Macri said he spoke to Cristine Lagarde “a few minutes ago” and decided to start talks for the IMF to “establish a line of financial help”.

He said talks start today and will give Argentina "support to face new financial reality" and "avoid crisis like the ones we had in our history".

Argentina has been sharply hiking rates to try to get inflation down.

Business as usual?

Jonathan Josephs

BBC business producer

Oil tumbles after doubts about US sanctions on Iran

Oil prices dived as much as 3.5% as traders sold off after a CNN report that sparked doubts about whether US President Donald Trump would impose sanctions on Iran as quickly as the market had expected.

That decision would reduce global crude supplies and feed tensions in the Middle East.

However, the New York Times then reported that Mr Trump had told French President Emmanuel Macron the US was going to pull out of the deal.

Oil prices then regained ground, with Brent trading 1.8% down at $74.79 per barrel.

Sorrell 'to start again'

Sir Martin Sorrell
Getty Images

Former WPP supremo Sir Martin Sorrell has said he will "start again" after abruptly departing from the ad giant, the FT reports (subscription).

The 73-year-old said he was "not going into voluntary or involuntary retirement". WWP did not require him to enter into a "non-compete" agreement with WPP when he left, the article said.

Audi emissions issues 'not a smoking gun'

Theo Leggett

BBC Business News Reporter

Audi A6
Getty Images

Audi says it discovered what it calls "irregularities" in the emissions controls of some A6 and A7 models while carrying out internal investigations in the wake of the scandal that engulfed the VW Group two years ago. It notified the authorities itself.

It is worth remembering that the VW Group is still under intense scrutiny from US regulators. Continued surveillance by a court-appointed monitor was a condition of the $4.3bn settlement agreed with the Department of Justice last year.

So it is unlikely that the latest concerns arise from any new deliberate wrongdoing.

Reports suggest the software in question limits the injection of adblue - an additive used to help clean exhaust gases - when the contents of the adblue tank run low. That in turn means emissions go up.

It could be a defeat device - or it could be a system originally designed just to give users a bit more time to fill up their adblue tanks, but which is now deemed to be unacceptable because of its impact on emissions.

Either way, Audi clearly has some explaining to do. Embarrassing perhaps - particularly as the news has come out the day before Audi's AGM. But a 'smoking gun' pointing to more serious issues? Probably not.

'Small number' of Cote-owned restaurants could close

Cote has said a handful of restaurants operating under its Jackson & Rye and Limeyard brands could close.

A spokesman said: "As a result of recent and well documented headwinds for the restaurant sector we have taken the decision to explore a range of options for a very small number of Jackson & Rye and Limeyard restaurants.

"In some instances we have closed or sold outlets and we are working hard to find viable options for others while continuing to support those that are trading well.

"Our Cote restaurants continue to perform well which is a testament to the strength of that offer in what remains a very challenging environment."

Limeyard has two outlets, and the Jackson & Rye chain has four restaurants.

Oil 'could be boosted by dismantling of Iran deal'

Nodding donkey
Getty Images

Oil prices have fallen ahead of a statement tonight by US President Donald Trump where he is expected to pull the US out of a multi-nation agreement on Tehran's nuclear programme.

But markets have for the most part already priced in Mr Trump not renewing Iran sanctions waivers, says Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob.

"It's something we've been focusing on for a couple of months now and today is decision day," he says.

And despite shorter term geopolitical instability, in the longer term the US pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal could push oil prices up, Barclays research analysts said.

"The geopolitical consequences of a possible dismantling of the (Iran deal) would likely play a larger and long-lasting role in pushing oil prices higher than short-term policy uncertainty," the analysts said.

How do you control robot flying postal workers?

Drone
Getty Images

Nasa and Amazon are separately setting up in France to work out how to stop commercial drones hitting aircraft, Bloomberg reports.

Nasa has called on drone designer Delair-Tech to test prototype air-traffic management software as part of efforts to convince regulators drones can be safely used to deliver goods while not in sight of operators, the article says.

Separately, Amazon has set up a lab close to Paris to try to manage a fleet of drones to deliver customer orders.

Shire shares help lift FTSE 100

Shire sign
Reuters

The FTSE 100 share index has scraped into positive territory, helped by trading in Shire shares, which are up about 4.4%.

Shares in the pharmaceutical firm have been boosted by Japan's Takeda clinching a $62bn deal to buy the drugs company.

China 'ups checks on US pork'

US pigs
Getty Images

China has increased inspections of pork imported from the US, Reuters reports.

This is the latest US product to be hit by a potentially costly slowdown at Chinese ports in the past couple of weeks.

Some trade experts say Beijing is sending a warning to Washington in response to sweeping US trade demands made on China last week.

Oil prices fall ahead of US decision on Iran

Donald Trump
PA

With attention focused on President Donald Trump and whether the US will pull out of its nuclear deal with Iran, oil prices have moved lower.

Brent crude fell 0.58% to $75.73 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate dropped by 0.89% to $70.10.

Virendra Chauhan, oil analyst at Energy Aspects, said: "Until we get more clarity on Trump's intentions, we are unlikely to get further upside on crude.

"If we assume he goes back to 2012 sanctions, we estimate a loss of 0.4 million barrels a day of Iranian supply based on recent Iranian export numbers. Anything larger than this will be bullish."

Cote could shut restaurants amid slowdown - report

Cote restaurant
Cote

Cote is the latest restaurant group to consider closures amid a slowdown in the casual dining sector, Sky News has reported.

The chain is apparently looking at shutting a small number of outlets under the Limeyard and Jackson & Rye brands, which it bought in 2016. The plans, which have not been finalised, would not affect the main Cote-branded operation, Sky reported.

Restaurant groups have been hit hard by a slowdown in consumer spending, with Prezzo, Byron and Jamie's Italian all promising to shut outlets in recent months.

Audi in new emissions cheating probe

Audi A6
Getty Images

Germany's transport ministry says it is investigating claims that new Audi cars may be using software to cheat emissions tests.

It said it was probing the use of a new "illegal defeat device" in around 60,000 Audi A6/A7 models, half of which are driving on German roads.

Earlier Germany's Der Spiegel magazine reported: "An official recall for at least the affected Audi cars registered on German roads is highly likely. Production of the model has been halted in the meantime."

Audi is part of the Volkswagen group, which was the centre of a worldwide emissions-cheating scandal in 2015. It said it would release a statement on the matter later on Tuesday.

Many regulators 'not ready for new European data laws'

Padlock on a memory board
Getty Images

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect this month and has been billed as the biggest shake-up of data privacy laws since the birth of the web.

However, many regulators across the bloc say they aren’t ready to enforce it, a Reuters survey has found.

Seventeen of 24 authorities polled said they did not yet have the necessary funding, or would initially lack the powers, to fulfill their GDPR duties. Others said their governments were yet to update their laws to include the Europe-wide rules - a process that could take months.

“We’ve realised that our resources were insufficient to cope with the new missions given by the GDPR,” Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, president of France’s CNIL data privacy watchdog, told the news agency.

She, like other regulators, is pressing her government for a substantial increase in resources and staff.

Who really controls rail fares?

As we have been reporting, the rail industry is to launch a consultation about the problem of overly complex (and expensive) rail fares. But as BBC London's transport and environment correspondent Tom Edward points out, nothing much can change without the Department for Transport's (Dft) say-so.

View more on twitter

Oil shares weigh on FTSE 100

FTSE 100
BBC

The FTSE 100 has given up early gains and is trading slightly lower at 7,564.

Shares in BP and Shell are both down around 1%. They have been hit by falling oil prices - Brent Crude is down 1.4% so far today.

Other fallers include Standard Chartered, which is down 1.7% and Sainsbury which is down 1.6%.

Takeda shareholders 'may be sceptical about Shire deal'

Shire logo
Reuters

Who stands to benefit from Takeda's £46bn takeover of Shire?

David Madden, an analyst at CMC Markets, says: "Shares in Shire have been given a nice boost in recent weeks after Takeda made two unsuccessful bids for the company.

"On the other side of the coin, Takeda’s share price has dropped over 30% since the January high, and given the negative market reaction to their pursuit of Shire, there may be some investors who are sceptical about the offer."

Insurers promise to tackle 'excessive' renewals

Simon Gompertz

BBC personal finance correspondent

Insurers have admitted that the process of renewing car, house and travel insurance simply doesn't work because loyal customers can get charged much more than new buyers.

It's long been a gripe of customers who've been with an insurance company for years that they suddenly discover that they've been overpaying by hundreds of pounds each time they renew.

Now the Association of British Insurers, supported by insurance brokers, has promised to implement a plan to eliminate what they call excessive price differences.

Pricing for customers of more than 5 years standing will be reviewed.

But it'll be up to individual providers to decide what is excessive and how to narrow the gap.

Labour MP asks about 'pressure' to sell banking apps

Scottish Affairs committee

Select Committee

Parliament

Hugh Gaffney MP
Hoc

Labour's Hugh Gaffney says he has heard that there is a lot of "pressure" put on staff to sell banking apps in RBS branches.

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan says it is part of the job for staff to have conversations with customers about how to "stay connected in this very digital world".

The bank offers much more to its customers than just banking apps, he adds.

Tory MP seeks detail on branch review decision

Scottish Affairs committee

Select Committee

Parliament

Ross Thomson MP
HoC

Conservative MP Ross Thomson asks about the criteria used to select the 10 RBS branches whose closure has been put under review until the end of this year.

RBS announced in February that these branches would be kept open until the end of 2018, with their closure reviewed if there is a significant increase in transactions.

Jane Howard, from RBS's personal banking service, says the branches were selected based on whether they were the last bank in town, or more than nine miles from the nearest RBS branch.

Mr Thomson suggests that the review process should have been opened up to all branches.

Tory MP: RBS has misunderstood rural communities

Scottish Affairs committee

Select Committee

Parliament

John Lamont MP
HoC

Conservative MP John Lamont says that RBS has "completely misunderstood" rural communities.

RBS personal banking chief executive Les Matheson tries to assure him that the bank is helping rural communities - and says the bank would be happy to talk to Mr Lamont's constituents "one on one".

Mr Lamont says people don't buy the "warm words", and that local communities who helped bail out RBS have been "let down".

Bank 'likely to err on side of caution' on rates

Mark Carney, BoE governor
Getty Images

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is highly unlikely to raise rates at its meeting on Thursday markets now believe.

Neil Birrell, chief investment officer at Premier Asset Management says: "Two of the main drivers for any increase have both fallen away; inflation has fallen faster and further than expected and the GDP growth numbers have also been disappointing.

"If the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit is added in then the Monetary Policy Committee is likely to err on the side of caution and keep the rate at the current level."