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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Pound climbs
  3. Jes Staley fined £642,000 over whistleblower claims
  4. MPC 'lacks strategy' says former member
  5. Interserve investigated by FCA
  6. Owner of Zoopla and uSwitch sold

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

Good night

That's all for tonight folks. See you again on Monday from 06:00.

Wall Street closes flat

Wall Street traders
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Wall Street has closed relatively flat, but healthcare shares were higher after President Donald Trump's speech on drug prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 90.58 points, or 0.37%, to 24,830.11, the S&P 500 gained 4.62 points, or 0.17%, to 2,727.69 and the Nasdaq fell 2.09 points, or a tiny 0.03%, to 7,402.88.

Fiat Chrysler chief supports looser fuel efficiency standards

Sergio Marchionne
Getty Images

Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne has said he supports White House efforts to loosen fuel efficiency standards for cars to account for a trend in people buying larger vehicles.

Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has said standards on model year 2022 to 2025 vehicles should be revised.

Prior to being appointed head of the EPA by Donald Trump, Mr Pruitt sued the agency 14 times to fight environmental regulations.

But Mr Marchionne said the industry would continue to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions regardless of rule changes.

"We shouldn't become, sort of, poster children of a cause here," Mr Marchionne said.

On proposed changes to car rules under Nafta, he said: "I think we have to redirect the Mexican production to a global market."

Staley 'failed to set an example' says Morgan

Nicky Morgan
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Barclays chief executive Jes Staley failed to set a good example to the rest of the bank says Treasury committee chair Nickey Morgan.

"A chief executive should set an example to the firm’s employees. Clearly Mr Staley has failed in this regard," she says.

“In our next evidence session with the FCA, we’ll ask why it believes that the fines are appropriate."

The committee will also ask the regulator "what it believes the implications are for the Senior Managers Regime" - the rules governing bosses' personal accountability.

Argentine peso weakens to fresh all-time low close against dollar

A man clutches his head
Getty Images

Argentina's central bank sold reserves in the foreign exchange market, traders said, as the Argentine peso weakened 2.74% to an all-time low closing level of 23.35 per US dollar.

This is despite talks aimed at securing an IMF standby deal.

The government of President Mauricio Macri has sought to stabilise Argentina's swooning currency by requesting a "high access stand-by arrangement" with the International Monetary Fund.

The request was made earlier this week after the peso weakened to all-time lows.

The negotiations between government and IMF officials are taking place in Washington.

Drugs lobby 'making fortune' says Trump

Donald Trump
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US president Donald Trump has made a speech about US drug prices.

He said the drugs lobby is making an "absolute fortune" at the expense of US taxpayers.

A new pricing plan will encourage drug makers to keep prices low.

The US will not be "cheated" by foreign governments, who "extort" unreasonably low prices from US drug makers, he added.

Takata's defective air bags 'linked to 278 US injuries'

The faulty devices have been linked to at least 17 deaths globally
The faulty devices have been linked to at least 17 deaths globally

Defective air bags by Takata have been linked to 278 injuries in the US, according to updated figures released by US Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, of Florida, Reuters reports

The air bags have also been linked to 15 deaths, according to the statement by the senator.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered the first recall in 2015, but Mr Nelson said as of 30 March about 16.4 million unrepaired inflators remain in vehicles on US roads.

Mexico 'will not be rushed into poor Nafta deal'

Mexico will not be rushed into revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) to get a deal, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo has said.

"I have to make very clear [that] the quality of the agreement and the balance of the agreement has to be maintained. So we are not going to sacrifice balance and quality for time," he told reporters.

Not so sweet

High-end chocolate maker Hotel Chocolat has alleged plagiarism after Waitrose brought out chocolate bars with wavy edges, the Guardian reports.

On Thursday Hotel Chocolat co-founder Angus Thirlwell tweeted:

View more on twitter

Waitrose told the Guardian: “We take the intellectual property rights of other businesses extremely seriously and so we are looking into the points made by Mr Thirlwell.

“However, we were only approached about this matter yesterday afternoon and we will, of course, need to consider the issues raised, which we will urgently."

Handshakes - avoid limp and submissive, says expert

Iran nuclear deal: The EU's billion-dollar deals at risk

France's Total signed a major gas production deal with Iran after sanctions were lifted
France's Total signed a major gas production deal with Iran after sanctions were lifted

The EU is scrambling to find ways to safeguard huge business deals with Iran, amid the threat of US penalties.

Washington is re-imposing strict sanctions on Iran, which were lifted under the 2015 international deal to control the country's nuclear ambitions. On 8 May President Donald Trump denounced the deal, saying he would withdraw the US from it.

Since the deal took effect in 2016 major European firms have rushed to do billions of dollars' worth of business with Iran, and now thousands of jobs are at stake.

Many of those firms fear their business ties with the US could be at risk of they continue to do deals with Iran past a November deadline.

Read more here.

Where can you afford to live?

Number of families with children who rent home has tripled over 10 years

Carmakers 'bound to push back on Nafta'

Average rent in UK jumps 19% in 10 years

Didi suspends Hitch service

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News


China's Uber - Didi Chuxing - is suspending its car-pool service for a week following the killing of a flight attendant after she ordered a ride home from an airport hotel.

The 21-year-old woman, who died on 6 May in Zhengzhou, had ordered a ride using Didi's Hitch service, which pairs up commuters heading in the same direction.

Police said they were searching for a 27-year-old man who later abandoned the car.

The case has gone viral on Chinese social media and was the top-trending item on Weibo - China's equivalent of Twitter - on Friday.

Didi said the suspect was driving under his father's Hitch account and evaded its facial recognition security measure.

Hitch, one of 13 services offered on Didi's platforms, "will be suspended nationwide for a week of rectification" beginning at midnight on Friday.

It was the second known killing involving the Hitch service.

Symantec shares dive

Symantec shares are down almost 33% after the Norton Antivirus maker said it was investigating concerns raised by a former employee and it reported full-year results below analysts' estimates.

As a whole, US markets are slightly up after a rise in healthcare shares ahead of a speech by President Donald Trump's on drug pricing.

Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 78.50 points, or 0.32%, at 24,818.03, the S&P 500 was up 3.01 points, or 0.11%, at 2,726.08 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 14.16 points, or 0.19%, at 7,390.81.

B&B of Mum and Dad

Cohen payments a 'big mistake' says AT&T chief

Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen

Payments made by AT&T on the sly to Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen (pictured right) were a "big mistake", chief executive Randall Stephenson has said in an employee memo, Reuters reports.

AT&T's head lobbyist, Bob Quinn, who oversaw the payments to Mr Cohen, is retiring, according to the memo.

The telcoms giant said on Tuesday it had hired Essential Consultants, a company run by Mr Cohen, to advise it on working with the new administration in early 2017, around the time of Mr Trump's inauguration.

Essential Consultants was the vehicle used to pay off Stormy Daniels (pictured left), a porn star who has alleged an affair with Mr Trump.

The disclosure of AT&T's relationship with Mr Cohen is a bit of an embarrassment for the company as it awaits a US judge's decision on 12 June about whether it can go through with an $85bn deal to buy Time Warner.

Barclays reduces Staley's 2016 bonus

Jes Staley
Getty Images

Some more quite interesting nuggets about the penalty for Barclay's chief executive Jes Staley in relation to his attempt to identify a whistleblower.

On top of the FCA penalty of £642,430, Barclays is also going to reduce Mr Staley's 2016 variable pay - a form of bonus - by £500,000.

Mr Staley's variable pay during this period was £1,318,000, on top of his basic pay of £2,350,000.

More deals for UK digital firms?

Digital tech workers, London
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Analysts at Peel Hunt think that we could see further bids for UK digital firms.

"The bid for ZPG today shows that consumer-focused digital stocks in the UK are clearly attractive assets.

"This follows Axel Springer’s investment in Purplebricks earlier this year.

"We would not be surprised for more M&A [mergers and aquisitions] for leading UK digital stocks given that some shares prices have been depressed due to Brexit woes."

FTSE 100 near all time high

London Stock Exchange logo
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The London market is flat on the day at 7,702.75 points, but still hovering near an all time high of 7,730.

Utilities are among the worst performers, with United Utilies Group and Severn Trent down 2.8% and 2.4% respectively.

ITV is top of the leader board, up 5.6%, after analysts made flattering comments about its share price.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 has gained 0.3% to 20,755.41 points, with ZPG the best performer - up more than 30%. It comes after the owner of property website Zoopla and comparison site Uswitch agreed to be bought by a US private equity firm.

Uber looks for cities for aerial rideshare

Uber aerial rideshare artist's impression

Uber has invited cities around the world to bid to become the international test site for its aerial rideshare scheme.

Dallas and Los Angeles have already been chosen as launch cities.

Uber aims to start demonstration flights in 2020 and commercial services in 2023.

It is looking for "cities with a greater metropolitan area population in excess of 2 million people and a density of over 2,000 people per square mile will be able to support pooled ridesharing services".

What's happening at Spaceport America?

Spaceport America
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Just over a decade ago voters in New Mexico voted to fund Spaceport America. There were promised jobs and income from a centre for space travel, not far from Las Cruces.

But it didn't quite work out that way, reports Undark.

Residents have spent more than $200m and while there is a building, Undark's reporter could not find much evidence of anyone working at the Spaceport at all.

That's partly because Virgin Galactic, the key tenant, carries out its flight testing in Mojave Air & Spaceport in California.

Things could pick up though as Virgin Galactic is promising an inaugral flight later this year.

Pound recovers from Thursday's dip

pound dollar chart

The pound is driving higher against the dollar today, up half a cent at $1.3571.

On Thursday the pound fell as low as $1.3464 after the Bank of England announced the results of its latest interest rate policy meeting.

Analysts now think UK interest rate might not rise until the end of the year.

However, some analysts think the pound could strengthen as we approach the August meeting of policy makers.

"We fully expect the current scepticism of the BoE’s guidance to ebb away, which will provide increased support for the pound as we advance toward the next key policy meeting on 2nd August," analysts at MUFG said.

Staley responds to fine

Jes Staley, Barclays chief executive

Responding to his fine, Jes Staley, Barclays chief executive, said:

"I have consistently acknowledged that my personal involvement in this matter was inappropriate, and I have apologised for mistakes which I made.

"I accept the conclusions of the Board, the FCA, and the PRA, following their respective investigations, and the sanctions which they have each applied."

Jes Staley's pay

In case you were wondering. Here's Jes Staley's recent pay as chief executive of Barclays:

2017 basic pay £2,350,000 + £1,065,000 bonus

2016 basic pay £2,350,000 + £1,318,000 bonus

What did Jes Staley do?

Barclays logo
Getty Images

The issue dates back to June 2016, when members of the Barclays board received anonymous letters raising concerns about a senior employee who had been recruited by Barclays earlier that year.

The letters, which were being treated as whistleblows, raised concerns of a personal nature about the senior employee, and Mr Staley's knowledge of and role in dealing with those issues at a previous employer.

They also raised questions over the appropriateness of the recruitment process followed on this occasion by Barclays.

Mr Staley asked Barclays' internal investigation team to attempt to identify the authors of the letters, which the chief executive thought were an unfair personal attack on the senior employee.

The FCA and PRA said he was wrong to do this as it presented a conflict of interest.

"Mr Staley should have maintained an appropriate distance... Mr Staley should have explicitly consulted fully with those with expertise and responsibility for whistleblowing in Barclays and sought express confirmation from them that what he wanted to do was permissible. He failed to do this."

Jes Staley 'breached the standard of care'

Jes Staley
Brendan Smialowski

Mark Steward, FCA Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said:

“Given the crucial role of the chief executive, the standard of due skill, care and diligence is more demanding than for other employees.

"Mr Staley breached the standard of care required and expected of a chief executive in a way that risked undermining confidence in Barclays’ whistleblowing procedures.

"Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing poor practice and misconduct in the financial services sector.

"It is critical that individuals are able to speak up anonymously and without fear of retaliation if they want to raise concerns.”

BreakingJes Staley fined £642,000 over whistleblower claims

Regulators have fined Barclays boss James Staley £642,430 for failures in his handling of a whistelblower at the bank.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority said he had "failed to act with due skill, care and diligence in the way he acted in response to an anonymous letter received by Barclays in June 2016".

Barclays must also now report annually to the regulators detailing how it handles whistleblowing, with "personal attestations" required from those responsible for the relevant systems and controls.

US activist investor to vote against Hyundai restructuring

Hyundai car
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Not everyone is happy about car maker Hyundai's plans to restructure its business.

US activist fund Elliott Management, which holds a 1.5% stake in the South Korean firm, said the plan was “based on flawed assumptions” and offered “token measures”.

It said it would vote against the proposal at a shareholder meeting on 29 May and urged others to do the same.

Under the plan, Hyundai would spin off a division and buy back shares to boost its share price.

The firm, whose profits tumbled last year on weak China sales, said it would not change course and promised higher returns for shareholders.

RBS could close more branches, says McEwan

RBS branch

Royal Bank of Scotland could close more branches as a result of transferring customers to competitors from its Williams & Glyn unit, boss Ross McEwan has said.

EU regulators have asked the bank to transfer around 120,000 small business customers to rivals in the UK to allay competition concerns.

"I don't know at this point," Mr McEwan told LBC Radio in response to a question on the possible scale of the closures. "We'll have to wait until the end of the year to see what... footfall disappears when we move these customers out."

RBS has already promised to shut hundreds of banks as more customers bank online.

French firms 'should not have to pay' for US-Iran sanctions

Airbus and Renault logos
Reuters/ AFP

France has hit out at a US move to re-impose sanctions on companies trading with Iran after Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

A number of French firms have have signed billion dollar agreements with Iran since the accord was signed in 2015, including Airbus, the oil giant Total and car makers Renault and Peugeot.

They would have to wind up investments by November or face US sanctions.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Europe "should not have to pay" because of the measures and would "put in place the necessary measures to protect the interests of our companies".

ITV shares lead FTSE 100

itv logo

Shares in ITV are leading the FTSE 100 higher with a near 5% gain.

Analysts at JP Morgan have made positive comments about ITV, saying the firm's share price is attractive.

The bidding war for Sky has fuelled speculation that ITV could be a takeover target.

Investment bank Exane says that US firms Discovery and Liberty could be potential suitors.

Shares had fallen 30% since breaking above 200p a year ago. They are now trading around 167p.

Hang Seng ends the week strongly

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended the week in positive territory for the fifth straight day.

It rose 1% or 312.8 points to close at 31,122.1.

Analysts put Friday's gains down to investors following Wall Street after a soft inflation reading soothed concerns about rising US interest rates.

Npower follows other utilities in raising rates

EDF bill
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Npower isn't the only energy firm to have announced price rises this year, citing higher wholesale prices and government subsidies for renewables.

British Gas is increasing its standard variable tariff for electricity and gas by an average of 5.5% a year in May, while EDF will hike its standard dual fuel bills by 1.4% in June.

Also in June, Scottish Power will raise its standard variable domestic gas and electricity prices by an average 5.5%, or £63 per year.

'Customers struggling with bills should contact us' - Npower

Simon Stacey, managing director of domestic markets at Npower, said: "Announcing this price change today isn't a decision we've taken lightly.

"The costs all large and medium energy suppliers are facing - particularly wholesale and policy costs which are largely outside our control - have unfortunately been on the rise for some time and we need to reflect these in our prices.

"While existing customers who are currently on a fixed deal, have a prepayment meter or on the Safeguard tariff are protected from these increases, we encourage any customer who is struggling with their energy bills to contact us."

Npower blames wholesale costs for price rises

Saucepan on a hob
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Npower says it will increase its variable dual fuel prices, covering gas and electricity, from 17 June.

"The price change largely stems from increases in policy and wholesale energy costs, which are widely acknowledged to have continued to rise since Npower implemented its last price change in March 2017," the firm said in a statement.

The price hike is made up of an average rise of 4.4% on gas and 6.2% on electricity, it said.

BreakingNpower price rise

Npower will increase annual energy bills by 5.3%, or £64, in a move that will affect one million consumers.

US sanctions 'highly likely' to hurt Rusal

Oleg Deripaska
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Aluminium maker Rusal has again warned that US sanctions are likely to hit its future earnings.

In April, Washington imposed sanctions on its billionaire owner Oleg Deripaska (pictured) and several companies he controls in response to "malign" Russian activities around the world.

The firm said it was "highly likely that the impact may be materially adverse to the business".

It added: "In present circumstances, any forecast or outlook made or previously made should be deemed unreliable and may become irrelevant due to ongoing developments on the market at this period of time."