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  1. All of the morning's business headlines and breaking news.
  2. Rail fares to rise at lowest rate in five years
  3. Germany's Bundesbank halves 2015 growth forecast
  4. Canary Wharf owner rejects Qatari takeover offer

Live Reporting

By Ben Morris and Joe Miller

All times stated are UK

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  1. Post update

    Joe Miller

    Business Reporter

    That's it from us for the week. Come back at 06:00 on Monday for all the business headlines.

  2. Vintage phones

    Scarlett Johansson

    Vintage clothing has long been prized by the stylish and chic. But according to the Times today, vintage mobile phones are now sought after. Scarlett Johansson, Rihanna, Kate Beckinsale and others have been snapped holding clam shell phones or other "vintage" handsets. The article speculates that older phones don't hold much data, so are less vulnerable to embarrassing hacks.

  3. Sony's security

    If your passwords are notoriously weak, take comfort in the fact that you're by no means alone. A huge cyberattack into the systems of Sony Entertainment appears to have revealed that the IT department its passwords in a folder called... you guessed it - "Password".

  4. Via Blog

    Oil slump impact

    Anatole Kaletsky

    Reuters columnist

    "The shareholders of oil majors such as Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP and Total could be among the biggest beneficiaries of the price slump, if it forces their corporate managements to abandon some of the bad habits they acquired in the 40-year oil boom ... In a competitive market the rational strategy for Western oil companies would be stop all exploration, while continuing to provide technology, geology and other profitable oilfield services."

  5. Oil decline

    Crude oil price

    "We're heading for $60 for Brent. (There is) nothing to stop it," risk manager Tony Nunan tells Reuters. He's talking about the price of oil, which has fallen even further today. The chart above shows the decline of Brent crude this year from $115 per barrel to less than $70.

  6. Eurozone growth

    Eurozone flags

    Third quarter growth in the Eurozone was confirmed at 0.2%. Capital Economics said the latest estimate revealed a "somewhat unbalanced picture" of growth. It highlighted the biggest quarterly rise in household spending since 2010, rising government spending, but a fall in investment for the second quarter in a row.

  7. Via Email

    Premier Foods investigation

    Simon Walker

    Director General, Institute of Directors

    "The news that Premier Foods could be forcing its suppliers into controversial 'pay-to-stay' arrangements is deeply disturbing... Premier need to consider their arrangements closely. We encourage them to think of the long-term damage they could be doing to their suppliers, their brands, and business in general."

  8. Via Twitter

    Premier Foods investigation

    Vince Cable

    Business Secretary

    "It's wrong for small firms to be charged to remain on supplier lists. I'm writing to CMA to express my concern on the issue."

  9. Maldives water shortage

    Island of Dunikolu in the Republic of Maldives

    All is not well on the exotic holiday islands of the Maldives. The government has declared a state of emergency after a fire at the capital's only water treatment plant led to a shortage of drinking water. India has sent five planes with water and two ships with parts to help fix the damaged plant. Scuffles have broken out in the capital Male over bottled water, according to the AFP news agency.

  10. Market update

    The FTSE 100 has held on to early gains and is still around 0.6% higher. Testing services firm Intertek Group is leading the FTSE higher, up 3.5%, after two banks upgraded their assessments of Intertek shares. Brent Crude has extended early losses, now down 45 cents at $69.19 a barrel.

  11. Chips shortage in Japan


    French fries, aka chips, are being airlifted to Japan, to fill a supply gap brought about by a dockworkers' dispute. The Japanese arm of McDonald's has been having problems since mid-November, AFP reports. Not only are the Japanese chip-deprived, but butter has been in short supply too.

  12. Lithuania President on Russia

    World Service

    The Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė (often called Lithuania's Iron Lady) - has told the BBC that Russia's cancellation of the South Stream pipeline is proof that Europe's stance over Ukraine is working, despite the unhappiness over the decision in several other EU states. In an interview with the BBC's Vishala Sri-Pathma, she also repeated an earlier assertion that Russia was displaying "features of a terrorist state".

  13. Scotland's oil


    Cast your minds back to the Scottish Referendum. The claim made by the pro-independence SNP was that Scotland's oil revenues would help the country to balance the books on its own. But as Buzzfeed reports, falling oil prices have now created a £20bn hole in their projections - which assumed oil would remain around $113 a barrel. Today, it's at $69.13.

  14. GM plant closed

    Worker walks to Opel car plant, Bochum

    The last van rolled off the production line at GM's Opel plant in Bochum, Germany today. The factory has been running for 52 years and at its peak employed 22,000 staff. Around 300 staff will be retained to run a car parts unit.

  15. Stamp Duty furore

    There's coverage in the papers of the rush to meet the chancellor's deadline for changes to stamp duty. The Daily Express describes a manic 12 hours for estate agents - with one buyer moving quickly enough to save himself more than £1.4m. The Daily Mail says the changes sparked one of the busiest periods for estate agents in 25 years with an exchange on a £30m house in Surrey going through just 15 minutes before midnight on Wednesday.

  16. Global wage report

    Annual average real wage growth

    The International Labour Organisation has released its Global Wage Report. Among the findings, the report showed that in rich nations, stagnant wages are due to companies retaining profits and not rewarding staff.

  17. Via Twitter

    Linda Yueh

    Chief business correspondent

    "BOE survey finds that people expect inflation to slow: expectations of inflation over the coming year were 2.5% compared with 2.8% in August"

  18. Berkeley Group results

    Talking of Berkeley, the firm says it made pre-tax profits of £305m in the six months to end of Oct, up 80% on the same period last year.

  19. Via Email

    Premier Foods investigation

    Julie Palmer

    Retail expert at Begbies Traynor

    "With suppliers under constant pressure to slash prices further while accepting unreasonably elongated payment terms, the UK's largest food manufacturers and retailers need to find a better way of balancing prices with profits, without pushing their suppliers off a cliff."

  20. UniCredit Gazprom deal

    Gazprom refinery, Moscow

    Italy's Unicredit has granted Russian energy giant, Gazprom a credit line worth €390m (£310m). Together Gazprom and Russian oil firm Rosneft account for almost three quarters of total Russian corporate debt, according to the Wall Street Journal. Western sanctions have hampered the ability of Russian firms to refinance those loans.

  21. Empty homes

    BBC Radio 4

    Robert Jones, director of Property Investments UK, says Islington Council's plans will be "very difficult to actually implement". And he says it wouldn't deal with the long-term issues behind the lack of housing in the borough.

  22. Empty homes

    BBC Radio 4

    Housing in London is hugely expensive and there's not enough of it, but many homes are standing empty. A London council (Islington) wants to make it illegal. Cllr James Murray tells Today that "hundreds" of properties are empty in his borough. He says this is a "bit of an outrage" when there is a housing crisis in the capital.

  23. Via Twitter

    David Buik

    Market Commentator, Panmure Gordon

    "Russia has gargantuan gold reserves. Many believe gold could be the ace in the hole to help rouble if it continues to be trashed"

  24. Market update

    The FTSE 100 has started the day with a healthy gain, up almost 0.7%. That's despite losses for mining shares.

  25. Private jet review

    FT Wealth magazine

    Is your private jet getting a bit old? Perhaps it makes a clunking noise when you start it up? If so turn to page 56 of the FT Wealth magazine, where it helpfully reviews the new Citation M2 private jet. No need to worry if your airport is embarrassingly small: "Aerodynamic tweaks mean the aircraft can also get into and out of short runways," the reviewer says.

  26. Stamp duty warning

    Homebuilders Berkeley have warned that changes to stamp duty, announced by the chancellor on Wednesday, will mean "continuing uncertainty" in the housing market. "We are yet to see consensus from the parties on the likely shape of policy after the General Election," the firm says.

  27. Via Twitter

    Nick Bubb

    Retail analyst

    What's this "Gifting Weekend" at Marks & Spencer, offering "up to 50% off" selected gifts? A sale by any other name?

  28. Rail fares

    The rail union RMT has reacted to the price rise. "The scandal of Britain's great rail fares rip off with today's hike far out stripping average pay increases," said general secretary Mick Cash, "and it will once again hit those at the sharp end of the austerity clampdown the hardest".

  29. Rent debate

    Radio 5 live

    The Young Ones

    Radio 5 live hosts a lively debate over rents. Alex Hilton director of campaign group Generation Rent says that a third of tenants move every year, often because they are priced out of their existing property. Richard Lambert, the chief executive of the National Landlords Association, says that 60% of landlords do not raise rents during the course of tenancy.

  30. Rouble intervention

    Two traders have told Reuters that the Russian central bank was "probably intervening in the foreign exchange market" to support the flailing rouble in early minutes of trading on Friday. The currency, which has been falling heavily against the dollar, recovered by some 2%.

  31. Germany slowdown

    German steel plant

    Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, has halved its forecast for growth in 2015 to 1.0%. In June it was forecasting growth of 2.0%. "There is reason to hope that the current sluggish phase will prove to be short-lived," Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann said in a statement.

  32. Rail fares

    BBC Radio 4

    Michael Roberts is on Today. He confirms that season tickets will go up by 2.5%. Part of the reason fares have gone up, he says, is that the government decided that passengers should bear more of the costs of the railways, rather than taxpayers.

  33. Rail fares

    Michael Roberts, the director general of the Rail Delivery Group which represents rail operators and Network Rail, highlights: "For every pound spent on fares, 97p goes on track, train, staff and other costs while 3p goes in profits earned by train companies for running services".

  34. Via Email

    Mark Halstead

    "I use the Manchester to London route once or twice a week for business, although a great service I fear that they are now pricing themselves out of the market; even British Airways is now cheaper at peak times."

  35. Rail fares

    BBC Breakfast

    Dominic Laurie

    The BBC's Dominic Laurie is at Manchester Piccadilly train station for Breakfast. He points out that average pay is only going up at 1.3% at the moment and CPI inflation is running at 1.3%, so the 2.2% rise in rail fares is still outstripping pay and consumer prices.

  36. Rail fares

    An interesting bit of context from our transport correspondent, Richard Westcott. Despite widespread interest in rail fares, only 5% of commuters use a train.

  37. German factory orders

    German factory orders rose more strongly than expected in October - by 2.5%. In the previous month, orders grew by just 1.1% in Europe's largest economy.

  38. Canary Wharf offer

    Canary Wharf

    Songbird Estates, the owners of London's Canary Wharf office complex, has rejected a sweetened offer from the Qatar Investment Authority and its partner, Brookfield Property Partners. Songbird said the offer worth 350p per share, "does not reflect the full value of the Company".

  39. BreakingBreaking News

    Rail fares in England will rise by an average of 2.2% from 2 January, the government has confirmed, marking the lowest rise for five years.

  40. What the papers say

    Financial Times front page, 5/12/14

    The Financial Times also does some number crunching, and reports that Britain will have to spend almost £1bn more than previously forecast to be sure of hitting its foreign aid commitments this year and next. The FT says the revelation will re-ignite the row about one of the most sensitive elements of government spending.

  41. What the papers say

    Independent front page

    Two days on from the chancellor's Autumn Statement, some of the papers decide to take a closer look at figures published by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility. The Independent concludes that a debt time bomb awaits us with a prediction of a big increase in borrowing by the public over the next 5 years - including credit card debt and bank overdrafts. The paper claims the chancellor is counting on what it describes as an "orgy of unsecured lending" to boost GDP.

  42. Waitrose

    BBC Radio 4


    The managing director of Waitrose, Mark Price (no, really), is on Today. He tells Simon Jack "you get what you pay for," in supermarkets, whether in a discount retailer or an upmarket chain. He says the rise of the discounters is down to people "looking for value in a different way". However, he warns that in his industry, "most revolutions fail". Evolution works better, apparently.

    Mr Price will be talking to Peter White on You and Yours at 12.15pm.

  43. Rail fares

    We'd like to hear from you this morning. Do you commute by rail? If so, which service do you use, and do you think it offers value-for-money? Get in touch by emailing or tweeting @bbcbusiness.

  44. Rail fares


    Details of the lowest rail fare rise for five years are to be announced this morning. The government's capped the increase for regulated fares - which include season tickets - at the rate of inflation. From January next year, most of those tickets will be going up by 2.5%, but that could still add more than £100 to season tickets in the South East of England, with many costing more than £5000.

  45. North Sea oil

    Radio 5 live

    At $80 a barrel a "significant" proportion of North Sea oil fields become uneconomic, says Roman Webber from Deloitte. Oil prices are below that level now. The North Sea oil fields are interconnected, so if one asset is mothballed there could be a knock-on effect to others, Mr Webber says on Wake Up to Money.

  46. ECB inaction

    BBC Radio 4

    In a rare public plea, a senior US Federal Reserve official, Stanley Fisher, has urged the European Central Bank to do more to boost the eurozone economy, by buying bonds. Dr Stephanie Hare, senior analyst for Western Europe with Oxford Analytica, tells Today it will eventually happen, but the ECB is waiting to "assess the impact of its current measures".

  47. ECB inaction

    Radio 5 live

    Why did the European Central Bank (ECB) decide not to increase its stimulus programme yesterday? "Quite a few" people at the ECB are not convinced it would work, says Richard Jeffrey, chief investment officer at Cazenove Capital Management on Wake Up to Money. Europe's problems run deeper than a lack of liquidity (or money supply), he says.

  48. Premier Foods investigation

    Mr Kipling

    Premier Foods, one of the UK's biggest manufacturers, has been asking its suppliers for payments to continue doing business with the firm, a BBC investigation has learned. One supplier said the practice - known as pay and stay - was like "blackmail". Premier Foods, which owns the Mr Kipling brand, said it was confident the scheme did not break any rules under competition law.

  49. North Sea oil

    Radio 5 live

    North Sea oil platform

    Falling oil prices mean the North Sea oil industry is going through an "extremely difficult, rocky period" according to Sir Ian Wood, who led the government review into future of North Sea oil. He tells Wake Up to Money that government measures to support the industry need to be introduced quickly to avoid long term damage to the sector.

  50. Post update

    Joe Miller

    Business Reporter

    Good morning. Do get in touch with us, either by emailing or tweeting @bbcbusiness.

  51. Post update

    Ben Morris

    Business Reporter

    Happy Friday! The oil industry is calling for speedy government assistance to help prevent long-term damage to the industry. Plus we'll receive details of rail fare rises for next year. Stay with the Business Live page.