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Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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  1. Post update

    Russell Hotten

    Business reporter

    That's it from the afternoon team. Join us from 06:00 tomorrow for more business news.

  2. Petrobras

    Brazilian police arrest a former Petrobras executive after prosecutors allegedly discovered large transfers from Swiss bank accounts he managed. It is the latest twist in a corruption probe implicating some of Brazil's top companies and political parties. Former head of engineering and services Renato Duque had already been detained for three weeks late last year at the early stages of the Petrobras investigation.

  3. McDonald's

    Fast food workers striking outside McDonalds
    Image caption: Fast food workers began organising strikes and protests two years ago in New York City

    McDonald's restaurant workers from 19 US cities have filed 28 health and safety complaints with federal and state regulators, alleging hazardous working conditions that led to severe burns from hot grills and frying oil. The complaints open a new front in a long-running campaign by workers and unions seeking to roughly double pay to $15 per hour and improve working conditions for US fast-food workers.

  4. Sotheby's

    New York Nicks

    Auction house Sotheby's appoints Madison Square Garden's chief executive Tad Smith ad its CEO, a surprise move that could delay the plans of the owner of the New York Knicks basketball team to spin off its live entertainment business. Sotheby's said in a statement that Mr Smith, aged 49, who has led Madison Square Garden for just a year, would replace William Ruprecht on 31 March.

  5. Market update

    The FTSE 100 got off to a better start this week, after recent falls. The index closed up 63.5 points at 6804.08, led higher by retailers. Sainsbury's and Tesco were the top two gainers, up 3.67% and 3.65% respectively. Tullow Oil, battered by the recent oil price fall and worries about exploration prospects, had another torrid day. It was down 5.73%.

  6. Yodel

    Yodel vans

    Yodel issues a statement after criticism it failed to deliver Mother's Day flowers on time. "We handled over 400,000 Mother's Day flower deliveries for a number of retailers over the Mothering Sunday weekend, in addition to our normal parcels. The vast majority of these deliveries ran smoothly; however, a small number of Saturday deliveries encountered delays and we would like to apologise to anyone whose delivery was affected. This was due to a combination of issues, including problems that flower suppliers had in getting the flowers to us on time and retailer incorrect labelling issues."

  7. Via Blog

    Kamal Ahmed

    BBC Business editor

    With the Budget just 48 hours away, the North Sea oil and gas industry is eagerly awaiting details of major tax cuts I am told are being prepared by the Treasury." Read Kamal's latest blog here.

  8. Greece talks

    Alexis Tsipras

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has accepted an invitation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit Berlin on 23 March. Given the souring of relations between the two countries, it will be a chance to build bridges. It may also be a chance to explain a video doing the rounds allegedly showing Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis making a rude gesture towards Germany with his middle finger. The action is called the "Stinkefinger" in Germany. Varoufakis says the video is faked.

  9. Oil price

    Brent crude chart

    The oil price is falling sharply amid concerns that supply is exceeding demand. Benchmark US crude dropped $1.58 to $43.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its lowest level in six years. Meanwhile, in London, Brent crude fell $1.92 to $53.09 a barrel.

  10. Via Blog

    Robert Peston

    Economics editor

    If we could only boost productivity, there would be no need to ink in any more austerity in Wednesday's budget. So how on earth do we improve output per worker? Read Robert's latest blog here.

  11. Football diplomacy

    Pele

    The football club once famous for being Pele's US home, the New York Cosmos, will play Cuba's national football team in June, becoming the first US professional team in any sport to play in Cuba in 16 years and the first football team go to the island since 1978. The move comes after President Obama lifted an economic embargo against Cuba in mid-December.

  12. Supermarket vouchers

    Further to Nick Bubb's comments on supermarket vouchers, Business Live reader Tim Weston wants to know how many customers actually use the coupons. He writes: "They have fairly short expiry dates and I hardly ever remember to take them with me next time I shop so I invariably miss out on the discount or points. I suspect the percentage of vouchers redeemed is fairly low, so it looks/feels good for the customer but doesn't actually cost the supermarket a huge amount."

  13. Willis Tower

    Willis Tower

    Investment group Blackstone is buying Chicago's Willis Tower, the second tallest building in the US and the fifth tallest in the world. The 110-storey tower, formerly called the Sears Tower, is one of America's most popular tourist attractions, with 1.6 million visitors last year. No sale price was disclosed.

  14. GE Capital

    General Electric has sold its consumer finance business in Australia and New Zealand for $6.2bn (£4.2bn) as the US company continues to trim GE Capital. A consortium that includes private equity firm KKR and Deutsche Bank will take on the division's 3 million customers.

  15. US output

    US industrial production rose very slightly in February after two consecutive months of declines, pulled higher by heating demand after unusually cold weather, according to Federal Reserve data. The Fed's monthly production index rose 0.1% last month after a 0.3% fall in January and a 0.2% fall in December.

  16. Dyson batteries

    Dyson

    Dyson has announced a $15m investment in Sakti3, an American solid-state battery company. While Dyson research chief Mark Taylor tells Wired.com that "solid-state batteries are a bit of a holy grail", he admits the technology is "a few years" away from appearing in Dyson products. Dyson already sells a cordless vacuum cleaner (pictured).

  17. Market update

    US shares are rising in early trading after being hit hard last week. Shortly after the open, the Dow Jones was up 0.5% at 17,829 points, while S&P 500 gained 0.64% to 2,066.61 points. The Nasdaq rose 0.52% to 4,896.9 points.

  18. Post update

    Russell Hotten

    Business reporter, BBC News

    Good afternoon. The A team has now left, so it's just me until 6pm. Email at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbusiness.

  19. Wine time

    Small wine bottle

    Big things come in small packages, so they say, and it seems that drinkers are favouring smaller bottles of wine. The Guardian reports that sales of 187ml bottles of plonk rose by 10% last year, while the increase at Sainsbury's was 21% - with Prosecco proving particularly popular. Although wine is more expensive to buy in smaller bottles, drinkers are better able to exercise restraint, retailers say.

  20. Sotheby's

    Sotheby's

    Big changes at Sotheby's after a long-running battle by activist investors for a shakeup at the centuries-old auction house. It named Madison Square Garden co-chief executive Tad Smith as its new boss, while lead independent director Domenico De Sole becomes chairman. William Ruprecht, who had been both chief executive and chairman since 2000, will step on 31 March. His departure was first announced in November. Pictured is Bianca Jagger at a Sotheby's auction in 1977.

  21. Drugs battle

    In the drugs business, Valeant has raised the stakes in its bid to buy Salix Pharmaceuticals. It has increased its offer to $11.1bn for Salix, which specialises in treatments for gastro-oesophegeal conditions. Valeant has been spurred by the emergence of a rival bidder - Ireland's Endo International.

  22. CeBIT fair

    CeBIT

    More than 600 Chinese companies are exhibiting their technological wares at the CeBIT fair in Hanover this week. Angela Merkel opened the shindig yesterday and urged closer high-tech cooperation with China: "German business values China, not just as our most important trade partner outside of Europe, but also as a partner in developing sophisticated technologies." Germany is the biggest European player in China, with two-way trade reaching €150bn last year.

  23. FTSE laggard

    CRH shares

    Shares in CRH - Ireland's biggest company - are down 3.3% in London, making it the biggest loser on the FTSE 100. The building materials company was hoping to buy Lafarge Tarmac, following the merger of France's Lafarge and Switzerland's Holcim. However, the €42bn cement merger is now in doubt.

  24. Dax at record high

    Dax

    German stocks surged to a record high on Monday as investors focused on the expected boost to company profits from the recent slide in the euro. Frankfurt's Dax powered above 12,000 points for the first time, up 1.2% at 12,042, while the Cac 40 in Paris was 0.75% higher at 5,048 points. Spreadex financial analyst Connor Campbell said: "As the steroid injection of ECB quantitative easing continues to swell the Dax, as well as the other eurozone indices, investors remain enthralled with the region and seem committed to continuing its upswing."

  25. Supermarket vouchers

    Sainsburys

    Nick Bubb, the independent retail analyst, says Asda boss Andy Clarke has long complained that vouchers dished out by rival supermarkets is akin to the Bank of England's "quantitative easing" policy. In a note today Mr Bubb says: "Well, we're not complaining, but it is extraordinary that we have just received yet another set of '£12 off a £60+ spend' Nectar coupons from Sainsbury, straight on from the last generous set of discount coupons... #QuantitativeVouchering."

  26. Annuities

    Not quite sure what an annuity is? Fear not - our personal finance reporter Kevin Peachey has answers to all the questions about annuities you were too afraid to ask.

  27. US debt limit

    Capitol Hill, Washington

    This might feel familiar. The US hit its debt limit on Monday and that means Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will have to start using crafty measures to pay the government's bills. It's thought he can keep doing that until October or November. You might remember similar shenanigans in 2011 and a partial government shutdown in 2013.

  28. Tesco shares rise

    Tesco shares

    Tesco shares are leading the FTSE 100 higher this morning. Shares are up 2.9%. Over the weekend Bloomberg reported that advertising giant WPP has made a bid for a majority stake in Tesco's data unit, Dunnhumby. That business is thought to be worth £2bn. Dunnhumby has an interesting back story, you can read more here.

  29. Oil heads lower

    North Sea Brent Crude

    Oil prices appear to be back on a downward trajectory. North Sea Brent Crude is down almost 1% this morning. That takes it to $54.55 per barrel, still a little way off the low for the year of $49.16, hit in January. Last week analysts at Citigroup forecast that oil could fall as low as $20 a barrel because US production continues to rise.

  30. Greek finances

    BBC World News

    Greece

    BBC Europe business correspondent Nigel Cassidy says Germany is continuing to play a game of brinkmanship with Greece - but the danger is that the country could run out of cash in the meantime. "It's a question of who blinks first ... we could see a return to falling bank deposits and that could bring on an accidental crisis."

  31. Via Twitter

    Rural broadband

    Nic Fildes, Communications & Technology Editor, The Times

    There will be a boost for rural broadband in the Budget. Osborne hints at "ultrafast" speeds for everybody @NicFildes

  32. Vetting bankers

    New rules for vetting and making bankers directly accountable for their actions will include an annual health check by their employer to assess workers' "fitness and propriety", the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday. The regulator also set out how it would implement the Senior Managers Regime and provided more information on new conduct rules for bank staff.

  33. Via Email

    Mean money

    Business Live reader Ian Kemmish

    Things may be different in Los Angeles, of course, but in my [Bedfordshire] street the millionaire rides a bicycle, and the poorest household boasts two SUVs and a large BMW. How does Professor Piff know that all those Lexus cars which don't stop at pedestrian crossings contain rich people?

  34. Sorrell pay

    "This is a dangerously excessive amount of money," says Luke Hildyard, deputy director of the High Pay Centre, about Sir Martin Sorrell's £36m pay package. "It is vital fund managers hold WPP to account when they get a chance to vote on this award on behalf of company shareholders." However, Mr Hildyard acknowledges that any shareholder revolt will be limited due to the strong performance of WPP shares.

  35. Manchester Building Society

    Manchester Building Society is claiming at least £49m from Grant Thornton for "breach of contract, negligence and breach of statutory duty" over its audit services and between 2006 and 2013. "If the society is unable to reach satisfactory agreement with Grant Thornton the matter will progress to a court hearing," it adds.

  36. More mean money

    Orson Welles in Citizen Kane

    What do you think - can wealth erode your humanity? Or are we confusing cause with correlation? Perhaps tough, aggressive people are more likely to get rich. Thoughts to bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk.

  37. Mean money

    US dollars

    The BBC's Lucy Hooker has been to Tinsel Town to answer the question: does money make you mean? Read her feature and listen to Discovery: Can money make you mean? on BBC World Service today at 1930 GMT or on iPlayer in the UK.

  38. H&M sales

    H&M model

    H&M, the world's second-largest fashion retailer, has posted a 15% rise in February sales in local currency terms - better than the 13% expected by analysts. Societe Generale's Anne Critchlow estimates that the figure translates to a 6% increase in like-for-like sales - which she calls "a very strong figure".

  39. Sorrell pay

    Martin Sorrell

    Sir Martin Sorrell is in line to receive £36m from the company's controversial incentive plan this year. The 17 senior executives eligible for the scheme are allowed to buy shares and will be given up to five times the total for free. Shareholders are likely to be comforted by the performance of WPP shares - over the past five years the company's market value has risen 133%, compared with a 21.3% rise in the FTSE 100. Last week it reported record profits.

  40. Airbus helicopter deal

    Airbus Helicopters has signed a deal with South Korea to build more than 300 helicopters for military and civilian use. The aircraft will be built in partnership with Korea Aerospace Industries. The deal is worth some €1.5bn (£1bn) over 20 years.

  41. Via Twitter

    Arsenal FC

    Arsenal

    Stan Kroenke buys another 44 Arsenal shares. Now owns 67.01% @AdamParsons1

  42. Business rates

    BBC Radio 4

    Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, says a review of business rates has to be radical because the system is not working. He says the "property tax" raises £20bn a year and is on track to exceed the take from council tax. The last revaluation took place in 2008 but commercial property values have fallen in many areas in the wake of the financial crash.

  43. AO World share sale

    AO World

    Richard Rose, chairman of AO World, has sold a 1.3% stake in the online appliances retailer - less than a month after a profit warning sent shares plummeting. He sold 5.58m shares at 180p a share on Friday, raising £10m. AO chief executive John Roberts said that Rose "remains committed to the company, both as a shareholder and as its chairman". The company floated in February 2014 at 285p and closed on Friday at 191.6p.

  44. Newspaper review

    Business pages

    The Guardian says the hole in the BHS pension fund is "significantly higher" than the widely reported £100m. In his business commentary in The Times, Andrew Clark notes the slide in Sainsbury shares this year, reflecting its fall in market share. Investors who cash in annuities under new freedoms may not get a good deal, warns Tom McPhail from Hargreaves Lansdown in today's Telegraph. He is among the experts in the article warning that reform to the pension market must ensure choice and value for money.

  45. Via Twitter

    Adam Parsons

    Business Correspondent

    Shares suspended in Haversham Holdings ahead of expected £1.2bn deal to buy British car Auctions.

  46. Cement merger

    Lafarge

    The €42bn (£30bn) mega-merger of Switzerland's Holcim with Lafarge of France could crumble after Holcim's board said it wants to change the terms and structure of its "merger of equals", the Wall Street Journal reports. Lafarge said its board is "willing to explore the possibility" of revamping the deal.

  47. Chinese shares rally

    Shanghai composite

    A strong start to the week for shares in China, with the Shanghai Composite rising 0.7%. The index is back to the levels it reached in August 2009. Investors were encouraged by comments from Premier Li Keqiang over the weekend. He said the government has room for manoeuvre if its wants to boost the economy further.

  48. Total North Sea reverse

    Total logo

    Total is planning to sell a 20% stake in one of its most promising North Sea gas fields, according to the Financial Times. The French company is one of the biggest operators in the North Sea. Chancellor George Osborne is expected to ease taxes on oil production in the Budget on Wednesday.

  49. Business rates

    John Cridland, CBI director-general, says the business body wants a wholesale review of business rates: "The current system is outmoded, clunky and regressive and it's holding back the high street." The CBI wants business rates abolished for the smallest companies: "This would go a long way to achieving a more competitive business rates regime that incentivises business investment and supports the high street."

  50. Via Twitter

    Scottish employment

    Douglas Fraser

    Business and economy editor, Scotland

    Recruiters still upbeat in Scotland, tho not so hot for temp jobs, and starting salary growth has eased, says survey.

  51. Danny Alexander

    Radio 5 live

    Speaking to Wake up to Money on Radio 5 live the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander explained the problem with reforming business rates is that "lots and lots of people have views about how the (current) system doesn't work but as soon as you get into what an alternative system might look like there's much less consensus"

  52. Annuities

    BBC Radio 4

    The chancellor confirmed yesterday that pension rules will be changed to allow up to five million people to cash in existing annuities. Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown, tells Today that the price people will accept for their policy will vary greatly and depend on their life expectancy. He also says the Treasury expects people to have to take advice - and pay for it - to work out if they are getting a good deal.

  53. Budget giveaways

    BBC Radio 4

    Martin Beck of the EY Item Club has also popped up on Radio 4's Today programme. He says the chancellor's £6bn for budget giveaways is largely due to windfall cheaper oil boosting household spending power and thus VAT receipts. Good luck or good management by the government? "You have you put it down to luck," Mr Beck says.

  54. Battery powered Dyson

    Sir James Dyson

    Sir James Dyson is getting into the battery business according to today's Daily Telegraph. Known for inventing and developing bagless vacuum cleaners, Sir James is investing $15m (£10.2m) in Sakti3, a US developer of batteries. He tells the Telegraph that Sakti3 "has achieved leaps" in battery performance.

  55. Pension reform

    Radio 5 live

    People approaching retirement often need access to some of their money, but not all of it says Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of the Pensions Advisory Service, an independent advice group on pensions on Wake Up to Money. So the reforms, which from April will give greater access to pension pots, reflects the changing nature of retirement she says.

  56. Tax-free allowance

    Radio 5 live

    Pound coins

    A rise in the tax-free personal allowance is the most likely giveaway in the budget, says Martin Beck from the economic forecasters EY Item club on Wake Up to Money. He think it could go from £10,600 (in April) to £11,000. Mr Beck adds that the big fall in the oil price has boosted growth, which should bolster the public finances - giving the Chancellor about £6bn extra in the next financial year.

  57. Danny Alexander

    Radio 5 live

    Mr Alexander does not want to say much about Wednesday's budget: "This budget is not a budget that is full of giveaways," is about all he says. "We still have work to do" on the deficit, he explains.

  58. Danny Alexander

    Radio 5 live

    Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury

    "We want to look at every aspect of the way the business rates system works," says Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander on Wake Up to Money. Why didn't the government reform business rates before now he is asked. The government has been focused on the deficit and also finding measures within business rates to help small businesses, Mr Alexander says.

  59. Post update

    Ben Morris

    Business Reporter

    Good morning. It's budget week, so there's much speculation over what the Chancellor is going to include in Wednesday's announcement. That and much more on the Business live page. Any thoughts? Email us at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet @bbcbusiness.