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Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

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  1. Good night

    That's all for tonight from the Business Live page. Join us again tomorrow at 06:00 for more business news.

  2. Wall Street closes higher

    US stocks have closed higher, bolstered by gains in healthcare shares after the collapse of the $160bn merger of Pfizer and Allergan, and by a rise in energy shares.

    Indexes slightly pared gains after the release of minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting. 

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 112,73 points, or 0.64%, at 17,716.05, the S&P 500 gained 21.49 points, or 1.05%, finishing at 2,066.66, and the Nasdaq Composite added 76.78 points, or 1.59%, rising to 4,920.71.

  3. Report: France 'to cut inflation forecast from 1% to 0.1%'

    Seagulls fly next to the French ministry for Economy and Finance

    The French Finance Ministry plans to cut its inflation forecast for this year from 1% to 0.1%, and will present the new figure at the next cabinet meeting, Les Echos newspaper reports.

    As a result, France will have to find €3.8bn of additional savings this year and a further €5bn next year, Les Echos said.

  4. Fiat Chrysler cuts 1,300 jobs in Michigan

    A car is manufactured on the assembly line at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant

    Fiat Chrysler is laying off about 1,300 workers and ending one of the two shifts at its Sterling Heights plant in Michigan. The factory makes the Chrysler 200 sedan.

    US sales of the Chrysler 200 were down 63% in the first quarter from a year earlier.

    United Auto Workers vice president Norwood Jewell said that the move was not unexpected, and expressed optimism that FCA will find jobs for the workers by making more trucks and SUVs.

    "FCA is not the only company experiencing a slow market for small cars," Jewell said. "On a bright note, there is a strong demand for larger-sized vehicles. The company has been planning to increase its capacity to build more trucks and SUVs. I believe that in the long term this move will be a positive one for our members and the company." 

  5. Fed debated April rate hike but took cautious approach

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen

    Federal Reserve policymakers debated last month whether an interest rate hike would be needed in April,  although a consensus emerged that risks from a global economic slowdown made a cautious approach desirable.

    "Many participants expressed a view that the global economic and financial situation still posed appreciable downside risks," said the minutes from the Fed's March policy meeting.

  6. US sues to block Halliburton and Baker Hughes deal

    The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to halt Halliburton from merging with Baker Hughes, arguing the merger of the number two and number three US oil services companies would hurt competition in the sector.

    The deal would eliminate competition in 23 products or services for US oil exploration and production, both onshore and offshore, the Justice Department said in a statement.

    "The proposed deal between Halliburton and Baker Hughes would eliminate vital competition, skew energy markets and harm American consumers," US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. "Our action makes clear that the Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing our antitrust laws."

  7. Angola to open loan talks with IMF as oil price bites

    The shanty town of Boa Vista

    Angola will begin loan negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this month as lower oil prices hit the finances of Africa's second-largest crude exporter, the Finance Ministry said.

    Oil output represents 40% of gross domestic product and more than 95% of foreign exchange revenue in Angola.

    Brent crude traded below $40 a barrel on Wednesday, down more than 30% compared with a year ago.

  8. Pfizer beats hundreds of lawsuits alleging Zoloft birth defects

    A bottle of Zoloft antidepressant pills

    A federal judge in Philadelphia has dismissed more than 300 lawsuits against Pfizer Inc alleging that its antidepressant Zoloft caused birth defects.

    The decision from US District Judge Cynthia Rufe said that plaintiffs had not produced enough evidence to show a plausible scientific link between the drug and birth defects.

    "The court recognises that the final scientific verdict as to whether Zoloft can cause birth defects may not be delivered for many years," the judge said.

    "Nevertheless, plaintiffs chose when to file their cases, and the court concludes that for the plaintiffs who have continued to pursue their claims, the litigation gates must be closed."

    A Pfizer spokeswoman said the decision "affirms that plaintiffs have failed to produce any reliable scientific evidence demonstrating that Zoloft causes the injuries they alleged." 

  9. Café owner: 'Steelworks closure would kill our town'

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Video content

    Video caption: Café owner talks about what job losses would mean for the town

    A cafe owner in Port Talbot has told BBC Radio 5 live that the potential steelworks job loses would kill the town.

    Tata's Port Talbot site employs 5,500 of Tata UK's current 15,000-strong UK workforce and is thought to be losing £1m a day.

    Tracey Lewis, who runs the Ferrari's cafe, spoke to Daily's Peter Allen about the negativity around the town.

    She said: "There has always been depressive air over the town for the last two years, because of the jobs being lost."

  10. Oil prices jump 5% but remain below $40 per barrel

    A pumpjack in North Dakota

    Oil prices have risen 5% after the US government reported a surprise decrease in domestic crude stockpiles - markets had expected a new record high.

    Crude stocks unexpectedly fell by 4.9 million barrels last week after imports dropped, the Energy Information Administration said.

    Brent crude was trading at $39.72 per barrel, US crude was at $37.60.

  11. Panama Papers 'circus damaging to Icelend'

    Birgitta Jonsdottir

    In Iceland, the government is seeking to avoid early elections by picking a replacement for Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, who stepped aside after the "Panama Papers" leaks.

    The opposition is trying to force a new election with a vote of no confidence.

    Polls show the anti-establishment Pirate Party in the lead if a new election is called in the country of 330,000 people, a result with potentially wider impact across Europe.

    "We must have a snap election," Pirate Party leader Birgitta Jonsdottir said. "There has been tremendous damage to the reputation of Iceland with this circus."

  12. Uefa offices searched by Swiss police

    Fifa president Gianni Infantino

    The offices of European football's governing body have been searched by Swiss police after ex-secretary general Gianni Infantino was named in papers leaked from a Panamanian law firm.

    While working for Uefa, Infantino co-signed a television rights deal in 2006 with two businessmen who have since been accused by the FBI of bribery.

    Infantino, now head of world governing body Fifa, has denied any wrongdoing.

    Uefa says it is giving police all relevant documents in its possession.

    Read more here.

  13. Harley-Davidson shares drop 7%

    Harley-Davidson motorcycle

    Shares in motorcycle firm Harley-Davidson have fallen around 7% after an analyst said it appeared to have lost market share in March.

    "After relatively stable market share in the first two months of the quarter, Harley-Davidson appeared to lose market share at an accelerated pace (year over year) in March, resulting in an overall market share decline in the first quarter," said ITG Investment Research analyst John Tomlinson.

  14. Are there potential buyers for Tata Steel in the UK?

    Potential buyers for Tata Steel's UK business include Liberty House, says Business Secretary Sajid Javid.

    Earlier, Liberty's Sanjeev Gupta told the BBC he had worked out the takeover plans "on the back of an envelope".

    Mr Javid said:

    Quote Message: A number of people have already started coming forward, I think more will do so once the formal [sales] process begins... Publically one company that's come forward for example is Liberty... [House], which already has an interest in the UK steel industry, I met with them yesterday, so that's just one example of someone that's come forward." from Sajid Javid Business Secretary
    Sajid JavidBusiness Secretary
  15. 'No set time frame' for Tata Steel sale

    Tata Steel has not set a time frame for the sale of its UK business, according to Business Secretary Sajid Javid. 

    Quote Message: What they have said is that they will allow a reasonable amount of time for this process to be completed."
  16. Tata 'intends to launch UK steel sales process by Monday'

    Sajid Javid

    Tata Steel intends to formally start the sales process of its UK business "by Monday at the latest", Business Secretary Sajid Javid has said.

    Quote Message: We had a constructive and positive meeting. I think it's fair to say that Tata have demonstrated once again that they are a responsible company. They've said that they intend to launch formally the sales process by Monday at the latest, and that in doing so, I've also made it clear, that the UK government will do everything it can to support any serious buyer in every way we can to secure the long-term future of this industry." from Sajid Javid UK Business Secretary
    Sajid JavidUK Business Secretary
  17. Tata takeover plans 'on the back of an envelope' says potential buyer

    BBC News Wales correspondent Hywel Griffith writes...

    The sun rises behind the Tata steelworks

    The man looking to buy Tata UK's steel business has admitted his takeover plans have been written "on the back of an envelope," and that he has never been to the main Port Talbot works.

    Sanjeev Gupta, the head of Liberty House, told the BBC that taking over the loss-making business would be a "daunting propersition," and that he could give no guarantees in terms of retaining all of the 15,000 workforce, or the thousands of contract and agency workers.

    But Mr Gupta reiterated that he was not looking to make mass redundancies - and he would look to the government for help in retraining workers.

    He said that in his discussions with the UK government it was clear that ministers understood pensions were a key issue, and he was confident it would be addressed.

    Mr Gupta accepted that some of the help he would look for on energy costs may test EU rules on state aid.

    Mr Gupta added that he thought Tata would want to agree a sale within weeks, but the actual process could take up to six months.