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  1. Brazil's economy contracts 5.4% in first quarter
  2. FTSE 100 falls sharply
  3. Japan delays sales tax increase
  4. Halfords shares slump after results
  5. British Steel brand revived after Greybull deal

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

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Good night!

Well, that's it for another day on the Business Live page.

Thank you for joining us.

We'll be back again tomorrow from 6am to bring you all the twists and turns from the world of finance. 

Wall Street claws back losses

Wall Street sign
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Shares on Wall Street recovered from earlier losses on Wednesday after a report showed US manufacturing grew for a third straight month in May. 

Stocks were also boosted as the oil price recovered from falls earlier in the day.  

"The numbers are not bad; they're just not good either," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio. "We're kind of trapped in limbo that way with respect to a lot of the fundamentals." 

At the close the Dow Jones was flat at 17,789.67 - a scant gain of just 0.01%.

The Nasdaq finished at 4,952.25 - up 0.08%.

And the S&P 500 edged up 0.11% to 2,099.33.

Olympics to include five new sports

BBC World Service

The Olympics - it's a massive sporting event - but it's also big business.

Now the executive board of the International Olympic Committee has given unanimous support for the introduction of five new sports at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, reports BBC World Service.

They are baseball, karate, surfing, skate-boarding and sport climbing. 

The decision, made at a meeting in Lausanne, will have to be approved by all the members of the IOC when they meet in August, just before the Rio Olympic Games. 

Observers say it is highly unusual for the IOC to recommend the inclusion of five new sports to the Olympic programme all at once.   

Trump to travel to Turnberry

Donald Trump

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump is to attend the official opening of the revamped Open venue - Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire.  

The US billionaire bought the hotel and golf course for an undisclosed sum in 2014 and subsequently added his name.

The golf course and most rooms in the hotel have now reopened following a £200m refurbishment.

The presumptive Republican nominee will attend the official reopening on 24 June - one day after the EU referendum. Read more here

France pursues over unpaid tax website

French authorities are seeking €356m (£276m) in unpaid taxes from, according to documents filed by parent company Priceline.

Documents filed with the US regulator said French authorities recently completed an audit of's accounts from 2003 to 2012.

The French government said had a base in France and was obliged to pay income and value-added taxes.

The company said the majority of funds being sought are penalties. Read more here

Oil claws back losses ahead of Opec meeting

Oil facility in Iran
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Oil settled down on Wednesday at about $50 a barrel, with the market retracing most earlier declines after OPEC sources said the group will likely consider a production curb at its forthcoming meeting. 

Reuters is citing four OPEC sources as saying the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was likely to discuss an output ceiling at its meeting in Vienna on Thursday. 

Analysts expect OPEC members to focus on defending individual market share. 

However, the possibility of production quotas returning to OPEC helped crude oil prices shed most of the day's declines.

"If they get a quota in place, that would certainly be bullish for oil, given that no surprises were expected at all from this meeting," said Phil Flynn, analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago.

"It will also mark a diplomatic gesture by the Saudis after Doha," he added. 

OPEC failed to agree to an output freeze at an April meeting in Doha, Qatar, after Saudi Arabia insisted Iran join the plan. 

Tesla owners to pay for charger access

Wall Street Journal tweets

No French air strike

The threat of an air traffic controller strike in France has been lifted, Its main SNCTA air traffic controllers union has lifted its notice of a strike from June 3-5. It was planning to take action over working conditions. The decision followed "a final negotiation meeting", the union said in a statement, without giving details. 

US economy 'growing modestly'

The US Federal Reserve says the economy grew at a modest pace in much of the country from April to mid-May, despite slower consumer spending and weakness in the manufacturing and energy sectors. The Fed's latest survey of business conditions found half of its 12 regions said growth was modest. Dallas said economic activity had increased ``marginally''. But  Chicago and Kansas City said growth had slowed from the past report. This could be seen as a reason to hold off on raising rates, points out Reuters.

Shake up of FTSE

London Stock Exchange sign
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Hikma Pharmaceuticals will be promoted to the FTSE 100 shares index after a sharp rally in its shares since March, 

At the same time satellite communications company Inmarsat will drop out of the FTSE 100 and down into the FTSE 250. Its shares have fallen 37% since early February because a slowdown in the global economy has hit its shipping-related operations.  

The companies which have been promoted into the FTSE 250 are Ascential, CMC Markets, Countryside Properties, CYBG, Hill & Smith Holdings, Metro Bank, Smurfit, and Kappa Group.    

Meanwhile, Highbridge Multi-Strategy Fund, Interserve, Jimmy Choo, Lookers, Melrose Industries, Northgate and Ophir Energy have all fallen out of the FTSE 250.

The changes will take effect from the start of trading on Monday 20 June. 

Balancing act

Pubs set to score during Euro 2016

Pint of beer
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The average pub is likely to see a 21% jump in takings on 16 June compared to a normal Thursday in June. 

Why? Well, that's when England play Wales in the group stage of the Euro 2016 football tournament. 

The figures come from tech start-up Epos Now - which supplies cloud-based point of sale systems to bars and shops. It says it has analysed sales figures from an anonymous sample of 500 UK pubs, 

Epos Now also says convenience stores are already stocking up on alcohol ahead of the tournament. Figures show they have placed orders for 8% more bottled beer and 11% more canned beer than at the same time last year. 

Brazil: Worst recession ever

Brazilian flag
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Brazil's economy is going through its worst recession ever but will probably start to recover in coming quarters thanks to measures recently announced by interim President Michel Temer, the Finance Ministry said ina statement on Wednesday. 

Official data earlier on Wednesday showed Brazil's gross domestic product fell for a fifth straight quarter in early 2016, but the drop was smaller than forecast due to heavier government spending in the months before a vote to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.  

Scotland bans fracking

BBC Scotland business editor tweets

What a way to earn a living ...

Meanwhile - outside Business Live's office window ...

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Country-by-country regulation 'fragmenting the internet'

New York Times technology writer tweets

Road to Rio ...

BBC business presenter tweets

Call to reject Sorrell's £70m pay award

Martin Sorrell
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Shareholders should oppose the pay report at WPP's annual meeting on 8 June because of the "excessive" pay awarded to chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, advisory group PIRC said.

His total 2015 package of just over £70m included variable pay that was 58 times his base salary of £1.2m, which far exceeded an acceptable ratio of 200%, according to PIRC. 

The ratio between Sir Martin's pay and that of the average WPP employee was "highly excessive" at 196 to 1, and well above the maximum acceptable ratio to PIRC of 20 to 1.

The group also said investors should oppose the re-election of chairman Roberto Quarta, because he also chaired Smith & Nephew and should focus on one FTSE 100 company only, and reject the reelection of Deloitte as auditors for WPP. 

Chilly start to June on FTSE

London Stock Exchange sign
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Not a great start to June on the FTSE 100 - with slides across the board. It's mainly on the back of global growth concerns - we had a report out on China's manufacturing activity indicated lingering weaknesses in the world's second-largest economy. 

That's put pressure on mining and energy stocks in particular. 

And energy and mining stocks also took a hit as oil prices fell ahead of a meeting on Thursday of OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell to below 50 dollars a barrel in London.  

At the close the  FTSE was at 6,191.93 - that's a fall of 0.62%.

The US markets have followed Asia and Europe lower as well - and there was a bit of cold water thrown on the optimism surrounding the US economy after one forecast downgraded growth prospects.   

It's a right royal dog's life

Corgi lying on tartan dog bed

If you've ever thought your dog would appreciate eating out of a bone china and 24 carat gold embellished bowl and reclining on a Hunting Stewart tartan bed - then it's your lucky day. 

The Royal Collection Trust has launched a range of pet accessories. 

It includes dog coats - also in Hunting Stewart tartan which is the livery worn at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh - collars engraved with the words Buckingham Palace, leads, collars and a blanket. 

In case your dog has a birthday looming you might like to know the bed will set you back between £65-£75, the china bowl is £25 and a tartan fleece blanket is £60. 

All profits from sales go to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity, which looks after the Royal Collection.

Lofty Swiss welcome for world's longest and deepest tunnel

BBC correspondent at Gotthard tunnel tweets

The perils of taking a nap at work

Big fall in US construction spending

Man watching builders at work in Washington DC
Getty Images

US construction spending recorded its biggest decline in more than five years in April.

It fell by 1.8% following a 1.5% rise in March, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. 

April's drop was the largest since January 2011. 

However, construction spending was up 4.5% on a year ago. 

The weak construction report contrasted with the fairly strong April data on consumer spending, industrial production, goods exports and housing, all of which added to the sense that the economy was regaining speed.

HBO takes action against Pornhub

Game of Thrones characters

The makers of Game of Thrones are taking action against Pornhub over breach of copyright.

HBO says it's because some scenes from the show have appeared on the site.

Other videos include parodies of porn stars pretending to be characters from the show.

In a statement, HBO said: "HBO is aware of the issue and is in the process of getting material taken down from Pornhub."

Read more here.

Wall Street down on lower oil and weak China data

Wall Street sign with US flags
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Shares on Wall Street have kicked off the new month by opening lower. 

Falling oil prices and weak factory data from China seem to be causing investors some concern. They're also still trying to trying to guess when the next US interest rate rise will be.  

A short while ago the Dow Jones was at 17,685.61 - a fall of 0.57%.

The Nasdaq was down 0.42% at 4,927.17.

And the S&P 500 stood at 2,087.21 - that's down 0.46%. 

1,000 jobs to go in exchange merger

London Stock Exchange sign
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The proposed £21 billion merger between the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse could result in more than 1,000 jobs being cut.  

The LSE has put out a prospectus which shows that the combined group  aims to make £194m  in annual cost savings after five years, in addition to the £349m it had already highlighted.

It also expects to cut 1,250 jobs. 

However, the two exchanges also  believe that 550 new roles can be created as a result of the merger. 

Shareholders in LSE will vote on the all share deal on July 4.

World's longest and deepest rail tunnel opens

Gotthard Tunnel with mountains in background

European leaders have made an historic train journey to celebrate the opening of the world's longest railway tunnel beneath the Swiss Alps. 

The Gotthard tunnel is 57km long and took 17 years to build, at a cost of £8.3bn. 

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, French President, Francois Hollande, and Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, were among other leaders and VIPs on the trip.

The tunnel will shorten travel distances between Zurich or Berlin and Milan.

Swiss bank Credit Suisse says its economic benefits will include the easier movement of goods and increased tourism.  

Europe's goods - whether it's Italian wine for the Netherlands or German cars for Greece - have to cross the Alps. Now they will able to do it more quickly, more safely, and more cheaply, 

The tunnel is being financed by value-added and fuel taxes, road charges on heavy vehicles and state loans that are due to be repaid within a decade.

Full services begin in December. Read more here

Video: Festive finance tips - in June

New cars fitted with defective Takata airbags

Takata billboard

Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volkswagen have confirmed that they have equipped and sold new cars with defective Takata airbags, that's according to a report by the US Senate Commerce Committee Democrats.

The report says the cars are legal to sell, but must be recalled by 2018 to correct the problem.

Japan's Takata has been ordered to recall tens of millions of cars, as faulty airbags have been linked to 100 injuries and 11 deaths.

Who starts US companies?

Stanford University
Stanford University

Bloomberg has a rather good breakdown, in graphics, of what sort of companies and people receive venture capital.

It examined 890 US start-up firms that received at least $20m in funding, between 2009 and 2015.

Just 7% of the founders of those companies were women.

Stanford University (pictured) in California accounted for 90 founders, but 94 founders dropped out of college, or didn't attend at all.

You can find more here.

'Brazil could be in recession for another year'

Daniel Gallas

BBC South America business correspondent

In one of the fastest reversals of fortune among emerging economies, Brazil’s economy keeps on contracting sharply. The question now is: has the economy reached the bottom, or will it fall even further? The deep cuts that Brazil’s interim government plans to implement suggest things will get worse before they start improving. Analysts believe Brazil’s best chance of exiting recession are still a year away.

BreakingBrazilian economy still in recession

Brazil flag

The Brazilian economy contracted at an annual rate of 5.4% in the first quarter. That was not as bad as expected, but is still the fifth consecutive quarter of economic contraction.

OECD report 'flawed' says Vote Leave

John Longworth, former Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce
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An OECD report that forecasted a shock to the financial markets and the economies of the UK and the European Union following Brexit has been criticised by Vote Leave.

John Longworth, former Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce and chair of the Vote Leave business council, said:

The most important finding in today’s report is the acknowledgment that the UK economy will continue to grow after we vote to leave the EU. But this is a flawed report, that makes assumptions which have been roundly dismissed by senior economists. Instead of listening to partisan advisory bodies, let’s look at what businesses are actually telling us: that the costly red tape and regulations emanating from Brussels are constraining their ability to innovate and create jobs."

John LongworthChair of the Vote Leave business council

FTSE lower after weak China data

FTSE 100
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The FTSE 100 remains in negative territory following investor concern that weak economic data from China could lead to slower global growth.

The index was 60.11 points lower at 6,170.68, after two manufacturing surveys suggested lacklustre activity in China, while the falling oil price also kept commodity stocks under pressure.Brent crude was down 1.4% at $49.20 per barrel.

Plumb Center owner Wolseley was the biggest faller after it reported a sharp slowdown in sales growth amid "subdued" trading.

The company said like-for-like revenue growth dropped to 1% in recent weeks, down from 2.8% in its third quarter.

MPs request more BHS evidence

The Commons Work and Pensions committee has "requested a series of further evidence from key players in the BHS sale and acquisition, and the BHS pension fund," it says.

Prior to questioning Sir Philip Green on 15 June and Dominic Chappell on 8 June, it wants more information on plans to restructure the pension scheme by the regulator called "Project Thor".

It wants details from property tycoons Alexander and Guy Dellal about loans made by a company of theirs to Dominic Chappell.

It also wants to speak to law firm Olswang and accountants Grant Thornton about the fees and charges involved in their advice on the BHS sale.

Germany defends robot maker

Kuka robot

Chinese home appliance maker, Midea Group, wants to buy German robot maker, Kuka.

But the German government is trying to coordinate an alternative offer, according to the Germany's Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

"There are efforts to formulate an alternative offer. Whether that materialises, we will see," he told reporters in Berlin, Reuters reports. 

Osborne: 'Grim consequences of leaving the EU'

George Osborne
Getty Images

Chancellor George Osborne said the OECD report suggests the "grim economic consequences of leaving the EU."

The highly respected, independent OECD has significantly downgraded Britain's growth today because of uncertainty about the outcome of the referendum, and they are clear that is just a taste of worse to come if Britain leaves the EU."

OECD: Brexit 'would hit UK economic growth'

A UK vote to leave the EU would shock the UK economy, leading to a 1.25% to 1.5% decline in GDP by 2018, the OECD said.

Business investment "weakens significantly" it said, with a more than 10% decline in 2017-2018, and the unemployment rate would rise by 0.75% by 2018.

GDP in other European countries would drop by 1%, while weaker demand from Europe would have a knock-on effect on other economies, including BRIICS.

If a A UK exit undermined confidence in the future of the EU, "equity prices would drop further and risk premia for euro area sovereign and corporate bonds would increase by more, slowing GDP growth more substantially", OECD added.

UK factory activity: 'A moving car with its brakes on'

UK factory worker

Activity at British factories edged higher in May according to the latest purchasing managers' index from Markit/CIPS.

At 50.1 in May the index is up from 49.4 in April. A number above 50 indicates expansion. 

David Noble, group chief executive officer at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply writes:   

Like a moving car with its brakes on, the sector moved at a sluggish, haltering pace barely registering progress over the last month. Any small pockets of new work were firmly in the... hands of the domestic market as exports remained lacklustre, affected by the slowdown in global economic growth."

'Wackiest phone launch ever'

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones tweets:

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