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Summary

  1. FTSE closes up for the fifth straight day
  2. Shares in Peppa Pig owner soar as it rejects ITV takeover offer
  3. Bank of England's bond-buying programme hits a snag
  4. UK economy worse off outside EU single market, says IFS
  5. Eurostar rail workers to strike for seven days

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night!

That's all from Business Live for Wednesday - thanks for reading. We're back at 06:00 on Thursday - do join us then.

Rihanna for Ocean's Eight

Rihanna
Getty Images

Bit of fun to end the night with: Rihanna, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter are in talks to join Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett in a female-driven spinoff of the Ocean's Eleven crime caper franchise, according to reports by Hollywood trade publications.

Production of the Warner Bros movie, to be called Ocean's Eight, is expected to start in October, directed by Gary Ross, Deadline and Variety reported. 

Warner Bros declined to comment.   

News of the movie comes a month after the all-female remake of Ghostbusters starring Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.

BreakingWall Street falls

Not a great result for US markets today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending 0.2% lower at 18,497 points, while the S&P 500 fell 0.3% to 2,175, while the Nasdaq shed 0.4% to 5,204 points.  

Energy and banking shares were among the bigger losers, with ExxonMobil and Chevron down 2.6% and 1.1% respectively as oil prices fell.

Bank of America lost 2.5% and Wells Fargo 1.6% as the market speculated the Federal Reserve would not raise interest rates this year. 

Analysts said the market was also hit by profit taking after US stocks reached new records over the past three sessions. 

China's football focus

The prices being paid for Chinese football teams has been climbing amid China's plans to become a 'soccer powerhouse' and eventually host and win the World Cup.

Forbes magazine has a ranking of the top 10 most valuable clubs.

View more on twitter

(Don't) hold my hand, says Sainsbury's

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Thomas Rees and Joshua Bradwell
Twitter

This story is currently the most popular on the BBC News website - and does not reflect well on Sainsbury's. 

Thomas Rees and Joshua Bradwell were in a Sainsbury's store in Hackney, east London, on Monday night when a security guard told them another customer had complained about their "inappropriate" behaviour. What were they doing? Holding hands. 

To make matters worse, Sainsbury's offered them a £10 voucher - and an apology. 

Thomas has talked about the incident with Channel 4 News tonight:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Thailand approves plans to track tourists' phones

Group of young Thai people playing Pokemon Go in Bangkok
EPA

Thailand is considering requiring tourists to use special Sim cards that would allow authorities to track their mobile phones even when they're turned off..

The plans have been approved in principle by Thailand's telecommunications regulator, which denies it is an invasion of privacy.

The body says the card is intended to catch those who overstay their visa, but it could also be used to find people who are on the run from police. 

More than 19 million foreigners have visited Thailand this year, says Thailand's Tourism and Sports Ministry. Read more here

Every Lidl helps

Marketing Week magazine tweets

Whisky galore?

BBC Scotland business editor tweets ...

KFC under pressure over antibiotics

Exterior of KFC
Getty Images

The company that owns Kentucky Fried Chicken is facing new calls to stop using poultry that has been treated with antibiotics.

US consumer groups will deliver a petition signed by more than 350,000 people to Yum Brands on Wednesday.

KFC has already promised to limit the use of human antibiotics in its chicken by next year.

However, critics claim the policy effectively allows for routine use of antibiotics by its chicken suppliers. Read more here 

Rail passengers demand recompense

Southern Railway train
Getty Images

Earlier we reported that the strike on the Southern rail network had been suspended to allow fresh talks in the row over the role of conductors.

Well, train passengers are protesting at Victoria Station in central London this evening about the disruption to Southern Railway services.

Passengers want to see compensation for all of the months of misery that we've endured. And we want to see a fares freeze. Next week the government will be announcing just how much fares will go up from January. And Southern Rail passengers will be absolutely outraged to be told that despite having 15% reduced service, if their fares go up as well. And finally we're calling on the government to really engage with passengers. We're tired of this being seen as an industrial dispute between the company and between the unions. And we really think that passengers voices need to be heard in this much, much more.

Lianna EtkendCampaign for Better Transport pressure group

Ferrari recalls cars in China

BBC World Service

The Chinese state news agency says Ferrari is to recall more than 600 of its vehicles from China, due to defective airbags, BBC World Service reports. 

The Chinese quality control agency said the gas generators inside the airbags could become damaged and cause flying debris, posing a safety risk to passengers.

It said the problem affected airbags on two models of Ferrari - the Italia series and California-series - built between 2009 and 2011. 

Earlier this month, Ferrari said its second-quarter profit beat expectations as supercar sales in China rose.

South Africa retakes top slot

BBC Africa business correspondent tweets

Peugeot and Citroen UK price hike

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Peugeot 308
Getty Images

Peugeot and Citroen owner PSA Group said it has raised prices in the UK to counter the weaker pound and protect profit margins following the Brexit vote.

The French carmaker declined to give a detailed breakdown of the pricing changes, which include a 2.8% increase for the list price of a Peugeot 308 hatchback, according to Automotive News.

PSA and rival Renault are among manufacturers that have warned of repercussions for sales and prices in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst with brokerage Evercore ISI, said PSA appeared to be "testing the water", with bigger UK price rises likely to follow across the industry: "The seemingly small move by PSA is clearly insufficient to offset the currency move."

Cheaper groceries take bite out of Wendy's profits

Staff member in kitchen in Wendy's
Getty Images

Burger chain Wendy's has reported lower-than-expected sales as more consumers decided to eat at home.

Sales at stores open for at least 15 months rose by 0.4%. Analysts had expected 1.9% growth.

Lower food prices helped Wendy's cut costs, but cheaper groceries were also encouraging more people to cook.

Profits for the second quarter fell $13.7m to $26.5m (£20.3m) compared with the same period last year. Read more here

Peppa Pig went to market ...

The perils of a BBC business presenter

How to solve the Bank of England's problem

Mark Carney
EPA

Resolution's head of research and former Newsnight economics editor Duncan Weldon has put himself in governor Mark Carney's shoes and reckons he's got the solutions to the Bank of England's current bond woes. 

Basically not enough people are willing to sell it the long dated bonds it needs to meet its economic stimulus target.

His suggestions are: 

1. The Bank should be buying more shorter term debt because it is more likely to find more willing sellers. And because that’s where it’ll have the most economic impact.

2.  The Treasury should be borrowing more and spending more to support the economy. Issue more gilts and give the Bank something to buy.

3. It should set up a well capitalised British Investment Bank with a mandate to fund infrastructure and loans to small and medium-sized businesses.

Read more here.

FTSE 100 closes at near 14 month high

London Stock Exchange sign
Associated press

The FTSE 100 rose for the fifth straight day on Wednesday as stronger financial stocks offset weaker energy shares which fell in response to a fall in oil prices. 

Insurer Prudential was up by 2.2% and that helped lift rivals including Legal & General and Admiral, with Admiral touching a record high. 

Although Prudential reported lower first half profits, it said it was well placed to deliver both growth and cash. 

Shares in BP and Royal Dutch Shell slipped on the back of weaker oil prices, which have been pushed down by a global oversupply. 

The FTSE 100 closed at 6,866.42 - that's a rise of 15.12 points or 0.22%, talking it close to its highest level in 14 months.  

The FTSE 250 ended up 12.28 points or 0.07% at 17,699.68.  

The biggest riser on the 250 was G4S which jumped by 16.16% - its biggest daily gain since Sep[tember 2001, following strong first half result. The world's largest security firm also maintained its dividend.

Also on the FTSE 250, Entertainment One, the owner of children's TV brand Peppa Pig, which has rejected a takeover bid from ITV shot up by 10.34%

Hi-vis politics ...

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer tweets

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was frequently sent up for his fondness for being photographed on building sites wearing hi-vis gear. 

But it seems he has a sense of humour about it, too.  

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Leaving EU 'only way to regain control over economic policy'

EU flags and Union Jacks
GEtty

As we reported earlier, the UK could lose 4% of its economic output if it no longer has access to the EU single market, according to forecasters at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

They said the benefits of the current access - which allows UK companies to sell throughout the bloc without tariffs - outweigh the savings the UK will make from no longer contributing to the EU budget.

"While leaving the EU will free the UK from having to make a budgetary contribution, loss of trade could depress tax receipts by a larger amount," the IFS report said.  

The IFS, which receives some funding from the EU, warned before the referendum that a Brexit vote could result in an extra two years of austerity.

But not everyone agrees ...

The IFS analysis is a re-hash of the arguments made by the Remain side during its failed campaign. It ignores the costs of rising levels of regulation we would surely face if we remained within the single market, particularly on financial services with proposals such as the financial transactions tax. We would not have the necessary power to vote against these sorts of measures if we stay in. Leaving EU structures entirely is the only way that we can regain full control over economic policy. The IFS also - quite bizarrely - entirely ignores the vast opportunities leaving provides to abolish the EU’s common external tariff, which loads costs onto UK consumers and supply chains, to deregulate the economy and to use the saved gross contributions to the EU budget on the UK's own priorities.

Ryan BourneHead of Public Policy, Institute of Economic Affairs and Economists for Brexit member

Just like that ...

BBC Scotland business editor tweets

Bank of England hits target in latest bond buying operation

Bank of England
Getty images

The Bank of England has had more luck with its third and final operation to buy government bonds this week. 

It received £5.5bn of offers of 7-15 year gilts on Wednesday - far more than it needed.

It bought £1.17 billion of government bonds.

Investors rushed to sell 7-15 year government bonds to the Bank of England in its first purchase operation for these maturities since its £60bn quantitative easing programme was announced last week - all part of the Bank's efforts to stimulate the economy following the vote to leave the EU.  

As we've been reporting, on Tuesday the Bank fell £52m short of its target for purchases of gilts with maturities of over 15 years, missing a purchase target for the first time on record. 

India's most desirable man?

Seeing as Raghuram Rajan is leaving his role as India's central bank governor shortly, we thought we'd ask him some questions beyond his usual economics scope. For instance, how does he feel about being named on a list of India's most desirable men?

Raghuram Rajan: "I'm a boring guy"

US shares flat at open

Wall Street sign and US flags
Getty Images

Wall Street opened little changed on Wednesday as investors drew breath following a day when the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs and the Dow closed 0.4% shy of its all-time high. 

A rally since late June has left the S&P up nearly 7% in 2016, as expectations of continued low interest rates encourage investors to snap up shares. 

"Everybody is at the beach and they aren't even calling in trades anymore," said Kim Forrest, a senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh. 

"In times of low volumes, moves up or moves down are greatly exaggerated, because there is not enough participants to absorb those extra shares." 

Trading volumes have been near year-lows since Monday as the second-quarter earnings season winds down.

A short while ago the Dow Jones was at 18,549.42 - a rise of 0.09%. 

The Nasdaq was down 0.17% at 5,216.62.

And the S&P 500 was flat (down 0.02%) at 2,181.23. 

Property fund suspension a 'big blow' to investors

Aviva logo
Ge

Aviva - one of the firms which suspended trading in its property fund following the Brexit vote, now says it expects the suspension to last for at least six to eight months, according to a note issued to investors today. 

Several firms suspended trading in property funds following the referendum, blaming high levels of uncertainty which saw investors rushing to withdraw funds.  

Aviva said that the long time frame reflected the time it takes to sell commercial properties.

Investment management firm Hargreaves Lansdown says Aviva is the first property fund manager it's aware of which has put a time frame on how long the trading suspension may last.

This is a big blow to investors in the Aviva fund, who are basically now being told they won’t be able to get their money out any time in 2016. The wider question is whether this time frame applies across the rest of the sector, and property fund investors would no doubt welcome similar guidance from other suspended funds as to when they might open again, so at least expectations can be set accordingly. Once again this highlights the problems of investing in an illiquid asset class via an open-ended fund which offers liquidity on a daily basis, until it’s forced to shut up shop at least. Being unable to trade in your fund for the best part of a year is more than a minor inconvenience, and over such a long time period we can expect a natural flow of people who want to access their money for perfectly normal reasons, entirely unrelated to the Brexit vote. These investors will now face the frustration of simply having to sit tight and wait for the doors to open.

Laith KhalafSenior analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown

Bank of England throwing the kitchen sink at it?

Under a kitchen sink
Thinkstock

More on the story that's been dominating business news - the Bank of England's failure to buy all the bonds it wanted to yesterday. 

BBC business correspondent Jonty Bloom explains the nuts and bolts of what it all means. 

"The British economy is facing a huge potential problem - a liquidity trap," he writes.

"It may sound like something under your kitchen sink but it's standing in the way of an economic recovery.

"The Bank of England is so worried about the shock of Brexit to economic growth that it is cutting interest rates and trying to pump money into the economy, by buying billions of pounds worth of gilts. Gilts are how the government borrows money and are seen as a very safe investment.

"By buying them, the Bank of England hopes that it will encourage the sellers to spend the money they have raised in ways that boost growth; building new factories or spending in shops for example.

"But as the Bank of England cuts interest rates, pension funds and other investors search for something that pays a reasonable level of interest - and those are gilts. The lower interest rates go, the more they want to hold on to these safe and rewarding gilts.

"This is the liquidity trap, the more the Bank of England tries to pump money or liquidity into the economy, the more investors want to put it somewhere safe, boring and unproductive."

Singapore job prospects to dim further

Business reporter Leisha Chi writes...

People walk along the promenade at Raffles Place business district in Singapore
AFP/Getty

Want to work in Singapore? Well, it looks like it is going to be much tougher in the year ahead.

Employment growth is expected to dip to a new low while redundancies will hit a new high, according to a report by the city-state's biggest bank DBS.

Job losses last year totaled 15,580, the highest since the global financial crisis in 2009. Most of these were professionals aged 40 years old and above. About 44% were degree holders.

This is due to the weak global economy hitting the banking, oil and gas, as well as manufacturing sectors. DBS says "such phenomena are still ongoing" and to expect more retrenchments ahead.

Reprieve for Southern Rail passengers

Sterling pounded

Rajan: 'I have a thick skin'

The outgoing governor of the Reserve Bank of India has been talking to the BBC's Sameer Hasmi in Mumbai. Raghuram Rajan has faced criticism from some politicians who felt he was too outspoken about government policy. See how he felt about the criticism aimed at him, and whether he thought the government had done enough.

Raghuram Rajan responds to criticism

Ralph Lauren 'needs to deliver'

Despite investors being clearly rather pleased, or at least relieved, with Ralph Lauren's results Conlumino analyst Hakon Helgesen says they're disappointing.

"Ralph Lauren has been keen to emphasise its Way Forward Plan, which it says is changing the operational structure of the business so that it can deliver growth. 

"As much as many of the actions are prudent, it does seem that the company has been turning itself around in perpetuity. At some point, these actions need to deliver growth – something they are currently failing to do at either the sales level, or on the bottom line where the company posted a $31 million operating loss for the quarter."

Ralph Lauren sees sales and profit fall

Ralph Lauren
Getty Images

Struggling US fashion brand Ralph Lauren has reported a 4% fall in sales to $1.6bn for the first quarter of the 2017 financial  year. 

This pushed the company into a net loss of $22m, compared to a profit of $64m in the same period a year ago.

The firm, perhaps best known for its polo shirts bedecked with a polo player logo,said in June it would cut 8% of its workforce, as part of a cost-cutting drive.

The US fashion brand also planned to close more than 50 stores and simplify its management structure.

The shares, which have fallen 15% so far this year, are currently up over 7% in pre-market trading as the results were not as bad as investors had expected.

London's new owner?

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The death of billionaire landowner and philanthropist the Duke of Westminster means his  25-year-old son Hugh has now inherited an estate worth £9bn.

Opec's forecast in full

For all the oil enthusiasts out there who want the full detail on how Opec sees the future for the oil market here's a pretty chart. Courtsey of FT commodities editor Neil Hume.

View more on twitter

Saudi Arabia pumps out oil record

Oil pumpjack
Getty Images

Saudi Arabia boosted its oil output to a record high in July, Opec revealed, in a blow to those hoping to cap production to jack up oil prices. 

The world's second biggest oil producer pumped 10.67 million barrels per day (bpd) last month, according to figures it provided to Opec. 

The July figure is up from 10.55 million bpd in June and above the previous record of 10.56 million bpd achieved in June 2015.  

Taking to the sky in style

private jet
Getty Images

Sick of having to mix with the general public on your summer hols? Private jet company Magnus Aviation reckons it has a solution. 

It has lots of spare seats for August going - 2,400 to be precise. 

These so-called "empty legs" - basically empty flights which are jetting off to pick up passengers - can be booked much cheaper than normal.

The places with the highest number of spare seats are Nice, Palma, Paris and Malaga. 

But they're not exactly budget airline prices. 

Jetting from London to Deauville in France will cost £1,500; a six-seater from London to Palma around £3,000 and a nine-seater Citation Bravo flying from the Midlands to Malaga £5,000.

FTSE remains down

The FTSE 100 is little changed from where it started the day. It's currently at 6,840 points - about 10 points down from yesterday's 14-month high.

That's despite Rolls-Royce shares rising more than 3% after an analyst upgrade, as well as share gains for insurers Legal & General and Prudential.

The FTSE 250 is flat at 17,684, even though security firm G4S and ITV takeover target Entertainment One are both performing strongly.

Bank 'will want to avoid a repeat'

The Bank of England's inability to buy all the bonds they wanted to yesterday does pose a challenge two days into its six-month programme, says Mike Amey, a portfolio manager at Pimco, the world's largest bond investor. 

"As a key part of the current policy easing, they will certainly hope that yesterday's events are not repeated," he tells the BBC. 

The Bank said it will deal with the shortfall in three to six month's time, which suggests they are concerned about struggling to buy enough bonds in future too, Mr Amey says.

"To a degree the challenges faced by the Bank of England are symptomatic of the limits of monetary policy. In due course we would expect some fiscal support later in the year, which would seem sensible given the sluggish outlook for growth."

Power cuts in Lebanon

BBC World Service

The addition of 1.5 million Syrian refugees to Lebanon's 4 million population has exacerbated the country's chronic electricity and water shortages.

Venetia Rainey reports for BBC World Service's Business Daily.

Who is responsible for Lebanon's chronic electricity and water shortages?

Royal Mail 'set to close pension scheme'

Royal Mail vans
PA

Royal Mail’s “gold-standard” pension scheme is at risk of closure, the Financial Times reports

The now-privatised postal operator has written to employees warning the cost of keeping the plan open is likely to more than double to £900m a year.

Royal Mail is braced for crunch talks with trade unions after it told staff the plan was “unaffordable” beyond 2018.  

Bank's bond woes due to summer hols?

Sun loungers
AFP/Getty Images

The Bank of England's failure on Tuesday to buy up all the bonds it wanted for its new economic stimulus programme has stirred the markets, sending government bond yields to fresh lows.

But the boss of a London wealth management company (which looks after £500m in assets) thinks there might be a prosaic reason for the shortfall. 

It could just be that many traders, fund managers and other decision makers are on holiday, said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive of Sun Global Investments.

“Although the news has come as a surprise to investors, it is much too early and too simplistic to say the BoE’s plan to mitigate the impact of Brexit was unsuccessful," he said.