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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Sports Direct buys Agent Provocateur
  3. Wary investors send Capita shares down
  4. Cable concerned for UK car market
  5. Eurozone jobless rate at seven year low

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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Good night

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That's it for another frenetic day with Business Live.

Please join us tomorrow from 6.00am onwards for all the breaking news and analysis from the world of business.

Fintech investment dented in 2016

It might not be the sauciest of subjects, but financial technology affects us all.

Investment slid almost 50%, according to KPMG.

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Wall Street retreats after rally

Traders on the New York Stock Exchange
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US stocks retreated on Thursday, led by financial stocks, while Caterpillar shares dropped following news that federal officials searched its Illinois facilities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 113.34 points, or 0.54%, to 21,002.22, the S&P 500 lost 14.08 points, or 0.59%, to 2,381.91 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 42.81 points, or 0.73%, to 5,861.22.

Bolivia complains to France about video game

          2016 Electronic Entertainment Expo annual video game conference
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Bolivia is not happy.

Its government has made a formal complaint to the French embassy over a game produced by France's Ubisoft Entertainment SA which it claims portrays the country as an area controlled by drug traffickers.

Ghost Recon is set to be officially launched next week.

Reuters reports that Minister Carlos Romero said Bolivia had delivered a letter to the French ambassador and asked the French government to intervene, adding that Bolivia reserved the right to take legal action.

"We have the standing to do it but at first we prefer to go the route of diplomatic negotiation," Mr Romero.  

He said that while game does not mention Bolivia directly, the country is easily identifiable by geographic regions and symbols in the game.

UK risks 'Pandora's Box of economic consequences'

The CBI is warning that failure to reach a trade deal with the European Union would be a serious blow to the UK economy.

Once the UK has triggered Article 50, which starts exit talks, it has two years to reach some kind of deal with the European Union.

It those talks fail, the UK would fall back on WTO trading rules.

“We should be under no illusions about what this would really mean. A ‘no deal’ scenario would open a Pandora’s Box of economic consequences," CBI President Paul Drechsler will say in a speech to be made later this evening.

“The UK would face tariffs on 90% of its EU exports by value and a raft of new regulatory hurdles."

Air Force One maker to cut 1,500 jobs

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Boeing is to axe 1,500 roles from its commercial aeroplane unit, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The cuts will be made on a voluntary basis but the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union admitted it was not sure if this number was enough. If not Boeing could introduce compulsory redundancies.

A spokesman for Boeing told the paper: "Employment reductions will come through a combination of attrition, leaving open positions unfilled, voluntary layoff program and in some cases, involuntary layoffs."

Donald Trump chose Boeing for his own personal jet before he became president.

The company is also responsible for the next two Air Force One jets. Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg gave Mr Trump a personal commitment that the cost of the official planes will be below $4bn.

Trump reiterates military spending plan

Donald Trump
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US President Donald Trump has reiterated his promise to increase military spending in an address to sailors and shipbuilders aboard the Gerald R. Ford, a $12.9 billion warship.

Earlier this week, Mr Trump said his administration would increase the Pentagon's projected budget by $54bn.

Meanwhile, Rick Perry was confirmed by the US senate as the new chief of the Department of Energy.

The Senate voted 62 to 37 in support of the former governor of Texas.

Caterpillar raids: agencies revealed

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More on those raids of three Caterpillar facilities in Illinois. 

The US Attorney Office for the Central District of Illinois has confirmed to Reuters that enforcement activity was conducted at three of the construction equipment maker's sites.

A spokeswoman for the US attorney's office said the agencies involved in the search included the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division, the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security's Office of Export Enforcement, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Office of Inspector General.

A spokeswoman for Caterpillar told Reuters: "Law enforcement is present in various Peoria-area Caterpillar facilities executing a search warrant. Caterpillar is cooperating."

Shares in Caterpillar are trading 5% lower at $93.65.

Amazon employee at heart of shutdown

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It appears that problems at Amazon Web Services that hit customers on the East Coast of America earlier this week were caused by an employee.

The company was trying to fix a bug in its cloud-computing service.

However, according to Bloomberg, a member of staff accidentally switched off more computer servers than they should have done.

Amazon said in a statement: "We are making several changes as a result of this operational event."

Snap Inc - is it worth the hype?

BBC World Service

Streaming gets crowded

Animal spirit runs strong with Snap Inc

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Shares in Snapchat-owner Snap Inc are holding their ground at $25.36, that's a rise of 49.18% on the opening price of $17.

The company made its stock market debut at a bouyant time for equities - on Wednesday the Dow Jones industrial average surpassed 21,000. 

Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities, said: "The environment is terrific. Animal spirits are running through the streets here. What better time to price,"

Mental health in the workplace

The Institute of Directors is launching a mental health initiative to examine what companies can do to help and support staff who are experiencing difficulties.

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Caterpillar shares fall on raids

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Shares in construction equipment maker Caterpillar have made major gains on US President Donald Trump's promise to invest in infrastructure.

But on Wednesday its stock fell 5.5% to $93.10 after it emerged that federal agents raided three Caterpillar locations in Illinois.

A spokeswoman for Caterpillar told PA: "Law enforcement is present in various Peoria-area Caterpillar facilities executing a search warrant. Caterpillar is cooperating."

No Adele album means falling sales at Barnes & Noble

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Artists and Adele caused no end of trouble for the US book chain Barnes & Noble during its second quarter.

The company said like-for-like sales fell 8.3% in the three months to 28 January 2017.

It said the decline was largely down to lower traffic, poor sales of coloring books and artist supplies as well as tough comparables with the third quarter of the previous year when British singer Adele released her album "25".

Barnes & Noble now expects like-for-like sales for the year to fall 7% and underlying profit of between $180m and $190m.

Ghost in the machine

In other app-related news, a South Korean company is developing technology that allows people to speak to their dead relatives. 

App creates selfies with avatars of dead relatives

Too fast and furious?

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Timing is everything on the stock markets but  are investors getting a bit ahead of themselves  with Snap Inc?

Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, points out that with its shares trading close to $25 each, the Snapchat-owner is valued at $34bn.

That is more than Hewlett-Packard, nearly three times the value of Twitter and "not far off eBay’s valuation".

Compared to UK businesses, Snap Inc- which has never made a profit - boasts a market capitalisation worth more than BAE Systems, Anglo American, Aviva, Tesco and Standard Chartered.

Mr Wilson says: "Longer term there are serious doubts about the longevity of the platform. This company either has to significantly boost users soon or diversify to sustain this kind of valuation."

He adds: "Close to $1bn in losses in the last two years make its valuation look ultra-steep. But it’s the drop-off in user growth that’s most concerning. Snapchat added 15m users in each of the first three quarters of 2016, but this caved to just 5m in the last quarter – the weakest increase since the third quarter of 2014.”

Capita slumps as London closes

FTSE 100

It was a rather lacklustre end for the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, when the blue chip index rose just 1.4 points at 7,384.34.

Both Capita and Dixons Carphone - who are set to be relegated from the FTSE 100 following the quarterly review - were the biggest fallers.

Capita's shares plunged 8.9% to 514.50p after reporting a sharp drop in full year profits and the departure of its chief executive Andy Parker. The company also said it will take until 2018 until it returns to growth.

Medical device specialist ConvaTec led the FTSE 100 risers, up 4.8% to 255.1p after lifting operating profit and growing its margins.

Take that Facebook

Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy
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Business Insider points out that Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, offered to buy Snapchat for $3bn three years ago. 

Now, following today float, Snap's co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy are worth around $4bn EACH.

Retail investors drive Snap's shares higher


Matt Cheslock, a trader with Virtu Financial tells BBC business reporter Samira Hussain: "I think it's a great opening and beat all expectations. The fact there was such a huge retail demand for this is what was driving the stock higher."

"All the investing public is watching and trading this stock so this is where the money is going today."

He adds: "Snap was fortunate to price a day the market was up 300 points."

BreakingAnd we're off!


Snapchat-owner Snap's shares jump to $24.48 as trading begins.

That's a 44% jump on its opening price of $17 a share. 

Asset stripping

Agent Provocateur
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AlixPartners, the administrator of Agent Provocateur, said today: "We would like to thank all the staff and stakeholders for their support during this process and we wish the business and its new owners all the best for future." 

Four Marketing, in which Sports Direct has a 25% holding, brought the underwear company via a pre-pack administration.

This means a pre-arranged buyer can pick up the best assets of a company at a knockdown price immediately after its collapse.

What now for household incomes?

The good news is that household incomes are set to grow.

The bad news? The rate of increase is nothing to shout about.

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Mike Ashley expands fashion empire

Mike Ashley
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It is understood that Four Marketing, a business-linked to Mike Ashley, fought off competition from private equity house Lion Capital to buy Agent Provocateur and, according to PA, paid around £25m for the upmarket underwear chain. 

While the billionaire is known for his majority stake in Sports Direct and his ownership of Newcastle United Football Club, he also controls the Flannels and Firetrap fashion businesses.

Sports Direct also recently acquired an 11% stake in troubled retailer French Connection.

Agent Provocateur has 10 stores in the UK and employs around 600 people.

It was sold by the publicly-listed private equity firm 3i.

BreakingMike Ashley gets into lingerie

Agent Provocateur sign

It's been confirmed that Agent Provocateur has been bought by Four Marketing, in which Sports Direct owns a 25% stake. 

The sale was a pre-pack administration deal.

Dow Jones set on snooze

Dow Jones
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After yesterday's excitement - when Donald Trump's speech to Congress and hopes of an interest rate raise in March sent the Dow Jones to a record high - the market looks decidedly sleepy today.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, says: "The Dow Jones heard the bell, had a bit of a scratch and then basically went back to bed, the index sitting flat at the admittedly altitude sickness-inducing price of 21,100."

On Snap's imminent float, he says: "The IPO valued the company at $17 per share, or $24 billion total, only for the stock to reach an indicative opening price 30% higher between $21 and $24. It will be interesting to see what path Snap takes in the coming weeks, and whether investors’ appetite for the stock can last longer than the length of one of the app’s images."

The camera never lies

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Is Snapchat-owner Snap Inc overvalued at $24bn?

Jordan Hiscott, chief trader at Ayondo Markets thinks not.

"What sets it apart from other messaging apps like WhatsApp for me is the innovative features built into the app's interface, such as the lenses function.

He said: "A pertinent point in the company's S1 filing for the IPO is that it doesn't call itself a messaging service, but a camera company. 

"This seems to be an intentional move to differentiate it from Facebook and Twitter and the success and failure of their respective IPOs, which in my view, is very clever."

BreakingSnap Inc share opening priced

Shares in Snap Inc are set to open at between $22 and $24 each. 

Snap Inc: the facts and the figures

Snap Inc
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It is extraordinary that a business that began just six years ago and is yet to make a profit is now valued at $24bn.

According to Snap Inc's filing document, annual revenue grew to $404.5m last year compared to a previous $58.7m.

It recorded 158m daily active users on average in the quarter ended 31 December 2016.

The business, which describes itself as a camera company, managed to narrow its pre-tax losses from $521.7m in 2015, but it remains in the red at $380.4m.

Snapchat fever fails to ignite US indexes

So while we're waiting for trading in Snap's shares to begin, the Dow Jones industrial average opened slightly lower, down 10.80 points at 21,104.75.

Nasdaq is down 13.65 points at 5,890.38 while the S&P 500 is 5 points lower at 2,391.

Snappy dresser


This is dedication. BBC business reporter Samira Hussain is sporting some Snap spectacles. These let the wearer take a 10 second "Snap" which they can then send to their Snapchat account. 

They never predicted this on Tomorrow's World.

Let the haggling begin


The back and forth over the price of Snap's shares has started.

BBC business reporter Samira Hussain says she just heard a trader yell "$30!". Snap's shares are being offered at $17.

Hmm...seems redolent of the dotcom boom.

Ringing the bell

Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, co-founders of Snapchat-owner are about to the ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

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The man of the hour

Evan Spiegel

See that chap in the middle with the beige tie? That is Evan Spiegel, the co-founder and chief executive of Snapchat-owner Snap.

He is set to be worth $4.5bn when Snap floats today.

Let that sink in.

Cuddles from Snapchat

The founders of Snapchat are set to be worth billions of dollars following the IPO of Snapchat-owner Snap so it seems only fitting they should hand out a bit of swag.

Behold the cuddly White Snapchat Ghost.

Snapchat Ghost

Make way for the Snapchat fam

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BBC business reporter Samira Hussain is at the New York Stock Exchange today for Snap's initial public offering.

The rumour is that 500 guests are set to descend on the exchange's floor for the owner of Snapchat's flotation.

Wall Street hangs out the banners for Snapchat

Wall street

No wonder the New York Stock Exchange is making a fuss. 

Snap, the owner of messaging app Snapchat, is set to float this afternoon and with its shares priced at $17 each , the company is valued at $24bn.

And it has never made a profit.

Should sellers pay stamp duty?

BBC personal finance reporter Kevin Peachey tweets:

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Pound 'to fall further' in 2017

Pound coin and dollar note
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The pound is likely to fall further after Article 50 is triggered, according to a Reuters poll of economists .

It is currently trading at around $1.23 - down 17% since the Brexit vote - but could slip to $1.21 by the end of 2017, the research suggests. 

But Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Markit, thinks it could slump as low as $1.15:

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Boeing to sue Danish government

Boeing's F/A 18 Super Hornet
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Boeing is suing Denmark over its decision to buy Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jets, rather Boeing's F/A 18 Super Hornets (pictured), for its military.

According to  Danish media , Boeing has complained that - despite promises - it has not been given access to "documents" used during the procurement process. 

This information was used to compare the quality of the planes, it says.

In September, Boeing formally challenged the Danish government's decision, saying it was based on a "flawed evaluation process".