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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. FTSE 100 closes at its lowest level for more than a week
  3. Crude oil prices have continued to fall on record US stocks
  4. Chancellor defends National Insurance move
  5. Shadow Chancellor: 'Angry about budget'
  6. UK heading for 15 years of lost pay growth - report
  7. Co-op Bank reports £477m annual loss

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

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  1. NICs hike 'unfair' on self-employed

    More reaction to those changes to National Insurance contributions for self-employed people which were announced in the Budget...

    The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed says it will be lobbying Government to reverse the plans. 

    Quote Message: We feel that the self-employed are the engine of the UK economy, that they enable the businesses that they work for to be more innovative and to ultimately create more jobs and to single them out in the way that they've done here for a tax hike feels unfair and doesn't give them the credit they deserve. from Andy Chamberlain Association of Independent Professionals and Self-employed
    Andy Chamberlain Association of Independent Professionals and Self-employed
  2. Somalia to get new banknotes

    BBC World Service

    The Somali government has announced it will print new banknotes for the first time in more than a quarter of a century. 

    After Somalia descended into violence and anarchy in 1991, warlords printed their own money and most of the country's banknotes were known to be fake. 

    Somalis used US dollars instead and high inflation resulted. The new banknotes, will be introduced by the end of the year, with the help of the International Monetary Fund, at a cost of about $60m (£50m)   

     The BBC spoke to Nairobi-based financial analyst Ally Khan Satchu about the plans.  

    Video content

    Video caption: Old banknotes to be taken out of circulation in Somalia to combat counterfeiting,
  3. Up in the air?

    BBC World Service

    
          Scott Pruitt being sworn in to lead the Environmental Protection Agency

    The new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has said he does not agree that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming, reports BBC World Service.

    Speaking to the American news channel CNBC, Mr Pruitt said more analysis was needed. 

    He also described the Paris Climate accord - which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - as a bad deal. He added it was a concern that the deal had not been subject to confirmation by the Senate.

    Mr Pruitt's remarks contradict data published in January by NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. His appointment by President Trump caused controversy because of his close association with the fossil fuel industry and battles with the EPA when he was Oklahoma's attorney general.

  4. Why are there so few women pilots?

    International Women's Day may have been yesterday but it's not too late for this revealing commentary on the gender make up of crews on flight decks...

    View more on twitter
  5. 'No more self-employed tax rises needed'

    Kamal Ahmed

    Economics editor

    Uber

    The man reviewing the new world of work for Number 10 has told the BBC that controversial tax increases for the self-employed go far enough.

    Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair, said it was "fair" that self-employed people paid more tax.

    But there still needed to be a "small differential" as there were differences in rights over issues such as pensions and parental leave.

    That would rule out further National Insurance rises for the self-employed.

    Mr Taylor also said it was likely there would be reform of employment laws to change the way companies such as Deliveroo and Uber, which use self-employed workers, operate. Read more from Kamal here

  6. Video content

    Video caption: Tim Farron condemns 'attack on business'

    The Liberal Democrat leader accuses the government of an "attack on business" in the Budget.

  7. Wall Street quiet ahead of jobs figures

    Wall Street sign in front of several US flags

    It's been a quiet start to Thursday's trading on Wall Street. 

    The  Dow Jones  is at 20,876.22, a rise of 20 points or 0.10%.

    The  S&P 500  is at 2,366.97. a rose pf 4 points or 0.17%.

    And the  Nasdaq  is at 5,846.28, that's up  9 points or 0.15%.

    Analysts say investors are keeping their powder dry ahead of Friday's jobs figures, which could set the seal on a rise in US interest rates next week.  

    Another factor is the falling price of oil, with Brent Crude dropping 0.8% to $52.71 a barrel.

    West Texas Intermediate also dipped by 0.8% to $49.87 per barrel.

    Shares in Exxon Mobil is down 0.68% and Chevron was down by 0.39%, having closed down by nearly 2% on Wednesday.

  8. Director of Institute for Fiscal Studies says earnings growth looks 'dreadful'

    The World at One

    BBC Radio 4

    Paul Johnson, the Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has told Radio 4's World at One that the potential for growth in earnings had been "dreadful" over the last decade.

    Mr Johnson said that to have no growth in earnings over such a long period was "pretty much historically unprecedented".  

    Video content

    Video caption: Director of Institute for Fiscal Studies says earnings growth looks 'dreadful'
  9. Just 1 in 50 Pret applicants British

    Exterior of Pret a Manger branch

    Sandwich and coffee chain Pret A Manger has suggested it will struggle to staff its outlets after Brexit because just one in 50 job applicants is British.

    Its director of human resources, Andrea Wareham, said UK job seekers did not see it as a desirable place to work.

    She said about 65% of its staff came from the European Union.

    It would be possible to shift the balance of nationality to British workers, she added, but that would take place "over a long period of time".

    Ms Wareham said she was "absolutely concerned" about the government's focus on skilled workers when looking at consequences of Brexit. She said it needed to focus on low-skilled as well. Read more here

  10. NI tax rise for self-employed is 'progressive'

    The World at One

    BBC Radio 4

    Last year the government asked Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts and former policy chief for Tony Blair to carry out a review of modern employment practices. 

    Matthew Taylor told The World at One's Martha Kearney that the tax rise announced in the budget yesterday, to increase National Insurance contributions for some self-employed, was progressive and "economically rational". 

    Mr Taylor said that had this change not been made, there would have been a further increase in the "differential" between the self-employed and the employed.  

    Video content

    Video caption: Matthew Taylor says the NI tax rise for self-employed is 'progressive'
  11. 'No need to have a row about this now'

    BBC Radio 4

    The Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin chairs the Commons Public Administration Committee. He is asked about the row over raised National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.

    "There's no need to have public row about this now," he says.

    "There's going to be months before we even see legislation during which... circumstances continually change and circumstances may change.

    "This is only going to affect a small number of people," he points out.

  12. Conservative NI manifesto pledge 'was silly'

    The Conservatives should not have made a manifesto pledge not to increase National Insurance contributions, says Paul Johnson of the institute for Fiscal Studies.

    "As we said at the time these were silly pledges. To commit yourself to not raising the three main taxes – income tax, NI and VAT – ties your hands to an absurd extent. No party should repeat these sorts of promises."

  13. 'Dreadful' growth in real incomes expected

    BBC Radio 4

    "Earnings [wage] growth looks dreadful," says the chief of Institute for Fiscal Studies, Paul Johnson, on the World at One.

    "If you look out to 2020 it looks like earnings will be no higher than they were in 2008. This is all the overhang of the 2008/2009 recession and we've literally never had a decade like that, not just in living memory, but a long way past living memory."

  14. ECB press conference: What to watch

    ECB chief Mario Draghi

    "In the press conference (13:30 GMT), President Draghi is likely to highlight the weakness of core inflation," writes Jennifer McKeown, chief european economist at Capital Economics.

    "He has previously explained that core inflation would need to be on a clear, sustainable upward path throughout the region (not just in Germany) before the Bank would consider starting to normalise policy.

    "This is still not the case and we doubt that it will be for some time," she said.

  15. National Insurance 'needs reform' says IFS

    Employers are heavily incentivised to class people who work for them as self-employed, rather than as employees, says Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    "A tax system which charges thousands of pounds more in tax for employees doing the same job as someone else needs reform. It distorts decisions, creates complexity and is unfair.

    "The incentives for companies to claim that people who work for them are self-employed rather than employees are huge."

  16. IFS: Self-employed still better off

    Philip Hammond

    The self-employed will still be thousands of pounds better off compared to people with an employer even after the changes to National Insurance contributions, Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said.

    "The maximum loss, affecting those with profits over £45,000, will be £589 per year. The tax advantage to being self employed will still run into the thousands of pounds."