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Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

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  1. Good night

    Thanks for tuning in to Business Live. We'll be back at 6am sharp tomorrow. 

  2. Student loan defaults jump in US

    The US economy may be gathering steam, but not everyone is reaping the benefits it seems.

    According to new analysis from the Consumer Federation of America, the number of Americans in default on their student loans jumped nearly 17% last year. 

    It found that at the end of 2016, 4.2 million borrowers were in default, meaning they had not made a payment in more than 270 days. 

    That's up from 3.6 million at the end of 2015. 

    "Despite all improvements in the economy, student loan borrowers are still struggling,'' said Rohit Chopra, senior fellow at the Consumer Federation of America.

  3. E-book sales falling as print rises

    Amazon e-reader

    E-book sales are falling in the UK while sales of paper books are rising, according to industry research group Nielsen.

    It said more than 360 million books were sold in 2016 - a 2% increase - with sales through physical shops up 7%. However, e-book sales fell for second consecutive year, by 4%.

    It is only the second time that annual e-book sales have slipped since monitoring began a decade ago.

    Nielsen attributed the rise in print sales to children’s fiction and to younger generations preferring physical books to e-readers. 

  4. Tillerson 'used email alias to discuss climate change'

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an email alias to discuss climate change with other executives when he was head of Exxon Mobil, officials have claimed.

    New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman is investigating whether the firm deceived investors and the public by hiding what it knew about the link between fossil fuels and climate change. 

    He said Exxon had failed to disclose that Tillerson used an account, under the alias "Wayne Tracker", to send and receive emails between 2008 and 2015.

    Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said the account was created for secure communication between Tillerson and senior executives about a range of topics. 

  5. Saudi Arabia 'committed to stabilising oil prices'

    Saudi oil field

    Saudi Arabia has said it is committed to stabilising global oil prices after crude prices slumped to as low as $48 a barrel after fresh oversupply fears. 

    It follows an Opec report which showed global crude inventories rose in February, despite efforts to curb supply, with Saudi Arabia itself reporting an increase.

    The country's energy ministry said it was "committed and determined to stabilise the global oil market by working closely with all other participating Opec and non-Opec producers".

    It also pointed out that, despite over-producing in February, it had curbed what it supplied to the market.

    "The difference between what the market observes as production, and the actual supply levels in any given month, is due to operational factors that are influenced by storage adjustments and other month to month variables," it said. 

  6. US markets end lower

    US traders

    US shares ended lower after investors showed caution ahead of an expected rate rise tomorrow, and falling crude prices hit oil stocks.

    The Dow Jones index lost 0.21% to 20,837.37, the S&P 500 fell 0.34% to 2,365.45, and the Nasdaq was 0.32% lower at 5,856.82.

    Oil firms fell as fresh fears about oversupply pushed West Texas Intermediate crude to as low as $48 a barrel.

    Chevron Corp  and Marathon Oil lost 1.82% and 3.28% respectively. 

    Airlines also fell after thousands of flights were cancelled due to storm Stella. United Continental shed 4.72% while Delta dropped 2.26%.

  7. Looking smart

    If smart phones and smart watches weren't enough for you, Levis has partnered with Google to create an interactive denim jacket. 

    It features an interface on the cuff through which you can access directions, the time, and music via Google's search platform. 

    It's not cheap though, as BBC technology correspondent Dave Lee discovered:

    View more on twitter
  8. Pound still down against dollar


    Sterling is still down against the dollar after Parliament gave the prime minister permission to trigger Article 50 late yesterday.

    It's fallen 0.53% to $1.21550, although has pared some losses against the euro to trade just 0.09% lower.

  9. Workplace headscarf ruling discussed

    Earlier the European Court of Justice ruled that banning headscarves in the workplace need not constitute direct discrimination. 

    So how did it come to that conclusion? World Business Report explains: 

    View more on twitter
  10. Waitrose applauds ONS changes to inflation basket

    Chocolate biscuits

    The Office of National Statistics was right to reorganise the basket of goods it uses to calculate inflation, says Waitrose.

    The firm said sales of newly included items had jumped at its shops, with gin sales up by 16% year on year, non dairy milks by 170%, and chocolate biscuits by 28%.

    Michael Andrews, director of ambient buying, said gin had "consistently been our fastest growing spirit" while once-niche alternative milks had "gone mainstream".

    “With Britain's obsession with biscuits it makes perfect sense to broaden the variety included in the basket of goods," he added.

  11. Come dine with me?

    Dinner party

    New research has found that hosting a dinner party now costs more than going out.

    A study of 1,000 UK adults carried out by retailer found that the average dinner party costs its hosts £75, compared to a night out which typically costs just £60.

    Based on four dinner guests, Brits spend £28 on drinks and £42 on food, on average.

    Despite this, 62% said they would prefer to go to a dinner party than on a night out and 85% would be happy to contribute to the dinner party by bringing a dish or a bottle of wine.

    The survey found that 15% of Brits host a dinner party at least once a month, which equates to an annual spend of £900. 

    However, this could be halved if guests brought a contribution.

  12. Unilever calls for changes to takeover rules

    Paul Polman, Unilever CEO

    Unilever has said the UK's Takeover Code should be updated following a failed attempt by the US firm Kraft to buy the business, the FT reports

    The Anglo-Dutch firm said target companies should have more time to defend themselves and that regulations governing takeovers should be changed to consider the interests of stakeholders beyond shareholders.  

    Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever (pictured), said: “We’re not talking about protection; we are saying that when you have a situation like this, with a national champion, there should be a level playing field.”  

    Unilever highlighted the Netherlands where takeovers are subject to a broader stakeholder interest test. 

    In Britain, company boards' primary responsibility is to their shareholders.  

  13. Oil price hits fresh lows

    Oil price chart

    As we reported earlier oil has fallen sharply today hitting stocks in the US and the UK.

    It comes after the Opec cartel reported a rise in global crude stocks, including a self-reported jump by its largest member Saudi Arabia.

    It reflects a big rise in US shale oil production, and runs counter to an Opec plan to support prices by curbing supply. 

    As the chart shows, Brent has lost 1.8% to $50.44 a barrel, after touching $50.25, its lowest since 30 November.

    West Texas Intermediate Crude has fallen 2.2% to $47.32, after dropping to $47.09, also its lowest since November.

  14. The interview panel will see you now

    Two dogs behind a desk

    Are you dogged by interview nerves?

    Edinburgh Napier University academics interviewing for places on a veterinary nursing course, have come up with a novel way of combating the jitters - three dogs on the interview panel.

    They reckon it creates a "tension-free" atmosphere. Of course it also helps interviewees demonstrate how they communicate with both animals and human beings.

  15. Can new management revive F1's appeal?

    BBC World Service

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  16. FTSE 100 closes lower


    The FTSE 100 finished lower with markets cautious ahead of an expected US interest rate rise and the Dutch elections.

    The index shed 0.13% to 7357.85 points, with RBS down 2.53%, M&S 2.16% lower and Standard Life down 1.7%.

    Oil stocks also took a hit after Saudi Arabia revealed it had let oil production creep above the cap set by Opec, sending Brent Crude to a fresh 2017 low. Shell and BP both fell. 

    Brent Crude is currently trading 1.7% lower at $50.48 a barrel. 

  17. Mafia targets Italy's food industry

    Men making mozarella

    Organised crime gangs are increasingly infiltrating Italy's farm and food markets, an industry group has warned. 

    The Coldiretti group said the mafia was targeting Italy's world-famous food sector as it was one of the few areas of the economy that had grown during the financial crisis.    

    The volume of business controlled by criminal interests jumped 30% in 2016 to 21.8bn euros, it said. 

    Recent examples include a fraud perpetrated by the `ndrangheta clan of southern Italy, where cheap olive oil residues from the Middle East were labeled as extra virgin and shipped to the US.

    The Casalese crime clan of Naples was also said to control much of local buffalo mozzarella industry.

    Coldiretti said unscrupulous companies often worked in partnership with mobsters and called for tougher "agri-mafia laws".