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  1. Pound rises on service sector growth
  2. Miners help to drive FTSE 100 gains
  3. Australian cyclone pushes coal prices higher
  4. Builder Galliford Try abandons Bovis bid
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Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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  1. Bovis appoints former Galliford Try boss as chief

    The (building) plot thickens. Bovis has appointed former Galliford Try boss Greg Fitzgerald as its new chief executive. 

    It's on the same morning that it emerged a buyout attempt for Bovis by Galliford Try has failed.

    "The [Bovis] board has reviewed the merger proposal and concluded that it failed to reflect the underlying value of the Bovis business," Bovis said in a statement .

    "Accordingly, the board has decided to reject the proposal as it believes that an independent strategy under the leadership of Greg Fitzgerald will deliver greater value for shareholders."

  2. BreakingGalliford Try ends Bovis bid

    Bovis houses

    British housebuilder Galliford Try has said it will not make a formal bid for fellow builder Bovis. It becomes the second of two firms to pull out of a potential buyout after Redrow walked away from an offer last week.

    Bovis, whose chief executive quit in January following a profit warning resulting from a failure to build enough homes on time, revealed last month that it had rejected offers from the two firms.

    "It has... become clear to the board of Galliford Try that it is not possible to secure the support of the board of Bovis on terms that represent the best interests of Galliford Try shareholders," Galliford Try said in a statement .

  3. Retirement builder's profits drop 25%

    Retirement Living in Mallory Court, Skipton

    McCarthy and Stone, which builds UK retirement homes, said pre-tax profits dropped by a quarter to £21.8m in the last six months.  

    The builder said the hit to the UK property market after the Brexit vote was a major factor for the fall. Half-year sales dropped 5% to £238.2m in the period to 28 February.

  4. Miner declares 'force majeure' after cyclone

    Leisha Chi

    Business reporter in Singapore

          Coal trucks pass each other at BHP Billiton's Mt Arthur coal mine February 15, 2006 in Muswellbrook, Australia.

    Mining giant BHP Billiton has declared 'force majeure' for its coal products due to the damage wrought when Cyclone Debbie hit Australia last week.

    Force majeure means a buyer or seller cannot fulfil their obligations because of external forces. It is typically declared after natural disasters or accidents.

    BHP said in a statement that the cyclone caused damage to the network infrastructure of rail track provider Aurizon, affecting access from mine sites to ports and shipments to customers.

    The cost of coking coal - which is used to make steel - spiked by as much as 9% on Wednesday and many analysts expect it to rise further.

    Australia is the world's biggest coking coal exporter and BHP is Australia's largest producer.

  5. Saudi Aramco London listing 'would cause problems'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    A Saudi Aramco oil installation

    Prime Minister Theresa May is over in Saudi Arabia at the moment to talk trade and security. The chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, Xavier Rolet, is also in Riyadh for a financial roundtable at the kingdom's bourse.

    The London Stock Exchange is among those hoping to win a piece of state oil company Saudi Aramco's stock market listing, which is expected to be the world's largest.

    However, John Botham of Invesco Perpetual says a UK listing could fall foul of corporate governance codes on diversity.

    "I think it causes some problems. We have... governance procedures in place which require a certain number of shares to be floated on the stock exchange, and also, protection for minorities, and it's difficult to see how that would play out with Saudi Aramco," he says.

  6. 'Record month for car sales'

    Car forecourt

    Sticking with cars - figures out later this morning from industry body SMMT are expected to show the biggest ever month for UK car registrations. 

    Sales last month were boosted ahead of changes to road tax - which raised the charge on many vehicles, including those with low emissions, from 1 April. 

    March is typically the biggest month, accounting for around a fifth of the year's car registrations. That's because new number plates are issued in March and September each year.

  7. PM hints at diesel help


    Diesel car owners facing new anti-pollution charges in some UK cities could receive government help, the prime minister has suggested.

    Theresa May has hinted there might be schemes to help drivers - many of whom were told diesel cars were less polluting. 

    She did not set out any specific plans, but there have been reports of a  scrappage scheme  that could pay people to get rid of their diesel vehicles.  

    In central London, drivers with older diesel vehicles will be forced to pay up to £24 a day from 2019 - and there have been reports other cities will follow suit.

  8. Executive pay 'should be aligned with performance'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    £20 notes

    There's been another attempt to crack down on big pay packets for bosses.

    The Business select committee wants to put executive pay to rights .

    Andrew Ninian, director of corporate governance at the Investment Association, says: "Shareholders are taking and have taken a very [keen] interest in executive pay. They want executive pay which is structured over the long term which delivers pay for performance aligned with long-term performance."

  9. Markets 'shrug off' N Korea missile test

    Leisha Chi

    Business reporter in Singapore

          Television news showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on April 5, 2017.

    North Korea fired off another ballistic missile on Wednesday morning. Japan's government has reacted angrily to the move, but there was little reaction in Asian stock markets.

    Investors have "largely shrugged off this geopolitical development," said Jingyi Pan from IG. 

    Instead, the main focus is the upcoming pow-wow between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump tomorrow and Friday. 

    Several Asian markets are back in action following a market holiday, including China which had been closed since last Friday.

    Shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen rose by 1% on news of a massive new government economic zone. 

    Hong Kong's Hang Seng has reversed early gains and is about 0.2% lower in the afternoon session. Japan's benchmark Nikkei is trading flat.

  10. Korean firm considering Body Shop bid

    Leisha Chi

    Business reporter in Singapore

          A couple walks past the store 'The Body Shop' in Bucharest, Romania

    One of South Korea's biggest conglomerates, the CJ Group, said it's considering a bid for The Body Shop - at a time when beauty businesses are booming in the Asian country.

    French cosmetics giant L'Oreal bought The Body Shop in 2006 but announced earlier this year that it was "exploring all strategic options" - including  putting the brand up for sale.

    The British ethical skincare business was founded in 1976 and quickly became one of the High Street's best-known brands. 

    But sales have been suffering, leading some to question whether the firm has lost its cache .

  11. 'No-one's expecting a miracle'

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Philip Hammond and Theresa May visit car factory

    Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £23bn national productivity fund in his Autumn Statement to tackle the UK's poor record on raising output per person.

    At 09.30, we'll get figures for UK productivity in the final three months of 2016. 

    Diane Coyle, economics professor at Manchester University and a former advisor to the Treasury, says productivity hasn't grown in the UK for the last 10 years. 

    And she isn't expecting much improvement yet from the new fund. "No-one's expecting a miracle in the figures because it's so soon", she tells Wake Up to Money.

  12. Good morning

    Welcome to another day of Business Live. 

    Coming up, we've got the latest figures on UK productivity. The chancellor has made boosting the efficiency of the UK workforce - which lags many of its major global rivals - one of his main priorities.

    We'll have data on car sales for March - which are expected to be strong - as well as company results from HSS Hire group, Walgreen Boots and Yum China.

    Plus of course all the latest from the markets and the world of business.