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  1. Get in touch:
  2. BoE's Andy Haldane points to possible rate rise
  3. The pound rebounds against the dollar
  4. Businesses call for action following Queen's Speech
  5. UK budget deficit shrinks by 5% in May

Live Reporting

By Simon Neville

All times stated are UK

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  1. Goodnight!

    And with the US markets closing, we too will be calling it a day.

    Thanks for joining us and sending in all your comments and suggestions.

    We'll be back tomorrow from 6am doing it all again, so we'll see you then.

  2. Markets close in US

    stock market cleaner

    And that's it.

    Trading in the US has ended for the day, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 both closing down, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed up, thanks to continued optimist in the sector.

    The Dow Jones closed down 55 points to 21,411.

    The S&P 500 closed down 1 point to 2,435.

    And the Nasdaq closed up 45 points to 6,233.

    Oil remained the biggest drag on the markets, with a barrel of Brent Crude down 2.8% at $44.74, and West Texas Intermediate crude down 2.5% to $42.42 a barrel.

    Analysts will be hoping that oil can stay above $40, otherwise US fracking could become affordable again and cause more pain for the US economy.

  3. Twitter shares soar

    Twitter investors got a much-needed boost today as shares jumped more than 5% on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Shares were up $0.88 to $17.79 thanks to a positive note from analysts at Cleveland Research.

    The analysts said they have started to see evidence that Twitter is getting its message across to advertisers, which should see spending on the micro blogging side improve.

    They wrote: "This is the best relative feedback in our... research in 2+ years, suggesting some potential bottoming in fundamentals; we look for follow-through improvement in our research for turning more near-term positive".

    Twitter has struggled to win over investors to its business model, with many fearing the advertising revenues are not as encouraging as rivals, such as Facebook or Google.

    Twitter share price chart
  4. Harley-Davidson eyeing up Ducati


    US motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson is lining up a takeover bid for Italian rival Ducati, according to Reuters.

    The deal could be worth up to 1.5bn euros (£1.32bn) joining together two of the most iconic names in the industry.

    Indian motorcycle firm Bajaj Auto and several big name investment houses are also preparing bids for Ducati, which is being put up for sale by its owner Volkswagen.

    Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson has hired Goldman Sachs to work on the deal, according to Reuters, with bids in next month.

  5. Uber board replacement announced

    Uber app

    Uber's attempts to no longer appear like an aggressive, sexist-riddled business continues unabated.

    TPG Capital’s co-founder David Trujillo is set to join the board of the company, replacing David Bonderman - another TPG co-founder, according to Bloomberg.

    Mr Bonderman, you may remember, resigned from the board of Uber after he made a sexist remark in a meeting addressing sexism within the company.

    When Arianna Huffington suggested Uber needed more women on its board, Mr Bonderman said women "talk too much".

    TPG, which is a major investor in Uber, decided to pick Mr Trujillo because he already knows the business inside out.

  6. Beef deal blocked in Brazil

    Joesley Batista

    A Brazilian judge has blocked meatpacker JBS's $300m sale of its beef plants in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to rival Minerva due to a corruption scandal, according to Reuters.

    JBS's billionaire owners (and brothers) Wesley and Joesley Batista (pictured) reached a plea bargain last month with Brazil's top prosecutor in a major corruption probe.

    The Batistas alleged that President Michel Temer took part in a bribery scheme, threatening to topple the president and sink his reform agenda.

    Federal Judge Ricardo Leite said in his ruling today that the deal to sell JBS's plants could harm the corruption investigation.

    Back in May the brothers agreed to pay a record $3.2bn fine.

  7. Greg Clark: No-one wants to sell less to Europe

    Greg Clark

    Business Secretary Greg Clark has been seeking to reassure the business groups that wrote to him earlier this week, urging him to put the economy first in the Brexit negotiations with Brussels.

    He welcomed their intervention, saying that business and universities would not just be consulted, they would be involved in the talks.

    And just as “no-one voted to become less prosperous” in the referendum, so it was also true that “no-one voted to sell less to Europe”.

  8. Alibaba boss thinks WW3 is on its way

    Jack Ma

    Alibaba boss Jack Ma, the head of China's largest e-commerce company, is in Detroit to woo potential businesses to his platform.

    Details of his visit can be found in our report here. But in between saying he reckons the US could add one million jobs over five years if he won over US businesses, he made some interesting remarks.

    Speaking to CNBC, he claimed artificial intelligence could set off World War 3.

    But don't worry, the humans will win, he believes.

    He said: "The first technology revolution caused World War 1... The second technology revolution caused World War 2. This is the third technology revolution."

    But we will all be fine because "wisdom is from the heart", Mr Ma said. "You can always make a machine to learn the knowledge. But it is difficult for machines to have a human heart."

    And if we don't go to war, we could use the robots to allow us to all have four-day weeks.

    "I think in the next 30 years, people only work four hours a day and maybe four days a week."

  9. US markets update

    traders in US

    We're halfway through today's trading in the US, and early gains in the markets are starting to be eroded.

    By early afternoon, the Nasdaq Composite was still up, thanks to rises in biotech stocks, but at the Dow Jones and S&P 500, both indexes were falling due to energy shares taking hits with oil falling, and bank shares looking wobbly.

    "I think there is a bifurcation between short and long term. Clearly, to this point the Goldilocks scenario and earnings have pushed stock prices higher but oil has perhaps tempered some sentiment near-term," Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis, told Reuters.

    "If oil falls below $40, one would see pressure on overall earnings, not just the energy sector."

    The Dow Jones is down 44.62 points at 21422.52.

    The S&P 500 is off 3.48 points at 2,433.55.

    But the Nasdaq is up 34.67 points at 6222.70.

  10. Energy secretary to address businesses

    Greg Clark is set to talk to businesses at 7pm. We'll keep an eye on it and let you know what he has to say.

    View more on twitter
  11. Oil down again

    After US oil prices suffered severe hits yesterday - falling into bear market territory (where prices fall more than 20% since their most recent high) Brent crude also took a hit today.

    The price of a barrel of Brent crude fell below $45 a barrel for the first time this year as markets started to think oil cartel Opec's attempts to curb excess supplies looked shaky.

    It is down 2.8% to $44.75 a barrel.

    US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell to $42.43 a barrel — the lowest level in seven months (beating yesterday's seven month low).

    Brent Crude chart
  12. George Clooney's tequila deal

    George Clooney

    Back to the US, and film star George Clooney has sold his tequila brand Casamigos for $1bn, just four years after it was co-founded by the actor.

    Diageo, the company behind Guinness and Johnny Walker, said it will pay out $700m in cash and a further $300m if certain performance targets are hit over the next decade.

    Ivan Menezes, Diageo chief executive, said the deal “supports our strategy to focus on the high growth super-premium and above segments of the category.

    "With the global strength of Diageo we expect to expand the reach of Casamigos to markets beyond the U.S. to capitalize on the significant international potential of the brand.”

    A handful of other celebrities to have invested in the spirits market include rappers Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Jay-Z who endorse Ciroc and Effen vodkas, and Armand de Brignac champagne accordingly.

  13. Energy price cap reaction

    British Gas sign

    Despite the confusion over the price cap (see previous post) the markets seem to be cautiously predicting such a measure isn't happening any time soon.

    British Gas owner, Centrica, saw its shares close up 2.1% to 206.4p and SSE shares were up 0.8% to 1,487p.

    On a conference call earlier, Centrica boss Iain Conn said he was "encouraged" by the choice of wording in the Queen's Speech.

    But not everyone is impressed.

    Co-Founder Hayden Wood of renewable energy firm Bulb, said: 'We're very disappointed the Government hasn't committed to an energy price cap.

    "Families shouldn’t lose out because of the uncertainty caused by the election. A cap would be a big step in the right direction. It would make energy costs fairer and help stop suppliers from coaxing people in with low teaser rates before sneaking them onto pricier tariffs."

    Hannah Maundrell, Editor in Chief of comments on the Queen’s Speech suggested: “The Conservative’s energy crackdown seems to have softened thanks to their proposed deal with the DUP.

    "This watered down version could be better for households as it has the potential to benefit us all rather than just those who don’t already switch."

  14. Government ask Ofgem to enforce energy price cap

    What's going on with the energy price cap?

    It was a flagship policy in the Conservative manifesto, but was missing from the Queen's Speech.

    Instead, the Queen said: "My government will ensure fairer markets for consumers, this will include bringing forward measures to help tackle unfair practices in the energy market to help reduce energy bills."

    Later in the House of Commons, Theresa May appeared to say a price cap would be introduced.

    View more on twitter

    We put in a call to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy for some clarification.

    They referred us onto a letter published today, sent by Energy Secretary Greg Clark to Dermont Nolan, chief executive of regulator Ofgem.

    He points out that Labour and the Conservatives are in favour of a price cap, adding: "I consider that the endorsement of this approach by an overwhelming majority of the electorate constitutes good reason to proceed without delay."

    However, he appears to say the responsibility for implementing a price cap should lie with Ofgem and that they already have the power to do it.

    Mr Clark writes: "Ofgem has powers available that would allow it to address the problems in the market that we now see. I am writing to you... to ask you to advise me on what action you intend to take in three respects: Safeguarding customers on the poorest value tariffs, ensuring that micro businesses are fairly treated, considering the future of standard variable tariffs."

  15. Business rate reforms "kicked into long grass"... again

    high street

    Much of the Queen's Speech seems to be about what was missing, rather than what was in it.

    One area that is causing some consternation for businesses is the omission of the Local Government Finance Bill, which was supposed to reform parts of the business rates system.

    Business rates are the tax paid by every commercial premises in the UK, which retailers in particular have been calling for a change to.

    It was expected to allow local authorities to keep 100% of business rates revenues, give more relief powers and modernise the billing system.

    Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at Gerald Eve, said: “The demise of this Bill highlights the Government’s disarray over business rates policy, and is a hammer blow to UK plc’s hopes of genuine reform in the near future.

    “Firms will be furious that, despite their protestations earlier in the year and Government promises of action, there will be no reform of a rating system desperately in need of modernisation.

    “A particular impact of the omission is that local authorities will no longer be given the powers to reduce business rates locally, a key element of the Bill."

    Mark Rigby, chief exeucitve of ratings agency CVS added: "A common theme running through the political parties manifestos published ahead of the General Election was the need to reform business rates.

    "This was a golden opportunity for the Government to set out the terms of reference and timetable for its promised review and many will suspect the issue has been kicked into the long grass once again."

    Forecasts by the Office For Budget Responsibility reveal revenue from the controversial business rates tax is projected to rise £4.9bn from £28.8bn last year to £33.7bn by 2021/22 representing a 17.01% hike in revenue.

  16. House sales jump in the US

    Sold sign outside home

    Turning to America for a moment - existing US home sales unexpectedly jumped in May to the third highest monthly level in a decade, new figures showed.

    The National Association of Realtors said sales increased 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.62 million units last month.

    More worryingly, a chronic inventory shortage pushed the median home price to an all-time high.

    Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales declining 0.5% to 5.55m units. Sales were up 2.7% from May 2016.

    The number of homes on the market rose 2.1%, but supply was down 8.4% from a year ago. Housing inventory has dropped for 24 straight months on a year-on-year basis.

  17. Action on workplace pay gaps welcomed by Chartered Management Institute

    A crowd of people

    Petra Wilton, Director of Strategy at the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has welcomed the government's promise to tackle the gender pay gap and other workplace inequalities in the Queen's speech.

    To bring change, Ms Wilton wants businesses to compile better information about the people working for them.

    "Research suggests that most business lack data about their employees' ethnicity, and for many it's a more complex area to navigate than gender equality.

    "The government will need to identify how employers can accelerate efforts to increase diversity and inclusivity within their organisations, which will be crucial if we are to close the ethnicity pay gap."

  18. Tesco Bank update

    Six hours after Tesco's online bank went down, the company says it is now back up and running.

    A Tesco Bank spokesperson said: “We apologise to customers who could not access online banking earlier today. Service is now restored and customers can access their account as normal”.

  19. The construction industry tells May it needs EU workers

    Construction workers on building site

    The Federation of Master Builders has warned that major construction projects will "grind to a halt" if business does not have sufficient access to EU workers.

    It said the government must set out its post-Brexit immigration system as soon as possible.

    Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: "In terms of today’s Queen’s Speech and the focus of British business, all eyes are on the Immigration Bill.

    "As suspected, we now know that the Bill will end the free movement of people but that begs the question: what will replace it?"

    He said EU trades people had come to play a crucial part in "plugging the industry’s chronic skills gap and if the ability to employ non-UK workers is curtailed, the Government’s housing and infrastructure plans will be no more than a pipe dream.”

    He said the long-term solution was better training of UK workers.