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Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

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Good night

That wraps up another Business Live page week. Join us again on Monday from 06:00 for more business news as it happens.

Talking up Nafta

Justin Trudeau

While President Trump has been away celebrating Bastille day in France, Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has taken the opportunity to press the case for Nafta back home.

In the past Trump has called the pact "the worst trade deal ever" and vowed to change it in talks due to begin later this summer.

But in his absence Trudeau's been having one-to-one meetings with Vice President Mike Pence and the governors of Kentucky, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Iowa.

"Sometimes getting it right means refusing to take the politically tempting shortcuts," Trudeau told a meeting of the US National Governors Association.

"More trade barriers, more local-content provisions, more preferential access for home-grown players in government procurement, for example, does not help working families over the long term, or even the mid-term. Such policies kill growth."

Protectionist moves ran the risk of becoming "a cycle of tit-for-tat, a race to the bottom, where all sides lose," he said.

Wall Street closes higher

US stocks closed higher after hitting record levels earlier as weak economic data dimmed chances of another rate hike this year and tech stocks gained.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 84 points, or 0.39%, at 2,1637.74.

The S&P 500 was up 11 points, or 0.47%, at 2459.27. The Nasdaq Composite was up 38 points, or 0.61%, at 6312.47.

Banks find investors hard to please

JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup all reported better-than-expected earnings but that didn't get much applause on Wall Street.

Just see how they ended the day:

JP Morgan Chase shares were down 0.6%.

Wells Fargo were down 0.8%.

Citigroup were down 0.25%.

A frog in your throat

Kermit the frog
Getty images

Steve Whitmire says the place he's worked for the last 38 years was "not just a job, a career or even a passion" but rather "an urgent, undeniable, impossible-to-resist way of life."

I'm sure we all feel like that about work sometimes. More or less.

Mr Whitmire said he was "devastated" to hear he was losing his job.

But then his job - as the voice of Kermit the frog since 1990 - was maybe more fun than most people's.

He would never have considered abandoning Kermit himself he said, but executives at Muppets Studio, owned by Disney have decided it's time he was replaced, without making public the reasons why. What muppets.

Air Canada plane 'missed aircraft by 30m' at San Francisco airport

Air Canada said it was investigating the incident and was "co-operating with the authorities"
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An Air Canada flight with 140 people on board came within 30m (98ft) of other aircraft at San Francisco's airport as it prepared to land, a report says.

Days after news that Flight AC759 from Toronto was involved in a near-miss it has emerged just how close it came to crashing into four planes on a taxiway.

The incident on 7 July occurred after the pilot "inadvertently" headed for the area where jets were due to depart.

He was ordered to pull up and the Airbus 320 circled and landed safely.

Read more here.

The economics of the Black Death

Every cloud has a silver lining. The Black Death, which swept the world and wiped out about a third of the European population in the middle of the fourteenth century, caused profound economic and environmental change, Forbes notes.

Air pollution from lead dropped to a historic low, an analysis of an ice-core from a Swiss-Italian glacier has shown.

And the fact that many of the rich landlords died meant the serfs (the ones who survived, anyway) could become free, Forbes says. Land became cheaper, wages increased, and many people who were previously poor managed to get some wealth.

Home Office fined £366,900 for breaking pay cap for abuse inquiry chief

Ebay 'breaks July sales records due to Amazon Prime day'

Ebay piggybacked on an Amazon marketing event and managed to break July sales records, Bloomberg Technology reports.

The online auction site ran an advertising campaign that contrasted it with Amazon's Prime day - a sales promotion day for Prime customers.


Trump Jr meeting: Russia lobbyist confirms attendance

Controversy surrounds Donald Trump Jr's meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya
Controversy surrounds Donald Trump Jr's meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya

A Russian-American lobbyist also attended a meeting last year that has embroiled President Donald Trump's son in the Russia inquiry, it has emerged.

Rinat Akhmetshin told AP news agency he went to the meeting at which Donald Trump Jr was promised Kremlin-linked material about Hillary Clinton.

"I never thought this would be such a big deal, to be honest," Mr Akhmetshin told the AP.

Congress is asking the president's son to publicly testify about the meeting.

Read more here.

Brexodus of the banks

With the news that Barclays is in talks to expand its presence in Dublin to maintain access to the EU market after Brexit, here's a non-exhaustive look at what financial services firms have said about Brexit relocation:

BNP Paribas may move up to 300 London investment bank staff due to Brexit a source told Reuters.

Citigroup will need to move 100 posts in its sales and trading business.

Credit Agricole, France's third-biggest listed bank, could relocate about 100 employees from its London hub to France out of 1,000 based there in the case of a "hard" Brexit, its chief executive said.

Deutsche Bank warned on 26 April that up to 4,000 UK jobs could be moved to Frankfurt and other locations in the EU as a result of Brexit - the highest potential move of any bank.

US bank Goldman Sachs is considering moving up to 1,000 staff from London to Frankfurt.

HSBC sees the chances of a hard Brexit receding after Britain's shock election result, which could result in fewer jobs moving out of London, its investment bank chief said.

It had previously said it would relocate around 1,000 people to Paris.

JPMorgan Chase has agreed to buy a Dublin building with room for 1,000 staff.

Lloyds Banking Group is close to selecting Berlin as a European base.

US bank Morgan Stanley has identified many of the roles that will need to be moved from Britain after Brexit, sources told Reuters. The bank, which bases the bulk of its European staff in Britain, will have to move up to 1,000 jobs in sales and trading, risk management, legal and compliance, as well as slimming the back office in favour of locations overseas.

Jamie Dimon rails against the state of US politics

ITV 'closing in on naming Carolyn McCall as chief exec'

Carolyn McCall
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ITV's preferred choice to take over as chief executive is Easyjet's Carolyn McCall, the Guardian reports.

Former ITV boss Adam Crozier left at the end of June.

Cheeki Rafiki deaths: Yacht firm boss guilty of safety breach

Douglas Innes ran Stormforce Coaching, the company responsible for the Cheeki Rafiki
Douglas Innes ran Stormforce Coaching, the company responsible for the Cheeki Rafiki

The head of a yacht firm has been found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of a yacht which capsized in the Atlantic with the loss of four lives.

Douglas Innes had been responsible for the Cheeki Rafiki, which lost its keel 700 miles off Nova Scotia in May 2014.

His company Stormforce Coaching was also convicted of the same charge.

The jury at Winchester Crown Court was unable to reach verdicts on four manslaughter charges against Innes and was discharged.

Read more here.

Burnishing relations

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Things haven't been too cosy between London-listed mining group Acacia (owned by Canada's Barrick Gold) and the Tanzanian government recently.

There's been a stand-off over the amount the foreign company pays for the shiny stuff it digs out of the ground in the east African nation, Africa's fourth biggest gold producer.

In March the government slapped a ban on the export of raw metals.

And the president has piled on the pressure, accusing the firm of "theft" and evading taxes and royalties by undervaluing its production in the country.

Today Acacia has said it will comply with government requirements "to minimise further disruptions to our operations" which will involve paying higher royalties of 6% instead of 4% as well as a recently imposed extra 1% clearing fee on exports.

Over the last year Acacia's shares have fallen from more than 500p to 280p. But today they're only down 0.39% on the day.

Australia drafts decryption laws

Jamie Dimon says US 'bureaucratic, confusing, litigious'

Jamie Dimon
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Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan, sounded off in a conference call with analysts earlier today.

He said: "If this [Trump] administration can make breakthroughs on taxes, on infrastructure, regulatory reform… we have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet."

He added that it was "almost an embarrassment being an American citizen travelling around the world" and listening to what people have to deal with.

"At one point we all have to get our act together or we won’t do what we're supposed to do for the average Americans.

"And unfortunately people write about the thing [regulatory and tax reform] like it’s for corporations. Its not for corporations. Competitive taxes are important for business and business growth which is important for jobs and wage growth. And honestly we should be ringing that alarm bell every single morning, every time you talk to a client.”

Canadian Channel Tunnel Rail link owners sell out

St Pancras
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Two leading Canadian pension fund investors have agreed to sell their stakes in a Britain's High Speed 1 rail link to a consortium of funds.

HICL Infrastructure will take a 35% stake, and the National Pension Service of the Republic of Korea will take a 30% share in the Channel Tunnel rail link.

Funds managed by Equitix will take the remaining 35%.

The deal was struck with Borealis Infrastructure, the infrastructure investment manager of Omers, the pension plan for Ontario's municipal employees, and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, which has held its stake since 2010.

HS1 operates the 109km high-speed rail line connecting London St Pancras International station with the Channel Tunnel, under a 30-year concession agreement with the UK Secretary of State, signed in 2010.

Barclays' Dublin office staffing 'in the low hundreds'

Barclays has said it is in talks with Irish regulators over the possibility of expanding its Dublin operation after Brexit to maintain EU market access.

The BBC understands that Barclays will hire staff locally rather than transplanting them from London, and the number of hires will be in the low hundreds.

Barclays said: "Barclays delivers a broad range of products and services to clients across most of the major economies in Europe at present - we value these relationships and our priority is to minimise disruption and preserve our clients’ ability to continue to transact with Barclays.

"While we remain confident of continued deep inter-linkages between EU and UK financial services markets, in the absence of certainty around the timing and composition of an agreement, we intend to take necessary steps to preserve ongoing market access for our customers."

The timing of the announcement is interesting.

In a letter on 7 April, Prudential Regulation Authority boss Sam Woods said all firms with cross-border activities between the UK and the rest of the EU should “undertake appropriate contingency planning for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, in light of the UK Government’s decision to trigger Article 50” - with responses welcome by 14 July.

Russia says too many US spies work in Moscow

Red Square
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Russia says that too many American spies operate in Moscow under diplomatic cover.

It says it might expel some of them to retaliate against the US over Washington's expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last year.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says:

"The number of staff at the U.S. embassy in Moscow exceeds the number of our embassy employees in Washington by a big margin. One of our options, apart from a tit-for-tat expulsion of Americans, would be to even out the numbers."

"There are too many employees of the CIA and the Pentagon's espionage unit working under the roof of the American diplomatic mission whose activity does not correspond at all with their status," she added.

Ex-Soviet agent at Trump Jr meeting, says NBC News

Donald Trumps
Getty Images

A meeting between Donald Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer in June 2016 was also attended by a Russian-American lobbyist who was a former Soviet counter-intelligence officer, NBC News reported.

The lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, confirmed he had attended the meeting, the Associated Press reported.

Pound goes through $1.30

Pound v dollar

The pound has topped $1.30 after US consumer prices were unchanged in June and retail sales fell for a second straight month.

Tame inflation could diminish prospects of a third interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve this year.

Man arrested after tourists injured in Red Sea stabbing

Man rescued from Texas ATM

A man has been rescued in Texas after getting locked inside a bank machine, the New York Times reports.

He managed to escape by passing handwritten notes out of the machine saying "Please help, I'm stuck in here and I don't have my phone. Please call my boss."

The man was stuck inside for hours, and had passed out several notes before someone took it seriously enough to flag down a passing police officer.

The man accidentally got locked in a service room behind the ATM in a bank that was under construction.

He'd left his phone in the car, so had to resort to passing out notes to escape.

US stocks in positive territory

The Dow and the S&P 500 were little changed in early trading as investors looked at earnings reports from big banks, while tepid data dimmed chances of another rate hike this year. A rise in technology stocks boosted the Nasdaq.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 7.37 points, or 0.03%, at 21,560.46, the S&P 500 was up 3.31 points, or 0.14%, at 2,451.36, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 18.18 points, or 0.28%, at 6,292.43.

US Democrats renew efforts to link banks, Trump and Russia

Maxine Waters
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A small group of Democrat members of the US Congress have renewed their efforts to find possible links between banks such as Germany's Deutsche Bank, US President Donald Trump and Russia.

Investigations are being conducted in the United States into possible collusion between Mr Trump's campaign team and Russia when he was running for president in 2016.

The White House and the Kremlin have denied there was any interference in the election.

Maxine Waters (pictured), ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, told reporters she had filed a resolution of inquiry demanding the US Treasury Secretary hand over documents in his possession, "relating to President Trump's financial connections to Russia, certain illegal financial schemes, and related information".

The resolution asked for any records of loans or credit from a number of banks - including Deutsche Bank and Russian lenders Sberbank and Gazprombank - to Mr Trump, some of his closest family members and a list of associates.

Ms Waters filed the resolution with the Republican-dominated Financial Services Committee, which now has 14 legislative days to address it, either by debating it or voting it down.

If the committee ignores the resolution, it could head to the floor of the broader House.

Barclays in talks over Dublin expansion post-Brexit

Branch of Barclays bank in central London
Getty Images

Barclays is talking with Irish regulators about extending its activities in Dublin in preparation for when the UK leaves the European Union, it says.

Barclays already has a licensed entity in Dublin, Barclays Bank Ireland.

This employs about 100 people, and currently has a licence to conduct mainly corporate banking activities.

Barclays intends to extend the range of that licence so it can continue serving clients once Britain leaves the bloc.

In January, there were media reports that Barclays was preparing to make Dublin its EU headquarters after Brexit as global banks and insurers begin to enact contingency plans on how they will continue to access the European single market.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has asked banks to show by Friday how they can avoid their customers being abruptly cut off after Brexit, which bankers say may inadvertently speed up the departure of jobs from Britain.

"Barclays intends to utilise an existing licensed EU-based bank subsidiary to continue passported activity," the bank said.

"Barclays Bank Ireland, which has a banking licence and which we have operated for almost 40 years, provides a natural base and we are engaging with our regulators in discussions to extend its activities."

Barclays chief executive Jes Staley met with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Monday, the bank added.

HMRC: 'We're working hard on tax credits'

The Falinge Estate, Rochdale
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HM Revenue and Customs is under fire after figures showed it overpaid tax credits by £1.6bn between 2015 and 2016.

The National Audit office said it also underpaid claimants a total of £210m.

An HMRC spokesperson said:

“While the figure still remains lower than it has been in the past, we will analyse the causes fully in order to ensure people receive only the money they are due.

“We are working hard to make it as easy as possible for tax credits customers to keep their claims up-to-date so they receive the correct amount of money.

"Customers must give us accurate information and let us know if their circumstances change straight away, to avoid getting into debt they’ll later have to pay back

"HMRC will continue to take firm action on those who make dishonest claims and help make it easier for customers to get things right.”

US retail sales fall for second month in a row

US retail sales unexpectedly fell in June for a second month in a row.

This could dampen expectations of a strong acceleration in economic growth in the second quarter.

The Commerce Department said retail sales fell 0.2% last month, after declines in receipts at service stations, clothing shops and supermarkets.

Americans also cut back on spending at restaurants and bars, as well as on hobbies.

US inflation unchanged in June

US Consumer Price Index inflation was unchanged in June, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

Fed's on a 'Lowflation train'

Janet Yellen
Getty Images

Still trying to work out how to read Janet Yellen's statements this week?

This is the view from Chris Lowe, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York:

"Yellen’s Senate testimony resembled her House appearance, keeping hope alive in the markets. It is a funny thing when the Fed Chair says the Fed might slow its tightening pace if inflation stays low, but she does not believe it will stay low and the market concludes the Fed will slow its tightening pace anyway.

"Yet it makes sense when one considers the next rate hike decision is probably not until December, five months from now. That’s plenty of time for Yellen and the Fed to get on board the lowflation train as long as inflation remains low."

Wells Fargo's Q2 results

Wells Fargo has also reported today. It's come out with net income of $5.8bn for Q2 2017, up 5% from the second quarter of 2016.

That was on revenue of $22.2bn which is pretty much unchanged from the same quarter last year.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan said: "We continued to make progress this quarter in our efforts to rebuild trust and build a better Wells Fargo and, while there is still more work ahead of us, we are on the right track and I am confident about our future."

Citigroup's chief on Q2 results

Citi's chief executive Michael Corbat, has issued some comment alongside those results:

He points to the bank's Institutional Clients Group which he says "had a very strong quarter all-around, including its best investment banking performance in seven years."

He adds: "Our recently announced 2017 capital plan includes a return of $18.9bn, enabling us to reduce the amount of capital we hold. We are clearly on course to increase both the return on capital and return of capital for our shareholders.”

Citigroup Q2 results

Citigroup's second quarter earnings are just out.

The American investment bank is reporting net income for the second quarter of $3.9bn on revenues of $17.9 billion.

That net income is a slight deterioration on this same quarter last year, but the revenues were higher.

The road ahead?

A young Hungarian UCL graduate has won the annual Wolfson economics prize with his plans to finance better roads in Britain. The BBC's Susannah Streeter has been asking him about his idea.

View more on twitter

JP Morgan sees 13% rise in quarterly profits

JP Morgan Chase headquarters

It's the start of the US banks' reporting season, kicking off with JP Morgan Chase, which has just announced a 13% rise in second-quarter profits to $7bn (£5.4bn).

"The US consumer remains healthy, evidenced in our strong underlying performance in consumer and community banking," said the bank's chief executive Jamie Dimon.

Wells Fargo and Citigroup are also scheduled to report results later today.

Telecoms group Altice expands further in Portugal

Altice logo

Another dip into the French financial pages, and there seems to be no stopping telecoms group Altice as it seeks to expand its presence across Europe and the US.

The company, run by French billionaire Patrick Drahi but based in the Netherlands, is already the second-biggest telecoms operator in France, after Orange.

Now it's branching out in Portugal, where it already owns Portugal Telecom, by acquiring TV and radio group Media Capital.

It's bought 95% of the Lisbon-based company from Spain's Prisa conglomerate for 440m euros (£387m). Analysts say the aim is to bring broadband internet and TV together, just as Altice has already done in France and the US, where it bought New York cable firm Cablevision in 2015.

UK: EasyJet move 'a commercial decision'

Passengers boarding easyJet flight
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The UK government isn't rising to the bait of easyJet's announcement that it's setting up a new Austrian-based airline for when the country leaves the EU.

As we told you earlier, the new airline will be called easyJet Europe and based in Vienna.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the move was a "commercial decision" and reiterated that the government wanted to get the best Brexit deal for business.

"Any deal we strike, we want to make sure it's a good deal for everyone, including businesses that operate here," she added.

FTSE 100 limps towards lunchtime

The FTSE 100 has been in negative territory all morning so far and currently stands at 7,398.28, down by 15.16 points or 0.2%.

Apart from Royal Mail, big fallers include drugmaker AstraZeneca, down more than 1.5% after reports that chief executive Pascal Soriot might be about to quit. He's been at the helm of the company since October 2012.

Royal Mail shares slide on pension plan changes

Royal Mail logo

Royal Mail is the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 at the moment, down more than 2%. The share slide came after it announced changes to its pension plan, giving its workers a choice between a defined-benefit and a defined-contribution scheme.

"Royal Mail is one of few companies offering to replace one defined-benefit scheme with another," the company pointed out. However, this is an about-turn from its previous intention to close its defined-benefit scheme altogether, a move that had prompted the threat of strike action.