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  1. is FTSE 250's biggest faller
  2. British Gas pays out £1.1m for missed appointments
  3. Sports Direct profits tumble but shares rise
  4. Summer childcare costs rise as supply shrinks
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Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

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  1. Good night

    That's all for tonight from the Business Live page. Join us again from 06:00 tomorrow.

  2. Benetton 'vying to buy Ducati'

    A Ducati bike

    Italy's Benetton family is vying with other bidders for control of the luxury motorcycle brand Ducati, which is being sold by Volkswagen, sources have told Reuters.

    The Benetton family, which founded the eponymous fashion brand, has apparently made a preliminary offer of $1.2bn, one of the sources said.

    US buyout fund Bain Capital and two Indian motorbike firms, Eicher Motors and Bajaj Auto, have also bid for Ducati, the sources said.

  3. Sears shares rally on Amazon deal

    Sears logo

    Shares in US department store group Sear have jumped more than 10% after the ailing firm offloaded its Kenmore's appliance division to Amazon.

    Sears has closed hundreds of stores in recent years amid a slowdown in the US retail landscape as more people shop online.

    Under the deal, Amazon will integrate "smart" Kenmore appliances with its artificial intelligence programme Alexa.

  4. Stocks end little changed on Wall Street

    Stocks closed little changed on Wall Street as a deal between Sears and Amazon weighed on home improvement retailers while gains in Microsoft helped buoy the Nasdaq.

  5. South Africa cuts key interest rate

    Jacob Zuma, South African president
    Image caption: South African President, Jacob Zuma

    South Africa's central bank has slashed its key interest rate for the first time in five years as the country battles recession.

    The bank cut the cost of borrowing by 25 basis points to 6.75% while also cutting its growth forecast for 2017 from 1% to 0.5%.

    Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago said that underlying demand in the economy was "extremely weak", raising concerns about inflation which stands at 5.4%, close to the bank's upper limit of 6%.

    In the first quarter of 2017 South Africa's economy slipped into its first recession in eight years, as key industries struggled to sustain growth and unemployment increased.

  6. VW to pay extra $154m for emissions cheating

    VW logo

    Regulators have told Volkswagen to pay an additional $154m over its emissions scandal in the US.

    The California Air Resources Board (Carb) said the settlement would cover air quality violations and the costs of Carb's investigation.

    VW, which pleaded guilty earlier this year to cheating emissions tests on more than half a million cars in the US, has already paid $533m to the state of California and agreed to invest $800m in green infrastructure initiatives.

    The total costs of the scandal for the carmaker stretch to $24bn in North America, including fines, penalties, consumer remediation and the cost of buying back vehicles.

  7. Bank of America vice chair tapped for Uber role

    Bank of America vice chairman Anne Finucane

    Uber is courting Bank of America vice chairman Anne Finucane for its new chief executive position, news portal Axios has reported.

    Ms Finucane is a member of the bank's executive management committee, and leads several of its functions, including global marketing. She has been with BofA for around 22 years.

    She is said to be intrigued by the role, made vacant in June by Travis Kalanick, but has not held any official talks with Uber yet.

  8. Philip Morris shares slide on weak results

    Marlboro ciggarette packets

    Shares in cigarette-maker Philip Morris have slipped as much as 2.8% after its quarterly profit missed expectations.

    The firm, which owns Marlboro, said it expects full-year earnings per share to come in at between $4.78 and $4.93, down from the $4.84-4.99 it was forecasting three months ago.

    Sales climbed 4% in the second quarter, largely due to demand for new tobacco technology products such as e-cigarettes, but actual cigarette shipments fell 7.5% - the firm's ninth consecutive quarter of decline.

  9. US stocks tread water

    US traders

    US stocks are broadly flat as earnings season continues and investors weigh fresh political controversy surrounding Donald Trump.

    A short while ago the Dow Jones index was down 0.1%, while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 were both up 0.1%.

    All three indexes dipped after Bloomberg reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into the business dealings of President Donald Trump as part of his probe into links with Russia.

    EBay, Microsoft and Visa are some of the major names set to report on Thursday.

  10. Bitcoin swings as civil war looms


    The value of the virtual currency Bitcoin has always been volatile.

    Even so, there has been particular turbulence in recent days as fears of a "civil war" among its adherents first grew and then subsided, although they have not gone away altogether.

    On Sunday, the value of one bitcoin dropped to about $1,863 (£1,430) before bouncing back to $2,402 on Wednesday, according to data from the news site CoinDesk - still some way off a June high of $3,019.

    Read more

  11. Plans to turn Square Mile into 'cultural hub'

    The Square Mile

    London’s Square Mile could be turned into a cultural hub over the next decade under plans released today.

    The City of London Corporation said it wants to create a “culture mile” to transform the area between Farringdon and Moorgate, which is better known for its preponderance of financial firms.

    The revamp would include a new Museum of London at West Smithfield, a concert hall for the London Symphony Orchestra and a transformation of Beech Street, the tunnel that runs under the Barbican.

    Catherine McGuinness of the City of London Corporation suggested the plans would attract more tourists to the area, which is busy during the week but deserted on weekends.

    "What more important time is there than [now], in the face of Brexit, to send a really strong signal that London is and always will be an open and resolutely internationalist city," she said.

  12. Dollar falls on Trump reports

    US president Donald Trump

    The US Dollar Index - which tracks the value of the dollar against a basket of foreign currencies - has hit an 11-month low after a series of news reports about the US president.

    The DXY index fell by as much as 0.7% to $94.09.

    The reports claimed the US special counsel investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia was examining transactions involving Mr Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates.

  13. Rodents 'fall from ceiling' of Chipotle restaurant

    Chipotle restaurant

    More bad news for Chipotle.

    Days after the firm shut one of its US restaurants over a food-poisoning scare, customers reported seeing rats "falling from the ceiling" at another.

    Diners at the Dallas restaurant also said they saw rodents crawling around the floor and climbing up the wall.

    Chipotle called it an "extremely isolated and rare incident".

    "We immediately contacted professionals who identified a small structural gap in the building as the likely access point. We're having it repaired," a spokesperson said.

    Shares in the company slipped almost 3% on Thursday. It follows a fall on up to 5% on Tuesday, after customers fell ill after eating at a branch in Virginia.

  14. Doubt cast on Musk's hyperloop plan

    Earlier, Elon Musk said he had been given "verbal" government approval to build an enormous hyperloop system along the US East Coast.

    But as one Twitter user pointed out, such approval probably wouldn't cut it for a project this large.

    For the uninitiated, the hyperloop is a futuristic transport system that promises to propel passengers at high speeds underground. It is still at test stage.

    View more on twitter
  15. ExxonMobil fined by US for Ukraine sanctions violations

    ExxonMobil logo

    ExxonMobil must pay a $2m penalty for signing documents for oil and gas projects in Russia, despite US sanctions imposed after Russian forces seized Crimea in 2014.

    Exxon signed documents in May 2014 with Igor Sechin, the president of Russian oil giant Rosneft and another, unnamed person, it said.

    At the time, Exxon was led by Rex Tillerson, now US Secretary of State.

    The US Treasury Department said Exxon showed "reckless disregard" for rules.

    Read more

  16. FTSE 100 closes higher

    UK-based trader

    The FTSE 100 gained almost 1% on Thursday, helped by the weakness of sterling and a dovish announcement on rates from the European Central Bank.

    The biggest gainer was Ashtead Group, up 3.1%, followed by Provident Financial, up 3%, and retailer Next, which rose 2.8%.

    The index gained 56.96 points, or 0.8%, to 7,487.87.

    The pound slipped 0.4% against the dollar to $1.29750, despite stronger-than-expected retail sales figures for June.

    A weaker pound amplifies the foreign earnings of firms on the index.

    Meanwhile, the euro rallied on the ECB's decision to keep rates on hold and continue its bond-buying programme. It's up more than 1% against the dollar at $1.16370.

  17. AlphaBay and Hansa dark web markets shut down

    A dark web website

    Two of the largest dark web marketplaces have been shut down following a "landmark" international law enforcement investigation.

    The AlphaBay and Hansa sites had been associated with the trade in illicit items such as drugs, weapons, malware and stolen data.

    According to Europol, there were more than 250,000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals on AlphaBay.

    Hansa was seized and covertly monitored for a month before being deactivated.

    Read more

  18. Jobs saved after Liberty acquisition

    Steel giant Liberty House Group has acquired two businesses in a rescue deal, saving 550 workers' jobs.

    The group bought Amtek Aluminium Castings and King Automotive Systems for an undisclosed sum from administrators PwC.

    The firms manufacturer engine and vehicle components.

    Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the Liberty House Group, said: "We are very pleased to use our resources and extensive experience in the automotive sector to rescue this enterprise and enable it to recover and reach its true potential."