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  1. Get in touch:
  2. US imposes sanctions on Russian and Chinese firms over North Korea
  3. Provident Financial warns on profits
  4. Tesco sales rise 3%, Kantar finds
  5. Persimmon upbeat as profits grow
  6. BHP Billiton to sell US shale assets
  7. Sport Direct raises Debenhams stake

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

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Good night

That's all from Business Live for another day but we are back bright and early on Wednesday so do join us then. Thanks for reading.

All change at Chevron?

Chevron logo
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Chevron chief John Watson plans to step down as the oil industry prepares for a period of lower prices, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The transition is expected to be announced next month, with executive vice-president Mike Wirth a likely replacement, the report said.

Chevron declined to comment.

Mr Wirth has extensive refining industry experience, which will become more important if oil prices remain low and constrain spending.

Mr Watson has been running Chevron since 2010.

Wall Street rallies

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Wall Street ended higher, with each of the three major indexes posting their best one-day percentage gains in more than a week, as politicians' comments on tax reform and the debt ceiling boosted investor optimism.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 196 points, or 0.9%, to 21,899 points, while the S&P 500 gained 24.1 points, or 1%, to 2,452.4 points, while the Nasdaq Composite added 84.3 points, or 1.3% to 6,297.4.

End of the line for Village Voice

Jamie Robertson

Business reporter

Copy of Village Voice
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"Simply to be seen with the Voice set you apart"

The Village Voice, for 62 years the poster boy of American alternative journalism, is to disappear from the news stands. While no longer printed it will live on digitally. Peter Barbey, who bought it in 2015, says the "business has moved online - and so has the Voice’s audience".

The Voice was founded in 1955 by the author Norman Mailer (who came up with the name) along with his friends Daniel Wolf and Edwin Fancher. Mailer left after four months, attributing his departure, reportedly, to a typographical error in his column that turned ''nuances'' to ''nuisances'.'

The spirit of the paper in the Sixties might best be summed up by journalist Mark Jacobson: "Simply to be seen with the Voice set you apart: You were one of those people — hair too long, mouth too smart, not likely to go to the prom. Growing up in Flushing, the dream felt good."

In its time the paper has published investigations into New York City and national politics, as well as reported on arts, culture, music, dance, film and theatre reviews, and supported gay rights.

It went free in 1996 but has struggled, like other print titles, to win enough advertising revenue. In May the Voice relaunched its online edition, which Mr Barbey says will now allow "us to do what we do not just once a week, but every day, across a range of media, from words and pictures to podcasts, video and even other forms of print publishing".

'No compelling reason'

No great surprise that analysts at Liberum Capital have come up with a "sell" recommendation on Provident Financial after today's fun and games that sent the shares crashing to 589.5p, but it's still quite a punchy note:

The CEO has gone, Home Credit pre-tax profit has been slashed, the dividend has been suspended and the Vanquis credit card business is subject to an FCA review ... To complicate matters, we believe Provident Financial could be facing a funding shortfall by June 2018. We see no compelling reasons to own the shares, despite the 66% decline in the price today. Our new target price is 487p. SELL

Electric stuff

BBC South America business correspondent Daniel Gallas in Sao Paulo tweets:

View more on twitter

EBR, or Eletrobras, is - you guessed it - the state-owned power utility that is Brazil's biggest. The government hopes to raise 20bn reais ($6.3bn) in a partial privatisation.

The government holds 41% of Eletrobras, while state development bank BNDES holds almost 19%.

Ministers are modelling the privatisation plans on similar lines to that of plane maker Embraer in 1994 and mining giant Vale in 1997.

Ryanair 'interested in bidding for Air Berlin' - report

Air Berlin plane on ground
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Ryanair would be interested in bidding for the whole of German carrier Air Berlin which collapsed last week, but it needs access to more data on the airline's finances, Chief Executive Michael O'Leary has told Reuters.

"We would be very happy to bid for the whole of Air Berlin, which is generally a short-haul, domestic, intra-EU carrier," O'Leary told the news agency.

"But we don't know how much restructuring it will take, how much money is it losing, why is it losing so much money in a market where we make money," he said. Read the full story here

US hits Chinese and Russian firms over North Korea

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un
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The US has imposed sanctions on a dozen Russian and Chinese companies and individuals it accuses of helping North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.

Earlier this month, members of the UN Security Council, including Russia and China, voted for further sanctions against Pyongyang.

The US Treasury said the move would "increase pressure" on North Korea.

China responded swiftly, calling on the US to "immediately correct its mistake" of punishing its firms.

The US Office of Foreign Assets Control designated 10 companies and six individuals in its sanctions. Read the full story here

Wall Street maintaining gains

Wall Street sign
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There's a couple of hours of trading still to go in the US, and all three key indexes are still ahead.

The Dow Jones is at 21,884.65, a rise of 181 points or 0.83%.

The S&P 500 is at 2,450.92 - up 23 points or 0.93%.

And the Nasdaq is at 6,293.49, that's up 80 points or 1.29%.

Thomas Cook: UK customers wanted Tunisia trips

More on Thomas Cook resuming the sale of Tunisia holidays to UK customers ...

We always follow UK government advice on where we can offer flights and holidays, because they are the experts in security. We also listen to our customers in where they want to go on holiday. Since it closed for British holidaymakers two years ago, we've had lots of customers asking us when Tunisia will be back on sale. Taking your loved ones anywhere is a serious decision and ultimately of course it's up to you where you choose to go on holiday. You should always consult FCO travel advice before making your decision. Whichever Thomas Cook holiday you choose, you can always be assured that your safety is our first priority.

Carol MacKenzieHead of customer welfare, Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook sells Tunisia holidays to UK customers again

Thomas Cook tail fins
Thomas Cook

Tour operator Thomas Cook resumed selling Tunisia holidays to UK customers on Tuesday for the first time since the Sousse massacre. Trips will recommence on 13 February 2018.

The move comes after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) eased its travel advice.

The FCO advised against all but essential visits following the June 2015 beach attack in which 30 Britons were killed, but this guidance was withdrawn for most of the North African country last month.

More than half of South Africans below poverty line

Africa Business Report presenter tweets

Why has sterling slipped?

More on the fall in Tuesday's fall in the value of sterling now.

Dennis de Jong, managing director at, said if ECB President Mario Draghi appeared "hawkish" when he makes his speech on Friday, then the pound could "well slip to record lows".

"The euro has continued to make gains against sterling in recent months and we could see the UK currency hit an all-time low if data, such as Thursday's latest GDP reading, comes in below par or Draghi hints at curtailing QE," he said.

"The dollar has firmed up ahead of Jackson Hole, with investors considering the Fed chair's next moves.

He added that Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen "looks to have just four months left in her role, possibly leaving her in a more favourable spot to raise interest rates before the end of the year".

Pound under pressure

Pound, dollar and euro notes
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The pound fell to seven year lows against the euro for a time on Tuesday.

At one point it was as low as 1.089 euros - its lowest level since 2010, however it later climbed back above 1.09.

Against the dollar, the pound hit its lowest level in nearly four weeks, down 0.5% at $1.283.

Later this week the annual get-together of the world's central bankers is due to begin at at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

St Helena flights to resume?

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

Aircraft on ground at St Helena

A successful test flight from the south Atlantic island of St Helena is raising hopes that regular flights between the territory and South Africa will resume.

The South African aircraft used on Tuesday is operated by private airline SA Airlink.

St Helena, a British overseas territory, can at present only be reached by ship but rough seas mean the crossing takes around one week.

Today's test flight took only six hours from Johannesburg via a re-fuelling stopover in neighbouring Namibia, and the aircraft has been conducting trials known as ‘circuits and bumps’.

This is when the aircraft circles the runway, approaches and touches the wheels on the ground before immediately taking off again for another circuit.

Aviation experts say this is necessary in high winds can sometime set off the aircraft’s windshear warning system, as was captured during a test flight in 2016.

St Helena has a new airport which took five years to build at a cost of $365m (£285m) to the British taxpayer.

It was scheduled to open in May 2016 for commercial operators but this has been delayed indefinitely.

Fukushima decommissioning continues

BBC World Service

Aerial view of Fukushima plant

The operator of the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan has started freezing the final section of an ice wall designed to combat water contamination, reports BBC World Service.

Tokyo Electric Power is pumping coolant through underground pipes in order to freeze the soil around the site, to a depth of thirty metres. It's hoped this will prevent ground water seeping into the complex, becoming contaminated and then draining into the sea.

This is just one part of the clean-up operation following the destruction of the plant in a tsunami in 2011. Fukushima will take decades to decommission.

UK is 'poorer' post-Brexit vote says Osborne

Crypto-cash investors duped in funding scam

Bitcoin logo
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Cyber-thieves are believed to have stolen about $500,000 (£390,000) in the Ethereum crypto-currency, with an investment scam.

The thieves hijacked the website of finance security start-up Enigma and posted messages saying it was about to launch its own currency.

Many people keen to cash in transferred ethereum to the thieves' account.

In response, Enigma shut down its website and adopted stronger security policies to keep hackers out. Read the full story here

Provident Financial shares lose 66% in day

Provident Financial intraday share graph

By far and away the biggest fall on the FTSE 100 was seen by doorstep lender Provident Financial.

Its shares plunged by 66.22% to 589.50p after it issued its second profit warning in as many months (see earlier posts).

FTSE closes up by nearly 1%

London Stock Exchange plaque - close up
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The FTSE 100 has ended the day at 7,381.74, that's a rise of 63 points or 0.86%.

The biggest riser was supermarket chain Tesco. Its shares rose by 4.10% after a survey showed it had seen a 3% year-on-year jump in sales in the 12 weeks to 13 August, making it the strongest performer among the Big Four supermarkets.

Mining stocks also did well as a result of an increase in commodity prices.

Breaking'No talks' with Fiat Chrysler

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

Jeep logo
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Great Wall has reiterated its interest in Fiat Chrysler, but admitted there had been no talks with the Jeep and Alfa Romeo owner as yet.

China's biggest SUV maker confirmed it had studied Fiat Chrysler, but said there was "no concrete progress so far" and "substantial uncertainty" over whether it would eventually bid.

"The company has not built any relationship with the directors of FCA nor has the company entered into any discussion or signed any agreements with any officer of FCA so far," Great Wall said in an English-language stock exchange filing.

Great Wall's Shanghai-listed shares will resume trading on Wednesday after having been suspended.

Fiat Chrysler's New York-listed shares have jumped 16% in the past week but fell back following the statement.

The Great Wall statement came after the firm made a direct overture to Fiat Chrysler on Monday.

Fiat Chrysler declined to comment.

EC to investigate Monsanto/Bayer deal

Bayer logo
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The $66bn (£51bn) take-over of Monsanto by Bayer has hit a snag - The European Commission. It's said the companies failed to address the watchdog's antitrust concerns, so it's now launching an in-depth probe into the deal.

What's to worry about? Well, it would create the world's largest seeds and pesticides company - could reduce competition and result in "higher prices, lower quality, less choice and less innovation".

Bayer and Monsanto have come up with ways round the complaints, but the Commission says they were "insufficient to clearly dismiss its serious doubts as to the transaction's compatibility with the EU Merger Regulation".

Barca to sue Neymar

BBC World Service

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The Spanish football club, Barcelona, has said it will demand at least $10m (£7.8m) from its former player, the Brazilian striker Neymar, for breach of contract, reports BBC World Service.

It follows Neymar's world record $260m move to the French club, Paris Saint-Germain.

Usdaw welcomes prosecution of BHS ex-owner

Boarded up BHS with passers by
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More now on The Pension Regulator's announcement that it will prosecute Dominic Chappell "for failing to provide information and documents it requested during its investigation into the sale of BHS" (See earlier posts).

The shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has welcomed the move and national officer Dave Gill said: “It is frankly quite shocking that Mr Chappell has apparently not made the requested information available. We would expect all involved in the BHS scandal to co-operate fully with all investigations.

“The knock on effect of the actions of Sir Philip and Mr Chappell have had a huge impact on the hard working and loyal employees who lost their jobs and now most of the pension scheme members will not receive the retirement income they were promised.

“Whilst the Pension Regulator has been successful in striking a deal with Sir Philip Green, the fact remains that the full buy out cost to secure 100% of members’ benefits has not been met. There is still a lot of uncertainty for members and hopefully this will be addressed over the coming months when they receive more information about their options."

Ladbrokes 'receives takeover approach' - report

Ladbrokes logo on sign

The Financial Times reports that online gambling group GVC approached bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral in recent weeks with a takeover offer worth up to £3.6bn.

Had it succeeded the deal would have created one of the world’s largest gambling companies.

Two people close to the discussions say the talks have since broken down and are no longer active, according to the FT.

GVC first held talks with Ladbrokes about a tie-up last year.

Read the full story here

Ford explores electric car JV in China

Ford logo
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Car giant Ford is looking into setting up a joint venture with Chinese firm Anhui Zotye Automobile to build electric vehicles in China.

The cars would be sold under a new brand name owned by the new joint venture, Ford said in a statement.

“The potential to launch a new line of all-electric vehicles in the world’s largest auto market is an exciting next step for Ford in China,” said Peter Fleet of Ford Asia-Pacific.

“Electric vehicles will be a big part of the future in China and Ford wants to lead in delivering great solutions to customers.”

Wall Street ahead at open

New York Stock Exchange
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Wall Street has opened higher as investors snap up shares which have fallen over the past couple of weeks.

The Dow Jones is at 21,805.87, that's a rise of 102 points or 0.47%.

The S&P 500 is at 2,441.58, up 13 points or 0.54%.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq is at 2,441.50, that's a gain of 13 points or 0.54%.

Canadian bank boost for Dublin

Toronto-Dominion Bank's investment banking division TD Securities says it will expand operations in Dublin to boost its European business in the face of Brexit.

In a statement IDA ireland said "Following a meeting between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and senior bank executives in Toronto yesterday, TD Securities confirmed that it will be expanding its operations in Ireland and, subject to regulatory approval, plans to establish a bond trading business there.

"The Dublin expansion is part of its growth strategy in Europe and will afford TD Securities the flexibility to meet the evolving needs of clients and respond to the changing business environment as a result of Brexit."

Barclays and Bank of America plan to locate their EU headquarters in Dublin and JPMorgan Chase plans to double its workforce there.

Samsung's Bixby in global rollout

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Samsung's voice-controlled digital assistant Bixby is being rolled out in 200 countries from today.

It is Samsung's equivalent of Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant - which is pre-installed already in Samsung phones as they run the Android operating system.

Bixby will initially be available in only two languages - US English and South Korean.

The launch had been delayed since April.

Samsung did not give a reason at the time but early testers of a limited demo model - including the BBC - had reported that it failed to understand commands. Read the full story here

FTSE ahead in early afternoon trade

London Stock Exchange sign with shadow in front
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Let's have a quick check on how the FTSE 100 is doing now - and it's still ahead at 7,378.82, a rise of 60 points or 0.82%.

The rise came despite a fall of about 65% in doorstep lender Provident Financial's shares following another profit warning.

The index was boosted by a rise in commodity prices which pushed up shares in mining companies.

BHP Billiton is the biggest riser - up 3.5% - Rio Tinto is 2.8% higher and Antofagasta 2.25% ahead.

China relaunches world's fastest train

HIgh speed train crash
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China's fleet of high-speed trains is set once again to become the world's fastest.

The top speed of the Fuxing or "rejuvenation" bullet trains was capped at 300km/h (186mph) in 2011 following two crashes that killed 40 people.

From next week, some of the trains will once again be allowed to run at a higher speed of about 350 km/h.

The higher maximum speed should cut about an hour off the journey time between Beijing and Shanghai.

Airport post-Brexit warning

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Sky News is claiming that a confidential report by the UK's airports warns that post Brexit uncertainty could cause a huge slump in air travel from Britain's airports. It says the report's most pessimistic scenario foresees a 41% fall in passenger demand from Britain's biggest airports between March 2018 and March 2019, and urges Britain to seek an interim aviation arrangement by October 2018.

High Life

On your way home from holiday squeezing into the tail-end seats of Economy Third Class of a budget airline, here's something to make you - if possible - feel even more uncomfortable: the interior of a BBJ 777 owned by Crystal Cruises, with a bar, lounge, and seating for 88 passengers. Crystal usually runs cruise ships but it says now "plans to use this new private jet in the same sense as a cruise ship, but in the sky".

Interior Crystal Cruise BBJ 777
Crystal Cruises
Definitely not a budget airline

US-Korea trade talks stall

Korean container being unloaded
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No deal on Trump's "Horrible deal"

President Trump's attempt to rewrite another trade deal - this time the one between South Korea and the US, known as Korus - has come unstuck. Mr Trump called it a "jobs killer" and a "horrible deal". The South Koreans insist the deal is not to blame for the US trade deficit. However talks have run into the sand. Either side can call a halt to the deal, but it will take 180 days to actually bring it to an end. However, an end to Korus could have wider implications, bearing in mind the US's tense relations with North Korea and its trade frictions with China.

Business returns art stolen by Nazis

Supreme Court

Ministers want divorces and cross-border consumer claims resolved "in a clear and sensible way".

Read more

Provident Financial shares fall further

Provident Financial's share price has fallen even lower. It is now down by 74.21% to 450.10p.

Provident Financial graph

Asda sorry shopping bag gaffe

Asda shopping bag

The opening of Asda's first store on the Isle of Wight made an impression for all the wrong reasons after special bags produced to mark the occasion included the spelling "Isle of White".

The retailer opened the doors to its Newport store on Monday and offered shoppers the chance to buy 10,000 bags designed by two island children.

Bosses obviously did not check them properly as they included the mistake.

Read the full story here.

BreakingSFO 'reviewing BHS material'

The Serious Fraud Office has issued the following statement about BHS.

It says: The SFO confirms it is reviewing material in its possession. If the director considers there are reasonable grounds to suspect serious or complex fraud which meets his criteria he will open a criminal investigation.”

UK manufacturers lifted by weaker pound

The BMW Mini car production plant in Oxford
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UK factories are feeling the benefits of a fall in the pound, according to data from the Confederation of British Industry.

A survey of 432 manufacturers found that total order books and export demand was strong in August. The CBI said its monthly industrial order book balance rose to +13.

Anna Leach, head of economic intelligence at the CBI, said: "There are further signs that exporters are feeling the benefit from the lower pound in this month’s figures, and output growth is expected to power on over the coming quarter."

However she added: "After a brief pause last month, expectations for selling prices have rebounded, indicating that the squeeze on consumers is set to persist."

The CBI expects inflation to hit 3% towards the end of this year and remain close to that level during 2018.