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Summary

  1. Bitcoin rises above $13,000
  2. Ryanair pilots in strike threat
  3. Cabinet not discussed Brexit end point - Hammond
  4. Spring Statement set for 13 March
  5. Steinhoff shares plunge after boss quits
  6. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Dan Macadam

All times stated are UK

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  1. Good night

    Test Card F

    That's it for tonight - thanks very much for reading. Do join us in the morning when Business Live will be back from 06:00am.

    On the diary we've house prices figures from Halifax, lending data from the Bank of England and the latest EU growth estimates.

  2. In the throes of a bubble?

    Bitcoins

    We'll finish with views on Bitcoin's latest surge, as the digital currency increases by $1,000 in the space of a day to break through $13,000 for the first time.

    Karl Schamotta, a director at Cambridge Global Payments in Canada, says the entrance of major US exchange operators into the Bitcoin market is "driving the massive rally".

    However, others are more blunt: saying that greed and fear are behind the surge.

    "We are in the throes of a bubble market, and one of the characteristics of a bubble market is that there is no way to know when the bubble will burst," said Mick McCarthy of CMC Markets.

  3. Wall Street slips on oil

    Oil pumpjack

    The main US stock indexes have finished slightly lower, dragged down by energy stocks and falling oil prices.

    West Texas crude dropped 3% to $55.98 a barrel, while Brent crude slipped 2.6% to $61.24 a barrel as data showed US production is rising faster than expected.

    The Dow Jones share index dipped 0.2% to 24140.91, while the S&P 500 was flat at 2629.27.

    There was a modest gain in tech stocks, which saw the Nasdaq index buck the trend to rise 0.2% to 6776.38.

  4. BreakingEx-Volkswagen executive jailed for 7 years

    VW logo

    A former Volkswagen executive has been sentenced to seven years in prison and a $400,000 fine, after admitting to helping the firm evade clean-air laws.

    Oliver Schmidt, 48, is the second person to receive jail time in the US for his role in the diesel emissions scandal.

    Mr Schmidt, who led VW's environmental and engineering office in Michigan and helped secure US regulatory approval, learned of the cheating scheme in 2015, according to court documents.

    Volkswagen has said it installed software to cheat emissions tests in millions of vehicles globally. It has spent as much as $30bn to address US claims.

  5. More valuable than Coca Cola

    Coca-Cola cans

    Bitcoin's latest surge means it's now worth more than most of the biggest companies in the US - albeit the comparison isn't exact.

    The market value of Bitcoin (which you get from multiplying the number of bitcoins in circulation with the crypto-currency's price) is now $224.8bn.

    That gives it a higher market capitalisation than 97% of the companies on the S&P index of the 500 largest US companies, according to analyst Charlie Bilello.

    Drinks giant Coca-Cola, drugs firm Pfizer and Citigroup - the world's largest credit card issuer - all have a smaller market capitalisation than Bitcoin's, he said.

  6. The big issues around Bitcoin

    What are cryptocurrencies, how do they work and can you actually spend them? Why have values risen so sharply and what are the risks?

    With uncanny timing, Money Box on BBC Radio 4 looked at the big issues around Bitcoin this afternoon...

    View more on twitter
  7. Bitcoin rises $1,000 in a day

    Bitcoin price

    To put Bitcoin's latest milestone in perspective, it has risen $1,000 in value in less than 24 hours (see the chart above).

    Analysts suggested that a lot of new money was coming into the market looking for a profit - helped by the entry of major US exchanges.

    Others said the currency's rise was unsustainable, and had the hallmarks of financial crazes like the dotcom boom.

    "It appears the bubble is growing at an increasing pace," said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB.

    "Even the most ardent Bitcoin bulls would struggle to justify the rationale behind the latest gains."

  8. BreakingBitcoin passes $13,000

    Bitcoins and dollars

    The dramatic surge in the price of Bitcoin continues as it passes $13,000 for the first time.

    The digital currency has seen its value double in the last month in a steep, but often volatile, rise.

    It's hit a new record high of $13,134.59, according to the Coindesk exchange.

  9. Brexit no deal 'devastating' - US body

    US activist

    A failure to reach a Brexit deal would be "devastating" for UK and US companies, according to a major US business organisation.

    The US Chamber of Commerce says it is calling for a transition period of at least three years after March 2019 - when the UK is due to leave the EU - to negotiate a full UK-EU trade deal.

    Marjorie Chorlins, director for the body's US-UK Business Council, is appearing before Congress to discuss the Brexit negotiations.

    "If Brexit is mismanaged, or if the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement on their future relationship, the economic consequences would be substantial, and thousands of U.S. firms and their employees would be directly affected," she said in pre-prepared comments.

  10. Unilever fined in ice-cream row

    Ice-cream

    Unilever's Italian division has been hit with a €60m fine for for abusing its dominant position in the market for packaged ice-cream.

    Italy's competition agency launched a probe after a small ice lolly maker called La Bomba complained the giant consumer goods firm was forcing local retailers not to sell its lollies.

    The investigation concluded that Unilever had “obliged or incentivised” local firms to exclusively sell its ice-creams.

    Unilever has rejected the finding and said it will appeal.

    "The market for ice cream (to be consumed) outside the home is a highly competitive one in which artisan and industrial, bulk and packaged products compete for the consumer's attention in a fragmented landscape that is like no other in Europe," Unilever said.

  11. Video game watchdog in hot water

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Call of Duty: WWII

    The Video Standards Council (VSC) has been accused of not doing its job, because it apparently hasn't banned a single title since it became the official video games regulator for the UK in 2012.

    "The Video Standards Council is more like a trade organisation than a regulatory body and uses a very light touch approach to classifying video games, and this does not meet the concerns of parents," Liberal Democrat peer and former headteacher Lord Storey told the House of Lords.

    "In fact there have been no videos which have not been available or removed from the shelves."

    However, ministers said that there was no evidence that the watchdog had not done its job, saying that the VSC classified 146 out of 498 video games in 2016 as "18", meaning that only adults were permitted to purchase them and play them.

  12. Walmart to rebrand (sort of)

    Walmart store and a man pushing trolleys

    Walmart has decided to rebrand itself from "Walmart Stores" to "Walmart Inc", to reflect its online business, which encompasses mobile shopping, as well as pickup and delivery.

    The US supermarket chain announced that the change will be effective from February 2018.

    "Our customers know us as Walmart and today they shop with us not only in our stores but online and with our app as well," said Chief Executive Doug McMillon

    Walmart has 11,600 stores around the world. It will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol 'WMT'.

  13. Ryanair shrugs off Portugal threat

    Ryanair tailfin

    The Irish airline isn't only facing industrial action in Italy - where dozens of pilots are planning to walk out on 15 December - but in Portugal too.

    Portuguese union Spac has served formal notice of its Ryanair members voting in favour of industrial action. The Portuguese pilots also plan a strike later this month, according to reports in Irish media.

    In response, Ryanair told the BBC: "We have never suffered any strikes. We regularly receive threats of industrial action from competitor airline pilot unions from Italy, Portugal and even Aer Lingus pilots occasionally.

    "Both we and our pilots ignore these letters."

  14. 'Dear Mark Carney... capitalism stinks'

    Mark Carney

    The BBC has seen some of the angry letters sent to Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

    Here are some of the publishable extracts - which were obtained through a Freedom of Information request:

    • "My grandchildren are going to have to buy tents … because all the housing stock will have been bought up by greedy buy-to-let landlords. I am angry. Yours in utter contempt, a better economist than you will ever be."
    • "Brexit is a good thing, people will start having a feel-good factor and start doing well. You spreading negativity trying to make a self-fulfilling prophecy is vile."
    • "My gold-plated £8k work pension will be worth 8p as inflation continues to rise and rocket. I can envisage the "Yes Minister snigger snigger" expectation of getting away with it.... I've decided capitalism stinks"
  15. Strike will be dropped - Ryanair

    Ryanair wing

    Ryanair has poured cold water on the likelihood of a strike by its Italian pilots taking place next week.

    “This is the sixth time FIT/CISL or ANPAC has announced strikes by Ryanair pilots, only to postpone/cancel them later," a spokeswoman for the airline says.

    "We expect this latest threatened strike will also be postponed/cancelled since both FIT/CISL and ANPAC are Alitalia unions with no role in Ryanair," she adds.

  16. Productivity versus employment

    two workers

    What's more important - higher employment or higher productivity?

    According to Philip Hammond it's employment.

    The chancellor told MPs grilling him over last month's Budget that while the UK has "a fundamental productivity problem", the government's approach since the financial crisis has been to "encourage employment growth".

    "Other economies have chosen different routes where high levels of employment are tolerated.. the effects of which will be felt for years to come.

    "I think we’ve made the right decision," he said.

    The UK's poor productivity has been blamed for holding back the UK economy.

    In last month's Budget the government's economic watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), said productivity has grown by just 0.2% a year for the past five years, much less than expected.

    It also warned productivity will see only weak growth in the next five years.

  17. Ryanair faces first ever strike

    Ryanair

    Budget airline Ryanair could see its first ever strike next week, according to an Italian union.

    Italian union ANPAC has announced plans for its members to strike on 15 December from 14.00 GMT to 18.00 GMT.

    The union has 280 members, representing around 40% of the Ryanair pilots based in Italy.

    Anpac said it was not yet clear how many of its pilots were scheduled to fly at that time.

    But Ryanair is dismissive of the threat, saying it doesn't expect the walkout to go ahead.