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Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

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  1. Sterling edging lower

    Pound, dollars and euros

    The pound is now down 0.2% against the dollar at $1.33500, following a survey that showed consumer sentiment had fallen to a four-year low and news that Britain's deputy prime minister had been forced to resign.

    Sterling is also down 0.11% on the euro at €1.12530.

  2. Ryanair pilots in Germany to go ahead with strike

    Ryanair aeroplane

    Ryanair might have sorted its problems out back home by pledging to recognise an Irish trade union, but pilots are still very unhappy in Germany.

    The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) trade union says all pilots directly employed by the airline are being asked to join a walk-out from 05:01 until 08:59 CET (04:01-07:59 GMT) on Friday.

    VC says negotiations scheduled for Wednesday were cancelled at short notice over the presence of two members of its team.

    "In the history of the VC, there has never been a case in which the collective bargaining autonomy has been trampled on by an employer as is now the case with Ryanair," said Ingolf Schumacher, head of VC's industrial department.

    "This makes it clear to VC that the company is not interested in a mutually constructive co-operation, based on trust and equality. Rather, Ryanair is trying to win time and attempting to delay the beginning of collective bargaining."

  3. Virgin West Coast rail strike called off

    Virgin Trains

    Virgin Trains says planned strikes by the RMT and TSSA unions on Virgin Trains West Coast have been called off.

    Strikes were due to take place on Friday and on four days in January.

    The company said it would try to run a full service on Friday, but warned there could be some cancellations.

  4. FTSE hits all-time high

    London Stock Exchange

    The FTSE 100 has hit an all-time high, rising 1.11% or 83.3 points to 7,608.55.

    Mining stocks are featuring prominently in the rise, with Rio Tinto, Glencore and Anglo American all firmly in the green.

    The FTSE 250 is also slightly ahead, up 0.33% or 67.5 points to 20,417.77.

    The top winner on the index is also a mining firm - Sirius Minerals, up 6.6% to 23.5p.

  5. More on Shell-First Utility deal

    Shell is to acquire First Utility for an undisclosed amount of money.

    The deal is subject to regulatory and other approvals and is expected to complete in early 2018.

    “The supply and demand of residential energy is rapidly changing, driven by new technologies that enable householders to better manage their energy use, and the need for a low-carbon energy system,” said Mark Gainsborough, Shell’s Executive Vice President of New Energies.

    “This combination will enable Shell to enter a new part of the energy market in the UK and to improve choice for customers by delivering innovative services at competitive prices.”

    Shell's European gas and power marketing and trading business Shell Energy Europe Limited will continue to supply wholesale gas and electricity to energy retailers in the UK and Europe, including First Utility.

  6. Good Afternoon

    Oxford St at Christmas

    Thanks to Dearbail and Lucy for this morning's live coverage of all things business.

    Mary-Ann Russon with you until 21:30 for the rest of the day's news and views from Britain and beyond.

    Got a point of view? Tweet me at @concertina226 and @BBCBusiness

    Only four days left till Christmas!

  7. Wall Street opens higher

    Wall Street at Christmas

    US shares opened higher on Thursday, after Department of Commerce data showed that GDP grew at its fastest pace in more than two years in the third quarter, and investors saw gains from the passing of the Republicans' tax cuts bill.

    The Dow Jones is up 0.32% or 78.4 points to 24,805.06, led by sports shoe manufacturer Nike, up 1.6% to $64.62, in anticipation of its earnings call later today.

    The S&P 500 has risen 0.21% or 5.6 points to 2,684.87. The top winner was consulting and outsourcing service provider Accenture, up 3.9% to $157.73 after reporting better-than-expected quarterly profit.

    And the tech-heavy Nasdaq has risen 0.21% or 14.8 points to 6,975.85, led by fintech firm Net Element Inc, up a whopping 42.9% to $27.70 after it launched a business unit focused on blockchain technology.

  8. Ryanair confirms it will recognise Irish trade union

    Ryanair aeroplane

    Ryanair has pledged in writing to recognise the Irish trade union Impact and the pilot council for employees - a first for the airline.

    "Ryanair has also submitted a set of proposals on pay and conditions, procedures and dispute resolution for its Irish-based pilots, and looks forward to concluding an early agreement on these issues with its Irish Ryanair pilot company council," the airline said in a statement.

    The airline has been opposed to dealing with unions for years, but the move means that threats of strike action over the holiday and new year period will recede.

    The union wishes to negotiate substantial issues around pilot pay and working conditions.

  9. US growth rate revised down

    Chrysler production line

    The US economy grew at a slightly slower pace than previously thought in the third quarter, but is still expanding at a healthy pace.

    The Commerce Department now says the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in the quarter, down a touch from its previous estimate of 3.3%.

    However, the rate was still faster than the second quarter's pace of 3.1%, and it is the first time since 2014 that the economy has recorded growth of 3% or more for two quarters in a row.

  10. BreakingCreditors vote in favour of Toys R Us plan

    Simon Gompertz

    BBC personal finance correspondent

    The BBC's personal finance correspondent Simon Gompertz writes:

    "The creditors meeting has approved the Toys R Us rescue plan with 98% in favour.

    "This means [the] plan put to creditors proceeds, under which the business continues to trade under a Company Voluntary Arrangement and close 26 of 105 outlets."

  11. Toys R Us will turn to US parent

    Toys R US shopfront

    Details are coming out of the deal struck between troubled Toys R Us and the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

    The key sticking point standing in the way of a turnaround plan was a hole in the company's pension scheme.

    According to the PPF, Toys R Us has agreed to bolster its pension plan to the tune of £9.8m and will undertake to sort out the deficit within 10 years.

    "The company has undertaken to seek additional support from the US parent company for the new plan for the pension scheme," said Malcolm Weir from the PPF.

    The PPF has said it will now vote in favour of the company's proposed restructuring plan, avoiding administration and the loss of 3,200 jobs.

  12. BreakingToys R Us will pay £9.8m into pension plan

    More from the Pension Protection Fund on its negotiation with Toys R Us.

    It looks like Toys R Us has agreed to pay more than the original £9m that was originally discussed.“The company has agreed to pay £9.8 million into the pension plan, composed of £3.8 million in 2018, with a further £6 million promised over 2019 and 2020," said Malcolm Weir from the PPF.

  13. BreakingToys R Us deal done

    The Pension Protection Fund says it has reached an agreement with Toys R Us over its company voluntary arrangement.

    Malcolm Weir, the PPF’s director of restructuring and insolvency said: “We can confirm that an agreement has now been reached and we will now be voting in favour of the proposals at the CVA meeting today.”

  14. Ryanair recognises union

    Ryanair plane

    We knew they were planning to do this - but it still feels like a step-change.

    Ryanair has declared that it is formally recognising Impact (Irish Municipal, Public and Civil Trade Union) "in an effort to resolve a long-running row and prevent strikes".

    Ryanair has also submitted new proposals on pay and working conditions.

  15. Daimler invests in ride-sharing firm

    Chauffeur Prive

    German car-maker Daimler is buying a majority stake in Chauffeur Prive, a French rival to Uber.

    Chauffeur Prive was founded in 2011, and now has more than 1.5 million customers and access to 18,000 drivers.

    Daimler has already taken small steps into the ride-sharing market.

    Earlier this year, Dubai-based Careem raised $150m from investors including Daimler to fund expansion.

  16. Prospects for real wages

    Wages

    Britain’s pay squeeze will get worse before it gets better next year, according to the Resolution Foundation.

    It calculates real wage growth is set to be zero over the year as a whole.

    One glimmer of optimism, though. The Foundation highlights that the lowest paid workers are set for a pay rise of 4.3% in April as the National Living Wage reaches £7.83.

    Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation, said: “2017 was a tough year for living standards as the pay squeeze returned. The good news is that things will get better next year. The bad news is we may only go from backwards to standing still, with prospects for a meaningful pay recovery still out of sight."

  17. Toys T Us 'suspends meeting again'

    Sky News is reporting that the Toys R Us creditors meeting has been suspended for a second time as talks continue to reach a deal with the Pensions Protection Fund.