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Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

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  1. Merry Christmas!

    Father Christmas

    That's it for this year on Business Live.

    We'll be back bright and early at 06:00 on Tuesday 2 January 2018.

    Do join us then for all the latest breaking news and analysis from the business world.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and a great new year.

  2. Coinbase says buying and selling disabled


    Coinbase, one of the biggest Bitcoin marketplaces on the internet, says that buying and selling has been temporarily disabled.

    "Due to today's high traffic, buys and sells may be temporarily offline. We're working on restoring full availability as soon as possible," Coindesk posted at 08:35 PST (16:35 GMT).

    On Friday, the cryptocurrency's price fell below $11,000, according to the Coindesk exchange website, before recovering to about $12,000.

    This puts it on track for its worst week since 2013.

  3. AT&T and Time Warner extend merger deadline

    AT&T and Time Warner logos

    US telecommunications provider AT&T and entertainment group Time Warner have decided to extend the deadline for their $85bn merger until 21 June 2018.

    The US Department of Justice is opposed to the merger and sued in November over antitrust concerns.

    The original deadline for the merger was 22 April.

    The trial is due to begin on 19 March 2018 and the presiding US District Court judge has said he would likely only be able to rule in either late April or early May.

  4. Housing boom in the US?

    worker carries lumber as he builds a new home on January 21, 2015 in Petaluma, California

    Newly-built single-family homes sold in the US at the fastest pace since 2007 in November.

    The purchases flew at an annual rate of 733,000 last month, up 17.5% from October and 26.6% from 12 months earlier, the US Census Bureau said.

    The sales level remains significantly lower than it was before the housing crisis and recession.

    New home sales are a tiny slice of the overall housing market in the US, and can vary significantly from month to month.

    But they are considered an important indicator of economic health, in part because of spillover effects in industries such as construction and retail.

  5. US tax bill signed into law

    As expected, President Donald Trump has signed the Republicans' $1.5 trillion tax overhaul bill into law.

    In addition to finalising the tax bill, President Trump has also signed off on a short-term government spenidng bill that includes funds for missile defence.

    View more on twitter
  6. Where's the hold up on inflation?

    A trader signals an offer in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index options pit at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) on July 30, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
    Image caption: What's the hold up on inflation?

    A central puzzle in the US economy looks like it will remain unresolved headed into the new year.

    Inflation rates in America are not rising at the pace that typically accompanies a strong labour market.

    Some economists, including outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, argue the slowdown is temporary, while others say it could be part of a long-term trend, driving by factors such as globalisation.

    New Commerce Department data will not settle the matter.

    It reported on Friday that the Fed's preferred inflation measure - a price index for consumer spending that excludes food and energy - rose just 0.1% in November, down from 0.2% in October.

    The year-on-year picture, however, was a bit brighter, showing a 1.5% increase, compared to 1.4% in October.

    Wells Fargo analysts write:

    "At some point ... tightening labour markets and stressed resource markets will reassert themselves. For now, however, consumers are enjoying their increased purchasing power."

  7. Niki airline staff to get December salaries

    Niki Airline

    Staff of the troubled Austrian airline Niki will receive their December salaries, according to the head of Niki's works council.

    Niki's administrators are currently working to sell its remaining assets after the airline filed for insolvency last week.

    Lufthansa was meant to buy Niki along with other parts of Air Berlin, but was forced to scrap its plans after the European Commission said it was concerned about anti-competition.

    Niki Lauda, a former Formula One world champion who started Niki in 2003, said that he offered to buy the airline back.

  8. Exploding beer on M40 prevents Christmas getaways

    Exploding beer bottles on the M40

    Drivers starting the Christmas getaway faced long tailbacks on the M40 as a lorry-load of beer caught fire.

    It happened at about 11:30 GMT, closing the southbound carriageway between Cherwell Valley Services and Bicester. Highways England reopened one lane southbound at about 12:40.

    Witnesses said bottles of Stella were exploding in the flames.

  9. Wall Street opens flat

    Wall Street at Christmas

    US shares opened flat on Friday, with gains in financial stocks offsetting losses in Nike and technology shares.

    The Dow Jones is down 0.08% or 20.87 points to 24,761.42. The top loser is Nike, down 4.2% to $62.08 on the news that its quarterly sales fell short of analyst estimates in the US, despite the fact it beat estimates on sales abroad in Europe and China.

    The S&P 500 is flat, down just 0.02% or 0.56 points to 2,684.01. Nike is also the top loser on this index.

    And the tech-heavy Nasdaq is down 0.11% or 7.45 points to 6,957.92, dragged down by Net Element Inc, which fell 27.5% to $13.60, after its stock soared 300% on Wednesday.

  10. Frantic Friday begins

    Cars on the motorway

    The Christmas getaway - dubbed "Frantic Friday" - is under way as workers contend with congested roads and train delays.

    An estimated 1.3 million drivers on leisure trips are fighting for road space with regular commuters on the last working day before Christmas.

    Highways England has reported 46 traffic incidents on motorways and major A-roads.

    Meanwhile, a number of train operators have reported delays and cancellations. South Western Railway said around 30 services could be cancelled and run short due to "sickness among train crew".

    Your guide to the Christmas getaway

  11. Good Afternoon

    Oxford Street at Christmas

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

    Mary-Ann Russon with you until 17:00 for the rest of the day's news and views from Britain and beyond.

    Have you got all your Christmas shopping done yet? Three days and counting.

    It's a jungle outside on Oxford Street.

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

  12. Birckenstock kicks off over Amazon fakes

    A pile of sandals

    Birkenstock has accused Amazon of being an "accomplice" to fraudsters who sell fakes of its leather sandals online.

    The German shoemaker plans to stop selling on Amazon Europe websites from January, in protest at what it says is the online retailer's lack of action against counterfeit Birkenstocks.

    "The truth is that Amazon makes money with these fakes," Birkenstock's chief executive Oliver Reichert, told the German newspaper Spiegel. "As far we're concerned, Amazon is an accomplice."

    Amazon has said in the past that is has "zero tolerance" for fraud.

  13. Bitcoin offloading 'panic'

    Bitcoin logo

    Kerim Derhalli, chief executive of investment app Invstr, wonders if Bitcoin "panic" has set in.

    "Bitcoin’s meteoric price rise is mostly due to the highly illiquid nature of the current market. There are very few Bitcoin available to buy on the open, which pushes prices up.

    "It’s not clear yet what happened here, but it is possible that someone with a large stockpile of Bitcoin made it available to the market.

    "This increase in availability could have initially driven prices down, with other holders - especially those that bought at the top of the market - panicked into offloading as a result."

  14. Retailers brace for Super Saturday

    Oxford Street

    Earlier, Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe told the BBC that he expects today to be the busiest in the company's history.

    While that might be the case for Sainsbury's, the last Saturday before Christmas is usually the busiest shopping day of the year.

    Forecasts from ShopperTrak suggests that footfall (the number of people visiting shops) will be up 63% on the average day.

    "Today [Friday] is many retailer’s last day for pre-Christmas online deliveries, so shoppers will be forced to head in-store to make last minute buys or pick up any final click-and-collect orders in-store," said Steve Richardson, Director at ShopperTrak.

  15. Ryanair strike delays flights


    The strike by Ryanair pilots in Germany affected 9 out of 36 early flights according to the Irish airline.

    "We are grateful to all of our Ryanair pilots for putting our customers first and largely ignoring this VC strike," the company said, referring to the Vereinigung Cockpit union.

  16. No Santa rally for the FTSE 100


    So that's it from the London Stock Exchange for Christmas and the FTSE 100 has closed down.

    The blue chip index finished 11.32 points lower at 7,592.66.

    The FTSE 250 ended up 58.34 points at 20,481.07.

  17. Oil prices head lower

    Oil prices ticked lower on Friday.

    Brent is down 0.3% at $64.73 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate fell 0.4% to $58.12.