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  1. FTSE and sterling higher
  2. Burberry signs Farfetch deal
  3. Airbus takes €1.3bn charge on A400M
  4. GKN tells investors to reject Melrose bid

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

Good night

Test card F

That's it for another day, thank you for joining Business Live.

We'll be back tomorrow at 6.00am sharp - see you then.

Ghosn to stay at Renault's helm

Carlos Ghosn
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The board of French car-maker Renault has proposed that Carlos Ghosn (pictured) remain as chairman and chief executive. It also proposed that he remain as chairman and chief executive of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

It has also appointed Thierry Bollore as chief operating officer and confirmed that chief performance officer Stefan Mueller is leaving Renault due to health reasons.

The board also set out its priorities, which are:

  • Oversee the strategic objectives of the "Drive the Future" plan ending in 2022
  • Take decisive steps to make the Alliance irreversible
  • Strengthen the succession plan at the head of Groupe Renault.

US stock markets close higher

Stock market trader
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US stock markets closed higher on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.24% at 25,200 points.

The S&P 500 was up 1% at 2,725.

The Nasdaq closed 0.88% higher at 1,535.

PR firm blasted for sexist rejection letter

Roche 'set to buy' Alphabet-owned cancer start-up

Zach Weinberg and Nat Turner are the co-founders of Flatiron Health
Flatiron Health
Zach Weinberg (L) and Nat Turner (R) are the co-founders of Flatiron Health

CNBC reports that Flatiron Health, a start-up founded by two former Google employees, is about to be acquired by Swiss pharma giant Roche.

Flatiron Health is owned by Alphabet, the parent company of the search giant Google, and CNBC says the company owns a medical record system which is used by doctors treating patients with cancer.

Roche is a backer of Flatiron Health and it is thought is will pay $2.1bn to buy the business.

Instagram submits to Russia censor's demands

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Instagram has blocked posts in Russia relating to corruption claims made by the country's most prominent opposition leader.

It follows a demand by the country's internet censor that the Facebook-owned service restrict access to posts on its platform connected to allegations made by Alexei Navalny.

Its response contrasts with that of Google's YouTube service.

It had been ordered to block several clips before the end of Wednesday.

Read more here...

Oil price fall subsides

Oil prices have trimmed earlier falls, buoyed by a weaker dollar.

Brent crude is now down 0.4% at $64.08 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate is now up 0.8% at $61.06.

Speaking earlier, Rob Thummel, portfolio manager at energy investment manager Tortoise Energy, said: "I'm surprised that oil prices are falling today given the weaker US dollar.

"Currently, the direction of the dollar is having a bigger impact on oil prices than fundamentals."

Scottish Widows draws veil on Standard Life Aberdeen deal

Douglas Fraser

Scotland business & economy editor

Scottish Widows
Scottish Widows

Standard Life Aberdeen, the newly-merged financial giant, is set to lose a large tranche of the assets it has been managing after Scottish Widows pulled out of a partnership deal.

It is reckoned that more than a trillion pounds of investment funds are now managed out of Edinburgh, which is quite a vote of confidence from those who trust asset managers with their moola.

Roughly two-thirds of that has been at the newly-merged Standard Life Aberdeen, last September managing £648m.

For those who see Scotland's financial world as a wee bit too cosy, this Scottish Widows announcement proves that relationships within this asset management community can get quite rocky.

Read more here...

Strong earnings fuel stock markets

Stock market trader
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The most recent company results season seems to be fueling stock market gains.

Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group, says: "The momentum is being fueled by the realisation that earnings season continues to be the best we've had since 2009.

"We're going to continue to see some aftershocks in the market, but they will incrementally become less dramatic over time."

ECB member warns on Bitcoin

Yves Mersch
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Bitcoin is climbing higher despite comments earlier on Thursday from Yves Mersch, a member of the European Central Bank's executive board, who declared it was "not a currency but simply a speculative digital asset".

Speaking at a conference in Paris, the long-time Bitcoin critic also said that virtual currencies "may become worthless at any time".

Watch: New direction for Uber?

US stocks spring back to life

And up it goes again.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has regained some momentum and is now up by 184.38 points at 25,077.87.

The S&P 500 is ahead 20.48 points at 2,719.11 and the Nasdaq has jumped 79.84 points to 7,223.46.

Lloyds axes Standard Life Abderdeen contract

Bitcoin breaches $10,000

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Speaking of roller coasters, Bitcoin is back over $10,000 again.

The cryptocurrency is trading up 6.19% at $10,064.46, according to CoinDesk.

Shake it off

There was much speculation that the latest US inflation figures and producer price index (PPI) data this week could send American stock markets back on a roller coaster ride.

But Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, says: "In the midst of all the nervousness of the past two weeks, we're winding out a really strong earnings reporting season.

"There were a lot eyes fixating on the PPI number this morning, it came in a little hot. But much like yesterday, the market's shaking it off."

Sands runs thin for Halliburton

Oil pump
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Halliburton, the US oilfield services group, expects profit to fall in its first quarter because of delays in deliveries of the sand used for fracking.

Christopher Weber, Halliburton's chief financial officer, said: "We got multiple sand operators whose operations in the region were impacted and from which we purchase about one-third of our total sand volumes."

He said the company has been facing delays of up to 72 hours since February.

Shares in Halliburton are down 1.9%.

Listen: The advent of Frankenstein food?

Oil prices slide

Oil rig workers
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Oil prices are down after stronger than expected inventories in the US overshadowed plans by major producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia to agree a long-term alliance.

Brent crude fell by 1.2% to $63.58 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate is off 0.6% at $60.22.

The Energy Information Administration said that US crude output hit a record 10.27 million barrels per day. Also US crude and gasoline inventories rose last week.

Olivier Jakob, analyst at Petromatrix, said: "What we have now is a bit of a re-adjustment from the price rise we had yesterday, which was a bit overdone.

"I don't think the [EIA] data was that supportive."

Quiet close for London stocks

The stock markets in London have closed and the FTSE 100 has ended up 20.84 points at 7,234.81.

Standard Life Aberdeen remained the biggest faller of the day, down 7.9% at 358.41p.

Precious metals miner Fresnillo jumped to top of the leaders' board with its shares 4.5% ahead at 13.90.

The FTSE 250 finished up 111.39 points at 19,559.77.

Steinhoff appoints restructuring chief

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Troubled retailer Steinhoff International has put the former head of KPMG's global restructuring group in charge of overhauling the business.

Richard Heis was with KMPG until last November.

Steinhoff, which owns discount chain Poundland, is attempting to restructure its debts after finding irregularities in its accounts.

Heather Sonn, acting chairperson of Steinhoff, said Heis should "bring significant benefit to the group".

'New start' for businesses and investors in South Africa

Rio Tinto appoints Royal Mail chief to board

Moya Greene
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The mining giant Rio Tinto has named Moya Greene (pictured) as a new non-executive director.

The chief executive of the postal service is replacing Paul Tellier and she will become the third female non-executive at Rio Tinto, joining Megan Clark and Ann Godbehere.

US stocks lose steam

After an energetic start, stock market gains in the US have moderated.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now up 78.13 points at 24,971.62.

The Nasdaq has risen 14.03 points at 7,157.64 and the S&P 500 is 3.84 points ahead at 2,702.47.

Government says 'blaah' on Carillion

A spectacular own goal from the Government on its website advising workers at the collapsed Carillion...


Key questions remain over Carillion collapse

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Both the Work & Pensions Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee have published a long list of questions which they say still need to be answered following the collapse of the construction and outsourcing group Carillion.

Following appearances by former Carillion executives before MPs last week, the committees have published letters to the likes of former chief executive Richard Howson and ex-finance director Zafar Khan asking them about their compensation.

It has also written to a number of organisations which they claim are "ascribed some role or responsibility in the events leading to the demise of Carillion by its former directors".

Court of Session

Politicians want to go to the European Court of Justice for a ruling on whether Brexit could be called off.

Read more

Standard Life Aberdeen shares slide

The FTSE 100 is holding onto gains on Thursday afternoon.

The blue chip index of leading stocks is trading up 29.85 points at 7,243.82, led by the insurer Old Mutual which is ahead 3.8% at 248.5p.

Standard Life Aberdeen, on the other hand, is the biggest faller, down 8% at 357.9p after Lloyds Banking Group dumped a £109bn asset management contract with the recently merged group.

The FTSE 250 is up 133.23 points at 19,581.61.

Avon re-booted


Is a new day finally dawning for Avon?

Shares in the make-up group rose by 9% on Thursday after it reported better than expected fourth quarter figures.

It has returned to profit in both the final three months of 2017 and across the year as a whole.

Jan Zijderveld has just joined as chief executive after Sheri McCoy stepped down following pressure from activist investor Barington Capital.

Avon's finance chief Jamie Wilson said that sales remain "under pressure as we continue to operate in challenging macro and competitive conditions, particularly in our largest markets".

But Mr Zijderveld said: "With the support of the board of directors, and the reality of our current performance, I am taking a fresh look, diving deeply into our business, starting with spending time in our key markets to gain a full picture of the operating climate as a basis to improve performance."

Snapchat backlash demands roll-back

Snapchat app
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One million people have signed a petition calling on Snapchat to roll back its latest redesign.

The changes were intended to separate interactions with friends from branded content - including that of celebrities and influencers.

Snapchat founder Evan Spiegelwrote in a blog postthat he believed blurring the two had contributed to the rise of fake news.

However, thousands of Snapchat userssay that the new layout is hard to use.

Read the full story here.

BreakingUS stock markets soar

Stock market trader
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US stock markets jumped in the opening seconds of trading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 175.74 points to 25,069.23.

The S&P 500 added 17.92 points to 2,716.55 and the Nasdaq rose 45.05 points to 7,188.66.

US producer prices accelerate

US producer prices rose in January due to the higher cost of gasoline and healthcare.

The US Labor Department said the producer price index (PPI) rose by 0.4% last month following an unchanged reading in December.

In the 12 months to January, PPI rose 2.7% compared to 2.6% in the year to December.

The cost of healthcare services rose by 0.7% last month while gasoline prices soared by 7.1%.

Uber from A to B

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There could soon be Uber buses, bikes and even trains if the boss of the ride-hailing business gets his way.

The Financial Times reports that Uber's chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi told a conference that the business is already testing a bike-sharing scheme in San Francisco.

But he added: "I want to run the bus systems for a city. I want you to be able to take an Uber and get into the subway... get out and have an Uber waiting for you."

Bond star to sell Aston Martin for charity

Daniel Craig
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Daniel Craig will auction a limited-edition Aston Martin Vanquish made for him to raise cash for a charity he supports.

The James Bond star was handed the 2014 Vanquish by Aston Martin after it produced 100 to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

The car is expected to sell for between $400,000-$600,000 (£285,000 to £427,000) with proceeds being handed to New York-based charity The Opportunity Network, which helps students from disadvantaged communities.

The car will be auctioned at Christie's New York on 20 April.

No ratings downgrade for South Africa

Zuma must fail sign

S&P Global Ratings says the change in leadership in South Africa doesn't warrant a ratings change.

It downgraded South Africa's local currency rating to junk in November after months of turmoil, but today said: "The new leadership could bring confidence and faster implementation of key reforms already undertaken.

"However, Mr Ramaphosa and his administration will require time to design and implement measures to improve economic growth and stabilize public finances, given the structural and institutional challenges that South Africa faces."

It warned that "economic growth remains low, impeding the path to fiscal consolidation. We think the government will attempt to introduce offsetting measures in an effort to improve budgetary outcomes, but these may not be sufficient to stabilize public finances in the near term."

Jacob Zuma resigns: what next for South Africa?

Construction activity slowed in January

Construction projects
Barbour IBA

The construction industry's woes have continued into 2018, according to Barbour ABI.

The value of new contracts awarded at £5.4bn, was 10.6% lower than the same time last year.

“The recent collapse of Carillion has not done much for confidence in the sector, which is already facing a number of headwinds," said Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour IBA..

"Mainly due to a lack of major projects, construction has been held back in January."

The largest project in the month was the £800m Spire London Hertsmere House development at West India Quay in London.

Market update

The FTSE 100 is 0.4% higher at 7,243 points, with Standard Life Aberdeen the biggest faller - down 5.7% - after Lloyds Banking Group and Scottish Widows called time a huge asset management contract with the recently merged firm.

A bigger slice of Thames Water

Water rig in the Thames
Thames Water

A Canadian pension plan is raising its stake in the holding company of Thames Water to just under a third.

Omers (the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) said it has bought an additional 4% in Kemble Water Holdings, which owns Thames Water.

The deal is expected to close later this year.

Other groups with stakes in Kemble Water include the Universities Superannuation Scheme, Abu Dhabi-owned Infinity Investments, Kuwait's Wren House and the BT pension scheme Hermes.

The Mirror cracks?

Media commentator Roy Greenslade tweets:

View more on twitter

Avon loses its gloss

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Avon Products said sales were flat in the fourth quarter at $1.57bn as consumers bought fewer products from the cosmetic maker's army of sales reps.

It posted a net profit of $91.5m - better than a loss of $10.7m in the same period in 2016.

Jamie Wilson, chief financial officer, said: "Our top line remains under pressure as we continue to operate in challenging macro and competitive conditions, particularly in our largest markets."

Bombardier flying high

Bombardier plane

Bombardier has posted fourth quarter profits of $304m (£216m) - about a third higher than the same period a year earlier.

The Troubled Canadian train and plane maker company said sales and margins in its rail division had improved.

Bombardier is in the middle of a five-year turnaround plan to cut costs and boost margins, after years of heavy investments in two new aircraft programs pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy in 2015.

"2018 will be a pivotal year for Bombardier," said boss Alain Bellemare. "We are moving out of our investment cycle and into a strong growth cycle."

Last October the company offloaded its CSeries plane range to Airbus.