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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Balfour Beatty in $2bn LAX deal
  3. Middle-income home ownership for 25 to 34-year-olds sinks
  4. IoD calls for partial customs union

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

Good night

Test card F
BBC

Thank you for following Business Live this week.

We hope you have a great weekend and look forward to you joining us once again on Monday morning from 6.00am.

Subdued close for US markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ends the week with a whimper, up 16.32 points at 25,216.69. The S&P 500 is ahead 1.03 points at 2,732.23.

The Nasdaq has finished 16.96 points lower at 7,239.47.

Facebook is off 1.44% at $177.36 while Twitter's share price has closed down 1.69% at $33.06.

Where now for equities?

Stock market traders
AFP

As we come to the end of a much less rocky week for US stocks, what are investors expecting in the sort-term for equities?

Ben Phillips, chief investment officer of EventShares, says: "The fundamental story has not changed.

"We really have not seen the tax reform start flowing through yet into company earnings. We think it's going to cause a second wave of earnings optimism."

While Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management, says: "There are certainly parts of the market that are not hurt by higher [interest] rates and I imagine those stocks to move along.

"Particularly, technology stocks that not only don't have exposure to interest rates but have cash balances."

Tech Tent: Two sides of the crypto-coin

Rory-Cellan Jones

Technology correspondent

Bitcoin
Getty Images

Is the whole reputation of the crypto-currency industry under threat as computers are hijacked to mine new coins?

On the Tech Tent podcast this week, we ask whether a new breed of environmentally conscious blockchain entrepreneurs can demonstrate that this technology does have a sustainable future.

Read more here.

US Fed seeks to fine and ban former Barclays banker

Facebook told to stop tracking in Belgium

Facebook logo
Getty Images

Facebook has been ordered to stop tracking people without consent, by a court in Belgium.

The company has been told to delete all the data it had gathered on people who did not use Facebook. The court ruled the data was gathered illegally.

Belgium's privacy watchdog said the website had broken privacy laws by placing tracking code - known as cookies - on third-party websites.

Facebook said it would appeal against the ruling.

Read the full story here.

US stock markets unsettled

US stock market trader
AFP

US stocks are bouncing around on Friday.

The Nasdaq is back in negative territory, down 5.04 points at 7,251.39.

The Dow Jones Industrial is now up 55.77 points at 5,256.14 after briefly rising by 200 points earlier. The S&P 500 is up 4.68 points at 2,736.10.

Still crazy?

It wasn't that long ago that Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, which owns Instagram, dismissed suggestions that false news stories on the social networking site could have impacted the 2016 presidential election.

  • Nov 2016:Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says "the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the (US) election in any way is a pretty crazy idea"
  • Aug 2017:Facebook says it will fight fake news by sending more suspected hoax stories to fact-checkers and publishing their findings online
  • Oct 2017:Google finds evidence that Russian agents spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads in a bid to sway the election, reports say
  • Oct 2017:Twitter bans Russia's RT and Sputnik media outlets from buying advertising amid fears they attempted to interfere in the election

Social media giants already grilled on 'fake news'

Twitter
Getty Images

In late 2017, lawyers for Facebook, Twitter and Google were questioned by the US Senate Intelligence Committee about possible Russian interference in the 2016 election and the use of automated bots on their platforms to spread divisive information.

Facebook said as many as 126 million American users may have seen content uploaded by Russia-based operatives over the past two years.

The social networking site said about 80,000 posts were produced before and after the 2016 presidential election.

Russians 'posed as real US persons to post on social media'

The indictment against 13 Russians and three companies for interfering in the US 2016 election says: "Defendants, posing as US persons and creating false US personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract US audiences.

"These groups and pages, which addressed divisive US political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by US activists when, in fact, they were controlled by defendants.

"Defendants also used the stolen identities of real US persons to post on organisation-controlled social media accounts.

"Over time, these social media accounts became defendants' means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the US political system, including the presidential election of 2016."

Russians conducted 'information warfare' on US election
US Deputy Attorney General says Russians began interfering with the US election process as early as 2014.

Facebook and Twitter shares fall

Shares in Facebook are down 1.02% at $178.12 and Twitter is off 1.37% at $33.15.

It follows the publication of an indictment that a Russian Internet agency and more than a dozen Russians interfered in the US election campaign between 2014 and 2016 in a multi-pronged effort including though social media.

Read the full story here.

Has the city found an answer to the Brexit question?

Simon Jack

BBC Business Editor

Manhattan
Getty Images

The US matters more than Europe.

Keeping up with the US is more important than keeping in with the EU.

Amidst the flurry of ideas about how to keep the links between Europe and its financial hub, London, intact after Brexit, a calm resolve is emerging among finance chiefs in London.

Keeping London competitive with New York is job number one. Everything else is of secondary importance.

Read more here.

Oil prices rise despite higher rig count

Oil rigs
Getty Images

After volatile trading on Thursday, oil prices are heading upwards.

Brent crude is up 0.8% at $64.87 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate is ahead 0.6% at $61.53.

Prices rose despite an increase in the number oil rigs that US energy companies added over last week.

Drillers added seven oil rigs in the week to 16 February, taking the total count up to 798 - the highest since April 2015, according the energy services company Baker Hughes.

Diamond geezer: Who is Nirav Modi?

Simon Atkinson

Asia Business Reporter

Nirav Modi  with Naomi Watts
Getty Images

Indian billionaire Nirav Modi (pictured above with actress Naomi Watts) made his fortune from diamond trading and jewellery.

But this week he was named in a investigation into an alleged $1.8bn fraud at a state-run bank.

Who is he? We've been taking a look at his connections to Hollywood, Bollywood and the inner circles of Indian politics.

EU and British flags

John Campbell

BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

Brexit negotiators will hold another round of "technical" talks about Northern Ireland next week.

Read more

Gap widens for homeownership

The Institute for Fiscal Studies tweets....

US may single out countries for steel tariffs

The US Commerce Department has recommended a 24% tariff on global steel imports from all countries.

It has also presented another option to levy a 53% import charge for certain countries including China, Vietnam, Brazil and South Korea.

Fiat Chrysler recalls trucks

FCA
EPA

Fiat Chrysler has announced that it will recall 228,508 trucks in the US, Canada, Mexico and some other markets because driver could accidentally shift their vehicles out of "park".

It said it was not aware of any injuries related to the issue.

US 'proposes 7.7% tariff on aluminium imports'

Recycled cans
Getty Images

Reports are emerging that the US Commerce Department is recommending a 7.7% tariff on aluminium imports.

US President Donald Trump has signaled that he would be prepared to take some action to restrict imports of steel and aluminum into North America.

He said: "What we're talking about is tariffs and or quotas.

"Part of the options would be tariffs coming in. As they dump steel, they pay tariffs, substantial tariffs, which means the United States would actually make a lot of money."

London shares close up

The FTSE 100 has finished up 59.89 points at 7,294.70.

The FTSE 250 is ahead 158.88 points at close to 19,733.64.

US stocks extend gains

Stock market trader
AFP

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has eked out further rises and is now up 131.44 points at 25,331.81.

The S&P 500 has added 12.20 points at 2,743.40 and the Nasdaq is ahead 22.58 points at 7,279.14.

Goodbye from Jeffrey?

Sky News is reporting that struggling retailer Toys R Us has to find £15m to pay a tax bill.

It says that advisers are working to secure a rescue deal ahead of a 27 February deadline for the VAT payment.

In a rescue plan struck last year, Toys R Us said it would close 26 of its 105 UK stores.

Retail analyst Steve Dresser has been at one of the shops that is shutting:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Royal Mint appoints first female boss in 1,100 years

Anne Jessopp
PA

Never let it be said that the Royal Mint doesn't move with the times.

It has appointed Anne Jessopp as its new chief executive - the first woman to lead the organisation in 1,100 years.

Ms Jessopp, who is also deputy master of the Mint, said: "I am delighted to be appointed to lead this unique and important British organisation. The Royal Mint has an impressive history of over 1,100 years and its longevity is due to its ability to adapt as society changes."

It may have taken over 1,000 years but the Mint is now finally led by a woman, and I am certain Anne will do a great job."

Robert JenrickTreasury Secretary

FCA hands over RBS restructuring group report

BBC business journalist Joe Lynam tweets...

US shares recover

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has turned around a shaky start to trading and is now up 106.61 points at 25,306.98.

The S&P 500 has also recovered and is 8.93 points ahead at 2,740.13. The Nasdaq is ahead 26.45 points at 7,282.88.

Citigroup boss lands 48% pay rise

Citigroup
Getty Images

The boss of US investment bank Citigroup has been handed a 48% pay rise.

Michael Corbat, who has been the boss of Citigroup since 2012, will take home $23m for 2017.

Over last year, Citigroup's share price rose by 25% and its profit grew by 4%.

London stocks on the up

The FTSE 100 is heading towards the end of the week on a positive note.

The index of blue chip stocks has added 45.12 points to 7,279.93. Shares in property manager Segro is leading the risers, up 6.1% at 589.40p after announcing strong full-year results.

Mining group Randgold Resources is the biggest faller on Friday, with its shares down 2.2% at £63.02.

The FTSE 120 is up 148.31 points at 19,723.07.

Housing starts soar in the US

Builder
Getty Images

Housing construction in the US soared by 9.7% in January according to the Commerce Department.

It said that builders broke ground on 1.326 million units, the highest annual rate since October 2016.

Building permits rose by 7.4% to a rate of 1.396 million units in January, the highest since June 2007.

BreakingUS markets open down

US market trader
Getty Images

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has opened 41.61 points lower at 25,158.76.

The S&P 500 is off 3.20 points at 2,728 and the Nasdaq is down 12.07 points at 7,244.36.

No dice now but Qualcomm is open to talks

Broadcom's $121bn bid for US chip-maker Qualcomm still isn't good enough but the two had "constructive" talks.

In an update to its shareholders, Qualcomm's chairman Paul Jacobs said: "The board remains unanimously of the view that this proposal materially undervalues Qualcomm and has an unacceptably high level of risk, and therefore is not in the best interests of Qualcomm stockholders."

Mr Jacobs added: "Our board is open to further discussions with Broadcom to see if a proposal that appropriately reflects the true value of Qualcomm shares, and ensures an appropriate level of deal certainty, can be obtained."

Kraft Heinz performance 'did not reflect potential'

Kraft Heinz
Getty Images

Following a disappointing year for sales, it is perhaps just as well that Kraft Heinz and Brazilian private equity firm 3G did not succeed in their £115bn approach for Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever.

Commenting on the company's results, Bernardo Hees, chief executive of Kraft Heinz, said: “There's no question that our financial performance in 2017 did not reflect our progress or potential."

However, he said that Kraft Heinz had accelerated some "important business investments" and said that further spending as well as the recent US corporate tax cut "should help further advantage our brands and grow our business in 2018 and beyond".

Google appeases Getty Images over copyright infringement

Woman taking photographs
Getty Images

Google has made it more difficult for people to save pictures from its image search product, as part of a "peace deal" with photo library Getty Images.

In 2017, Getty Images complained to the European Commission, accusing Google of anti-competitive practices.

Getty Images said that Google's image search made it easy for people to find Getty Images pictures and take them, without the appropriate permission or licence.

(Not) on the buses...

BBC transport correspondent Victoria Fritz tweets:

View more on twitter

Kraft sales drop as taste for cheese falters

Kraft food brands
Getty Images

Kraft Heinz has reported disappointing sales figures over the Christmas trading period.

Revenue in the US fell by 1.1% to $4.79bn, declining for the seventh straight quarter due to a decreasing demand from American retailers for processed foods such as cheese.

Over the fourth quarter to December 30, total sales edged up to $6.9bn but over the full year fell to $26.2bn from $26.4bn.

Kraft Heinz said there had been "lower shipments across several categories, particularly nuts, natural cheese and cold cuts in the US well as cheese and coffee in Canada".

EDF profits slide

Electricity
Getty Images

EDF's profits in the UK have fallen by a third despite raising gas and electricity prices last year by 5.5% and 9% respectively.

The French energy company said that underlying UK profits fell €700m to €1bn for 2017, while sales slipped 0.8% to €8.6bn.

EDF said that warmer weather and rising energy efficiency led to a 1.9% fall in electrical consumption and a 2.6% dip in use of natural gas.

Sales were also affected by the weaker sterling, which had an "unfavourable impact" of €608m.

Overall, EDF's like-for-like sales were down 2.2% to €69bn, while underlying profits fell 16.3% to €13.7bn.

Coca-Cola hit by tax charge

Coke sign
Getty Images

Quarterly revenues at Coca-Cola have sunk by a fifth as the drinks maker continues to sell off its bottling operations, while the drink company also took a $3.6bn charge on new tax laws.

That helped push the Fanta and Sprite maker to a $2.75bn net loss in the three months to December.

The company reported a profit of $550m for the same period in 2016.

Operating revenue fell about $2bn to $7.5bn, mainly due to the refranchising of its bottling operations, and slightly better than analysts' estimates.

Uber to report crimes directly to police

Uber sign
PA

Uber is reporting crimes directly to the police and will set up a phone line as part of measures to improve safety.

Last year, a Metropolitan Police officer said in a letter that passengers were being put at risk because of delays in the reporting of sexual assaults.

The ride hailing firm said it was changing its policy "after listening to feedback".

It is appealing against Transport for London's decision to withdraw its operating licence in the capital.

Read more here.

Linde/Praxair merger under scrutiny

Breaking news from the exciting world of industrial gases (yes we know you've been holding your breath): the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into the proposed $85bn merger of Linde and Praxair.

The Commission says the merger could reduce competition for some crucial gases.

"Gases - like oxygen and helium - are crucial inputs for a large variety of products we use every day," said competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

"We will carefully assess whether the proposed merger between Praxair and Linde would lead to higher prices or less choice for European consumers and businesses."