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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Sky Shares leap 20% on Comcast takeover approach
  3. Provident Financial shares jump 72%
  4. Greggs profits slip, but record store openings planned
  5. Fed's Powell says US economy strengthening

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

Goodnight

That's it from us tonight - do join us again early tomorrow. We'll be here from 6am with all the latest business news including the fate of retailers Toys R Us and electronics chain Maplin who are both at risk of falling into administration.

Amazon to buy doorbell firm

Ring doorbell
Ring

Amazon.com is set to buy doorbell start-up Ring for more than $1bn.

California-based Ring's products include security cameras and video doorbells and could offer a way for Amazon to deliver parcels directly into homes securely.

"Ring's home security products and services have delighted customers since day one. We're excited to work with this talented team and help them in their mission to keep homes safe and secure," an Amazon spokesperson said.

Wall Street reverses direction

Wall Street stocks have ended the day lower, reversing strong gains over the past two sessions after bullish testimony from new Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell on the US economic outlook revived worries about higher interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.2% to finish at 25,410.03. The S&P 500 dropped 1.3% to end the day at 2,744.28, while the Nasdaq lost 1.2% to 7,330.35.

Train travel trends

BBC transport correspondent at the speech by Network Rail's chief

Diesels: 'Don't penalise drivers unfairly'

Diesel pump filling up car
Mark Renders

The UK trade body, the SMMT, has responded to news that German cities will be allowed to ban older diesels.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, says: “The automotive industry recognises the air quality challenge and wants to help all cities meet their targets. However, this must be done without unfairly penalising or banning those who have invested in diesel in good faith.

"SMMT supports a consistent approach that incentivises uptake of the latest, cleanest vehicles, whatever their fuel type. This includes new low emission Euro 6 diesels which will not face any bans, restrictions or access charges under the UK government’s air quality plans.”

Toys R Us D-Day approaches...

... and the BBC's Scotland business editor says the prognosis is not positive

Maplin sale talks continue

Maplin shop front
Maplin

Retailer Maplin is reportedly struggling to secure a rescue deal. Sky News, which first disclosed that the electronics chain was in talks with potential investors, says negotiations are proceeding slowly.

The retailer, which has more than 200 stores and 2,500 staff, said at the start of last week that it hoped to find a buyer "within days".

It is thought that the front runner to buy Maplin is Edinburgh Woollen Mill, whose brands include Austin Reed, Jaeger, Jane Norman and Peacocks.

Brexit change to farming subsidies 'tragedy', says MP

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron says changes to agricultural subsidies after Brexit proposed by the Defra secretary Michael Gove could be a "tragedy" for hill farming in areas like Cumbria.

Mr Gove is consulting on plans to get rid of the current system where farmers are paid a subsidy based on the area of land they work, and instead reward only environmental work, flood protection, and other "public benefits".

Mr Farron said: "The Government’s plans look likely to lead to a slow attrition of family farming in places like Cumbria."

Tim Farron
BBC

Many, if not most, hill farms in Cumbria would be non-viable without these payments."

Tim Farron

US e-passports 'not being verified'

Picture of passport
Getty Images

US border control agents have not been using the right software to verify e-passports for more than a decade, two US senators claim.

Oregon senator Ron Wyden and Missouri senator Claire McCaskill have asked US customs officials to start properly authenticating e-passports.

If data on smart chips cannot be checked, it is not possible to tell if it has been tampered with, they say.

Anti-forgery measures in e-passports have never been implemented.

The US was one of the first countries in the world to adopt e-passports, and travellers from countries on the visa-waiver listare now required to enter the country using e-passports, which speed up the time needed to process individuals in border control.

However, the senators say that US Customs and Border Protection has never used the anti-forgery and anti-tamper security measures it required to be built into e-passport smart chips because it doesn't have the right software.

NI farming 'could fall behind rest of UK'

cows in a field
BBC

Environmentalists and a farming union are concerned the lack of an executive could jeopardise farming.

cows in a field

NI farming 'could fall behind rest of UK'

Environmentalists and a farming union are concerned the lack of an executive could jeopardise farming.

Read more

Raffles gets new investors

Raffles Singapore
AccorHotels

AccorHotels is selling a 55% stake in the subsidiary that owns its hotels to a group of international investors including the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Singapore for €4.4bn.

The deal will give the French firm, which includes the Pullman, Raffles (owner of the famous Raffles Singapore above), Novotel and Mercure brands, resources to expand while it will continue to manage the properties under long-term contracts.

Accor separated AccorInvest into a separate legal entity last year in order to bring in new investors.

According to Accor's statement the new investors include the Public Investment Fund and GIC, which are the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Singapore respectively.

Brexit prompts Credit Suisse to move 250 London jobs

The Swiss lender employs around 5,500 staff in London in total
Getty Images

Credit Suisse plans to move about 250 banker jobs out of London under its first phase of Brexit planning, according to reports.

Employees in areas such as trading and mergers and acquisitions were likely to be relocated to Frankfurt or Madrid, Bloomberg reported.

The Swiss bank employs about 5,500 staff in London.

A spokesman said Credit Suisse "continued to investigate its options".

Sterling losses continue

The pound has extended losses against the dollar as comments from new Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell were taken as a sign that a series of US interest rate hikes were on the horizon.

Sterling was trading as low as 1.385 versus the American currency in afternoon trading, before recovering slightly to trade lower by around half a per cent at 1.389.

That compared with the pound's standing against the euro, trading higher by around 0.2% at 1.135.

Sterling's reaction followed Mr Powell's comments at a congressional hearing which analysts took as a sign that three rate hikes were still on the table.

Levi gets the laser treatment

row of Levi jeans
Devaki Knowles

Levi Strauss is turning to robots to get the worn out, faded look so loved by buyers of its blue jeans.

Fraying, fading and creating holes in the jeans is done by hand - finishers beat and brush the garments with sand paper.

But this labour-intensive work is going to be done by an army of robots using lasers.

A laser can finish a pair of jeans in 90 seconds, compared with up to 20 minutes for hand-finishing, the company says.

Mobile moon landing

Mobile giants Vodafone and Nokia have laid out plans to launch a 4G mobile network on the Moon in 2019.

The network will be used by lunar rovers to stream data back to a base station.

Watch our video here.

Fed comments cause market wobble

Jerome Powell
AFP

Remarks by new Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell have cast a cloud over Wall Street.

The three main share indexes have fallen in choppy trading, while US bond yields rose after he said the economy was strengthening and that inflation would rise.

Following his comments, traders of US short-term interest rate futures began pricing in a higher chance of a fourth rate hike this year.

The benchmark US 10-year Treasury yields rose to a session high of 2.914%.

"Pretty much the market is going to be fluttering back and forth in both directions based on things he says today, so it doesn't surprise me too much," said Randy Frederick, a vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "It's his first speech and the market is already in a higher volatility phase."

In his remarks to a congressional committee, Mr Powell hinted that the central bank would stick to its current path of gradual rate hikes despite the added stimulus of tax cuts and government spending.

His testimony comes at a sensitive time for the market, which has swayed wildly in recent weeks on inflation fears.

UK's dried fruit supplies dry up

Bunches of dried fruit on tree
Getty Images

The UK has been hit by a global shortage of raisins, sultanas and currants.

Britain - the world's biggest importer of dried fruit - has seen the price of raisins and sultanas rise by 42% since September, leading suppliers have said.

They blame falling numbers of raisins in California for pushing up prices.

Bakeries say increases are unlikely to affect the cost of hot cross buns - but an industry analyst warned this year's Christmas puddings could be hit. Read full story here.

Powell comments push up Treasury yields

US Treasury yields climbed to session highs on Tuesday as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the economy has strengthened since December and inflation will rise, raising bets the Fed might raise rates four times in 2018.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were 2.914%, up 5.5 basis points from late on Monday, while the two-year yield was up 4 basis points at 2.270%.