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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Sterling falls to $1.3474
  3. East Coast mainline brought back under public control
  4. Ben Broadbent apologises for 'menopausal' comments
  5. Mitchells & Butlers and Marston's shares slide
  6. Burberry in £150m share buyback

Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

Pret a Manger staff to get £1,000 bonus

Good night

BBC Testcard
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That's it for today on Business Live - thanks for reading. We'll be back bright and early at 06:00 on Thursday.

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

On-air talent lead 'angry' STV staff to outdoor union meeting

On-air presenters at STV led staff from the broadcaster's Glasgow-based HQ in a demonstration of defiance over plans to make 59 job cuts.

Bosses said loss-making STV2 would shut next month with investment shifting to the main channel and online streaming.

Political editor Bernard Ponsonby, news anchor John MacKay and sports presenter Raman Bhardwaj were first to walk out to the outdoor meeting.

Union official John Toner told the BBC that staff were "extremely angry".

STV presenters lead news staff to outdoor union gathering

Wall Street closes ahead

Wall Street
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Wall Street shares have closed ahead, as retail and technology stocks showed positive gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day at 24,769.00, a rise of 63 points or 0.25%.

The S&P 500 closed at 2,718.18, up 7 points or 0.25%.

And finally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished at 7,398.30, gaining 47 points or 0.63%.

Corruption, money and Malaysia's election

Mahathir Mohamad

Mahathir Mohamad, 92, has just been sworn in as prime minister of Malaysia.

It is hard to overstate what a feat this is.

Led by Mr Mahathir, the political alliance called Pakatan Harapan - Alliance of Hope - swept to a stunning and unexpected victory in the polls, overturning 61 years of Barisan Nasional rule.

So how did this grandfatherly figure - who has already served as prime minister between 1981 and 2003 - turn around such a massive win?

There are two main reasons - corruption and money.

Read more here.

US says jet engine inspections must be sped up

A journalist looks at a CFM56-7 jet engine fan blade
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The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered US airlines to speed up the inspection of older jet engine fan blades, following the incident on a Southwest Airlines flight in April that led to a passenger death.

Airlines need to inspect fan blades with the higest risk of failure by 30 June.

Jennifer Riordan, a mother-of-two and bank vice-president at Wells Fargo in Albuquerque, New Mexico was partially sucked out of a window of a Southwest Airlines passenger plane after an engine exploded in mid-air.

The fan blade on the engine had a crack which had gradually grown until it fracture, causing it to break loose and shred the cover of the engine.

Wendy's taunting McDonalds on Twitter

American hamburger restaurant chain Wendy's has taken aim at McDonald's on Twitter.

In a string of sassy tweets, Wendy's is making fun of the fact that McDonald's still uses frozen beef patties for their burgers.

In one tweet, Wendy's shows a Big Mac that says "I don't feel so good", because it's still frozen.

And in another tweet, Wendy's retweeted a meme comparing Wendy's to the Crabby Pattie in Spongebob Squarepants, while McDonald's is compared to the less popular Chum Bucket restaurant in the popular Nickelodeon children's cartoon.

Apparently this is all part of Wendy's marketing campaign, which says that all of its burgers are always fresh, in light of McDonald's decision in March to start trialling the use of fresh meat in some "premium" burgers.

View more on twitter

Why is Spanish Iberico cured ham so expensive?

A single leg of Iberico ham costs hundreds of pounds and increasing demand from China is pushing prices up.

BBC News visited a farm in western Spain to find out why the meat is so popular.

Why is the cost of meat from Spain's 'acorn pigs' going up?

Senate seeking to ban Huawei products

Are tumble dryers still a fire risk?


In about 40 minutes, BBC Watchdog will broadcast its investigation into Hotpoint's Whirlpool tumble dryers, which still seem to pose a risk to consumers, despite efforts made by the manufacturer to modify them.BBC Watchdog can be viewed on BBC One at 8pm BST.

View more on twitter

London Boat Show cancelled

London Boat Show 2019 cancelled
London Boat Show

The London Boat Show 2019 event, which was set to take place in January, has been cacelled.

Organisers British Marine announced that the event was cancelled due to a lack of support from members of the the marine industry.

It said that many exhibitors were unhappy with the event's location, duration and format.

The event was moved from Earls Court to ExCel in 2004, but although there was initial interest, the number of visitors and exhibitors began to fall each year.

For London Boat Show 2018, the event was changed to a five-day-long event, instead of a 10-day-long event.

Closed door talks to start soon

Mark Zuckerberg
Getty Images

More on the Facebook news - the social network has confirmed that its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg will be having a meeting behind closed doors with the president of the European Parliament and leaders of various political groups.

A follow-up public hearing is planned.

But this later event, which is likely to be in June, will be attended by different Facebook executives.

Read more here.

Millennial railcards 'still on track', says Treasury

A woman buying a train ticket from a ticket machine

The Treasury says it remains "committed to making rail travel more accessible" for young people with the introduction of a railcard for 26-30 year-olds.

But no date has been set for the full release of the so-called millennial railcard, which began a limited trial in March of 10,000 cards.

It comes amid reports that the scheme could be shelved amid disagreement over who will fund them.

The card was announced in the Budget in November by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

'Toxic influence'

BBC Newsbeat

Jameela Jamil and Kim Kardashian West
Getty Images
Jameela Jamil and Kim Kardashian West

Jameela Jamil has called Kim Kardashian West a "toxic influence" for posting an advert promoting a dieting lollipop.

The reality TV star shared a photo of herself eating the product - which it's claimed suppresses your appetite - onto Instagram.

Jameela, who has a social media campaign around body positivity, described her a "terrible and toxic influence on young girls".

Kardashian West is yet to comment.

Read more here.

'All involved got their sums wrong'

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling explains to the BBC how everyone involved in the East Coast Main Line got their sums wrong....

View more on twitter

Systems failure at Frankfurt Airport

Lufthansa aeroplanes at Frankfurt Airport
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A systems failure at Frankfurt Airport today has led to the grounding of 23 Lufthansa flights, affecting 2,600 passengers.

Lufthansa said the system failure lasted for eight hours, and flight crews were required to use radios or telephones to state their position.

Although all systems are now up and running, there remains a backlog of delayed flights.

Harry Hohmeister, Member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and responsible for hub management told the BBC: "The system failure at Fraport had a massive impact on our customers, which we regret very much. I expect Fraport Management to get things up and running again.”

BreakingOxfam chief executive to step down

Oxfam GB's chief executive Mark Goldring and chair of trustees Caroline Thomson leave the Department for International Development
Getty Images
Oxfam GB's chief executive Mark Goldring and chair of trustees Caroline Thomson leave the Department for International Development

Oxfam's chief executive Mark Goldring is to step down from the charity at the end of this year, following a scandal over allegations its staff hired prostitutes while working overseas in Haiti in 2011.

Mr Goldring said in a statement: "Following the very public exposure of Oxfam's past failings, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure that Oxfam is a safe and respectful place for all who have contact with us.

"We are now laying strong foundations for recovery. I am personally totally committed to seeing this phase through.

"However, what is important in 2019 and beyond is that Oxfam rebuilds and renews in a way that is most relevant for the future and so continues to help as many people as possible around the world build better lives.

"I think that this journey will best be led by someone bringing fresh vision and energy and making a long-term commitment to see it through."

London closes slightly ahead

London Stock Exchange
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London shares have closed slightly ahead, thanks to gains in a wide range of stocks.

The FTSE 100 ended 11.2 points or 0.2% higher to 7,734.20, led by bookmakers Paddy Power, rising 4.8% to £82.50 on the news that it is in talks to merge with US fantasy sports site Fan Duel, after Supreme Court overturned a Federal law banning sports betting on Monday.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 closed 48.9 points or 0.2% ahead to 20,828.79. Top of the winners was emergency home insurance provider Homeserve, climbing 9.3% to 828.5p after UBS upgraded its recommendation to "buy".

Is there a problem with the bidding process?

Theo Leggett

BBC Business News Reporter

East Coast train

To have one rail company fail to fulfill its contract may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose three looks like carelessness.

The government insists that the East coast route is not failing, and will continue to generate substantial revenue for the public purse.

It says Stagecoach and Virgin have only themselves to blame for their inability to make any money from the line. As Mr Grayling said, “they got their bid wrong, and paid the price”.

That may be true. But critics have suggested that if operators keep overbidding, then that suggests a problem with the bidding process.

The assumptions made by the Department of Transport (DfT) when inviting bids have also been widely questioned.

Now the DfT wants to use the line as a model for a new type of franchise, based on a public-private partnership.

That may help to solve some issues – for example reducing the friction between the track operator, Network Rail and the train operator.

But whether it will help to make the line viable for the new operator is open to question.

BreakingBen Broadbent apologises to staff

Bank of England's deputy governor Ben Broadbent

The BBC has obtained a copy of an apology Bank of England's deputy governor Ben Broadbent posted on the BoE internal website to staff, which is separate from the public apology he made earlier today.

In the message, he told BoE employees: "As I said in my public apology earlier this morning, I was attempting to explain the meaning of the world 'climacteric'.

"As the journalist who was interviewing me has subsequently tweeted, I made it clear in the interview that this is a term which applies to both genders. But I recognise that while these are economic terms that have been used in the past, my use of the world 'menopausal' conveyed ageist and sexist overtones and I should not have used it.

"I am very aware that this has offended people within the Bank and I am truly sorry for that."

Lachlan Murdoch to be chairman and CEO of new Fox

Lachlan Murdoch
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21st Century Fox has announced that Lachlan Murdoch will serve as the chairman and chief executive of the proposed new Fox corporation, as part of the proposed deal between 21st Century Fox and Disney.

BreakingMark Zuckerberg agrees to visit EU Parliament

Marc Zuckerberg testifying before Congress in April

The EU Parliament has announced that Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet leaders in Brussels to discuss the company's use of personal data, in relation to the data scandal and Cambridge Analytica.

East Coast Main Line routes

More on the news that rail services on East Coast Main Line are being brought back under government control - here's a map showing all of the routes on the East Coast Main Line, and all of the cities affected.

Map of East Coast Main Line routes

Total's Iran gas project up in the air

South Pars gas field in Iran
Getty Images

The future of a multi-billion-dollar project in Iran stands in the balance after the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal.

According to FT, French oil giant Total has said it cannot continue with the project, which involves developing the South Pars gas field, because it risks exposure to US trade sanctions.

Total has so far invested €40m into the deal, which is Iran's first major energy contract with a European oil company in over a decade

The French oil giant is now seeking a sanction waiver to protect itself, as it fears the risk of loss of financing; the loss of its US shareholders or obstacles preventing it from continuing to operate in the US.

Robert De Niro opens restaurant and hotel in London

Robert De Niro may be best known for films like Taxi Driver, Godfather 2 and Goodfellas but he is also an entrepreneur with a string of hotels and restaurants around the world.

His most recent venture with Nobu has brought him to Shoreditch in east London.

Hollywood actor opens hotel in London

Wall Street opens flat

New York Stock Exchange
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Wall Street shares have opened flat as gains in retail stocks have offset losses in energy shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened 46.4 points or 0.2% higher to 24,752.81, led by Walmart, which rose 1% to $85.56 on the news of a partnership with Lord & Taylor on a new online shopping experience.

The S&P 500 is 4 points or 0.2% higher to 2,715.49. Top of the winners is retailer Macys, rising 2.6% to $32.55 after reporting strong sales growth in the first quarter of 2018.

And finally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is 25 points or 0.3% higher to 7,376.81, led by Micron Technology, rising 1.6% to $55.67.

Immigration disconnection

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research - one of the UK's oldest thinktanks - has made a video about immigration.

Previous research has found a disconnect between evidence on the benefits of immigration, particularly to the economy, and public perceptions about it.

View more on twitter

Good afternoon

A man paints Prince Harry's name on a building in Windsor
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Thanks Katie and Chris 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.

Preparation for the Royal Wedding this Saturday is underway in Windsor - are you excited?

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

No border cameras: Bradley

Karen Bradley

Northern Ireland minister Karen Bradley has said there will be no new cameras on the Irish border.

Some supporters of leaving the EU favour a streamlined customs arrangement now known as "max fac" - maximum facilitation.

Under this proposal, traders on an approved list or "trusted traders" would be able to cross borders freely with the aid of automated technology.

"We are committed to no new physical infrastructure at the border, no new checks or controls at the border," Ms Bradley said. "We have said there will no ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras, no new cameras, we have been clear that there will be no new physical infrastructure."

Labour welcomes Grayling decision

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweets:

View more on twitter

BreakingSterling slides

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Sterling is heading south quite rapidly today and is now down 0.25% at $1.3474.

That is not far off the 2018 low hit on Tuesday of $1.3452.

A rally in the dollar and doubts of a rise in UK interest rates have resulted in what had been one of the best performing major currencies to give up all its gains so far this year.

The pound also slipped against the euro to 87.735 pence.

John Lewis Rail?

A train on the East Coast mainline reflected in the River Tweed in Northumberland
A train on the East Coast mainline reflected in the River Tweed in Northumberland

Chris Grayling tells MPs that he wants LNER to have "employees at its heart", so is asking its new board for proposals to enable staff to share directly in its success.

Andy Street, the mayor of Birmingham and former chief executive of the John Lewis Partnership, will come on board as an adviser, the transport secretary adds.

'Temporarily indefinitely'

BBC transport correspondent Victoria Fritz tweets:

View more on twitter

Government accused of 'bailing out' Stagecoach

House of Commons


Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald highlights what he calls a £2bn bailout for Stagecoach "after they failed" and complains of Chris Grayling's "audacity" in saying it's not reasonable to remove their passport as a train operator.

He claims "government incompetence has led to misery for millions" and demands to know if there will be further "bailouts" for other train companies.

Railways should be nationalised and "run for passengers not for profit", he concludes.

Mr Grayling responds that Labour's version of nationalisation is "illegal under EU law" and adds "I'm interested in what works".

Defending Stagecoach, he says "it is not their fault their parent company got its sums wrong".

LNER returns

BBC Newsnight journalist Jack Evans tweets:

View more on twitter

Virgin and Stagecoach to continue as train operators

House of Commons


Chris Grayling says no decision has been taken on Great Northern services but he is in discussion with the mayor of London about whether it could be run by London Overground.

On the passports held by Virgin Holdings and Stagecoach, he says they should continue as train operators, specifying there was no malpractice but we need to be "vigilant" to prevent further failings.

He tells MPs it puts railways on a "pathway to a better future".

Chris Grayling outlines East Coast plans

House of Commons


Chris Grayling

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is making a statement to Parliament on the news that rail services on East Coast Main Line are being brought back under government control.

Stagecoach, which runs the franchise with Virgin Trains, has been advised that an "operator of last resort" would be appointed to the London to Edinburgh service.

He defends himself after Labour unhappiness at late notice of the statement, saying it needed to be handled in "as controlled a way as possible".

He says this decision will allow them to "drive forward sooner with long-term plans for an East Coast partnership" with a focus on "delivering excellent service".

The new service will be the London and North East Railway, and he announces a new board with independent members to oversee the process.

Death knell for privatisation?

UK Labour MP for Norwich South Clive Lewis believes the decision to bring back rail services on the East Coast Main Line back under UK government control raises questions over the privatisation of our railways.

View more on twitter

'Massive news'

The BBC's transport correspondent Victoria Fritz says Stagecoach's announcement is "massive news" for the sector.

View more on twitter

Good for passengers?

Inside a train
Virgin trains

Independent watchdog Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith believes that passenger satisfaction could be improved by the change because it will mean "more stability" in the underlying contract.

"While reliability must continue to improve, and promised and new investments made, passengers will continue to judge services by the performance on the day of the train company and Network Rail, value for money, cleanliness of the train and crowding levels," he adds.