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Live Reporting

By Robert Plummer

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    That's it from the Business Live page for Wednesday.

    Thank you for staying with us.

    We'll be back tomorrow at 6am - do join us then for all the latest news, views and analysis.

  2. David Crosby seeks to partner with cannabis firm

    David Crosby
    Image caption: David Crosby as a Byrd in 1965

    Are you ready for David Crosby branded cannabis? Well, the veteran US rock star has announced he is "seeking a licensing relationship with a national or global cannabis company".

    The idea is that he would license his name and "actively advise" the chosen company in developing and marketing the brand, tentatively named "Mighty Croz".

    "People have been asking me to do a quality cannabis brand and with legalisation expanding, now is the right time," said Crosby from his ranch in California.

    As co-writer of the song Eight Miles High during his time as a member of the Byrds, Crosby is no stranger to drug-related imagery. And after Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young broke up for the first time, he released a solo album called If I Could Only Remember My Name.

    Small wonder that the press release announcing his latest commercial ambitions ends with the words: "David Crosby epitomises the cannabis culture"...

  3. S&P 500 hits five-month high

    Wall Street traders

    The S&P 500 hit a five-month high and the Dow Jones climbed for a fifth consecutive trading session on Wednesday helped by solid results which boosted shares in financial and industrial firms.

    The S&P 500 ended the day at 2,816.22, up 7 points or 0.24%.

    The Dow Jones closed at 25,199.29, a rise of 79 points or 0.32%.

    And the tech-heavy Nasdaq was at 7,854.44, down 0.7 points or 0.0086%.

  4. Ethiopia asks Saudi Arabia for fuel aid

    Djibouti port
    Image caption: Ethiopian goods are stranded in Djibouti's port

    Ethiopia has asked Saudi Arabia to supply it with a year's worth of fuel, with payment delayed for 12 months, because it has a chronic shortage of foreign exchange, Reuters news agency is reporting.

    Fitsum Arega, who is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's chief of staff, told Reuters that a shortage of dollars and inadequate transport infrastructure had also resulted in 1.6 million tonnes of goods being stuck at the port in neighbouring Djibouti.

    "We are in talks to allow fuel imports," he said. "The details need to be worked out."

    He added that the arrangement would allow for "predictable import flow" and ensure additional foreign exchange savings.

  5. Trump tariffs lead to 'panic buying'

    This file photo taken on May 1, 2018 shows a worker handling steel cable at a steel factory in Lianyungang, in China"s eastern Jiangsu province.

    Manufacturers throughout the US are concerned about new tariffs, which are leading to higher prices and supply issues in some cases.

    The fears are voiced in the Federal Reserve's July issue of the Beige Book, which provides an anecdotal portrait of economic activity.

    One machinery company in the mid-Atlantic, for example, reported that new US tariffs on foreign steel and aluminium had disrupted orders, increased prices and led to "panic buying".

    A can manufacturer in Maryland said it could not buy the "quality of steel needed" in the US and expected to lose business to foreign competitors.

    The tariffs on steel and aluminium have led to retaliation by the EU, Canada and Mexico. The US and China have also levied tit-for-tat tariffs on $34bn in the other country's goods.

  6. BA: 'Some disruption at Heathrow'

    BA tail fin

    BA has also issued a brief statement to the press about problems at Heathrow.

    "As with a number of airlines we are experiencing some disruption at Heathrow a result of an issue with a supplier IT system.

    We are working with our supplier to resolve the matter and are sorry for the disruption to our customers’ travel plans."

    Last year, BA suffered a computer system failure caused by a power outage and which stranded 75,000 customers over a holiday weekend.

  7. Marriott hotels ban plastic straws

    Marriott hotels logo

    Marriott International has announced that it is banning plastic straws and drink stirrers from all of its 6,500 hotels and resorts worldwide.

    The initiative will see approximately one billion straws and 250 million stirrers eliminated by summer 2019.

    The hotel chain says that some of its hotels started getting rid of plastic straws several months ago, starting with more than 60 Marriott hotels in the UK, followed by resorts in Hawaii, Australia and Costa Rica.

  8. BA 'systems issue' causes passenger woes

    Reports reaching us say British Airways is "experiencing some disruption as a result of a systems issue".

    BA's website has this information for passengers: "We are working hard to resolve the matter and we are sorry for any disruption to our customers' travel plans.

    "If you are flying today, then you can check in at the airport. Please arrive in good time for your flight as it may be busier than usual at some airports. If you are flying tomorrow then please revisit our website later in the day and try to check-in again.

    "Please continue to check on ba.com for the very latest information about your journey. If you have not yet started travelling to the airport, please check your flight status, before leaving."

  9. Mexico to resume trade talks with US

    In other Mexican news - and that's not something we say very often on the Business Live page - the country's Economy Secretary, Ildefonso Guajardo, has announced that he will be going to Washington next week to resume negotiations on modernising the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), which brings together the US, Mexico and Canada.

    "We'll be there on 26 July," he told reporters. "We'll begin with a bilateral Mexico-US meeting and afterwards, of course, there will be other meetings with Canada."

  10. Mexico delays oil auctions

    Andrés Manuel López Obrador

    Even before he takes office, leftist Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador's anti-corruption stance is making itself felt.

    Oil auctions in the country originally due to take place later this year will be postponed until 14 February, Mexico's oil regulator has said.

    A total of 45 onshore areas, including both conventional and shale blocks, were originally due to be auctioned on 27 September, while tenders to pick partners for state-owned oil company Pemex in seven other areas would have been awarded on 31 October.

    That would have wrapped everything up before outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto leaves office at the end of November. But while on the campaign trail, Mr López Obrador said he would freeze the auction process, so his team could check for corruption in contracts already issued.

    The national hydrocarbons commission said the move was intended to give companies more time to study the areas on offer.

  11. Wall Street buoyed by Dow Jones

    It's well into the afternoon on Wall Street and the Dow Jones has picked up some momentum. It's up 54 points or 0.21% at 25,174. But the S&P 500 is still sluggish, up a mere 3.5 points (0.13%) at 2,813. And the tech-heavy Nasdaq is still in negative territory, as it has been more or less all day: it's down four points (0.05%) at 7,851.

  12. US Fed's Powell: Protectionism hurts economy

    Jerome Powell

    More now on US Fed chairman Jerome Powell's appearance before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee. Although he declined to answer a question on whether the US is in a trade war, he did say that a more protectionist world would be bad for the US economy.

    "The bottom line is a more protectionist economy is less competitive, less productive," he said. "This is a torch we've been carrying around the world for 75 years."

    He went on to say that he thought the Trump administration's aim was ultimately to lower trade tariffs worldwide. If there was disruption in the meantime, he added, "it might be worth paying a bit of a short-term price to get to a better place".

  13. Premier Foods shares slide after boss survives investor revolt

    Oxo cubes

    Premier Foods boss Gavin Darby has survived a bid to oust him at the company's annual meeting after 41% of shareholders voted against his re-election.

    Activist hedge fund Oasis Management, the firm's second-largest shareholder, had called for Mr Darby to resign.

    It claimed he had destroyed shareholder value by rejecting a takeover bid.

    More than a quarter of investors also rejected the remuneration report, with a similar number voting against chairman Keith Hamill.

    After the meeting, Mr Hamill said it was clear that the board lacked the support of some shareholders. "We need to continue to discuss that with them," he said, adding that the board wanted Mr Darby to remain chief executive.

    Premier Foods shares closed down 4.27%.

  14. Ryanair strike to hit 600 flights

    Ryanair plane

    Ryanair says it is cancelling up to 600 flights next week because of strikes by cabin crew based in Spain, Portugal and Belgium. It says 100,000 passengers will be affected by the strike action on 25 and 26 July.

    "While deeply regretted, these cancellations will affect approx. 12% of Ryanair's customers on Wed & Thurs next, and all affected customers have been offered re-accommodation on alternative flights during the 7 days prior to the 25th/26th, or the 7 days after the 25th/26th," the airline said in a statement.

    "Alternatively, these customers can obtain a full refund of their airfares."

  15. London shares end the day higher

    London's FTSE 100 closed with modest gains, up 49.95 points or 0.66% at 7,676.28. Miners Evraz and BHP Billiton were among the top risers, adding 3% and 2.75% respectively. Engineering firm Smiths Group was by far the biggest faller, down 7% after warning that it expected a drop in full-year revenue at its medical unit.

    The FTSE 250 also ended the day in positive territory, adding 112.93 points or 0.54% to 20,984.20. Top gainer was power generation equipment supplier Aggreko, up 6.2%.

  16. Trump tariffs 'erratic and unilateral'

    At the Farnborough International Air Show, there are about 1,500 exhibitors - and among them is the government of Washington State. That north-western corner of the US is home to some of the world's biggest companies, such as Boeing, Amazon and Microsoft. The BBC asked Chris Green, from the state's Commerce Department, about the effect of global trade tensions.

    View more on twitter
  17. Fed chair Powell upbeat on US economy

    Jerome Powell

    Upbeat comments from US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell have boosted the dollar, with the greenback rising against a basket of major currencies.

    Mr Powell was appearing before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee for a second day of testimony on the monetary policy outlook. He said financial stability risks were at a "normal-moderate level", adding that "nothing really is flashing red in our observation of it in the financial markets".

    On Tuesday, Mr Powell said in congressional testimony that he expected years more of steady US growth, downplaying the risks of a trade war with China.

  18. Kenya rues Chinese rail project

    Kenyan railway

    Kenya's transport ministry says a Chinese-built railway line linking the capital, Nairobi, to the coastal city of Mombasa made a $100m (£77m) loss during its first year of operation. The results have prompted concerns over the viability of the entire project.

    Kenya took out a loan of more than $3bn with China's Exim bank to construct the railway and repayments are due to begin next year. Some Kenyans criticised the project, saying it was overpriced and left the country saddled with debt.

  19. Nigeria takes to the skies - again

    Russell Hotten

    BBC Business Reporter, Farnborough Airshow

    Nigerian delegation at Farnborough

    It's not often you end a news conference with a rousing rendition of a national anthem. But then, Nigeria is very proud of plans to relaunch its national airline.

    The junior aviation minister said at the Farnborough Airshow that the government would make good on President Muhammadu Buhari's election campaign promise to introduce a new carrier, Nigeria Air.

    Junior minister Hadi Sirika (in the centre, in blue) said the carrier would be a private company with, perhaps, the government taking a very small stake.

    "This will be a national carrier that is private sector-led and driven," Mr Sirika said. "It is a business, not a social service."

    The airline will be launched by the end of the year, he said.

    Nigeria Airways, the country's original national airline, operated for 45 years until 2003. Air Nigeria, its successor, ran from 2005 to 2012.

  20. Morgan Stanley shares surge

    Morgan Stanley shares have risen strongly off the back of its better-than-expected second-quarter results. The bank is one of the top gainers on the S&P 500, up 3.4%. The best performing stock on the index, however, is Industrial product distributor Grainger, up 7.8% after it raised its full-year sales forecasts.