That's it for today on Business Live - thanks for reading. We'll be back bright and early at 6am on Friday.
Do join us then for all the latest news and views from the wonderful world of business
That's it for today on Business Live - thanks for reading. We'll be back bright and early at 6am on Friday.
Do join us then for all the latest news and views from the wonderful world of business
Reporter, Daily Politics
Michel Barnier wants the UK to make a choice.
If it wants to have frictionless trade with the EU's single market then it will have to join a customs union, or something like it, which will mean applying the EU's tariffs and reducing the scope for doing free trade deals with others.
If it wants more freedom, it will have to agree arrangements with the EU that will reduce friction but not eliminate it altogether.
It's an old tune that sounds different after the publication of the UK's White Paper, which was supposed to have solved this dilemma.
It also sounds like the UK will propose a revamped version of its idea for avoiding a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland but the two sides are still divided on whether that should have a time-limit or not.
Lost among all of this will be the nugget of good news: Big strides have been made on security co-operation after Brexit.
Amazon saw a 39% jump in second quarter sales in the three months to 30 June.
Its performance was boosted by a jump in online shopping and higher demand for its cloud services.
The company said its net sales hit $52.89bn (£40.3bn) up from $37.96bn for the same time last year.
Profits came in at $2.53bn up from $197m in 2017.
Revenue from Amazon Web Services , the cloud services business, jumped 49% to $6.11bn.
Wall Street's key share indexes were mixed at the close of trade, as optimism about a potential trade deal between the US and the EU boosted the Dow, but Facebook dragged down the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day at 25,527.07, a arise of 13 points or 0.44%.
The S&P 500 closed at 2,837.61, a fall of 8 points or 0.30%.
And finally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended at 7,852.18, that's 80 points or 1% lower.
The US intelligence community has issued a new warning about cyber-espionage risks posed by attacks made via the technology supply chain.
A report said China, Russia and Iran were the most capable and active states involved in such economic subterfuge.
Software supply chain infiltration had already threatened critical infrastructure, it warned, and was poised to imperil other sectors.
It added that sensitive data owned by US bodies had been put at risk.
Two Scottish health tech start-ups have raised millions of pounds from investors.
Edinburgh-based Snap40 announced on Thursday it had secured $8m (£6.1m) in seed financing.
The firm uses a predictive analytics software platform to identify, in real-time, those whose health is at risk of deteriorating.
Earlier this week Edinburgh digital tech firm Care Sourcer reported it had raised £8.5m in a funding round.
Papa John's founder John Schnatter is suing the pizza chain over the way he was forced to exit the company.
Mr Schnatter stepped down as chairman after using the N-word in a conference call in May. His face is now being removed from all branding.
He is now suing the firm demanding internal documents pertaining to how directors handled the decision to oust him from the firm.
"The company's refusal to provide the requested documents to Mr. Schnatter demonstrates that the company, board and the special committee, instead of standing behind its founder and chairman, did just the opposite by failing to engage with the news media to explain what actually occurred," his attorney Patty Glaser told CNBC.
Cosmetics giant L'Oreal has reported higher profits for the first half of 2018, thanks to strong sales in Asia and from its luxury cosmetics unit.
L'Oreal said that operating income rose 1.8% to €2.58bn, compared with the same period in the previous year.
Revenue fell 0.2% compared with the same period in 2017, but climbed 6.6% like-for-like, while currency fluctuations cased a negative impact of -7.2%.
"Across the geographic zones, the new markets accelerated once again, especially in Asia. North America is gradually improving, while Western Europe is affected by persistent difficulties in France, and by the slowdown in the United Kingdom," said L'Oreal's chairman and chief executive Jean-Paul Agon.
"In a beauty market which remains dynamic and is becoming more premium, L’Oréal is continuing to achieve strong growth."
Gold once lured prospectors to the American west - but now it's cobalt that is sparking a rush.
Cobalt mining has not happened at any sort of scale in the United States for decades.
But a handful of mining companies are now staking claims at sites in Idaho, Montana and Alaska in search of the silvery blue mineral.
They are striking examples of the growing interest in cobalt - a key component in the lithium-ion batteries that power electronic devices and electric cars.
The leaders of the Brics emerging economies have signed a declaration stressing the importance of an "open world economy", in which all countries benefit from globalisation.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa also backed an "open and inclusive" multilateral trading system under World Trade Organization rules.
But they said the multilateral trading system faced unprecedented challenges.
Their comments come amid mounting trade tensions sparked by US tariffs.
Mobile operator O2 has announced that it is opening up its 5G testbed for trials, and it has issued an invitation to all FTSE 100 companies to come and test various use cases.
Network measurement technology firm Viavi Solutions says the move is a good one.
"Following the recent 5G spectrum auction in the UK, operators want to claim a leadership position in the development of 5G. In order to do this, they must understand the impact of real-life conditions and scenarios on their network," said Viavi Solutions' 5G research and technology director Li-Ke Huang.
“In the connected automotive industry, for example, operators need to ensure that a connected car is receiving and prioritising safety-critical communications. In the healthcare industry, 5G network reliability could be the difference between life and death.
"By testing the performance and security of their entire networks against a variety of use cases – which should include millions of end-user devices – operators can be confident that their networks will perform in any commercial setting.”
Radio 4 You and Yours
The heatwave and football's World Cup have put a brake on last-minute flight bookings - but it could mean more bargains are available.
Research shows year-on-year bookings down 4.6% in June and almost 13% down in the first couple of weeks of July.
Travel agents were hoping for a sales surge after the World Cup, but with temperatures soaring it looks like people are staying at home.
David Tarsh, a spokesman for travel data company Forward Keys, which analyses 17 million flight booking transactions every day, said the subdued demand "was not what the industry expected".
He told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours it should mean that more deals are available but some hoteliers may be wary because they don’t want too much of a reputation for discounting “at the last minute".
Simon Calder, Travel Editor of the Independent, said he’s seen some “amazingly low, late package deals” but that prices “are rising".
But Sean Tipton, from the Association of British Travel Agents, says overseas holiday bookings are very healthy, and are up 6% year-on-year.
“The good weather in the UK may have had a limited impact on late bookings, though the World Cup had a much more marked effect, as shown by the significant increase in business after England was knocked out.”
He also says late deals are always available and holidaymakers need to “shop around".
The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said during the European Commission press conference that the EU does have some concerns with the Brexit white paper.
"There are other points on which we have a problem because they contradict, they clash with, the European Council guidelines," he said.
"They contradict my clear negotiating guidelines. Indivisibility of the four freedoms, the integrity of the single market, these are key points. This is our main asset. We are not going to negotiate on that. The United Kingdom has know that from the outset."
One of the issues the EU has concerns about is dual taxation.
Mr Barnier and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab will next meet in mid-August, and then hold weekly meetings to clear away obstacles in the way of a deal by October.
During the press conference, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier discussed the UK government's proposed customs system, the Facilitated Customs Arrangement for goods and agri-foods, where it plans for the UK to collect some EU tariffs.
But Mr Barnier said retaining control of the money, law and borders also applied to the EU's customs policy.
"The EU cannot and the EU will not delegate the application of its customs policy and and rules and VAT and excises duty collection to a non-member who would not be subject to the EU's governance structures," he said.
"Any customs arrangements or customs union ... must respect this principle. A customs union, which would help to reduce friction at the border, would come with our common commercial policy for goods."
During the Brexit talks press conference at the European Commission just now, British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was asked what is happening with the £39bn "divorce bill" that the UK is meant to be paying as part of its withdrawal from the EU.
Mr Raab replied: "We have been clear, as the EU is, that there is no deal until we do the whole deal.
"The various different aspects - the Withdrawal Agreement, the protocol (on the Irish border) and the political declaration (on future relations) - come as a package as a whole.
"We had a good and constructive conversation today about how we make sure in practice that there is that link between those two key areas, the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration on the future framework."
However, Mr Barnier indicated that the amount of the financial settlement made by British PM Theresa May in December is regarded by the EU as being "agreed for good".
London shares have ended flat, as investor positivity on a possible trade deal between the EU and the US was dampened by losses in oil stocks.
The FTSE 100 closed just 5 points or 0.06% ahead to 7,663.17, led by British American Tobacco, which rose 5.1% to £41.77 due to better-than-expected sales and profits, and an announcement it is launching heated tobacco in the US.
The FTSE 250 nudged 15 points or 0.07% higher to 20,768.61. Top of the winners is engineered ceramics firm Vesuvius, which climbed 6.7% to 621p after reporting record results for the first half of 2018 and raising its forward guidance for the rest of the year.
British Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is now speaking at the same European Commission press conference.
He says the UK's customs proposal respects the integrity of the EU, and it includes:
"With pragmatism on both sides, I feel confident we can find a way to work it out for both sides," said Mr Raab.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is giving a press conference following a new round of talks on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union in March.
He said that both the EU and the UK want an "ambitious free trade deal".
However, he said that many issues still needed to be worked out. On the plus side, Mr Barnier said that the UK's proposals on security "mark a real step forward".
"We share a clear understanding and core principles that will underline our future economic relationship," he added.
"Both will preserve their regulatory autonomy. The UK wants control of its money, law and borders. We respect that, but the EU also wants to keep control of its money, law and borders, and the UK should respect that."
This morning, BBC's Business Editor Simon Jack wrote a blog about how sandwiches would be one of the first victims of a no-deal Brexit, citing conversations with a senior grocery executive.
MPs have said that although they hope and expect that a deal will be done, they are making emergency preparations for the potential interruption to vital supplies like fresh food now that they have said planning for "no deal" is being stepped up.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents the retail industry, has responded about this issue.
"Stockpiling of food is not a practical response to a no-deal on Brexit and industry has not been approached by Government to begin planning for this," it said.
"Retailers do not have the facilities to house stockpiled goods and in the case of fresh produce it is simply not possible to do so.
"Our food supply chains are extremely fragile and this is yet further demonstration of the need for an agreement on the backstop to ensure frictionless trade is maintained after the 29 March 2019."
A millionaire duke has been criticised for asking actors to work for free at his stately home.
David Manners, 11th Duke of Rutland, advertised for actors to voluntarily perform as "Kings, Queens, Dukes and Duchesses" at Belvoir Castle.
One actor said the advert, which asks applicants to be "flexible" with working hours, was "outrageous".
Belvoir Castle, which is owned by the duke who is worth a reported £145m, has since taken down the advert.
Specialist doctors in the UK will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products by autumn, the home secretary has announced.
Those that meet safety and quality standards are to be made legal for patients with an "exceptional clinical need", Sajid Javid said.
It follows high-profile cases involving children with severe epilepsy being denied access to cannabis oil.
Others forms of cannabis will remain illegal.
The prime minister was asked about reports the government planned to stockpile food in case Brexit negotiations end in no deal.
Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show, in Llanelwedd, Powys - Europe's largest summer agricultural show - she replied: "This is not about stockpiling, what it is about, is saying that as any business would, it's right to prepare for all eventualities. We are working for a good deal."
BBC Radio 4
Wall Street shares have been mixed on open, due to losses in technology stocks, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was buoyed by the news that the EU and the US have agreed to negotiate on trade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now 146.8 points or 0.6% ahead to 25,560.93. Top of the winners is insurer Travelers, which is up 1.7% to $128.48 after announcing that it is improving its speed of delivering services by using different types of databasing technologies.
The S&P 500 is currently 7.7 points or 0.3% lower to 2,838.35. The losers are led by Nielsen, which has plunged 25.4% to $22.05 after it was announced that Nielsen's chief executive is to leave at the end of this year.
And finally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq has fallen 98 points or 1.2% on open. Facebook is dragging the index down after its shares dropped an epic 20% on open.
Currently Facebook's share price is down 18% to $178.29, after reporting on Wednesday that its revenue and user growth fell short of investor expectations and signalling that growth for the rest of the year would likely be weak.
Markets.com's chief market analyst Neil Wilson thinks the ECB press conference had a "last day of school feel" to it.
"No change on rates as expected but Mario Draghi left us in no doubt that substantial stimulus is still warranted and that monetary policy will remain accommodative for as long as necessary– no early rush to hike," he said.
On forward guidance, it seems clear that markets have "got it right" and are reflecting what the ECB currently expects.
However Mr Wilson is not convinced by Mr Draghi's claim that uncertainty around the inflation outlook is receding and convergence with the target is apace.
"We question whether that is in fact the case as there is a strong sense that core inflation is not rising fast enough and therefore we are at risk of ‘bad ’ inflation pushing up prices, forcing tightening that the broader economy is not ready for," said Mr Wilson.
Thanks Dearbail and Ben 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.
Have you been shopping lately? Summer sales are all the rage this week - here's the scene from Oxford Street in London today.
Today, temperatures are set to hit 34 degrees Celsius. Hope you're staying cool, wherever you are.
ECB chief Mario Draghi has been holding a press conference after keeping interest rates on hold.
Economist Frederik Ducrozet senses that Mr Draghi is inching towards tightening monetary policy (or becoming more hawkish).
The chief executive of American Airlines said that he is assuming that oil at $75 per barrel is the "new reality".
Earlier the company warned that profits would fall this year due to higher fuel, which have been driven higher by the rising cost of crude oil.
However, Doug Parker said he is "confident" that revenue will grow in 2019 and beyond.
Ryanair's rivals are trying to poach its pilots and cabin crew, according to Bloomberg news.
British Airways is extending a drive to hire new pilots and EasyJet has announced plans to hire 1,200 flight attendants.
Meanwhile, Norwegian is expanding in Dublin according to the article.
Ryanair has threatened to cut 300 pilots and cabin crew in Dublin and says that staff should move to Poland if they want to safeguard their jobs.
Like-for-likes at McDonald's grew by 4% in the second quarter to June after the fast-food chain saw growth across all regions.
In the US, comparative sales rose by 2.6% and internationally same-store revenue grew by 4.9% - driven primarily by the UK and France.
Overall, total sales fell 12% during the quarter to $5.3bn as McDonald's continued to restructure the business.
Net income grew by 7% to $1.4bn.
American Airlines has endured "the most challenging quarter" since it merged with US Airways five years ago, according to its chairman and chief executive.
Net income fell by 34.5% to $566m (£429m) on revenues up 3.7% at $11.6bn in the three months to June.
American Airlines chairman and chief executive Doug Parker, said: “This was perhaps the most challenging quarter for the American team since our merger with US Airways in 2013.
He said: "Higher fuel prices increased our expenses by more than $700m versus last year and our revenues, while increasing, have begun to trail the rate of increase at our largest competitors for the first time since early 2016.
"Because fuel expenses are expected to increase by more than $2bn this year, we expect 2018 earnings to be lower than last year."
The European Central Bank (ECB) has announced that its main interest rate will stay on hold at least through the summer.
Naturally analysts are wondering what the ECB means by the summer. We might find out in just over half an hour, when ECB chief Mario Draghi holds a news conference.
You probably don't remember but last year Goop, the lifestyle brand owned by actor Gwyneth Paltrow, signed a deal with the giant magazine publisher, Conde Nast.
It did not go well and after just two issues the partnership folder.
Well now we know why.
According to this article in the New York Times, Conde Nast wanted to fact check the claims made by the contributors to Goop, particularly the doctors and healers used on the Goop website.
"G.P. just didn't understand the problem," the article says.
Comcast, the US cable giant competing against 21st Century Fox to take control of Sky, has reported a rise in profits but has also lost more video customers during the second quarter.
Pre-tax profit rose to $4.2bn (£3.1bn) from $3.9bn on revenue 2.1% higher at $21.7bn.
Revenue from high-speed internet customers rose 9.3% to $4.2bn in the three months to June as Comcast added 260,000 internet subscribers, beating an average estimate of 200,000.
But it lost 140,000 video customers during the second quarter, up from 34,000 customers lost in the same period last year.
Virgin Media has denied a report that it could remove ITV channels from its platform as soon as this weekend in a row over issues including retransmission fees.
Discussions between the Love Island and X Factor broadcaster and the pay TV provider about the fees, as well as on-demand content, have been ongoing for the past two years.
A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We continue to have constructive discussions with ITV. All ITV channels remain live on Virgin TV and we have no intention of removing them.”
ITV declined to comment, but it is understood that ongoing talks with Virgin are "constructive".
About four million Virgin Media homes have been unable to watch channels including Dave and Gold operated by UKTV since the weekend in another row.
Virgin says UKTV charges "inflated" fees, and complains that its joint owner, the BBC, does not allow all channels to be shown on demand, while UKTV says it cannot accept the "drastic" price cut Virgin has sought.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas appeared cautiously welcome the outcome of trade talks between US President Donald Trump and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
Mr Maas said: "This is not yet the result we are aiming for but it has made a positive result in the whole discussion...on free trade or protectionism more likely than before.
“America and Europe are not opponents...We are partners and allies with common values and interests.”
He added: “The answer to America First can only be Europe United.”
After meagre rises and falls this morning, the FTSE indexes seem to have wilted in the heat.
There is barely any movement at all on the FTSE 100, now trading at 7,658.46, and on the FTSE 250, which is down 13.77 points at 20,739.71.
British American Tobacco is now leading the blue chip risers, up 5% at £41.76 following strong interim results.
SSE continues as the biggest faller, down 5.2% at £12.68.
Are you a black-clad, sword-wielding assassin?
Are you looking for a new job?
Well, Japan's Iga city has no use for you despite a report by America's National Public Radio that it was running short of ninjas.