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Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon and Howard Mustoe

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodbye!

    That's it for another day of live business news. Tomorrow is Friday, and we will join you then from 0600.

  2. Markets update

    Wall Street's main indexes fell slightly on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 69.03 points, or 0.27%, to 25,916.13.

    The S&P 500 lost 7.88 points, or 0.28%, to 2,784.5.

    The Nasdaq Composite dropped 21.98 points, or 0.29%, to 7,532.53.

  3. Music to the ears

    Ariana Grande

    Americans spent nearly $10bn on recorded music last year according to the Recording Industry Association (RIAA).

    That is the third year in a row of growth of 10% or more, which they're putting down to booming popularity of streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. Revenue from streaming grew 30% for the year.

    But that doesn't mean it's all sweet harmonies.

    "As noteworthy as it is for the business to approach $10bn in revenues again, that only returns US music to its 2007 levels," said RIAA's chairman, Mitch Glazier.

    "Stream-ripping, and a lack of accountability for many Big Tech companies that drive down the value of music, remain serious threats as the industry strives for additional growth."

    Stream-ripping is recording a track being played over a streaming service.

  4. Peak car: Bloomberg

    cars

    Bloomberg Businessweek has done a big story on the future of the car, as more of us move to cities and alternatives to owning one become more numerous.

    Granted, one of the case studies is a CEO who can afford to take taxis all the time, but the numbers don't lie. Young people are shunning driving tests and fewer Americans are buying cars.

  5. Martha Stewart makes a hash of it

    Martha

    Martha Stewart is joining Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth as an adviser to help deliver a new line of products.

    Sequential Brands Group, which owns the Martha Stewart brand, rose 28% in afternoon trading.

  6. Barclays accounts frozen

    The Financial Times reports that dozens of Barclays bank accounts belonging mainly to Chinese students at UK universities have been frozen.

    Authorities are concerned they have been used for money laundering, the newspaper reports.

  7. No-deal Brexit 'bad news' for food sector

    White plate on a table painted with the Welsh flag

    A no-deal Brexit would be "extremely bad news" for the food and drink sector in Wales, an industry leader has said.

    It follows UK government warnings that the impact would be "more pronounced" on UK food producers outside England.

    It was "likely to be felt strongly" by the Welsh lamb sector, with 92% of exports going to the EU.

    Andy Richardson, chairman of the Food and Drink Industry Wales Board, said small firms did not have the ability to respond to last-minute developments.

  8. Giant Norwegian wealth fund plans to increase UK investment

    Yngve Slyngstad

    Norway's giant state investment fund has said it will increase its investment in the UK.

    The sovereign wealth fund, which has $1tn (£750bn) to invest from Norway's oil and gas income, is already one of the biggest investors in UK assets.

    Its chief executive has said that it will continue to be a "significant" investor in the UK, despite Brexit.

    The fund takes a long-term investment view of 30-years and expects its UK investment to rise over that period.

    Read more here.

  9. Merger could close Fox's mints factory in Leicester

    Fox's Glacier mints factory in Leicester

    The factory that makes Fox's Glacier mints could close under merger plans.

    It is proposed Fox's Glacier owner Big Bear Confectionery would merge with Tangerine Confectionery.

    The move would close the Big Bear site in Leicester, where over 200 people are employed, and create a combined UK head office in Pontefract and Blackpool.

    Tangerine Confectionery said a consultation with staff and unions was under way, adding no jobs were currently at risk.

  10. US Huawei trial set for 2020

    Huawei logo

    The US case against Huawei for alleged fraud, trade secrets conspiracy and other charges will go to trial in March 2020, the US Justice Department said.

    Units of the Chinese tech giant formally pleaded not guilty to the charges in US District Court in Seattle. The firm had previously denied wrongdoing.

    The US has accused Huawei of stealing technology from US telecom company T-Mobile. A separate suit also says that the firm misled the US about its dealings with Iran.

    The cases, which come amid a broader US campaign against the company, have added to US-China tensions.

  11. 'Why I don't knock fast fashion'

    BBC Radio 5 live

    Tan France has explained to BBC Radio 5 Live why he doesn't criticise 'fast fashion'.

    France is the fashion expert on Netflix series Queer Eye.

    He told BBC Radio 5 Live's Laura Whitmore that you can dress in a sustainable way, but said he understood why people chose to buy cheaper clothes.

    Click here for more from 5 Live's Cool Planet season.

    Video content

    Video caption: Queer Eye's Fashion expert gives his tips for dressing sustainably.
  12. Energy prices

    Smaller gas and electric supplier Bulb has cut its prices by an average of £20 a year. It thinks that will make it about £250 cheaper than the default rates of the six dominant suppliers.

    This has caused some commentators to wonder how the price cap for those standard rates was calculated in the first place.

    As ever, the experts urge you to shop around.

    Quote Message: Bulb’s action puts the Big Six’s big price hikes under the spotlight. It also calls into question the new price cap level and how it was calculated, given that its new rate will be £254 on average cheaper than the price cap level coming into force in April. It’s also refreshing to see a company treat its customers fairly. By passing on the savings in wholesale gas prices, rather than retaining the difference as pure profit, Bulb has recognised the anger people have with repeated price hikes by their energy supplier. This move could really shake the market up. People will likely look at it as a viable alternative to switch to as a result.” from Peter Earl Head of Energy at comparethemarket.com
    Peter EarlHead of Energy at comparethemarket.com
  13. Scottish national investment bank legislation published

    Scottish pound notes

    Legislation to set up a Scottish national investment bank has been published at Holyrood.

    The Scottish government wants to have the bank up and running by 2020, with £2bn committed for investment in Scottish businesses over 10 years.

    The bill now before MSPs will grant the necessary powers to set up the bank as a public limited company.

    Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the bank would be "a cornerstone in Scotland's economic architecture".

  14. JC Penney to close more stores due to losses

    JC Penney

    US department store JC Penney has reported losses of $255m for 2018.

    However, the retailer's sales, revenue and net income still beat analysts' expectations.

    JC Penney announced that it would be closing another 15 stores in 2019, on top of the three it had already announced.

    The retailer's new chief executive Jill Soltau, has been trying to move JC Penney away from appliances, and will focus more instead on clothes and accessories, in order to compete with fast fashion retailers.

    Despite the gloom, JC Penney shares rose 28.2% to $1.59 on the news.

  15. US growth

    gdp

    All those GDP numbers are much easier to countenance in graph form. So here we are with a tad more context.

  16. Bond buying vs your pension

    Quote Message: QE may be credited with saving the country’s bacon in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, but it has been a mixed blessing for our pensions. An unpleasant side effect of this monetary medicine sent the cost of providing guaranteed retirement income soaring, and consequently companies have been forced to shovel significantly more money into their pensions. Retirees weren’t immune, either forced to buy annuities that were paying less than they’d expected or shunning guaranteed income for the unpredictability of drawdown. from Nathan Long senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown
    Nathan Longsenior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown
  17. Bond buying vs your pension

    A pensioner couple

    Quantitative easing (QE) celebrates its 10th anniversary shortly, the print-money-to-buy-bonds programme having been first announced on 5 March 2009.

    The wonks at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown have done some maths to work out what it's done for our pensions. Broadly, they find:

    • Annuities now buy 28% lower incomes.In 2009, a 65-year-old man could buy an annuity income of £7,214 from a £100,000 pension. Fast forward to today, and that same pension could get a 65-year-old an income of only £5,206.
    • Defined benefit pension schemes are looking healthier, with aggregate shortfall falling to £23.1bn from £204.7bn
  18. British Airways to buy 42 Boeing jets

    British Airways Boeing 777 aeroplane

    British Airways has confirmed that it is purchasing up to 42 Boeing 777 passenger jets for longhaul flights, following the news that Airbus will stop making its A380 superjumbo jets.

    IAG said BA had agreed to purchase 18 Boeing 777-9 planes first, with the option to have a further 24 jets. The total cost of all 42 planes would come to about $18.6bn at list prices, before any discount.

    "The new 777-9 is the world's most fuel efficient longhaul aircraft and will bring many benefits to British Airways' fleet," said IAG's chief executive Willie Walsh.

    "It's the ideal replacement for the 747 and its size and range will be an excellent fit for the airline's existing network."

  19. Inmarsat shares spike

    Satellite firm Inmarsat shares rose as much as 10% on renewed bid speculation.

    The CTFN news website said rival US satellite group EchoStar was expected to renew its interest in the firm "very soon".

    The shares are still up 6%.

    Echostar dropped a takeover attempt last year.

  20. Company faces fine for allegedly buying fake Amazon reviews

    A man measuring his waist with a measuring tape

    A company that sold "ineffective" fat-fighting herbal supplements is facing a $12.8m (£9.6m) fine for allegedly buying fake reviews on Amazon.

    The fine is part of a settlement deal Cure Encapsulations has reached with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

    Cure had paid a now defunct website for positive reviews to push claims its pills helped weight loss, said the FTC.

    The company has also been told to stop making "false and unsubstantiated" claims about one supplement.