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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. John Lewis announces lowest bonus since 1953
  3. ECB announces new series of cheap loans
  4. Fashion chain Quiz announces profit warning

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

  1. Hammond on police funding

    BBC Breakfast

    Philip Hammond

    Chancellor Philip Hammond has been speaking to BBC Breakfast about funding for the police after the wave of knife crimes.

    He said his job was use to public resources in the most effective way and there were lots of demands on the spending available.

    He said that police forces could be more efficient and that if they all operated at the level of the most efficient, police time would be saved that was the equivalent of 11,000 officers a year.

    It was not the case that he had turned down requests for additional police funding from the Home Secretary, he said.

    "Police need to ensure the prioritise the things that matter most to ordinary people," he said, adding tackling knife crime was currently the public's priority.

    An extra £1bn was already being made available for the police, he said.

  2. BreakingQuiz warns over profits after grim start to year

    Quiz website

    It's been such a bad start to the year for fashion retailer Quiz, that it has already warning that it will not meet a profit forecast only made on 11 January.

    Between 1 January and 28 February sales at its UK stores tumbled 11.1%.

    That means it has cut its outlook for the year.

    The company had previously said that sales for 2019 would be £133m and profits would be £8.2m.

    It now expects sales of £129m and profits of £4.5m.

    "This has been a highly disappointing trading period for the Group. As a result, the Board will be reviewing all aspects of the business over the coming months to ensure that we can deliver the Group's long-term potential despite the changing consumer backdrop and challenging trading conditions," said Tarak Ramzan, Quiz chief executive.

    The company has 71 stores.

  3. Asian stocks mixed

    Asian stocks have been mixed.

    In China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 0.7% while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.1%.

    Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 was also down 0.7%.

  4. Aviva warns of 'muted' 2019

    Aviva sign

    Aviva has made some negative comments about the outlook for this year.

    "Given current uncertainties, including the unknown future impacts of Brexit on the economies of the United Kingdom and Europe, our near-term outlook entering 2019 is more muted than our outlook a year ago," chief financial officer, Thomas Stoddard said.

    Over the last two years it has grown operating earnings by 7%. "It will be difficult to sustain this momentum in 2019," it said.

    Aviva is one of the UK's biggest insurance firms.

  5. 'Hammond may find extra money for the police'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Police officers

    Chancellor Philip Hammond is putting the final touches to his spring statement, due to be unveiled on 13 March.

    As well as giving an update on the UK's financial health, he may also indicate areas where spending will be increased.

    Police funding has been in the spotlight this week after a spate of fatal knife killings this year, with top officers saying there was “some link” between violent crime and police numbers.

    "Overall spending decisions will be left until later in the year," Paul Johnson, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, tells BBC Radio Four's Today programme.

    But he adds: "Policing is now at the top [of the agenda]. I wouldn't be surprised if he does not find money for policing next week."

  6. 'Exceptional' start to the year for Greggs

    Greggs vegan friendly sausage roll

    Greggs said it has enjoyed a "very strong start to the year".

    Like-for-like sales were up 9.6% in the seven weeks to 16 February.

    The "exceptional" sales performance was helped by the publicity surrounding the launch of its vegan-friendly sausage roll, the company said.

    The pastry purveyor also reported results for last year.

    Sales rose 7% to £1,029m. Like-for-like sales rose 2.9%.

    Pre-tax profit was £82.6m.

  7. Will John Lewis cut its staff bonus?

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    John Lewis parcel

    High Street department store chain John Lewis is due to release its annual financial results later.

    And as well as the headline figures, the partnership will reveal whether the annual bonus for staff at its 350 Waitrose and 51 John Lewis stores is to be cut completely, or reduced to a small amount.

    If it decides not to pay the bonus, it would mark the first time since 1953 the staff - who are known as partners and own the company - had gone without.

    Mouhammed Choukeir, chief investment officer at Kleinwort Hamrose, tells Radio Four's Today programme: "It is expected they will scrap the bonus completely, or cut it to a token amount.

    "In the 1980s the bonus was 25% of annual salary... they may now scrap it, or go to a symbolic 3%.

    "This is a sign of the tests the High Street is facing. Their profits are down, and that is part of the reason they are cutting bonuses."

    Bonuses have been cut for the past five years, with a 5% payout last year.

  8. 'British billionaires rush to top tax havens'

    Beach

    On its front page, The Times reports that a third of British billionaires have moved to tax havens, in what it describes as an "exodus" over the past decade.

    It also says that political parties have accepted money from people living off-shore.

    "Many have been given honours or hold titles," the article says.

    The Times says that this week it will reveal a list of British billionaires who live off-shore while controlling UK businesses and also "wielding political influence and owning swathes of land".

  9. Huawei legal move against US ''is a very bold move'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Huawei logo

    More on that Huawei story. Emily Taylor from the Chatham House think tank has been giving her take on the Chinese firm's law suit to BBC Radio Four's Today programme.

    "It is a very bold move [to sue the US government] because it will bring into a court of law a lot of these rumours that have been made about Huawei, which it says is a whispering campaign," she says.

    "Huawei say they have no connection to the Chinese government, but that is carefully phrased [in their court documents].

    "The writ is saying there is a [US] law shutting Huawei out of government contracts, they are saying that is unconstitutional."

  10. Quorn attracts 'meat reducers'

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Quorn website

    You might have heard of Quorn, it's a meat replacement made from a fungus.

    The company that makes it is owned by Philipino firm Mondo Nissin.

    But it is made in Stokesley in North Yorkshire and Billingham in the North East.

    Quorn was a niche product ten years ago, says chief executive Kevin Brennan.

    "Ten years ago its was very much a vegeterian consumer base, but now 75% of our consumers aren't vegetarian. They're what we call a meat reducer".

    "It's the fastest growing food category," he said.

    At the moment chief executive Mr Brennan is trying to double sales in the US, where the wide range of Quorn products is a selling factor.

    "A lot of US firms are focused on producing a burger replacement product, so the the range of products is actually quite limited."

  11. Japanese stocks lead Asian declines

    Man stands in front of stock board in Japan

    Stocks in Japan lost ground in a mostly downbeat session for markets across Asia.

    In afternoon trading, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.8%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng pulled back 0.5% and Shanghai Composite was steady. Australia's ASX 200 bucked the trend, rising 0.3%

  12. Why the suspicion over Huawei?

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Huawei

    Why are the US, and other nations so suspicious of Chinese tech firm Huawei, when there's no hard evidence that it has enabled spying.

    Asia Business Correspondent Karishma Vaswani says it's partly to do with Chinese law: "The National Intelligence Law which was passed in 2017 in China requires organisations and individual to assist the state in any form of intelligence gathering - you can not refuse."

    However, the company's founder has Karishma that he would shut the company before complying with this law. He says he's never been asked by the Chinese government to hand over data, or build a back door within the telecoms equipment he supplies.

    Huawei has filed a lawsuit against the US government over a ban that restricts government agencies from using its products.

  13. Good morning!

    Ben Morris

    Business reporter

    Welcome to Thursday's Business Live page.

    China's Huawei is suing the US government over a ban on its products.

    We'll find out later this morning what - if any - bonus staff at John Lewis will receive, when the retailer announces annual results.

    And find out why "meat reducers" have helped propel sales at one north Yorkshire food firm.