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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Chinese industrial output slows
  3. Facebook recovering from most severe outage in its history
  4. Pound slips after hitting nine-month high
  5. Cineworld profits boost
  6. FCA crackdown on investment firms
  7. Banks announce merger
  8. Debenhams gives 'careful consideration' to Sports Direct
  9. IFS says UK needs urgent spending review
  10. Superdry should be 'supercharged' says founder

Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

  1. London closes slightly higher

    London Stock Exchange

    London shares have ended only slightly ahead, as continuing Brexit chaos following Wednesday's vote dampened investor enthusiasm.

    The FTSE 100 closed 26.2 points or 0.4% higher to 7,185.43. Top of the winners is EasyJet, which rose 4.3% to £12.27 on the news that the airline is using an A320 aeroplane equipped with new technology called Fans-C that will enable it to save fuel and reduce noice.

    The FTSE 250 ended 103 points or 0.5% ahead to 19,283.06. Stone and concrete landscaping firm Marshalls leads the winners, climbing 7.2% to 584.5p after reporting a 21% increase in pre-tax profits for 2018.

  2. Huawei enters not guilty plea

    Huawei sign with a man walking in front of it on a mobile phone

    Huawei has entered a plea of not guilty to a 13-count indictment filed in a New York federal court against the company.

    The Chinese tech giat and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou are accused of conspiring to defraud HSBC and other banks by misrepresenting Huawei’s relationship with Skycom Tech, a suspected Iranian shell company.

    Huawei has insisted that Skycom was a local business partner, while the US claims it was an unofficial subsidiary used to conceal Huawei’s business in Iran, which was enabling Skycom to obtain embargoed US technology and other goods and services.

    The next court date for the ongoing case is set for Thursday 4 April.

  3. Regal deal 'just in time'

    Black Panther film
    Image caption: Marvel's superhero film Black Panther helped boost sales

    Cineworld's results prove the value of its decision to by US chain Regal, says analyst Fiona Cincotta from City Index.

    She says critics who thought Cineworld had overpaid for the $3.6bn (£2.7bn) acquisition have been proved wrong, with it providing "a big US-based profit boost, just as sales were wilting in the UK."

    "Impressive profit growth aside, the size of the company's debt pile will linger in investors minds' as a cause for concern."By hiking the dividend, management is clearly confident that Cineworld can keep churning out sufficient profit growth to meet its financing costs, cut debt and continue rewarding investors with more payouts," she adds.

  4. Ofgem appoints SSE to take on Brilliant Energy customers

    SSE logo

    Ofgem has announced that it is appointing SSE to take on supplying Brilliant Energy’s 17,000 domestic customers.

    All outstanding credit balances, including money owed to both existing and former customers of Brilliant Energy will also be honoured, and SSE will absorb a significant portion of these costs.

    For existing customers, energy supplies will continue as normal as they switch over to SSE on 15 March.

  5. Ethiopian Airlines' black boxes sent to Paris

    Grieving relatives have been visiting the crash site

    Investigators in France have taken charge of the crashed Ethiopian Airlines aircraft's black boxes as they attempt to uncover what caused the Boeing 737 Max disaster.

    The Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) received the flight data and cockpit voice recorders on Thursday.

    The first readings could take days, but a lot depends on the boxes' condition.

    It comes as regulators across the world continue to ground the Boeing aircraft.

  6. Latest on Malaysia fund

    goldman sachs logo and flag

    Goldman Sachs has been issued with a show-cause letter form Malaysia's regulator over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

    A show-cause letter usually requires the recipient to show why they should be subject to disciplinary action.

    "We have issued a show cause to Goldman Sachs," Syed Zaid Albar, chairman of the Malaysia Securities Commission, said.

    There was no immediate response from Goldman Sachs- which helped raise $6.5bn (£5bn) for the Malaysian development fund advising on three bond offerings in 2012 and 2013. It has consistently denied wrong-doing.

  7. Wall Street opens flat

    Wall Street

    Wall Street shares have been flat on open, weighed down by delays in US-China trade talks, as well as new home sales in the US falling more than expected in January.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now 19.2 points or 0.08% down to 25,683.72. Boeing tops the losers, falling 1.3% to $372.41 after announcing that it has grounded its entire global fleet of 737 Max aeroplanes in light of new evidence from the scene of the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash.

    The S&P 500 is now 3.4 points or 0.1% lower to 2,807.49. Top of the losers is discount retailer Dollar General, which has dropped 9.5% to $109.23 after its profit forecast for 2019 fell below analysts' expectations.

    And finally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq has slipped 13 points or 0.2% to 7,630.20. Take Two heads the losers, sliding 3.7% to $92.51. On Wednesday, the game developer's shares jumped on rumours that Sony could be about to acquire it.

  8. Good afternoon

    Britain's Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd (L), Britain's Business Secretary Greg Clark (2L), Britain's Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor David Gauke (2R) and Britain's Transport Secretary Chris Grayling

    Thanks Jill and Katie 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.

    Pictured are Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor David Gauke, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling arriving in Downing Street earlier today.

    This evening, MPs will vote on whether to ask the European Union for an extension to the March 29 Brexit deadline.

    Got a point of view? You can tweet me at @concertina226 and @BBCBusiness.

  9. More from DFS

    sofa

    DFS's chief executive Tim Stacey included some analysis of implications for Brexit on the business.

    He cited a number of factors, including the "continuing significant uncertainty" which "has obviously impacted consumer confidence" and knocked demand in the market.

    The business also imports goods worth about £10m of revenues each week and just over half of finished good products it sells are imported into the UK from mainland Europe or China.

    "We have analysed the import routes for all our finished goods to ensure that we balance the points of entry and the forms of transportation, and we intend to remain vigilant should the need to switch transportation routes arise," he said.

    Tariffs should not be a problem and the business said it could benefit by £3m a year from proposed changes which will have impact on VAT returns.

  10. VW's boss: I didn't think of possibility

    Volkswagen has circulated Herbert Diess's apology in full.

    He says the controversial remark was made "at an internal Volkswagen management information event connected with the operating margin of various Group brands".

    "At no time was it my intention for this statement to be placed in a false context. At the time, I simply did not think of this possibility," he says.

    Mr Diess adds that the firm is aware of "the special responsibility of Volkswagen in connection with the 'Third Reich'".

    Volkswagen was founded in 1937, as part of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's vision to enable German families to own their first car. During World War Two, the Wolfsburg-based firm manufactured vehicles for the German army, using more than 15,000 slave labourers from nearby concentration camps.

  11. VW's boss Nazi gaffe

    Herbert Diess
    Image caption: Herbert Diess was put in charge of VW last year

    The chief executive of Volkswagen has apologised for invoking a Nazi slogan to describe the importance of boosting the group's profits.

    Herbert Diess used the line "Ebit macht frei" at an event on Tuesday.

    The phrase echoes the slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" - meaning "work sets you free" - which was famously emblazoned in wrought-iron on the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

    Ebit is a commonly used acronym for "earnings before interest and taxes".

    Read more here

  12. Sterling update

    sterling

    Sterling has lifted off the day's lows, but is still lower on the day, ahead of the vote by MPs later today on whether to seek a delay to the UK's departure from the EU.

  13. UK secures trade deal with Fiji

    UK's top trading partners

    UK trade with Fiji and Papua New Guinea will continue uninterrupted post Brexit after international trade secretary Liam Fox signed a trade continuity agreement.

    The region is not a large trading partner with the UK, with total trade worth around £369m a year, a mere fraction of the UK's total trade.

    Nonetheless, the government says the deal could save fish exporters £2.1m in tariff charges, and sugar exporters £8.6m.

    The UK is seeking to provide continuity for existing EU trade agreements covering more than 70 countries that account for 11% of total UK trade.

    So far, the UK has only agreed seven "continuity" deals including Fiji. The others are:

  14. Just Group tumbles

    logo

    Shares in Just Group, a retirement specialist firm, are down sharply after it announced it was taking steps to boost its financial strength.

    The company plans to raise around around £80m through shares and also expects to borrow at least £300m through the bond markets.

    The move follows rules set out by the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority about the way of equity release mortgages can be used to to back liabilities from annuities (a big part of its business).

    It was announced as the firm said underlying annual operating earnings rose 31% to £315m. On a statutory basis, it reported a £86m loss.

    Rodney Cook, chief executive, said the business had achieved growth in new business, strong margins and higher sales.

    There will not be a dividend.

    The shares are down 10%.

  15. DFS profits double

    shop

    Furniture retailer DFS has reported annual profits of £14.1m, double those of last year.

    Chief executive Tim Stacey said: "The consistency of performance across the group was particularly encouraging, with all brands achieving like-for-like revenue growth and the continued strong performance of our online channels. We do, however, remain concerned by the near-term political and economic uncertainty that has and will likely continue to impact consumer sentiment."

    The shares are down 1.5%.

  16. US jobless claims rise

    cars in US

    US jobless claims have risen over the past week, according to the latest official statistics.

    For the week ended 9 March, there were 229,000 claims, slightly above the monthly average of 223,750.