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Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

  1. Siemens: not laughing off Brexit

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Jurgen Maier

    The UK has become a "global laughing stock" according to Jürgen Maier chief executive of the UK branch of German engineering firm Siemens. He's written a letter to MPs urging them to get their act together over, what else, Brexit.

    He says it's taken 45 years to shake off the "sick man of Europe" image the UK had in the 1970s and now we're at risk of trashing it all.

    Siemens has several manufacturing sites around the UK, but the board wouldn't have much truck with making new investments now, he says.

    "If I were to go to my board today and say here is another factory I want to open today with an investment 100 or 200 million, I can tell you, with this turmoil right now, we would not be putting that over the line."

    Mr Maier says laughing stock or not, there's nothing funny about the situation.

    "We just need a solution that will move us forward and that will unlock significant investment from companies like mine."

  2. BreakingFTSE opens in the black

    The FTSE 100 opened up 24.44, or 0.33%, at 7,340.40.

    Meanwhile the FTSE 250 climbed 74.68, or 0.39%, at 19.313.44.

  3. £8bn hangover left from financial crisis

    B&B branch

    More than a decade on from the financial crisis the government has today got back a further £4.9bn from the cash it was forced to invest in bailing out the former building societies Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley.

    Today's sale represents approximately 66,000 NRAM loans.

    What's left to flog?

    "When complete, this sale will reduce UKAR’s balance sheet to £8bn, a 93% reduction since formation," said Ian Hares, chief executive officer of UK Asset Resolution, the body set up to oversee the managing of the government's investment.

  4. Government cashes in on £4.9bn Northern Rock loans

    Northern Rock

    The government has pocketed £4.9bn after flogging a bunch of former Northern Rock mortgages and loans.

    The sale of NRAM mortgages and unsecured loans was approved "following a highly competitive auction", the Treasury said.

    Two portfolios of mortgages will be sold to Citi, an investment bank.

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said: "Today’s sale enables us to recover the full amount taxpayers loaned to Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley."

  5. Struggling chain worth just £5.7m

    Bonmarche fashion

    That deal for Bonmarché values the chain at just £5.7m.

    Bonmarché has recently issued several negative trading updates, including an announcement on 19 March when the board announced an estimated underlying loss of between £5m-£6m for the year ending 31 March 2019.

    So why has the deal been struck?

    In a statement, Spectre said: "Against the backdrop of the significant decline in Bonmarché's profitability, Spectre believes it is well positioned to provide advice, guidance and support to secure the long term future of the Bonmarché business, its stores and employees.

    "The owner of Spectre, Philip Day, has a successful track record within the retail sector, especially in turnaround and distressed situations."

  6. British retail billionaire snaps up Bonmarché

    Bonmarche store

    Philip Day, founder of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, has snapped up struggling cut-price womenswear chain Bonmarché.

    The deal has been done through his Dubai registered company Spectre.

    Established in 1982, Bonmarché operates out of more than 300 stores and concessions across the UK.

    Last month Bonmarché issued its third profit warning in just six months.

  7. Oil climbs to 2019 high

    Oil price graph

    Meanwhile oil prices have climbed to fresh 2019 highs this morning.

    Brent crude oil futures currently stands at $69.22 a barrel.

    The price has been supported by firm Chinese economic data that eased demand concerns, as well as the possibility of more sanctions on Iran and further Venezuelan supply disruptions.

  8. A night of turmoil for the pound

    Pound graph

    Sterling turned negative against the dollar in late New York trade last night after the UK parliament voted down another set of alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

    It reached a 24-hour high of 1.3142 in later afternoon trading, but by midnight it had slid all the way to 1.3035.

    It's now hovering around the 1.3076 mark, but looks set for another day of turmoil.

  9. Sterling: Glimmer of hope?

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Pound coins

    Jane Foley senior strategist at Rabobank told Radio 4's Today programme:

    "Sterling took a tumble last night. It stablised this morning but it's not back at the levels it was on Friday evening.

    "There’s a glimmer of hope yet because today sterling gathered some pace supported on the basis perhaps this customs union idea would give some degree of certainty."

  10. Audit changes are 'fundamental'

    Meanwhile Ian Peters, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors, said the Business Committee was right to call for urgent and radical reform of the external audit market. He said:

    Quote Message: These changes are fundamental if we are to reduce the risk of future corporate collapses like BHS, Carillion and Patisserie Valerie.
  11. Audits should give more assurance

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    magnifying glass over spreadsheet

    Should the big four accountancy firms be broken up?

    David Sproul chief executive of Deloittes, perhaps unsurprisingly, thinks not.

    He says the system isn't broken and that MPs on the Business committee are wrong to call for a complete separation of auditing from non-auditing business, which is what they're doing this morning.

    Mr Sproul told Radio 4 Today that auditors already take "really robust" approach to firms' solvency. The problem is the "expectation gap"

    "Some believe an audit is a guarantee a company won’t fail in the future, a guarantee there’s no fraud and frankly an audit doesn’t give that guarantee.

    "It has focused on finding fraud, on testing viability, but it is not guarantee. Maybe it should be. Maybe the audit should be expanded to give a much higher level of assurance."

  12. Political uncertainty creating negative business prospects

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Wake up to Money

    Jane Foley

    Jane Foley, senior currency strategist at Rabobank spoke to Wake Up To Money about the latest business investment data out last week which showed that investment was down 0.9%.

    "That is the fourth negative number for that figures," she told the programme. "That is very unusual outside a recession.

    "Negative business investment is not great. It shows that over the longer term we're going to hit capacity constraints, which is inflationary.

    "It's negative for growth over the long-term. And it's negative for jobs over the longer term as well so it's really not good news."

    She added: "It's related, of course, to political uncertainty."

  13. Today's papers

    Today's papers

    Brexit rejection is on the front page of today's newspapers again while the business sections are fairly united in their choices of lead stories too.

    Two stories dominate: "MPs seek full break-up of Big Four", as the FT has it, and "Watchdog facing review after collapse of City firm at centre of £236m scandal", as the Guardian has it.

    The former is the call by MPs for the UK's Big Four accountancy firms to be separated into audit and non-audit businesses.

    The latter is the news that the Financial Conduct Authority is facing a government probe into its oversight of London Capital & Finance.

    Eleswhere The Times reports: "Airlines caught in turbulence after Easyjet's Brexit warning".

    Easyjet shares slumped 10% yesterday and its warning led to rivals losing out: Thomas Cook fell 5.4%, Ryanair lost 2.4%, and IAG slid 1.5%.

  14. US to investigate Hyundai and Kia


    US safety authorities will investigate nearly three million Hyundai and Kia vehicles over fires, in a move which could prompt mass recalls.

    The inquiry by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration follows thousands of complaints about the "non-crash fires".

    Incidents involving fires are linked to one death and more than 100 injuries.

    It raises fresh safety concerns with the South Korean automakers, which have already been subject to US scrutiny.

    Read more here

  15. Google shuts failed social network Google+

    Google+ browser

    Google+, the search giant's failed social network, will finally be laid to rest this morning.

    Launched in 2011 and competing with Facebook and Twitter, it was Google's fourth attempt at a social network.

    But the platform failed to win people over, even after Google pushed it upon the thriving YouTube community.

    Read more

  16. Asia stocks rise

    A man looks at stock boards in China

    It's been a positive session for markets across Asia.

    China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.4%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 index and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index both added 0.1% in afternoon trading.

  17. Boeing to submit software upgrade for 737 Max in "coming weeks"

    A number of Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked at Southern California Logistics Airport on March 27, 2019 in Victorville, California.

    Boeing will submit a software upgrade for the 737 Max aircraft model involved in two crashes in five months over the "coming weeks," according to media reports.

    Boeing had previously told airlines it expected to have new software for its 737 Max plane ready by the end of March.

    Boeing grounded all of its 737 Max fleet after a second crash involving a 737 Max 8 last month.

  18. Good morning

    Welcome to today's live page - we'll be with you until around 9.30pm.

    We're looking forward to grocery market figures today as well as the latest procurement PMI.

    We'll be bringing more comment on that call for the big four audit firms to be broken up.

    And we'll be reporting on all the latest breaking business news.

    Get in touch at