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Live Reporting

Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    BBC testcard

    That's it for today on Business Live - thanks for reading. We'll be back bright and early at 06:00 on Friday.

    Do join us then for all the latest breaking news and analysis.

  2. Wall Street ends slightly lower

    Wall Street traders

    Wall Street shares have ended, as falls in industrial stocks could not be off-set by gains in technology shares from strong earnings results.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.51% to 26,461.95, the S&P 500 lost 0.04% to 2,926.16 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.21% to 8,118.68.

  3. Amazon reports 17% sales jump

    Amazon parcel

    Amazon said it beat first-quarter sales estimates due to demand for its cloud computing and advertising businesses and a surge in online shopping.

    Net sales rose 17% to $59.70bn, beating analysts' average estimate of $59.65bn.

  4. G4S driver admits stealing £1m from van

    A G4S van

    A G4S driver has admitted stealing almost £1m in cash from one of the firm's vans.

    Joel March, 36, fled with deposit boxes from the vehicle after parking it in Larkhall Rise in Clapham, south-west London on Tuesday.

    The charge states he stole £970,000 from G4S.

    March, of Rectory Grove, Clapham, admitted theft by employee at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court. He will be sentenced at a later date.

    The Met said a quantity of cash has been recovered.

    A spokeswoman for G4S, a major government contractor, said such incidents were "extremely rare".

  5. Macron unveils yellow vest reforms

    A yellow vest protester and armoured police in France

    French President Emmanuel Macron has given a long-awaited response to the yellow vest movement, following five months of "yellow vest" protests against economic injustice in France.

    Despite insisting that order must return, he acknowledged a "lack of trust" in the establishment.

    He promised new measures to address this including tax cuts, a reform of the civil service and the introduction of proportional representation.

    The speech was planned for April 15 but was postponed after the devastating fire at Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

  6. SAS to cancel flights on Friday

    SAS aeroplane

    Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has announced that it is cancelling 205 flights from midnight to noon on Friday as a precaution in case pilots decide to strike.

    Swedish, Danish and Norwegian pilot unions had previously called for a strike if they were unable to agree on a deal for wages and other terms.

    Mediators across all three countries have been trying to agree a deal between the unions and the airline since last week.

    Earlier this week, SAS offered passengers the chance to reschedule flights taking place between 26-29 April free of charge.

  7. Bombardier cuts profit forecast


    Canadian aerospace and defence manufacturer Bombardier has slashed its full-year revenue forecast from $18bn to $17bn due to timing of aircraft deliveries, production challenges in its train-making division and unfavourable currency conversions.

    The rail unit is meant to generate $10bn, but Bombardier has slashed its full-year revenue forecast for the division by almost 8% to $8.75bn.

    Bombardier's shares were down 18.5% to $2.38 Canadian dollars on the news.

    “We had a soft first quarter driven by the timing of aircraft deliveries, foreign exchange headwind and a slower production ramp-up at Transportation,” said Bombardier's president and chief executive Alain Bellemare.

    “We expect to recover and meet our aircraft delivery and financial performance targets for the year in our aerospace businesses.

    "At Transportation, we are adjusting our 2019 guidance to reflect both changes to our production ramp up and cost pressure from a few challenging legacy projects as we continue to drive our transformation.”

  8. Crossrail pushes launch date again

    Crossrail workers in a tunnel

    Crossrail has announced that it is delaying its launch data again - this time until March 2021 at the very latest.

    Construction began in 2009 and it is Europe's biggest infrastructure project - it had been due to open in December 2018 although last summer that was pushed back to autumn 2019.

    Crossrail said that following a detailed audit of the programme and a new leadership team, it intends to first open the central section of the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood, initially linking the West End, the City of London, Canary Wharf and southeast London with 12 trains per hour during peak times.

    However, the Bond Street station was likely to be delayed because of design and delivery challenges.

    “I share the frustration of Londoners that the huge benefits of the Elizabeth line are not yet with us. But this plan allows Crossrail Ltd and its contractors to put the project back on track to deliver the Elizabeth line," said Crossrail's chief executive Mark Wild.

    "Crossrail is an immensely complex project and there will be challenges ahead particularly with the testing of the train and signalling systems but the Elizabeth line is going to be incredible for London and really will be worth the wait. This new plan will get us there and allow this fantastic new railway to open around the end of next year.”

  9. Peers: End free TV licences and bus passes for pensioners

    Older woman getting on bus

    Free TV licences, winter fuel payments and other "outdated" age-related benefits should be scrapped, a group of peers has said, with the money spent on housing and training for young people.

    The Committee on Intergenerational Fairness said subsidising licences for over-75s were no longer justified given improvements in pensioners' incomes.

    It also called for free bus passes for the over-65s to be ended.

    Campaigners warned against changes, saying pensioner poverty was rising.

    Read the full story here

  10. What now for Sainsbury’s and Asda?

    Dominic O'Connell

    Business Presenter, BBC Radio 4 Today programme

    Mike Coupe

    Next Wednesday is shaping up as the most important day of Mike Coupe's professional life.

    The chief executive of Sainsbury's has today seen his big gambit, a merger with Asda, fail - and fail utterly.

    Now he needs to come up with a convincing Plan B, and demonstrate to a sceptical market how Sainsbury's can prosper without what would have been a transformational deal with Asda.

    If he cannot do that, he will probably have to stand down.

    Now the companies have said the deal is off, Mr Coupe's task next Wednesday is two-fold. First there is the subtle task of coming up with a new commercial strategy for Sainsbury's as a standalone company, without it looking like there is anything wrong with current one.

    This will be difficult given he has spent months explaining why the Asda deal is so necessary, and in the meantime faced accusations that the day-to-day management of the chain is not up to scratch.

    This will require money - investment in stores and price cuts - and this is his second job. How can Sainsbury's pay for all this and maintain its all-important dividend payments to shareholders?

    Asda has a different problem. It needs a new owner as its American parent, Walmart, has made it clear it wants out.

    That could mean a sale to a private-equity investor, or a stock market listing. Neither would be straightforward.

  11. Criminal probe possible over Huawei leak

    Video content

    Video caption: Huawei leak could prompt criminal investigation, says minister

    The government "cannot exclude" a criminal investigation into leaks from a National Security Council meeting.

    Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright condemned leaks to the Daily Telegraph from the meeting about using Huawei technology for the UK's 5G network.

    Ex-Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the matter was "too serious" for a standard leaks inquiry and said the police must be called in.

    The National Security Council is made up of senior cabinet ministers.

  12. 'Not enough time spent on customers'

    Video content

    Video caption: The outgoing boss of RBS wishes he had spent more time on customers

    The outgoing chief executive of RBS, Ross McEwan, told the BBC that the challenge of returning the bank to profitability meant that not enough time was spent on customers.

  13. Sri Lanka travel: what should you do?

    Travellers at Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka

    The UK is advising against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka.

    The advice from the Foreign Office comes after the Easter Sunday bombings in which more than 350 people died.

    "Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Sri Lanka," it said in its advice. "Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners."

    Travellers should keep in touch with their airline, tour operator and insurer to see what their options are.

  14. US consumer confidence up

    Shoppers in New York City

    US consumer confidence climbed to a five-week high, according to latest data from the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index.

    The index climbed from 60.3 to 60.8 for the week ending 20 April 2019, and views on personal finances also rose for the period.

    Bloomberg said it was the third straight increase it had seen and is a sign that Americans have a rosier picture of the economy than back in November.

    The index showed that consumer confidence was increasing in the South and Midwest, however it was decreasing in the Northeast and West.

  15. London ends lower

    London Stock Exchange

    London shares have ended lower, as Sainsbury's scrapped its proposed takeover of rival supermarket chain Asda, and housebuilder Taylor Wimpey issued a profit warning.

    The FTSE 100 closed 37.6 points or 0.5% lower to 7,434.13. The losers were led by Taylor Wimpey, which dropped 7.6% to 177,7p after forecasting higher building costs that would weigh on profits in 2019. It ended the day down 5.4% to 182p.

    The FTSE 250 ended 122.6 points or 0.6% down to 19,871.05. Funding Circle headed the losers, falling an epic 13.4% to 242.5p after cutting its annual return projections for its retail investors in the UK.

  16. Disney and Comcast in talks over Hulu


    Disney and Comcast are apparently in talks for Comcast to sell its 30% stake in the US video streaming platform Hulu, sources have told CNBC.

    Hulu was originally a joint venture between NBC Universal - now owned by Comcast -, 21st Century Fox and AOL - now Time Warner, owned by AT&T.

    The service is now owned by Comcast and Disney, which acquired ownership of Fox's 30% stake in Hulu when it completed its takeover of 21st Century Fox assets in March.

    Last week, AT&T sold its 9.5% stake in the service back to Hulu, which will be split between Comcast and Disney, unless Disney takes Hulu over entirely.

    Although Hulu does not disclose its revenue, both Comcast and 21st Century Fox have had to post losses in the past few years, which they attributed to write-downs due to the video streaming service.

    Disney has also had to note a write-down, and a rough calculation of the write-downs shows Hulu lost at least $1bn in 2018.

  17. BreakingCarlos Ghosn issues statement over bail

    Carlos Ghosn is escorted out of Tokyo Detention House on Thursday
    Image caption: Carlos Ghosn is escorted out of Tokyo Detention House on Thursday

    Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has released a statement after being granted bail following his fourth arrest.

    A Tokyo court set bail at 500 million yen ($4.5m; £3.5m).

    He faces four charges in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct.

    It will be the second time Mr Ghosn, who denies any wrongdoing, has been released on bail.

    “I am grateful that bail has been granted and thankful for my family and supporters in Japan and around the world who fought for my release," said Mr Ghosn.

    "No person should ever be indefinitely held in solitary confinement for the purpose of being forced into making a confession.

    "But restricting communications and contact between my wife and me is cruel and unnecessary. We love each other very much, she answered all of the prosecutors’ questions in court, and she has done nothing wrong.

    “I maintain my innocence and am committed to vigorously defending myself against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations. I hope to be given a fair trial where the truth will come to light and I will be fully vindicated.”

  18. London Stock Exchange blocked by climate activists

    Video content

    Video caption: Extinction Rebellion: Climate activists target City of London

    Extinction Rebellion activists blocked entrances at the London Stock Exchange and climbed on top of a train as part of a day targeting financial institutions.

    26 people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespassing after protesters blocked the stock exchange in the City.

    In Canary Wharf, east London, five people glued themselves to a Docklands Light Railway service. Up until midday, 1,130 people have been arrested since the protests began on 15 April.

  19. RBS: Who might succeed Ross McEwan?

    Douglas Fraser

    Scotland business & economy editor

    Woman walks past RBS cash machines

    When he stepped up to the top job after running the retail part of RBS, Ross McEwan had instructions from the majority shareholder, the Government, to focus closer to home and to shrink its international reach.

    So it is now a largely British and Irish bank, making it all the more exposed to the potential Brexit fall-out for its business customers.

    At the same time, the amiable New Zealander had what he called several "noisy" years sorting out multi-billion pound regulatory fines and pay-outs in court cases.

    There has been the controversy over mistreatment of business clients in financial distress, and political pushback against branch closures.

    Trying to meet European Commission requirements to shrink the bank by splitting off the Williams & Glyn division has been a time-consuming, expensive failure.

    And the share price has stuck stubbornly at around half the break-even point for the UK Government's bail-out.

    Ross McEwan would have preferred to have returned RBS to market disciplines rather than government ones, but the share price has hindered that sale.

    Through the turmoil of returning to a sustainable profitability, he has tried to keep things simple, using his retail expertise to focus RBS on its customers. That has meant navigating an unprecedented churn in technology, with a rapid shift to apps and online banking.

    With the finances back in the black, McEwan has acknowledged that turning round the reputational problems for Royal Bank of Scotland is a 10 year project for his successor to see through.

    With a recent restructure of executive roles, it looks like Alison Rose, currently deputy chief executive of Natwest, has been groomed for the role, though Katie Murray may think differently, having been recently promoted to RBS chief financial officer.

  20. Microsoft hits $1tn market cap briefly

    Microsoft logo on a building

    Nasdaq has been boosted by a raft of positive earnings results from technology firms on Wednesday.

    Facebook is top of the index, and it is followed by semiconductor manufacturer Lam Research, up 6.1% to $207.36 after topping analysts' expectations on earnings.

    In third place is Microsoft, which rose 4.7% to $130.92 with $30.6bn in revenues thanks to growing demand for its cloud business.

    On Wednesday, Microsoft briefly reached the $1tn market cap for the first time ever in late trading after its results were announced, and then hit it again on market open on Thursday.

    Microsoft's shares are now just below the $1tn market cap at $130.09.

    On Wednesday, electric car marker Tesla reported a $702m quarterly loss and predicted a loss for the following second quarter of 2019.

    Tesla's shares opened 2% lower, but have now recovered and are down 0.3% to $257.61.