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Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon and Howard Mustoe

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodbye!

    BBC testcard

    From today, the business live page will be finishing at the Dolly Parton-sanctioned time of 5pm (17:00).

    While it has been a rewarding few years, scrabbling around for news deep into the evening, especially on a Friday, we will instead be squeezing all that high-octane output into 11 hours.

    Fear not! The biggest business stories will still be available on the main business page. See you at the usual time of 06:00 tomorrow.

  2. Market update

    The FTSE 100 closed largely unchanged, up a measly 6.23 points to 7,514.93.

    In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.11% to 27,123.71, the S&P 500 gained 0.10% to 2,979.66 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.5% to 8,187.02.

  3. Sports Direct drops Debenhams challenge

    Department store chain Debenhams said that Sports Direct, which owned a sizeable chunk of the firm, has dropped its objection to Debenhams' Company Voluntary Arrangement, which it is using to manage its debts.

  4. BA response to pilot strike

    BA has this to say in response to the BALPA airline pilot union strike vote:

    "We are very disappointed that BALPA, the pilots' union, has chosen to threaten the travel plans of thousands of our customers, over the summer holidays, with possible strike action.  We remain open to working with BALPA to reach an agreement, which we have been doing since December."

    "Our proposed pay offer of 11.5% over three years is fair, and by contrast to BALPA, the Unite and GMB trade unions, which represent nearly 90% of all British Airways colleagues, have already recommended the same pay offer to their members."

  5. BreakingBA pilots vote to strike

    Simon Browning

    Transport producer

    plane

    British Airways pilots have voted strongly for industrial action. The vote was 93% in favour of industrial action on a 90% turnout.

    BA is at the High Court tomorrow and will try to stop it going ahead as it would have huge impact on their schedules at start of August.

  6. EU-US trade

    The European Union would respond in kind if the Trump administration imposed tariffs on European car imports, according to a senior EU trade official.

    Sabine Weyand, the European Commission's new Director General of Trade, said a wave of tit-for-tat tariffs would bed bad for both economies.

  7. No dopes

    grass

    SIX, which runs Switzerland's stock exchange, said it will make a data service for more than 30,000 stocks and bonds in marijuana related businesses (MRBs).

    Is it so investors can find new and interesting cannabis-related businesses to invest in with a view to profiting from a widely-speculated-about boom?Why, quite the opposite. It's for investors to avoid stocks that invest in recreational drugs and cigs and booze.

  8. Fitch lowers Boeing outlook

    Fitch Ratings lowered its outlook for planemaker Boeing to "negative" from "stable".

    The agency said it did so based on regulatory uncertainty about when its 737 MAX jets would return to service.

  9. India: Bye bye bitcoin?

    An Indian government committee led by finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg has recommended banning private cryptocurrencies in the country.

    It suggested a jail term of up to 10 years and heavy fines for anyone dealing in digital currencies.

    Government and regulators will have a final say on the report, which also suggested a state-sanctioned rival.

  10. Dividends soar

    cash

    UK corporate dividends rose 14.5% to a record £37.8bn in the second quarter of the year, according to analysis by Link Asset Services, a payment processing and data firm. That's down to a lot of special dividends, one-offs when a firm wants to pay a windfall to investors.

    Excluding specials, the growth was a touch weaker at 5%.

    Annual dividends will probably rise to £107.4bn, helped by a weak pound as many dividend-payers make their profits in dollars and euros.

  11. 'The game is up'

    Smartphone in a girl's pocket

    Citizens Advice has welcomed Ofcom's new measures on increasing fairness for mobile customers.

    The non-profit consumer body said it complained to the Competition and Markets Authority in September 2018 about the "loyalty penalties" customers need to pay in the mobile, broadband, home insurance, mortgages and savings markets.

    The CMA responded in December, saying it agreed and had found damaging practices by firms which exploit unsuspecting customers. The regulator added that it wanted to see urgent action.

    “Today is a good day for loyal mobile phone customers who will save millions on their contracts each year," said Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy.

    “Most mobile phone providers have now realised the game is up - they cannot take advantage of their loyal customers.

    “Three needs to step up and if it doesn't, then stronger action is needed to make these changes compulsory. If Ofcom is unable to do this, then government needs to intervene."

  12. BP in sugar deal

    sugar cane

    Bunge, one of the gigantic top-four commodities traders, said it will form a bioenergy company with BP in Brazil to produce a mix of ethanol and sugar, and generate renewable electricity from the waste.

    Bunge said it will receive $775m as part of the agreement. Bunge wants to reduce its reliance on sugar.

    Dev Sanyal, chief executive of BP Alternative Energy, said: "Biofuels have a key role to play in the energy transition and Brazil is leading the way by developing this industry at scale.

    "In one step, this agreement will allow BP to significantly grow the size, efficiency and flexibility of our biofuels business in one of the world's major growth markets."

  13. BT moves HQ. But not far

    BT HQ

    BT is moving its headquarters in London from St Paul's, selling it (pictured) to private equity firm Orion Capital Managers for £210m.

    It won't move far, renting space in Aldgate, about a mile to the east.

  14. Three resists watchdog's call for 'fairer' mobile phone fees

    A woman using a smartphone

    Further to our post earlier about Ofcom challenging UK mobile operators to make contracts fairer for consumers.

    Three has apparently refused to make any changes to its current terms and conditions, saying that its customers are often happy to stay on the same deal and choose to take no action.

    The operator said it feared implementing such changes could "drive consumer dissatisfaction and complaints".

    In contrast, Ofcom said that the other major mobile companies had given it the following commitments regarding out-of-contract customers:

    • O2 and Virgin Mobile - will cut the monthly charge to the equivalent of a 30-day Sim-only deal
    • Vodafone and EE - will automatically reduce prices three months after the subscribers' lock-in period expires, but have yet to say by what amount
    • Tesco Mobile - will reduce the monthly charge to the best available airtime tariff
  15. Pound takes a pounding

    sterling dollar

    The pound fell 0.3% against the dollar as the market braces itself for a no-deal Brexit.

    "The market will look to price in the chance of a no-deal Brexit at 50/50," Neil Jones, head of European hedge-fund sales at Mizuho, told the Reuters news agency.Morgan Stanley said it now sees a 30% chance of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal from 25% earlier.

  16. Homebase saves Bathstore from going down the plug hole

    Bathstore bathroom

    Homebase will buy troubled retailer Bathstore - a move that will see the DIY retailer take control of Bathstore’s website and 44 of its stores.

    Bathstore went into administration in late June, putting 500 jobs at risk across its 139 stores.

    Homebase also intends to open Bathstore concessions within its own stores over the next 18 months.

    The home improvement and garden retailer also provided an update about its own turnaround plans.

    “Since the launch of our turnaround plan just over 12 months ago, we have been focusing on reintroducing the popular ranges and products that our customers have been crying out for," said Homebase chief executive Damian McGloughlin.

    “We are on track to break even this year against a loss of over £100m last year.”

  17. Equifax takes a credit hit

    equifax

    Equifax, one of the big credit-checking companies, will pay as much as $650m after its 2017 data breach. There were no words of comfort available from regulators as the company licks its wounds.

    "This company’s ineptitude, negligence, and lax security standards endangered the identities of half the US population," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

    Up to $425m will be set aside for customers whose data was leaked and the rest will be paid in fines.

  18. BreakingAbove-inflation pay rises for public sector workers

    police

    Chancellor Philip Hammond has handed public sector workers a pay rise that is above the UK's 2% inflation rate.

    The move comes just days before Theresa May leaves office, which could lead Mr Hammond to resign as chancellor.

    Teachers will get a 2.5% salary boost, the equivalent to an annual salary increase of about £1,000.

    Doctors in hospitals will get an extra £1,500 in their pay packet, while police constables will earn an extra £978, the Treasury said.