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Live Reporting

By Bill Wilson and Simon Read

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    Test Card

    That's it for today on Business Live.

    We'll be with you at 6am tomorrow morning to bring you all the latest breaking news and analysis from the business world.

  2. How good is the world's most expensive whisky?

    Macallan 1926

    Finally, here's something to ponder for your journey home: a rare bottle of Scotch whisky hit the headlines on Friday after it was sold for a world record £1.45m at auction in London.

    But what does it taste like?

    The Macallan 1926 60-year-old single malt from cask number 263 had been described by Sotheby's as the "holy grail" of whisky.

    At more than £50,000 a dram, you might expect it to taste spectacular.

    The BBC tracked down one of the few people in the world to have tried the whisky to give us his verdict.

    Read more here.

  3. Fitbit 'has an exceptionally strong brand'

    Leo Gebbie senior analyst, wearables & VR at CCS Insight, has some thoughts on that potential Google bid for Fitbit. He said:

    Quote Message: Fitbit has an exceptionally strong brand in the wearables space, with a large engaged user base and valuable user data. This has huge appeal to a data-driven business like Google. Although Google has been lukewarm in its commitment to wearables recently, this indicates it is serious about the segment and could provide a boost to its ambitions.
  4. Fitbit shares suspended after soaring by a fifth

    Runner

    Shares in fitness device maker Fitbit have been suspended on following that Reuters report that said Google-owner Alphabet had bid to buy the firm.

    Fitbit's share price soared by 19% before being suspended.

    Neither company has returned requests for comment.

  5. FTSE inches up

    The FTSE 100 has climbed 6.81, or 0.093% to close at 7,331.28.

    The wider FTSE rose 106.65, or 0.53%, to 250 20,210.16.

  6. Goals calls in the Serious Fraud Office: report

    Football players

    Goals Soccer Centres has called in the Serious Fraud Office to examine an apparent accounting fraud that has forced it off the London stock market, according to a Sky News report.

    It says the company has handed the SFO a dossier of evidence in the last ten days following what it described as "improper behaviour on the part of a small number of individuals historically within the company".

    The involvement of the SFO comes after the company saw its shares delisted because of its inability to produce an accurate picture of its finances.

  7. Bill's slides into the red

    A Bill's meal

    Restaurant chain Bill's - which boasts that its branches "are packed full of vibrant colour" - slid into the red last year.

    The restaurant business owned by The Ivy group was hit by £10m-worth of refurbishment and restructuring costs, posting a £9.1m loss for 2018.

    However, the 78-site chain said it has seen strong sales in the new year after reaping the rewards of its investment programme.

    Bill's said the refurbishments have helped to drive performance above expectations, with the company reporting 8.8% like-for-like growth over the first three quarters of 2019.

  8. Britannia ranked 'worst hotel' for seventh year

    Hotel cleaner

    Britannia Hotels has been ranked the worst hotel chain in the UK yet again.

    The budget chain has just been handed the title for the seventh year in a row.

    In the Which? survey, guests described its rooms as “filthy” and complaining about mouldy bathrooms and peeling paintwork.

    But the chain ranked best may surprise you: At Hotels was rated best for the first time, sharing the top spot with Premier Inn, which has come first for the last four years of the survey.

  9. Debenhams: dodgy dividend payments?

    Mike Ashley

    Mike Ashley is convinced there's foul play afoot in the collapse of many recent companies, and he thinks their accounts were rotten.

    Part of that is the assets held as intangible or goodwill. Often, these were suddenly found to be worthless shortly before companies went under.

    "Holding onto irrecoverable, and indeed worthless intangible assets for years allowed Debenhams to carry on paying ludicrous levels of dividends (despite, as we mentioned to you, as the largest shareholder being very insistent that they reinvest the money in the business and not pay dividends) which absolutely contributed to its downfall and which was no doubt lead by its advisors, Thomas Cook had similar issues it appears with intangible assets not written down and dividends paid out," he writes in his letter to MPs.

    Ashley being Ashley, ends his plea on a less-than-conciliatory note: "We believe many politicians are more interested in furthering their own careers."

    He adds: "We want you, Rachel Reeves MP, to prove us wrong by properly investigating the likes of Debenhams and holding the wrongdoers to account as you appear to be doing in the Thomas Cook case."

  10. Ashley claims Debenhams crash was like Thomas Cook's

    shop

    Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has written to a group of MPs demanding to know why they aren't investigating the collapse of Debenhams as closely as they are with Thomas Cook.

    Ashley's Sports Direct owned a chunk of Debenhams shares before it entered administration.

    He wrote to Rachel Reeves, chair of the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee: "It is very apparent that a head of steam is developing in the media and in the electorate in that they will not tolerate these sorts of situations any longer where businesses and advisors profit from playing the system at the expense of others."

    He thinks the administration favoured some investors over others and wants a more thorough investigation.

    Debenhams is still trading, but is owned by its lenders.

  11. Google looking for Fitbit deal; report

    Fitbit tracker

    Google-owner Alphabet has made an offer for fitness tracker firm Fitbit, according to Reuters.

    It would be Google's first move into wearable technology.

    The report stressed that there is no certainty that negotiations between Google and Fitbit will lead to a deal and both firms refused to comment.

  12. US energy company hits record low as millions left without power

    Wild fires in California

    Shares in US energy company Pacific Gas and Electric have hit a record low today amid fresh fears of liabilities for the company as strong wind saw wildfires continue to spread in California more than four days after they began.

    The shares fell to 3.62 in early trading before recovering slightly to 4.41, which leaves then down 12% on the day.

    The company is busy trying to restore electricity to more than 3 million Californians who lost power this weekend as powerful winds buffeted the state.

  13. Dow Jones climbs, too

    Though it's missed out on the record highs seen by the S&P 500, the Dow Jones has pushed higher today.

    It reached 27,156, it's highest level for almost six weeks before slipping back a little to 27,075.45, which leaves it up 117.39 or 0.44%.

  14. Where the million pound homes were sold

    Kevin Peachey

    Personal finance reporter

    House keys

    A total of 545 residential properties were sold in England and Wales for £1 million or more in September, figures from the Land Registry show.

    But, in actual fact, they were all in England, with none sold in Wales during the month. The majority of them - 304 - were in the Greater London area.

    The most expensive property sold was a £17m semi-detached in the Kensington and Chelsea area of London.

    The cheapest home was a flat in Sunderland, sold for £16,000. There a commercial property sold for even less, for £100 in Salford.

  15. Bank shares fall after HSBC news

    HSBC shares have been hit by this morning's news of restructuring plans.

    The bank is the worst performer in the blue-chip index today, falling 3.84% to 593.70.

    Other banks have been hit with Lloyds down 2.08% at 58.75 and RBS falling 1.33% at 222.80.

  16. Antofagasta leading the FTSE charge

    The FTSE 100 is now up 0.15% on the day at 7,335.67.

    Leading the winners is Antofagasta,which is up 3.35% at 899.90.

    There are another seven shares that have climbed 2% or more.

    • Evraz is up 2.71%,
    • London Stock Exchange 2.58%,
    • 3i Group 2.51%,
    • Glencore 2.33%,
    • Spirax-Sacro Engineering 2.24%,
    • Rolls-Royce 2.16% and
    • Ashtead 2.03%.
  17. Photo-Me turns to pineapples

    Pineapple juice

    Picture booth operator Photo-Me is turning to juice to boost its business.

    It will be introducing fresh pineapple and apple juice vending machines to railway stations in the next two years, following the purchase of France's Sempa earlier this year.

    It will use the engineers who already service its photo booths to ensure that the juicers are in working order.

    The company has diversified its revenues as Brexit weighed on the traditional identification business, which includes thousands of photo booths and biometric identification.

    Revenue from the business fell 3.8% in the five months to the end of September.

    Its shares have slumped 5.49% to 84.40 this morning.

  18. Brexit extension 'a sticking plaster'

    Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, has given the Brexit extension a cautious welcome. She said:

    Quote Message: An extension on its own is a sticking plaster rather than a sustainable, long-term solution. Continued uncertainty has left business without the clarity needed to make everyday decisions on investment, expansion and recruitment. The next three months must see a concerted effort to find a positive solution to this Brexit impasse within the required time-frame, enabling business to get the certainty it needs to thrive.
  19. S&P high is 'remarkable achivement'

    The all-time high for the S&P 500 may not last the day, but it's a good sign, reckons analyst Neil Wilson of Markets.com. He said:

    Quote Message: It’s a remarkable achievement against faltering corporate earnings, a festering (if not quite total) trade war, and softer macro data everywhere you look. Bulls had tried their hardest Friday but some really positive noises on trade nudged us over the line today. President Trump said the US and China are looking to be ahead of schedule on sign the ‘phase one’ trade deal at the APEC meeting in Chile in mid-Nov. The bar on a US-China trade deal had been set so low that the market seems content with this pretty puny agreement. At least the direction is positive.
  20. Government 'straining every sinew' to help City

    The City of London

    Britain will do whatever it can to ensure that its financial sector remains a major global player after Brexit, reckons financial services minister John Glen.

    "This government absolutely believes in the City," he told a London conference this morning, adding: "We will strain every sinew to help you flourish."

    "Britain is at a crucial stage of Brexit, but I am confident the UK will not lose its strength in financial services easily and London will retain its status as an international financial centre," he said.