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Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan and Simon Read

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    Test card

    That's it from Business Live for today.

    But we'll be back bright and early from 06:00 tomorrow.

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

  2. FTSE closes on a high

    FTSE graph

    The FTSE 100's up and down day ended on a high with a sharpish rise in the last few minutes of trading, as our graph shows.

    It closed at 7,188.50, after rising 29.74 or 0.42%.

    The wider FTSE 250 closed at 20,665.48 after gaining 164.55, or 0.80%.

  3. Expedia chief and CFO ousted over boardroom row

    Hotel room

    Expedia Group's chief executive Mark Okerstrom and chief financial officer Alan Pickerill have resigned after clashing with the board over a reorganisation plan.

    Barry Diller, chairman, and Peter Kern, vice-chairman, will now oversee the company’s leadership team, the company said.

    Okerstrom had led a simplification of the company's portfolio - which includes Hotels.com and Trivago - but its shares lost more than 27% on 7 November after revealing that net profit fell 22% from a year ago.

    “The reorganisation, while sound in concept, resulted in a material loss of focus on our current operations, leading to disappointing third-quarter results and a lacklustre near-term outlook,” Mr Diller said in a statement.

    “The Board disagreed with that outlook, as well as the departing leadership’s vision for growth, strongly believing the Company can accelerate growth in 2020" and that divergence “necessitated a change in management”, he said.

  4. Clintons boss 'pleased to save 2,500 workforce'

    Clintons

    Clintons boss Eddie Shepherd said it was a "difficult step" to place the company into administration but said: "We are pleased to have been able to secure the future of the Clintons business, protecting all of our talented 2,500-strong workforce and ensuring continuation of trade across all of our UK store network at what is a crucial time of the year for the business.

    “Like so many of our fellow high street retailers, we have worked tirelessly to contend with the maelstrom of issues impacting the sector, from business rates pressures, to fragile consumer confidence and the lack of clarity around the taxation of online retail businesses.

    “We are confident that this deal will kickstart a new chapter for our business.”

  5. BreakingClintons is saved!

    Clintons branch

    KPMG has confirmed that Clintons, the greeting cards retailer, has been sold out of administration to Esquire Retail Limited, in a deal that safeguards all 2,500 jobs and which will see all 334 stores across the UK continue to trade.

    Will Wright and Steve Absolom from KPMG’s Restructuring practice were appointed Joint Administrators to AG Retail Cards Limited on 4 December 2019.

    Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “Clintons has been a fixture on the British high street for over 50 years, so it is pleasing to have been able to secure this agreement which will see it continue to trade.”

  6. Wall Street rises on fresh trade hopes

    Wall Street

    Wall Street's main indexes rose for the first time in four sessions today, following a report that the United States and China were moving closer to signing a 'phase-one' trade deal.

    The Dow Jones has climbed 182.38 points, or 0.66%, to 27,685.19.

    The S&P 500 has also risen 0.66%, or 20.39, to 3,113.59.

    The Nasdaq is up 45.39, or 0.53%, at 8,566.03.

  7. Cold weather forecast for election week

    Frank Lampard heads off to snowy training when a Chelsea player
    Image caption: Frank Lampard heads off to snowy training when a Chelsea player

    Meanwhile we're heading for blustery showers, buffeting winds, snow and freezing fog.

    That's the potential weather outlook for the run-up to polling day on 12 December, according to the Met Office.

    Meteorologists predict a wintry spell will arrive for election week, covering the UK in frost and seeing temperatures plunge to sub-zero in some areas.

    The long-term forecast suggests snowfall in Scotland and the Pennines, with the rest of the UK hit by blustery winds and freezing fog.

    Looking ahead to mid-December, the Met Office predicts "rain and transient mountain snow" will cross the UK at the beginning of the week, followed by "blustery showers" which will be heaviest in the west. Election week itself will bring "unsettled" conditions.

  8. M&G points to 'heightened concern about liquidity in funds'

    worried investor

    "M&G’s decision to suspend the fund comes at a time when there is heightened concern about liquidity in funds, with investors understandably jittery after Woodford’s fund closure," pointed out Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at investment platform AJ Bell.

    Property is an inherently illiquid asset, potentially taking months to sell, and so when faced with large outflows the fund manager has to juggle selling off assets and maintaining cash levels, he pointed out

    "The M&G Property Portfolio only had 5% in cash at the end of October, presumably after seeing sizeable outflows. This suspension will give the managers time to sell off assets in order to meet those redemptions."

  9. Last M&G suspension lasted four months

    calendar

    Back to that M&G suspension.

    Last time the investment manager suspended its property fund it lasted 122 calendar days, around four months.

    It was suspended on 5 July 2016 and re-opened 4 November 2016.

  10. 2,500 jobs saved as Clintons rescued for Christmas

    Clintons branch

    Clintons is about to be salvaged through a pre-pack administration that will see the company sold back to its current owner, the Weiss family, according to Sky News.

    The move would save 2,500 permanent jobs - with Clintons' workforce increasing to 3,200 people during the festive trading period.

    The transaction, which could be unveiled as soon as this afternoon reckons Sky, will mean that the chain's 334 shops remain open during its busiest month of the year.

  11. City Watchdog 'working closely' with M&G

    The Financial Conduct Authority has made a statement about the M&G property fund suspension. It said:

    Quote Message: The decision to suspend was made by the fund’s Authorised Corporate Director, in conjunction with the Depositary. This is to allow the fund time to raise liquidity levels and preserve value for investors through orderly asset sales. The FCA is working closely with the firms involved to ensure that timely actions are undertaken in the best interests of all the fund's investors.
  12. M&G suspended property fund in 2016

    Office building

    It's not the first time M&G has closed the escape door on investors in its property fund.

    Three years ago it suspended its property funds following the Brexit vote.

    It wasn't the only investment manager to take similar action back then.

    Its move followed similar suspensions by Aviva and Standard Life, as our story here reported.

  13. M&G fund suspended until 'liquidity levels rebuilt'

    More on that surprise M&G suspension.

    The M&G Property Portfolio manages assets of £2.54bn and invests in 91 UK commercial properties across retail, industrial and office sectors.

    The suspension will be monitored daily and reviewed every 28 days.

    "It will only continue as long as it is in the best interests of our customers, reopening as soon as liquidity levels have been sufficiently rebuilt," M&G said.

  14. BreakingM&G suspends property fund

    M&G Investments has temporarily suspended dealing in the shares of its £2.5bn M&G Property Portfolio fund.

    It's made the move because of the high number of outflows, it said which it blames on "Brexit-related political uncertainty and ongoing structural shifts in the UK retail sector".

    It said the fund will continue to be actively managed while suspended, but M&G is waiving 30% of its annual charge.

  15. SNP pledges 'could mean more austerity'

    Nicola Sturgeon

    Introducing the SNP's general election pledges in an independent Scotland could lead to more austerity, according to an economic research group.

    The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the SNP's manifesto set out plans to increase spending while also setting out a list of tax-cutting measures.

    It said the SNP had not costed these pledges, unlike the other main parties.

    But it said spending cuts would have to be made elsewhere, or other taxes would have to rise to pay for them.

    The IFS has previously said that the spending pledges of both the Conservatives and Labour ahead of the election were "not credible", and accused both parties of not being honest with voters.

    It said the Liberal Democrats' manifesto would involve lower levels of borrowing than under Labour or the Conservatives, but would still be seen as "radical" in "most periods".

  16. Who is Sundar Pichai and what does Alphabet do?

    Sundar Pichai

    Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, has been put in charge of its parent company Alphabet, after co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced they were stepping down.

    The 47-year-old said the pair had set up a "strong foundation" on which he would "continue to build".

    Pichai's life story is remarkable, and his rise to the top of Google is an endorsement of India's standing in the global technology industry - and equally, a reassuring reminder of the so-called "American Dream".

    Pichai was born and schooled in Chennai, India. He captained his school's cricket team, leading it to win regional competitions.

    Read more here