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Live Reporting

By Jill Treanor and Dan Ascher

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night!

    Off-air screen

    That's it from Business Live for today but we'll be back bright and early from 06:00 tomorrow morning.

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

  2. Preferred bidder chosen for Prestwick Airport

    Prestwick Airport

    The Scottish government has chosen a preferred bidder for Prestwick Airport in Glasgow.

    The airport was taken into public ownership in 2013, after being threatened with closure following heavy losses.

    Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said he had accepted a recommendation from the airport's operators to appoint a preferred bidder.

    However, he said that he was not able yet to disclose the identity of the bidder involved.

  3. Madagascar gets solar boost

    Madagascar's largest employer, Groupe Filatex, is completing solar power plants in four cities on the island to boost electricity supplies, Bloomberg reports.

    The company employs 15,000 people, mostly in retail and hospitality, the news agency said.

  4. Whisky firm fails in claim to the name 'Loch Ness'

    Loch Ness

    A whisky business has failed in its bid to claim the name "Loch Ness" just for its whisky products.

    Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky Limited claimed to have used the name of the famous Highlands loch since 2008.

    It sought to have six trademarks of another business, family-owned Loch Ness Spirits Limited, cancelled.

    But the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has rejected Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky Limited's case following a hearing.

  5. FTSE closes up

    The FTSE 100 ended the day 0.4% higher at 7,573.

    The FTSE 250, meanwhile, closed close to where it started - at 21,657.

  6. House prices to grow 2% to 4% - Halifax

    row of houses

    Halifax, part of Lloyds Banking Group, reckons house prices will grow between 1% and 3% in 2020. The UK's biggest mortgage lender says that in 2019 the housing market performed in line with expectations, at the lower end of its forecast for 2% to 4% growth.

    Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: "The housing market in 2019 followed a similar path to recent years. Modest price growth was supported by falling mortgage rates and a low volume of houses for sale, factors which can in part be attributed to elevated uncertainty. This helped to underpin a degree of resilience in the market.

    "Prospects for 2020 look a bit brighter, with uncertainty in the economy falling back somewhat, transactions volumes anticipated to pick up and further price increases made possible by growth in households’ real incomes. However the shortage of homes for sale and low levels of housebuilding will continue to support high prices, while the challenges faced by prospective buyers in raising the necessary deposits may continue to constrain demand".

  7. Pound sinks

    After a brief surge in the value of the pound at lunchtime, when the Bank of England said it would not change interest rates, sterling sank this afternoon.

    The pound is now down 0.6% against the dollar with £1 now worth $1.30. It's also down 0.6% against the euro with £1 worth €1.17.

  8. Rail union criticises proposed strike ban

    South Western Railway train

    The government has set out plans for a new law which aims to reduce disruption to passengers caused by rail strikes.

    Under the legislation, minimum services would have to be provided during walkouts by railway workers, with the threat of financial penalties.

    The RMT union called the proposed law "a draconian measure which amounts to an attempt to ban transport workers from going on strike."

    The move was announced amid RMT strikes on South Western Railway services.

  9. World Bank warns on rising debt

    The World Bank has warned of rising levels of debt in emerging and developing economies. A new report says debt rose to a record of fifty five trillion dollars last year, marking the largest and fastest increase since the Latin American debt crisis in the 1970s.

    The Bank is concerned that almost half the episodes of rapid debt build up in the last fifty years have been accompanied by financial crises.

    But it takes some comfort from the current low interest rates that make debt payments less onerous.

  10. Fictional home of Marvel superhero removed from US trade list

    Lupita Nyong'o and  Letitia Wright in Black Panther

    The US Department of Agriculture listed Wakanda as a free-trade partner - despite it being a fictional country.

    A USDA spokesperson said the Kingdom of Wakanda was added to the list by accident during a staff test.

    The department's online tariff tracker hosted a detailed list of goods the two nations apparently traded, including ducks, donkeys and dairy cows.

    In the Marvel universe, Wakanda is the fictional East African home country of superhero Black Panther.

  11. Takeaway.com ups its own bid for Just Eat

    Takeaway.com delivery rider

    That was quick.

    Just minutes after tech giant Prosus increased its bid for British food delivery firm Just Eat to 800 pence a share, Dutch rival Takeaway.com came out swinging with a 916 pence bid.

    The boss of Prosus Bob van Dijk urged Just Eat's shareholders to accept his offer saying it "delivers outstanding and certain value".

    Meanwhile, Jitse Groen, the head of rival bidder Takeaway.com, said his bid, which would merge the two firms, provided "tremendous upside" to Just Eat shareholders.

    But Groen's own investors didn't see much upside to his bid, which reduced the stake they would be offered in a combined entity - if the deal goes ahead. Takeaway.com shares fell 8% on news of the revised offer.

  12. What does raising the living wage mean for business?

    Dharshini David

    Economics Correspondent

    Both business and the public sector will have to grapple with the government's plans to raise the national living wage to two-thirds median earnings by 2025 (projected to be £10.50), and lower the eligible age for the main rate.

    While the plans would in theory benefit more than four million people, alleviating in-work poverty, they have been given a cautious welcome by business groups and low-pay campaigners alike, who urge careful implementation and monitoring.

    While the increase in minimum wage to date hasn't had an impact on employment growth, these plans go into uncharted waters - at a time when there are already signs that the hiring spree of recent years is levelling off.

  13. Prosus increases bid for Just Eat

    Just Eat sign

    Dutch-listed tech giant Prosus has increased its bid for UK food delivery firm Just Eat to £5.5bn. It says it is its final offer.

    Prosus is battling another Dutch firm, Takeaway.com, to buy the British food ordering app.

  14. What does the Queen's Speech mean for business?

    Dharshini David

    Economics Correspondent

    Action on business rates was billed as a measure to "keep town centres vibrant" - but what's on the table for now will only bring limited relief.

    Business groups have long been calling for a revamp of the rates system, which raises more than £31bn for the government each year. A quarter of that burden falls on retailers, who pay regardless of profit, says the British Retail Consortium.

    So a one-year extension of a discount for some retailers and an extension of the scheme to pubs, music venues and cinemas - with a saving of £320m - may feel tokenistic.

    This is especially so as thecancellation of planned corporation tax rate cutsmeans that business across the country will have to fork out £3.2bn more in bills next year than envisaged prior to the election, rising to more than £6bn by 2024.

    For greater relief, retailers will be looking ahead to the Budget and the much-touted overhaul of the rates system. However, it is questionable whether the government will be able to afford to relinquish much of what's become a key revenue raiser.

  15. US markets open slightly higher

    Trader

    Investors were able to look past the impeachment of Donald Trump to have their confidence buoyed by improved jobless numbers, which suggest fewer Americans are applying for unemployment benefits.

    The Dow Jones climbed 0.2% to hit 28,292. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also gained 0.2% to reach 3,196 and 8,848 respectively.

  16. Goldman Sachs in talks over $2bn US fine

    Goldman Sachs logo

    Goldman Sachs could pay a $2bn fine and admit to violating US bribery laws in order to settle a criminal investigation into its role in a Malaysian corruption scandal, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

    The paper reported that the banking giant is in talks with the US government to bring an end to the investigation, which has been hanging over the banking giant.

    The government of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak set up the 1MDB fund in 2009, and the U.S. Justice Department estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level fund officials and their associates between 2009 and 2014.

  17. 'No commitment to ensure business rates setter is fully resourced'

    Bakery store worker looks nervous

    Alexander Wright, a real estate dispute lawyer at Eversheds Sutherland has said "unfortunately" there was no commitment in the Queen's Speech to ensure the Valuations Office Agency - which is responsible for setting the rateable value, on which business rates are based - "is fully resourced to do its job properly".

    He describes it as "something that is desperately needed".

    But he said the commitment to increase the retail discount from one-third to 50% and include more businesses within the definition was "interesting".

    "This should be good news for the retail and consumer sector, especially cinemas, music venues and pubs who are beneficiaries of the extended remit," he said.

  18. Thomas Cook collapse: new rules for airlines

    Theo Leggett

    BBC International Business Correspondent

    plane

    The Queen's Speech also confirmed plans for new insolvency legislation for airlines, first set out in in October.

    It will be designed to protect passengers in situations such as the recent collapse of Thomas Cook, and will include the introduction of a ‘special administration regime’, allowing an airline’s fleet to continue flying while passengers are repatriated.

    It should also ensure that the Civil Aviation Authority has a duty to repatriate passengers who have not bought Atol-protected holidays or flights, as well as those that are Atol-protected.