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Live Reporting

By Nick Edser 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 morning.

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

  2. Finally, the Pound of Silence!

    Simon & Garfunkel

    Thanks for all your rock-music related coin ideas today.

    Two more suggestions: 'Guinea Hendrix', from Alistair McQueen, and 'Cash Test Dummies' from Matt Baldwin.

    To finish here's some slightly different suggestions using song titles linked to coins.

    'Baht out of Hell', suggested Daniel Thomason.

    'Paddy McGuinty's Groat', came in from Andy Boyt.

    And then there's 'The Pound Of Silence', from Gary Naylor.


  3. Debenhams turns to former Claire's boss

    Debenhams store

    Department store Debenhams has strengthened its board with the former boss of jewellery and accessories retailer Claire's.

    Beatrice Lafon ran the fashion chain for two years between 2014 and 2016.

    She will join the board as a non-executive for Debenhams' parent company Celine Jersey Topco Limited and work with chairman Mark Gifford in overseeing the turnaround of the struggling department store, which was rescued from administration last year.

    Gifford said: "Having made good progress in our restructuring plans and with our supportive investor group and access to substantial funding, Debenhams is well set to implement a turnaround."

  4. Dune chief to leave

    Dune shoes

    The boss of shoe store Dune is set to leave on 9 March, after more than a decade at the business.

    James Cox became the group’s chief executive in July 2017 after serving in other roles at the footwear chain.

    Before joining Dune, which has 40 UK standalone stores, and 175 department store concessions, he had been group finance director at Pink Shirtmaker between 2005 and 2010.

    Profit before tax dropped 9% to £3.04m in the year to January 2019 as the footwear brand was hit by a £1.2m debt write-off from House of Fraser’s administration in 2018.

  5. UK markets close

    FTSE graph

    Despite a positive opening, the FTSE 100 has spent all day in the red and has ended the day down 0.30%, or 23.12, after closing at 7,651.44.

    The wider FTSE 250 index had a similar day and closed at 21,847.04, a fall of 0.18% or 39.04.

  6. M&C Saatchi trumpets boosted cash position

    Maurice Saatchi
    Image caption: Maurice Saatchi

    Struggling advertising agency M&C Saatchi has published some investor-pleasing figures today.

    It revealed its net cash position for the year is expected to be at least £15m, which is "substantially ahead of expectations following the implementation of improved cash collection processes".

    Previous estimates had been for just £5m.

    However that's the end of the good news as the company warned that pretax profits are still expected to be down between 22% and 27% compared with a year ago, as it undergoes a major restructuring.

    Last month, four bosses, including co-founder Lord (Maurice) Saatchi quit after accountants found previous profits had been overstated.

  7. Co-op supermarkets latest to face equal pay claims

    Co-op store

    An equal pay claim has been launched on behalf of supermarket workers at the Co-op with the first hearing for the claim at Manchester Employment Tribunal on Friday.

    Lawyers say that more than 100 mostly female employees are claiming that their work is of equal value to that of men who work in the supermarket’s distribution centres.

    Law firm Leigh Day said it believes up to 50,000 current and former employees could be entitled to bring such an equal pay claim against the Co-op.

    The Co-op told the BBC: "We have received a small number of equal pay claims. Unlike some of the bigger food retailers, we do not have large scale multiple claims.

    "It wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on individual claims, but we will be defending these claims and are confident that our reward practices are fair.”

  8. Goldie Lookin Coin and more of your cash ideas

    Goldie Looking Chain
    Image caption: Goldie Lookin Coin?

    More of your rock-music-related coin ideas.

    'Goldie Lookin Coin', is the inspired choice of Matt Bullard.

    Nick Moore picked the old school 'Santanner'.

    Sean Turner went for 'Orcashtral Manoeuvres In The Dark'.

    Colin Mayes came up with 'Half a Crown Heights Affair'.

  9. Boeing seeks $10bn cash from banks: reports

    Boeing plane

    Crisis-hit Boeing is asking banks for $10bn or more to help it weather the 737 Max crisis, according to CNBC.

    It reported that the aircraft maker is talking to banks, citing "people familiar with the matter", as the company faces rising costs stemming from two fatal 737 Max crashes.

    Its report says Boeing has secured at least $6bn so far and is talking to other lenders for more contributions.

  10. West Midlands mayor says HS2 must go ahead, despite costs doubling

    A proposed design for an HS2 train
    Image caption: A proposed design for an HS2 train

    It's emerged today that the new high-speed HS2 rail link could cost £106bn, almost double the costs expected in 2015.

    But West Midlands' mayor Andy Street said he still expected the project to go ahead.

    “The government will look at this and decide that this is the right thing to do for the country," he told the BBC.

    "It's a moment of national leadership just as building the Victorian railways was, just as the Channel Tunnel was - so you actually have to take a big leap for these infrastructure projects and we never look back and regret them.

    “So it will go ahead and we will be pleased that we did it,” he said.

    Street reckons the new service will "drive the regeneration of our economies in Birmingham, in Manchester, in Leeds and other cities in the Midlands and the North.

    “No government committed to levelling up around the country would possibly turn its back on that opportunity,” he added.

  11. BAE news keeps shares on top of FTSE risers

    BAE share chart

    Today's news from BAE Systems (see earlier post) that it has snapped up two businesses has pleased the market.

    Shares jumped on the news this morning and have remained the FTSE 100's leading riser all day, as our chart above shows.

    BAE has agreed to buy Collins Aerospace's Military Global Positioning System business for $1.925bn and Raytheon's Airborne Tactical Radios business for $275m.

    Shares are now up 3.81% at 648.60.

  12. Stumbling parts of the economy 'now look to be reviving'

    Will Hobbs, chief investment officer at Barclays Investment Solutions has been contemplating that IMF Global Growth forecast cut.

    The IMF now expects 3.3% growth this year and 3.4% in 2021. However the new growth predictions represent a modest acceleration in growth compared with last year.

    Hobbs said:

    Quote Message: We can also see a slight acceleration in the world economy in 2020, as the parts that stumbled for much of last year now look to be reviving. Recent signs of life in some parts of the technology supply chain, as well as the latest trade data out of Korea and China, should provide some comfort.
  13. The five things to watch out for at Davos


    Some of the world's top business people and politicians - plus a smattering of celebrities - will gather in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week.

    US President Donald Trump, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi are among the guests.

    BBC Economics Editor Faisal Islam has picked five things to look out for

    1. Trump trade tensions directed at Europe
    2. The UK turns up, but which one?
    3. Climate honesty
    4. Tech titans toil
    5. Economic ammo shortage

    To read his full reasons why, go here

  14. Coining it in!

    Florence and the Machine
    Image caption: Florin and the Machine?

    We've had some cracking proposals for the Royal Mint's next rock-music-linked coins after its launch of a Queen coin today (see earlier post).

    Howard Ludbrook suggested: "Florin and the Machine".

    Ollie Smith went for: "Sixpence None The Richer".

    Keep them coming!

  15. 'Going to Davos is probably reputational suicide'

    Micah White
    Image caption: Micah White

    One of the founders of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Micah White, has said his decision to attend Davos, a conference for the 'global elite', is "probably reputational suicide".

    "Within the activist culture there's an assumption that nothing good can come from that space," he told the BBC.

    But Mr White thinks marches and "denouncing the elites" are not going to help combat climate change.

    Instead, he now believes in forging a link between "activists and elites".

    "It was not an easy choice to accept the invitation because it goes against contemporary activist understanding of how change should be achieved," he said.

    But, he added: "The global challenges that we face right now require a new attitude amongst activists and a new attitude amongst elites - and maybe we can start to get there at places like Davos."

    Read more

  16. FTSE remains in the red

    Trader looks at screen

    Let's have another look at UK markets, especially as there's no US market trading today.

    The blue-chip FTSE 100 index is down 0.41%, or 31.40, at 7,643.47.

    The mid-cap FTSE 250 index is at 21,860.58, after slipping 0.12%, or 25.15.

  17. Why is palladium more precious than gold?

    A palladium bar at the Gulidov Krasnoyarsk Non-Ferrous Metals Plant.

    The price of the precious metal palladium has soared on the global commodities markets.

    Its value has jumped by more than 25% in the last two weeks, and almost doubled in value over the last year.

    At about $2,500 (£1,922) an ounce of palladium is more expensive than gold, and the pressures forcing its price up are unlikely to ease anytime soon.

    Read more here

  18. Mixed emotions surrounding Sirius takeover

    Danny Savage

    North of England correspondent

    Sirius test mine and lump of polyhalite
    Image caption: The mine will extract polyhalite to be used as fertiliser

    The takeover of the Sirius Minerals project secures jobs in North Yorkshire and Teesside. It’s already proving a boost to the economy of Whitby and the surrounding villages which did rely on tourism.

    Today's announcement will be greeted with some relief here. But behind plenty of front doors of modest houses in Yorkshire and Teesside there will be dismay and anger.

    This project attracted a large number of small investors - individuals who saw an opportunity to buy in to a local project.

    I remember going to a prospective investors meeting at Ravenscar several years ago, where there were dozens of people aged in their 40s, 50s and 60s listening and thinking of buying-in to help their retirement.

    It was the talk of the area. A huge project to mine a valuable resource - there was gold (polyhalite actually) in them there hills.

    It got underway and soon seemed too big to fail. But now it seems not too big to be taken over.

    Unless you bought your shares for less than 5.5p each, you are taking a hit.

    The other side of the coin is the old argument that shares can go down as well as up and you should perhaps not invest what you can’t afford to lose.

    But many investors had an altruistic take on getting involved. It was local, some of them can literally see the project from their homes.

    That view could now be a painful outlook instead of a pleasant one.