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Live Reporting

By Eleanor Lawrie and Robert Plummer

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodbye!

    That's all for today. Join us again at 06:00 tomorrow, when we'll be bringing you another day's worth of all the business news that matters - and all the analysis you need.

  2. Centrica weighs on FTSE 100

    Centrica's 35% slump in full-year operating profit pushed its share price down more than 15%, making it the biggest faller on today's FTSE 100. The index itself ended the day down 1.09% or 82.34 points at 7,452.03, while the FTSE 250 fell 0.55% or 119.58 points to 21,673.90.

  3. China's phone industry urged to 'get back to work'

    Lei Jun

    The founder of Chinese tech giant Xiaomi has urged the country's smartphone industry to return to work.

    Analysts predict smartphone shipments within China will drop by around 40% in the first quarter as the coronavirus disrupts the country's supply chain.

    Numerous factories across China have suspended production as the country continues to cope with the outbreak.

    Lei Jun, who is from the Hubei province where the virus originated, said he was concerned for his home region.

    "I'm from Hubei and spent four years in Wuhan in college, so my feelings for Wuhan are quite deep," said Lei, while donning a facemask at the launch of the company's new flagship Mi 10 phone series.

    You can read more here.

    China's phone industry urged to 'get back to work'

    Lei Jun

    Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun urges action as analysts predict a 10% fall in global shipments in the wake of Covid-19.

    Read more
    next
  4. Big Ben: Elizabeth Tower repair costs rise by £18.6m

    The Elizabeth Tower

    The cost of repairing the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the famous Big Ben bell, has risen by £18.6m following the discovery of bomb damage and asbestos.

    The need for more money was only discovered during a survey of the 177-year-old structure in central London.

    The House of Commons Commission said it was "extremely disappointed" that the cost had risen to £79.7m.

    The new budget will have to be approved by the accounting officers of the Houses of Parliament.

    Read more here

  5. Eurozone growth to stay steady

    ECB in Frankfurt

    The eurozone is still set for modest growth over the next couple of years, according to the latest European Commission forecasts.

    GDP in the 19-country area is set to rise by 1.2% this year and next, as it did in 2019, the Commission said.

    It said positive developments were "counterbalanced by negative events elsewhere", noting that the spread of the coronavirus was the key risk.

    On the other hand, it said inflation was likely to pick up slightly, because of higher oil prices and the effect of higher wages passing through to core prices.

    The Commission raised its predictions for consumer price growth to 1.3% in 2020 and 1.4% in 2021, from previous forecasts of 1.2% and 1.3% respectively.

    However, that won't be enough to satisfy the European Central Bank, which wants to keep inflation below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.

  6. Wall Street stocks in the doldrums

    US markets are still spooked by the coronavirus as deaths in China continue to rise. The Dow Jones is down 171 points at 29,380, while the broader-based S&P 500 is 11.5 points lower at 3,368. The tech-focused Nasdaq is 35 points off at 9,690.

    Biggest faller is Nasdaq-listed Cisco Systems, down 6% at $46.92 after its latest quarterly forecast was judged disappointing by investors.

  7. Who is Rishi Sunak?

    Rishi Sunak

    With just four weeks to go until the Budget, one of the main events in the calendar for the UK Treasury, new Chancellor Rishi Sunak now has to pick up the reins after Sajid Javid's shock resignation..

    So who is Mr Sunak and what is his background?

    Mr Sunak has been the Conservative MP for Richmond in Yorkshire since 2015. He lives in Kirby Sigston, just outside the town of Northallerton.

    His father was a GP and his mother was a pharmacist. They emigrated from India to the UK with Mr Sunak's grandparents.

    Read more here.

  8. Sterling’s rise 'extremely premature'

    UK notes and coins

    The pound is still trading around the €1.20 and $1.30 levels, largely hanging on to the gains it made after Rishi Sunak was announced as the new chancellor. But at least one expert, Prof Costas Milas of the University of Liverpool's Management School, thinks it's an "extremely premature" rise that finds the currency "wrong-footed" by news of Sajid Javid’s resignation.

    "Markets are rushing to value positively the prospect of looser fiscal policy which will, presumably, stimulate the economy. Unfortunately, currency celebrations are really premature," he says.

    "What financial markets are missing is that [Mr] Javid’s departure has to do with his refusal to allow sound economic policy to be dictated by non-economic experts and the political cycle.

    "In other words, future economic policy will most likely be clouded by a mixture of political considerations and an increased risk of 'boom and bust' fiscal expansion."

  9. Shock resignation poses challenge for Javid's successor

    Faisal Islam

    BBC Economics Editor

    Rishi Sunak
    Image caption: Rishi Sunak faces a tough task

    There was no hint of what was to come from the lips of Chancellor Sajid Javid.

    He had been reassured of his future in post, when I spoke to him 48 hours ago.

    He was planning not just the Budget, but also a Spending Review, and a finance white paper involving negotiations with the EU over the ongoing access of UK finance to the EU.

    His team had signalled the Budget was going to be a significant new chapter in UK economic policy. The first Budget of this government and its healthy majority, able to plan its own long term strategy.

    However, there had been a strange series of last-minute reorganisations regarding the chancellor's traditional round of interviews on the GDP figures.

    This was on the same day and in the same place as the prime minister's HS2 announcement.

    Read more from Faisal here.

  10. 'Unbelievable' timing of Javid's departure

    It’s unbelievable to see that a chancellor has left so close to the first Budget of the new government, says Nimesh Shaha, partner at leading accounting and tax advisory firm Blick Rothenberg,

    We would expect a lot of the Budget material will already be in place, more so because a Budget was already planned before the election which had to be postponed," he said.

    “However, any major changes and decisions that were to be announced would presumably need to be put on hold and assessed by the new chancellor.

    “There has been a lot of speculation around entrepreneurs’ relief being changed or restricted in the forthcoming Budget – it’s possible that any such changes, which were driven by Sajid Javid, could now be shelved and delayed in their introduction until a future Budget.

    “More recently, there has been suggestion higher/additional rate relief for pension contributions could be scrapped and a wealth tax on property introduced – surely such significant proposals would almost certainly need to be reconsidered by the new chancellor.”

  11. 'The Force is strong in young Sunak'

    It seems like a good time to recall this Twitter exchange between Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak in December last year...

    View more on twitter
  12. Javid departure could signal return of proposed tax cuts

    Sajid Javid

    Swapping Sajid Javid for Rishi Sunak as chancellor opens the door to economic policies that provide "an even bigger boost to GDP growth over the next few years than we already expected", says Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics.

    The chancellor's resignation is the "culmination of a number of clashes that originate from [Mr] Javid’s apparent reluctance to significantly increase public borrowing by cutting taxes and/or increasing spending and investment", he adds.

    This move "seems designed to allow the government to push through even bigger increases in public investment and perhaps resuscitate tax cuts that previously looked dead in the water".

  13. Chancellor switch boosts the chance of a bold Budget

    Rishi Sunak's "relative lack of power base" and "rapid political ascent" means the PM will probably have more influence over the 11 March Budget, says Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown.

    This increases the likelihood of a "bold Budget with populist spending announcements". but also boosts the chances of some "targeted tax raids".

    "Javid had been reported to be examining some potentially contentious policy moves, such as a mansion tax and cuts to pension tax relief for the wealthy and I think today’s announcement escalates that risk,” says McPhail adds.

  14. Alok Sharma appointed business secretary

    Alok Sharma arriving at 10 Downing Street today
    Image caption: Alok Sharma arriving at 10 Downing Street today

    Number 10 have confirmed that international development secretary Alok Sharma will replace Andrea Leadsom as secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

    Mr Sharma has been MP for Reading West since 2010. He was housing minister between 2017 and 2018, and employment minister from 2018 to 2019.

  15. Pound rallies on chancellor reshuffle

    Sunak (r) in a Cabinet meeting, December 2019
    Image caption: Sunak (r) in a Cabinet meeting, December 2019

    The pound "seems to like this reshuffle," says Neil Wilson of Markets.com.

    He notes that the pound fell against the dollar after Sajid Javid resigned as chancellor. But it swiftly rebounded through 1.30 toward 1.30240 when Rishi Sunak was announced as his replacement.

    Gilt yields also moved higher, with the market betting on "more spending, less austerity and more growth," under the new chancellor.

    Mr Wilson describes the move as a "blatant power grab by Boris and Cummings over the Treasury".

    "Boris Johnson is taking the Kirstie Allsopp approach to how to make Number 10 and Number 11 work for him: that is, just knock through.

    "The fiscal floodgates are about to open – whatever brake the Treasury might have had on Number 10 has been cut entirely with this move."

  16. BreakingRishi Sunak appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer

    The Queen has been graciously pleased to approve the appointment of Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Number 10 has said in a statement.

  17. Rishi Sunak 'set to become chancellor'

    Rishi Sunak
    Image caption: Rishi Sunak arriving at Downing Street this morning

    Chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak is to replace Sajid Javid as home secretary, according to the BBC's politics editor Laura Kuenssberg.

    Mr Sunak is MP for Richmond (Yorks) and is currently chief secretary to the treasury

    The 39-year-old was an early supporter of Boris Johnson and campaigned for Leave in the EU referendum.