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BBC / News - Politics

Business Live: Oil hits highest since 2015

The price of oil surges above $67 a barrel on the back of Iran unrest and a growing global economy.


Posted at 21:30 3 Jan

Goodnight

That's it from us today, but don't worry we'll be back first thing in the morning.

Check in from 6am.

We'll have the new car sales for the whole of last year and will also be reporting on how UK services - the major driver of the economy - did in December.

Posted at 21:22 3 Jan

Another record high for Wall Street

Reuters

Another day and yet another record high on Wall Street.

All three of the main indexes closed at new all-time highs boosted by strong US manufacturing data and the rise in the oil price.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 98.67 points,or 0.4%, to 24,922.68, the S&P 500 gained 17.26points, or 0.64%, to 2,713.07 and the Nasdaq Composite added 58.63 points, or 0.84%, to 7,065.53.

Posted at 21:15 3 Jan

Three US rate rises in 2018?

EPA

Most policymakers at the US central bank continue to favour gradual increases in interest rates, according to minutes of their latest meeting.

The consensus estimates imply three rate rises in 2018 under the leadership of incoming chair Jerome Powell (pictured). That would match the three seen last year.

But "a few" members think that might be too fast, since inflation remains low.

And "a few others" think it might be too slow, since rate hikes so far haven't seemed to slow the economy.

Posted at 21:06 3 Jan

Deutsche Bank faces €740m lawsuit

Reuters

Investors are suing Deutsche Bank for €740m for allegedly underpaying them in connection with its takeover of German rival Postbank.

They argue that Deutsche Bank effectively took control ofPostbank in 2008 when it bought a stake of just under 30% at a much higher price than the 25 euros they received in 2010.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank said the complaint wasunfounded, as were other similar suits that are currently makingtheir way through the courts.

Posted at 20:38

Tomorrow's FT today

The Financial Times leads its front page on reported fears that EU countries are mounting fresh raids on the City of London's £8 trillion fund industry.

Its other top story is that new EU financial regulations - known as Mifid II - got off to a smooth start on their launch today.

View more on twitter

Posted at 20:25

'You can't beat vinyl'

Figures out today show that streaming now accounts for more than half of UK music consumption.

Vinyl is still a pretty small contributor - despite talk of a resurgence - but Michelle Reid says she much prefers listening to records to downloading music.

Posted at 20:10 3 Jan

A divided Fed

Getty Images

Members of the US Federal Reserve are uncertain about how recently approved tax cuts might affect the US economy, according to minutes from the bank's December meeting, which were published on Wednesday.

The cuts could boost consumer spending, capital investments - and even the labour supply, meeting participants said.

But in each case, they added that "the magnitude" of the effect is unclear. That makes plans for future interest rate increases uncertain.

Posted at 19:51 3 Jan

The long view of German unemployment

Today's news of continued record lows in German unemployment seems a good excuse to step back and take a look at the trend over the last 15 years.

BBC

Posted at 19:36

Why is oil at a two-and-a-half year high?

Reuters

Oil has hit its highest price since May 2015 - at $67.84 a barrel - after rising by almost 2%.

Analysts pointed in part to the street protests in Iran, a member of oil cartel Opec, even though there's no evidence of disruption to its oil supplies.

"While the Iran tensions are certainly a factor, the slew ofremarkably strong economic data today is also forcing therally," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital.

Germany's unemployment rate hit a record low in December,while US factory activity increased more than expected last month, afurther sign of strong economic momentum.

As the chart below shows, oil has been making steady gains in the last six months as fears of a global over-supply of oil ease and the global economy picks up.

BBC

Posted at 19:21

Brazil's Petrobras agrees $3bn payout

Getty Images

The Brazilian state oil company, Petrobras, has agreed to pay out almost $3bn (£2.2bn) to settle a class action suit in the United States brought by investors.

They allege they have been damaged by a huge corruption scandal within the company.

Lawyers acting for Petrobras said the payout was not an admission of guilt and that the company was itself a victim of the scheme.

Brazilian prosecutors discovered Petrobras executives had been accepting billions of dollars in bribes for years from companies seeking contracts with the oil giant.

Posted at 18:58

Macron targets fake news

Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron says his government will introduce legislation to combat fake news during election campaigns.

In his New Year's address to the press, Mr Macron said such measures were needed to protect liberal democracies from determined propaganda.

He said the law would enable judges to block websites that spread fake news, and counter destabilisation efforts by television services controlled or influenced by foreign states.

Mr Macron accused Russian media outlets of spreading falsehoods about him during his campaign for the presidency last year.

Posted at 18:41 3 Jan

Trump's statement on Bannon

View more on twitter

Posted at 18:30

Trump: Bannon 'lost his mind'

Reuters

President Trump says his former chief strategist Steve Bannon "lost his mind" after losing his job at the White House.

The outburst comes in response to a book about the Trump White House in which Mr Bannon describes a meeting between the president's son and a Russian lawyer.

"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," Mr Trump said in an official statement.

Posted at 18:08

Oil surges on Iran unrest

AFP

The price of oil has shot up to its highest level in two and a half years, with buying spurred by the sixth day of unrest in Iran.

The protests are the biggest in Iran since 2009, and have prompted speculation among traders that they could disrupt the country's oil supply.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose by more than a dollar to hit $67.84 a barrel, the highest since May 2015.

Analysts also pointed to strong economic data in Germany and the US, which, they said, suggested demand for energy would continue to grow.

Posted at 17:51

Green and pleasant land?

Ever wondered how much of the UK is concreted over?

British people apparently wildly overestimate the amount, and think the country is much more of a concrete jungle than it actually is.

The BBC's Home Affairs editor Mark Easton has this fascinating chart which - using satellite imagery - shows that less than 6% of UK land is built on.

BBC

Posted at 17:33

Major Intel flaw discovered

Getty Images

A serious flaw in the design of Intel's chips will require Microsoft, Linux and Apple to update operating systems for computers around the world.

Intel has not yet released the details of the vulnerability, but it is believed to affect chips in millions of computers from the last decade.

The UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said it was aware of the issue and that patches were being produced.

Some experts said a software fix could slow down computers.

Read more here.

Posted at 17:16

Botox-maker Allergan cuts 1,000 jobs

Getty Images

Irish pharmaceutical giant Allergan has announced plans to cut over 1,000 jobs as part of a cost-cutting drive.

The company, best known for making Botox, is facing competition for its second mostimportant drug, dry-eye treatment Restasis.

It said the job cuts would mostly focus on products and categories where it expects to lose exclusivity. Cost savings should be about $300m to $400m a year, it added.

Posted at 16:58

One way to skip the queues...

Ryanair flew a record-high 129 million passengers last year - 10% more than the year before - but it's safe to assume that not many of them will have left the plane the way this passenger did. We don't recommend following his example...

Posted at 16:45

FTSE finishes just shy of record

Getty Images

The UK's 100 share index started the year on the back foot yesterday but has bounced back with a 0.3% rise.

The FTSE 100 has finished 23 points higher at 7,671.11, just 16 points shy of the record high it hit at the end of 2017.

Next was the big winner - rising by more than 6% - but there were also gains for BP and Shell as oil prices rose above $67 a barrel on the back of protests in Iran, a major oil producer.

Analysts said the index - which contains a large number of companies which make money outside the UK - benefited from a fall in the pound.

Sterling is trading 0.5% lower against the dollar at $1.35210 and has fallen 0.3% against the euro to €1.12410.

Posted at 16:22

Retailers top London leaderboard

PA

It's been a good day for retailers as we head towards the closing bell in London.

Strong Christmas sales from Next, John Lewis and Poundland led to optimism that others will follow suit when they report results for the festive period in the coming weeks.

Next was the biggest winner on the FTSE 100, with its shares rising by more than 6%. Fellow retailers Marks & Spencer and Primark owner ABF were pulled higher, each rising by more than 1.5%.

On the smaller FTSE 250 index, N Brown - which owns Simply Be and Jacamo - saw its shares rise by more than 7% and Superdry owner Supergroup was up nearly 5%.

Posted at 16:01

Spotify moves towards stock market listing

Getty Images

Speaking of the rise of music streaming, reports are coming through that Spotify has fired the starting gun on plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

It's long been known that the world's largest paid music-streaming service is gearing up for a stock market listing.

But Bloomberg and other media outlets are now reporting that Spotify is forging ahead with the plans.

The company confidentially filed documents with US regulators last month with plans to skip a traditional share sale and list its stock directly, according to the reports, which cite unnamed sources.

A direct listing doesn't raise large amounts of money like a traditional share sale, and doesn’t dilute the holdings of executives and existing investors.

Posted at 15:52

Is streaming the saviour of music?

Rory Cellan-Jones

Technology correspondent

Getty Images

For years the music industry was the poster child for digital disruption.

The record giants were portrayed as dinosaurs, thrashing around helplessly as piracy took away their revenues and tech giants took on the job of leading the industry into the future.

But today it's a bright confident morning again for the UK music business - and most of the credit goes to the boom in streaming.

Overall, music revenues grew by 9.6% in 2017 according to the Entertainment Retailers Association, with streaming revenues from subscriptions to services like Spotify up 41.9%.

Separate figures from the BPI, which represents the record labels, show that streaming now accounts for more than half of UK music consumption.

Read more here.

Posted at 15:35

Sweet dreams for furniture retailers

Bensons

Sticking with the retail sector, British furniture stores Bensons for Beds and Harveys have secured a loan to replace investment that wassupposed to come from their scandal-hit parent firm, South Africa'sSteinhoff.

Steinhoff's European division Pepkor has secured a £180m loan from an undisclosed investor - of which a portion will go to Harveys and Bensons for Beds.

Steinhoff, whose other retail brands include Poundland, isfighting for survival after flagging accounting irregularities last month andparting ways with its veteran chief executive, Markus Jooste.

Posted at 15:18

Short-sold?

Ocado may need to re-educate its social media team, as Alasdair Pal of Reuters tweets.

It ended up in this unexpected exchange with a professional investor, who thinks its shares are overvalued.

In case you're wondering, shares in the online grocery retailer are 7% higher today at 420p.

View more on twitter

Posted at 15:01

'Record Christmas' for Poundland

Reuters

It's not just Next and John Lewis which are feeling some festive cheer. Discount retailer Poundland has just reported that it enjoyed a recordChristmas.

Poundland, which is owned by troubled South African retailer Steinhoff, said sales were up 5.6% in the 12 weeks to 24 December.

Sales in existing stores - a key measure for High Street retailers - were 6% higher in the three weeks to Christmas Day compared with the previous year, the firm said.

Posted at 14:46 3 Jan

Wall Street's hot streak continues

AFP

It's another record-breaking start on Wall Street, with the benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq index hitting fresh highs at the opening bell in New York.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq crossed 7,000 points for the first time yesterday - and it's built on those gains with a 0.3% rise to 7,030 on the back of increases for tech giants Apple and Oracle.

The S&P 500 has gained 0.1% to 2,699, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.2% to 24,862.

Posted at 14:31 3 Jan

'It will take time to comply with Mifid II'

Getty Images

A major set of new rules governing European Union financial markets has now come into effect - catchily called the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (or Mifid II for short).

Kavita Patel, head of the investment fundssector at law firm Shakespeare Martineau said it will take time for asset managers to get to grips with the new financial regulations.

"The new requirement to record telephone calls may sound relatively straightforward,but some smaller firms may not have had time to consider how to take intoaccount bring-your-own devices," he said.

“There is much hard work still be done in 2018 to bring the industry up tospeed and in the meantime, some firms could be at risk of fines.”

Posted at 14:14 3 Jan

What's it like to be in a driverless car?

Ever wondered what it's like to travel in a driverless car?

BBC Business reporter Theo Leggett spent some time in virtual reality and reading the paper...

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Posted at 13:53 3 Jan

Did rail fares rise faster under Labour?

Reality Check

BBC

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is quoted in this morning's Times saying that rail fares rose faster under Labour.

Using the Office of Rail and Road's Rail Fare Index, we can check whether this is true and in cash terms it turns out that rail fares rose by an average of about 4% a year while Labour was in power between 1997 and 2010. They have been going up more slowly, at an average of about 3% a year since then. This is also the case if you adjust for inflation.

But it's a different story if you adjust for earnings. Between 1997 and 2010, rail fares rose on average by about 0.75% faster than pay. Since then, the difference has been twice as big, with fares rising about 1.5% faster than pay.

Posted at 13:38 3 Jan

Christmas week sales up 8.9% at John Lewis stores

Getty Images

Before Christmas people were talking about department stores needing to put on "a brave face".

But John Lewis has just announced some pretty impressive sales figures.

In the week ending 23 December sales at all John Lewis Partnership businesses combined were 4% higher than the same week a year earlier. But department store sales were a whopping 8.9% higher.

Fashion sales rose 8.8%. Homeware sales increased 7% and sales in the electricals and home technologycategory were up 11.3%.

Those figures include both in-store and online sales.

Posted at 13:22 3 Jan

Day of the Mifids

Everything you need to know about the new Mifid II rules for financial institutions that come into force today.

View more on twitter

Posted at 13:04 3 Jan

Markets' sluggish start to the new year

Getty Images

Both the London share markets and sterling are flat half way through the second trading day of the year, following a disappointing report on the construction sector.

The pound is down 0.22% against the dollar at $1.3561, and up just 0.07% against the euro at €1.1282.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 is down 0.04% or 2.86 points at 7,645.24, led by Next, up 7.2% on encouraging Christmas sales.

As for the FTSE 250, shares are ahead only 0.19% or 39.47 points at 20,720.92. JD Williams and Figleaves owner N Brown Group leads the winners, up 6.6%.

Posted at 12:44 3 Jan

Insurers prepared for storm

Kevin Peachey

Personal finance reporter

EPA

Storm Eleanor may be gusting at 100mph and knocking out the power to hundreds of homes, but insurers are pointing out that there is nothing extreme about this seasonal storm in financial terms.

The Association of British Insurers says: "Thisis a business as usual event for insurers - typical of what they expect to seeduring the winter."

Their focus is on disruption to power supplies and the chance of claims for damage to vehicles.

Insurers will factor events such as this into their regular costs. However, a spate of unseasonal bad weather, or particularly violent storms, could eventually impact on premiums.

Posted at 12:28 3 Jan

Fashion for online

This graph illustrates the success of Next's online strategy over the past few years.

For now it is more than making up for the steady decline in in-store sales.

BBC

Posted at 12:24 3 Jan

UK 'could join Pacific free trade zone'

Liam Fox says it would be "foolish" to rule out signing up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Read more

Posted at 11:59 3 Jan

Headwinds remain for Next

Retail analysts are keeping Next's sales figures in proportion.

View more on twitter

Posted at 11:46 3 Jan

Three clearing houses postpone Mifid II

The roll-out of the newEU rules for investment institutions has been "glitch-free" so far according to the bloc'smarkets watchdog the EuropeanSecurities and Markets Authority (ESMA).

That'll be apart from where it isn't going ahead.

Regulators in Britain andGermany intervened hours before the roll-out began to give three futures clearinghouses an exemption until July 2020 from applying the new rules that will open them up to more competition.

Ice Futures Europe, the London Metal Exchange and Frankfurt based, Eurex have an extra 30 months to comply.

Posted at 11:31 3 Jan

CMA raises concern over drinks merger

AFP

Refresco

The price of some UK drinks brands could rise ifNetherlands-based drinks manufacturer Refresco goes ahead with its $1.25bnpurchase of rival Canadian firm Cotts. That's the view from the Competition and Markets Authority, at least.

The companies produce juice drinks using a process which allows them to be sold preservative-free and withoutrefrigeration.

Only one other UK competitor offers this production process,according to the CMA, so the government body says it will be launch an in-depth investigation unless Refresco puts forward proposals to address its concerns.

Refresco works with several major brands and retailers including Tesco, Innocent and Del Monte, and said it was “willing to propose remedies” toaddress the issue.

Posted at 11:16 3 Jan

German unemployment at historic lows

Getty Images

Unemployment in Germany was at a record low in December, despite political uncertainty in Berlin.

According to the federal employment agency BA, only 5.5% of workers were jobless in December - the same level as in November and an all-time low since reunification in 1990.

"The labour market developed very well in December, the number of unemployed people increased less than usual for the season and companies' demand for new workers grew strongly from its already high level," said BA chief Detlef Scheele.

The number of people who were employed in 2017 was 44.3 million, a 1.5% increase on the previous year, and also the most number of employed people since reunification.

Posted at 10:59 3 Jan

eHarmony banned from calling its approach 'scientific'

ASA

Dating website eHarmony has been banned from advertising its matching system as being "scientifically proven".

An advert for eHarmony on the London Underground in July read: "It's time science had a go at love".

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) called the claim "misleading".

The online matchmaker was unable to offer the ASA any evidence that customers had a greater chance of finding love, despite claiming that its "scientifically proven matching system decodes the mystery of compatibility and chemistry".

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