17 hours ago
Although opinion polls shows momentum behind the independence campaign, the UK government is doing no contingency planning for the likelihood of Scotland going alone, sources tell me.
Mortgage applicants will face tougher questions about their lifestyle from lenders, under new rules that come into force on Saturday.
Internet retailer Amazon reports a 32% jump in profit to $108m in the first quarter, but investors worry over increasing expenses.
Microsoft earnings decline to $5.66bn, but beat market estimates as new chief executive Satya Nadella's push into cloud computing pays off.
Barclays agrees to a $280m settlement with US regulators over allegations it misled US mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the housing crisis.
Labour leader Ed Miliband will unveil plans to tackle the "epidemic" of zero-hours contracts in a speech in Scotland later. Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna tells Today there has been a "rising tide of insecurity". He says that very often people are employed on zero hours contracts without even realising it.
The Friday boss on Today is Thea Green, founder of Nails Inc. The nail bar chain turns over £22m a year. The average spend is around £35 and women refer to it as "their little bit of luxury", which is why the business was not particularly hurt by the downturn, Ms Green says. She thinks of Nails Inc as a fashion company. This year's nail colour is floral, she tells Simon Jack.
The Gherkin is in a bit of a pickle (credit to Mickey Clarke). The London skyscraper, designed by Lord Norman Foster's company, has been forced into administration. That's because the strength of the Swiss franc left the building's owners unable to pay debts secured against the building (which were loaned in that currency).
More from Peter Hill. He says mortgage lenders will want information on three areas: Committed expenditure, like other loan repayments. Basic expenditure - utility bills etc. The final area is more "grey". It is "basic quality of living expenditure" which could include broadband expenses. He does not think gym membership would fall into that. Only 2% are expected to fail the test - in good times.
Peter Hill, chief executive of Leeds Building Society, is back. On Today, he says: "If a customer is reasonably well prepared, the mortgage interview should take less than two hours". Lenders are also expected to assess if a borrower could still afford mortgage payments if interest rates were to rise. But lenders are unlikely to test if borrowers can afford rates as high as 7%, as some have reported.
Last night, Starbucks posted a loss of pre-tax loss of £20m in the UK. "No they didn't, of course," says Mr Urquhart Stewart on Wake Up to Money. "What they've actually been doing is funnelling revenues offshore back through the Netherlands again". The good news, he says, is that there are a lot of other places to get your coffee these days.
More from Boston Consulting Group's Hal Sirkin: "Low cost countries are not always low cost. Western countries are becoming much more competitive," he says. Mexico and the US are "rising stars". The UK, Netherlands, India, Indonesia are holding steady. But Sweden, Belgium and France are becoming less competitive. "Brazil is actually one of the highest cost countries on the list," he says.
The UK is the cheapest western European country for manufacturing - overtaking Spain. That's according to new research by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It looked at energy costs, wages, currency fluctuations and productivity among the 25 leading exporting nations. On World Business Report, BCG's Hal Sirkin says Mexico has lower manufacturing costs than China.
Wake Up to Money discusses yesterday's Barclays AGM. The bank withstood a shareholder revolt on the size of its bonus pool, but the outcry from investors is "not very good news" for the company, says market commentator, Justin Urquhart Stewart. "The shock was that you had the likes of Standard Life saying we're not going along with this," he says. "At some point they [Barclays] are going to want to come back to the markets, and they'll need these shareholders to support them."
Tougher rules for potential mortgage borrowers come into force tomorrow. The Mortgage Market Review is designed to protect consumers from the kind of reckless mortgage lending that would leave them unable to make repayments. On Wake Up to Money, chief executive at Leeds Building Society, Peter Hill, says the rules will help ensure people borrow affordably, and that they can endure "a few bumps in the road".
Mortgage lenders will be obliged to ask tougher questions about applicants for mortgages from Saturday. More on that coming up, on the Business Live page.
Good morning. We'll have results from several carmakers later, but meanwhile, stay with us. You can contact us throughout the morning by tweeting @BBCBusiness or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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