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Summary

  1. Pound falls against dollar and euro
  2. Thomas Cook pilots call off strikes
  3. New car sales slump in September
  4. British Gas boss warns on price cap
  5. Sofa seller DFS' profits drop sharply
  6. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night!

That's all from Business Live for today - thanks for reading.

We're back bright and early at 6am tomorrow, so do join us then.

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BBC Breakfast

Coming up on BBC Breakfast tomorrow morning:

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Ryanair woos pilots

Ryanair plane
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More on Ryanair: it is promising pilots significant improvements in pay and conditions, saying it would exceed rates paid by rivals and improve job security, according to a letter to pilots seen by Reuters.

The Irish airline has announced the cancellation of thousands of flights in recent weeks, saying it did not have enough standby pilots.

Ryanair will deliver "significant improvements to your rosters, your pay, your basing, your contracts and your career progression over the next 12 months", chief executive Michael O'Leary said in the letter addressed "to all Ryanair pilots".

The letter said Ryanair would exceed the pay and job security offered by rivals such as Jet2 and Norwegian Air Shuttle and that it would negotiate on any differences in conditions between Ryanair's Irish contracts and those offered by local laws at European bases.

BreakingMore record highs for Wall Street

NYSE
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Wall Street hit new record highs again amid growing confidence in US corporate results and the prospects of President Donald Trump's tax cut plan.

All three major indices finished at new peaks for the fourth consecutive session, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.5% to 22,769 points.

The S&P 500 gained 0.6% to 2,551.6, while the Nasdaq Composite jumped 0.8% to 6,584 points.

Please don't go...

Irish Independent reporter John Mulligan reports on Michael O'Leary's latest attempt to keep Ryanair flying:

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Suds at dawn

Samsung washing machine
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The US International Trade Commission has found that US washing machine makers are being harmed by South Korean imports.

The case, brought by Whirlpool, calls on the ITC to impose restrictions to stop Samsung and LG from flooding (sorry) the US market.

The commission will make recommendations to President Donald Trump by late November and a final decision is expected early next year.

The protectionist message was central to his populist campaign to become president.

Last month the US opted to impose a tax on Bombardier jets that could put thousands of UK jobs at risk, which trade secretary Liam Fox said was protectionist.

So we wonder: what will Mr Trump's decision possibly be?!

Later rate rise?

EY Item Club's Howard Archer tweets:

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Russia and Saudi Arabia cosy up

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud takes his seat during a meeting with Russian President at the Kremlin in Moscow
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This week's visit by King Salman to Russia, the first by a Saudi monarch, will see a slew of deals.

Moscow and Riyadh worked together to secure a deal between Opec and other oil producers to cut output until the end of March 2018, helping support prices.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Arabia was "flexible" regarding Moscow's suggestion to extend the pact until the end of next year.

The news pushed up Brent Crude by around 2%.

Plans for a $1bn joint fund to invest in energy projects are also expected to be finalised.

State oil giant Saudi Aramco is to sign several non-binding MoUs with Russian companies Gazprom , Gazprom Neft, Sibur and Litasco.

Mr al-Falih said memorandums of understanding would be signed with Russia's state nuclear agency Rosatom for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, alongside other deals for military industries and marine development.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund will sign an MoU with Aramco and the kingdom's Public Investment Fund for investments in energy services and manufacturing.

Charity shops 'crucial to the High Street'

Oxfam 75 years on: What role do charity shops play on our high streets now?

BBC Radio 5 live

Oxfam, Broad Street, Oxford
Google

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief. Oxfam would then go on to open the UK's first charity shop at 17 Broad Street in Oxford, which is still there today.

Since then, the number of charity shops has soared.The Charity Retail Association estimates there are now around 11,200 such retailers in the UK; Oxfam still runs the most.

But their growing presence in town centres divides opinion. A report from the cross-party think tank, Demos, released last month found that charity shops continue to be a lifeline for struggling town centres, but half of the people surveyed said that a 'healthy' high street should contain fewer charity shops.

It can be a tricky balance to achieve for council officials, like Steve Brunt from the market town of Chesterfield in Derbyshire.

Speaking to 5 live, he said: "Every application is judged on its merit.

"(But) we encourage them... it's about recycling, and people can volunteer."

Spain to make it easier for Catalan firms to jump ship

Spain's government will issue a decree on Friday making it easier for firms to transfer their legal base out of Catalonia, two sources told Reuters, in a move that could deal a serious blow to the region's finances as it considers declaring independence.

The decree is tailor-made for Spanish lender Caixabank, sources familiar with the matter said, as it would make it possible for the bank to transfer its legal and tax base to another location without having to hold a shareholders' meeting as stated in its statutes.

"The government is working on changing the law so that it's no longer need to have a shareholders' meeting, which would delay a change of the legal base in a case of emergency," one of the sources told Reuters.

Pound tumbles amid political uncertainty

The pound fell to its lowest level against the US dollar since early September amid political uncertainty and concerns over the health of the UK economy.

Sterling was trading lower by 0.8% at $1.312 versus the dollar, marking its lowest point since 7 September.

Neil Wilson, a senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said:

"The pound is now off by a cent against the dollar and with firming US data combining with ebbing confidence in the British economy and government, could give up more ground."

"Clearly there are concerns about political risk subsequent to Theresa May’s speech."

Caixa board to meet

Caixa Bank
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The board of Caixabank will meet tomorrow to study a possible transfer of its legal base away from Catalonia because of political uncertainty in the region, a source familiar with the situation says.

Caixabank is Spain's third-largest bank and the biggest Catalan company by market value.

Sabadell 'to transfer legal base to Alicante'

Catalonian bank Sabadell is to transfer its legal base to Alicante, a spokesperson said.

The board made the decision to move in an extraordinary meeting called in light of the political uncertainty in the region.

Bank shares higher after Fed appointment

Randal K. Quarles
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JP Morgan and Bank of America shares are both more than 1.5% higher after Randal Quarles was confirmed as vice chair of the Federal Reserve.

The banking sector widely expects Mr Quarles to play a key part in US President Donald Trump's efforts to ease regulations.

US stocks scale fresh highs

Wall Street traders
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The three main U.S. indexes climbed to fresh record-highs for the fourth day in a row on Thursday, fueled by gains in technology stocks, including Microsoft and Amazon.

Data on Thursday indicated underlying strength in the economy despite the recent hurricanes, with the trade deficit narrowing in August and jobless claims falling more than expected last week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 96.21 points, or 0.42%, at 22,757.85, the S&P 500 was up 12.93 points, or 0.51%, at 2,550.60, and the Nasdaq was up 37.79 points, or 0.58%, at 6,572.02.

BreakingRoyal Mail says CWU strike action 'would be unlawful'

The Royal Mail says: "We believe any strike action before the dispute resolution procedures have been followed would be unlawful strike action".

Earlier it said it would any legal means necessary to try to stop a postal strike called by the Communication Workers Union.

Sabadell 'to move HQ from Catalonia'

Danny Aeberhard

Europe analyst, BBC World Service

Sabadell offices
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One of Spain's biggest banks, Sabadell, has decided to move its legal base from Catalonia.

Sources say the board made the decision in an extraordinary meeting, called in light of the political uncertainty in the region.

It comes as the separatist Catalan leadership seem intent on making a unilateral declaration of independence.

Sabadell has so far refused to officially confirm or deny the move.

That's believed to be because it has yet to get the approval of the regulatory authorities.

It's not the only bank to have been unnerved by the political crisis.

Another of the region's biggest lenders, CaixaBank, is understood to be considering a similar move if Catalonia unilaterally declares independence.

They want to limit risk to shareholders.

It may give separatists pause for thought. But, having prepared for a high-stakes gamble, the Catalan regional authorities may yet roll the dice.

Uber profits rev up, but London row casts a cloud

Uber taxi
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Uber saw its UK profits surge 65% last year after rising demand, but the taxi-hailing app is still facing an uphill battle to keep its service running in London.

Pre-tax profits surged 65% from £1.8m to more than £3m, while its tax bill rose from £410m to £551m, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

The company said its UK operations raked in £36.9m in revenue for the year to December 31, up 59% from £23.3m a year earlier,

Uber went from operating across 20 UK cities at the start of 2016 to around 40 by year the end of the year.

BreakingRoyal Mail: All legal options will be used to halt strike

The Royal Mail has said it will "use all legal options at its disposal, including applying to the High Court for an injunction" to halt strike action called by the Communication Workers Union.

"Royal Mail is very disappointed by this announcement from the CWU," it said.

"Royal Mail will be writing to the CWU invoking the external mediation process under the dispute resolution procedures in the Agenda for Growth.

"These legally-binding dispute resolution procedures were set up as a vehicle to resolve industrial disputes.

"We wish to use them to do just that. Royal Mail will use all legal options at its disposal, including applying to the High Court for an injunction to prevent industrial action."

Catalonia banks weigh HQ move

Sabadell logo
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One of Catalonia's biggest banks, Sabadell, is convening a board meeting to consider moving its headquarters in the event that the region unilaterally declares independence from Spain.

Another major lender, Caixabank, is reportedly thinking about a similar move.

There's growing financial concern about the crisis, which has led to falls in the main Madrid stock index and higher rates of interest on new bonds being issued by the government.

On Wednesday credit rating agency Standard and Poor's said it was putting Catalonia on watch.

CWU: Postal workers are extremely angry

Royal Mail logo
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In its announcement about a 48-hour postal strike starting on Thursday 19 October, the Communication Workers Union said postal workers are "extremely angry" about pensions, jobs and pay.

CWU deputy general postal secretary Terry Pullinger said: "It is highly disappointing that after 18 months of negotiations including external mediation that we have reached this point.

"Royal Mail Group management have clearly moved away from the spirit and intent of our agreements and the empty promises of privatisation, and have suffered a huge vote of no confidence from their employees and CWU members as a consequence.

"People are extremely angry and will now express that by overwhelmingly supporting this strike action in order to shift Royal Mail Group from their entrenched position, protect themselves and this great public service.

BreakingUnion calls postal strike

The Communication Workers Union has told the Royal Mail there will be a 48-hour strike beginning at midday on Thursday 19th October.

This will involve 111,000 postal workers, it said.

Read more here.

Tesco accountant tells court of budget gap pressures

Tesco store
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The man who claims to be whistleblower at the heart of the Tesco accounting scandal has described how pressure to close the budget gap left his team "falling apart".

Amit Soni, who joined the UK arm of the supermarket giant as a senior accountant in June 2013, told Southwark Crown Court in London that senior management brushed aside concerns.

A shock announcement published in September 2014 revealed the firm had over-estimated its profits by around £240m.

Mr Soni said that prior to this announcement his team was "falling apart" under the pressure to close a £240m gap in the budget.

"I could clearly see that parts of my team were beginning to give up, if not the entire team.

"They all work very, very hard. They were all very intelligent people, but it was getting to the point that even they could see that the future was not looking any better, it was not going to get better from what it was today.

"They were seeing me one on one, they were talking to me in groups and I could see them falling apart.

"There were a couple of resignations, there were more than two resignations."

Carl Rogberg, 50, Chris Bush, 51, and John Scouler, 49, are accused of failing to correct inaccurately recorded income figures which were published to auditors, other employees and the wider market.

They deny the charges.

Pearson completes Penguin Random House sale

Penguin books
Reuters

Pearson has completed its sale of a 22% stake in book publisher Penguin Random House, it says.

Pearson said in July that it would sell it to its partner in the Penguin Random House business, Bertelsmann.

Following the deal, Bertelsmann holds 75% of the business while Pearson retains a 25% stake.

Expect hard Brexit, German firms told

VW cars awaiting export
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It would be naive for German firms with a UK presence to do otherwise, says Germany's top industry body.

VW cars awaiting export

Plan for a hard Brexit, German firms told

It would be naive for German firms with a UK presence to do otherwise, says Germany's top industry body.

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Grade inflation

BBC World Service producer Kim Gittleson tweets:

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Will the energy cap work?

Spanish stocks rise

Pro-independence demonstrators
EPA

Spanish stocks rebounded on Thursday from heavy losses in the previous session driven by escalating tensions over Catalonia.

Madrid's Ibex 35 is up around 2.44%, led by banking stocks.

Shares in Banco Sabadell, one of Catalonia's biggest banks, are nearly 6% higher after news that the bank's board will meet to discuss moving its headquarters out of Catalonia's main city, Barcelona.

Sabadell led gains on the main share index, closely followed by Caixabank, which also has headquarters in Barcelona.

Wrong type of leaves

BBC News correspondent Simon Hall takes umbrage with some corporate jargon

CAA: More than 34,000 Monarch customers now back in UK

Monarch planes
AFP

The Civil Aviation Authority has now brought 34,608 Monarch customers back to the UK, on more than 173 flights, following the collapse of the airline into administration.

On Monday the CAA launched a programme to bring back 110,000 people on rescue flights.

Spanish court suspends Monday's Catalan parliament session

Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended a session of the Catalan parliament scheduled for Monday in which local leaders were expected to declare Catalonia's unilateral independence from Spain.

The ruling followed a legal challenge by the Catalan Socialist Party, which opposes secession, El Pais newspaper reports.

Sterling hits three week low

Pound coins
Getty Images

Sterling has fallen to a fresh three-week low, with analysts saying that optimism around the Bank of England rate hike has dissipated.

The pound fell a cent, or 0.8%, to $1.31370 against the dollar, its lowest since the Bank of England (BoE) meeting on interest rates took place in mid-September.

“The battle lines for sterling are clear; rising political uncertainty versus an impending rate hike from the Bank of England,” says Jasper Lawler, analyst at London Capital Group.

“Speeches on Thursday from BoE policymakers McCafferty and Haldane could shape which factor wins out over the short term.”

All out of loo roll

A pile of toilet rolls
Getty Images

Toilet paper maker Accrol has suspended trading in its shares and issued a profit warning due to rising costs.

Accrol faces rising manufacturing and expansion costs, as well as a prospective fine relating to a health and safety accident.

The Blackburn-based business said profits would be "significantly below existing market forecasts".

However, although Accrol expects trading during the 2018 financial year to suffer, it thinks the challenging conditions will have less of an impact in 2019.

What's the impact from Catalan independence?

BBC Business Live

Catalan protesters
EPA

That's what the markets are trying to work out - along with the likelihood of Catalonia, one of Spain's richest provinces, pushing ahead with independence.

Spain's Ibex stock market suffered its biggest one-day fall in 15 months yesterday on the prospect of the region breaking away. But it's rallied somewhat today, raising the question of whether the market's concerns were overblown.

"The question I think is, can you really expect to declare independence through a process that is not recognised by anyone internationally," Angel Talavera, Eurozone economist at Oxford Economics, tells the BBC.

"That means you'll be excluded from the European Union, from the Eurozone, can you really go forward with that way with no impact? Well I don't think so.

"I think the economic impact will be enormous and I think the pro-Independence movement is largely ignoring this."

Saudi Aramco listing 'on track'

Saudi Aramco employee
Reuters

A plan to list Saudi oil giant Aramco in 2018 is still on course, senior Saudi officials have said during a trip to Russia.

The plan to float about 5% of the state oil company is a major part of the kingdom's economic plans, and has attracted keen interest in London and New York.

"Work is ongoing to list Saudi Aramco in 2018," Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser said at an energy forum in Moscow. "We will be looking at [evaluating] investors as we continue to make progress related to timing and location."

A whale of a time

SeaWorld
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UK-based theme park operator Merlin Entertainments' shares are up nearly 3% following reports the Legoland owner is in talks to take over parts of controversial US marine park owner SeaWorld.

SeaWorld, whose shares have lost a quarter of their value this year due to ongoing controversy over how it looks after its whales, saw its shares rise 5% on Wednesday.

Merlin is already the world's largest aquarium operator. It does not have whales or dolphins in its parks as it believes such creatures need to live in the wild.

In August, the UK theme park giant said it might only be interested in SeaWorld's Busch Gardens assets.

Pound 'falls on political uncertainty'

Theresa May pauses during her conference speech
Reuters

The big story on the UK markets this morning is the pound, says Kathleen Brooks, an analyst at City Index.

Just a few weeks ago it looked like sterling might get towards $1.40, on the back of hints that the Bank of England will raise interest rates in November, she says. But instead, it's fallen back below $1.32 today.

"The market seems to be ignoring some fairly solid economic data, progress, albeit slow, in the Brexit talks, and a weaker dollar and euro in favour of politics," she says.

ING currency strategist Viraj Patel agrees that political uncertainty could limit any boost for sterling from a rate hike.

Confusion over the government's Brexit transition deal strategy "and ongoing questions over May's leadership... may limit the effects of any BoE policy-driven upside in the near-term," he says.

Saudi king's 'historic' trip

BBC media editor Amol Rajan tweets...