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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Wall Street opens at record highs
  3. EU to investigate Ikea's tax affairs
  4. Advertising standards watchdog may launch Amazon Prime probe
  5. FTSE 100 holds onto gains

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

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Theresa May

The PM says despite "strongly held views" there is no place for intimidation as MPs urge action.

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That's all for the first livepage of the week. Please join us as usual from 6am on Tuesday.

Wall Street's bull continues to run

Wall Street's bronze bull

Wall Street closed at record highs amid sustained optimism about the likelihood of lower corporate tax rates as the Republican tax bill moved closer to passage.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 140.46 points, or 0.57%, to 24,792.2, the S&P 500 gained 14.35 points, or 0.54%, to 2,690.16 and the Nasdaq added 58.18 points, or 0.84%, to 6,994.76.

The three indexes set record closing highs, as did the small-cap Russell 2000 index, up 1.21% to end at 1,548.93.

More Republicans said they expected Congress to pass the tax bill this week, with a Senate vote set for Tuesday and President Donald Trump expected to sign the bill into law by the end of the week.

"This Congress has shown an inability to pass anything over the past five years," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading, in "If a major piece of legislation is passed, you'd expect the markets to be happy."

US stocks have enjoyed a near year-long rally, with the benchmark S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow set for their best year since 2013.

Rates rise warning over Northern Ireland budget pressures

Sterling notes
Bernhard Richter

Incoming ministers at Stormont could have to make deep cuts to some departments, an official briefing paper has warned.

The Department of Finance has laid out three scenarios as part of a budget preparation exercise.

Under all scenarios, health and education budgets would remain protected.

However, that would see other departments having to make cuts of between 4% and 12%.

One scenario also examines the possibility of raising revenues through measures such as increasing domestic and business rates - the property tax paid by households and most businesses.

A 10% increase in rates is among the options looked at in the briefing paper. Read the full story here

Getting to the bottom of youth unemployment

BBC business presenter tweets

Trump: China and Russia rivals in 'new era of competition'
'We are engaged in a new era of global competition,' says the president in a national security speech.

Five ways YouTubers make money

Evan Edinger
YouTube/Evan Edinger

Whenever YouTuber Evan Edinger meets somebody new he says he always get asked: "How much money do you make?"

"I'm open to telling [people] a rough estimate. Enough to pay rent and to have a takeaway once in a while. It's not too bad," he said.

In a one-off vlog he has decided to explain exactly how it's done.

He's shared with his thousands of viewers the five main ways that YouTubers make a living.

Read the BBC's Newsbeat report here

Kaspersky: 'We've done nothing wrong'

This is how the chairman and chief executive of Kaspersky Lab broke the news to his Twitter followers ...

View more on twitter

Kaspersky sues US government

BBC World Service

The anti-virus software company Kaspersky Lab has filed a lawsuit against the US government after President Trump banned the use of its products by government agencies, reports BBC World Service.

The US Department for Homeland Security had previously ordered government departments to remove Kaspersky software from their computer networks, saying it was concerned about ties between officials who work for the Moscow-based company and the Russian intelligence services.

The UK's National Cyber Security Centre has also advised government departments not to use Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software. The company has repeatedly denied ties to any government.

BBC and Guardian sued over Paradise Papers leaks

Beach with palm tree

Law firm Appleby is taking legal action against the BBC and the Guardian over their reporting of leaked documents detailing offshore tax-avoidance schemes, known as the Paradise Papers.

It is suing for breach of confidence and wants the documents disclosed.

Appleby said confidential information had been taken in a "criminal act".

The BBC and the Guardian said they would "vigorously" defend the revelations, which were in the "highest public interest".

The leak of financial documents revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy secretly invest cash in offshore tax havens. Read more here

Crunch time for snack brands?

Crisps in a bowl
Getty Images

"It'll spoil your dinner," may be what your parents told you about snacking, but no one seems to have listened.

The Hershey Company and Campbell Soup both struck multi-billion dollar deals on Monday to buy rival snack firms.

Hershey said its $1.6bn (£1.2bn) purchase of popcorn and Tyrrells crisps maker Amplify would help turn it into "a snacking powerhouse".

Meanwhile, Campbell Soup said it would splash $4.89bn on tortilla chip and pretzel crisps maker Snyder's-Lance.

Both deals show how US firms are increasingly trying to cope with a shift in buying habits, with many people favouring smaller, more artisanal brands as well as food that is perceived to be healthier.

Read the full story here

Bagging a bargain?

Meghan Markle
Getty Images

On her first royal visit Meghan Markle carried a Strathberry Midi Tote Tri Colour handbag.

It sold out within 11 minutes.

Now the final available bag in that style has sold for £1,819 in a charity auction, almost four times the retail price.

As part of their visit, Ms Markle and fiance Prince Harry attended a World Aids Day charity fair put on by the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Edinburgh based Strathberry, which was established four years ago, had just one bag remaining from the same production run as Ms Markle's and it has been auctioned on behalf of the Terrence Higgins Trust.

The company says its website traffic has gone up by 5000% since Ms Markle was seen with the bag.

Toys R Us 'doesn't have that money'

More on Toys R Us now.

Sources close to the process said Toys R Us "doesn't have that money", meaning the £9m reportedly demanded by the PPF, although the PPF has not confirmed that it does indeed want Toys R Us to pay it that amount.

"If they (the PPF) say 'yes' the CVA can go through then, fine, the business will work its way through the [restructuring] plan."

However, it the PPF votes against the CVA then Toys R Us would go into administration and all 3,200 jobs would be lost, the source said.

PPF 'yet to decide' on Toys R Us vote

The Pension Protection Fund's will not confirm that it wants Toys R Us to pay it £9m.

However, director of restructuring and insolvency, Malcolm Weir, has issued a statement.

He said the PPF had "yet to decide" how its votes would be exercised in the vote on whether the company's CVA should be allowed to go ahead.

"We are seeking to fully understand the current position of the company, including its future potential, position of the US parent and the reported historic financial transactions.

"The pension scheme is already underfunded and, if we were to vote in favour of the CVA, we would need actions taken that ensure the position of the pension scheme was not going to further weaken.

“The filing of CVA proposals means that an assessment period is automatically triggered for a pension scheme. Whatever the outcome of the CVA the pension scheme members can be reassured that they remain protected," he added.

PPF wants £9m from Toys R Us - reports

Toys R Us
Getty Images

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) wants Toys R Us's UK pension scheme to pay it £9m to secure its backing for the proposed shake-up of the UK business, according to Sky.

The PPF and the scheme's trustees want the payment to be agreed within 24 hours, the broadcaster added.

The PPF was set up by the government to provide compensation to pension scheme members when a company becomes insolvent and the scheme can't pay out sufficiently.

The deadline for a vote on Toys R Us's company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which will allow the firm's restructuring is Tuesday.

That plan would mean some 26 of the chain's shops would close, but without the PPF's support it could fail.

Facebook's defence against depression claims

Couple arguing

Facebook has defended itself against claims that using the site can damage wellbeing and mental health.

In a blogpost, it said while there was evidence it could negatively affect mood, the way it affected people was determined by how they used it.

Facebook's downsides could be combated by making more use of the site and interacting positively, it said.

A social media expert said the way Facebook was built made it hard to use it in those better ways. Read the full story here

Wall Street still at record levels

Wall Street sign

Checking in US shares now - and they're still trading at record levels, boosted by the expectation that the tax reform legislation will go through this week.

The Dow Jones is at 24,825.72, a rise of 174 points or 0.71%.

The S&P 500 is 18 points higher or 0.68% at 2,693.96.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq is at 6,999.38, a gain of 63 points or 0.91%.

Pound rises on dollar weakness

Pounds, dollars, euros
Getty Images

However, the FTSE 100 might have risen further had the pound not been trading higher.

Against the dollar the pound was up by 0.53% at $1.3392.

Against the euro it was 0.12% higher at 1.1351 euros.

A strong currency usually cuts revenues for the big exporting global that dominate the FTSE 100.

The problem for the dollar was that investors were selling because of worries that the tax reform bill might not provide a huge boost to the US economy.

That's what had the effect of bolstering sterling.

Prospect of US tax cuts drives shares higher

So why have London shares received a boost?

One reason is events in the US where Wall Street's main shares indexes are trading at record levels.

Investors are expecting President Trump's tax cutting legislation to finally get the go-ahead this week, a move that would benefit American business.

The anticipation has driven shares around the world higher, including in London.

May warned on 'contradiction' at heart of future EU deal

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Pierre Moscovici
Getty Images

One of the European Commission's leading officials has said there is the danger of a "contradiction" at the heart of Britain's separation agreement with the EU.

Pierre Moscovici told the BBC that it was difficult to see how an open border could be retained on the island of Ireland if Britain did not stay in a customs union with the European Union.

If Britain did agree to a customs union arrangement then the UK could be barred from signing free trade agreements with other countries.

And would be obliged to follow EU regulations. Read Kamal's full blog here

London's winners and losers

On the FTSE 100 the biggest gainer of the day was miner Anglo American - which rose by 5%.

It was followed by Old Mutual, which climbed by 4.77% and Rolls-Royce holdings which was 2.95% ahead.

Shares in Easyjet saw the biggest decline, shedding 2.82% after it confimred the purchase of assets in Air Berlin.

Communications giant WPP lost 1.73% and supermarket chain Morrisons fell by 0.97%.

London share indexes end day on a high

London Stock Exchange with woman under umbrella
Getty Images

In London the FTSE 100 saw a bit of a surge in the last hour or so of trading.

It ended the day at 7,537.01, that's a rise of 46 points or 0.62%.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 was also ahead - up by 1.03% at 20,255.40, that's a gain of 206.79 points.

Walt Disney boss reacts to ESPN resignation

ESPN is jointly owned Walt Disney and Hearst Communications.

This is what the boss of Walt Disney had to say about John Skipper's resignation.

I join John Skipper’s many friends and colleagues across the company in wishing him well during this challenging time. I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family. With his departure, George Bodenheimer has agreed to serve as Acting Chair of ESPN for the next 90 days to provide interim leadership, help me identify and secure John’s successor, and ensure a smooth transition. I am grateful for George’s support and look forward to working with him again in this temporary role.

Bob IgerChairman and CEO, Walt Disney

Bodenheimer steps in as acting chair at ESPN

George Bodenheimer on book cover in front of ESPN logo
Getty Images

Following John Skipper's resignation as president of ESPN, former ESPN president and executive chairman George Bodenheimer (pictured) - who worked at ESPN from 1981-2014 - will step in as acting chair of the company for the next 90 days. He will oversee the "transition process", said ESPN.

ESPN boss talks of 'embarrassment'

John Skipper
Getty Images

More from John Skipper's resignation statement:

"I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.

"As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.

"To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege. I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN’s success."

ESPN president resigns over 'substance addiction'

ESPN President John Skipper has announced his resignation "citing a substance addiction problem", the sports broadcaster said in a statement.

Mr Skipper said: "I have had a wonderful career at The Walt Disney Company and am grateful for the many opportunities and friendships. I owe a debt to many, but most profoundly Michael Lynton, George Bodenheimer and Bob Iger.

"I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.

"I have disclosed that decision to the company, and we mutually agreed that it was appropriate that I resign. I will always appreciate the human understanding and warmth that Bob displayed here and always."

Saudi prince was 'mystery buyer' of $240m house

The mansion near Versailles

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the mystery buyer of a luxury French house, according to reporting by the New York Times.

The newspaper says a paper trail from a 2015 purchase leads back to him through several shell companies.

The house, near Versailles, has a wine cellar, a cinema and a moat with koi, sturgeon and an underwater chamber.

It cost €275m ($320m, £240m) and Fortune magazine called it the world's most expensive house.

The buyer was unknown at the time.

The Saudi government has declined to comment on the report.

A spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in Washington accused New York Times journalists of "subjective reporting" and serving a "personal agenda". Read the full story here

Campbell Soup gobbles up snacks firm

Tins of Campbell's soups
Getty Images

Campbell Soup is snapping up the maker of Pretzels and Cape Cod chips, Snyder's-Lance for $4.87bn.

The company wants to boost its presence in the growing snacks market in the face of declining soup sales fall.

Advertising watchdog may launch Amazon Prime probe

Amazon logo

Amazon's promise of next-day deliveries could be investigated amid customer complaints that it is failing to meet that pledge.

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is considering whether to launch a formal inquiry into Amazon.

The firm's top service, Prime, offers next-day deliveries for £7.99 a month.

The ASA said: "We have received a handful of complaints about Amazon parcel deliveries and we are at the initial assessment stage."

An Amazon spokesman told the BBC the ASA had confirmed to it there was no investigation at this time.

Read the full story here

Cambridge extends Uber's operating licence

Uber logo on side of car

The City of Cambridge extended Uber's operating licence for five years, according to local newspaper Cambridge News.

Uber's operating licence for the city was due to expire on 20 Dec.

The news comes after Sheffield council lifted its suspension of Uber's licence.

Uber has had its licence suspended in York after drivers complained the city had become "overwhelmed" with Uber drivers.

In September, Transport for London decided it would not renew Uber's licence because of the firm's record over reporting criminal offences and carrying out driver background checks.

No ban on Uber has ever come into force in the UK.

FTSE 100 hangs on to gains

London Stock Exchange sign
Getty Images

Just over an hour of trading to go in London and the FTSE 100 is still trading higher, at 7,525.43, that's an increase of 35 points or 0.47%.

Just Eat is up by 0.72% on its first day on the FTSE 100 following its promotion.

The biggest climber of the day so far is stil Old Mutual - up 4.97%. Easyjet has notched up the biggest decline - it's lost 1.76%.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 is 1% or 201.31 points higher at 20,249.92.

Wall Street opens at record highs

New York Stock Exchange
Getty Images

Wall Street's three main indexes opened at record highs on Monday.

The markets were boosted in part by theexpectation that President Trump's long-awaited tax shake-up is set to pass into law.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 134.06 points, or 0.54%, to 24,785.8.

The S&P 500 gained 13.17 points, or 0.49%, to 2,688.98.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq added 43.83 points, or 0.63%, to 6,980.41.

Sri Lankan tea farm

Moscow suspended Ceylon tea imports after an insect was found in one of Sri Lanka's tea consignments.

Read more

Lomond Capital acquires two more property firms

Bruce Evants

Fast-growing Scottish property management group Lomond Capital has made its second acquisition in two weeks.

The Edinburgh-based firm said it had bought south Manchester sales and lettings agent Hallmark Residential for an undisclosed sum.

The deal follows the purchase of Tanat-Jones and Company in Brighton and Hove.

The transactions bring the value of properties under Lomond's management to £2.7bn. Read full story

Chief executive Bruce Evans (see picture) said: "We're finishing off 2017 with two great deals that strengthen our position in two key regions - the south as we look to the London market, and the north west, where Hallmark Residential marks our seventh

Company boss explains the bigger picture

Inter Ikea responds to tax probe

Inter IKEA Group including its subsidiary Inter IKEA Systems BV is committed to paying taxes in accordance with laws and regulations wherever we operate. The way we have been taxed by national authorities, has in our view been in accordance with EU rules. It is good if the investigation can bring clarity and confirm that. A state aid investigation is a matter between the European Commission and concerned member states. We study the opening decision and we cooperate and respond to any questions the Dutch authorities or the European Commission might have.

Steinhoff to provide update on Tuesday

Poundland store

South Africa's troubled retailer Steinhoff, owner of Poundland, will provide further information about its finances following a meeting with bankers on Tuesday, it has said.

Steinhoff is in the throes of an accounting scandal that has wiped more than $10 billion off its value,

Chief executive Markus Jooste resigned and the group also postponed its full-year results. Steinhoff has asked accountancy giant PwC to conduct an independent investigation.

Steinhoff owns 40 local brands in more than 30 countries. As well as furniture and homeware, it also sells products including clothing, footwear and consumer goods.

Its brands include Bensons for Beds and Harveys in the UK, Conforama in Europe, Pep and Ackermans in South Africa and Snooze in Australia. Steinhoff derives about 60% of its earnings in Europe and 34% in Africa.

Campbell Soup spends $4.87bn on snacks

Campbell's Soup
Getty Images

Campbell Soup is buying snacks maker Snyder's-Lance for $4.87bn (£3.6bn), the company announced on Monday.

Snyder's-Lance makes Kettle Chips as well as other goods such as pretzels and deli snacks.

Denise Morrison, Campbell’s president and chief executive, said: “This acquisition will dramatically transform Campbell, shifting our center of gravity and further diversifying our portfolio into the faster-growing snacking category. We look forward to welcoming Snyder’s-Lance’s employees and their trusted family of leading brands to our company.”

B&Q recalls remote control plugs


B&Q is recalling 70,000 remote control plugs, because they’re in danger of overheating and starting a fire.

“In rare circumstances items in contact with the product could ignite,” explained a B&Q spokesperson.

The plugs, made under the EverFlourish label, were sold between September 2014 and November 2017.

Anyone who has one can return them to their local store for a refund.

Netherlands 'one of world's biggest tax havens'

Windmills at Kinderdijk in the Netherlands
Getty Creative

The investigation into Ikea's tax arrangements follows a lengthy campaign by the Green party in European Parliament.

"This is a huge success for the Greens as it comes from our initial complaint. Europe works," MEP Sven Giegold told newswire AFP.

"It is shocking that the Netherlands, a founding member of the EU, is one of the biggest tax havens in the world," he said.