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Summary

  1. China's economic growth slows to 6.9% in 2015
  2. FTSE 100 closes 1.68% higher
  3. Global oil glut to continue all year: IEA
  4. Mark Carney rules out imminent UK rate rise
  5. Hollande says France is in 'state of economic emergency'

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

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Night-night

That's all we have time for today on Business Live - thanks for reading. Join us again tomorrow from 6am when among the big business events of the day will be the start of the World Economic Forum, at Davos.

Wall Street closes flat

Wall Street ended flat as falling oil prices led to more carnage in energy stocks and an "in line" economic report showed slower growth in China. The Dow Jones rose 27.94 points, or 0.17%, to 16,016.02, the S&P 500 gained 1 points, or 0.05%, to 1,881.33 and the Nasdaq dropped 11.47 points, or 0.26%, to 4,476.95. 

Delta Air Lines sees profit margins double from cheap fuel

Delta Airlines planes
Getty Images

Delta Air Lines said a billion-dollar windfall from low fuel prices will far offset slumping sales to Europe after the November Paris attacks, forecasting its profit margin will more than double in the first quarter.

Shares were up around 3% in afternoon trading, despite Delta reporting a fourth-quarter adjusted profit of $926m, just short of analysts' average estimate of $928m.

Insurers form driverless car alliance

A driverless car from Audi
Getty Images

Some of the UK's largest motor insurance firms have formed an alliance to examine the potential impact of driverless cars in the UK.

The Automated Driving Insurer Group will consider who would be liable after an accident - drivers, manufacturers or software developers - and how to cope with different levels of automation and whether road traffic laws should be changed.

Aviva, Direct Line and LV are among the companies that make up the group, which is led by trade body the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Thatcham Research, the industry's research arm.

Unilever braced for 'tougher 2016'

Bottles of margarine at the packaging line, at the Unilever's factory in Rotterdam.
Getty Images

Consumer goods giant Unilever has warned about a tough year ahead, despite revealing a stronger-than-expected end to 2015.

The Dove soap and PG Tips firm said underlying sales rose by 4.9% in the final three months of last year, which beat market forecasts for growth of 4%

But pre-tax profits fell 8% to €7.2bn (£5.5bn) with currency movements stripped out, and the group cautioned that 2016 would be a challenging year.

Chief executive Paul Polman said: "We are preparing ourselves for tougher market conditions and high volatility in 2016, as world events in recent weeks have highlighted." 

Wall Street selloff deepens as oil stocks fall

A recent selloff on Wall Street is deepening as US crude prices fall and a report showing slower growth in China in line with expectations failed to prop up an early rally.

Oil firms also fell. Exxon Mobil dropped 2.82% and was the largest drag on the S&P 500. Chevron fell 2.78%.

Bosses 'gloomy' about 2016 outlook says PwC

Confidence about near-term sales growth among chief executives around the world has fallen due to risks such as China's economic slowdown and the continuing slump in oil prices, PwC says.

The audit firm conducted a survey of more than 1,400 bosses and released the results on the eve of the Davos World Economic Forum meeting.

Dennis Nally, PwC's chairman, said: "When you put it all together, the outlook for 2016 is not as encouraging as many of us would have hoped for... I have to imagine that if we had done the survey in the first two weeks of January the results would have been even more gloomy. It's not a great picture, it's not a great outlook."

Italy bank shares continue to fall

The headquarters of the Monte Dei Paschi di Siena bank
Getty Images

A request by the European Central Bank for more information on Italian banks' bad loans triggered a second day of steep share falls as investors worried that lenders will be forced to make heavy writedowns on bad debt.

Italian banks have around €200bn of loans that may not be repaid.

Monte dei Paschi, Italy's third-largest bank and the worst performer in Europe-wide checks on banks in 2014, was again the biggest loser with a fall of 14.4% on Tuesday, having shed 15% on Monday.

Banco Popolare slid 6.3%, while UniCredit, Italy's biggest bank, dropped 3.5%. 

Coming up on Business Live

BBC business presenter tweets...

Wall Street sheds early gains

Wall Street has lost some early gains, cutting short a rally inspired by raised hopes of more stimulus measures in China.

The Dow Jones eased back to stand 73.79 points higher, or 0.46%, at 16,061.87. The S&P 500 was up 7.1 points, or 0.38%, at 1,887.43. The Nasdaq rose 7.16 points, or 0.16%, to 4,495.58.

Banks reversed course, with Bank of America and Morgan Stanley among financial stocks to drift into negative territory. 

Leonardo DiCaprio criticises oil firms

Guardian business reporter tweets...

The Guardian

VW confirms ex-BMW boss as North America head

The logo of German car maker Volkswagen is seen at Northern Virginia dealer in Woodbridge, Virginia
Getty Images

Volkswagen has named former BMW manager Hinrich Woebcken to run the North American business of its core brand.

Four months after the VW diesel emissions scandal broke, there is no timetable for winning approval of a fix for about 500,000 affected US cars, or for lifting the government's ban on the sale of 2016 VW diesel models.

Renault to recall 15,000 cars for emissions fixes

The logo of carmaker Renault on flags in Saint-Herblain, western France, shows
Getty Images

France's environment minister says Renault will recall 15,000 cars to update their emissions filters because the current filters were inadequate in warm weather.

Segolene Royal told RTL radio the French carmaker had agreed to the recall and she acknowledged that previous tests, which weren't conducted in real driving conditions, were insufficient, especially in warm weather.

Renault is to recall around 270 cars in the UK because of an "error" in the device that controls emissions, the firm said.

Randgold mine 'to exceed 2015 production target'

Russell Padmore, BBC business correspondent writes...

Gold bar
Getty Images

The African gold mining company Randgold Resources has told investors to expect a bonanza in production from its Kibali mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Speaking today in Kinshasa, Randgold’s chief executive Mark Bristow revealed the mine is likely to exceed its 2015 production target of 600,000 ounces of the precious metal.

Mr Bristow sounded positive on future investment in gold mining in the DRC saying “We believe the north-eastern DRC holds a rich potential for such discoveries and we trust the country’s government will partner us in our drive to develop a major gold mining frontier there.”

Randgold’s shareholders and its CEO will be pleased to hear that the price of the precious metal remains buoyant, helped by recent stockmarket turmoil.

This afternoon in London the price of gold was fixed at $1086.25 an ounce.

I have spoken to Randgold’s Mark Bristow many times and he is one of the industry’s outspoken characters. I recall two years ago questioning him about a pay package that included receiving $4 million dollars worth of shares. Mr Bristow’s response was that it was not an unreasonable sum.

Full details of the mine’s performance will be given when the company publishes its annual results on the 8th of February.

Sports Direct 'abused court processes'

General exterior view of a Sports Direct store
BBC

Sports Direct has been criticised by High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Smith, who said the sportswear discounter had abused court processes during a damages case against Rangers football club.

"The whole way that the claimants have been conducting themselves ... shows that they have been abusing processes of the court in relation to the damages claim," the judge said.

Mr Justice Smith said Sports Direct was claiming that Rangers had breached a confidential agreement.

He said the firm had initially claimed £200,000 damages. It had then reduced the damages claim to £50,000.

Now it was not claiming any damages - but wanted the imposition of injunctions.

Mr Justice Smith said £200,000 was a threshold figure.

Claims for damages of £200,000 or more were analysed by judges in the High Court, while lesser damages claims were heard in lower civil courts.

He said he was "extremely suspicious" about the £200,000 figure.

Wall Street holds onto gains after China data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Getty Images

Wall Street is rebounding after a steep selloff on Friday as investors are relieved that China's growth rate did not slow more than expected.

China's growth in 2015 was the slowest in 25 years, raising hopes of further stimulus measures from Beijing to rebalance a slowing economy that has rattled investors across markets.

FTSE 100 closes up after China growth figures

The FTSE 100 share index has closed up 1.68% after Chinese GDP figures met expectations while leaving room for further stimulus.

Pension exit charges are 'financial bondage'

Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, certainly feels strongly about pension early exit charges: 

Hundreds of thousands of pension investors currently face charges and restrictions if they want access to the pension freedoms or to transfer their money to a new pension arrangement. In some cases these penalties can run to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. This kind of financial bondage has no place in the 21st century."

He welcomed a cap on pensions charges that has been announced by the Treasury.

Pension exit charges to be capped

Sean Curran, BBC parliamentary correspondent writes...

Pound coins are stacked in front of a twenty pound note
Getty Images

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has announced that he plans to change the law to limit exit charges for people who want to take money out of their pension pot.

Last July the government launched a consultation exercise on proposals to cap pension exit fees.

George Osborne told the Commons that 700,000 people faced some form of early exit charge and said, "the government isn't prepared to stand by and see people either being ripped off or blocked from accessing their own money by excessive charges."

The Chancellor said the law would be changed to give the Financial Conduct Authority a duty to cap excessive early exit charges.

He added, "we're determined that people who've done the right thing , saved responsibly, are able to access their pensions fairly".

Sovereign wealth funds 'adding to market routs'

Oil well pumps sit in the yard at Wood Energy in Woodlawn, Illinois
Getty Images

Sovereign wealth funds from energy producing countries are adding to stock market volatility by selling off assets to meet financial commitments amid falling oil prices, Bloomberg Business quotes Jefferies as saying.

Boosting oil production and printing cash have not proved effective in paying off debts for countries, David Zervos says.

MPs to probe sexist pricing claims

BBC business correspondent Emma Simpson writes...

Maria Miller
Getty Images

Maria Miller MP (pictured), who chairs the Women and Equalities Select Committee, has just told me that her committee has decided to launch an inquiry into claims made by the Times today that women are being charged more than men for almost identical products.

She says she’ll be asking for written evidence from some retailers and possibly other relevant organisations, to find out to what extent these price differences exist and why.

Johnson & Johnson 'to cut 3,000 jobs'

Johnson & Johnson products are displayed in Orlando
AP

Healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson is to cut around 3,000 jobs around the world from its medical devices unit, according to the Reuters news agency.

Between 4% and 6% of the unit's global workforce is to go, a Reuters report said.

The company expects pre-tax restructuring charges of $2.0bn to $2.4bn (£1.4bn to £1.7bn) in connection with these plans, of which about $600m will be recorded in the fourth quarter of 2015, Reuters added.

Wall Street opens higher after China growth figures

US open higher after China's slowest annual growth rate in 25 years raised hopes of further stimulus measures from Beijing, and on strong earnings reports from Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 109.51 points, or 0.68%, at 16,097.59. The S&P 500 was up 15.43 points, or 0.82%, at 1,895.76 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 58.47 points, or 1.3%, at 4,546.89.  

UK 'tenth most innovative sovereign state'

A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested on in Penryn
Getty Images

The UK has been ranked at number ten in the Bloomberg Innovation Index. South Korea was number one, followed by Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel, the US, Sweden, Singapore, and France. Bloomberg ranked countries and sovereigns based on metrics including research and development expenditure as a percentage of GDP and manufacturing value-added per capita.

Why China slowdown matters

Stuck for ideas as to what to ask during our China growth Facebook Q&A at 14:30? Catch up with Simon Jack's business segment from Today for some inspiration.

View more on twitter

China growth Facebook Q&A

What question would you like answered on the latest set of Chinese growth figures? Join our Facebook Q&A at 14:30GMT with our Economics Correspondent Andrew Walker and Xin Li from the BBC's China Service.

Bank loses legal chief

The Bank of England has lost its head of legal for the markets, banking and notes directorates (whatever that is) to BNY Mellon. Jacqueline Joyston-Bechal will head up the bank's EMEA advisory compliance team for investment services.

Before joining the Bank of England, she was at Clifford Chance for a decade.

I Robot

The BBC's Emily Young is getting a head start at Davos:

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Bank of America reports 9.8% rise in profits

Bank of America (BofA) has reported a 9.8% rise in profit for the final quarter of the year. Lower expenses helped despite sluggish revenue 

BofA said net income rose to $3.01bn in the three months to the end of December from $2.74bn a year earlier. Non-interest expenses fell 2.3% to $13.87bn.

I find your lack of faith disturbing

Channel 4 News economics editor tweets

Tiffany sales slide

Tiffany & Co
Getty Images

Tiffany sales slumped 9% for the two months to 31 December as consumer spending remained tepid amid the economic uncertainty. Sales were down in every region except Japan. 

The jeweller expects annual profit to be 10% lower, with minimal growth this year.

Shares of Tiffany fell 2.5% in premarket trading in New York.   

Full house at Queen Mary

The lecture given by Mark Carney today is in honour of Baron Peston, the economist, Labour peer - and father of one Robert Peston, formerly of this parish.

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No more forward guidance?

Economics editor Kamal Ahmed tweets:

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Sterling trims gains on Carney speech

Sterling graph
BBC

That didn't take long: Mark Carney's hardly surprising announcement that "now is not the time to raise rates" has led to a fairly predictable reaction from sterling. It has slumped against the dollar, but for the moment remains in positive territory - just - for the day.

Sterling is up 0.23% against the dollar at $1.427, while against the euro it has gained 0.76% to €1.316. 

'Now is not the time to raise interest rates'

Mark Carney
Getty Images

In a speech at Queen Mary University of London, Mark Carney said : "Last summer I said that a decision as to when to start raising Bank rate would likely come into sharper relief around the turn of the year. 

"Well, the year has turned and, in my view, the decision proved straightforward - now is not the time to raise interest rates."

Volatility in China - which earlier today announced its lowest growth rate for 25 years - as well as a collapse in oil prices and sluggish pay growth in the UK meant that any rate rise could be delayed.

"It is clear to me that since last summer, progress has been insufficient to warrant a tightening of monetary policy," Mr Carney said.

BreakingCarney rules out rate rise

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

The Governor of the Bank of England has ruled out an immediate rise in interest rates because of the turmoil in the global economy and weaker UK growth.

In a gloomy assessment of the state of the world, Mark Carney said that collapsing oil prices and an "unforgiving" global environment meant that tighter monetary policy was not yet necessary.

His assessment comes six months after he suggested that a rise in interest rates would come into "sharper relief" at the beginning of 2016.

Many assessed that as a signal that rates would start rising early this year, but that now seems a more remote prospect, with many economists predicting no change in interest rates until the second half of the year or even into 2017.

Woof woof

Now THIS is why we need Twitter functioning at all times: to promote the really rather marvellous GroPro video shot by Rory Cellan-Jones's dog, which for some reason is called Cabbage.

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Veggie revolt over GBK ads

GBK
Eleanor Rudd/Twitter

There are advertising failures and then there are advertising disasters. Where the London Tube posters for the Gourmet Burger Kitchen fall we'll leave for you to decide. 

However, several newspapers have been having fun at the restaurant chain's expense after it pulled its London Underground advertising campaign, which urged vegetarians to eat meat instead. 

Tube posters featured, for example, a picture of a young cow alongside the caption: "They eat grass so you don’t have to."

Another read: "You always remember the time you gave up being vegetarian", and a third carried a picture of a large burger with the slogan "Vegetarians, resistance is futile."

GBK says it's been "quite taken aback" by the reaction. "The last thing we ever intended to do was offend or alienate vegetarians ... We've made the decision to take down some of the adverts." Now, where is my hummus? 

Renault to cut emissions

Transport correspondent Richard Westcott tweets:

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Who’s afraid of China’s slowdown?

BBC World Service

Economists George Magnus, Diana Choyleva and Kenneth Rogoff discuss China's cooling economy.

George Magnus, Diana Choyleva and Ken Rogoff give their views on whether we should worry.