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  1. US Federal Reserve holds interest rates
  2. Former BHS owner preparing bid
  3. UK GDP slows to 0.4% in the first quarter
  4. Barclays reports 25% slump in first quarter profits
  5. Home Retail Group reports £804m annual loss
  6. Brexit 'like a tax' says OECD

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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It's time for the livepage to take a rest until 6am. But with Facebook tripling profits to $1.5bn in the first three months of 2016, we'll leave you with the under-statement of the day from chief exec Mark Zuckerberg: "We had a great start to the year."


Facebook profits and revenues rise

facebook name on paper cups

Facebook has tripled quarterly profits and seen revenues rise 51.9%, as growth in the use of its mobile app and a push into live video attracted more advertising.

Total revenue rose to $5.38bn (£3.7bn) from $3.54bn, with ad revenue increasing 56.8% to $5.20bn. The company's profits rose to $1.51bn in the first three months of this year, from $509m last year. 

Wall Street relief after Fed news

Federal Reserve holds interest rates

Wall Street's main markets ended slightly higher after fears eased that the Federal Reserve's latest policy statement would give a strong signal that it would raise interest rates in June. Just after the closing bell, the Dow Jones was up 52.74 points, or 0.29%, at 18,043.06, and the S&P 500 gained 3.62 points, or 0.17%, to 2,095.32.

The Nasdaq dropped 25.14 points, or 0.51%, to 4,863.14. A 6.4% fall in Apple shares after disappointing iPhone sales figures weighed on the index. 

FBI 'not given tech details to unlock iPhone'

The FBI wil not publicly disclose how it accessed a locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, saying it does not have enough "technical information" about the software used.

FBI official Amy Hess said that although the bureau purchased the method to access the phone it did not "purchase the rights to technical details about how the method functions, or the nature and extent of any vulnerability upon which the method may rely in order to operate". 

Last week the FBI's director James Comey hinted that the FBI paid well over $1m to a company to unlock the phone.

Never looked better...

Ex-BBC man Robert Peston is still getting the big assignments over at ITV

That statement in full

Fed leaves rates unchanged

For anyone wanting to read the Fed's statement on monetary policy, here it is.

Spotify buys start-up

spotify sign on bar football table

Music-streaming site Spotify has bought CrowdAlbum, a US start-up that aggregates photographs and videos from artists’ performances shared on social media, the Wall Street Journal reports.

San Francisco-based CrowdAlbum, founded in 2013, has been working with more than 1,000 artists and venues, collecting social posts at their events to create online photo and video albums, the WSJ says.

US goods trade deficit narrows

The US goods trade deficit narrowed sharply to a one-year low in March, as both imports and exports fell, suggesting economic growth in the first-quarter was probably not as weak as currently anticipated.

The Commerce Department said in its advance report on Wednesday that the goods trade gap fell 10.3% to $56.9bn last month, the smallest deficit since February 2015. 

Wall Street markets steady after Fed news

Fed holds interest rates

Dow Jones share price graph

US stocks are mostly higher in afternoon trading after the Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged. But technology companies are sliding following weak results from Apple and Twitter. Energy companies, though, are rising with oil prices, and utility and telecoms companies are also moving higher.

The Dow Jones ticked up 62 points, or 0.3%, to 18,051, and the S&P 500 rose 2 points, or 0.1%, to 2,093. The Nasdaq index fell 39 points, or 0.8%, to 4,849. Apple was down 6.1% on disappointment at its latest iPhone sales figures. Twitter tumbled 15.7% after posting earnings figures that underwhelmed investors.

Fed: leaning towards the 'hawkish'

Federal Reserve leaves interest rates unchanged

The focus here is going to be the fact that they've removed the reference to global risks, but inserted that they are still closely monitoring them. It definitely leans somewhat hawkish, given the fact that they've removed those risks, but in order for the Fed to have kept alive the potential for another hike this year they had to do something like this... I think the initial knee-jerk will be hawkish, but once the dust settles and people realize what they inserted I think it will water down some of the hawkish reaction. Everything else was marking to market, in the face of a soft GDP print tomorrow and slightly weaker consumption data it's not a surprise that they marked down their growth assessment."

Fed: market reaction

Fed holds US interest rates

It's been a pretty muted response on the markets. About 20 minutes after the Fed's announcement, the Dow Jones was up 0.37% and the S&P 500 was 0.09% higher.

US interest rates unchanged

Reaction to Fed news

It was a marginally more optimistic statement than what we saw in March. The global situation is less of an imminent concern, though the Fed is still watching. The Fed didn't include a 'balance of risks' statement, nor did it include premonitory language like it included in October to telegraph a December rate hike. I think they are in 'wait-and-see' mode. June may be too early to hike unless we see a decent pickup in the inflation numbers. To me, that seems highly unlikely."

Brian JacobsenChief Portfolio Strategist, Wells Fargo Funds Management

US interest rates

Fed holds rates

The Fed stuck to its stance that US monetary policy will tighten only gradually and that it "continues to closely monitor inflation indicators and global economic and financial developments" as it weighs its policy course. 

Fed keeps interest rates on hold

US dollar notes

The US central bank's policy-setting committee said the jobs market had improved despite a recent economic slowdown and that it was keeping a close eye on inflation.

But it added that global economic headwinds remained on its radar. "The committee continues to closely monitor inflation indicators and global economic and financial developments," the Fed said in a statement following a two-day meeting.   

US Federal Reserve keeps interest rates on hold at 0.25% to 0.5%. Although the jobs market had improved, global economic headwinds remained on its radar.

More follows.

US stocks await Fed rate decision

US stocks were off their lows about 30 minutes before the Federal Reserve's interest rates announcement. Apple clawed back some of its steep losses, but was still down 6.2% after saying that iPhone sales had fallen.

The Dow Jones was up 22.23 points, or 0.12%, at 18,012.55, the S&P 500 was down 2.13 points, or 0.1%, at 2,089.57, and the Nasdaq was down 42.14 points, or 0.86%, at 4,846.14. Six of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the energy index up 1.11%.

Executive pay vote

Scotland business editor Douglas Fraser tweets:

FTSE 100 ends 0.56% higher

FTSE 100 graph

Having been in the red until early afternoon, London's top flight index finished 0.56% higher at 6,319.9 points. Miner Anglo American, up 4.45%, was the top performer. Tesco, down 4.7%, was the main faller. Commodity stocks were given a lift as Brent crude temporarily hit a high for 2016 at $46.77 a barrel amid reports by the American Petroleum Institute that US stockpiles of crude had declined. 

DreamWorks' shares surge on bid reports

Kung Fu Panda ad
Getty Images

Shares in the Hollywood film studio DreamWorks Animation continue to trade higher on unconfirmed reports that Comcast, the largest US cable operator, is in talks to buy the company for more than $3bn. The stock is up more than 17%.

Owner of Jack Daniel's snaps up distillery company

BBC Scotland business editor Douglas Fraser tweets:

Could banks make better use of their cash?

The amount of cash big banks have used to fund share buybacks and dividend payouts since 2007 has topped $1.7 trillion, money that could be better used to strengthen their capital or lend, the Bank for International Settlements says.

Reuters reports that the accumulated money spent on buybacks and dividends between 2007 and 2014 period was $1.73 trillion, far outstripping the extra $405 billion in retained profits they kept on their books over the period.

European markets ahead

European shares are edging higher towards the end of the trading day, helped by gains among utilities and energy stocks, while Greek equities lost ground after eurozone officials delayed a meeting on the country's bailout. Greece's benchmark ATG equity index fell 2.8%, making it the worst-performing market in the region.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, which hit a three-month high last week, was up 0.3%. The oil and gas index rose 2.3%, as crude oil prices hit their highest level for the year.

In London, the FTSE 100 was 0.2% ahead at 6,297.2 points. The Cac in Paris, and Frankfurt's Dax were up 0.45% and 0.25% respectively.

Yoghurt boss gives staff an unusual present

Click on the link below

UK growth slowdown not all due to 'Brexit'

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Today’s slowing economic growth figures are not all down to uncertainty about the EU referendum, although businesses I have spoken to do say that investment decisions have been delayed both by their own companies and by their customers.

In his interview with me, the Chancellor says he is “the first” to admit there are other issues with the UK economy.

It would be wrong to ignore those.

Poor productivity, weak exports and falling industrial production and construction figures are more than a short term reaction to the vote on June 23rd.

They reveal significant challenges rebalancing the UK economy away from services and household consumption towards manufacturing, as well as the UK’s exposure to global economic headwinds such as slower growth in China.

Nasdaq falls after Apple earnings disappointment

Apple shares sank at the start of trading on Wall Street following disappointing earnings numbers. Apple, the world's largest company by market value, sank 7.2% after reporting its first ever drop in iPhone sales in earnings published after stock markets closed on Tuesday.

About 10 minutes into trading the tech-rich Nasdaq index was down 0.6% to 4,860.96 points. The Dow Jones was down 0.1% at 17,971.76 points, while the broad-based S&P 500 was virtually unchanged at 2,090.99 points.

Markets are also focused on the Federal Reserve, which will release its policy statement at 1800 GMT. While analysts expect the US central bank to keep interest rates unchanged, the statement will be scrutinised for signs about potential interest rate rises..

Osborne: 'I will have lots to say about BHS'

BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed writes...

George Osborne
Getty Images

The Chancellor told the BBC:

It’s a very worrying time for the thousands of people who work at British Home Stores. We are going to do everything we can to help them and to help them and to help British Home Stores at the moment, help shops on our high street and if the worst comes to the worst make sure we have a growing economy to make sure they can find other work. We have in this country an Insolvency Service and the Pensions Regulator – these are two powerful independent bodies that investigate whether there has been wrongdoing amongst the owners or indeed the previous owners. I say let them do their work, I say let them do what the public and the politicians have asked them to do which is to get to the bottom of this. I don’t think as the Chancellor of the Exchequer you should comment on an individual company until we get the facts. Believe you me, once we have the facts I will have lots to say about it."

Yahoo strikes compromise with Starboard

Yahoo sign
Getty Images

Yahoo has agreed to add four new independent directors to its board, bowing to pressure from activist hedge fund Starboard Value. The new members will include Starboard chief executive Jeffrey Smith.

A Yahoo statement said four additional board members will include one from the investment firm. "This constructive resolution will allow management and the board to keep our focus on our extremely important objectives," chief executive Marissa Mayer said. 

Boeing first quarter profits descend

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has reported lower first-quarter earnings after announcing a charge of unanticipated costs of $156m for building its KC-46 military aircraft. 

Earnings for the quarter ending 31 March were $1.2bn, down 8.8% from the same period a year ago.

Valeant chief tells US Senate he regrets raising heart drug prices

Outgoing Valeant Pharmaceuticals chief executive Michael Pearson will tell a US Senate panel he regrets his decision to acquire and push up the price of two heart drugs, saying it was a "mistake."

"The company was too aggressive - and I, as its leader, was too aggressive - in pursuing price increases on certain drugs," Pearson will say in a testimony before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

After the acquisition from drugs firm Marathon Pharmaceuticals, Valeant increased the price of Isuprel by about 720%. It also increased the price of Nitropress several times, ultimately raising it to $880.88 from a starting price of $214.83.

"In hindsight I regret pursuing transactions where a central premise was a planned increase in the prices of the medicines," Mr Pearson said.

"We should have abandoned the transaction with Marathon when it became clear that the expected arrival of generic competition made the economics of the deal dependent on significant price increases."

More polluting vehicle charge zones needed, say MPs

Santander reports fall in profits

Business reporter Katie Hope writes...

A man walks past a Banco Santander's logo
Getty Images

Spanish banking giant Banco Santander, the eurozone's biggest bank, has reported a fall in profit.

The bank said profit dropped 5% to €1.6bn (£1.2bn) in the first three months of the year, mainly due to a fall in the Brazilian Real and sterling.

The bank said excluding the impact of exchanging all its earnings into euros, its profits would have risen 8%.

Banco Santander makes about a fifth of its profit in Brazil, its second-biggest market, after the UK.

Despite the profit fall, group chairman Ana Botín said the bank's performance was better than expected and "gives us confidence that we will continue to deliver".

George Osborne: "The threat of leaving the EU is weighing on the British economy"
The Chancellor, George Osborne, has said the uncertainty over whether Britain will remain in the European Union is causing investment decisions to be delayed.

Chappell 'preparing BHS bid'

BBC business editor Simon Jack writes...

BHS on Oxford Street
Getty Images

Former owner of BHS Dominic Chappell has told me he is preparing a bid to buy BHS out of administration.

The administrators have been informed of the interest and talks with US based investors are at a "mature" stage.

He indicated he is interested in buying the whole group minus the 40 loss making stores identified in the recent Company Voluntary Arrangement. 

No guarantee over UK steel industry, says Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron
Getty Images

Prime Minister David Cameron has said there is no guarantee that government efforts to save the UK steel industry would be successful, as ministers search to find a buyer for Tata Steel's UK assets.

"There is no guarantee of success," Mr Cameron told parliament.

"While I want to do everything we can to secure the future, not only for Port Talbot but also for Scunthorpe and steelmaking in Britain, we're coping with a massive oversupply, a collapse in prices, from China."     

BHS - where did all the money go?

BBC business editor tweets...

OECD 'is talking down Britain' says Vote Leave

Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Priti Patel, Iain Duncan Smith and John Whittingdale
Getty Images

Conservative MP Priti Patel (pictured centre) of Vote Leave says the OECD "is talking down Britain" when it says Brexit would be a major negative shock to the UK economy.

The OECD is talking down Britain and we completely disagree with its pessimistic assumptions about life outside the EU. Despite it making every possible worst case assumption, it is still forced to admit that the British economy will continue to grow if we Vote Leave. It also acknowledges that we will be able to cut net migration significantly when we take back control of our borders. Unsurprisingly the EU-funded OECD has not acknowledged any of the positive economic benefits of leaving the EU. As the fifth largest economy in the world we will get a good trade deal with the EU and with growing economies around the world. We would be able to reduce the cost of doing business by reducing unnecessary red tape and we would take back control of the £350 million we send to the EU every week. Britain is strong enough to stand on its own two feet - we will thrive when we Vote Leave."

Pension triple lock defended

Pensions minister Ros Altmann has defended the triple lock for state pensions.

“Most pensioners are not well off. This is a myth,” she tells MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee, looking at the issue of intergenerational unfairness.

“It is difficult to conclude there is disproportionate help for some of the most vulnerable in society.”

UK retail sales 'suffer biggest fall in more than four years' says CBI

A shop window mannequin tries to entice customers in Manchester
Getty Images

UK retail sales fell at the sharpest rate in more than four years this month after cold weather turned shoppers away from new spring and summer clothes, the Confederation of British Industry has said.

Department stores and clothes retailers reported the biggest fall in sales.

"Cold weather put a chill in sales of spring and summer ranges with a reported dip in retail sales in the year to April, but with the near-term outlook for household spending holding up the sector expects a modest rise in sales next month," said the CBI's director of economics Rain Newton-Smith.

Mitsubishi: Domestic orders have halved

Mitsubishi Motors President Tetsuro Aikawa
Getty Images

Japanese car manufacturer Mitsubishi says domestic orders for its vehicles have halved since it revealed last week it had been rigging its fuel efficiency tests.

The President of Mitsubishi Motors, Tetsuro Aikawa, told a news conference in Tokyo that it was too early to say what the full impact on company profits would be, but orders in Japan had slumped.

We do not yet have an accurate comprehension of the changes in domestic sales, but the number of retail vehicle orders has halved since the announcement on the 20th [of the fuel economy data scandal]."