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Summary

  1. Ex-BHS boss hits back at regulator
  2. EU blocks O2/Three merger plan
  3. UK industry returns to recession
  4. Women lose state pension delay fight
  5. Heathrow offers concessions over new runway
  6. Toyota forecasts sharp fall in annual profits

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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  1. Post update

    That's your lot for another day. Don't despair, though. The livepage will be back from 6am tomorrow.

  2. Retail stocks weigh on US share markets

    Wall Street closed solidly lower as Macy's led falls in retail stocks. The department store cut its profit forecast on Wednesday after reporting a steep drop in earnings. Macy's dropped 15% and other retailers also lost ground.

    The Dow Jones index fell 1.2% to 17,711 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up 1% to 2,064. And the Nasdaq slipped 1% to 4,760.

  3. Are regulators looking again at Google's dominance?

    The US Federal Trade Commission is again asking questions about whether Google has abused its dominance in the Internet search market, according to a report on the respected Politico website.

    The FTC's senior antitrust officials have discussed the matter in recent months with representatives of a major US company, which objects to Google's practices, Politico says, without naming sources.

    The inquiry appears to be in the early, information-gathering stage, the news website says.

    Regulators ended their earlier investigation in January 2013, saying that the company had not manipulated its web search results to hurt rivals.

  4. Oil prices rally as US stocks drop

    oil drums

    Oil prices rallied on Wednesday, with US crude finishing at a new 2016 high after official data showed a surprise drop in the country's commercial crude inventories. The US Department of Energy said that crude stocks fell by 3.4 million barrels last week. Analysts' consensus had been for a rise of 750,000 barrels.

    US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in June jumped more than 3% to $46.23 a barrel, its highest settlement since last November. In London, Brent North Sea crude for July closed at $47.6 a barrel, a 4.3% jump.

  5. Payday lenders hit back at Google

    World Acceptance advert

    Payday lending firms certainly don't like Google's decision to ban their ads - and neither do investors in them. In the US shares in online lender Enova International fell 6.2%, while World Acceptance was down 3%.

    "It's disappointing that a site created to help give users full access to information is making arbitrary choices on the advertisements users are allowed to see from legal businesses," Kirk Chartier, Enova's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

    And Lisa McGreevy, head of the Online Lenders Alliance, told Reuters: "To make an advertising rule that contravenes state and federal law is not only disturbing, but it's discriminatory.

    "A certain class of people who wouldn't otherwise qualify for regular credit now can't get credit ... It's them (Google) deciding who can and cannot have information about credit," she said. 

  6. BHS: 'The fireworks have gone off'

    Quote Message: This case always had the potential to pose some far-reaching questions about the structure and regulation of the UK’s pension system but we didn’t expect the fireworks to go off quite this soon or quite so dramatically. The statements from the Regulator and from Sir Philip Green appear to fundamentally contradict each other, so no doubt the Select Committee will be seeking clarification as a matter of priority now.
    Quote Message: As this case progresses, it looks increasingly likely that it will lead to significant changes in how pension scheme members’ interests are safeguarded. It could also lead to a period of consolidation, with fewer larger schemes emerging at the end. In the meantime, whilst the members of the BHS pension scheme shouldn’t expect an early resolution to the future of their pension rights, there is no question of the Pension Protection Fund not standing ready to bail them out.” from Tom McPhail Head of retirement policy, Hargreaves Lansdown
    Tom McPhailHead of retirement policy, Hargreaves Lansdown
  7. Heathrow to tackle Uber 'distress'

    Uber app on smartphone

    Heathrow is opening a car park for Uber drivers after they caused "a huge amount of local distress" by waiting in nearby villages, the airport's boss has said. The Press Association reports that chief executive John Holland-Kaye claimed that the private hire vehicles had been "a real issue" for local communities.

    The new car park is set to open next month. A similar facility is already in place for black cabs. Mr Holland-Kaye said: "Over the last couple of years private hire vehicles, Uber and their like, have just expanded phenomenally and they started to cause a real issue to our local communities.

    "We had Uber drivers parking in people's driveways, leaving their rubbish in their gardens, causing a huge amount of local distress because they were trying to get as close as possible to the airport to pick up a ride," he said. 

  8. Wall Street continues to sink in afternoon trading

    US share markets remained in negative territory in early afternoon trading, with Walt Disney, Macy's and Fossil weighing heavily on stocks.

    Disney shares were down 4.3% after the company posted a rare earnings miss. The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow.

    Department store chain Macy's tumbled 13.1% after a profits warning, while watch maker Fossil sank as much as 28% to a six-and-a-half year low after it slashed trading forecasts.

    The Dow Jones was down 172.79 points, or 0.96%, at 17,755.56, while the S&P 500 was down 14.09 points, or 0.68%, at 2,070.30. The Nasdaq fell 25.78 points, or 0.54%, to 4,784.10. 

  9. Google tries to 'do the right thing' with payday ban

    Google is banning adverts from payday lenders, calling the industry "deceptive" and "harmful". Effective from 13 July, Google will no longer allow ads for loans due within 60 days and will also ban ads for loans where the interest rate is 36% or higher.

    "Our hope is that fewer people will be exposed to misleading or harmful products,'' said David Graff, Google's director of global product policy, in a blog post.

    Google controls the internet's largest advertising platforms, so supporters say the ban could be a major step in reining in the payday loan industry. Under the ban, users searching for words such as "loans" or "places to get money" will no longer pull up ads from payday lenders.

    Google started life with a motto "don't be evil" but last year the company, and parent Alphabet, replaced it with "do the right thing".

  10. Adidas ends Chelsea deal

    eden hazard

    German sportswear firm Adidas has announced that it's kit sponsorship deal with Chelsea football club is ending six years early. Chelsea is thought to have lined up another kit sponsor, although no details have been disclosed yet.

    The deal, reported to have been worth £300m over 10 years, had been due to end on 30 June 2023, but will now conclude on the same date next year.

    Adidas has been making Chelsea's kits since 2006. Chelsea have agreed to pay Adidas compensation.

    "Chelsea Football Club and Adidas AG announced today that they have mutually agreed to terminate their existing partnership agreement prematurely," Adidas said in a statement. "This mutual agreement on early termination of the agreement will allow Chelsea Football Club to enter a new equipment agreement with a competitor of Adidas AG. 

  11. FTSE 100 edges higher after oil price rally

    A late rally in oil prices boosted commodities stocks and helped the FTSE 100 edge 0.09% higher to 6,162.4 points. Anglo American, up 5.38%, was the biggest gainer, with BHP Billiton up 2.66% and Glencore up 2.2%.

    In Frankfurt, the Dax finished the day 0.7% down at 9,975 points, and in Paris the Cac-40 was 0.5% lower at 4,316.6.

    The price of Brent crude oil jumped 3.3% to $47 a barrel. US oil was trading up 2.8% at $45.9 a barrel.

    FTSE 100 winners/loser
  12. Pensions Regulator responds to BHS letter

    Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group queries evidence given to MPs on Monday

    Lesley Titcomb
    Quote Message: As we have launched an anti-avoidance investigation we need to take care not to prejudice our case. We did discuss the proposed terms of a potential deal with trustees and the employer, however, we were not given sufficient information at that time to assess the potential impact on the BHS pension scheme. When addressing the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Lesley Titcomb [above] said that we were not informed of the confirmation of the actual sale of BHS to Retail Acquisitions Ltd until March 11. She explained that we were engaged with the trustees and the employer in the weeks leading up to the sale, and that we were aware a sale was a possibility.
    Quote Message: Employers can apply to TPR for a clearance statement if they are considering actions which could be materially detrimental to a defined benefit scheme and its members. Clearance is not approval or authorisation for a transaction to proceed. The employer or the purchaser did not approach us for clearance in this case. Given our concerns regarding the BHS Pension Scheme and the circumstance relating to the sale, and in the absence of clearance, we opened an anti-avoidance investigation which superseded our earlier valuation investigation. We are sending a clarification to the Work & Pensions Select Committee.” from Statement The Pensions Regulator
    StatementThe Pensions Regulator
  13. 24 hours is a long time in politics

    George Osborne appears before Treasury Committee

    George Osborn

    The Treasury is doing "quite a serious amount of contingency planning" into how Britain would deal with leaving the EU, George Osborne told MPs. 

    David Cameron has been criticised for insisting that civil servants were not planning for the eventuality, despite his warnings that a 'Yes' vote would be catastrophic for the country.

    The Press Association's political staff point out that as recently as yesterday, Mr Cameron's spokesman was telling reporters: "We are not doing any contingency planning for the referendum being a vote to leave." 

  14. Women lose fight against delay to state pension

    Hundreds of thousands of women who are fighting delays to their state pension have had their hopes dashed.

    Many women born between April 1951 and 1960 have claimed they were not aware that their pension age was being raised by up to six years.

    Although there had been talk of a compromise solution, the new Work and Pensions Secretary has told MPs that will not be possible.

    "I don't see there is a do-able policy solution," said Stephen Crabb MP.

    Members of the campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) said they were disappointed, but were still hopeful that a solution could be found.