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Summary

  1. Nasdaq edges higher as Dow Jones slips
  2. Barcelona signs €220m sponsorship deal with Rakuten
  3. UK unemployment hits 11-year low
  4. Sterling treads water while FTSE ends lower

Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

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Over and out

Thanks again for tuning into Business Live. We'll be back at 6.30am tomorrow with more news and views on the markets, with highlights including results from Royal Mail and Asda, and a House of Lords debate on the recent slump in sterling. Hope to see you then.

BreakingNasdaq closes higher as S&P 500 and Dow slip

The Nasdaq index closed higher on Wednesday, as the S&P 500 and Dow Jones both slipped after a rally in bank stocks petered out.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed 0.36%, or 18.96 points, higher at 5,294.58 points, led by several shipping firms. This followed a 25% rise in something called the Baltic Dry Index, a shipping industry measure of demand for bulk cargo vessels.

But the S&P 500 fell 0.16%, or 3.45 points, to 2,176.94 and the Dow slipped 0.29%, or 54.92 points, to 18,868.14. 

Fallers included JP Morgan Chase & Co, down 2.51%, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, down 2.29%. US banks have recently rallied as investors adjusted to the prospect of a pro-business Trump presidency. 

Italy unimpressed with UK's Brexit strategy

UK 'near bottom' of OECD rankings for infrastructure investment

Frances O'Grady
Getty Images

Analysis published today by the TUC claims the UK ranks towards the bottom of OECD countries for capital investment in important areas of infrastructure.

When it came to transport, it said Britain was last out of 34 countries in terms of investment as a percentage of 2014 GDP (the latest year for which figures were available).

We also ranked second to last (20th out of 21 countries for which data was available) in the area of information and communications technology equipment; and 23rd out of 27 countries for investment in other machinery and equipment.

The only area where the UK was ahead of the OECD average was intellectual property, ranking 13th out of 34 countries.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We can’t just waltz into Brexit with our fingers crossed. If the government doesn’t invest in Britain it could go very badly wrong. And working people will pay the price with fewer jobs, lower wages and higher prices."

Qatar Airways' LATAM acquisition approved

Qatar Airways plane
Getty Images

Brazil's competition regulator has given the green light for Qatar Airways to purchase a stake in regional carrier LATAM.

Qatar in July agreed to buy up to 10% of LATAM's shares following a capital increase of $613m, but has had to wait for the deal to be approved.

Latin American airlines have struggled as a global commodities downturn dampened growth, but the region's growing middle class still makes the sector an attractive target for foreign carriers.

LATAM was formed in a tie-up between Chile's LAN and Brazil's TAM in 2012, .

Fans turned away from Catfish and Bottlemen concert

Van McCann, lead singer for the Indie band, Catfish and the Bottlemen
PA
Van McCann, lead singer for the Indie band, Catfish and the Bottlemen

Fans who failed to bring ID that matched the name on their tickets were turned away from a Catfish and Bottlemen concert at Wembley Arena last night.

Some took to Twitter to vent their anger, including the journalist Toby Young whose child was refused entry.

He said all those with tickets bought through Viagogo - an online ticket marketplace - were not allowed in.

Viagogo said it was perfectly legal to resell a concert ticket and called the organisers "heavy handed". It said it would refund anybody turned away.

Organisers say it only affected a small number and they helped many fans to obtain new tickets.

The stipulation for ID was also posted on their website prior to the concert.

View more on twitter

Swiss to stop companies claiming rebates on criminal fines and bribes

Swiss francs in a till
Reuters

Companies in Switzerland will no longer be able to claim tax rebates on criminal fines and bribes under proposed legislation.

But firms will still be allowed to write off illegally gained profits seized by regulators.

Switzerland's federal cabinet approved a new draft bill today which will now go before  parliament for the final say.

Brexit negotiations 'likely to take more than two years'

Jeroen Dijsselbloem
Getty Images

More bad news for businesses seeking certainty over the timetable for Brexit. Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said today that negotiations over Britain's departure from the EU were very complex and likely to take longer than the scheduled two years. 

Britain is due to trigger Article 50 of by the end of March 2017, starting the countdown to its departure from the bloc.

But with the UK and EU governments still seemingly at loggerheads, Mr Dijsselbloem said talks would probably be strained and drawn out.

"Negotiations are hugely complex," said Dijsselbloem, the Dutch head of the group of eurozone finance ministers. "Since the outcome of the British referendum, the UK and the continent are regarding each other with some suspicion ... It is a lose-lose situation which we can only manage as well as possible."

British Land to sell £500m stake in Cheesegrater

The Cheesegrater
AFP

Today British Land warned of uncertain times ahead for the London property market - and the sale of its most iconic holding should put that to the test. 

The developer is seeking a buyer for its 50% stake in City skyscraper the Leadenhall Building - better known as the Cheesegrater - and the price tag is £500m. 

According to the Evening Standard, the building is being touted at buyers from the Middle East and Asia who may be looking for bargains following the recent fall in the pound.

Through the deal British Land hopes to fund a new Liverpool Street development, due to be completed in 2019.

Barca shirt sponsors don't stop at Rakuten...

A sports journalist tweets...

Yachts set sail on weak pound

Sunseeker 131 yacht
Sunseeker

The recent Brexit-linked fall in sterling is not all bad news - particularly if you sell luxury yachts. 

Today, vessel maker Sunseeker International said demand for its boats had held up since the referendum, and that the weak pound had boosted interest from international buyers. 

It's clear why currency-linked discounts might appeal, too. The firm's yachts cost quite a lot - an example being the Sunseeker 131 (pictured) which will set you back a cool £19.5m.

Phil Popham, the firm's chief executive, said: "Since June we have experienced a very successful boat show season with substantial confirmed retail orders at Cannes, Southampton, Monaco and Fort Lauderdale."

US fine 'could top $12bn' for RBS

RBS logo
AFP

There are several question marks hanging over RBS - none bigger than how much the US will look to fine the bank for its role in the mortgage mis-selling scandal which contributed to the 2008 financial crash.

Investors in RBS became very nervous when the US Justice Department asked Deutsche Bank for $14bn for its role in the scandal. 

Now the head of the agency which manages the public's stake in RBS admits the UK bank could end up with a similar fine.

"It could be $5bn, it could be $12bn, and based on what happened to Deutsche Bank it could be more," James Leigh-Pemberton, chairman of UK Financial Investments, told MPs, according to several media reports.

He said uncertainty over the fine was hindering the government's efforts to sell off shares in RBS, which is still 73% owned by the state.

New buy-to-let powers for BoE

Houses for sale
Christopher Furlong

The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee (FPC) will be granted new powers to help it protect the financial system from risks in the buy-to-let mortgage market.

From early 2017, the FPC will be able to require banks to limit buy-to-let lending by reining in their loan-to-value ratios and interest rates.

Buy-to-let landlords have been blamed for causing overheating in the housing market, and some fear a bubble is developing.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said: “Expanding the number of tools at the Financial Policy Committee’s disposal will ensure that the buy-to-let sector can continue to make an important contribution to our economy, while allowing the regulator to address any potential risks to financial stability.”

Facebook reveals fresh flaws with commercial data

Facebook logo
Reuters

Facebook has acknowledged four new errors in the figures it shares with advertisers and publishers.

The "bugs" could cause companies to think users had spent longer reading news articles than they had done, and that more people had been exposed to non-paid posts than had been the case.

The alert comes two months after the firm revealed it had overestimated the average time users had watched videos.

But Facebook says none of the cases would have affected its fees.

Read more.

'Stagnating productivity will curb Italy's growth'

Matteo Renzi
Getty Images

The Italian economy is likely to achieve only "slow growth" of less than 1% of GDP per year in 2016-2018, a report from credit ratings agency S&P says. 

"We don't expect the Italian economy to return to its pre-crisis output peak before the middle of the next decade because productivity remains very depressed," explained Jean-Michel Six, chief economist for EMEA at S&P. 

"Italy is the only European country not to have recorded any productivity gains since 2000." 

The report claims poor productivity has reduced the country's foreign competitiveness, while labour market reforms and attempts to tackle non-performing loans have yet to boost growth. 

The country's constitutional referendum in December is likely to "weigh on the business climate", Mr Six added. But he said: "Looking ahead, the slow improvement in the labour market will support a modest rise in household consumption, while we expect investment to pick up gradually, albeit remaining highly vulnerable to setbacks."

BreakingFTSE 100 closes lower

London trader
Getty Images

The FTSE 100 has closed 0.63%, or 43.02 points, lower at 6,749.72 after poor showings by several big property companies. 

Barratt Developments was down by 2.77% and British Land Company fell 2.31%, after both warned of uncertain trading conditions in the London market. 

CRH, a building materials business, and Wolseley, a major distributor of heating and plumbing products were also down, by 2.88% and 2.47% respectively.  

US business backs climate deal

Global sources of CO2
NASA

More than 360 companies and investors have written to President Barack Obama, President-elect Donald Trump, and other elected US and global leaders, repeating their backing for the Paris Climate Agreement.

The deal came into effect earlier this month and aims to limit global temperature rises to two degrees above pre-industrial levels. 

But there are fears about its future following the election of Mr Trump - who has promised to cancel US participation in the agreement. 

“Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement will enable and encourage businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to bring clean energy prosperity to all,” they wrote, in a statement released at the COP22 climate negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco. 

“Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk,” they added.

Among those to have signed the statement were DuPont, Gap, General Mills, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Hilton, HP, Kellogg, Levi Strauss, L’Oreal USA, NIKE, Mars, Schneider Electric, Starbucks, VF Corporation and Unilever.

Inflation 'could hit 10% in five years'

A City investment manager has predicted that the UK inflation rate may, possibly, rise to 10% within the next five years. 

Who is he? He's Steve Russell of the Ruffer Investment Company.

The Citywire website quotes him as saying, post-Brexit: “This is what we would have said five years ago and it hasn’t happened. We have a bit more certainty about it happening, rather than when.

“The problem is that the one tool you have to control inflation, raising interest rates, is not available at the moment but we’re not forecasting hyper-inflation. We think there’s a risk of it getting out of control, but it’s quite small."

The total return for investors in Ruffer, which is heavily invested in index-linked government bonds, has been just 26% in the past five years, but 133% in the past 10 years.

Which? warns Black Friday 'bargain' hunters

London shoppers
BBC

Black Friday bargain hunters have been warned to do their research after an investigation found many of last year's deals were cheaper in the months before and after the event.

Consumer group Which? found that 49% of last year's deals that it tracked were not the cheapest on the day.

This year Black Friday falls on 25 November - a day after Thanksgiving.

Which? found that just 90 out of the 178 deals were cheapest on Black Friday.

Read more.

What’s in it for Rakuten?

FC Barcelona and Rakuten sign sponsorship deal
FC Barcelona

Barca’s new shirt sponsorship deal with Rakuten is one of football's most lucrative – so what’s in it for the Japanese retailer?

Chiefly, Barca’s star power offers the firm invaluable exposure, with players like Messi and Neymar boasting millions of fans on social media. Messi alone has 78 million followers on Facebook.

Rakuten, which is Japan's biggest e-commerce company, is seeking to boost its global image as it expands in markets like the US. It has strong ties with sport too, owning Japanese soccer club Vissel Kobe and pro-baseball outfit Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

For Barca, the deal is more than just about money - although its current Qatar Airways sponsorship deal is seen as being below market value. 

Many of Barcelona's members had expressed their opposition to the club's relationship with the Gulf state (by way of the airline). 

Interestingly the team's only other shirt sponsor before Qatar Airways was the NGO Unicef.