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  1. McDonald's to move tax base to UK
  2. Euro sinks 1.3% against dollar on ECB move
  3. Sports Direct to buy £40m corporate jet
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Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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Good night

That's all from the Business Live page for tonight. See you again tomorrow from 06:00.

Prosecutors open Areva investigation

Areva name on hard hat

The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into the suspected falsifying of documents at energy giant Areva's Le Creusot foundry that manufactures parts for nuclear reactors, Reuters reports.

The case, which alleges forgery, use of forged documents, endangerment of lives and aggravated deception, will be put in the hands of the police, a source told the news agency.

French nuclear safety regulator ASN said in October that it had asked the courts to step in to investigate after Areva sounded the alarm in May over documentation irregularities involving 6,000 nuclear component manufacturing files.

Thousands of such documents used in the French nuclear sector dating back to 1965 are being looked at. "We have not been informed (of the investigation) at this point," a spokeswoman for Areva said, adding that the group would cooperate with the investigation and hand over all information at its disposal. 

Finishing on a high

Major US stock indexes have closed at fresh record highs, bolstered by data showing US labor market strength, as a month-long rally since the presidential election of Donald Trump rolled on.

Investors have driven up equities since Trump's 8 November election over optimism about domestic economic stimulus and reduced corporate taxes and regulations.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 62.95 points, or 0.32%, to 19,612.57, the S&P 500 gained 4.76 points, or 0.21%, climbing to 2,246.12 and the Nasdaq Composite added 23.59 points, or 0.44%, rising to 5,417.36.

'Not such a good deal'

Los Angeles prosecutors have announced they have filed lawsuits against retail giants JC Penney, Sears, Kohl's and Macy's for misleading shoppers into believing thousands of products were on sale at deep discounts. 

The suits allege the retailers illegally engaged in the business practice known as "false-reference pricing" to make customers believe they are "getting a good deal." 

"Customers have the right to be told the truth about the prices they're paying, and to know if a bargain is really a bargain," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer in a statement.

"My office will fight to hold retailers responsible for their practices and to ensure consumers can make informed choices when spending their hard-earned money."

The retailers have yet to comment on the action. 

Tsipras tries to sooth Greek anger

Protests in Athens
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Stories of mass protests against austerity measures in Greece seem to have fallen off the front pages. But the budget cuts are still biting - and the protesters are still fighting back.

A nationwide general strike today brought parts of the country to a standstill, prompting Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to announce one-off measures to ease the burden on pensioners and island residents.

Tsipras said in a televised address that the government would distribute a total of €617m this Christmas to some 1.6 million low-income pensioners, replacing a holiday bonus scrapped by Greece's bailout creditors.

Years of recession and austerity have left nearly a quarter of Greeks unemployed, with most no longer receiving any state benefits.   

Look who's having the last laugh

Dieter Zetsche

German carmaker Daimler will become this year's biggest and most profitable maker of luxury cars. Who's making this bold claim? The chief executive, Dieter Zetsche.

"We will achieve it this year, four years ahead of time," he told a conference in Frankfurt this evening.

Daimler had a target to be the world's biggest premium carmaker by 2020. It was a goal set in 2011, and, Zetsche recalls, it caused a ripple of laughter throughout the industry.

But Daimler's passenger car unit Mercedes Benz is on track for full-year sales of more than two million cars, Zetsche said, putting it ahead of rivals Audi and BMW. 

Wall Street update

The seemingly unstoppable rise of US share markets continues. With less than an hour to the closing bell, the three main indexes are on course for more record highs.

The Dow Jones is 0.29% ahead at 19,606.34, the S&P 500 is 0.12% better at 2,244.03, and the Nasdaq is 0.11 up at 5,399.91.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks, which has soared 1% since Donald Trump's election victory, also hit a new high. 

Is minimum wage critic Trump's next appointment?

Andy Puzder with Donald Trump
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It's being widely reported in the US that President-elect Donald Trump's latest appointment will be fast-food boss Andy Puzder (above with Trump) to head the US Department of Labor.

Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which operates the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains, has been a vociferous critic of government regulation of the workplace. 

He is particularly opposed to higher minimum wages, arguing it would hurt workers by forcing restaurants to close.

Fast-food workers, who are largely not unionised, have been engaged in a long and high profile campaign known as the "Fight for $15" to raise minimum wages to $15 per hour. 

Fun fact of the day

dollar bills

$90.2 trillion - that's the total value of household wealth in the US, including house prices, savings and other assets, according to the Federal Reserve.

The Fed's latest quarterly report on national wealth shows a 1.8% rise on the previous three months. The value of homes rose by $554bn, while investment portfolios rose by $494bn.

But wealth isn't widely shared. The richest 1% held 42% of the nation's wealth in 2012, according to the latest Fed data available. 

Sauti Sol - A Kenyan Musical Export

In Kenya, music is king. Everywhere you walk, you hear music played: on the streets, on the buses, on people's phones... but the music industry in Kenya has faced some challenges.

One of the issues often cited is that it doesn't have its own defined sound in the same way that Uganda or Tanzania do.

Also, smaller bands can find it hard to monetise their music.

One of Kenya's most famous bands is Sauti Sol. They, however, are very popular throughout Africa and even performed in London earlier this year.

Joshua Thorpe went to meet them during one of their rehearsals and spoke to them about the music industry in Kenya  

Airline profits to fall

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Airlines' profits will fall for the first time in six years in 2017, after peaking this year, as rising oil and staffing costs bite and demand slows, the International Air Transport Association said.

IATA, representing some 265 airlines accounting for 83% of global air traffic, said it expects the industry's net profits to fall 16% to $29.8bn next year, mainly due to rising oil prices. North American carriers will account for $18.1bn of the total.

The association also cut its 2016 forecast for net profits to $35.6bn, still a record high but down from a previous prediction for $39.4bn. 

Bank of mum and dad

A slightly alarming report from the Wall Street Journal: 

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DMGT stake sale

Daily Mail clock
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The publisher of the Daily Mail said it would cut its holding in Euromoney Institutional Investor to about 49% from about 67% to improve its investment portfolio and lower its debt. 

Daily Mail and General Trust said it intends to sell about 32 million shares in Euromoney, publisher of the Euromoney magazine, through a secondary placing and a buyback of shares.

Euro suffers

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The euro has had a bad day after the European Central Bank's decision to extend its bond-buying programme

The currency is down 1% against sterling and almost 1.3% lower compared with the dollar.

Oodles of noodles

Times leisure correspondent Dominic Walsh tweets:

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Fever-Tree's gin fizz

Fever-Tree and gin
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No great surprise that Charles Rolls, the co-founder of premium mixers maker Fever-Tree, has welcomed soaring sales of gin:

It's exciting to see this happening after all this work that's gone into reviving a world-beating drink. It's both quality gins and premium tonics that are driving this, supporting each other. A great gin deserves a great tonic and we're proud to be at the forefront of it all."

Mother's little helper helps a bit more

Chris Johnston

Business reporter

Jenny Downing

Not that we needed further evidence 2016 has been a hell of a year, but the Wine and Spirit Trade Association has gone and done just that.

Yes, sales of gin - that tear-inducing spirit - have broken the £1bn barrier for the first time. The association says 283,000 hectolitres of gin - the equivalent of 40 million bottles or enough to make 1.12bn G&Ts - have been sold in the UK over the past 12 months.

Sales have risen more than any other spirit sold in UK pubs, bars and restaurants and are up 19% compared with 2015 to £619m, while the amount sold in shops is up 13% to £437m. 

Chief executive Miles Beale said: "There are many reasons why people may not feel like celebrating 2016 but the WSTA are pleased to give you something happy to reflect on - 2016 can now be remembered as the 'Great British Gin Take Off'." 

McDonald's move will test the type of post-Brexit economy PM wants

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

McDonald's sign

McDonald's decision to move its tax base to the UK will have multiple factors.

The tax investigation it is facing in Luxembourg and the general worldwide crackdown on the movement of profits between different tax jurisdictions to minimise payments are likely to have been two.

A third is the fact that McDonald's already has a significant business in the UK.

But, taking a step back from the specific decision that is dissected by my colleague Simon Jack, there is also a broader trend starting to take shape.

The McDonald's announcement - which may not actually mean much in job terms - is part of a wider bet on the shape of the UK economy after the departure from the EU

Read Kamal's blog in full.

FTSE 100 closes 0.42% ahead

The FTSE 100 closed up 0.42% to 6,931.55 points, led by a 4.6% rise for WPP after shares in the advertising giant were upgraded to a 'buy' by broker Jefferies. The stand-out faller was Capita, sinking 13.9% after the outsourcing group issued a profit warning.

The main markets in Paris and Frankfurt finished 0.87% and 1.75% ahead.

McDonald's tax move

For the record, here's what Theresa May's official spokeswoman says about the McDonald's move to the UK. "We welcome continued investment from companies around the world into the UK, particularly where that's securing growth and increasing jobs."

Why did McDonald's flip out of Luxembourg?

Simon Jack

BBC Business Editor

The UK doesn't tax dividends paid out to foreign companies or individuals - just ask Lady Tina Green. Dividends paid out of companies in France to parent companies attract a tax - it "withholds" some of the money (in much the same way some of your salary is withheld in tax by your employer).

Corporate tax experts tell me that makes the UK a very attractive place to have a holding company.Failure to respond to a changing environment until it's too late is often called the boiling frog syndrome. As the heat slowly gets turned up, you don't notice the gradual increase in temperature until, before you know it, you are boiled. It seems McDonald's has learnt that lesson.

Read Simon blog here.

US share markets update

Wall Street's post-election rally shows no signs of fatigue as the three major indexes hit all-time highs in morning trading. The Dow Jones is up 0.2%, the S&P 500 added 0.1%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.16%. 

Donald Trump's election as US president last month sparked euphoria on Wall Street, with investors chasing stocks that are likely to gain from his proposals to cut taxes, spend more on infrastructure, and simplify red tape.

Union leader recovering from heart transplant

BBC industry correspondent tweets:

An interesting media mix of the old and the new

... and while we're on the subject of tax

Jerome Cahuzac

A former French budget minister who helped in the government's fight against tax evasion has been sentenced to three years in prison for - tax evasion.

A Paris court found Jerome Cahuzac guilty of tax fraud and money-laundering for hiding his wealth in tax havens around the world, including Switzerland and the Isle of Man. 

The judges said Cahuzac committed "a criminal offence of an exceptional seriousness, destructive of the social bond,'' describing a man in "a total loss of his bearings".

He is, however, appealing against the decision and will remain at liberty in the meantime.

The affair has been one of the biggest political scandals of President Francois Hollande's government.  

Before becoming a prominent socialist politician, Cahuzac built his wealth on his professional activities as a plastic surgeon.

Unravelling Trump's business interests

The Wall Street Journal underlines the difficulty

McDonald's tax change

McDonald's bag

It's worth remembering that the European Commission has only recently opened a formal investigation in to Luxembourg's tax treatment of McDonald's - last week, in fact.

"A tax ruling that agrees to McDonald's paying no tax on their European royalties either in Luxembourg or in the US has to be looked at very carefully under EU state aid rules," said commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Here's the commission's statement in full.

McDonald's tax change

BBC business editor tweets:

BreakingMcDonald's confirms UK move

McDonald's has confirmed it is setting up a new base in the UK, where it will pay corporation tax.

The fast food giant said the new office would be responsible for the majority of royalties earned outside the US.

It comes as the EU investigates McDonald's tax affairs in Luxembourg.

The firm said it would move most of the international functions from Luxembourg to the UK. It added that it paid more than $2.5bn in corporate tax in the EU between 2011 and 2015. 

Draghi keeps his bazooka

The ECB's decision to keep pumping money into the eurozone until at least the end of 2017, but to reduce the bond-buying programme to €40bn from April next year, has left traders scratching their heads.

Is this tapering, where the ECB gradually starts easing the eurozone off quantitative easing; or is it a potentially endless extension of the monetary stimulus?

Mario Draghi, the ECB president who previously described QE as a "bazooka", has moved to clear it up.

"The presence of the ECB will be on the markets for a long time," he's told reporters. "That's why tapering was not discussed." 

Spanish analyst Miguel Otero tweets:

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Draghi's bond bonanza

Mario Draghi

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi is outlining plans to keep snapping up billions of euros worth of bonds until at least December 2017.

That includes buying bonds with a very low, or even potentially negative, yield where necessary.

Christophe Barraud, chief economist at Market Securities, has this explanation:

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Health warning on euro fall

The euro is still falling - it's now down 0.6% against the pound at £0.846.  

But here's a health warning on those swings in the euro from Duncan Weldon, head of research at the Resolution Group:

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Investors stage 'taper tantrum' over bond plan

European Central Bank
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So is the ECB's move a way of weaning the eurozone off monetary stimulus - a process known as tapering - or not?

Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, says: "This is a tapering of sorts and the initial reaction in the euro certainly suggested markets are going through a bit of a taper tantrum.

"It’s a pretty clever way to taper in that the QE programme is being extended beyond the initial deadline but just at a slower pace – there was never the expectation of QE ad infinitum so we have a pretty neutral policy move here."

Mr Wilson points out that Italian bond yields spiked higher following the Bank's announcement because it "suggests that the ECB is not about to do anything extra for Italy or the Italian banks in the wake of the referendum.”

Bloomberg economist Maxime Sbaihi puts it another way:

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Pound falls... then jumps against euro

Pound to euro chart

The euro has swung sharply against the pound too after the ECB's bond-buying announcement shocked the markets.

Sterling initially slumped against the euro, before shooting straight back up again. It's currently 0.2% higher for the day at €1.173.

Euro gyrates on ECB shock

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There appears to be much confusion over the European Central Bank's giveth and taketh away announcement on bond buying.  

The euro staged a sharp rise against the dollar only to fall back dramatically once details of the ECB's plan emerged, which include tapering quantitative easing from next April.

Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index, says: "Ok, so the ECB didn't do as I expected, but I was right in saying that there is no free lunch at the ECB - they give with one hand, and taper with another!"

"Was the statement dovish or less dovish than expected? The answer is both… The extension to QE is much longer than we expected, but the tapering announcement is almost hawkish, a mere three days after the Italian’s voted No in its referendum."

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'Slower for longer'

Market watchers are reacting to two key announcements from the ECB: that its bond-buying programme will go on until at least December 2017; but that it will ease from €80bn a month to €60bn from April.

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BreakingECB extends QE programme to December 2017

The European Central Bank (ECB) will continue with its quantitative easing programme until at least next December.

The ECB its asset purchasing programme will continue at €80bn a month until March 2017. It will then drop to €60bn until the end of the year, "or beyond if necessary".

It kept interest rates unchanged.

Starbucks to open 12,000 more coffee shops

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Starbucks is set to fill every corner of the globe with coffee shops after announcing plans to open in 12,000 new locations over the next five years. 

It will include growing its spread in China to 5,000 cafes and will take the total number of Starbucks coffee shops to 37,000.

The strategy will be implemented by Kevin Johnson, the current chief operating officer, who will take over as chief executive from founder, Howard Schultz, next year. 

BreakingMcDonald's to 'move tax base to UK' - Bloomberg

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McDonald's plans to set up a new company in the UK where it will pay tax for most of the royalties it receives outside the US, Bloomberg is reporting.

The fast food chain said it's moving the tax base from Luxembourg to the UK, where it will pay corporation tax, according to the report.

"McDonald’s selected the UK for the location of its new international holding structure because of significant number of staff based in London working on our international business, language, and connections to other markets,” it said.

The US company is under investigation by the EU for its tax arrangements in Luxembourg.

BBC economics producer Mark Broad tweets:

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Rich get richer, poor get poorer

Just days after Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, warned of "staggering wealth inequalities" in many advanced economies, evidence has emerged of just that in the US. 

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