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  1. UK Chancellor Hammond says longer Brexit transition makes sense
  2. Trump says cost of $400bn F-35 fighter jet deal too high
  3. Oil prices surge on production cut details
  4. Chinese shares slide on investing curbs
  5. Asos plans to hire 1,500 staff
  6. Get in touch:

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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  1. Wall Street close sees Dow hit fresh record

    Gains in oil-linked shares pushed the Dow Jones to a fresh record, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell on weakness in technology and defence stocks. 

    ExxonMobil gained 2.2% and Chevron 1.2% on higher oil prices, lifting the Dow to its sixth straight record. 

    But defence shares pulled back after President-elect Donald Trump's blasted costs on Lockheed Martin's F-35 stealth fighter. Lockheed lost 2.4%, and General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all fell. 

    Amazon, Facebook and Expedia all lost 1% or more on a weak day for technology shares. Apple shed 0.6%.

    At the closing bell, the Dow was up 0.2% to 19,794.89. The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.1% to 2,256.9, while the Nasdaq slipped 0.6% to 5,412.54. 

  2. Trump 'searching for cheaper defence deals'

    Donald Trump's aides have added to his criticism earlier today of big and costly defence contracts. The president-elect tweeted that the cost of a deal for Lockheed Martin F-35 jets "is out of control". Last week he criticised the cost of replacing the Air Force One fleet of aircraft.

    The new administration's focus is likely to be "wide-reaching and impact all of government as we look to come up with better deals," Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller said later. "We're going to look for opportunities to go back through and make sure that we're not getting taken advantage of." 

  3. Cohn calls appointment by Trump 'an honour'

    Trump appoints another Goldman Sachs banker

    Gary Cohn has issued a short statement after being appointed by Donald Trump to head the White House National Economic Council.

    He called his selection "a great honor," adding: "I share President-elect Trump's vision of making sure every American worker has a secure place in a thriving economy, and we will be completely committed to building a nation of strength, growth and prosperity."

    Former president Bill Clinton established the council in 1993 to advise the president on domestic and global economic policy. It has been led by former Treasury secretaries Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, and former Federal Reserve governor Larry Lindsey. 

    The Cohn announcement brings to three the number of current and former Goldman Sachs bankers with key roles in the incoming Trump administration, including Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary and Steve Bannon as White House strategic advisor. Anthony Scaramucci, a member of the presidential transition team, has also worked at Goldman Sachs.

  4. Viacom/CBS: jilted at the altar

    Chris Johnston

    Business reporter

    Sumner Redstone

    Some readers may know something of the saga involving the 93-year-old Sumner Redstone and the battle for control over CBS, the US TV network, and Viacom, the Paramount Pictures owner. 

    The companies used to be one entity before being split a decade ago and had been set to be reunited until Redstone's National Amusements firm today withdrew its merger proposal.

    It said there had been a turnaround at Viacom under its new chief executive Bob Bakish, who took over in October. National Amusements said in a letter to both companies' boards that "CBS continues to perform exceptionally well under Les Moonves" - its longtime boss.

    Shari Redstone and her father control 80% of CBS and Viacom voting shares through National Amusements.

    Viacom shares fell almost 7% in New York, while CBS shed 3%. 

  5. Trump taps Goldman for another appointment

    Gary Cohn

    US President-elect Donald Trump says he will appoint Goldman Sachs President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn to head the White House National Economic Council, a group that coordinates economic policy across agencies.

    "As my top economic adviser, Gary Cohn is going to put his talents as a highly successful businessman to work for the American people," Trump said in a statement. 

    Trump's selection of Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist and Steven Mnuchin as his nominee for Treasury secretary - both of them former Goldman bankers - has prompted an outcry from Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They have pledged to resist Trump's efforts to dismantle recent financial reforms. 

  6. Wall Street loses early gains

    Wall Street is losing gains made in morning trading, when the Dow Jones and S&P 500 set new intra-day records.

    With about an hour of trading left, the Dow was just in positive territory, while the Nasdaq was 0.75% down and the S&P 500 was 0.25% lower.

  7. Facebook makes headlines

    Chris Johnston

    Business reporter

    Facebook job ad

    Hey journalists - fancy a new challenge? Facebook is hiring a "head of news partnerships".

    "The goal of the news partnerships team is to help publishers and journalists understand how to reach and engage their audiences, and to innovate with new technologies," the ad states.

    Good luck with your application.   

  8. Post Office response to strike

    The Post Office said despite the walkout it would be "business as usual" with "at least 97% of its 11,600 branches" not involved. 

    Crown Post Offices are the larger branches that are usually located in High Streets. In April 2016, the Post Office announced plans to transfer up to 61 branches into WH Smith stores over the following year.

  9. US 'committed to One China'

    The US says it is committed to its longstanding policy that Taiwan is part of "one China" but will not use Taiwan as leverage in any dealings with Beijing. White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked about comments made President-elect Donald Trump that he did not see why the US must be bound by the policy unless it gets something in return from China. "The United States does not view Taiwan and our relationship with Taiwan as a bargaining chip. Taiwan is not a source of leverage, it's a close partner of the United States," Mr Earnest said. "And bargaining that away is not something that this administration believes is our best interest."

    Donald Trump
  10. Post Office workers to strike next week

    Post Office workers are planning to stage five days of strikes from Monday in a continuing dispute over jobs, pensions and branch closures, their union says.

    The Communication Workers Union said the walkout would start on Monday 19 December and include Christmas Eve.

    It will involve thousands of workers from the Crown Post Offices.

    Crown Post Offices are the larger branches that are usually located in High Streets.

  11. Lockheed Martin shares

    Are slightly less bombed out now after President-elect Trump's blast at the company and the price of its military hardware. After falling more than 4% shares are down about 3%. Mr Trump had tweeted that its F-35 fighter jet project cost too much at $400bn. The deal was only signed recently after 14 months of talks. It is by far the most expensive defence project in US history, 

  12. House prices to rise ‘more slowly in 2017’, says Rightmove

    Houses for sale

    UK house prices will rise less quickly in 2017 than previous years, the property website Rightmove has forecast.

    According its user data, buyer activity was stronger than usual in November - despite Brexit uncertainty - and it expects this to continue into next year.

    But it said that “uncertainty plus increasingly stretched affordability” would continue to weigh on house prices, “so our forecast for 2017 is for modest price growth of 2% nationally”.

    According to the firm, the price of property coming to market in 2016 has been 3.4% higher than in 2015. 

  13. Staying customs union?

    Chancellor at Treasury Committee

    Officials from the Treasury, Brexit and International Trade departments are examining the possible impacts of tariffs on different sectors as a result of leaving the EU, Mr Hammond told MPs.

    The Chancellor said no decision had yet been made on whether the UK would "aspire to remain in some form of customs union arrangement" after Brexit. 

  14. Hammond promises help for Jo Cox charities

    Chancellor at Treasury Committee

    Jo Cox

    VAT from sales of the Christmas single in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox will be donated to charities which she supported, Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced. 

    The special recording of The Rolling Stones' hit You Can't Always Get What You Want features MPs from several parties alongside musicians including Kaiser Chiefs' frontman Ricky Wilson, Cockney Rebel's Steve Harley, KT Tunstall and David Gray.

    The Chancellor, speaking at the Treasury Committee, said that the government will make a charitable donation equivalent to the VAT payable on the sales of the single to the Foundation.

    "Jo Cox dedicated so much of her life to helping people less fortunate than herself and the charity named in her honour is carrying on that excellent work," said Mr Hammond.

    "It is only right that we do what we can to support that work and I am pleased to confirm that every single penny of sales from this single will go towards the good causes the Jo Cox Foundation supports." 

  15. UK 'won't stop flow of highly skilled workers after Brexit'

    Chancellor at Treasury Committee

    Britain will introduce a system to control the flow of workers from EU countries once it leaves the bloc, but will not cut off the supply of skilled staff needed by companies, Hammond tells MPs.

    "I can't conceive of any circumstance in which we would use that system to choke off the supply of highly skilled, highly paid workers," he said.

    Hammond has said workers in areas such as financial services will continue to be able to work in Britain after it leaves the EU.

  16. Brexit: Government position becomes clearer

    Kamal Ahmed

    Economics editor

    The government has given the strongest signal yet that the Brexit process could take a lot longer than the two years needed for the official Article 50 exit process to be completed.

    The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has said that most "thoughtful" politicians, officials and businesses from Britain and the rest of the European Union realise that the two year deadline is simply not achievable.

    The government position is becoming clearer.

    Read Kamal's full blog

  17. Chancellor at Treasury Committee

    Philip Hammond

    Philip Hammond told MPs that he would like the UK to continue to participate in a number of cross-European programmes following Brexit.

    "Programmes like science, technology, research and development, academic exchange programmes are hugely beneficial to this country and countries across Europe," he said.

    "We would very much hope we will be able to agree a format which allows us to continue to participate in those programmes."   

  18. Cost burden of hard Brexit

    Chancellor gives evidence to MPs

    Asked about business calls for a transition period of at least two years following Brexit, Mr Hammond told the Treasury Committee that he expected there to be tension between industry and bureaucratic pressure for a longer changeover and a desire among politicians to get on with the job.

    But he added: "It's not just the business sector, it's the government sector that has had to think about how long it takes to make changes, hire people, train people, introduce IT changes."

    As an example, he warned that if the UK left the European Customs Union under a "hard Brexit", the country could face a fivefold increase in border checks, costing hundreds of millions of pounds a year. 

    "There could be quite significant physical infrastructure changes that need to be made at ports of entry and exit not only in the UK, but in continental Europe as well," Mr Hammond told the committee. There might be a need to train large numbers of people in anticipation of more intensive procedures at borders.

    "It could certainly add hundreds of millions of pounds to the cost of operating the customs services."

  19. Brexit transition a mutual conclusion

    More from Chancellor's evidence at Treasury Committee

    But businesses - particularly in the City - have expressed concerns about the possibility of a sudden "cliff edge" change in arrangements once the UK leaves the EU, particularly if it also quits the single market.

    The Chancellor said both the UK and the remaining 27 members would need to agree on the need for a transitional arrangement. He told MPs that he did not think it was something that would need to be demanded during negotiations.

    "I don't think we should approach this on the basis that we need transitional arrangements, because I think we can only get to a situation where we have a transition if there is a genuine meeting of minds on both sides of this negotiation.

    "The further we go into this discussion, the more likely it is that we will mutually conclude that we need a longer period to deliver."