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  1. Inflation rate rises to 1.2% in November
  2. House price growth slows
  3. Southern rail strike hits commuters
  4. Asahi buys eastern European beer brands
  5. Unicredit slashes jobs and raises finance
  6. Get in touch:

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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  1. Trump and Gates (and Kanye) 'talk big ideas'

    Kanye West and Trump

    The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, says he and Donald Trump talked big ideas today at a meeting in Trump Tower.

    Gates told reporters that he and the president-elect had a "good conversation about innovation, how it can help in health, education, the impact of foreign aid and energy,'' as well as "a wide-ranging conversation about power of innovation".   

    Earlier, Trump met rapper Kanye West (above) to discuss "multicultural issues". The pair spoke about "issues including bullying, supporting teachers, modernising curriculums, and violence in Chicago" during a meeting also at Trump Tower, West tweeted. 

  2. Wall Street's record streak continues

    Wall Street's three major indexes finished at fresh highs yet again. The Dow Jones advanced towards striking distance of the 20,000-point landmark.

    At the closing bell, the Dow stood at 19,908.26, up 0.6%, its seventh consecutive record close. The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.7% to close at 2,271.63, while the Nasdaq gained 1% to 5,463.80. 

  3. GM delivers first Bolt electric cars


    General Motors says it has delivered its first Chevrolet Bolt electric cars to three customers in California, home to rival electric automaker Tesla Motors.

    Why does this matter? The Detroit carmaker can claim first place in the race to deliver an electric car that can run for more than 200 miles on a charge and has a starting price below $40,000. 

    Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has promised its entry in this new segment, the Model 3, will go into production in July.Tesla has said the starting price would be $35,000, although it expects the average sales price to be about $42,000 as buyers opt for add-ons.

    The Bolt, which GM developed with South Korean battery maker LG Chem, has a 238-mile driving range on a charge and a starting price of $37,495 before tax breaks. Rival manufacturers, including Japan's Nissan and Germany's Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW have indicated they are developing similar electric vehicles with a driving range of about 200 miles. 

  4. Bitcoin soars to near three-year high


    The value of digital currency bitcoin surged to its highest in nearly three years as investors bought the asset in a supposedly safe-haven bid in the midst of volatility in the Chinese stock market. 

    On Tuesday, bitcoin climbed as high as $793.27 on the BitStamp platform, its highest since February 2014. Since August this year, bitcoin has soared 70%.

    Darin Stanchfield, founder and chief executive officer of bitcoin wallet KeepKey said bitcoin has benefited from uncertainty in the Chinese stock market. 

    "Bitcoin has become a safe haven, though not like a mainstream safe haven. We have been seeing lots of volume from China and also India," Stanchfield said. 

    According to digital currency research firm Coindesk, 95 percent of global bitcoin trading is done through Chinese exchanges. 

  5. Who are the landlords?

    To Let signs on buildings in London

    That question has been answered by the research carried out for the mortgage lenders' trade body, the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

    The survey covered 2,500 landlords, some of whom were in the buy-to-let (BTL) category.

    Among the interesting facts were:

    • 62% of all landlords owned only one rented property.
    • But a bigger proportion of BTL landlords than non-BTL ones - just over half - owned more than one property, with the average portfolio of BTL landlords being 2.7 properties.
    • Landlords are ageing and 61% are now over 55.
    • The typical landlord owns property close to their home and is just as likely to manage the property themselves as use a managing agent.
    • Only 1-in-20 said they made a profitable full-time living from being a landlord.
    • The median gross annual rental income was £7,500.
  6. Landlords and mortgage interest relief

    To Let signs

    Will landlords jack up rents when, in the coming few years, their ability to offset mortgage interest relief against taxable income is progressively restricted?

    Research from the Council of Mortgage lenders (CML) suggests not.

    Firstly, nearly half of landlords, the survey suggests, owned their properties outright with no mortgage, and thus no mortgage interest at stake.

    Secondly, if their financial position became worse, for instance because of the forthcoming reduction in their tax breaks, only 16% and 12% of landlords said they would chose first to raise rents for new or existing tenants respectively.

  7. All eyes on the Fed

    Janet Yellen

    The Fed will announce its latest interest rate decision tomorrow and a hike is expected. 

    Markets are pricing in a 0.25% increase to its current 0.25% to 0.5% range, taking it to a range of 0.5% to 0.75%. 

    The slight increase, assuming it happens, will mark just the second jump in interest rates in a decade.

    But the real interest will be in Fed chair Janet Yellen's comments about the US economy and the central bank's expectations for future hikes.

    The fabled dot chart is the one to watch - it shows where the 17 Fed officials foresee the path of their benchmark rate, the federal funds rate. 

    Before Donald Trump's victory, the consensus view was for two Fed rate increases next year. Now, some say they foresee three or possibly up to four hikes.

  8. JetBlue boosted by bag charges


    Airlines charging to check in bags may be annoying for passengers, but it's good news for shareholders. 

    New York airline JetBlue says the fees it introduced last year, including a $20 checked bag fee for passengers on its cheapest tickets, generated $260m this year, well above its $200 forecast.

    The firm has now pledged to double the money it returns to shareholders via stock buybacks.

  9. Wall Street surges to another all-time high

    Dow Jones

    The Wall Street rally is showing no sign of running out of steam. All three of the indexes are trading at all-time highs. 

    The Dow Jones and S&P 500 are both currently trading 0.9% higher at 19,946.71 and 2,276.50 respectively.

    The Nasdaq is 1.4% higher at 5,486.53.

    Stocks have performed well since Donald Trump's victory, with the president-elect's economic policies and plans to cut corporate tax deemed beneficial for firms.

    "Investors are encouraged by expectations that Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress will enact pro-growth policies and we're seeing modest inflation creep in, while housing remains stable and wages continue to firm," says said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management.

  10. Waymo can help my mom, says its chief executive

    Google's owner Alphabet unveils new driverless car company - Waymo

    Quote Message: For nearly eight years, we’ve been working towards a future without the tired, drunk or distracted driving that contributes to 1.2 million lives lost on roads every year. Today, we’re taking our next big step by becoming Waymo, a new Alphabet business. Waymo stands for a new way forward in mobility.
    Quote Message: We’re a self-driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around. We believe that this technology can begin to reshape some of the ten trillion miles that motor vehicles travel around the world every year, with safer, more efficient and more accessible forms of transport. We can see our technology being useful in personal vehicles, ridesharing, logistics, or solving last mile problems for public transport. In the long term, self-driving technology could be useful in ways the world has yet to imagine, creating many new types of products, jobs, and services.
    Quote Message: Our next step as Waymo will be to let people use our vehicles to do everyday things like run errands, commute to work, or get safely home after a night on the town. Most of us have been affected by the limitations of driving today in one way or another, whether helping a loved one who can’t drive, dealing with dangers on the road, or losing hours a week to traffic.
    Quote Message: For me, I think of my mom, who is an amazing 97-year old woman. She lives independently, but without a driver’s license. When I fly down to southern California to visit I often spend the whole trip driving her around to run simple errands and visit friends she can’t easily see on her own. There’s more work to do, but we can see the road ahead to a world where more people like my mom... will be able to travel more easily and safely, driven by Waymo." from John Krafcik Chief executive, Waymo
    John KrafcikChief executive, Waymo
  11. Waymo moves in to top gear

    Google's self-driving car pod

    The decision by Google's owner Alphabet to create an independent company - called Waymo - for its self-driving car operation is "an indication of the maturity of our technology," says the project's chief executive John Krafcik. "We can imagine our self-driving tech being used in all sorts of areas."  

    Google has been developing autonomous driving tech for about seven years. But it faces increased competition as established carmakers move into the self-drive arena. And only this month, Apple confirmed for the first time that it was working on a driverless vehicle.

  12. New Nike deal

    England team

    England will continue wearing Nike until 2030 after the Football Association secured a new deal that could be worth more than £400m.

    The Three Lions have been with Nike for three years and the FA has now signed a 12-year contract extension from August 2018. 

    The deal will encompass all 24 England teams based at St George's Park.

    England have worn Nike kits at two major tournaments. Roy Hodgson's team failed to get out of the group stage at the 2014 World Cup and bowed out of Euro 2016 at the last-16 juncture to Iceland. 

  13. Waymo: the future of travel

    Google's parent Alphabet has named its self-driving car unit Waymo. The operation was part of Google, but is now an "independent company within Alphabet" it has been announced. Details of the move are still emerging. More later.

  14. FTSE finishes strongly

    The FTSE 100 had a good day, ending just over 1% higher at 6,968.5 points. Rolls-Royce led the way, with a 4% rise, followed by ITV, 3.7% up. Miners were among the main fallers. Antofagasta fell 4.6%.

  15. UniCredit shares soar on plan to raise billions

    A Unicredit bank

    Shares in UniCredit have jumped almost 15% after Italy's biggest bank said it would raise €13bn (£10.9bn) and cut 14,000 jobs to restore its fortunes.

    The bank plans to use the record rights issue to help remove almost €18bn of bad debt from its balance sheet and boost profitability.

    UniCredit also plans to close about a quarter of its 3,800 branches.

    The move comes as Italy's third-largest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, tries to avoid a government bailout.

    Shares in UniCredit, whose financial health is considerably worse than its European rivals, rose 35 cents to €2.78 on the Milan stock exchange.

  16. Inflation fears: overdone?

    There's pretty much universal agreement that UK inflation is on the rise. But opinion on how fast and by how much is more divided.

    One expert who thinks the fears are overdone is Charles Stanley's Jon Cunliffe.

    Quote Message: It’s hard to refute the notion that a substantial decline in the value of sterling will contribute to higher inflation. However, the powerful disinflationary forces at work on the high street need to be taken into account. The retail sales deflator is currently running at -1.3% on an annual basis and what is noteworthy is that this is despite the fact that trade weighted sterling is 15% lower than the level we saw more than 18 months ago.
    Quote Message: Most retailers’ foreign exchange hedges established at that time should have rolled off by now, but we have yet to see a rise in high street prices. This is reminiscent of what happened when we saw a depreciation of a similar magnitude in 1992, when sterling exited the Exchange Rate Mechanism. Most commentators at the time were negative on the UK outlook, with the risk of stagflation the predominant concern. In the event, inflation did not really rise and the economy benefited from the ease in financial conditions represented by weaker sterling and lower interest rates." from Jon Cunliffe Chief investment officer, Charles Stanley
    Jon CunliffeChief investment officer, Charles Stanley
  17. Shazchat

    Chris Johnston

    Business reporter

    Shazam app on smart phone

    Shazam is one of those reasonably rare beasts: a globally successful app that was not only developed in Blighty but has not been snapped up by Silicon Valley. 

    Today's exciting news is that you can now use Shazam without wrenching yourself away from Snapchat. Don't know what Snapchat is either? Oh do keep up: go ask your teenage children.

    Shazam chief executive Rich Riley says: “We’ve integrated Shazam into Snapchat in a way that makes discovering and sharing music both fun and easier than ever.” So there you have it.

  18. 'Parental leave arms race'

    Mother and daughter

    An article from Fortune charts the ongoing 'parental leave arms race' between US firms.

    American Express is to give staff up to $35,000 for infertility treatment, it says.

    IBM will ship breast milk home for mothers on business trips, and Netflix has a year of parental leave as a perk, it adds.