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Summary

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Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good night

That's it for another day - and another week - from the Business Live page.

Many thanks for following us. 

We'll be back on Monday at 6am so do join us if you can for all the latest financial news, reaction and analysis.   

Christmas flight upheaval?

Joe Lynam

Business correspondent

BA plane on ground, seen from above
BA

As we've been reporting up to 4,500 British Airways cabin crew staff could go out on strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in a dispute over pay. The industrial action will affect thousands of passengers flying mostly from Heathrow airport. But they're not the only ones planning action in the aviation sector over the holiday period, as Joe Lynam explains.  

Six years ago BA settled a long running dispute by establishing a new type of cabin crew called mixed fleet. Now up 4,500 of those crew members could be set to go out on strike on 25 and 26 December - although only 1,200 voted for the strike. Unite which represents them said that its members were on lower pay than other types of cabin crew.

Although Christmas Day is a relatively quiet day for flying, Boxing Day is one of the busiest in the year.

BA said it was appalled by the decision to strike and that it was working on a contingency plan which would be published in the coming days.

It also said it had approached the conciliation service ACAS to help find a solution to the dispute.

Separately 1,500 Baggage handlers - also from the Unite union - will be striking just before Christmas in a row over pay. That could affect many flights from Britain's regional airports. Furthermore pilots at Virgin Atlantic are set to start a work to rule from next Friday.

Deutsche Bank in £32m 'dark pool' trading settlement

Deutsche
Getty Images

Deutsche Bank will pay more than £32m to settle charges that it misinformed clients about how it routed orders to anonymous trading platforms known as "dark pools", regulators have said.

Dark pools are markets where professional investors can go to buy or sell large blocks of shares in private. (This article from a few years ago contains a handy explainer from our business editor Simon Jack). 

The issues centred around a computer programme used by Deutsche to decide which client orders should be sent to which trading platforms to obtain the best possible trade.

The US Securities Exchange and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleged a coding error - lasting from January 2012 to February 2014 - led the bank to use "stale" data to rank the various dark pools. This caused at least two dark pools not affiliated with Deutsche Bank to receive inflated rankings, they said. 

Barclays and Credit Suisse have previously settled charges in connection with misleading investors in dark pools.  

Dow Jones fails to break through 20,000

Wall Street sign
Getty Images

Earlier on Friday the big question was would the Dow Jones Industrial Average break through 20,000 mark for the first time ever. In the event it failed to manage that feat and indeed closed lower. 

Indeed all three key indexes closed down.

The Dow Jones edged down by 0.05% or 9.62 points to 19,842.62. 

The S&P 500 dipped to 2,258.07, a fall of 3.96 points for 0.18%.

And the Nasdaq was 19.69 points or 0.26% lower at 5,437.16. 

Heathrow flights will be hit by BA strike

The planned BA cabin crew strike only involves 4,500 "mixed fleet" cabin crew who have joined since 2010.

They represent almost 30% of BA’s total cabin crew staff of 16,000.

The Unite union says they are on lower pay than other staff.

BA says all long haul flights will proceed as normal – as will all flights out of Gatwick Airport and City.  

But Heathrow airport will be affected. It’s not yet known how many people are booked to fly from Heathrow on the two planned strike days of 25 and 26 December. 

It's not yet clear what will happen to BA flights at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

BA says it’s ‘working on a contingency plan which will be published in next 3 days’

BA 'appalled' at cabin crew strike plans

BA plane on ground
Stuart Bailey/British Airways

More on the news that British Airways cabin crew will strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in a row over pay. 

The row involves around 4,500 so-called mixed fleet cabin crew who joined BA since 2010.

We have been informed tonight by Unite that it has called strike action by mixed fleet cabin crew on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. We are appalled that Unite proposes to disrupt customers' travel plans on such special days when so many families are trying to gather together or set off on well-deserved holidays. This calculated and heartless action is completely unnecessary and we are determined that it will fail. We will plan to ensure all our customers travel to their destinations so that their Christmas arrangements are not ruined. We will publish more details within the next 72 hours. Meanwhile, we have also approached the conciliation service Acas to seek their assistance in reaching an outcome that would avoid any possibility of disruption.

British Airways statement

BreakingBA confirms cabin crew will strike

BA plane tails
Getty Images

British Airways has confirmed cabin crew will strike on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in a row over pay.

Will Nigeria's MMM investors get their money?

Stephanie Hegarty

BBC Africa, Lagos

Grab from MMM website
MMM

The MMM financial scheme caught on like wildfire in Nigeria but it has frozen its transactions, leaving many investors unsure what will happen to their savings.  

MMM itself says it is a "social financial network of people providing help and getting help from each other".

Members are supposed to receive 30% back on their investment in just 30 days. It launched in Nigeria in November 2015 and according to its founders, has three million members.

But it has a murky history. It started in Russia in the 1990s and collapsed a few years later losing an estimated $100m (£80.3m) of investors' money.

The Russian government outlawed the scheme and founder Sergey Mavrodi was jailed for four years. Read more here

Edinburgh and north east Scotland among most affluent in UK

Shot across Edinburgh rooftops
Carol Walker

Edinburgh and north east Scotland have been named among the top 10 most affluent parts of the United Kingdom.

New analysis from the Office for National Statistics showed they came after six London boroughs, plus Milton Keynes and Berkshire.

The 2015 measure of Gross Value Added (GVA) showed Edinburgh growing at 4.5%, the fastest pace of any UK city other than Belfast.

GVA is a calculation of economic output similar to Gross Domestic Product.

However, neighbouring East Lothian and Midlothian were among those 10 local areas with the UK's lowest GVA, along with East and North Ayrshire. Read more here

Heathrow expects 'minimal impact on passengers'

Heathrow Terminal 5
Getty Images

A Heathrow spokesperson says it does not expect much disruption from the Swissport strike:

"Swissport provide ground handling and check-in services for only a small number of flights at Heathrow and we expect that there will be minimal impact for passengers travelling. Heathrow is working with Swissport and airlines to put in place measures to ensure disruption is limited, working with any affected airlines to advise passengers once the impact is clear.”

Ryanair responds to Swissport strike

Ryanair
Getty Images

Ryanair has issued this rather ominous response to the Swissport strikes planned on 23 and 24 December: 

“All of our flights to/from the UK are scheduled to operate as normal. Should this action proceed, our flights may operate with hand-luggage only and we will update customers accordingly.”

No sound from Swissport

The BBC has called Swissport for a comment on Unite's proposed strike action, but so far no response. 

Channel 4 News' political correspondent, Michael Crick, seems to be having the same problem: 

View more on twitter

Only SAS flights affected at Heathrow

BBC business reporter tweets...

Impact of Swissport strike unclear

Jonty Bloom

BBC Business correspondent

Fifteen hundred baggage handlers, check-in staff and cargo crew at airports across the UK have said they will go on strike on the two days before Christmas. Unite has called the strike over a long-running pay dispute with Swissport, an airport services company. But this just the latest strike called in the run up to the holidays.

Travellers at airports across the UK will be hit by two days of strikes on the 23 and 24 December by 1,500 staff who are members of the Unite union and work for Swissport.

It is a huge international company and it has regional airports in the UK which are likely to be the worst affected.

Unite has members who work for Swissport at nearly all of the major UK airports, including at Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh, although it is far from clear how many airlines or flights will be hit. 

Swissport handles only 5% of all flights at Heathrow and at Gatwick it only handles flights for Virgin.  

Airport reacts to pre-Christmas strike threat

We are aware of this potential action and are contacting the airlines which use Swissport to understand their contingency plans to minimise any disruption were the strikes to go ahead.

Manchester Airports Group spokesperson

Using human toilet waste to plug Kenya's electricity shortage

BBC World Service

Human toilet waste is being used to alleviate the shortage of electricity in Kenya.

It is not only boosting power supplies in that part of East Africa, but is also helping with the problem of inadequate sewage systems.

As BBC Business Reporter Joshua Thorpe explained on World Business Report, the excrement is dried and turned into small bricks, before it is burned to generate power.

A firm in Kenya has found a use for human excrement, by burning it to generate power.

Wall Street update

Let's take a look at what's happening to US shares now. 

All eyes are on whether the Dow Jones will exceed 20,000 for the first time ever, however it's lost a bit of ground since our last post at 2.45pm, just after the open.

It's now down to 19,840.91, a fall of 11.33 points or 0.06%.

Both the other main indexes, which opened up a shade, have also since fallen.  

The S&P 500 is now at 2,259.86, down by 2.17 points or 0.10%. 

And the Nasdaq is down by 11.92 points for 0.22% at 5,444.94. 

Clamp down on drugs firms?

Theo Leggett

BBC Business News Reporter

Different coloured tablets and capsules
Getty Images

More on the story that the pharmaceuticals firm Actavis has been accused by the Competition and Markets Authority of overcharging the NHS for a medicine which is used to treat life-threatening conditions. (See post at  7.21am). The CMA says the price of a pack of tablets rose from 70 pence to £88 over an eight year period. Actavis has a right to challenge the findings. 

The CMA has begun to take a tough line with companies which it believes have been overcharging the NHS for medicines. Last week, it imposed fines worth £90m on the US giant Pfizer and the British firm Flynn Pharma for raising the price of an important epilepsy drug. 

In this case, it says Actavis broke competition law by charging excessive prices for hydrocortisone tablets. The drug is a steroid used to treat life-threatening conditions such as Addison's disease. 

Until early 2008, it was produced by a different company under the brand name Hydrocortone. Its price was regulated under the terms of an agreement between the industry and the Department of Health. 

From April 2008 onwards, Actavis produced an unbranded version. This allowed it to circumvent the regulation scheme and raise prices dramatically. 

The parent company of Activis said the CMA's decision to intervene raised serious policy concerns about its role and that of the Department of Health in regulating drug prices. Pfizer made a similar statement last week. 

Unite calls for talks with Swissport to resolve dispute

We appreciate that this is a very busy time of year at the UK's airports and that's why we are calling for the company to engage in constructive talks under the auspices of Acas to resolve this dispute. Unite's door is open 24/7 for such talks. Our members are only taking this industrial action as a last resort in a bid to reach a fair settlement - our members have not had a pay rise since 2014. When you break down the headline figures - 1% in 2015, 1.25% in 2016 and 2.4% in 2017 - they are barely keeping up with inflation. The company only wants these increases to be applicable to basic pay and not the other elements that make up 'pay' such as overtime. The dispute has been compounded by the high-handed attitude of the management in making proposals that would seriously impact the workforce's terms and conditions, such as freezing overtime payments.

Oliver RichardsonUnite national officer for civil air transport

Baggage handlers to strike on before Christmas

Luggage belt seen from above
Getty Images

Check in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew are due to due hold two days of strkes next week, the UK's biggest union, Unite says in a statement. 

More than 1,500 workers at Swissport, the world’s largest ground and cargo handler, are planning to walk out on 23 and 24 December.  

The union says this is about a "long-running pay dispute, and plans to seriously erode terms and conditions". 

Sterling gains more ground

Sterling, dollar and euro notes
Getty Images

The pound has gained a bit more ground against the US dollar since our last update at 2.18pm. 

It's at $1.24730, that's a rise of 0.43%.

Against the euro the pound's still a touch lower at €1.1922, which is 0.06% down. 

However, the euro is still up against the dollar by 0.42, so €1 buys $1.0458. 

Virgin Atlantic flights 'unaffected' by industrial action

We value our pilots enormously and we are disappointed with the result of the ballot to take Action Short of a Strike, which essentially means ‘work to rule’. We have been clear with the PPU leadership team that this action is unnecessary and we remain prepared to recognise the PPU once we have agreed the terms for voluntary recognition. We expect our flying programme to remain unaffected during this period and want to reassure our customers that all flights are operating as normal.

Virgin Atlantic spokesperson

FTSE closes above 7,000

Figure passing London Stock Exchange sign
Getty Images

The FTSE 100 managed to remain above the 7,000 mark at the close of play on Friday. 

It ended the day at 7,011.64, a slight rise of 12.63 points or 0.18%.

Virgin Atlantic pilots to take industrial action

Virgin plane tails
PA

Virgin Atlantic pilots have voted to take industrial action short of a strike in a row over union recognition, and will work "strictly to contract" from 23 December. 

Their union, the PPU -  Professional Pilots' Union - said 88% of its members voted in favour on a turnout of 80%. 

The action involves a removal of "pilot goodwill", with pilots who are members of the PPU working strictly to their contract.

 "It is possible that this may leave some flights not covered for the duration of any action, which has the potential to continue indefinitely," the PPU said in a statement. 

Skating in the sky

Two people skating on ice rink with view over clouds and city
Getty Images

What's billed as the highest ice-rink in Europe has opened on top of a skyscraper in Moscow - offering thrill-seekers the experience of "skating above the clouds". 

At a height of 354 metres, the rink is located on top of the OKO tower, Europe's second-tallest building. 

The rink, which is surrounded with bars and restaurants, cost 15 million roubles (£195,000) to build, according to BMW Group Russia, which opened it on Thursday. 

The pleasures of combining skating with panoramic views of the snowclad Russian capital do not come cheap, however, with an adult ticket costing 3,000 roubles (£40). 

Who blinked first?

BBC personal finance correspondent tweets

Where is South Africa's economy heading?

The big economies of Africa are struggling. Nigeria is wallowing in a recession and even with a rise in the oil price there is little hope things will improve in the near future. 

South Africa is beset with slow growth and political tensions that are serving to hold back progress. 

For Africa Business Report, the BBC's Matthew Davies took a look at what the future holds for the South African economy. 

Where is South Africa's economy heading?

Bird flu outbreak?

Poultry World tweets

Top modelling agencies fined for price-fixing

Models legs on catwalk with audience behind
Thinkstock

Five top modelling agencies and a trade association have been fined a total of £1.5m for colluding to fix charges.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said they regularly and systematically exchanged information and discussed prices.

The biggest fine was given to the Storm agency, which has used models like Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne.

However, the CMA stressed that big name "top models" were not involved in the price-fixing. Read more here

Pie in the sky?

No quotas in Swiss immigration bill

Campaign poster from referendum
AFP

Switzerland's parliament has approved legislation which gives job seekers already in the country priority over European Union applicants, in times of high unemployment.

The new law follows a referendum in 2014 in which voters narrowly backed introducing quotas on workers from EU countries. 

The new measure makes no mention of quotas but sets out guidelines for employers. 

Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it enjoys access to the single market area - something it could lose if it limits the free movement of people.  Read more here

Tune in to TechTent ...

On BBC World Service at 15:00 GMT

Wall Street opens higher

Wall Street sign
Getty Images

The three key US stock indexes have opened higher on Friday.

The Dow Jones is at 19,891.22, that's a rise of 38.98 points or 0.20%.

That leaves the Dow not far off the 20,000 mark - a level it has never before exceeded. 

The S&P 500 is at 2,266.74, up 4.71 points or 0.21%.

And the tech-heavy Nasdaq is up 9.27 points or 0.17% at 5,466.12. 

Multi-billion fraud trial begins underway in China

BBC World Service

At a court in Beijing, 26 people are facing charges they were involved in China's biggest ever case of online fraud, reports BBC World Service.

The individuals are charged with operating the scheme through Ezubao, once the country's biggest business lending platform. 

They are accused of collecting more than $8.5bn (£6.8bn) in investments after advertising fake projects on the Ezubao website, and then failing to repay a large portion of the money. 

The suspects are also accused of smuggling precious metals, possessing illegal weapons and making undocumented border crossings.  

Sterling update

Sterling, dollar and euro notes
Getty Images

Let's check in on how sterling's doing - and it's up against the US Dollar at $1.2442 - that's a rise of 0.18%. 

That's a small improvement on Thursday when it went below $1.2400 at one point.

The pound has come under more pressure this week since the US central bank raised interest rates on Wednesday and said it expects to raise them three more times in 2017. 

Meanwhile it's down against the euro at €1.18950 - a fall of 0.29%.

Camelot boss: Lottery draws are safe

Camelot chief executive Andy Duncan says that National Lottery draws are safe after the firm is fined £3m over a suspect ticket claim.  

Festive FTSE

The FTSE 100 is still trading above the 7,000 mark on Friday; it's at 7,007.93 - that's a rise of 8.92 points or 0.13%. 

The index has risen by more than 3% so far in December, though the reason is less clear. 

Festive good cheer has had a very limited impact on investor confidence, which rose slightly in December, but still remains stubbornly low, despite rising markets. Indeed the Footsie is enjoying a Santa rally, nobody really knows why but December is statistically a very good month for the UK stock market. Investors are becoming more expectant of an interest rate rise, with more than half now anticipating an increase in the next 12 months. Financial markets disagree however, they are pricing in only a one in three chance of a rate rise in 2017, and this wouldn’t be the first time that savers’ hopes have been dashed on this score.

No formal offer in Southern dispute talks, says Aslef

Mick Whelan
Getty Images

This may not come as much of a surprise, but it doesn't look like there'll be a quick resolution to the long-running dispute between unions and Govia Thameslink (GTR) that has caused multiple strikes on Southern rail this year, including three this week.

Mick Whelan, general secretary train drivers union Aslef (pictured), said in a letter to union members:

"Members will be aware that talks between ourselves and GTR Southern have been taking place under the auspices of Acas in order to seek a resolution to the current dispute.

"I regret to advise that at no time during the course of discussions did the company make any kind of formal offer in relation to the substantive issues at the heart of the dispute."

Sipsmith sells control to Beam Suntory

Sipsmith Gin
Getty Images

In 2009 Sipsmith became the first distiller to operate a copper gin distillery in London for almost 200 years.

Just seven years later the founders have sold control to one of the world's biggest makers of spirits, Japan's Beam Suntory.

The companies have not said how much the deal is worth.

Two-thirds of Sipsmith's sales are in the UK - no doubt Suntory will be hoping to boost sales abroad.

Founders Sam Galsworthy and Fairfax Hall will continue to operate the business.

UK manufacturers plan sharp price rise in 2017

UK factory
Reuters

British manufacturers plan to push up their prices sharply in early 2017 after this year's Brexit hit to sterling, a CBI survey suggests.

"The weakness of sterling is pushing up the cost of imports, and our survey shows strong signs of this feeding through to higher factory gate prices," said Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI's chief economist.

Manufacturers also reported their strongest order books in nearly two years, she said.

"It's good to see our manufacturers ending the year on a high note with growth in production the strongest since summer 2014 and total orders still robust."