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  1. Sterling loses ground against the dollar after Supreme Court Brexit ruling
  2. BT shares fall 18% on Italian scandal
  3. HSBC to close 62 more branches
  4. Trump puts TPP on the ropes
  5. Get in touch:

Live Reporting

By Karen Hoggan

All times stated are UK

Get involved

That's all for another day on the Livepage. We will as usual be back from 6am tomorrow. 

Wall Street records continue

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq set record highs on Tuesday in a broad rally led by financial and technology stocks. 

The advance comes as the quarterly earnings season hots up and investors become optimistic that clarity on President Donald Trump's economic policies will be forthcoming. 

The Dow Jones rose 0.57% to 19,912.71 points, the S&P 500 gained 0.66% to 2,280.07, and the Nasdaq was up 0.86% to 5,600.96.

Carmakers' shares advanced, with GM up 1%, Ford up 2.4%, and Fiat Chrysler surging 5.8%. It followed meetings with Trump over his demands that the manufacturers invest more in the US.

Zuckerberg for US president? Doesn't look like it

Zuckerberg with VR headset
Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg has no plans to run for US president. Who says? The man himself - according to BuzzFeed. 

There's been much speculation recently that the Facebook billionaire planned to run for the White House. 

But the news website managed to get a reply from Zuckerberg to questions about his presidential plans. "No. I’m focused on building our community at Facebook," he emailed back.

Top Democrat vows to block Trump infrastructure plan

The US Senate's top Democrat has vowed to oppose any infrastructure plan by President Donald Trump that would rely on "tax credits for developers" to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, airports and other such structures.

Trump has promised heavy investment in infrastructure as part of his plan to boost the economy.

Senator Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer made the comments in a press conference to unveil a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that Democrats say would generate 15 million jobs.

Trump earlier on Tuesday signed an executive action to expedite environmental approvals for high-priority infrastructure projects.

But Schumer told reporters: "We will not support tax credits for developers." He also warned that Democrats would work to include environmental protections in any infrastructure measure that moves through the Republican-controlled Senate. 

Ikea recalls chairs amid safety fears

Recalled chairs

Ikea is recalling a beach chair sold in the UK following reports that it can collapse and cause injury. The Swedish furniture giant is urging customers who bought any model of the Mysingso beach chair to return it for a full refund as part of the global recall. 

The company said it had received five reports - from Finland, Germany, the US, Denmark and Australia - that users had received injuries to their fingers that needed medical treatment.

In a statement, Ikea said the chair posed a risk to users of falling or finger entrapment. It said: "After washing the fabric seat it is possible to re-assemble the chair incorrectly leading to risks of falls or finger entrapments.

"Ikea has received five incident reports in which a Mysingso beach chair collapsed during use due to incorrect re-assembly. All five reports included injuries to fingers and required medical attention." 

Pokemon Go gets to South Korea

Pokemon Go on smart phone

The augmented reality smartphone game Pokemon Go that was a hit around the world in the summer of 2016 has finally been released in South Korea - one of the world's biggest gaming markets. 

The delay was caused by security fears over Google Maps, according to Reuters.

In South Korea, functions on Google Maps are limited by the government for national security reasons.

The makers did not specify how they had worked around the problem but some reports suggested that they had to use publicly available data to fill gaps. Read more here

US car firm shares up after Trump meeting

Shares in top US car companies have been given a boost following President Trump's meeting with their bosses (see earlier post).

General Motors' shares climbed by 1.5%, Ford's were up by 2.3% and Fiat Chrysler's rose by 6.7%. 

The aim of the breakfast meeting was to push for more cars to be manufactured in the US. 

New boss says F1 can be run differently

BBC sports editor tweets

Bernie Ecclestone replaced as Formula 1 boss

The new owners of Formula 1 motor racing have replaced its boss Bernie Ecclestone.
Bernie Ecclestone has been behind the wheel of Formula 1 for four decades. But he has now been replaced in the driving seat of the sport by the vice president of 21st Century Fox, Chase Carey. The move was announced by the American company, Liberty Media, which has completed its $8bn takeover of the sport. Mr Ecclestone, who's 86 and has turned Formula 1 into a lucrative business worldwide, said he'd been forced out. He's been moved from the post of chief executive to a role of chairman emeritus. Simon Chadwick is professor of sports enterprise at Salford University Business School in the UK, and the BBC's Susannah Streeter asked whether Mr Ecclestone might be feeling a little put out by the latest developments.

(Picture: Bernie Ecclestone. Picture credit: Getty Images.)

Jobs at risk as Johnson and Johnson examines 'options'

Lifescan building

Up to 80 jobs are under threat at one of Scotland's biggest life sciences companies, which makes products to treat diabetes.

Staff at Inverness-based Lifescan Scotland, which employs 1,100 people in the city, were told by management on Tuesday.

It comes after parent company Johnson and Johnson announced it was reviewing its strategic options for the business.

Johnson and Johnson reported slower than expected sales to the financial markets on Tuesday and said they were looking to sell or find partners or other options for Lifescan.

No easy fix to property problem?

Ian Pollock

Business reporter

Woman looking at estate agency window

As if by magic, hard on the heels of HMRC’s figures showing that property sales hardly rose in the UK last year, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has published some views on the restricted level of transactions.

The CML says: “We now see an average of 1.2 million transactions annually, with prospects of a meaningful recovery in the number of transactions looking increasingly slim.”  

“Our own forecasts expect transaction numbers to fall this year and next.  

“While the number of first-time buyers has increased by 63% since its post-crisis low, mover numbers [people moving from a home they already own to another one] have only gone up by 17%.  

“If this cohort of people can’t move, they don’t put properties on the market, which means they hold up everyone behind them.

“This undersupply of properties for sale also pushes up prices, as a growing number of would-be buyers bid for a small pool of available properties,” the CML adds.

There is no easy fix, the CML concludes.

Roy Homes design

One of the largest suppliers of bespoke homes in the north of Scotland ceases trading after getting into financial difficulties.

Read more

Milan prosecutors 'open investigation' into BT in Italy

Milan prosecutors have opened an investigation into BT's Italian unit over alleged false accounting and possible embezzlement, two sources have told Reuters. BT declined to comment the news agency said. 

Earlier in the day it emerged that BT had been forced to write down the value of its Italian unit by £530m after years of "inappropriate behaviour".

Shares in BT plummeted by 21% on Tuesday, following the news that the Italian scandal would cost far more than the £145m originally anticipated. 

Brexit bill could come on Thursday

Article 50 bill, which will trigger the process of leaving the EU - could come on Thursday says BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

Sources have told the BBC the bill to trigger Article 50 will be introduced to Parliament this Thursday, with an expectation that it could be concluded in the Commons in a fortnight.

View more on twitter

Brexit legislation to come 'within days'

BBC World Service

EU flag and Union Jack on sandcastles

A quick reminder of the big story of the day from BBC World Service - and it's reporting the UK government will introduce legislation within days to start the process of leaving the EU. 

Ministers are complying with a Supreme Court ruling that parliament must have a say on triggering Brexit. 

The politician overseeing the process, David Davis, said the new law would not delay the government's plan to start the leaving procedure by the end of March. 

Eight of the 11 judges said that leaving the EU altered British law, so parliament must give its approval. 

But they unanimously rejected claims that politicians in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should also be consulted.    

Gina Miller

Gina Miller: Brexit antics 'despicable'

Brexit victor says no government is above the law and some politicians are still "twisting the truth".

Read more

Fiat Chrysler boss reacts to Trump's goals

One of the guests at President Trump's breakfast was the boss of Fiat Chrysler and afterwards he issued a statement in which he said the President's desire to build a strong manufacturing base in the United States was a common goal shared by Fiat Chrysler in the US. 

Fiat Chrysler also said it had invested more than $9.6bn in its US manufacturing facilities since 2009 and created 25,000 new jobs. 

I appreciate the President's focus on making the US a great place to do business. We look forward to working with President Trump and members of Congress to strengthen American manufacturing.

Sergio MarchionneChief Executive Officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V

Car bosses breakfast with Trump

Mary Barra, Mark Filds and Sergio Marchionne (L-R)
Getty Images

US President Donald Trump held a breakfast meeting with the bosses of three big car makers on Tuesday.

The aim - to persuade them to ramp up US production and increase jobs in the country.  T

General Motors' chief executive, Mary Barra, Ford chief executive, Mark Fields, and Fiat Chrysler chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, were all at the event at the White House (Pictured L-R). 

The President told them he wanted them to build new car plants in the US. 

"We have a very big push on to have auto plants and other plants - many other plants," he reportedly told the press ahead of the meeting with the car bosses. "It's happening." 

Trump backs pipelines

Pipes in storage

US President Donald Trump has infuriated environmentalists by signing executive orders that support two controversial oil pipelines.

The new Republican president backed the Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects, provided American steel is used.

The Obama administration in late 2015 halted Keystone, which would carry crude from Canada to Texas.

The Army decided last year to explore other routes for the Dakota pipeline amid huge protests by Native Americans. Read more here

Pound still down against the dollar

The pound is still down slightly against the dollar following Tuesday's Supreme court ruling that Parliament will have to vote on starting Brexit negotiations. 

Having hit its highest level for more than a month as initial details of the ruling emerged,  the pound fell as investors sold the currency.

It's down by 0.06% against the dollar at $1.2528.

"The 'good' news about greater Parliamentary scrutiny of the Brexit process had already been priced in," said City Index analyst Kathleen Brooks. "Thus, profit taking was to be expected at this stage." 

FTSE fights off fall in BT shares

London Stock Exchange sign

The FTSE 100 was barely changed on Tuesday at 7,150.34, a fall of less than one point or just 0.01%, despite a huge fall in BT shares. 

BT Group which closed down by nearly 21% after after the firm was forced to write down the value of its Italian unit by £530m after years of "inappropriate behaviour". 

Easyjet saw the second biggest fall. It ended down by nearly 9% after it said the lower pound would cut profits by a larger-than-expected £105m. 

However, those losses were balanced by rises in mining stocks. The three biggest gainers were all mining companies. Anglo American rose by nearly 6%, Antofagasta by more than 4% and Rio Tinto by more than 4%.

$20m found in mattress

Cash in bed frame

US authorities have seized $20m (£16m) in cash discovered in a bed frame under a mattress in a Massachusetts flat.

The cash is believed to be linked to a $1bn pyramid scheme involving TelexFree, a company that claimed to provide internet phone services.

Investigators uncovered the cash while following a Brazilian man, who was charged in connection to the haul.

Federal prosecutors say the defunct company swindled almost a million people worldwide out of about $1bn. Read more here 

Challenging the Chancellor?

Martin Schulz

Media reports now say the leader of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) Sigmar Gabriel will put forward former European Parliament President Martin Schulz to challenge conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel in September's election.

The SPD and Mrs Merkel's CDU have governed as a grand coalition since 2013.

It was thought Mr Gabriel would run for chancellor (see earlier post). 

"If I were to stand, I would fail and the SPD would fail with me," Mr Gabriel, who is vice chancellor and economy minister in Mrs Merkel's government, told Stern magazine. 

This is what the executive editor of politics at the Daily Telegraph has to say ...

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Property plateau?

Ian Pollock

Business reporter

Sold sign outside house

Property sales in the UK rose hardly at all last year, according to official figures.  

HM revenue & Customs (HMRC) says 1,235,000 homes were sold in 2016.

That was just 5,000 more than in the previous year, 2015, and only 16,000 more than in 2014.  

To all intents and purposes, the UK property market has reached a plateau, at least in terms of sales.  

Property commentator Henry Pryor said: “I am pleasantly surprised sales went up, even slightly, last year, considering the increases to stamp duty in 1 April for second-home buyers, and the Brexit referendum, the full effects of which we are yet to see.”

White male bankers 'difficult to take'

Dearbail Jordan

Business reporter

The banking industry's white male culture is "difficult to take", according to the Financial Conduct Authority's head of supervision.

Megan Butler told delegates at the City & Financial Global's Women in Finance Summit today: "It’s extremely rare that in my professional life I have a conversation with a head of desk at an investment bank or a global head of business that is anything other than a white male.

"I’ve increasingly come to find that a little bit difficult to take."  

Ms Butler admitted to Bloomberg that she had been "completely resistant" to gender targets for many years, calling them "patronising and insulting".

"But I look back and there hasn’t been significant change quickly enough," she concedes. 

Wind farms to beat cost reduction target

Burbo Bank wind farm in the Irish Sea
Getty Images

The cost of energy from offshore windfarms has beaten a government and industry target of £100 per megawatt hour by 2020, according to the Offshore Wind Programme Board.

UK energy minister Jesse Norman said that offshore wind farms "will be an important part of the government's new industrial strategy, and will be underpinned by £730m of annual support for renewable energy over the course of this Parliament."

Costs have fallen sharply, in part due to larger turbines.

Projects are now getting £97 per MWh, compared to £142 per MWh in 2010/11.    

Trump quits Scottish golf directorships

Donald Trump with golf club and piper behind

Donald Trump has resigned as director of several UK companies linked to his Scottish golf courses.

Filings at Companies House reveal he stepped down last Thursday, just before his inauguration as US president.

Mr Trump had previously promised to resign from directorships in all his companies to avoid claims of conflict of interest.

His eldest sons Donald Jr and Eric have taken over control of his golf resorts in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire.

The website of Companies House, the government agency that holds and publishes information about UK businesses, revealed he resigned as director of Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd on 19 January. Read more here

Easyjet 'struggling to keep costs down'

Easyjet plane

Easyjet earlier said the lower pound would cut profits by a larger-than-expected £105m.

Its shares are trading down by nearly 10% this afternoon.

Nicholas Hyett, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown says:

“The dogfight in European shorthaul continues, and sheer weight of numbers is taking its toll on Easyjet. Prices per seat are falling as competitors add capacity, made possible by lower fuel prices... The group is struggling to keep costs down, partly because its new planes are flying less passengers than the old ones, and that will be eating into margin."

Sales fall at Verizon

Verizon - the biggest telecoms company in the US - has reported a 5.6% fall in fourth quarter operating revenue. It came in at $32.34bn (£26bn) - down from $34.25 for the same three months in 2015. 

It was the third consecutive quarter that Verizon had seen a fall in revenue. 

The company gained a net 591,000 subscribers who pay their bills on a monthly basis during the quarter - far fewer than the 726,00 forecast by analysts. 

Last year Verizon It agreed to purchase the main parts of Yahoo's business for $4.8bn (£4bn), but that was thrown into doubt by data breaches at Yahoo. 

On Monday, however, Yahoo said the deal would be completed in the second quarter of 2017, rather than the first. 

F1 needs 'fresh start' without Ecclestone

Chase Carey (R) and Bernie Ecclestone (L)
Getty Images

Bernie Ecclestone was removed as Formula 1's boss because the sport "needs a fresh start", according to its new chief.

Chase Carey (pictured, front) told the BBC he had "tremendous respect" for Ecclestone, but F1 "needs to be run differently than for the last four or five years".

"Bernie is a one-man team. It was not right in today's world," he said.

Carey was put in charge by US media giant Liberty after it completed an $8bn (£6.4bn) takeover of F1 on Monday.

Read more here.

Wall Street treading water

Wall Street sign
Getty Images

The three key US stock indexes were all in positive territory after the open on Tuesday - but only just.  

The Dow Jones was at 19,811.09, that's a rise of 11 points or 0.06%. 

The S&P 500 was at 2,268.38, up 3 points or 0.14%.

And the Nasdaq was up 13 points or 0.23% at 5,565.65. 

Shares fell on Monday amid President Donald Trump's protectionist rhetoric and his signing of the order to pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific trade deal. 

"Whether it is political, economics or earnings, something needs to show up to give investors another boost of confidence that better times lie ahead," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive officer at 50 Park Investments. 

Brexit: Three key things about the Supreme Court ruling
The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg reports on the implications of the Supreme Court ruling about the Brexit process.

Alibaba sales surge on Singles Day success

Warehouse processing orders
Getty Images

China's biggest online retailer, Alibaba, has reported a bigger than expected 54% jump in third quarter sales to $7.7bn (£6.2bn). The performance was boosted by a record-breaking Singles Day on 11 November.

Singles Day started as an excuse for the country's young singles to spoil themselves and do a little online shopping. But now it has turned into the world's biggest day for online retail. 

The company took $17.4bn in the course of the day and handled up to 175,000 orders per second

Alibaba has also improved its forecast for the year as a whole. "With three quarters of the year coming in ahead of expectations, we are adjusting up our 2017 fiscal year revenue guidance from 48% to 53% year-over-year growth,” said chief financial officer, Maggie Wu. 

Online retailing makes up nearly 90% of Alibaba's sales, but it has been trying to diversify into cloud, data and media. In the third quarter, revenue from its cloud computing division climbed 115% to $254m. Digital media and entertainment revenue shot up by 273% to $585m. 

The only way is up

Dearbail Jordan

Business reporter

Lockheed Martin F-35 jet
Getty Images

It has been a trying couple of months for Lockheed Martin. 

The US defence giant makes the missiles which are at the centre of Britain's botched test of the Trident nuclear deterrent last June. And in December, it was criticised by America's interventionist president, Donald Trump, who said its F-35 fighter jet program was too expensive.

While Lockheed reported rising sales and profits for the fourth quarter and full year, things look a little less rosy going foward, 

Future results could be impacted by its Sikorsky helicopters business, due to a material weakness in internal control over financial reporting. It also delivered fewer F-35 jets in 2016 than expected.

Still, its boss Marillyn Hewson was one of the few business leaders that Mr Trump invited to the White House on Monday. Maybe things will start looking up. 

Lira under presure

The Turkish Lira has been one of the world's worst performing currencies over the past year. The Turkish Central Bank contiues to try and prop up the currency. 

View more on twitter
Airbus model

Brian Meechan

BBC Wales business correspondent

Airbus warns MPs that the company is entering a "dangerous phase" if it cannot operate freely in Europe.

Read more

IG introduces loss guarantees

IG trading floor
IG Group

IG Group, the UK's largest spread betting firm, says it's introduced a new account that guarantees clients can lose no more than their deposit, amid a regulatory crackdown on the industry.

"We welcome the intentions of the FCA and other European regulators to improve consumer outcomes across the industry, and we believe that IG's Limited Risk account will play an important role in this," chief executive Peter Hetherington said.

It came as IG reported a 7% rise in first-half pretax profit to £105m, as market volatility around the Brexit vote and the US presidential election led to higher trading activity.

Nissan's red carpet

Nick Pearce, Professor of Public Policy & Director at University of Bath and former head of the No10 Policy Unit, writes:

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