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Summary

  1. Sterling falls on Inflation Report
  2. Plan for Heathrow third runway revealed
  3. Sports Direct buys French Connection stake
  4. Shell forecasts rising petrol prices
  5. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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Thank you for following Business Live through another fascinating day.

Join us again at 6.00am tomorrow morning for all the breaking news and analysis in business and economics. 

US stocks stutter on political concerns

Donald Trump
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The Dow Jones industrial average finished 5.76 points lower at 19,885.18 ahead of key jobs data due out on Friday.

Nasdaq closed down 7.10 points and 5,635.55 while the S&P 500 gained 1.30 points at 2,280.85.

Non-farm payroll data is expected to show that US employers added 170,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate is forecast to remain at 4.7%.  

Analysts also say that investors are anxious about the new US administration.

While President Donald Trump's plan to cut tax and increase spending on infrastructure had initially buoyed stock markets, some investors are now becoming nervous about recent controversies including a difficult phone call between Mr Trump and Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia which is a close ally of the US.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank told Reuters: "Investors are kind of reappraising the whole package.

"It isn't just going to be domestic policy and stimulus. There are some global risks along with this Trump team."

Amazon misses sales forecast

Amazon
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Online retailer Amazon has narrowly missed sales expectations for the fourth quarter after revenue rose 22% to $43.7bn.

It has been forecast to report sales of $44.7bn for the three months to 31 December 2016.

Net profit rose from $482m in the final quarter of 2015 to $749m.

For the full-year, sales increased 27% to $136bn and income soared from $596m to $2.4bn.

Bosses welcome nap time

Some (lucky) workers are being allowed to take naps at work but does it increase productivity? 

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US airlines seek state help over Gulf rivals

Delta Airlines
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US airlines are seeking a meeting the new US Secretary of State over claims that Gulf state subsidies are allowing Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways to drive down prices and expand their operations to the detriment of their American rivals.  

Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways deny the allegations.

The chief executives of American Airlines, United Continental and Delta have written a letter to Rex Tillerson. 

In it, they claim: "The subsidies allow the Gulf carriers to operate without concern for turning a profit, unlike US airlines, and therefore focus entirely on stripping market share and driving out competition."

"The subsidy-enabled capacity dumping by the Gulf carriers has nearly eliminated U.S. carrier service to the Middle East and India."

What now for the oilman turned statesman?

Former Exxon Mobil boss Rex Tillerson was confirmed as the new US Secretary of State on Wednesday night. How will the career businessman fare in his new role in politics? 

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HBOS fraud highlights 'greed and audacity'

Detective Superintendent Nick John of Thames Valley Police details the six and a half year fight to bring six people to justice for ruining the lives of many small business owners.

Fraudsters life of excess laid bare

Lynden Scourfield (L) and David Mills (R) were jailed for their part in the scam
Thames Valley Police
Lynden Scourfield (L) and David Mills (R)

David Mills and Lynden Scourfield spent thousands on luxury holidays, jewelry, meals and even leather goods according to documents published by Thames Valley Police.

Mills had an American Express gold card of which Scourfield was also a holder.

Statements show that Mills spent nearly $2,000 to stay at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando, Florida in 2005. While he was in Florida he splashed out on $6,775 worth of goods from jewelry store Gray & Sons.

Later that year, he spent $5,000 at luxury watch store Roman Times in Las Vegas. 

Scourfield paid £5,880 to luxury cruise operator Silversea in June 2004.

Scourfield spent just over $1,000 to stay the Ritz Carlton as the same time as Mills. Scourfield chose a different jewelry shop - he spent $1,491 at Bailey Banks & Biddle in Orlando.

His credit card statement also shows that he treated himself to £425 worth of goods at upmarket shoe store Russell & Bromley as well as £410 at Wilton's Oyster Bar in London.

In sentencing the six people involved in the fraud, Judge Martin Beddoe said Scourfield, who had been convicted after pleading guilty at an earlier trial last year, "sold his soul" to Mills in exchange for "sex, for luxury trips ... for bling and for swag".

Fraud financier was a 'lunatic bully'

Michael Bancoft's house in Long Marston
Thames Valley Police

Terry Holligan was the managing director of Magenta, the tie company formerly known as Frank Theak and Roskilly which was established in 1896. 

Unfortunately he was one of many HBOS business customers who saw the company destroyed by six corrupt financiers, including Michael Bancroft who he described as a "lunatic bully". 

He said that he had notice the company's overdraft rising by millions but when he asked questions he was told to mind his own business.

Mr Holligan said: "They have really ruined businesses that had massive potential. And that led to unemployment for people, houses taken away from people."

It has since emerged that Magenta's accounts were used to pay for credit cards used by Bancroft for non-business use. Bancroft, who was sentenced to 10 years today, owned houses in Portugal and Stratford-upon-Avon including Gryffyn House in Long Marston.

HBOS banker victims 'had lives destroyed'

HBOS Fraudsters
Thames Valley Police

Detective Superintendent Nick John of Thames Valley Police said that the victims of the HBOS fraudsters had their livelihoods "and in many cases their lives destroyed."

One such person is Joanne Dove, from West Sussex, who says she lost millions when she sold her nappy laundry service Cotton Bottoms. 

Ms Dove, who was standing outside court today when the six fraudsters received jail time, said: "We've served a prison sentence for 12 years since this happened and we have lived in penury.

"While he (consultant David Mills) has been waiting for trial he has lived a luxury life on all the assets that he has built up.

The mother of five said: "I will never get the time back. That's the sad thing. I will never get my children's childhoods back to give them the things they would have had, had they not defrauded me." 

A British Airways passenger plane prepares to land at Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London

The expansion of Heathrow will benefit airports across Scotland, UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said.

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Southern 'to push ahead with driver plans'

The Southern dispute revolved around the rail operator's plans to put drivers in sole control of the operation of the train, including closing the doors.

Tom Edwards, the transport correspondent for BBC London, tweets:

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Unions to vote on deal to end Southern strikes

Rail strikes
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At last, some cheery news for train passengers - a deal to end the dispute between Southern Railway and Aslef over driver-only trains has been agreed.

Around 1,000 drivers will now vote on the deal.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union is still in dispute with Southern over changes to the role of conductors.

The RMT announced it is to ballot workers on Merseyrail for industrial action over the role of guards.

Reckitt lifts FTSE to close ahead

Mead Johnson milk in a supermarket
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The FTSE 100 ended Thursday in positive territory after rising 33.10 points to 7,140.75.

Among the top risers was consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser whose shares rose 4% to £71.09 after it confirmed it was in talks to buy US baby formula maker Mead Johnson for $16.7bn (£13.3bn).

The pound remained below the dollar, falling 0.91% to $1.2543 after the Bank of England held interest rates and published its Inflation Report. It lifted growth forecasts for the next two years but left its outlook on inflation unchanged.

How criminals ruined a 112-year old business

A tie maker that was founded in 1896 met its demise because of a scam involving Lynden Scourfield, then a manager at HBOS, which now owned by Lloyds Banking Group.

Here, Thames Valley Police provide a timeline of how a bunch of corrupt individuals brought a small company to its knees.

- 1896: Frank Theak and Roskilly set up as a tie manufacturer.

- 1989: Theros Ltd set up as a holding company for FTR Ltd. It held all the shares.

- 2002: Lynden Scourfield became the relationship manager at HBOS for FTR. The company was classed as an impaired asset and had a loan of loan of £9m.

- 2003: Scourfield offered to increase the loan as long as the company took on the consultancy services of QCS (Quayside Corporate Services – owned by David Mills).

- 2003: Michael Bancroft became a director of both Theros and FTR. In 

- 2004: David Mills did the same and together they bought 168,300 shares in Theros. The company, saddled by mounting debt through an increased overdraft and consultancy fees, struggled.

- 2005: FTR changed its name to Magenta but lost lucrative contracts with high street firms. 

During this time money was taken out of Magenta to prop up unrelated company Remnant Media. Magenta’s accounts were used to pay for credit cards used by Michael Bancroft among others, often for non-business use.

- 2007: Magenta's debts had spiraled to £21 million and it faced bankruptcy. The administrators KPMG were called in and bank was forced to write off the debt.

- 2008: After 112 years in business, the company was formally dissolved.

The proceeds of crime

The six people found guilty of corruption, fraudulent trading and money-laundering offences certainly enjoyed the spoils of their crimes which left many small business owners in ruins.

Here is a home in Portugal belonging to Michael Bancroft who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Michael Bancroft home in Portugal
Thames Valley Police

This is the Mercedes, complete with a personalised number plate, belonging to David Mills who has been sentenced to 15 years in jail.

David Mills' Mercedes
Thames Valley Police

Inside the Powder Monkey, a 100 foot yacht what was once owned David Mills.  

David Mill's former yacht the Powder Monkey
Thames Valley Police

Lynden Scourfield, a former manager at HBOS in Reading who has been sentenced to 11 years and three months, enjoyed trips abroad.

Lynden Scourfield
Thames Valley Police

'The land beneath my home was sold'

Here's a horror story for homeowners.

The BBC has found that some developers are selling the land beneath a house - and it is perfectly legal to do so.

'The land beneath my home was sold'

Judge blasts 'corrupt and devious' financiers

David Mills (l) and Lynden Scourfield (r)
Thames Valley Police

More from Judge Martin Beddoe on the bank scam that cost many small business owners their livelihoods.

The judge has just sentenced six people for the crime, including two former HBOS managers, one of who was bribed with sex with prostitutes.

At the sentencing, Judge Beddoe said the case involved an "utterly corrupt senior bank manager letting rapaciously greedy people get their hands on vast amounts of bank money and their tentacles into ordinary and honest businesses".

"Letting them rip apart those businesses without a thought for the lives and livelihoods of those affected in order to satisfy their rapacious desire for money and the trappings of wealth." 

He said Scourfield, who has been sentenced to 11 years and three months in jail, had not shown a "shred of remorse" for ruining the lives of the employers and employees of those companies.

"People haven't just lost money but in some instances their homes, family and friends.

"People who could have expected to be comfortable in retirement were left cheated, defeated and penniless."

The judge described Mills as "a thoroughly corrupt and devious man, adept at exploiting the weaknesses of others". 

The fight to expose bank scam

BBC File on 4 exposes how six people - including two former managers at HBOS -  ruined lives and the David and Goliath battle to uncover the truth. 

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Inside Operation Hornet

Here's a reminder of the extraordinary statement that Thames Valley Police issued following the prosecution of six people who scammed HBOS small business customers out of millions.

It is well worth a read.

Victory for Thames Valley Police

BBC economics correspondent Andy Verity writes...

Victims reveal the true cost of bank scam

Paul and Nikki Turner from Cambridge said they were ignored for years when they tried to report what was going on after their publishing company, Zenith, was run into the ground.

Mrs Turner said: "They defrauded us, denied for 10 years that the fraud had happened, ignored the debt from the fraud and tried to evict us 22 times in order to cover up the fraud."

"The other victims have gone through terrible things, they have gone through the loss of businesses and lost homes. Other people lost everything, including marriages broken up, because of this." 

The price of 'bling and swag'

Lynden Scourfield
AP

At the sentencing of the six who were involved in ripping off HBOS customers, Judge Martin Beddoe said Scourfield "sold his soul" to Mills in exchange for "sex, for luxury trips ... for bling and for swag".

BreakingSix jailed in HBOS fraud scandal

Michael Bancroft (l) David Mills (c) Lynden Scourfield (r)
Getty Images

Two former HBOS bank managers and four 'turnaround consultants' have been jailed at Southwark Crown Court following a fraud and corruption scandal that cost customers and investors millions of pounds.  

David Mills received 15 years

Lynden Scourfield, former HBOS director received 11 years and 3 months

Michael Bancroft received 10 years

Mark Dobson, former HBOS manager received 4.5 years

Alison Mills received 3.5 years

John Cartright received 3.5 years

Cars: 1 humans: 0

Less and less human intervention is now needed in driverless cars. 

Scared yet?

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Euro is 'not to blame' for growth problems

Mario Draghi
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European Central Bank president Mario Draghi has told struggling countries that they only had themselves - not the euro - to blame for their economic problems.

At a ceremony marking Slovenia's 10th year in the euro, Mr Draghi said: "Countries that have implemented reforms do not depend on a flexible exchange rate to achieve sustainable growth."

"If a country has low productivity growth because of deep-rooted structural problems, the exchange rate cannot be the answer."

He pointed to a number of issues for Europe's economic problems such as the slow pace of structural reforms and a lack of financial integration between countries.

"We need to be very clear that it was not the euro as a currency that was to blame for this.National authorities knew what they had to do.

"The currency could not protect them from their own policy decisions," he added.

US stock markets retreat

Stock market trader
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US shares fell in early trading on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve last night failed to provide clarity on when interests rates will rise.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 33.78 points to 19,857.16. The S&P 500 dipped 2.61 points to 2,276.94 led by Ralph Lauren whose stock tumbled 11.18% after it announced the departure of its chief executive after just a year and a half.

The Nasdaq also fell, down 6.72 points to 5,635.93. 

How has inflation impacted the cost of living in the past year?
As the Bank of England gives its latest prediction for inflation, Wake Up to Money looks at what's been happening to the cost of living in the last year.

Ralph Lauren boss quits after clash with founder

Ralph Lauren
Getty Images

There's trouble afoot in the fashion industry.

Stefan Larsson, president and chief executive of Ralph Lauren, is leaving after a year and half after clashing with the septuagenarian founder of the label over a turnaround plan.

Ralph Lauren, who is executive chairman and chief creative officer, says: “Stefan and I share a love and respect for the DNA of this great brand, and we both recognize the need to evolve. However, we have found that we have different views on how to evolve the creative and consumer-facing parts of the business.

"After many conversations with one another, and our board of directors, we have agreed to part ways. I am grateful for what Stefan has contributed during his time with us, setting us in the right direction with the Way Forward Plan.”  

The company says its finance chief Jane Nielsen will lead the execution of the plan until it finds a new boss.

'New projects are being deferred'

Kamal Ahmed

Economics editor

Smoothing the Brexit transition

Canary Wharf
Getty Images

So, back to Bank of England governor Mark Carney and whether the UK's exit from the European Union will mean financial institutions will leave London.

He says: "The one thing I know is that the capacity is here, the collateral is here, the people are here, the capital is here, the expertise is here, the supervisory ability is here. The clearing is here. So the one jurisdiction which is going to have capacity is the UK.

"What we need to do, as regulators and as authorities, is – within whatever is agreed – try to smooth whatever transition needs to happen. It should not be underestimated how to do this. And if it is done conveniently, with workarounds, then one is taking "black box risk" in the jurisdiction that accepts the workaround. “

Now for an interval...

488 Spider
Getty Images

Stepping away from the Bank of England for a moment, Ferrari has, as reported by the BBC's Theo Legget, just published its annual results.

It says that its 488 Spider has been selling well. So in honour of that, here is a gratuitous car picture.

You're welcome.

Exodus in extremis

Mark Carney
BBC

More from Mark Carney on a potential post-Brexit exodus of financial institutions and staff from the City of London.

He says: "When we have a major global institution who reorganises itself and has to move people, capital, trading books, collateral, into the UK arm... In order to do it right it can take up to four years for one institution.

"We're talking about moving the whole activity, in extreme scenarios."

Forget the rainy day

There are hidden landmines within the Bank of England's Inflation Report and this is one of them - we just aren't saving enough.

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Ferrari powers ahead

BBC business correspondent tweets

Rate hike

Aberdeen Asset Management Chief Economist Lucy O’Carroll expects the next move in interest rates to be upwards.

The Governor has used today’s events to signal that the Bank’s next interest rate move will probably be a hike. It’s hard to understate how much of a turnaround that is from where we were in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum. The Bank’s post-referendum rate cut was an attempt to pre-empt a downturn that hasn’t occurred. “

Sterling falls further

The pound has now dropped again against the dollar, following the Bank of England's inflation report. 

It's now down by 0.79% at $1.2558.

Relocating financial services to EU would be 'hugely complicated'

Mark Carney
BBC

Pushed on whether Brexit would lead to a City exodus, Mr Carney urges caution. 

He says that a sector such as derivatives trading is hugely complicated to manage and regulate. Simply moving it all to another city would come with "huge operational and financial risk".

London has the right expertise, capacity and capital for such activities, he adds. 

"What we need to do as regulators is to try and smooth whatever transition that needs to happened... And if it is done conveniently with workarounds then one is talking black box risk in the jurisdiction that accepts the workarounds."