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Live Reporting

Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

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  1. Post update

    The live page is finished for the day. We'll be back as usual from 6am tomorrow. 

  2. Wall Street sets new records

    US stocks rose to fresh record highs, boosted by strong earnings reports from Wal-Mart and Home Depot, and continued optimism about the economic agenda of President Donald Trump.

    Wal-Mart's shares were the top gainer in the Dow Jones, rising 3% after the world's largest retailer reported higher-than-expected US sales. Home Depot shares gained 1.4% after the home improvement retailer reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit and sales, boosted by a stronger US housing market.

    The Dow Jones rose 0.58% to 20,743 points, the S&P 500 gained 0.6% to 2,365.38, and the Nasdaq added 0.47% to 5,865.95.

    All three indexes ended at all-time highs, with the Dow notching a record for an eighth straight session. 

  3. US Treasury's Mnuchin tells IMF to monitor currencies

    Donald Trump and Steve Mnuchin

    New US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (right) appears to be turning up the heat over Washington's concerns about alleged currency manipulation by its trade rivals. 

    According to a Treasury spokesman, he has told International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde that he expects the IMF to provide "frank and candid" analysis of exchange rate policies.

    Why does that matter? President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused countries like China of using trade and currency policies to cheat its trading partners. 

    Trump also threatened during the election campaign to slap tariffs on imports from China and declare the country currency manipulator, which would set in motion a process that could allow the US to take retaliatory action.

  4. Wall Street holding on to gains

    US stocks are breaking records again as investors come back from a long weekend hungry for deals. With less than 30 minutes to go before Wall Street closes, the Dow Jones was up 0.5% to 20,730 points, and the Standard & Poor's 500 was also 0.5% ahead, at 2,363. The Nasdaq gained 0.3% to 5,858.

    All three indexes are at record highs and are on track for their ninth gain in the last 10 days. 

    The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies added or 0.6% to 1,407, which put it in line for a record as well.

    US markets were closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday. 

  5. Asset freezing: 'sending a strong message'

    Criminal Finances Bill

    More on the Magnitsky amendment mentioned earlier...

    Security Minister Ben Wallace said the new powers allowing seizure of assets from human rights abusers would send a strong message around the world.

    "We are putting on the statute book a new power to take action based on gross human rights abuse, torture, degrading treatment. We have not done that before.

    "That's a major step and a major signal to countries around the world that if there is evidence presented we could interdict with their assets and make sure we send that very powerful message that London, the United Kingdom, is not a base for them to put their assets or ill-gotten gains from such behaviour," he said. 

  6. Brexit and bendy bananas

    Brexit Bill

    House of Lords


    An art installation of bananas

    "Bananas," begins Labour's Lord Giddens.

    He admits he is trying to get attention of the Lords but also says he wants to address the subject of EU regulations on "bendy bananas".

    Such regulations, he says, are often held up as a reason for leaving the EU.

    He suggests that when the UK leaves the EU it will still need similar regulations in order to trade bananas.

    However, he adds, that without EU membership the UK will have "less clout" in negotiating these regulations. 

  7. Campaigner hails asset seizure plan

    Sergei Magnitsky

    Earlier today, the UK government introduced proposals in the Criminal Finances Bill designed to target foreign individuals with assets in the UK who are guilty of human rights abuses. It was called the Magnitsky amendment, after Sergei Magnitsky (above), a lawyer who died in a Russian prison cell in 2009.

    Bill Browder, an investor with Hermitage Capital and colleague of Magnitsky's, has led a global campaign to highlight claims the lawyer was jailed on trumped up fraud charges and tortured. 

    Browder has been talking to the Press Association about the Commons move. He called it  "absolutely groundbreaking". Kremlin officials will be afraid of losing Belgravia mansions because of the new powers to freeze the assets of human rights abusers, he said.

    He believes the move will be greeted with rage in Russia. "Right now, prior to this Bill being passed, every tin pot dictator and torturer from countries like Russia and other places felt totally comfortable committing crimes at home and having homes in London but with this law these people's assets are at risk.

    "I think that this will cause apoplexy in the halls of the Kremlin as they worry about the safety of their Belgravia mansion. I think the law is absolutely groundbreaking. The only question now going forward is how robustly it will be implemented," he told PA.

    The Bill now goes to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.   

  8. Macy's profit drop

    shoppers at Macy's

    More on those earnings from Macy's.

    The US's largest department store chain said its earnings for the three month period that includes Christmas and the new year dropped nearly 13% as results were dragged down by, among other things, a dip in sales and store closures. The profit results beat Wall Street expectations, but Macy's said it would post another year of sales declines. Like many department stores, Macy's has been losing sales to online shops.

  9. Wall Street breaks records again

    Energy companies are rising with the price of oil and while Kraft Heinz stock is falling after it pulled a $143 billion offer for Unilever, other food makers are rising as investors bet Kraft will make an offer for one of those companies instead. 

    The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.5%, to 20,719. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, or 0.4%, to 2,361. The Nasdaq composite advanced 0.2%t, to 5,852. All three indexes are at their highest values ever and are on track for their ninth gain in the last 10 days. 

  10. Puerto Rico: debt D-day

    The newly-appointed head of a board overseeing Puerto Rico's finances is warning that the US territory will be hit with painful austerity measures in upcoming months. Interim Director Ramon Ruiz says that there are no other options given the island's critical economic situation. 

    Puerto Rico, sometimes called the Greece of the Caribbean, can't afford to pay its debts.

    Mr Ruiz says that if the local government doesn't submit a fiscal plan by the end of the month with cuts needed to address a $7bn deficit, the board will implement its own plan.

    Ruiz also said it is unlikely the board will extend a deadline that currently shields Puerto Rico from lawsuits from its creditors because it would not be fair to bondholders. 

    His comments come just days after a federal judge ruled that he will hear arguments from bondholder groups opposed to a debt moratorium. 

  11. Bag for life: UK's oldest carrier bag?

    Andy Giddings

    BBC Shropshire

    How's this for a "bag for life" - a woman still has a plastic bag she was given in 1981.

    Sue O'Dowd, from Much Wenlock, picked up the bag celebrating Tesco's 50th birthday at a store near Five Ways in Birmingham.

    Describing it as better quality than modern bags, she said it was currently being used, 36 years later, to store wool.

    Tesco bag
  12. Caravan use 'to rise 20% by 2020'

    Caravan park

    Caravan and motor-home use is expected to rise 20% by 2020, according to new industry figures.  

    Harvey Alexander, head of the Caravan Club, an organisation representing caravanners, says: "In 2008 we saw a rise in people wanting to discover more of the UK and I think that has continued. 

    "I also think people want to get back to nature... we're all so incredibly busy that it is really good to get back to those simple things in life."

    He also says caravans are much better made than they used to be, with most of them having central heating and wi-fi.  

  13. Russian and Libyan state oil giants sign deal

    Libyan oil terminal

    Russia's Rosneft oil giant has paved the way for investment in Libya's oil sector by signing a cooperation agreement with the National Oil Corporation of Libya.

    Under the deal, the two companies will establish a joint working committee to explore possible cooperation in various fields, including exploration and production.

    The deal underlines Russia's growing interest in Libya and support for eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar. 

    His forces control most of Libya's oil resources, and have recently been cooperating with the Tripoli-based NOC despite earlier attempts by eastern factions to sell oil independently. 

    Commodities trader Glencore is a shareholder in Rosneft and a trading partner for the Russian firm.

  14. FTSE 100 falls

    The FTSE 100 ended the day down 0.34% at 7,274.83, dragged lower by a 6.54% fall for HSBC. Capita and Rolls-Royce were the main gainers, up 3.89% and 3.46% respectively.

    On the FTSE 250, Wood Group was the stand-out faller. Shares in the oil services provider fell 7.95% after it reported a 28% fall in annual profits.

  15. Energy billionaire detained

    Austrian authorities say they have detained Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash on a European arrest warrant linked to organised crime and illegal money laundering allegations in Spain.

    The gas magnate was held in Vienna shortly after an appeals court in the city authorised his extradition to the US where he is wanted on bribery charges, in a shock decision overturning an earlier ruling.

    Firtash, one of Ukraine's richest men and a one-time ally of former president Viktor Yanukovych, had already been detained in Austria in March 2014 over the US allegations. He was however freed after paying a record Austrian bail of 125m euros ($130 million), but had to stay in the country until the appeals ruling.

  16. FBI pressed on iPhone hacking cost

    Inside of an iPhone

    Three news organisations have asked a US judge to force the government to reveal the amount it paid for technology to unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino gunman.

    In the court filings, the organisations said that there was "no adequate justification" for the FBI to continue to withhold the information.

    They added that they did not seek information that would jeopardise national security.

    The groups sued the FBI last year.

    Associated Press, Vice Media and Gannett, the parent company of USA Today, are seeking to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the event.

    The FBI has never named the security firm or group of hackers who helped unlock the phone, which was used by killer Syed Rizwan Farook.

    The process would have involved finding a way to bypass the passcode on a locked phone. In normal circumstances, if 10 incorrect attempts at the code are made, the device will automatically erase all of its data.

  17. Burger King group buys Popeyes

    Restaurant Brands International is buying fried chicken chain Popeyes for $1.8bn, bringing it under the same corporate umbrella as Burger King and Tim Hortons.

    Restaurant Brands was created after Burger King, controlled by Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, bought Tim Hortons in 2014. 3G is a big investor in Kraft Heinz, which has just tried - and failed - to buy Unilever.