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  1. Get in touch:
  2. FTSE 100 hits new closing high
  3. George Osborne to edit Evening Standard
  4. Ex-Barclays boss Bob Diamond in Panmure takeover
  5. British Airways owner launches new airline
  6. Theresa May vows to probe energy market

Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

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Have a good weekend

Thanks for tuning in to Business Live. We'll be back on Monday from 6am. Hope you have a good weekend. 

US markets end lower

US trader
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Wall Street stocks ended lower as a rally spurred by the Fed's decision to raise rates this week continued to lose steam.

The Dow Jones lost 0.10% to 20,914.62, the S&P 500 shed 0.13% to 2,378.25, and the Nasdaq was flat at 5,901.00.

Among the weakest performers were financial stocks, with  Goldman Sachs and  JP Morgan Chase  down 1.72% and 1.05% respectively. 

Healthcare stocks also struggled, after a study on Amgen's cholesterol drug Repatha disappointed investors, sending its shares 6% lower. 

This dragged on the S&P 500 healthcare index which fell 0.53%.

UK energy market probe 'not needed' - Energy UK

Gas hob

Earlier, the prime minister promised a full investigation into the UK energy market which she said was "not working for all consumers",

But Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, which represents the industry, tells the BBC that it is not needed.

“We often hear about the 'broken' energy market, yet there are now 50 suppliers providing more choice than ever and record numbers of customers switching," he says.

"Only this week the Committee on Climate Change report said energy bills have not materially increased since 2008 through households becoming more energy efficient."

He adds: "Further intervention now could risk undermining the positive changes happening in the energy market and kill off competition, which is driving innovation and benefits for consumers."

Disney to pay $3.8m in back wages

Disney parade, California
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Disney is to pay $3.8m in back wages after US officials found it had broken rules around the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping.

The wages will be paid to 16,340 employees in two divisions - Disney Vacation Club Management Corp and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US.

"The Department of Labor has identified a group of cast members who may have performed work outside of their scheduled shift, and we will be providing a one-time payment to resolve this," a Walt Disney World Resort spokeswoman told Reuters. 

Disney's Parks and Resorts unit operates themed parks around the world, including the Florida-based Walt Disney World Resort.

US and Germany face off over trade

Donald Trump has had his first personal encounter with the German leader Angela Merkel. During his election campaign he claimed that his opponent, Hillary Clinton wanted to be a US version of Mrs Merkel - and that wasn't meant as a compliment. 

Meanwhile, in Baden Baden, in Germany, America's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is meeting finance ministers from the biggest economies in the world - their aim: avoiding a global trade war. 

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'Distinct lack of chemistry'

Gary O'Donoghue

Washington Correspondent

Donald Trump and Angela Merkel

Both at the photo opportunity before the meeting, and during their press conference, there was a distinct lack of chemistry between these two leaders - who are at odds over so many issues.

Trade dominated their comments with the President insisting America was treated unfairly and that had to change. 

For her part, Angela Merkel said trade could be a win-win situation and globalisation could bring benefits to everyone. 

America's unhappiness over the failure of countries like Germany to pay their fair share to Nato was also on show - and Mrs Merkel said Germany would meet the 2% contribution rate by 2024.

Asked about claims that the British intelligence services had been involved in the alleged wiretapping of Trump Tower, the President referred back to Angela Merkel's own experience of having her phone tapped under the Obama administration. 

"At least we have something in common," said Mr Trump. 

Trump suggests Merkel was also tapped by Obama administration

The Trump and Merkel press conference has just finished - but not before the US President suggested that both he and German Chancellor Merkel were tapped by the Obama administration.  

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Trump 'I am not an isolationist'

President Trump is asked about his isolationist policy.

He says he doesn't believe in isolationism, but that the US has been treated unfairly in trade deals. 

"I am a trader, I am a fair trader, I am a trader who wants to see good for everybody worldwide," he says.  

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Immigration a 'privilege not a right'

Merkel meets Trump: A defining moment for US and Germany

Donald Trump and Angela Merkel
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President Trump's press conference with Germany's Angela Merkel has just started.

He says they had "productive talks" and thanked her for strong support for Nato.

But on the surface they appear to have little in common.

He is flamboyant, impetuous and prone to rhetoric which sets alarm bells ringing in Berlin. She is reserved, pragmatic and lingers over decisions.

He lambasted her open door refugee policy. She opposed his travel ban.

Jenny Hill from Berlin compares the two.  Read more.

Google bosses apologise to government

Google bosses have apologised to to the government for tax-payer funded adverts appearing alongside Youtube videos, according to a statement from the Cabinet Office.

The company has promised to review it advertising systems.

A government spokesman said:

"The Cabinet Office has told Google it expects to see a plan and a timetable for work to improve protection of government adverts to ensure this doesn't happen again. 

"YouTube advertising remains on hold while that work is carried out." 

A follow-up meeting is expected next week.

Ex-VW chairman to sell stake

Ferdinand Piech, ex-VW chairman
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Volkswagen's ex-chairman Ferdinand Piech is in talks to sell his stake in the group, its holding company has said.

The 79-year-old owns 14.7% in Porsche SE, which in turn holds a controlling stake in the Volkswagen group, with 52% of the voting rights.

In a statement, Porsche SE said that other members of the Porsche and Piech families would have first refusal on the stake, which is worth around $1bn.

It added: "At present, it is still unforeseeable whether the aforesaid changes in the shareholder structure of Porsche SE will in fact occur."

It comes after relations between the current management at VW and the other co-owners soured, after Mr Piech claimed that company bosses - including chief executive Martin Winterkorn - knew about the firm's emissions cheating earlier than they admitted.

5am starts for Osborne at Evening Standard

George Osborne MP
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More on George Osborne's appointment as editor of the Evening Standard. 

1) He will have to start work at 5am every day

2) He put himself forward for the job

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Why is the FTSE 100 climbing?

Rates decisions from both the UK and the US central banks boosted the FTSE this week, says Neil Wilson, an analyst at ETX Capital. 

First, he notes that the Bank of England's decision to hold rates at 0.25% on Thursday boosted the pound, but this did not dent shares, as it usually does. 

That was because the Bank of England hinted at future rate rises, helping the "risk-on mood".

However, it was the US Federal Reserve's decision to raise rates on Wednesday that really helped the FTSE, he says.

This suppressed the dollar and "sent miners soaring" on Thursday, into Friday. 

Oil prices also "firmed a touch", coming off three-month lows and boosting FTSE heavyweights Shell and BP. 

FTSE 100 hits new closing high

The London Stock Exchange
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After touching an intraday high earlier, the London market has chalked up a new closing record. 

The FTSE 100 ended the day 9.01 points higher at 7,424.96, a 0.12% gain. That follows yesterday's closing high of 7,415.95 points.

Banking and insurance stocks posted healthy gains, with Admiral Group 1.94% higher and RBS up 1.37%. 

AirBnB 'exploring long-term rentals'

AirBnB app
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AirBnB has grown rapidly by helping users rent short-term holiday accommodation. But now it is considering branching out to help them find places to live,  Bloomberg reports .

According to sources, the start-up has hired McKinsey & Co to research the long-term rental market, which is dominated in the US by classifieds site Craigslist.

AirBnB believes it can offer an edge, however, by connecting renters with safer, identity-verified landlords, the sources said.

It comes after the firm was accused of pushing up rents and creating housing shortages in some cities. 

AirBnB has been expanding in other directions, introducing itinerary options, tours and other travel experiences in November. Earlier this month it raised $1bn in fresh growth capital from investors.

'Osborne should resign over newspaper role'

US manufacturing output climbs

A factory, Detroit
Getty Images

US manufacturing output posted its sixth successive rise in February, the Federal Reserve said today.

Increased production of machinery, plastic, paper and metal products pushed total output up 0.5% compared to January, and 1.2% from a year ago. 

However, utilities output fell 5.7% due to unseasonably warm weather, leaving the Fed's overall industrial production index unchanged.

European airlines face $835m fine for cargo breaches

BA cargo, logo
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The EU has reimposed fines totaling $835m on 11 air cargo firms after the original decision was reversed on a technicality in 2015.

The European Commission found the companies had colluded to fix fuel and security surcharges between 1999 and 2006. 

Among the 11 firms are Air France, which faces a $197m fine, KLM which must pay $137m, and British Airways which owes $112m.

A number of the carriers said they would appeal the decision. 

FTSE 100 pares gains

FTSE 100 chart
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After touching a record high, the FTSE 100 has eased back and is now flat at 7,416.35 points. 

Connor Campbell, an analyst at SpreadEx, said: "After all the excitement in the last few days, coupled with an empty economic diary, it is understandable that the market has been running on fumes this Friday. 

"The worry is that, at their current highs, the Western indices are now lacking a sense of purpose, especially with the week’s US Federal Reserve meeting in the rear-view mirror. 

"Next week sees one of those dreary post-Fed calendars, leaving the UK inflation and retail sales readings - most pertinent to the pound’s current rebound, especially if the former hits 2% - as the main focus for investors."

US Treasury chief nets $67.2m pay day

Dearbail Jordan

Business reporter

Gary Cohn
Getty Images

The chief economic adviser to US President Donald Trump enjoyed a nice little earner in his last year as a regular Joe.

Documents show that Gary Cohn, director of the US National Economic Council, was awarded a cool $67.2m pay package for 2016 in his role as president and chief operating officer at investment bank Goldman Sachs. 

The largest chunk of Mr Cohn's deal was $46.9m worth of shares awards, under the bank's long-term incentive plan, which were paid out to prevent any questions of conflicts once he moved to work in the White House. 

In comparison, Goldman's chief executive Lloyd Blankfein was paid just $20.2m for 2016 following a $2m fall in his bonus to $4m.

Tough times.

Kashkari also questions Trumponomics

Neel Kashkari, Federal monetary policy committee member
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In explaining his decision not to vote for a rate rise, Fed committee member Neel Kashkari also raised doubts about Donald Trump's expansionary fiscal policies:

Financial markets seem to be pricing in some form of fiscal stimulus, perhaps tax cuts and/or increased spending, and perhaps a reduction in regulations... Those developments could be important to overall economic growth and, by extension, to the future path of monetary policy. But we have little information about what those new policies will actually be, what their magnitude will be and when they would take effect."

Fed dissenter warns on US employment and inflation

Neel Kashkari, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President
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The US economy is still falling short on employment and inflation, says Neel Kashkari, the only member of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy committee to vote against a rate hike on Wednesday.

The Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President said the Fed's previous level of rates was appropriate, in part because inflation was still below the central bank's 2% target.

"It seems unlikely that the US will experience a surge of inflation while the rest of the developed world suffers from low inflation," he added.

On jobs, he said that despite headline growth, the labour market was still showing signs of slack, with underemployment levels (as opposed to unemployment) still elevated. 

The Fed voted to raise rates by 0.25% to a range of 0.75-1%, citing stronger inflation and labour market data.

Alitalia turbulence ahoy

Business correspondent Joe Lynam tweets:

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Haddock takes a battering?

Battered haddock and chips

We've had one Friday night favourite, and here's another. It's also an update on one of our earlier stories - see post at 06:10.  

An international conservation body has given its backing to Scottish North Sea haddock after it was taken off a list of sustainable "fish to eat".

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) downgraded the fish on its  Good Fish Guide  after stock numbers fell.

But the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which certifies the sustainability of fish and seafood, contradicted the MCS advice.

It insisted consumers can enjoy haddock suppers with a "clear conscience". Read more here

Osborne addresses the Evening Standard staff

It looks like George Osborne has already met the Evening Standard staff, as this (rather cheeky) tweet from BusinessInsider's political editor shows: 

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US markets tread water

The New York Stock Exchange
Getty Images

Wall Street stocks were treading water today as a rally spurred by the Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates lost steam.

The Dow Jones was up 0.02% at 20,938.50, the S&P 500 was 0.02% lower at 2,380.97, and the Nasdaq was down 0.07% at 5,896.41.

Shares in financial and healthcare companies were struggling, with S&P 500 indexes for both sectors down 0.63% and 0.36% respectively.

Frying pan vs fire

Dearbail Jordan

Business reporter

At the end of possibly one of the worst weeks in his political career, Chancellor Philip Hammond is probably delighted to escape to Europe to meet with his G20 counterparts this weekend. 

However, will the likes of Germany and France be any kinder to him with Prime Minister Theresa May just days away from triggering Article 50?  

Don't relax just yet Chancellor.

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FTSE 100 touches (another) record high

A trader, London
Getty Images

A short while ago the FTSE 100 touched another record intraday high at 7,442.95 points.

It has since eased back to 7,438.94, representing a 0.31% rise since the start of the session.

Yesterday the index achieved a fresh closing high after investors welcomed a hike in US interest rates and the Dutch election result. 

Energy plans to come 'very soon' - May

Gas ring

The prime minister has said relying on customers to switch energy suppliers to keep bills down "is clearly not working". 

Theresa May said in a speech that the government would outline its plans "very soon". 

You might remember that Ed Miliband promised a price cap on energy bills when he was Labour leader. 

Mrs May didn't talk about price caps in her speech - but did say that relying on customers switching to cheaper tariffs wasn't enough.

Figures out last month showed energy customers changed suppliers at the highest rate in six years. But Ofgem warned that two thirds of customers were still on standard tariffs or pre-payment deals, which often offer far worse value.

Dhal up a curry at Morrisons

Bombay Bites
Getty Images

If you fancy a Friday night curry - and happen to shop at Morrisons in Bradford - you'll be able to pick it up from the supermarket tonight.

It's the first time a UK supermarket has had a takeaway restaurant in one of its stores - at least according to Just Eat, which is providing the online delivery service.  

Morrisons has leased out space in the store to Indian takeaway restaurant Bombay Bites.

Those fancying a kobeda kebab or a Bombay lamb biryani can dhal up on the phone or go online. 

Three salaries Osborne...

The former chancellor will get his MP's salary, £650,000 for four days a month at BlackRock, and a bit more on top from the Lebedevs, as Financial Times media correspondent David Bond tweets:

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May to crack down on energy prices

Theresa May speaking at Spring Conference
Getty Images

More on the news that government is to investigate the energy market in an effort to tackle high prices.

"Our party did not end the unjust and inefficient monopolies of the old nationalised energy corporations only to replace them with a system that traps the poorest customers on the worst deals," said Mrs May.

"So we are looking very closely at how we can address this problem, and ensure a fairer deal for everyone." 

PM promises energy market probe

At the Conservative Party Spring Conference, Theresa May said the government would look into energy bills because it is "one market that is manifestly not working for all consumers".

The prime minister said energy prices had risen 158% over the last 15 years - increases which had hit "ordinary working families". 

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Forex markets get that Friday feeling?

Pound, dollar and euro notes
Getty Images

Currency markets are taking a bit of a breather after a hectic week, with sterling close to the 1.15 level against the euro that it marched to after the Bank of England’s surprise interest rate vote split yesterday. The wider context though is that the sterling/euro rate is still languishing towards the lower end of its 2017 trading range, some distance below the high of 1.19 euros seen less than a month ago. Sterling almost got as high as $1.24 versus the US dollar earlier this morning, which is quite a reversal from the 8-week low - close to $1.21 - seen on Tuesday before the Federal Reserve went on to dampen expectations over how quickly US interest rates might rise going forward.

Chris Saint Senior analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown Currency Service

Sterling update

Meanwhile on the currency markets, the pound has now dipped against the dollar. It's at $1.2356, a fall of 0.03% (see chart).

However, it's gained a bit more ground against the euro - it's at 1.1506 euros, a rise of 0.29%.   

Pound dollar chart intraday chart 17 March 2017

FTSE 100 edges ahead

FTSE 100 intraday graph

Let's check in on the markets again. 

The  FTSE 100  has inched ahead again over the past hour. It's at 7,431.14, that's a rise of 15 points or 0.20%.

The main index has had a bit of an up and down morning. Of course, following Thursday's record close they key question is can it do it again.

Standard gig

On the day new research reveals more than a million people now work for the "gig" economy ... BBC business presenter Susannah Streeter conflates two stories.

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Explosive combination?

Some people think that George Osborne shouldn't try to juggle the demands of political office and editing a newspaper. 

Roy Greenslade, former editor of the Daily Mirror and now professor of journalism at City University is one of them.

This, I think, is an ethical minefield: being an editor and an MP at the same time. To be honest I think parliament should consider this as to whether it is really compromising for an MP to be in this particular situation.