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Summary

  1. Pound rises on service sector growth
  2. Miners help to drive FTSE 100 gains
  3. Australian cyclone pushes coal prices higher
  4. Builder Galliford Try abandons Bovis bid
  5. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

Live Reporting

By Russell Hotten

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Post update

    That's all from us for another day. We'll be back as usual from 6am tomorrow. Good night.

  2. Wall Street turns negative in late trading

    US stocks turned negative and the dollar slipped on Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve showed planned changes in its bond investment policy, reversing a rally spurred by a strong jobs report earlier in the day.

    The Dow Jones fell 41.02 points, or 0.2%, to 20,648.22, the S&P 500 lost 7.25 points, or 0.31%, to 2,352.91 and the Nasdaq dropped 34.13 points, or 0.58%, to 5,864.48.

  3. Criminal gangs use UK ports to defraud EU customs

    Lorry driver at Customs

    Systematic failures by UK customs officials have allowed criminal gangs to defraud the European Union of at least £2bn in just four years plus billions more in lost VAT, the EU anti-fraud office OLAF has claimed.

    Olaf said failures by Customs and Excise had cost at least 5.2bn euros (£4.5bn) in lost duties and VAT.

    The losses relate to clothing and footwear exported mainly from China.

    An HMRC spokesman said its experts did not recognise OLAF's estimates. As a result it planned to challenge them, he added.

    You can read more on this story here .

  4. Pepsi ad: pushing the boundaries is risky

    Kendall

    Advertising expert David Haigh says brands are right to push the boundaries, but news that Pepsi has pulled its latest ad, featuring reality TV star Kendall Jenner, shows the risks .

    “Successful marketing campaigns have the power to add millions to the value of a brand," says Haigh,chief executive of Brand Finance.

    "However, ill-conceived campaigns equally have the power to significantly erode hard earned brand equity. Pepsi, which already had a difficult 2016 with its brand value dropping by 4% to $18.3bn, could face further losses in the value and strength of its brand as a result of this ad."

    Haigh adds: "Companies are right to push the boundaries and take risks when it comes to marketing products, but this proves that fallout from a single video can have a very damaging effect.”

  5. British woman arrested in tax fraud crackdown

    A British woman has been arrested and assets worth millions of euros have been recovered in a tax evasion probe in Britain and The Netherlands, apparently involving Swiss bank accounts, Dutch officials have said.

    The news came after at least four European countries and Australia said last week they had launched a sweeping investigation, reportedly targeting the Swiss financial giant Credit Suisse. 

    "A British woman, 46, was arrested after a joint investigation with the British Revenue and Customs Service into her and her 51-year-old Dutch husband. Assets of more than 6m euros ($6.3m) have been confiscated," the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) said in a statement. 

    During Tuesday's raids, agents seized two villas in The Netherlands, luxury British and German cars and a speedboat, as well raiding the couple's business and homes in Austria, Britain and The Netherlands. Tax authorities became suspicious of the couple after they withdrew more than 300,000 euros in cash from Dutch banks using credit cards linked to foreign bank accounts, the FIOD said.

  6. 'Companies to blame' for restricting women's ambiton

    Woman sitting among businessmen

    Women are just as ambitious as men at the start of their careers but become less so if companies don't encourage them, a study has found. 

    The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) surveyed 200,000 employees (including 141,000 women) from 189 countries, and found that companies had the greatest impact on a women's attitude to her career - not family status or motherhood. 

    Among the under-30s, there was little difference in ambition between the sexes, it found.

    However, among those aged 30 to 40, the gap widened to 17% at firms thought not to be progressive about gender diversity, in turn impacting the number of women seeking promotions. 

    By contrast there was almost no gap at more progressive companies. 

    Matt Krentz, a senior partner at BCG, said: "Both genders are equally ambitious and equally rational.

    "Ambition is not a fixed trait; it is an attribute that can be nurtured or damaged over time through the daily interactions and opportunities employees experience at work." 

  7. Pepsi ad misses the mark

    Kendall Jenner in the Pepsi

    Pepsi has pulled an advert that sparked an outcry and accusations that the drinks maker was trivialising recent street protests across the US.

    The advert featured reality TV star Kendall Jenner leaving a photo shoot to join a heavily policed demonstration.

    She defuses the tension by walking to the police line and handing an officer a can of Pepsi, prompting cheers.

    In a statement  posted on its website , Pepsi said they did not intend to make light of serious issues.

    "Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding, the company said. "Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout." 

  8. Tsipras to demand eurozone summit if creditor talks fail

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

    Talks over Greece's debt and reform plans are still hanging in the balance.

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said he will demand a eurozone summit if creditor talks on Friday fail to break months of deadlock over the issue.

    The impasse has held up the latest tranche of Greece's 86-billion-euro bailout, agreed in 2015, which it needs for debt repayments in July. 

    The IMF has said Greece needs more leeway to pay its mountainous debts before further rescue funds can be released. But the eurozone, which has already given the country significant debt relief, is reluctant to go much further. 

    "If the Eurogroup is not in a position to (produce a result) on Friday, I have asked EU President Donald Tusk to call a summit of eurozone countries," Mr Tsipras said on Wednesday. 

    However, both he and Mr Tusk said they hoped there would be a breakthrough.

  9. JP Morgan upgrades UK growth outlook

    Women shopping

    Investment bank JPMorgan has upgraded its growth forecast for the UK economy in 2017 after a stronger-than-expected start to the year.

    It now expects UK GDP to expand by 1.9% this year, up 0.2 percentage points from its previous forecast.

    Allan Monks, UK economist at the bank, cited a “slower than anticipated loss of momentum” in a year where rising inflation is expected to curb consumer spending and hit businesses.

    The bank’s estimate is still below the 2% expected by the Bank of England in 2017.

  10. Taser International to change its name

    Taser

    Taser International - the maker of the eponymous stun gun - is changing its name to Axon.

    The company wants to signify that its product portfolio had expanded past weaponry to include a “much wider range of technologies”, including connected devices and software.

    It also said it was also planning to offer free body cameras to all US police officers.

    The Nasdaq-listed firm's ticker will change from TASR to AAXN at the start of trading on Thursday. 

  11. Zuckerberg says AI tools will halt the spread of revenge porn

    Mark Zuckerberg

    Following news that Facebook is taking fresh action in a bid to halt revenge porn being spread across its platforms , Mark Zuckerberg has put a statement on his Facebook profile.

    "We're focused on building a community that keeps people safe. That means building technology and AI tools to prevent harm," the Facebook founder says.

    "Today we're rolling out new tools to prevent "revenge porn" from being shared on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.

    "Revenge porn is any intimate photo shared without permission. It's wrong, it's hurtful, and if you report it to us, we will now use AI and image recognition to prevent it from being shared across all of our platforms," he writes.

  12. Wall Street update

    Wall Street's main markets are extending their early gains, with investors cheered by strong US employment figures. All 30 Dow Jones stocks are higher. The index is up 0.76% at 20,046.5 points, lead by a 2% rise for Du Pont. The S&P 500 is up 0.66% at 2,375.6, and the Nasdaq has added 0.57% at 5,932.3.

  13. PPG turns up the heat in pursuit of Dulux maker Akzo

    Tins of Dulux paint

    The chief executive of US paints company PPG Industries has said the management of Dutch takeover target AkzoNobel could face a shareholder revolt if it continues to avoid meeting with PPG to discuss a possible bid.

    Michael McGarry said that he had been approached by "virtually all" of Akzo's top 20 largest shareholders after PPG proposed a €24.5bn takeover of AkzoNobel, maker of Dulux paint.

    None of the shareholders were opposed to the idea, he said. "I think shareholders are dismayed at being placed last in all (Akzo's) stakeholder conversations," he told Reuters in an interview.

    McGarry said he would push ahead with a draft offer for Akzo by 1 June, and would not rule out a bid that did not have the endorsement of Akzo's boards, although he said there were no current plans to make such an offer.       

  14. Co-op sorry after 'outrageous sexism' complaint

    Image of Co-op advert

    There are probably a few red faces at the Co-op this afternoon after an attempt at humour (or what they think passes for it) came back to bite them.

    The firm has changed its advert for chocolate Easter eggs after being accused of "outrageous sexism".

    The advert's tagline for its Fairtrade eggs which appeared in national newspapers over the weekend said: "Be a good egg. Treat your daughter for doing the washing up."

     The Manchester-based supermarket said: "We are proud of our organisation's equality and diversity, we are sorry."

    You can read more here .

  15. FTSE 100 ends the day with a small gain

    The FTSE 100 eked out a small gain on a lacklustre trading day. Miners were the biggest risers for much of the session, gaining on the back of higher oil and metals prices. But the biggest riser was restaurants and Costa Coffee owner Whitbread, up 2.95%.

    South Africa-focused insurer Old Mutual continued to suffer amid concerns about political turmoil in the country. It's shares fell 4.38%.

    At the close, the FTSE 100 was up 0.13% at 7,331.6 points.

  16. Tech incubator's shares slide

    Dan Thomas

    Business reporter

    Lab worker

    Shares in Allied Minds, the tech and life sciences incubator, continue to slide in afternoon trading after it announced plans to spin off seven portfolio companies.

    The shares are now almost 26% down.

    Allied said the businesses, which make up around a quarter of its portfolio, would be sold or liquidated, with cost savings of $14m (£11.2m) in 2017.

    Allied helps to turn academic research into commercial products, and listed its shares on the London Stock Exchange in mid 2014. However, its stock has fallen 70% since hitting all-time highs in April last year.

    The US firm has some high-profile shareholders on its roster, with Woodford Investment Management - run by star fund manager Neil Woodford - its top owner with 28%.

  17. Williams & Glyn management to quit

    Williams & Glyn

    The management running RBS's Williams & Glyn division is stepping down just months after the lender ditched plans to sell the division. 

    RBS said Jim Brown, chief executive of Williams & Glyn, would leave next month. Chief financial officer Leigh Bartlett, chief operating officer Chris Davis and chief risk officer Rick Hunkin are also stepping down.

    It comes days after the European Commission launched an investigation in to a UK government plan to spare RBS from being forced to sell Williams & Glyn.

    RBS had been looking to offload about 300 Williams & Glyn branches, or float the business, to meet EU rules.

    But it struggled to sell them, and in February the Treasury and RBS proposed scrapping the sale in favour of an alternative plan to boost competition in the banking sector to appease EU officials. 

    EU regulators are now asking for responses to the plan, which they will "carefully review".

    Paul Fox, managing director of retail and business banking at Williams & Glyn, will step in as its interim chief executive.

  18. Rail union to press ahead with 31st Southern strike

    Southern sign on side of train

    A strike by workers on Southern Railway will go ahead on Saturday after the rail union said "no specific proposals" were put forward by the company in talks.

    Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will walk out for 24 hours - the 31st day of action in a year-long dispute over staffing and driver-only trains. 

    The two sides met on Tuesday to try to find a breakthrough to the bitter dispute, which has caused travel misery for hundreds of thousands of passengers, and said they were "considering" their positions. 

    RMT leader Mick Cash told his members: "Regrettably there have been no specific proposals from Southern to justify suspending the industrial action." 

  19. Boeing forms new venture capital arm

    US engineering giant Boeing has formed a new ventures arm group called "Boeing HorizonX".

    It says it has invested in two tech start-ups:

    • Upskill - an enterprise augmented reality software firm (augmented reality software overlays digital information onto the physical world via an electronic device)
    • Zunum Aero - which develops electric aircraft