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Live Reporting

Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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  1. Post update

    That's it for another week on the livepage. We return at 6am on Monday. 

    Have a good weekend all.

  2. Wall Street closes slightly lower

    Wall Street's main markets fell slightly on Friday on mixed earnings and cautious investor sentiment ahead of the French presidential election this weekend.

    With polls in France showing a tight contest ahead of Sunday's first round of voting and the chance of a run-off between two anti-eurozone candidates, "nobody wants to take any new position," said Karl Haeling, of LBBW. 

    The Dow Jones dropped 0.2% to 20,547.55 points, while the broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.3% to 2,348.70. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.1% at 5,910.52.

    General Electric fell 2.4% as it reported $619m in profits in the first quarter of the year, up from a $61m loss in the same period a year ago.

    Honeywell International jumped 2.7% as first-quarter earnings came in above analyst expectations. 

    But Mattel slumped 13.6% after reporting a $113.2m loss in the first quarter, saying sales were damaged by a glut of toys after the holiday period. 

  3. Greece: inching towards more debt relief

    The International Monetary Fund has praised Greece's fiscal over-performance in 2016, but said it still needed clarification from eurozone governments on what debt relief Athens could expect before joining the latest Greek bailout.

    Greek statistics office data showed on Friday that the country far exceeded its international lenders' budget demands, with a primary surplus of 3.9% of GDP last year.

    "The number... is well above what we have been projecting, what anybody has been projecting," said Paul Thomsen, the head of the IMF's European department.

    Greece is on its third international bailout since 2010, but it has to pass reviews of reforms demanded by the lenders in exchange for new cheap loans.  

  4. Trump signs order to simplify tax

    President Donald Trump has promised some "very, very major changes" to US taxes.

    He has signed three new presidential directives "to further protect our workers and our taxpayers", the first of which centres on tax simplification.

    The other two directives cover reviews of financial regulations introduced in the wake of the financial crisis.

    He said today's action "is really the beginning of a whole new way of life that this country hasn't seen in really many, many years. I want to thank you and I want to God bless America".

    The President is set to announce his tax cut plan next week as he heads towards his 100th day in office on 29 April.

  5. Markets 'nervous' ahead of French election

    French presidential hopefuls

    France will hold the first round of voting in its presidential election on Sunday - and the stock markets are jittery.

    Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading, tells Reuters: "After Brexit everyone has to be concerned.

    "People are not going to trade if they are nervous nowadays - there is a little nervousness, a lot of uncertainty, so let's wait and see." 

  6. US denies ExxonMobil a waiver to resume Russian drilling

    Rex Tillerson, former boss of ExxonMobil and US Secretary of State (L) and Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
    Image caption: Rex Tillerson, former boss of ExxonMobil and US Secretary of State (L) and Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

    ExxonMobil - once led by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - will not be given permission to bypass American sanctions against Russia and resume drilling with the Russian state-owned energy giant Rosneft. 

    US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: "In consultation with President Donald J. Trump, the Treasury Department will not be issuing waivers to US companies, including Exxon, authorising drilling prohibited by current Russian sanctions."

    The original agreement between ExxonMobil and Rosneft was signed when Mr Tillerson was president and chief executive of the US company. 

  7. Trump tax plan boosts US stocks

    US stock markets have trimmed losses after President Donald Trump said he will announce tax cuts next week.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now 8.8 points lower at 20,569.91.

    The S&P 500 is down 5.72 points at 2,350.12.

    The Nasdaq is off 9.22 points at 5,907.56. 

  8. Trump to reveal tax cuts plan next week

    Donald Trump

    US President Donald Trump is set to announce a "massive tax cut" next week as he approaches the end of his first 100 days in office.

    President Trump told the Associated Press that the cuts will be "bigger I believe than any tax cut ever" and they will be announced "Wednesday or shortly thereafter".

  9. US traders send stocks lower


    The Dow Jones Industrial Average has reversed early gains and is now trading 45.25 points lower at 20,533.46.

    Technology giant Microsoft is leading the risers, up 1.2% at $66.29.

    Telecoms operator Verizon heads the fallers, down 2.4% at $47.21, after reporting disappointing first quarter customer retention numbers this week.

    The S&P 500 is tracking 8.87 points lower at 2,346.97.

    The Nasdaq is also down, 15.87 points at 5,900.90, with toymaker Mattel the major loser after it reported bigger losses and smaller sales for the first three months of the year.

    Its shares are down 11.86% at $22.22. 

  10. A selfie with a purpose


    Apparently, there is an app for everything - including one for voting.

    A company called Smartmatic has developed an app which uses facial biometric data combined with a government-issued ID card to create a digital identity. This is then used to let people register for elections and cast a vote. 

    Presumably, it also means governments or companies can track the way people vote.

    What could possibly go wrong.

    Read the full story here.

  11. US to review tax inversion rules

    Steve Mnuchin

    US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that US President Donald Trump will also seek a review of tax inversion rules that were put in place under the Obama administration.

    The rules were written to discourage US companies from moving their headquarters overseas to cut their tax bill. 

    On Friday, Mr Mnuchin said: "It's one of the significant things and one of the things we would be looking at."

  12. RBS looms large over Lloyds triumph


    Commenting on the government recouping the entire £20.3bn it was forced to pump into Lloyds, Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: "Of the UK banks, Lloyds has cleaned up its act fastest since the financial crisis.

    "The share price was badly hit by Brexit [see graph below], but Lloyds has recovered much of its poise since, thanks to some decent numbers from the bank itself and from the wider economy."

    Lloyds shares price

    He continues: "For the Treasury, the elephant in the room is of course RBS, which required twice as much financial support from the taxpayer as Lloyds. The RBS share price needs to double from its current level before the taxpayer breaks even on the bailout, and that isn’t happening anytime soon.

    "As a result the government seems to be coming round to the realisation that it might have to sell shares at a loss, which will be an embarrassment to say the least."

  13. BreakingLloyds £20.3bn bailout 'repaid in full'


    Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced that the £20.3bn taxpayers stumped-up to rescue Lloyds during the financial crisis has been paid back.

    The government was forced to save the bank in 2008 after Lloyds rescued HBOS. The state began selling down its 43.4% stake in 2013 and expects to offload the remaining 2% later this year.   

    The taxpayer retains a 72% holding in the UK's other major financial crisis casualty, Royal Bank of Scotland.

    However Mr Hammond hinted earlier this week that the stake might be sold at a loss.

  14. Trump to order review of 'too big to fail' measures

    Donald Trump

    Donald Trump is due to visit the US Treasury Department on Friday for the first time.

    While he is there, he will order a review of measures that were put in place after the financial crisis of 2008 to police major banks and financial institutions.

    Reuters reports President Trump will sign two memos.

    One will temporarily bar regulators from identifying new non-bank financial institutions as "systemically important financial institutions” (SIFIs) needing tighter oversight as well as reviewing what constitutes a company that is "too big to fail". 

    The other will temporarily halt to the use of “orderly liquidation authority” to unwind troubled financial institutions, unless directed by the president. 

  15. US oil prices fall below $50

    US oil rig

    US oil prices have slipped under $50 a barrel as concerns about over-supply fail to dissipate.

    West Texas Intermediate is down 2.2% at $49.61 a barrel.

    Brent crude prices have stayed above $50 but only just after losing 1.9% today to fall to $51.99.

  16. A day without coal

    UK coal miner

    We will know at exactly 10.51pm this evening whether the UK has gone through the first full working day without coal power. 

    In the meantime, check out why today is such a landmark moment for Britain's energy industry.

  17. Barbie fails to prop up Mattel shares

    Yoga Barbie
    Image caption: Yoga Barbie

    Stock market traders are showing no mercy against Barbie-owner Mattel.

    Shares in the toymaker have tanked 11.34% to $22.35 after reporting wider losses and a steeper fall in first quarter sales.

    Mattel has been working to widen the appeal of its pneumatic blonde doll by introducing curvy, petite and tall versions.  However sales of Barbie fell 13% in the three months to March.

  18. Volkswagen sentenced to three years' probation


    German car-maker Volkswagen has been sentenced to three years' probation following the diesel emissions scandal as part of a $4.3bn US settlement.

    As he approved the settlement, US District Judge Sean Cox said: "This is a case of deliberate and massive fraud.

    "This is a very serious and very troubling case involving an iconic automobile company. I just can't believe VW is in the situation it finds itself in today."