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  1. Nasdaq and S&P 500 touch highs
  2. Oil prices rise in lower inventories
  3. Bank of England staff to vote on strike
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Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan

All times stated are UK

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Good night

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And on that bombshell, thank you for following Business Live today.

We look forward to you joining us bright(ish) and early on Friday at 6.00am for all the breaking business and economics news.

Sir Richard Branson: 'A very sad day for America'

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson says that Donald Trump's decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord is a "very sad day" for America and says it is now up to businesses to drive change.

BreakingGeneral Electric 'disappointed' at Paris accord withdrawal

Peabody Energy closes lower

With Trump's announcement on withdrawing from the climate change deal widely expected, yesterday actually saw shares in Peabody Energy, the US's largest publicly traded coal company fall by 2.2%.

And following the confirmation today Peabody shares fell another 0.6%.

Go figure.

BreakingElon Musk to leave Trump councils

Billionaire Elon Musk is keeping to his word to leave Donald Trump's advisory councils. The boss of electric car maker Tesla and SpaceX tweets:

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Paris accord: 'Trump puts US first'

Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruit tweets:

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Paris accord: Al Gore reacts

Former US vice president and environmentalist Al Gore says:

Al Gore statement
Al Gore

US stock markets close at record highs

US stock market traders
Getty Images

The US stock markets have welcomed US President Donald Trump's decision to pull America out of the Paris climate accord, with markets closing at new highs.

The S&P 500 has closed up 18.19 points at a record high of 2,429.99. The Nasdaq also hit a fresh record at 6,246.83, after rising 48.31 points.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 133.81 points higher at 21,142.46.

BreakingOil prices fall

Brent crude is down 0.5% at $50.50 a barrel.

West Texas Intermediate has fallen 0.2% to $48.21 a barrel.

Trump: Accord could cost America 2.7m jobs

US President Donald Trump claims that compliance with the terms of the Paris accord "could cost America as much as 2.7m lost jobs by 2025".

Trump: Here to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris

Donald Trump
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"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," says Donald Trump to a round of applause.

Paris accord: Barack Obama reacts

This is just in...

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BreakingUS markets soars on Paris accord withdrawal

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has soared 109.73 points to 21,118.38 following the US President's decision to pull America out of the Paris climate accord.

The S&P 500 is up 14.44 points to 2,426.24.

The Nasdaq rises 39.78 points to 6,238.29.

US will begin talks on new climate deal

Donald Trump said the US will start talks to make a better climate deal.

BreakingTrump pulls US out of Paris accord

US President Donald Trump has officially announced that the world's largest economy will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

The Paris agreement means nations will help to keep global temperature rises well under 2C.

The US contributes about 15% of global emissions of carbon.

US economy coming back 'very, very rapidly'

US President Donald Trump is now speaking.

He wants to talk about the "tremendous" progress the new administration has made with the US economy which he says is coming back "very, very rapidly".

Mayor of London backs climate accord

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweets

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How is Earth doing?

While we're waiting for US President Donald Trump to make his announcement on the Paris climate accord, here's a little light reading...

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Oil prices tick upwards

Oil rigs under construction
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The price of oil has risen a little.

Brent crude is up 0.4% to $50.95 a barrel following data which showed a higher than expected fall in US oil inventories in the week to 26 May.

West Texas Intermediate is also ahead, up 0.7% at $48.64.

Trump 'set to pull US out of Paris accord'

It is looking like US President Donald Trump is going to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

CNN reports that the White House has begun informing members of congress that the US will step back from the agreement.

Read here what it means if the US withdraws.

Is Fred the shred heading for the dock?

Fred Goodwin
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RBS's former boss Fred Goodwin could appear in court, if a small group of investors get their way.

Reuters reports that while a large number of shareholders have accepted an out-of-court settlement with the bank over a £12bn rights issue during the financial crisis, a faction is seeking more time to raise £7m for a trial.

The RBoS Shareholder Action Group has accepted a settlement of 82p a share, compared to the 200p-230p shareholders paid at the time of the fund-raising.

The breakaway group wants an extra 20p.

Linde and Praxair win board approval for mega-merger

The boards of industrial gas giants Linde and Praxair have voted to approve a $73bn merger to rival French competitor Air Liquide.

The new company will be incorporated in Ireland but governance activities such as board meetings will mainly take place in the UK.

Fed sets date for US bank stress test results

The US Federal Reserve will release the results of tests on banks' capital strength later this month.

Will these be the last that America's financial sector will have to go through under the Dodd-Frank bank rules?

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How would you help small businesses?

Election panel

The panel was asked how they would help small businesses in Bedford.

Mohammad Yassin (Labour) said: "We would ensure a better workforce and put more money into education and training, something which the Conservative have not done.

"We would also ask the council to provide lower business rates... [but the council has been hit by] £35m of cuts. We need more money."

Richard Fuller (Conservative) said: "Since I became MP I have tried to increase the number of small businesses in Bedfordshire and the number has increased dramatically.

"We should focus together on how to get measures to maintain lower rates and supporting people who run businesses."

Henry Vann (Lib Dem) said: "The first thing I would do is block the Conservative plan to make small businesses do quarterly tax returns.

"The Conservatives are only talking about deregulation."

Lucy Bywater (Green Party) said: "We would support small businesses because we believe in local communities and the local economy.

"We'd give extra help to start-up companies." She said she was concerned that Amazon was paying too little tax compared with local firms in Bedford.

US factory activity rises

American factory workers
Getty Images

US stock markets have undoubtedly been boosted by stronger economic data on Thursday.

The Institute for Supply Management reports that its index of national factory activity rose to a reading of 54.9 in May from 54.8 in April.

A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing, which accounts for about 12% of the US economy.

Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG, tells Reuters: "The economy is moving forward at an acceptable pace and the Fed is likely to hike rates in June."

But he adds: "There is a cloud over the path of rates later on this year."

Where now for the pound?

Pound v dollar
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Prime Minister Theresa May called the general election on 18 April and here is how the pound has performed against the dollar since then.

Sterling v Dollar

Polls showing the gap between the Conservative party and Labour narrowing have weighed on sterling in recent days. You can read all the up-to-date poll information here.

So, what now for sterling?

"The markets have certainly stabilised," says Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index. "We're very much range-bound in the pound as we lead up to this election so it suggests that there's such a disparity in the polls that the market is not taking one poll as truth."

Some analysts are turning their attention to post-election Brexit talks.

Investment bank Credit Agricole said: "The UK is facing a hard Brexit and a very uncertain political period ahead. Although undervalued, we think sterling will remain weak to compensate for the loss of access to the single market."

Ballot box blues for house prices

BBC Radio 5 live

Aerial shot of houses

UK house prices have fallen for three consecutive months for the first time since 2009, according to building society Nationwide.

But Martyn Baum, former president of the National Association of Estate Agents, says the slowdown can be explained by there being a general election around the corner.

"We saw it before the referendum and we see it before general elections," he told 5 live. "People take a bit of 'Let's wait and see approach' for a big decision in their life."

New target for Archer

Business journalists' favourite economic commentator, Howard Archer, has left IHS Markit and is joining the EY Item Club

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S&P 500 hits new record

Following the lead of the Nasdaq, the S&P has now reached an all-time high of 2,420.67 after rising by 8.87 points.

Merkel reinforces support for Paris accord

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump
Getty Images

Still no word from President Donald Trump on whether the US will back the Paris climate accord, but there are some more words from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

She says that she regards the Paris accord as an important agreement and is pleased that many other governments see it that way.

Over to you, Donald.

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BreakingSouthern Rail workers suspend overtime ban

Southern Rail strike
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A ban on working overtime at Southern Railways has been suspended for two weeks.

The train drivers' union ASLEF says the cessation will allow a number of issues to be discussed with management, including finding a resolution to the dispute over driver-only trains.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, says: "The company has indicated that it is prepared to negotiate with us on a range of outstanding issues and, therefore, we have suspended our overtime ban.

"We now have a fortnight to try and find a resolution which will work for passengers, for staff, and for the company, too."

Final prices for London

The FTSE 100 finished Thursday higher, but not at a new record.

The blue chip index rose 23.82 points to 7,543.77.

Bookmaker Paddy Power led the risers, up 4.34% at £84.20. Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey was the biggest faller, down 6.45% at 190p.

The FTSE 250 closed up 38.45 points at 20,010.62.

Dow Jones reverses fall

US jobs
Getty Images

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now up flip-flopping earlier on Thursday and is trading 30.16 points ahead at 21,038.81.

Figures from payrolls processor ADP showed that employers had added 253,000 jobs last month. On Friday, US non-farm payrolls will show how many new positions were created in May.

Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab, says: "The ADP numbers were good today and often times, but not always, they are a good indication of the monthly jobs data."

However, some are doubtful about the data. "Take this morning's estimate from ADP...with a huge grain of salt," said John Herrmann, rates strategist at MUFG Securities Americas.

The reality of zero hours

Have your say...

London markets close up

Trading on the FTSE indexes has finished for today. The FTSE 100 has closed up 27.78 points at 7,547.73.

The FTSE 250 finished up 42.73 points at 20,014.90.

Business Live will return with the final reading once all the trades have been settled.

Falling inventories lift oil prices

American oil stocks fell by 6.2m in the week to 26 June, according to the Energy Information Administration, against expectations of a 2.5m barrel drop.

The data has lifted Brent crude by 0.35% to $50.94 a barrel.

West Texas Intermediate rose by 0.56% to $48.59.

Sometimes tax does need to be taxing

Pound edges down on closing election gap

The pound is currently trading 0.02% lower against the dollar at $1.2888 as one poll shows that the gap between the Conservatives and Labour is closing following Wednesday's general election debate.

As we head towards voting day on 8 June, Charles Hepworth, Investment Director at asset manager GAM, says that the markets are assuming that Theresa May is going to win.

But he says: "If recent volatility in sterling signals anything, then Mrs May should be more worried than she is currently showing.

"If the latest polls are any indication of the likely result, a smaller-than-expected Tory majority would be a clear disappointment for markets."

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Oil prices struggle to settle

Oil rig
Getty Images

Brent crude continues to flutter around the $50 a barrel mark.

On Thursday it is trading 0.2% lower at $50.65.

Like yesterday, West Texas Intermediate has already broken through that level but is 0.1% up at $48.36 after new data showed that US inventories of oil fell by 8.7m barrels to 513.2m in the week to 26 May.

It has been forecast to decline by 2.5m.

Stephen Brennock, analyst at PVM Oil Associates, says: "This was well ahead of forecasts. (It) is helping the oil market regain some ground."