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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. US stocks open slightly lower
  3. FTSE 100 up more than 1%
  4. Tesco facing largest ever equal pay claim
  5. Ofgem changes price cap tariff
  6. UK house prices fall for two months in a row

Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    Thanks for tuning in to Business Live. We'll be back at 6am tomorrow.

  2. Tesla's losses widen

    Tesla car recharging

    Tesla's losses widenend in the three months to the end of December.

    The electric car maker lost $675.4m (£487m) up from $121.3m - making it its biggest ever quarterly loss.

    Meanwhile revenue rose to $3.29bn - up from $2.28bn.

  3. 21st Century Fox profits more than double

    21st Century Fox logo

    Profits at 21st Century Fox more than doubled to $1.83bn (£1.3bn) in the second quarter ending 31 December- boosted by a $1.34bn gain from the recent shake up of the US tax law.

    Revenue increased by 4.6%to $8.04bn.

  4. Wall Street shares end day lower

    New York Stock Exchange exterior

    On Wall Street all three key stock indexes were down at the close of play on Wednesday.

    The Dow Jones closed down 19 points or 0.78% at 24,893.35.

    The tech-heavy Nasdaq also fell, ending the day at 7,051.98, a fall of 64 points or 0.9%.

    And the S&P 500 edged down to 2,681.62, a fall of 14 points or 0.5%

  5. Firm prosecuted over auto-enrolment pension violations

    The Pensions Regulator has successfully concluded its first criminal prosecution of an employer for failing to comply with the auto-enrolment regulations.

    Bus company Stotts Tours were fined £27,000 at Brighton Magistrates Court, while boss Alan Stott has been ordered to pay a fine of £4,455. The total costs, including previous fines for non-compliance and the backdated pension contributions, amount to over £60,000.

    A piggy bank
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  6. Brazil approves Bayer-Monsanto deal

    A combine harvester

    Brazil's competition regulator has approved Bayer's proposed takeover of US seeds giant Monsanto, as long as certain conditions are met.

    The Cade agency said it would permit the tie-up if Bayer agreed to an EU proposal to offload certain assets to chemicals giant BASF.

    The merger, valued at $66bn when announced in September 2016, would create the world’s largest seeds and pesticides company.

    However, the firms still need approval from jurisdictions including the EU and US where final rulings are still pending.

  7. Weight Watchers targets teen market

    Natalie Sherman

    New York business reporter

    Oprah Winfrey
    Image caption: Oprah Winfrey has a stake in Weight Watchers

    Weight Watchers has said it will offer free memberships to teens ages 13 through 17 this summer, as part of a bigger drive to expand its reach.

    The weight loss company said the offer would help it be "a powerful partner for families in establishing healthy habits". It is also eliminating artificial ingredients from its products.

    The measures are part of a plan to attract more members and bring in more than $2bn in annual revenue by 2020 - news of which lifted shares 18% on Wednesday.

    Weight Watchers, founded in 1963, has been in turnaround mode in recent years as it aims to reduce debt and reach new members. In 2015, Oprah Winfrey took a stake in the firm and agreed to promote its programme.

    Weight Watchers also recently signed hip hop star DJ Khaled as an "ambassador" for the company.

    Weight Watchers took in roughly $1bn in the first nine months of 2017. The company had about 1.3 million meeting members and 2 million online subscribers at the end of September.

  8. Rabobank pleads guilty to processing illicit funds

    Rabobank office

    Dutch lender Rabobank has agreed to pay more than $360m and pleaded guilty in the US to processing illicit funds, as well as conspiring to obstruct an examination by a regulator.

    According to the US Department of Justice, the bank admitted it allowed hundreds of millions of dollars in untraceable cash from Mexico and elsewhere to be deposited into branches in California.

    Rabobank chose to “look the other way” when it learned of transactions indicative of international drug trafficking, organised crime and money laundering, acting Assistant US Attorney General John Cronan said in a statement.

    Bank executives then tried to hide its anti-money laundering program deficiencies during a 2012 examination by the regulator, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the statement said.

  9. John Campbell

    BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

    border

    John Campbell

    BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

    The figure comes from a government assessment looking at how each UK region will be affected post-Brexit.

    Read more
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  10. Snap shares leap on rising user numbers

    Snapchat app

    Shares in Snap - the parent of messaging app Snapchat - are up almost 50% after the firm posted its first user growth since going public in 2017.

    The firm added 8.9 million users in the three months to the end of 2017. Revenue was up as well, reaching $287.5m (£207m) - a 72% year-on-year increase.

    It follows a redesign of the app intended to help Snapchat compete with Instagram and Facebook.

  11. Mixed picture for US stocks

    After climbing earlier on, Wall Street markets have lost a little steam.

    The Dow Jones is up half a per cent at 25,047.17 points, while the S&P 500 is flat at 2,697.42.

    The Nasdaq is down 0.2% at 7,102.66 points.

  12. Contingency plans 'in place' in event of another Carillion

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    A short while a go, MPs on the Liason Committee asked whether there were contingency plans in place in the event another big contractor such as Carillion cannot fulfill vital government contracts.

    John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary, would only be drawn as far as to say various government departments were responsible for drawing up such plans and currently there were between 10 and 100 in place.

    He said civil servants were having “a normal dialogue” with firms so they could be alert to potential risks.

  13. Harley Davidson issues recall

    Harley Davidson bike

    Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson is recalling nearly 175,000 bikes in the US over fears the brakes could fail.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that if brake fluid on the motorcycles was not replaced for a "prolonged period" beyond the recommended two-year schedule, deposits could form on internal components.

    This could reduce braking ability and increase the risk of a crash.

    The regulator began investigating the problem in 2016 after receiving complaints about sudden brake loss, and said the recall covers 31 models from 2008-2011.

  14. EU migration chief hits out at ‘sick minds’ over Greece bribery probe

    Dimitris Avramopoulos

    The EU's migration chief has denounced a major corruption investigation in Greece as an "unprecedented plot".

    Dimitris Avramopoulos is among 10 Greek politicians named by prosecutors in a probe involving the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.

    Novartis is accused of paying top politicians bribes in exchange for price-fixing their medicines.

    Prosecutors believe this could have cost the state billions during a painful financial crisis.

    Read more

  15. DfT also assessed Carillion - Lidington

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Mr Liddington said The Department for Transport also assessed Carillion after its profit warning.

    "They called in the other consortium members [for the HS2 contract] and said in the light of [the profit warning] are you still happy to do a joint-venture with them? They signed up to the joint and several liability contracts.”

    He added that when Carillion did go bust the partners didn’t hesitate to step in and fulfil their commitments.

    “In this situation it has worked,” he said

  16. Carillion 'passed' viability tests after profit warning - Lidington

    The Rt Hon David Lidington CBE MP

    The Rt Hon David Lidington CBE MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has been asked about how the government reacted to the profit warning from Carillion last July.

    Shortly after the warning, the government awarded the construction giant a joint-venture contract to build HS2.

    Mr Lidington said the government stepped up meetings with Carillion following the warning.

    They also re-ran the financial checks necessary to ensure a supplier has the wherewithal to manage a contract.

    "Carillion and the joint-venture they were part of still passed the tests," he said.

  17. Government 'could do more' to assess suppliers - Morse

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Bernard Jenkin MP
    Image caption: Bernard Jenkin MP

    The government spent about £250bn on outsourced contracts in 2016, Bernard Jenkin MP says. But how sure is it that those suppliers are financially viable?

    Sir Amyas Morse tells MPs that under current rules, the government must ensure firms bidding for state contracts are credible. But he says they could do more.

    "We need to have a frank discussion about what the risk is," he says, pointing out that banks and business shoulder a lot of the risk too.

    "In [the case of Carillion] it's likely the government's intervention might cost around £300m - it's not a monstrous number but it's a serious number," he says.