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Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

  1. Is China burdening Africa with debt?

    President Xi and African leaders at the FOCAC summit in Beijing, September 2018
    Image caption: President Xi and African leaders at the FOCAC summit in Beijing, September 2018

    Africa is facing a looming debt crisis, say leading development economists.

    "Almost 40% of sub-Saharan African countries are in danger of slipping into a major debt crisis" according to the Overseas Development Institute, ahead of a major conference on debt being held in London this week.

    And the relationship between African nations and China is often seen as a significant part of the problem.

    Its critics say that major infrastructure projects carried out by Chinese companies in Africa are too expensive, and burden the host countries with enormous debts they can't hope to repay.

  2. Boohoo warned over advertising real fur as fake

    Tests revealed the jumper contained real fur - likely to have come from a rabbit

    Boohoo has been caught advertising a jumper that contained real animal hair as being made with "faux fur".

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint it received about a pom pom jumper being sold by the online retailer.

    Tests by animal rights charity Humane Society International (HSI) found it contained real fur - likely to have come from a rabbit.

    Boohoo said it had a strong commitment against the sale of real fur.

  3. US could lose triple-A credit rating

    US President Donald Trump appears on a television screen in the Press Briefing Room of the White House

    Credit rating agency Fitch is warning that the ongoing shutdown of the US federal government could cause the country to lose its triple-A sovereign credit rating this year.

    "If this shutdown continues to March 1 and the debt ceiling becomes a problem several months later, we may need to start thinking about the policy framework, the inability to pass a budget... and whether all of that is consistent with triple-A," Fitch's global head of sovereign ratings James McCormack said.

    The US government has now been partially shut for over two weeks, with President Donald Trump insisting he will keep it closed for "as long as it takes" to get congressional funding for his proposed border wall.

  4. Sainsbury's shares soar despite falling sales

    A Sainsbury's ad featuring Father Christmas

    Sainsbury's shares are now up 2.1% to 272.2p, despite its depressing Christmas trading update.

    The FTSE 100 is now 70.8 points or 1% ahead to 6,932.33, led by house builder Taylor Wimpey, which has climbed 6.5% to 149.5p following a positive trading update.

    The FTSE 250 is now 238.3 points or 1.3% ahead to 18,414.13. Top of the winners is IT infrastructure provider Softcat, jumping an epic 20.2% to 707p after stating it is "materially ahead" of profit expectations in its latest trading update.

    Following just behind is Ted Baker, up 11.3% to £17.98, and Greggs, which has climbed 7.1% to £14.64 - both firms reported an increase in sales, and Greggs raised its profit outlook.

  5. Watch: The expanding door that fights parcel thieves

    Video content

    Video caption: CES 2019: The expanding door that fights parcel thieves

    An expanding door that locks away small parcels and calls the police if larger ones are stolen is on show at the CES tech expo in Las Vegas.

    Its developers suggest the innovation is more secure than Amazon's own solution to the problem of parcel thieves.

    It looks a bit clunky, but the BBC's Chris Fox has tried out the invention to see if it works...

  6. Stella & Dot 'to exit European market'

    Stella & Dot founder Jessica Herrin
    Image caption: The firm was founded by Jessica Herrin in 2003

    San Francisco-based jewellery firm Stella & Dot appears to be exiting the European market after seven years.

    A number of its UK sales reps, some of whom host parties to sell jewellery, have posted messages on social media.

    They say they have been messaged by the firm to say it has been hit by declines in the value of the pound and euro.

    Stella & Dot, founded in 2003, targets women looking for work and says it "creates flexible entrepreneurial opportunities".

  7. Japan to lift ban on British beef

    British beef

    Japan has announced that it will lift the ban on British beef that has been in place since 1996.

    The decision has been announced before a visit to the UK by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this week.

    He will meet UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday.

    The ban was put in place to stop the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE.

  8. Japan 'seeks talks' over forced labour case

    South Korea's Ambassador to Japan Lee Su-hoon speaks to the media after meeting with Japan's foreign minister
    Image caption: South Korea's Ambassador to Japan Lee Su-hoon speaks to the media after meeting with Japan's foreign minister

    Japan's government wants talks with Seoul over a court decision that found against a firm that used wartime forced labour.

    A South Korean court authorised the seizure of assets from Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal after it failed to honour an earlier order to compensate workers for their treatment during the war.

    The issue is becoming a point of rising tension between the two countries.

    "The Japanese government regards this very seriously. We plan to request a discussion with the South Korean government," government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.

  9. 'Use the apprenticeship levy'

    Workers at the Jaguar Land Rover factory

    The Open University says that the latest productivity figures from the ONS shows a need for organisations to invest in skills and training to become more agile and remain competitive in an increasingly challenging time, and that businesses need to make use of the apprenticeship levy introduced by the government before it ends.

    “Brexit is rapidly approaching, and while we don't yet know what will happen after the UK officially leaves the EU in March, there will probably be an adjustment period - so it's important that British organisations are in the strongest possible position. Productivity has a huge role to play in this and in helping British businesses remain competitive, so it's concerning to see these latest figures," said David Willett, corporate director at The Open University.

    "The apprenticeship levy was introduced to help employers build these vital skills, but limited uptake means many will start to lose control of their funding from April.

    "While the Department for Education will use the absorbed funding to invest in skills and training, this is the last opportunity for employers to use it to fill their own skills gaps and future-proof their businesses."

  10. Apple to 'cut iPhone production'

    People stand in front of an Apple logo in China

    Apple will cut planned production for its three new iPhone models by about 10% for the March quarter, according to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review.

    The newspaper says last month the smartphone giant asked its suppliers to produce fewer of its new iPhones than planned for the quarter.

    It comes a week after Apple shocked global markets by cutting its sales forecast.

  11. Japan court rejects Ghosn's appeal to end detention

    Carlos Ghosn featured on a Japanese news programme

    Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has lost a court appeal in Tokyo to end his detention over alleged financial misconduct.

    Mr Ghosn's lawyers had asked for him to be released on bail, claiming that there were no grounds for his detention, which has now lasted over 50 days.

    However, the judge presiding said there were concerns he might tamper with evidence, and that he was a potential flight risk.

    Mr Ghosn denies all allegations, which include under-reporting his income to investors; allegedly seeking to pass off personal investment losses to Nissan's books; and paying a Saudi businessman from company funds to stump up collateral to cover the losses.

  12. Sainsbury's illustrates retailers' challenge

    Supermarket logos

    Commenting on Sainsbury's Christmas trading, Richard Lim, chief executive at Retail Economics, says: "These results aren't disastrous but demonstrate the significant challenges faced by the big grocers."

    He says: "The decline in non-food reflects the wider slowdown in consumer confidence as cautiousness shown towards discretionary spending. Hard-fought sales in a heavily-discounted environment will put profitability under further pressure.

    "The industry is amid a painful readjustment. With such seismic changes afoot, the relationship between retailers, wholesalers and further down the supply chain could result in game-changing consolidation within the industry."

  13. Public service productivity growth rose

    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has also updated its measures for output, input and productivity for public services in the UK between 1997 to 2016.

    A new estimate for 2016 shows that total public service productivity grew by 1.4% compared with 2015; above the average annual growth rate for the last 19 years of 0.2%.

    According to the ONS, this is the sixth successive year of improvement and marks the longest consecutive period of growth for total public services for which estimates are available.

    View more on twitter
  14. BreakingUK productivity grow slows

    Productivity rate

    UK productivity grew by 0.2% in the third quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics, compared to the July-September period in 2017.

    However, the ONS said that it is the weakest rate of growth since the third quarter of 2016.

    It said that the manufacturing sector led expansion, with productivity up 0.7% in the quarter.

  15. US hails 'good' China trip as trade talks conclude

    US and China flags

    As trade talks between the US and China end a day later than expected, the signs of some kind of agreement are looking positive.

    Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney says the talks "went just fine", adding that the trip to Beijing "has been a good one for us".

    A spokesman for China's foreign ministry says: "If it's a good outcome, it doesn't just benefit the US and China, but it is also good news for the world economy."

    He adds: "The extension of the talks indicate that both sides take this very seriously."

    Hu Shaohua, an analyst at Donghai Securities, says: "We believe that the talks far exceeding their initial timeframe indicates that both Chinese and US officials are determined to reach an agreement in these negotiations."

  16. Watch: At last! A good use for bad breath

    Video content

    Video caption: Chris Fox tries out Lumen, the breath test gadget that gives dietary advice

    Two gadgets that analyse the gases in people's breath in an effort to reveal how they should improve their diet are being showcased at the CES tech show in Las Vegas.

    Lumen and FoodMarble are both pocket-sized devices that users blow into.

    They each pair with a smartphone app that tells people how well they are digesting food or burning calories.

    Read all about it here