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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. John Lewis announces lowest bonus since 1953
  3. ECB announces new series of cheap loans
  4. Fashion chain Quiz announces profit warning

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

  1. L.K. Bennett 'hit by rent and rates'

    EY has been appointed as administrator for fashion retailer L.K. Bennett.

    Dan Hurd, EY joint administrator said: "Amidst tough trading conditions for retailers, the company has been further impacted by significant rent increases and business rate rises.

    "Linda and the management team therefore made the difficult decision to place the company into administration, to protect the future of the business."

  2. GE says it has enough reserves to cover care policies

    GE hats

    General Electric has said its reserves for long-term care insurance policies were sufficient and it was looking to increase premiums to cover their rising cost.

    It has a target of $1.2bn (£920m) in further increases to help pay for 300,000 long-term care insurance policies, which cover such costs as in-home or nursing-home care.

    GE shocked investors when it took a surprise $6.2bn after-tax charge last year and began setting aside $15bn - one of the largest such amounts ever - to cover the policies, which were underwritten more than a decade ago when actuaries did not yet know how costly the claims would become.

    GE's insurance losses are among a host of problems the 127-year-old company is facing as it attempts a historic breakup under new chief executive Larry Culp.

    The company's massive power-plant business is haemorrhaging cash and contending with falling sales and technical problems, while the company is selling assets to pay down debt.

  3. Regulator warns NSF over Provident bid

    Sterling

    The FCA has warned sub-prime lender Non Standard Finance that its bid to take over rival Provident Financial will be closely scrutinised.

    "Any change in controls or a shift in culture towards one that is driven by profits and incentives at the cost of good customer outcomes resulting in unaffordable lending will be something we act on immediately," FCA director of retail lending Philip Salter wrote in a letter to NSF chief executive John van Kuffeler.

    Mr Salter added that NSF plans to reintroduce the Repayment Option Plan, "a product which has caused harm to a significant number of consumers and resulted in a fine and redress exercise totalling over £170m" by the FCA "would require close engagement with the FCA to satisfy us that lessons have been learned".

  4. European Central Bank acts to boost struggling eurozone

    Mario Draghi

    Interest rates in the eurozone will not rise until next year at the earliest, the European Central Bank has signalled amid evidence of a slowdown in the 19 countries using the single currency.

    The ECB also unveiled a round of fresh stimulus, offering banks cheap loans to try to help revive the economy.

    The unexpected moves came as the bank made sharp cuts to its forecasts for both growth and inflation this year.

    The announcement sent the euro down by 0.6% against the dollar.

    Read more here.

  5. Euro drops after ECB move

    Euro v dollar

    The euro has dipped below $1.13 after the European Central Bank postponed the timing of its first post-crisis rate hike to 2020 at the earliest and launched a new round of cheap loans to banks.

  6. US stocks open lower

    Wall Street traders

    US stocks have opened slightly lower as investors digest the European Central Bank's move to postpone its first post-crisis rate hike until at least 2020 and after it announced a new round of cheap loans to boost the eurozone economy.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28.01 points at the open to 25,645.45. The S&P 500 opened lower by 4.92 points at 2,766.53. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 22.13 points to 7,483.79.

  7. Pound falls as Brexit negotiations continue

    Pound v dollar

    Sterling is on its way down against the dollar as Brexit negotiations continue.

    The UK and the EU are trying to find ways to break the deadlock over the Irish backstop with just days to go until MPs vote on the Brexit deal.

  8. ECB cuts eurozone growth outlook

    European Central Bank president Mario Draghi is giving his customary news conference to outline the ECB's latest policy changes. He says economic growth in the euro area is now expected to be 1.1% this year, as against a previous forecast of 1.7%.

    "Incoming data have continued to be weak, in particular in the manufacturing sector," he said.

    "The near-term growth outlook will be weaker than previously anticipated."

  9. 'ECB is rolling out its artillery... but not the big guns'

    Andrew Walker

    World Service economics correspondent

    ECB

    The European Central Bank is rolling out the economic artillery again.

    A marked slowdown in economic growth - confirmed today in official data as just 0.2% in the final quarter of 2018 - seems to have prompted the bank to take some action.

    Not the really big guns, at least at this stage. No cut in interest rates (they are so low already that might not be realistic anyway) and no revival of quantitative easing.

    But the bank is using two tools that do suggest it is becoming more concerned. One is known as forward guidance, an indication of the likely path of interest rates in the future. They are currently rock bottom and the Bank now says said they are likely to stay that way until the end of the year.

    Previously the timescale was through the summer. This guidance is not a promise, but it does tell lenders and borrowers something about when rates most likely to be changed.

    The ECB has also announced plans for a new round of what are known as targeted long term refinancing operations or TLTRO. If you are still conscious after reading that, these are loans made to commercial banks intended to stimulate more lending to households and business.

    They are also intended to - as the ECB statement puts it - to ensure the smooth transmission of monetary policy. Which means spreading the effect of the low interest rates throughout the Eurozone economy.

  10. Graze recalls 'vegan' snack that contained milk

    Graze bar

    Snack company Graze has recalled a product it labelled as suitable for vegans that actually contained milk.

    The Food Standards Agency said the Sea Salt and Vinegar Veg Crunchers also posed a "health risk for anyone with an allergy or intolerance to milk".

    The affected batches have best before dates of 20 June, 28 June and 2 July 2019, the FSA added.

    Graze apologised for the "incorrect vegan claim" andtold customerswith allergies not to eat the product.

  11. ECB takes 'a bit of a gamble'

    Carsten Brzeski is the chief economist at ING Germany. This is his reaction to ECB's announcement of loans for European banks.

    "The measures, as such, are not a major surprise but the moment of the announcement is.

    "In our view, it is clearly an attempt to stay ahead of the curve.

    "At the same time, however, it is also a bit of a gamble as any next step from here to tackle a severe downswing of the economy would now require unprecedented measures."

  12. BreakingECB announces new stimulus measures

    Mario Draghi, President European Central Bank

    The ECB has announced some new stimulus measures, earlier than economists were expecting.

    It plans a series of longer-term loans, to encourage banks to lend.

    It kept its main interest rates at negative 0.4%.

    There will be more detail when ECB President Mario Draghi holds a media conference at 13:30 GMT.

  13. Google to sell car tech it fought Uber over

    Waymo car

    Google spin-off Waymo plans to sell the sensors it uses on its self-drive cars to other industries.

    The technology behind them was at the heart of legal action last year, with Google accusing taxi app company Uber of stealing trade secrets.

    In a blogpost, Waymo said it was targeting its Lidar (light detection and ranging) units at industries including robotics, security and agriculture not other self-drive cars.

    It did not say how much it would cost.

  14. Funding Circle losses widen

    Samir Desai, chief executive Funding Circle

    Funding Circle has been feted as an alternative to banks for those looking to borrow money.

    It draws on a pool of funds collected from individuals and firms, which is then lent to small businesses vetted by the company.

    But annual losses widened last year to £50.7m. It blamed investment in marketing and the costs of selling shares.

    The company sold shares for the first time on the London Stock Exchange last September.

    Chief executive Samir Desai said: "Funding Circle is in a strong position financially and operationally, and we are confident of meeting our growth expectations for the year."

  15. Podcasts: Popular but not often profitable

    Microphone

    There are more than 600,000 podcasts on Apple's service, but "the vast majority reach few listeners and make no money", says this Bloomberg article.

    So what's being done to make them more profitable?

    Podcast hosts still read out ads themselves, but that is becoming more automated and targeted, the report says.

    Podcasts are doing live shows which can generate decent sales.

    The report also points out that Apple accounts for between 50% and 70% of podcast listening, so it might give podcasters more support.