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Live Reporting

Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

  1. Wall Street ends higher

    US stocks rose on Friday, led by technology companies, as a report on progress in US-China trade talks lifted sentiment, pushing the S&P 500 to its best week since November.

    China's state-run Xinhua news agency said Washington and Beijing were making substantive progress on trade talks, providing relief after news that a summit to seal a deal between the two sides would not happen at March-end.

    At the close, the Dow Jones was up 0.54% to 25,848.8 points, the S&P 500 gained 0.5% to 2,822.4 and the Nasdaq rose 0.76% to 7,688.5.

  2. Brexit uncertainty 'far from over'

    flags on beach

    Despite last night's vote by MPs to delay Brexit, Brewin Dolphin head of research Guy Foster says for businesses "the uncertainty is far from over".

    He points out that the decision will still need EU approval, and a no-deal exit on 29 March is still a possibility.

    "The decision to quit the EU has demonstrably caused Brexit-phobic international investors to shun UK assets.

    "As the extension prolongs the uncertainty, both foreign direct investment and domestic investment are likely to remain subdued".

  3. How long are you going to live?

    Video content

    Video caption: How long are you going to live?

    The vast majority of people are living longer than ever before. It’s creating a challenge about how we pay for a longer life and take care of a greater number of older people.

    But do you know how long you have left to live? We asked people in nine cities around the world to go to the BBC website and find out how old they will become.

    Find out how long you're predicted to live and join the conversation using the hashtag #LivingLonger

  4. Coca-Cola reveals how much plastic it uses

    Coca-Cola bottles

    For the first time, Coca-Cola has revealed it used three million tonnes of plastic packaging in one year.

    It's part of a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation which is pushing for companies and governments to do more to tackle plastic pollution.

    In total, 150 companies are pledging to reduce their plastic usage as part of the campaign.

    But some companies including Pepsi, L'Oreal and H&M haven't said how much plastic they use.

  5. UK cyber-security efforts criticised

    A power station in the UK

    The government has been told there are "failings" in the way it is planning to protect the UK's critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks.

    The warning came in a National Audit Office (NAO) assessment of the UK's national cyber-defence plan.

    The government is increasingly worried that these essential sectors will be targeted by foreign states seeking to disrupt UK life.

    Modern life was now "totally dependent" on cyber-security, said one expert.

  6. AI and spices: Would you put cumin on a pizza?

    Spices in teaspoons

    What do Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin and New Orleans Sausage all have in common?

    They're all new spice mix flavours that have been developed by the world's biggest spice firm using artificial intelligence (AI).

    But with taste such a subjective experience, can machines really do the job better than humans? And what does this mean for cultures that see spice as a clear token of identity?

    Spice giant McCormick, which sells spices to consumers but also develops flavours for the food industry, says it spent four years crunching through more than 40 years of flavour-related data, using machine learning to come up with new flavour combinations that human scientists might not have considered.

  7. Topshop group considers restructuring options

    Sir Philip Green

    Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group is working on a restructuring of the retail empire, which includes Topshop.

    The company said: “Within an exceptionally challenging retail market and given the continued pressures that are specific to the UK high street we are exploring several options to enable the business to operate in a more efficient manner.

    "None of the options being explored involve a significant number of redundancies or store closures. The business continues to operate as usual including all payments being made to suppliers as normal.”

    The statement came after reports earlier on Friday that Arcadia was considering a company voluntary administration, a form of insolvency that would enable the company to seek rent cuts and close unwanted stores.

  8. PwC settles audit negligence case for $335m

    PWC building

    It's not just in the UK that big audit firms are under scrutiny.

    Accountancy giant PwC has agreed to pay $335m to settle an audit negligence case with the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, stemming from its audit of Colonial Bank.

    Colonial Bank, the 25th biggest bank in the US, had 346 branches in four US states when it collapsed in 2009 due to over $2bn in fraud.

    In July 2018, a federal judge ordered PwC to pay $625m in damages to the FDIC, but the firm has managed to bring the halve the amount.

    The fraud had occurred at Colonial Bank for a period of seven years from 2002-2009, and should have been picked up by PwC, the judge said at the time.

  9. Patisserie Valerie deficit much bigger than thought

    Patisserie Valerie sign

    KPMG, the administrators for troubled cafe chain Patisserie Valerie, announced on Friday that its forensic accountants had discovered a black hole double the size previously thought.

    The deficit figure found was as much as £94m, compared to previous estimates of £40m.

    KPMG has advised that the firm consider whether it has sufficient grounds to raise legal claims against a number of parties, including Patisserie Valerie's auditors Grant Thornton.

  10. BreakingInterserve sale completed

    Interserve building site

    Ernst & Young have been appointed as administrators for troubled government contractor Interserve.

    It has also been announced that the sale of the group's business and assets completed on Friday.

    Interserve Plc will become a newly incorporated company Interserve Group, which will be controlled by the group's lenders.

  11. Uber flotation nears


    Ride-hailing taxi app firm Uber is to launch its initial public offering in April, the Reuters news agency reports.

    Uber will register securities with US regulator the SEC in April, as well as launching an investor roadshow, Reuters said.

    Rival Lyft went through the same process on 1 March, and will complete its offering by the end of this month.

    Both Uber and Lyft confidentially told the regulator they wanted to float on the stock market in 2018.

    Read more.

  12. George Michael's art collection sells for £9.3m at auction

    The Incomplete Truth by Damien Hirst alongside other works from George Michael's collection

    Contemporary artworks owned by George Michael have sold for £9.3m at auction.

    They included pieces by Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst. The highest price was for The Incomplete Truth, a 2006 Hirst work consisting of a dove preserved in formaldehyde, which sold for £911,250.

    Michael, who died in December 2016 aged 53, was a keen collector of works by the Young British Art movement and was friends with many of the artists.

    The money raised will go to causes that the philanthropic star supported.

  13. London closes higher

    London Stock Exchange

    London shares have ended higher, boosted by European and US markets, as well as a rise in demand for housebuilders, pharmaceuticals and resource stocks.

    The FTSE 100 closed 42.9 points or 0.6% up to 7,228.28. Top of the winners was hotel and restaurant chain Whitbread, rising 4.8% to £51.14.

    The FTSE 250 ended 208 points or 1.1% higher to 19,491.03. Shipping firm Clarkson led the winners, jumping 13% to £26.10.

  14. Mirror sorry for gunman footage

    Twitter message

    The editor of the Mirror newspaper - part of the Reach publishing group - has apologised for briefly running footage of the gunman in the New Zealand terrorist killings on its website.

    Forty-nine people have been killed and at least 20 wounded in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

  15. Boeing shares jump on software patch announcement

    Boeing 737 Max 8 aeroplane

    Shares in Boeing have completely reversed course, jumping 1.3% to $378.34 following an AFP report that the aeroplane manufacturer will be deploying a software upgrade for the 737 Max 8 commercial jets in 10 days' time.

    Boeing has confirmed to Reuters that it will be rolling out the software upgrade "in coming weeks", but it has not changed its timeline for deploying the upgrade.

  16. Politicans respond to Interserve

    Construction workers on an Interserve building site

    The Cabinet Office has responded to the news that government contractor Interserve likely faces administation, after 60% of its investors rejected a possible rescue plan.

    "This announcement will not affect jobs or the provision of public services delivered by Interserve," said a Cabinet Office spokesman.

    "We are in close contact with the company and we are confident a positive way forward will be found."

    But Labour's Cabinet shadow minister Jon Trickett feels much more needs to be said by the government, to avoid another collapse similar to that of Carillion in January 2018.

    “This latest disaster, which could have been avoided, shows that the Government is not prepared to change their dogmatic attachment to outsourcing, and it is costing the country dearly," said Mr Trickett.

    “It is crucial that Interserve’s administrators do not simply strip the profits in favour of shareholders and leave the taxpayer to pick up the bill for the rest. The public purse should not be burdened with these failures.

    “We need clear assurances from the government that should this happen; services, jobs and pensions will be protected. Nothing less will do."

  17. Wall Street mixed on open

    Wall Street

    Wall Street shares have been mixed on open, as stocks rose slightly on reports of progress in trade talks between the US and China, but dipped on news US manufacturing output fell for a second straight month in February - evidence of a sharp slowdown in economic growth.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now 43 points or 0.2% lower to 25,667.02. Boeing has dropped 1.6% to $367.50, on news its 737 Max aircraft will be grounded until at least May.

    The S&P 500 is now 8.7 points or 0.3% ahead to 2,816.92. Adobe heads the losers, plunging 5.6% to $252.66 after its profits forecast fell short of analysts' estimates.

    And finally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is now 43.6 points or 0.6% up to 7,675.85. The losers are again headed by Adobe, followed by Tesla, which fell 3.7% to $279.19 on open.

    On Thursday night the electric car company unveiled its second electric car, the Model Y.