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Summary

  1. Get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk
  2. Wall Street opens higher
  3. Boeing shares jump on software patch
  4. FTSE boosted by housebuilders
  5. Wetherspoon profits slide
  6. US sues VW
  7. Tesla unveils the Model Y
  8. Business reacts to Brexit delay

Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

  1. FTSE 100 up

    LSE logo and flag

    The FTSE 100 is starting the day around 33 points higher - or 0.4% - at 7,218.80

    The FTSE 250 index is up 0.2% at 19,325.99. Wetherspoon's shares are among the biggest fallers - down 4%.

  2. Google faces fine

    Google

    Tech giant Google is facing yet another EU fine over its Adsense buinsess, which places its search box on third-party websites such as news websites, according to the Financial Times.

    It is accused of hampering potential rival search advertisers, according to the newspaper.

    If the fine happens, it would be the third EU fine for the search engine giant in two years. Last year it was fined €4.3bn for abusing the dominant market position of its Android operating system for smartphones.

    The year before, it was fined €2.4bn for favouring its own shopping services over competitors.

    Google is appealing both fines.

  3. 'Customers are stockpiling'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Bee Kemball, managing director of logistics business Debach, says ahead of Brexit its customers are stockpiling.

    "Everyone believed a deal would come to the table but now they don't have confidence there will be a deal so they're stockpiling," she says.

    Despite the short-term boost to its business, she says long term it's not ideal, because for the business to flourish they need companies to continue to grow.

    "Everyone is very frustrated with Westminster. We want them to get on and make a decision. They've had two years," she says.

  4. RMT: Bring Interserve contracts in-house

    Interserve

    Ahead of the Interserve shareholder meeting later today rail union RMT is calling for all its transport contracts - it has major contracts at Network Rail - to be brought in house.

    General Secretary, Mick Cash, said both passengers and staff had been " left guessing".

    "That is no way to run our transport services," he said.

    "RMT is calling for immediate action to begin transferring the Interserve transport sector contracts in-house to avoid a repeat of the Carillion chaos.

    "‎Once again we see the reality of bandit capitalism and its toxic impact on our public services. The time has come to end this obsession with the private sector speculators and return to the principles of public services run and owned by the public, free from this corrosive nonsense."

  5. Page Group chief executive

    logo

    Page Group said its chief executive Steve Ingham has had a skiing accident.

    This has resulted in a severe back injury which means he will be away from work "for a number of weeks"

    "In Steve Ingham's absence, the Page Group executive team, all of whom are highly experienced and have worked within the Group for a significant amount of time, will continue to run the operations globally" the recruitment firm said.

    Kelvin Stagg, chief financial officer, will run the executive team.

  6. 'Keep Brexit extension short'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Felixstowe

    Doug Field, joint chief executive of this area's biggest independent business, East of England Co-op, says after last night's vote by MPs to ask the EU to delay Brexit, he is keen that any extension granted is short.

    He says a two-month extension would be ideal.

    "We'd like to see some certainty and get a framework that people can operate in.

    "For my business the sooner the better, it allows us to plan," he says.

    He says the business has already "done what we can to prepare", and over the past 12 years has built up a large number of local suppliers. Nonetheless, it is still heavily dependent on imports for fresh goods such as fruit and vegetables.

  7. Government too focused on Brexit?

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    A14
    Image caption: There are "pinch points" of slow traffic on the A14 in Suffolk, including Bury St Edmunds (pictured)

    With all the government focus on preparing for the UK's exit from the European Union, many are worried other important issues are falling by the wayside.

    Paul Simon, director of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, says it has been leading on a campaign to upgrade the vital A14 route.

    "This is probably the UK's premier trade route, yet in effect it's country lane on the way to Felixstowe," he says.

    On Brexit itself, Mr Simon says its members are keen to avoid a "chaotic no-deal", with a majority supporting a short-term extension to try and get a managed exit.

  8. Restaurant Group sales and profit slip

    Wagamama

    Restaurant Group, which operates Frankie & Benny's, Wagamama, Chiquito and Brunning & Price restaurants in the UK, has reported a 2% drop in like-for-like sales for the past year. Despite the fall, it's an improvement on the decline in 2017.

    Pre-tax profit fell 8.1% to £53.2m.

    The firm said it believed Wagamama - which it bought last year - will be "transformative for the group".

    Despite the fall in both profit and sales, chief executive Andy McCue said the chain had made "significant progress" last year.

    "We now have a business that is orientated strongly towards growth and we continue to focus on delivering shareholder value," he says.

  9. Sterling stable

    sterling

    Sterlling fell on Thursday after MPs voted to ask the EU to delay the UK's exit and as Theresa May prepared to try again to win support for her deal.

    The pound stabilised in Asian trading hours and was steady at $1.3236.

  10. Wetherspoon profits slip

    Tim Martin

    Tim Martin, chairman of J D Wetherspoon, has issued a statement with the pub chain's half year results.

    He says a "a barrage of negative economic forecasts...predicting that the UK will go to hell in a handcart without a 'deal' with the EU - which will effectively tie the country into EU membership and taxation, yet without representation.

    "The doomsters ignore the most powerful nexus in economics, between democracy and prosperity - and the fact that the EU is becoming progressively less democratic, as it pursues an 'ever-closer union', for which there is no public consensus."

    Profits fell to £50.3m from £62.0m while like-for-sale sales rose 6.3%.

  11. 'Fills me with fear'

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Clock

    Tech expert Lucy Hutchings-Hunt has also been speaking about the vote by MPs to ask the EU for a Brexit extension.

    She told Wake Up To Money that she was "flabbergasted" and that the prospect of an extension "fills me with fear" because of the uncertainty.

    "From a business perspective, I just want to have the remit to get on and make money, help my clients make more money and ultimately see more taxes being paid and put in the country's coffers... At the moment people aren't acting on their buying decisions because nobody knows what's happening".

  12. Asian markets rise

    Chinese news agency Xinhua has reported that vice premier Liu had spoken to US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer.

    But a trade deal is not expected to be signed at the end of March, as expected, Mr Mnuchin said.

    Markets in Asia rose on continued hopes for deal. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.7% and Japan's Nikkei climbed 0.8 percent.

  13. UK is an 'import country'

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Felixstowe

    The Today Programme is in the seaside town of Felixstowe in Suffolk at the UK's busiest container port.

    The port handles four million containers a year. Whilst the containers arrive stuffed with goods such as cars, shirts and lamb, they return empty, showing the UK's trade imbalance.

    "It sounds crazy, but the UK is an import country," says Jason Flower, chair of the Felixstowe Port Users Association.

    He is concerned about the impact of Brexit on its members, warning if the pound falls further it will raise costs for parts.

    He says it could also lead to a shortage of hauliers, with European truck drivers deciding to return home.

  14. 'Huge benefits' from PFI

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    More on Interserve.

    Philip Hammond has said he wants to stop Private Finance Initiative projects, but will honour those already underway.

    Colin Cram, a public sector consultant, said he disagreed with the Chancellor.

    "We can look around and see some huge benefits. If we go to hospital now, the chances are it will be a modern hospital. Until [PFI contracts] were driven hard… we’d have gone to a Victorian or Edwardian hospital. Totally unfit for purpose," he told Wake Up To Money.

  15. Lenders 'should be praised'

    chart

    Interserve is asking its shareholder to back a rescue deal today.

    The subject is addressed by Sir Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative MP who chairs the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, in a letter to the Financial Times.

    He writes: "The readiness of Interserve to undergo pre-pack administration, at the expense of shareholders and directors’ share interests, shows a marked improvement in the capability of the system to manage the legacy of excessive risk.

    "Lenders should be praised for taking on much greater responsibility. The government is no doubt ready to facilitate these discussions. It is to be hoped that shareholders will also choose not to hold the business to ransom, but rather recognise that vital public services cannot depend on a high risk-return business model.

    "In the long term, shareholders in such companies need to learn that this market must be a lower-risk sector, with subsequently lower rewards."

  16. Business doesn't want the Brexit extension

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    flags

    Allie Renison, head of EU and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors, has been speaking to Wake Up To Money about the vote by MPs yesterday to ask the EU to delay Brexit.

    "There is an assumption businesses want this extension – they really don’t," she says.

    While on the one hand it looks as if the UK is less likely to leave the EU without a deal - but on the other hand, nothing is certain, she says.

  17. VW complaint

    vw logo

    Volkswagen is being accused of perpetrating a "massive fraud" on US investors by the US regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    The SEC said in its complaint filed in San Francisco that from April 2014 to May 2015, Volkswagen issued more than $13bn in bonds and asset-backed securities in US markets at a time when senior executives knew that more than 500,000 US diesel vehicles grossly exceeded legal vehicle emissions limits.

    The SEC wants to stop former chief executive Martin Winterkorn from being a director of a US company.

    Volkswagen said it would contest the complaint which it said was"legally and factually flawed".

    "The SEC has brought an unprecedented complaint over securities sold only to sophisticated investors who were not harmed and received all payments of interest and principal in full and on time."

  18. New Tesla

    Teaser pictures of the Model Y were released by Tesla ahead of the launch
    Image caption: Teaser pictures of the Model Y were released by Tesla ahead of the launch

    Tesla has just launched its latest car, the Model Y, its second mass-market electric vehicle.

    The car was unveiled at an event in Los Angeles. The firm will first release a long-range version of the vehicle with a price tag of $47,000 (£35,489).

    Chief executive Elon Musk said a standard-range model priced at $39,000 would be available in 2021.

    Read more here.

  19. Good Morning

    Government contractor Interserve faces a crunch vote today. The business, which employs 45,000 people in the UK, is trying to persuade shareholders to back a rescue deal which would result in 95% of the firm passing to lenders. If the debt-for-equity-swap plan is rejected Interserve's lenders could apply for a pre-pack administration.

    Companies such as JD Wetherspoon, Berkeley Homes and the Restaurant Group are reporting results.

    Later on, the FTSE indices undergo their quarterly reshuffle.

    The pound will again be a focus after the vote by MPs yesterday to ask the EU to delay Brexit beyond the current 29 March departure date.

    Do get in touch: bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk