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Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    That's all from the Business Live page for tonight. See you again tomorrow from 06:00.

  2. Microsoft sales jump on cloud computing

    Satya Nadella

    Computing giant Microsoft has reported $13.2bn in profits in its most recent quarterly results, exceeding analysts' expectations of $9.4bn in profits.

    Its rise in sales, up 12% to $33.7bn, is partly due to its cloud computing offering Azure. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a $2bn cloud deal with US telecoms provider AT&T.

    Since chief Satya Nadella took over in 2014, Microsoft has climbed to become the market's most valuable company with a current market cap of $1.1trn.

    Growth of Microsoft's cloud service Azure will be key in determining whether the software giant maintains its trillion-dollar market cap after its earnings report.

  3. US stocks close slightly higher

    Wall Street traders

    Wall Street's main indexes have closed only just slightly higher following two days of losses, as Netflix reported a surprise fall in US subscribers in a downbeat start to results from high-growth companies.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up just 3.1 points at 27,222.97, while the S&P 500 rose 10.6 points at 2,995.04. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite was 22 points ahead at 8,207.24.

  4. UK workers who lose jobs to AI will be retrained

    Robot

    Workers whose jobs might become obsolete as a result of automation are to receive help in retraining from a new national government scheme.

    Up to 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world could be replaced by robots by 2030,according to analysis firm Oxford Economics.

    The scheme will support workers by helping them find a new career or gain more skills, should their jobs change.

    The programme will be trialled initially in Liverpool.

    Read more here.

  5. Warren vows to 'rein in' Wall Street

    Elizabeth Warren

    US Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has called for an overhaul of the private-equity industry as part of a new proposal targeting Wall Street.

    "We need to shut down the Wall Street giveaways and rein in the financial industry so it stops sucking money out of the rest of the economy," Ms Warren said in a post on Medium.com.

  6. Philip Morris shares rise

    iqos heat system

    Philip Morris has reported better-than-expected figures for the second quarter of the year and told Wall Street that it expects to perform better than it expected for the rest of the year after growth in its heated tobacco products.

    "Our strong year-to-date results are the reason behind today's announcement to increase our full-year guidance," said chief executive André Calantzopoulos.

    Earnings per share growth rate is being increased by one percentage point to at least 9%.

    "Of particular note is our combined cigarette and heated tobacco unit shipment volume, which -- for the first six months of the year -- was up by 0.1% on a like-for-like basis," he said.

    "This positive performance was led by robust in-market heated tobacco unit year-to-date sales growth of 34.0%, making HEETS/HeatSticks, combined, a top-ten international tobacco brand, despite only being present in approximately one quarter of our markets".

    Its shares were up nearly 10%.

  7. Brexit: UK 'will have to face consequences' in event of no deal

    Video content

    Video caption: Michel Barnier: UK to 'face the consequences' of no-deal Brexit

    The UK will have to "face the consequences" if it opts to leave without a deal, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator has said.

    Michel Barnier told BBC Panorama the thrice-rejected agreement negotiated by Theresa May was the "only way to leave the EU in an orderly manner".

    He also insisted Mrs May and her ministers "never" told him during Brexit talks she might opt for no deal.

    Publicly, Mrs May has always insisted no deal is better than a bad deal.

    Read more here.

  8. HMRC head to resign

    Jon Thompson

    Britain’s most senior tax official, Jon Thompson, who angered many Brexit supporters, is to resign in the autumn.

    Mr Thompson, permanent secretary at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), even received two death threats last year after disclosing that Brexiteers' preferred post-EU customs option would cost £20bn.

    "It’s been a tremendous privilege to lead HMRC for more than three years, so to leave now has not been an easy decision for me to make," Mr Thompson said, adding his department is "prepared for Brexit and the challenges it will bring."

    Mr Thompson will take on a new role as chief executive of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) which regulates auditors, accountants and actuaries.

  9. Oil prices fall sharply

    Oil pump

    Oil fell nearly 3% a barrel on Thursday, weighed down by weakness in U.S. equities markets and an expectation that crude output would rise in the Gulf of Mexico following last week's hurricane in the region.

    Crude rose earlier in the session after Iran said it had seized a foreign tanker in the Gulf. Prices pulled back after it emerged that the vessel had only a small cargo and was detained on Sunday for fuel smuggling.

    Brent crude futures were down $1.50, or 2.36% at $62.16 a barrel after earlier touching a session high of $64.46.

    West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down $1.39 a barrel at $55.39, after earlier rising to as much as $57.32 a barrel.

  10. White House to probe Amazon defence department cloud contracts

    Donald Trump

    President Donald Trump has said his administration was looking closely at Amazon's contract with the US Defense Department after getting complaints from other tech companies.

    Amazon and Microsoft were selected in April to continue competing for Pentagon cloud computing services as part of a contract that could be worth about $10bn.

    Donald Trump has targeted Amazon owner Jeff Bezos in the past, ripping into Amazon with a series of tweets, including in 2018.

  11. Canada and EU 'close to agreeing WTO block bypass'

    Justin Trudeau

    Canada and the EU are close to agreeing a possible temporary solution to a US block on appeals in disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

    US President Donald Trump is barring appointments to the WTO's Appellate Body, saying its judges have overstepped their mandate and ignored their instructions.

    Unless the block is lifted, the world's top trade court will be unable to hear appeals in international trade disputes by December.

    Mr Trudeau, speaking after a meeting with top EU officials in Montreal, said Canada backed existing attempts to restore a fully operational Appellate Body.

    "In the event that those efforts are unsuccessful, we need to be prepared. So we have been working with the European Union to find an interim fix," he told a news conference.

    "After this summit we are closer to finalising an agreement which would help preserve the function of an appeal system within the WTO until we find a more permanent solution."

    A joint statement issued after the Montreal meeting said the fix involved setting up an interim appeal arbitration arrangement based on existing WTO rules.

    The EU last month proposed using WTO arbitration rules to set up a shadow version of the body and keep the appeals process moving, but there is uncertainty about how such a structure would work.

    Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU's trade chief, told the news conference that the deal on a possible fix "sends a strong message of our shared objective to ensure the full effectiveness of the WTO and the stability of world trade."

  12. US Justice Department 'may sue to block T-Mobile and Sprint deal'

    View more on twitter

    The US Justice Department would sue to block the merger of T-Mobile US and Sprint if the parties can't reach an agreement next week, CNBC reports.

    In June, a group of US state attorneys general filed a lawsuit to block the merger, arguing that the deal would cost consumers more than $4.5bn annually.

    To win over the Justice Department, which is not involved in the lawsuit, T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to a series of deal concessions, including selling the prepaid brand Boost.

    The companies have been in talks for weeks to sell Boost to Dish Network but are haggling over issues such as restrictions over who can buy the divested assets if they are sold in the future, with T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom seeking to prevent them from going to a cable or technology company.

    T-Mobile is about 63% owned by Deutsche Telekom and Sprint is controlled by Softbank Group.

    The companies told the court in late June that they were willing to refrain from closing the deal until after the state attorneys general case is completed.

    The two companies have a 29 July deadline to complete the deal but are expected to extend it.

  13. No-deal Brexit: Who will the new PM believe?

    Faisal Islam

    BBC Economics Editor

    The OBR's numbers assume minimal disruption at Dover after Brexit

    It is not possible to make a concrete forecast of a situation that is unprecedented.

    But this report takes the extreme pessimism of other economists and the extreme optimism of some politicians and pretty much splits the difference - and even then, it is not a pretty sight.

    It is the first time that the government's independent experts on tax and spend - the Office for Budget Responsibility - have assessed what happens to the Treasury tax billions and to public spending if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

    Read more here.

  14. Is Boris Johnson right about the rules on kippers?

    Boris Johnson holding a kipper at the Conservative leadership hustings
    Image caption: Boris Johnson holding a kipper at the Conservative leadership hustings

    Claim: EU regulations require kipper suppliers to keep their products cool with ice pillows when they are delivered.

    Verdict: This is not true. EU regulation covers fresh fish, not smoked fish. The UK's Food Standard Agency says food manufacturers must transport food so it is fit to eat. This might require a "cool bag".

    Speaking at the final hustings before the next prime minister is announced, leadership candidate Boris Johnson pulled a kipper out from under the podium.

    Waving the smoked fish in the air, he said the manufacturer of the kipper - from the Isle of Man - was "utterly furious" with EU regulation.

    Read more here.

  15. FTSE closes lower

    London Stock Exchange

    The FTSE 100 has closed lower, following other major stock markets down as initial batches of corporate earnings jangle nerves over global growth.

    The effects of a protracted Sino-US trade dispute on corporate earnings and worries that trade tensions could further escalate have turned investors across the globe risk-averse.

    However, after a slump in May due to rising worries that Washington's trade war with China and other partners would escalate, the FTSE 100 has steadied and is on course for its best year since 2016.

    The stock index closed down 0.52% at 7496.56.

  16. Waitrose & Partners to close seven shops

    Waitrose trollies

    Supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners is to close seven shops, it has announced.

    The shop in Burnt Ash Lane in Bromley, as well as those in Oadby in Leicestershire and Wollaton in Nottinghamshire are being sold to Lidl. One in Sandhurst in Berkshire is being sold to an undisclosed party.

    Three shops are to close: Marlow in Buckinghamshire, Stevenage in Hertfordshire, and Waterside at the British Airways headquarters near Heathrow.

    Waitrose & Partners director of shop trade Mark Gifford said:

    "We haven’t taken this decision lightly but we have to do what’s right for the business as a whole. Thanks to the hard work of all our partners we’re making good progress and Waitrose & Partners is on track for profit growth this year but, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, we haven’t been able to find a way to make these shops profitable in the long term.

    "Our priority now is the wellbeing and future of our partners in these shops. We will do everything we can to support them and will explore opportunities for anyone wishing to remain with the Partnership."

  17. Netflix shares fall

    The Netflix hit Stranger Things has begun a third series
    Image caption: Netflix hit Stranger Things has begun a third series

    Shares of content-streaming firm Netflix are down more than 10%.

    This is after the firm reported a surprise drop in US subscribers and missed non-US subscriber targets at a time when it has staked its future on global expansion.

    "Netflix did nothing to soothe investor concerns around what earnings prospects are likely to unfold over the next couple of weeks," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

  18. UK mulls transport ticket carbon-offsetting option

    Plane at Heathrow

    The UK government is looking into whether people buying transport tickets in the UK should automatically be given the option of carbon offsetting.

    Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Climate change affects every one of us and we are committed to ensuring that transport plays its part in delivering net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

    "An offsetting scheme could help inform travellers about how much carbon their journey produces and provide the opportunity to fund schemes, like tree planting, to compensate for those emissions.

    "However, our focus remains to target the development, production and uptake of zero emission technology across all modes of transport."