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Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan and Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    BBC testcard

    That's it for today on Business Live - thanks for reading. We'll be back bright and early at 06:00 on Thursday.

    Do join us then for all the latest breaking news and analysis.

  2. Wall Street still lower

    Wall Street traders

    Wall Street shares are still falling.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now 637.8 points or 2.4% lower to 25,642.11, the S&P 500 is 72.5 points or 2.4% down to 2,853.82, and the Nasdaq has dropped 228.4 points or 2.9% to 7,786.65.

  3. The Penny Post revolutionary who transformed how we send letters

    Rowland Hill, the inventor of the uniform penny post and the stamp

    Rowland Hill was a former schoolmaster, whose only experience of the Post Office in the 1830s was as a disgruntled user.

    Nobody had asked him to come up with detailed proposals for completely revamping it. He did the research in his spare time, wrote up his analysis, and sent it off privately to the chancellor of the exchequer, naively confident that "a right understanding of my plan must secure its adoption".

    He felt his outsider status was a positive benefit. "In few departments," he wrote, "have important reforms been effected by those trained up in practical familiarity with their details.

    "The men to detect blemishes and defects are among those who have not, by long familiarity, been made insensible to them."

    But Hill was soon to get a lesson in human nature. People whose careers depend on a system, no matter how inefficient it might be, will not necessarily welcome a total outsider turning up with a meticulously argued diagnosis of its faults and proposals for improvements.

  4. Do Boris Johnson's tax and spending plans add up?

    Boris Johnson

    Boris Johnson has made a series of spending promises both before and after becoming prime minister. How much would all of this cost?

    No-deal preparations

    The plan: Immediate funds to help prepare the UK for a possible no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

    What it means: Just over a week after Mr Johnson become prime minister, the Treasury announced that £2.1bn would be spent bolstering border and customs operations, stockpiling critical medical supplies and supporting UK nationals abroad. Money will also be spent on a public awareness campaign ahead of a possible no-deal Brexit outcome.

    The cost: Ramping up no deal preparations will cost £2.1bn. This is on top of the £4.2bn Theresa May's previous government had already allocated on preparing for Brexit - with or without a deal.

  5. Wall Street still sliding

    Wall Street traders

    Wall Street shares have continued to slide, as investors' concerns about a potential recession were stoked by the inverted two-year and 10-year US bond yield curves.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average has now fallen 604.2 points or 2.3% to 25,675.71. Top of the losers is Walgreens Boots Alliance, sliding 3.7% to $51.12

    The S&P 500 has dropped 68 points or 2.3% to 2,857.93. Department store chain Macys heads the losers, down 15.5% to $16.37 after reporting lower-than-expected earnings due to discounting to reduce excess inventory.

    And finally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is 208.4 points or 2.6% lower to 7,824.52. The losers are topped by pharmaceutical firm Mylan, which dropped 7.8% to $18.19. On Monday, French drugmaker Sanofi sued Mylan for $11.7bn for allegedly seeking to crush competition to its EpiPen allergy treatment.

  6. Impact on the Hong Kong economy

    Causeway Bay in Hong Kong

    Capital Economics has also published some statistics which show that Hong Kong is heading into a recession, thanks to the continuing political protests.

    Although official statistics only run up until June, "But more timely data, including Hong Kong’s private sector PMI, suggests that growth slowed sharply in July".

    In particular, tourism, which makes up 4% of Hong Kong's GDP, has been hit particularly hard.

    "Industry associations say that retail purchases by mainland tourists – who make up 80% of tourists in Hong Kong – have declined by 30-50% and that both hotel occupancy rates were down by double-digit percentages in July," said the research firm.

    "Then there is the broader supply-side drag on the economy, which probably worsened this month as protesters organised the first general strike in 50 years and started blocking the city’s airport and subway system.

    "Sentiment has also started to sour in the property market, with developers deferring the sales launches of new projects."

  7. Are the markets signalling that a recession is due?

    People walking around Canary Wharf

    Financial markets have flashed a warning sign about the economic outlook for the UK and the US.

    It is known in the jargon as an "inverted yield curve".

    It means that it is cheaper for those countries' governments to borrow for 10 years than for two.

    It is an unusual development and it often comes before a recession or at least a significant slowdown in economic growth.

  8. Cathay Pacific owner hit by trade war and protests

    Cathay Pacific aeroplane

    On Monday, Hong Kong shares sunk to their lowest level since January, dragged down by Cathay Pacific airline owner Swire Pacific, which fell to more than a one-year low.

    Today Swire Pacific, which is a conglomerate with many different businesses including property, aviation and beverages, put out its half-year results.

    Fitch Ratings had this to say about the firm, which gives an insight into the situation in Hong Kong right now: "Retail sales in Hong Kong dropped in the past six months, despite the opening of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge in 4Q18.

    "We do not expect Hong Kong retail sales to pick up as the ongoing China-US trade dispute, extradition protests and volatility of the Chinese yuan continue to cast a shadow on consumer sentiment."

  9. 'No chance of US deal' if Brexit hits Irish accord

    Nancy Pelosi

    A US-UK trade deal will not get through Congress if Brexit undermines the Good Friday Agreement, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives has said.

    Democrat Nancy Pelosi, whose party controls the House, said the UK's exit from the EU could not be allowed to endanger the Irish peace deal.

    Her comments came after the US national security adviser said the UK would be "first in line" for a trade deal.

    John Bolton spoke after meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London.

  10. 100% gender pay gap reporting achieved

    Gender pay gap illustration

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has announced that it has achieved 100% compliance with regards to the reporting of the gender pay gap by companies in the UK that have 250 or more employees.

    The EHRC says that over 10,500 organisations with 250 or more employees reported their gender pay gap for 2019.

    There were six organisations that failed to meet the April deadline and failed to respond the warnings sent out by the equality body.

    But following formal investigations, all of the organisations have complied and entered into formal legal agreements with the EHRC promising to report their gender pay gap figures on time for the next five years.

    “We cannot achieve gender equality in the workplace without first shining a light on the problem and understanding the underlying causes of inequality. That’s why gender pay gap reporting is so important. It’s also a legal requirement and changes in staff and poor organisation are no excuse for not complying with the law and withholding this vital information," EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath.

    “We are pleased that we’ve now achieved 100% compliance and will continue to use the full force of our powers to ensure every company that is required to report does so.”

  11. Wall Street drops on open

    New York Stock Exchange

    Wall Street shares have plunged on open, as investors' concerns about a potential recession were stoked by the inverted two-year and 10-year US bond yield curves.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is 138.2 points or 1.7% lower to 7,866.26.

    The S&P 500 has fallen 48.9 points or 1.7% to 2,877.39.

    And finally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is 150.8 points or 1.9% down to 7,866.89.

  12. 'More weakness on the horizon' for China

    udy skies hang over the city prior to a rainstorm on August 1, 2006, in Beijing, China.

    New Chinese data shows "economic conditions worsened across the board last month", analysts at Capital Economics wrote in a research note, adding that they see "more weakness on the horizon".

    "The broad-based slowdown in activity and spending last month suggests that, after holding up reasonably well in the first half of the year, economic growth now faces renewed downward pressure," they wrote.

    "What’s more, a weaker renminbi is unlikely to fully offset the increasing headwinds from US tariffs and cooling global demand, and we expect a further slowdown in economic activity over the coming year as a result."

    China's currency fell below 7 yuan to the US dollar for the first time since 2008 last week.

  13. Marks and Spencer: Northampton photo shoot causes upset

    The shop posted the picture of the woman modelling a dress outside The Guildhall, where the borough council is based, on its Facebook page

    Marks & Spencer has been criticised for using a photo of a model posing near one of its closed stores.

    The retailer posted the shot of an "Insider" - employees who promote the brand via social media - outside Northampton's Guildhall on its Facebook page.

    Locals were quick to point out the "ironic" location - just a three-minute walk from the boarded-up shopfront.

    M&S, which plans to close 100 shops by 2022, said the closure was "vital".

  14. Turkish army pension fund set to buy British Steel

    A smelting worker

    The Official Receiver is to announce this week that an investment arm of Turkey's armed forces pension fund is the preferred bidder for British Steel.

    Ataer Holding would then be given several weeks to try to buy British Steel - the owner of the Scunthorpe works - out of insolvency.

    British Steel was put into compulsory liquidation in May, when the Official Receiver was appointed.

    Ataer owns nearly 50% of Erdemir, Turkey's biggest steel producer.

  15. What is inflation and what impact does it have?

    A woman sitting on a train

    Inflation is the rate at which the prices for goods and services increase.

    It's one of the key measures of financial wellbeing because it affects what consumers can buy for their money. If there is inflation, money doesn't go as far.

    It's expressed as a percentage increase or decrease in prices over time. For example, if the inflation rate for the cost of a litre of petrol is 2% a year, motorists need to spend 2% more at the pump than 12 months earlier.

    And if wages don't keep up with inflation, purchasing power and the standard of living falls.

    Read more here.

  16. 'Million fingerprints' leaked by security firm

    Biostar 2 is used by thousands of companies around the world
    Image caption: Biostar 2 is used by thousands of companies around the world

    More than a million fingerprints and other sensitive data have been exposed online by a biometric security firm.

    Researchers working with cyber-security firm VPNMentor managed to access data from a security tool called Biostar 2.

    It is used by thousands of companies worldwide, including the UK's Metropolitan Police, to control access to specific parts of secure facilities.

    Suprema, the company that offers Biostar 2, said it had taken steps to address the issue.

    Read more here

  17. Trump tariff delay fails to salve investor jitters

    Donald Trump

    Not even President Donald Trump's decision to delay tariffs on some Chinese imports could calm investors on Wednesday...

    Quote Message: It's almost as if global investors either don't buy the tariff delay as a sign of real progress in the U.S.-China trade war or have been too consumed by further evidence of global economic weakness to care" from Stephen Gallo Strategist at BMO Capital Markets
    Stephen GalloStrategist at BMO Capital Markets
  18. US stocks set for sharp falls - report

    Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange

    Expect sharp falls in US stocks today following the inversion of 10--year and two year US bond yields.

    CNBC is reporting that futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are pointing to a 300 point drop in opening trade.

    The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are also set to drop.

    Stephen Suttmeier, technical strategist at Bank of America tells CNBC: "The US equity market is on borrowed time after the yield curve inverts.”

  19. No 'formal internal audit function' at Sports Direct

    Man holding abacus

    Sports Direct's annual report contains a wealth of information on the subject of auditors and perhaps explains why it is having a tough time finding a new accountancy firm.

    Here's what it has to say about its own internal audit department:

    "We have operated through the year without any formal internal audit function...we gain a significant amount of comfort from the operation of our retail support unit.

    "We do, however, recognise as the group expands and grows we require an internal audit function to provide additional comfort on the operation of our internal controls and reporting regime."

    The acquisitive retailer - which recently bought Jack Wills out of administration - says it will appoint a head of internal audit "who will have the initial task to devise a plan which may in the short term require some third party assistance in its execution, as we have done in previous years".

  20. Losses grow for WeWork

    WeWork

    WeWork, the US office space provider, has filed its flotation documents and they show that while full revenues rose in 2018, so did losses.

    Sales grew to $1.8bn last year from $886m in the previous 12 months.

    Pre-tax losses for the period rose to $1.9bn from $939.2m in 2017.

    For the six months to the end of June, sales rose to $1.5bn from $763.7m last time. Interim losses before tax were higher at $899.5m on a previous $724m.

    In January, WeWork was valued at $47bn in a private fundraising round.

    But is WeWork really worth nearly $50bn?