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Live Reporting

By Dearbail Jordan and Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    BBC test card

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

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

  2. Wall Street still flat

    Wall Street traders

    Wall Street shares have continued to be flat.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now 38.8 points or 0.2% higher to 25,518.23, the S&P 500 is 4 points or 0.1% ahead to 2,844.70, and the Nasdaq has slipped 9.7 points or 0.1% to 7,763.30.

  3. Spotify trialling price rises in Nordic region

    Spotify

    Spotify is apparently going to test out raising its prices in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

    Sources have told Bloomberg that the music streaming service is looking to increase the price of its family plan by about 13% in the Nordic region.

    However, the sources said the trials did not necessarily mean that Spotify was planning to raise its prices in other countries or to make the family plan permanently more expensive in Scandinavia.

    Spotify is currently the largest paid music streaming service in the world. It has long been criticised by the music industry for not paying out enough in royalties.

    Raising its prices would theoretically enable Spotify to pass on the returns to the music industry, but the company is also still losing money as it tries to attract more people to on-demand streaming.

  4. Comic convention cancels event due to Brexit

    A Fantastic 4 cosplay group at London Film and Comic Con in July
    Image caption: A Fantastic 4 cosplay group at London Film and Comic Con in July

    Brexit uncertainty isn't just affecting British companies - it's also hitting events.

    The London Film and Comic Con (LFCC) has announced that it is cancelling its winter event, which was set to take place in late November.

    The fan convention, which is well known for flying popular US actors from sci-fi fantasy films and TV series to the UK for fan autograph sessions, says that it has been affected by the weakness of the pound.

    "Running our larger events we are very dependent on the pound to the dollar exchange rate and recently the pound dived to its lowest rate in decades, which means that most US guests' costs have risen dramatically and this looks likely to stay this way until we all find out where we stand with Brexit in the coming months," Jason Joiner, the managing director of LFCC owner Showmasters wrote in a Facebook post to event attendees.

    "This is a decision we have properly thought through and we do feel with all this uncertainty in the world and with the exchange rate fluctuation these issues are unlikely to stabilise before the Brexit outcome in October, and most likely until the end of the year."

    LFCC said that it will automatically issue refunds on tickets for the winter convention that have already been purchased.

  5. Burford Capital changes its chief financial officer

    City of London

    Burford Capital, the litigation funder whose shares lost almost half their value last week, has announced that it is appointing a new chief financial officer (CFO).

    The firm said investors had raised concerns about the fact that Burford's chief executive Christopher Bogart and CFO Elizabeth O'Connell are married.

    In response, Burford has appointed Jim Kilman, who was most recently vice chairman of Morgan Stanley Investment Banking, as the new CFO, in order to "buttress confidence in Burford's financial disclosures".

    Burford said it would also be seeking a second listing of its stock on either the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, in response to investor wishes.

    Last week, Burford's share price plunged after its accounting methods were criticised by Muddy Waters, a US investment firm.

    Burford then said traders had cancelled orders in order to deliberately depress the share price.

  6. European Central Bank website hacked

    European Central Bank

    A website owned by the European Central Bank has been hacked, the bank has announced.

    ECB said that attackers had managed to hack into its Banks’ Integrated Reporting Dictionary (BIRD) website, and that it is possible that the names, email addresses and position titles of the 481 subscribers to the BIRD enewsletter may have been stolen in a data breach.

    The cyber-attack occurred by injecting malware into the server of an external provider hosting the BIRD website.

    ECB said that it is contacting the people who may have been affected by the data breach, and that neither ECB internal systems nor market-sensitive data were affected.

    The BIRD website, which provides the banking industry with details on how to produce statistical and supervisory reports, has been taken offline until further notice.

  7. Oil starts flowing from huge North Sea development

    Engineers working at an oil rig

    Oil has begun to flow from the biggest development project in the North Sea in a decade.

    More than 300 million barrels of heavy crude oil are expected to be recovered from the Mariner field, 95 miles east of Shetland.

    Norwegian state-owned operator Equinor said the field was a "cornerstone" in its expansion into UK waters.

    But environmental charity Friends of the Earth Scotland insisted the oil should be left in the ground.

  8. Capital One accused 'breached 30 other organisations'

    CapitalOne card

    A software developer accused of stealing data from finance company Capital One took files from over 30 other organisations, prosecutors claim.

    The alleged thief, Paige Thompson, was arrested after reportedly talking online about taking Capital One data.

    In court papers, the US Department of Justice claimed Paige Thompson had "terabytes" of data in her possession.

    It said she had "intruded" into servers belonging to companies, schools and government agencies.

  9. Wall Street opens flat

    Wall Street traders

    Wall Street shares have opened flat. There had been concerns that the US indices would follow the same pattern as European markets today, which were weighed down by investors' concerns about a potential recession and a continuing US-China trade war.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now 25 points or 0.1% ahead to 25,504.43.

    The S&P 500 is now 2.4 points or 0.08% lower to 2,836.82.

    And finally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is now 24.2 points or 0.3% down to 7,745.42.

    Yesterday, Wall Street suffered its worst day in 2019, with all three indices down about 3%.

  10. 'Brexit threat still looming' for retailers

    Shops in Newport town centre in Wales
    Image caption: Shops in Newport town centre in Wales

    While the better-than-expected retail sales figures will have brought some joy, Karen Johnson, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking warns that retailers are unlikely to get carried away, as the threat of Brexit is still "looming".

    "Online continued to thrive, with sales now accounting for a fifth of the total retail spend. Online retailers should be applauded for this, but as many of our major retailers revealed in their letter this week, our bricks and mortar stores need support to help them coexist successfully in the new retail environment," she said.

    "The high street has been the cornerstone of towns and cities across the UK for decades, and given the speed of change in the sector brought about by the explosion in online shopping, the future of our town centres is increasingly uncertain.

    "There are no easy solutions, but retail leaders are right to highlight business rates as one of the areas the Johnson administration should review sooner rather than later.”

  11. EU citizen rights 'must be secured'

    People looking at an EU settlement scheme sign

    The Home Office has today published statistics showing that fewer than one in three of all EU citizens residing in the UK have had settlement, or pre-settlement, status applications approved by the British government.

    As of 31 July, in total 1,040,600 EU citizens and their families from across the UK have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme.

    Overall, the total number of applications that have been concluded, as of 31 July, was 951,700. Of these, 64% were granted settled status and 36% were granted pre-settled status.

    “European business owners and employees are central to the UK’s economic success. One in five small employers rely on the skills of EU citizens and – with employment levels at record-highs – one in three now say finding the right staff is a major barrier to growth," said Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) chairman Mike Cherry.

    “With fewer than 80 days to go until 31 October, it’s critical that every effort is made to reach EU citizens who are digitally excluded, unaware of the need to make a settled status application or part of the sole trader community."

  12. First-time buyers fell in June

    People looking at house for sale ads at an estate agency

    New figures from UK Finance show that the number of first-time house buyers fell in June by 1.5%, compared to the same month in 2018.

    In June, 32,760 first-time buyer mortgages were completed in June, and 31,000 home mover mortgages were handed out - a 3.6% decrease like-for-like.

    As for buy-to-let purchase mortgages, there were 5,300 fewer completed in June, a 3.6% decrease from the same period in the previous year.

    However, the stats showed that more people were borrowing additional funds in order to renovate their homes, as the number of remortgages with additional borrowing rose 8.3% year-on-year.

  13. Brand 'witch hunt' takes over Chinese internet

    Graphic showing bulls eye targets on several international brands

    As the protests intensify in Hong Kong, international luxury brands are getting caught in the crossfire.

    Global brands such as Versace, Coach, Calvin Klein, Givenchy, ASICS and Swarovski have all become tied up in controversy on the mainland this week for listing Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as separate countries or regions - not part of China - on their official websites or brand T-shirts.

    China's state media propaganda machine is running at full speed to counter the anti-Beijing voices, and many Chinese social media users are now involved in an online hunt for international companies seemingly not abiding by the "one country, two systems" principle, which states that while Hong Kong enjoys "a high degree of autonomy", it is part of China.

  14. Alibaba beats forecasts

    China's online giant Alibaba reported a better than expected 42% rise in first quarter sales on strong ecommerce and cloud computing.

    The group said revenue rose to 114.92 billion yuan (£13.4bn), ahead of analysts' forecasts of 111.73bn yuan.

  15. Online sales and in-store experiences crucial for retailers

    Shoppers on Oxford Street

    Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, says that last summer's strong retail performance has been "a tough act to follow", so shops have done especially well in July, without the help of a football World Cup or royal wedding.

    He noted that the most striking rise in sales was in online shopping. However, he warned that High Streets remain under pressure and sales could slow down for the rest of the summer as discounting starts before the end of the season.

    “Brexit uncertainty could also continue to impact overall consumer confidence and household expenditure for the time being," said Mr Geddes.

    "The opportunity for retailers in the long-term is through investment in growing their digital sales and transforming their in-store experiences, be it hosting fitness classes or opening nail bars.”

  16. Asda chief 'under no illusions'

    Asda chief executive Roger Burnley

    In a forthright statement accompanying Asda's first half and second quarter results, chief executive Roger Burnley also said: "Whilst I remain proud of our continued strategic focus in the quarter, I am under no illusions as to how challenging this market remains for all retailers."

  17. BreakingAsda blames Brexit, football and weather for weak sales

    Asda sign

    Asda has reported a 0.3% fall in like-for-like sales for the first half of the year to 30 June.

    Over the second quarter Asda, which is owned by Walmart, said revenues edged 0.5% higher.

    "If ever a case study on the impact the mood of the nation has on UK spending habits were needed, this quarter has provided it, " said Asda's chief executive and president Roger Burnley.

    "Consumer confidence levels are at an almost six-year low due in no small part to the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and amplified by the impact of weather and tracking against national sporting events in the same period last year."

    He said that as a result "our non-food business has been challenged during the period" but Asda's "food business has continued to perform well".