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Live Reporting

By Eleanor Lawrie and Robert Plummer

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodbye!

    That's it for today - and indeed, for the week. Have a great weekend and join us bright and early on Monday at 06:00 for more business news and views.

  2. FTSE 100 closes down, FTSE 250 closes up

    RBS's share price ended the day as the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, down 6.25%. It had been in that unenviable position most of the day.

    Overall, the 100-share index closed 44.91 points or 0.6% lower at 7,407.12. The FTSE 250, on the other hand, made gains on Friday, rising 112.39 points or 0.52% to 21,786.29.

  3. A 'healthier relationship' with our cards?

    Using a credit card online

    UK cardholders spent £16.5bn on their credit cards in November 2019, 2% less than a year earlier.

    Meanwhile, 52.4% of card balances carried interest, down from 54.1% a year earlier.

    “We’re still wedded to plastic, but it’s becoming a much healthier relationship," says Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

    "There are more credit cards in the UK than there are adults, and we rely heavily on them.

    "But there are signs we’re getting better at managing our cards. We’re spending less, our card debt is growing more slowly, and we’re less likely to be paying interest than we were a year ago."

    Debit card spending, however, was up by 2.6%, according to the figures from industry body UK Finance.

  4. Panama Canal price rises shock shipping industry

    Container ship

    Bad news for shipping firms: ships may face more than 30% higher costs if they sail via the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal Authority has said it will impose a "freshwater charge" on ships passing through the canal from this weekend. The charge will be set at $10,000 for any vessel over 125ft long. There will also be a variable surcharge based on the level of the Gatun Lake at the time of transit.

    The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) calculates that this move will increase costs to ships passing through the Panama Canal by up to 15%.

    The new charge comes ahead of significant changes in toll rates which are due to come in from 1 April. Those revisions could see additional cost increases of up to 17%.

    Guy Platten, the ICS secretary general, said shipping firms were already braced for the toll increases, but the freshwater charge had taken them by surprise.

    “Shipping already operates on the slimmest of margins," he added.

    "Cost hikes in this range, without sufficient warning, place undue pressure on the industry at a sensitive time when we are being asked to invest in a low-emissions future.

    "We encourage the Panama Port Authority to consider postponing the introduction of the freshwater charge to give industry a chance to better prepare.”

  5. Expedia shines amid subdued US stocks

    Online travel agent Expedia is one of the perkier performers on Wall Street at the moment. The Nasdaq-listed company's shares are up more than 9% after it reported better-than-expected earnings for the final three months of 2019. Overall, the Nasdaq is little moved, up 0.15% at 9,726.

    The other two main US indexes are similarly subdued as fears over the economic impact of the coronavirus continue to weigh on sentiment. The Dow Jones is fractionally down at 29,416, while the S&P 500 is a shade higher at 3,375.

  6. What will bank branches look like in the future?

    Magnus Bennett

    BBC Scotland News

    Umpqua Bank branch

    The Royal Bank of Scotland's chief executive has ruled out any further branch closures for now, arguing that the group's 800-strong UK network is "about the right size and shape to meet the needs of our customers".

    But just what is the right shape for a branch as we move deeper into the digital era?

    In a bank branch in Oregon, a small group of people are lying on orange mats, with legs stretched in the air and hands clenched behind their heads.

    It is a yoga class, one of a number of innovations introduced by Umpqua Bank to attract the public into their "stores" on the high street.

    Its "store-as-community-hub" idea, launched in the mid-1990s, created gathering spots for members of the public to enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee, surf the internet, or stage events such as movie nights.

    Read more from Magnus here.

  7. FTSE 100 edges lower with RBS still biggest faller

    Another quick check on the London markets now. RBS shares are still down more than 6%, which remains the worst performance on the FTSE 100 today.

    The second-biggest faller on the index is now healthcare firm NMC Health, which is London-listed but actually operates in the United Arab Emirates. Its shares are down 5% today after it was announced that executive vice-chairman Khalifa Butti Omeir Bin Yousef had resigned from its board, adding to fears over its financial health.

    Overall, the FTSE 100 is down 0.14% at 7,441.

  8. Pound boost for late winter holidaymakers

    Kevin Peachey

    Personal finance reporter

    Euros and passport

    Holidaymakers lucky enough to travel into Europe during the February half-term holiday are getting an extra boost from the value of the pound.

    Sterling is close to its highest level against the euro since the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, with tourist rates also at recent highs.

    The pound is fetching more than €1.17 in bureaux de change, but there are warnings that far worse rates are offered in airports.

    Meanwhile, the pound is continuing to trade at about €1.20 and $1.30 on the currency markets, where rates are higher than those offered to tourists.

  9. Indian telecoms firms face $13bn bill

    Vodafone Idea logos
    Image caption: Vodafone Idea is one of India's leading telecoms companies

    India's Supreme Court has ordered three telecoms companies to pay $13bn in unpaid spectrum and licencing fees by 17 March.

    Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio had argued that the fees should be based only on income from their telecoms business. But the court ruled they should be based on all business dealings, including handset sales.

    India's Department of Telecommunications was also admonished by the Court for not enforcing an earlier ruling. It has ordered Vodaphone Idea and Bharti Airtel to clear their dues before midnight tonight.

  10. Tesco told not to block rival supermarkets

    Tesco sign

    Tesco has been told not to illegally block access to land and buildings from rival supermarkets.

    A competition investigation found the UK's biggest supermarket chain stopped access 23 times around the country using restrictive contracts. The CMA said it may take formal enforcement action if further breaches are found.

    Tesco has agreed to take action to stop its practices in the future.

    The supermarket giant blamed "administrative errors" and said it had strengthened its "controls and training."

  11. Council 'using pen and paper' after cyber attack

    Image of Redcar

    More than 135,000 UK residents have been without online public services for nearly a week, as their council struggles with a cyber-attack.

    Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's website and all computers at the authority were attacked on Saturday.

    One cyber-security expert told the BBC the incident had all the hallmarks of a ransomware attack, in which files are scrambled until a ransom is paid.

    The council refused to confirm the nature of the hack but says frontline services are continuing, with staff using pen and paper.

    Read more here

  12. Finance deal for UK's biggest mining project falls through

    The Sirius Minerals development near Whitby
    Image caption: The Sirius Minerals development near Whitby

    Yorkshire miner Sirius Minerals says talks with financial investors to raise $680m (£521.9m) have fallen through, putting the company at the risk of going into administration.

    Up to 85,000 small investors sank cash into the Sirius Mineral development near Whitby before it ran into financial difficulty last year.

    The North Yorkshire polyhalite mine is the UK's biggest mining project.

    "The board confirms that the company has not been able to secure an institutional anchor investor willing to provide sufficient support for the alternative proposal which was part of the consortium's requirements," Sirius said in a statement.

    The fertiliser company now urges its shareholders to vote in favour of Anglo American's proposed takeover.

  13. Amazon accused of bias in the West Bank

    Amazon parcel

    Amazon has been accused of bias after a Financial Times investigation discovered addresses belonging to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank were eligible for a free shipping deal, but addresses in the Palestinian Territories were not.

    Customers in the territories could get the free shipping if they selected their address as "Israel", but not if they selected "Palestinian Territories."

    Amazon told the BBC the promotion for customers did not include the Palestinian Territories, as "we cannot guarantee the high standard of delivery experience that Amazon customers expect."

    It added that the disrepancy was due to deliveries having to go through local customs regulations and additional inspections at the border, and packages having to be handed over to another local delivery operator.

    "This is a logistical issue and not a sign of any other consideration,” the company said.

  14. Dating site 'scammed me out of hundreds of pounds'

    Sacha Cowlam
    Image caption: Sacha Cowlam says the site took nearly £300 from her

    "An hour after I paid my £3 I got quite a few emails from people... and I thought 'wow, these are so much better than people on other sites'".

    Sacha Cowlam is talking about her month-long trial with Dating.com.

    Within days she'd been charged £271 and only managed to stop the website taking her money by getting her bank to block the payments.

    Dating.com says if customers believe they've been illegally charged they should contact customer services.

    Read more here

  15. Old nuclear site could power mini-reactor

    Brian Meechan

    BBC Wales business correspondent

    Trawsfynydd

    There is a "pretty high probability" that Trawsfynydd in Wales could be the site of the UK's first small nuclear power station, says the company hoping to build it.

    Engineering giant Rolls-Royce wants to build a network of mini-reactors, a third of the size of current stations.

    It hopes to strike a deal with the UK government within the next year.

    But it says the site of the old Gwynedd reactor ticks all the boxes to pioneer the technology.

    If it goes ahead, it would also be one of the first small modular reactors (SMRs) in the world.

    Read more from Brian here.

  16. Consumers getting safer with credit card debt

    Kevin Peachey

    Personal finance reporter

    Credit cards

    The amount of debt outstanding on credit cards from the major providers in the UK is still growing.

    Latest figures from UK Finance, which represents the banks, shows growth of 2.4% in November - when many people would have started their Christmas shopping.

    However, that increase has been slowing significantly in recent times.

    The growth rate peaked at 8.3% at the start of 2018, the trade body's figures show, showing that many people are playing safer with plastic.

  17. Is RBS 'sacrificing its heritage'?

    NatWest bank

    At least one branding expert is sceptical about RBS's decision to change its name to NatWest Group.

    Gary Bryant, executive director of strategy at global branding and design agency Landor, says brands that change names need to "bring something fresh to the market to justify the change".

    He adds: "This doesn’t seem to be the case for RBS, which appears to be looking to escape its past. No matter what brand is created, customers have long memories and today’s news is likely to be seen as an exercise to plaster over the cracks.

    "The bank is also sacrificing an incredible amount of heritage with this re-brand to NatWest Group. Royal Bank of Scotland was founded in 1727 and it seems foolish to want to throw this history away.

    "Let’s also not forget the cost implications. Refitting an entire branch network, signage systems and all other branded touch points will cost a significant amount. Will shareholders and customers, not to mention taxpayers, feel this is where money is best spent?"

  18. Facebook boss 'happy to pay more tax in Europe'

    Mark Zuckerberg
    Image caption: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

    The boss of Facebook says he accepts tech giants may have to pay more tax in Europe in future and recognises people's "frustration" over the issue.

    Mark Zuckerberg also said he backed plans by think tank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to find a global solution.

    Facebook and others have been accused of not paying their fair share of tax in countries where they operate.

    But some say the OECD is moving too slowly towards its goal of a 2020 deal.

    In the UK, Facebook paid just £28.5m in corporation tax in 2018 despite generating a record £1.65bn in British sales.

    Read more here

  19. Markets little moved... apart from RBS

    The 6% drop in RBS's share price makes it the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 this morning, followed by Just Eat, down 2%.

    The list of risers is topped by Centrica, up nearly 3% in a partial recovery from Thursday's 16% slide.

    Overall, the FTSE 100 is virtually unchanged on the day at 7,452, while the FTSE 250 is up 0.2% at 21,714.