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Live Reporting

By Nell Mackenzie and Howard Mustoe

All times stated are UK

  1. Good night

    That's all from the Business Live page. Join us tomorrow from 0600 for more news and get in touch:

  2. Market update

    Image caption: FTSE 100 today

    The FTSE 100 had a choppy day, ending up by 0.33% to 7,433.25. Today's trading followed two sessions of losses. NMC, the health provider targeted by short seller Muddy Waters, recovered after earlier losses, to close 3% higher.

  3. Cheap mortgages mean more babies


    The Bank of England's blog, Bank Underground, has done the research no-one else dares to. In this case showing bank policy meant more babies born after the crash.

    "For mortgaged families with an adjustable interest rate in 2008, the sharp fall in Bank Rate amounted to a windfall of around £1,000 per quarter in lower mortgage payments," it says, in a post here.

    "In this post we show that people responded to this cash-flow boost by having more children. In total, we estimate that monetary policy increased the birth rate in the following three years by around 7.5%. That’s around 50,000 extra babies."

  4. Commodities markets

    Palladium rose 2.6% to $2,493.77 an ounce, part of a long good run for the metal which was at $500 four years ago.

    Meanwhile silver gained 0.3% to $17.78, while platinum climbed 0.5% to $967.92.

    Bucking the trend, gold was down 0.2% at $1,581.38 per ounce.

  5. What if you are quarantined?


    Sarah Evans, Employment Law Partner at JMW Solicitors, has this advice following reports that people will be advised to stay at home and self-quarantine if they experience flu symptoms amid the coronavirus, or Covid-19, outbreak.

    Quote Message: As Covid-19 is a potentially very serious public health issue, it would be helpful to hear from the government - bosses have businesses to run so they’re unlikely to award sickness benefit above and beyond what’s in their official policy. However, given the significant public need a 14-day self-quarantine for flu symptoms is likely to create, the government may well need to step up and introduce emergency measures, whether to “top-up” the wages of those worst hit, or otherwise. Some employees will benefit from an occupational scheme with better terms when it comes to sick pay and time off work - whether full pay or a portion of their usual salary - however many people will be forced to manage on basic SSP, which is just £94.25 a week. With whole families quarantined, it’s going to cause real financial hardship - it’s perhaps unlikely people will self-quarantine for no pay or SSP when they have mortgages and rent to pay and families to feed.
  6. National Savings & Investments cuts

    Quote Message: It’s yet another blow for loyal NS&I savers, who treasure the fact their savings are 100% guaranteed by the government, and have lived with increasingly uncompetitive rates in order to stick with the institution. It’s not all the NS&I’s fault. Its hands are tied, because it needs to offer value for money compared to government debt, and rates are so ridiculously low at the moment that the only way to compete is by offering something horribly uninspiring to savers. You don’t need to sit back and take this though, because the FSCS guarantees the first £85,000 saved with each institution, so this should be all the incentive you need to check out the competition and make your money work harder.” from Sarah Coles personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown
    Sarah Colespersonal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown
  7. Top trading houses rent storage to hoard crude oil


    Trading firms Trafigura, Glencore, Mercuria and Total have rented storage facilities in South Korea to keep excess oil supplies, because of disruption caused by the coronavirus, according to a Reuters report.

    China, the world's largest importer of crude oil has slowed down its buying. Without China buying the oil, a growing supply would push down the price.

    Supplies in the region are piling up after Chinese refineries cut output by about 1.5 million barrels per day over just two weeks.

  8. Public and private sector jobs rise at the same pace

    surgeon holds scalpel

    The amount of jobs in Britain's public sector are set to rise at the same pace as those in the private sector for the first time since 2008, according to a Reuters report.

    Confidence in the ability more workers in the health sector climbed the highest.

  9. Tokyo marathon cancelled on virus fears

    Only around 200 athletes will now compete in the Tokyo Marathon
    Image caption: Only around 200 athletes will now compete in the Tokyo Marathon

    The amateur portion of the Tokyo marathon will be cancelled on fears about the spread of the coronavirus in Japan.

    Marathon and wheelchair elites are still due to race on 1 March.

    Semi-elite, general, charity and 10km runners can defer their entry to 2021 but according to the statement the entry fee and donations received for this year's course will not be refunded.

  10. Aviva flooded with calls over Storm Dennis

    Little Friends Playgroup submerged in water in Taff's Well, near Cardiff
    Image caption: Little Friends Playgroup submerged in water in Taff's Well, near Cardiff

    Aviva has told the BBC that call volumes into its customer contact centre were five times higher than normal, on 16 February.

    Claims received for Storm Dennis were significantly lower than for Storm Ciara, however many more of its customers have been affected by flooding, the insurance company says.

    The firm says it is aware of major incidents in Worcester and Hereford where some properties are inaccessible.

    It says it will contact customers in those regions to offer our support and advice.

  11. 'My boss is younger than my youngest son’

    Age difference usually equals seniority at work – but not always. Many employers are keen to hire young people, some straight out of school, to get the latest social media skills. So conversations about age, seniority and experience are increasingly important. Dougal Shaw reports.

    Video content

    Video caption: Crossing Divides: How to cope when your boss is younger than you
  12. Jupiter snags rival for £370m


    Jupiter Fund Management is buying rival Merian Global Investors for £370m in shares, in a deal that will make it Britain's second-largest retail funds provider.

    Money managers are rushing to cut costs as punters opt for cheaper funds which follow the likes of the FTSE100 index, rather than ones managed by pricey stock-pickers. One way of doing that is merging to become bigger and sacking support staff.

    The combined company will oversee £65bn.

  13. FCA fines motor finance firm


    The Financial Conduct Authority, which is the City watchdog, has fined car finance provider Moneybarn £2.77m for not treating customers fairly when they fell behind with loan repayments.

    The company voluntarily coughed up £30m to customers affected.

    Moneybarn is part of Provident Financial plc, a FTSE 250 company. It provides motor finance for used vehicles predominantly to customers who have bad credit.

  14. UK tech sees biggest loss of skilled workers since Brexit vote

    uk border queues

    The fall in applications for skilled workers applying to come to the UK have hit Britain's tech industry the hardest.

    Programmer and coder applications from Europe and overseas have fallen 9% since 2016, according to figures from UK Visas and Immigration.Workers from outside of Europe were also less likely to apply for a visa in order to work in the technology sector.

    Applications from skilled workers outside of the EU fell by 17% to 19,700 in the years 2018/2019.

    Stuart Lisle, senior tax partner at the consultancy BDO said: "We want to see the Government prioritise the creation of a worker visa system that attracts the best talent with economically-relevant skills, that prioritises the needs of UK businesses.”

  15. UK Bangers could be blocked by the European Bloc


    The British Retail Consortium has delved into further detail on its warnings about what might happen if there is no free trade deal to be negotiated between the UK and the EU, Bloomberg reports.

    “As it stands, you couldn’t export sausages into the EU,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, speaking at a roundtable in London.

    “There simply isn’t a certificate you could match your product to.”

    Britain and the EU are due to work out their new trading relationship by 2021.

    Currently, Canada has signed a (nearly) free trade agreement due to start this year, where it has between 98% and 99% free trade but does not remain in the EU single market, and therefore does not have to comply with EU rules or allow the free movement of people.

  16. UAE goes nuclear

    Abu Dhabi skyline

    The United Arab Emirates has licensed the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world, Reuters reports.

    A plant will be built in Abu Dhabi by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). It was meant to be operational by 2017, but has sufferd delays.

    The UAE wants 6% of its electricity needs to be met by nuclear power by 2050.

  17. Great Western Railway boss to be sentenced for fraud

    great western railroad train

    It must have been one heck of a team building event.

    Mark Heffernan, a former deputy operations director for Great Western Railway, claimed unauthorised expenses on booze, hotels and travel – in the name of team building.

    It was not clear, however, if the "team" were invited to the hotel rooms that Mr Heffernan booked with his wife, which were also among the expenses claimed, reports the Bristol Post.

    He is due to be sentenced today and has admitted four charges of fraud totalling £10,530.