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Summary

  1. Get in touch: [email protected]
  2. Sainsbury’s shares slide as deal with Asda in trouble
  3. Lloyds announces share buy-back
  4. US wants China to avoid currency devaluation
  5. Laura Ashley warns on profits

Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

  1. Chinese want face-off with Trump, says commentator

    President Trump has given his strongest hint yet that he will
    extend the deadline for a trade deal with China beyond 1 March.

    Ryan Hass, a former China advisor to President Obama who is now
    with the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington DC, has been explaining why
    such an extension needs to happen to get a deal done

  2. Don’t think 4G in the UK is any good? You’re not alone

    A woman looking at her phone in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Copyright: Getty Images

    A study into 4G has indicated that the UK is one of a handful of European countries where download speeds fall below 20 megabits per second (Mbps) at the busiest times of day.

    In the table of 77 countries, the UK ranked 35th, with 4G speeds ranging from 19.7Mbps to 34.9Mbps.

    Most countries’ 4G networks are busiest between 20:00 and 23:00, but UK consumers were most active at 17:00.

    One expert said that the move to 5G should help speed fluctuations.

  3. Brazil government presents economic reform proposals

    Daniel Gallas

    BBC South America business correspondent

    Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro (C) accompanied by members of his government, arrives at the National Congress in Brasilia to hand over a draft of a pension reform bill

    Copyright: AFP

    Image caption: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (C) accompanied by members of his government, arrives at the National Congress in Brasilia to hand over a draft of a pension reform bill

    Brazil’s government is presenting
    its proposal to revamp the country’s pension system – which is widely seen as
    the most important reform in South America’s biggest economy. (The press
    conference is still taking place in Brasilia.)

    The proposal includes a minimum
    retirement age of 65 for men and 62 for women. In the current system there are
    no age limits and some Brazilians can retire in their mid-50s.

    Brazil’s government says new rules
    would create savings of more than $300bn in the coming ten years.

    President Jair Bolsonaro met with
    Congress leaders to deliver a copy of the reforms. The proposals must be
    approved by both Houses of Congress.

    Analysts say the country’s costly
    pension system has been hampering growth for years.

    Brazil was one of the fastest
    emerging economies in the previous decade, but in the past five years it has
    experienced a severe recession and only modest recovery.

  4. Crude allure

    North Sea oil rig

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Brexit could dull the appeal of North Sea crude for South Korean buyers if an existing free trade agreement isn’t rolled over,Bloomberg reports.

    Business Secretary Greg Clark said on Tuesday that trade deals with Japan and South Korea would be unlikely before Brexit,the Japan Times reported.

    If the deal isn’t continued, that would mean a 3% import tariff on North Sea crude, reducing its allure for South Korean buyers.

    Whatever happened to Brexiter Liam Fox’s confident assertion in 2017 that the UK would replicate 40 EU trade agreements and have them ready for “one second after midnight in March 2019”?

    Well, as of January 2019,the UK had yet to seal these fabled agreements.

  5. Southwest hit by US shutdown

    southwest plane

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Southwest Airlines says it expects a $60m hit from the US government shutdown.

    That’s more than the $10m to $15m it had previously expected.

    The airline also cut its forecast for revenue per seat.

  6. Wall Street opens flat

    Little girl statue on Wall Street

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Wall Street shares have opened flat for the second day in a row, as a raft of disappointing earnings results compounded investor worries about the US-China trade war.

    TheDow Jones Industrial Averageis just 12.7 points or 0.05% ahead to 25,904.03, led by Walmart, which has risen 2.2% to $102.20 after reporting better-than-expected revenue and earnings.

    This offset falling stock prices on open from the likes of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Pfizer, Home Depot and Disney.

    TheS&P 500is now 4.2 points or 0.2% higher to 2,779.76. Top of the winners is Devon Energy, which has jumped 10.6% to $31.31 after beating quarterly production estimates for shale oil, as well as forecasting a strong year ahead.

    And finally, the tech-heavyNasdaqis now 13 points or 0.2% up to 7,499.78. US automation design and engineering services firm Cadence Design Systems leads the winners, up 7% to $56.29 after reporting a 14% year-on-year revenue growth.

    Medical and dental supplies firm Henry Schein, American Airlines, Tesla, Hasbro and Electronic Arts were some of the top losers on open.

  7. Good afternoon

    Ricky Summers and Andre Sterling

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Thanks Jill for this morning’s live coverage of all things business.

    Today in London, a press conference was held ahead of the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) and Poxon Sports undercard boxing event at the O2 on Saturday 23 February.

    Here’s Ricky Summers and Andre Sterling posing for a photo. The two boxers will be facing off in a final eliminator for the British light heavyweight title on Saturday.

    Got a point of view? You can tweet me at@concertina226and@BBCBusiness.

  8. Tesla changes

    tesla

    Copyright: Reuters

    Tesla has told Reuters its
    general counsel Dane Butswinkas is leaving the electric carmaker.

    He was hired two months ago and will be replaced by Jonathan Chang.

  9. Brexit compromise…

    BBC Europe Editor tweets

  10. Garmin rises

    screen

    Copyright: Garmin

    Shares in Satnav maker Garmin are up at 11-year highs in pre-market trading in the US after it reported a 4% increase in total revenue to $932m in the fourth quarter.

    “2018 was another remarkable year of revenue and operating income growth driven by strong
    performance in our aviation, marine, outdoor and fitness segments,” said Cliff Pemble, president and
    chief executive of Garmin.

  11. UBS appeal

    UBS logo

    Copyright: Getty Images

    UBS says it will appeal against that ruling by a French court, mentioned earlier.

    A French court has ordered the bank to pay €3.7bn (£3.2bn) over money laundering offences.

    “UBS strongly disagrees with the verdict. The bank has consistently contested any criminal wrongdoing in this case throughout the investigation and during the trial. The conviction is not supported by any concrete evidence, but instead is based on the unfounded allegations of former employees who were not even heard at the trial,” the bank said.

    Shares in the Swiss bank are down almost 3%.

  12. Food supply chain concerns

    Quote Message: We welcome the provisional finding of today’s report from the Competition and marketing Authority into the Asda and Sainsbury’s merger. However, while I commend the CMA’s thorough investigation into the merger, I am disappointed that the report was unable to reflect the impact this merger could have on businesses in the food supply chain, other than how it would affect competition at a customer level. We sent a letter to the CMA last year, asking them to consider supplier views. We know that businesses working in the food industry already face intense pressure due the uncertainty of Brexit and planning for a no deal scenario. from Neil Parish Chair of the Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

    We welcome the provisional finding of today’s report from the Competition and marketing Authority into the Asda and Sainsbury’s merger. However, while I commend the CMA’s thorough investigation into the merger, I am disappointed that the report was unable to reflect the impact this merger could have on businesses in the food supply chain, other than how it would affect competition at a customer level. We sent a letter to the CMA last year, asking them to consider supplier views. We know that businesses working in the food industry already face intense pressure due the uncertainty of Brexit and planning for a no deal scenario.

  13. Awash with surplus capital

    lloyds logo

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Lloyds Banking Group reported its results earlier, and plans to return £4bn to shareholders through dividends and buying back shares.

    John Moore, senior investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said: “The bank is awash with surplus capital and some of that will
    be returned to shareholders through a more ambitious share buyback scheme of up
    to £1.75 bn and a 5% hike in its dividend”.

    “Lloyds is in a good position,
    but the question remains ‘what’s next?’ for the bank. With PPI [payment protection insurance] complaints
    diminishing and costs coming down ahead of expectations, Lloyds could soon have
    capital coming out of its ears looking for a useful purpose.”

  14. UBS fined

    UBS logo on a building

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Swiss bank UBS has been fined €3.7bn (£3.2bn) in a French court.

    The court has been found the Swiss bank criminally responsible for money laundering.

    Reuters reported earlier that a decision was due on whether the Swiss bank helped French clients evade taxes between 2004 and 2012 and launder the proceeds.

    According to Reuters, UBS denies any wrongdoing and the case could drag on for years if appealed by either side.

  15. ‘Cash cow’

    Lloyds bank branch

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Falling charges for compensation for payment protection insurance misselling are behind the jump in profits at Lloyds Banking Group, according to Laith Khalaf, senior analyst, at Hargreaves Lansdown.

    “That means more cash can flow through to shareholders, which is
    precisely what we’re seeing with an increased dividend and share buyback
    programme to boot,” he said.

    However, the share price is around the same level as when António Horta-Osório became chief executive in 2011, Mr Khalaf said, during which time the bank has swing from a loss to a profit.

    “That’s because Lloyds is indelibly plugged into
    the UK economy, and the shadow cast by Brexit means the bank’s shares are left
    out in the cold,” he said.

    The shares are up 4% today, at around 60p.

  16. Misleading?

    chart

    Copyright: Pantheon

    Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, reckons the CBI industrial trends survey is “misleadingly strong”.

    The pick-up in orders in
    February to its 2018 average level suggests that the recent downturn in
    manufacturing output is just a blip.

    But, he said: “We
    doubt it is giving an accurate steer at present. Manufacturers are asked to
    report whether orders are above or below ‘normal’ levels, meaning that the
    survey tends to be slow to reflect downturns that begin after extended periods
    of growth”.

  17. Lloyds legal matters

    Full-year results from Lloyds Banking Group include £600m being set aside for legal actions and other regulatory matters.

    Among the extra items it lists: £151m for handling arrears management fees, £45m for packaged bank accounts and £15m for compensating customers of the Reading branch of HBOS.

  18. Unite on supermarket deal

    asda sign

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Unite
    national officer for the food industry Sue Pollard has responded to the competition authority findings on the Sainsbury’s and Asda tie-up.

    “At a
    time of growing uncertainty about food security and rising prices, the
    government should have intervened and thoroughly examined how this potential
    merger will affect the food supply chain across the UK. Its failure to do so is
    a complete abdication of its responsibility,” she said.“Unite
    has sought assurances from Sainsbury’s on jobs and stores, but any promises
    that are secured will become meaningless if the CMA orders the sale of stores
    and distribution centres. Such a decision risks being the worst of all possible
    worlds.”

    The union has 12,000 members at both supermarkets.

  19. Pound dips

    The pound dipped against the dollar after three Conservative MPs resigned from the party.

    It is still above $1.30 but down around 0.4% on the day.

    The three – Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen – wrote to Theresa May, saying: “We find it unconscionable that a party, once trusted on the economy, more than any other, is now recklessly marching the country to the cliff edge of no deal.”

    The Prime Minister said she was “saddened”.

    There’s a storyhere.

  20. ‘Ill wind’ for supermarkets

    Morrisons store

    Copyright: Reuters

    Shares in Morrisons and Tesco fell after the CMA’s announcement about its views on the Sainsbury-Asda deal. Why?

    Laith
    Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Sainsbury shares have fallen significantly as hopes for the merger
    have collapsed. It’s an ill wind indeed which blows no-one any good, but that
    seems to be the order of the day in the supermarket sector, with Tesco and
    Morrison selling off too.

    “This suggests the market is
    concerned Walmart may now seek to sell off Asda to another party, and there may
    not even be the silver lining of some shops being sold off to soften the blow.”

    Morrisons is still down, although Tesco has recovered its losses.