Business Live: FTSE 100 opens down 1%

Got a TV Licence?You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.Find out moreLive ReportingBy Nick Edser, Simon Read and Lora JonesAll times stated are UKPosted at 9:129:12Baby Yoda coming to a screen near youDISNEYCopyright: DISNEY’Baby Yoda’ from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian has…


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Live Reporting

By Nick Edser, Simon Read and Lora Jones

All times stated are UK

  1. Baby Yoda coming to a screen near you

    Baby Yoda

    Copyright: DISNEY

    Image caption: ‘Baby Yoda’ from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian has been an online hit

    Disney’s streaming service, which will include the likes of Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and National Geographic, is hitting the UK on 24 March.

    Disney+ will also arrive in Ireland, France, Germany,
    Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland on the same date. It will cost streamers £5.99 a month.

    Disney, which will be up against rival services such as Apple TV+, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Britbox, will also feature classics from its own back catalogue, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi.

    Read more on the battle for streaming survival here.

  2. What’s happening today at Davos?

    Video content

    Video caption: A daily update on what’s happening at the World Economic Forum’s annual summit at Davos, Switzerland
  3. Electricals business ‘sparked into life’

    Dixons Carphone

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Image caption: Dixons Carphone operates the PC World and Carphone Warehouse chains

    Commenting on the latest trading update from Dixons Carphone, Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: “These are solid numbers
    boosted by the electricals business that sparked into life.

    “Their price promise
    to match any retailer, online or in-store, resonated well with constantly
    connected shoppers who readily browse their smartphones in-store to checkout
    online offers. Assurances on price are particularly important in an extremely
    competitive sector where the nature of the product makes it difficult to
    differentiate from online competitors.

    “Wider structural changes in
    the mobile market continued to undermine growth as consumers opted for SIM-only
    deals while hanging on to their handset for longer. A sharp drop in sales was
    widely expected but remains a challenge for the retailer as they continue to
    reshape the business and offer a more connected in-store experience.”

  4. BP finance chief to retire


    Copyright: Getty Images

    BP has announced that its chief financial officer (CFO), Brian Gilvary, is to retire.

    Mr Gilvary, who will step down from BP’s board on 30 June, has worked at the oil giant for 34 years, with more than eight years as CFO.

    He will be succeeded by Murray Auchincloss, currently CFO of BP’s Upstream segment.

    BP chairman Helge Lund said: “We will miss Brian’s financial stewardship and strategic insights. He is one of the architects of today’s BP, key to its transformation into a safer, simpler and stronger company.

    “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Brian for all he has done for BP and look forward to welcoming Murray to the board.”

  5. Long-term illness and work

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Wake Up To Money

    Sick worker

    Copyright: Getty Images

    The most recent government figures suggest that more
    than 100,000 people leave work each year because of a long-term illness

    Steve Shutts is the chief executive of the charity
    Astriid, which helps people back into work.

    He told BBC’s Wake Up to Money that there are many people with long-term illness in
    an “invisible talent pool”.

    “They’re people with long-term conditions who are desperate
    to do something, although they can’t work full-time. They’re of huge value to
    business, and there’s now recognition that work helps people to get better. There’s
    a much greater sense of the therapeutic value of work, helping people to
    improve their mental health.”

  6. FTSE 100 opens down 1%

    City trader

    Copyright: Getty Images

    As shares fall in Asia, the FTSE 100 index has opened lower in London. In the first few minutes of trade the index is down 72.71 points, nearly 1%, at 7,578.73.

    The FTSE 250 index is 168.96 points lower at 21,678.08.

    EasyJet shares are up 2% after it upgraded its revenue growth forecast.

    Dixons Carphone is up 4% after it reported strong sales of electrical goods, despite falling sales of mobile phones.

  7. Asian stocks fall as new virus fears grow

    Man watches Asian stock market boards.

    Copyright: Getty

    Shares in Asia have fallen as worries grow about a new virus that has so far killed four
    people, after authorities confirmed it can spread through
    human contact.

    China’s Shanghai Composite closed 1.4% lower, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell by 2.6%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended the day down by 0.9%.

  8. Facebook on ‘harmful’ content

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Facebook logo on a phone

    Copyright: GETTY IMAGES

    Following up on the news that Facebook is hiring 1,000
    more people in London
    , Steve Hatch, its vice-president for northern Europe,
    has been talking to the BBC’s Today programme.

    Mr Hatch confirmed that nearly half of those jobs would
    be dedicated to developing technology that detects and removes harmful content.
    But does this go far enough?

    He said: “If we look at the areas where we we’ve been
    focused for the longest time, such as terrorist content, more than 99% of terrorist
    content is taken down proactively by us. We want to make sure that that’s the
    same for other types of harmful content we see on the site, but there’s always
    more to do.

    “Our aspiration is for us to remove every single piece of
    harmful content.”

  9. EasyJet helped by Thomas Cook’s demise

    EasyJet planes

    Copyright: Getty Images

    EasyJet says one of the factors helping its strong revenue growth was the demise of travel firm Thomas Cook last year, which removed one of its competitors.

    The airline said revenue per seat climbed by 8.8% in its first quarter, beating expectations.

    The company launched EasyJet Holidays in November last year, and it said this part of its business is expected to at least break-even for the financial year to 30 September 2020.

    EasyJet said it expected to report a pre-tax loss for the first half of its financial year that is smaller than last year, when it reported a £275m loss.

  10. Should the Bank of England cut rates?

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Bank of England

    Copyright: BBC

    There’s been much speculation that the Bank of England will cut interest rates when it meets later this month.

    But Laura Foll, fund manager of UK income funds at Janus Henderson Investors, is not in favour of a rate cut for now.

    “If I was on the Bank of England… I would be waiting a little bit longer to see how the data develops.” she tells the Today programme.

    While recent economic data has generally been weak, it has been covering periods before the election. However, she says, the softer data – which includes surveys of more recent activity – has indicated signs of a pick-up.

    “I would wait and see how that data develops,” she says. “Why needlessly cut rates? We’re only talking about a quarter of a percentage point, so it’s not huge either way.”

  11. Dixons sees mobile sales fall


    Copyright: DIXONS CARPHONE

    The latest trading update from Dixons Carphone – which operates the Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse chains – paints a mixed picture for the electrical retailer.

    It said that like-for-like revenues from mobile phone sales fell by 9% in the 10 weeks to 4 January across the UK and Ireland.

    Dixons has a turnaround plan, which involves improving its online offering and making its physical stores more engaging for shoppers.

    It said its plan is working so far, and also pointed to some bright spots, with revenues from electricals up 2% in the same period.

    The group chief executive Alex Baldock said over Christmas it sold 75% more 65″ TVs, as well as 8,000 smart speakers a day.

    Overall, he said the firm was “on track to deliver what we promised for this year, and with our longer-term transformation.”

  12. EasyJet upgrades revenue outlook after ‘strong’ quarter


    Copyright: PA Media

    EasyJet has lifted its forecast for revenue growth after enjoying “strong” trading in the first quarter of its financial year.

    The airline’s revenue rose by 9.9% to £1.425bn in the three months to 31 December 2019, with the number of passengers carried climbing by 2.8% to 22.2 million.

    EasyJet said that revenue per seat in the first half of the year was now expected to increase by “mid to high single digits”, which was an upgrade on its previous expectation of a rise of “low to mid single digits”.

    The carrier’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “I’m pleased that we have made a strong start to the year with continued positive momentum.

    “The improvement in our revenue per seat has been driven by our self-help revenue initiatives combined with robust customer demand and a lower capacity growth market.”

  13. Does Davos do enough on climate change?

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Greta Thunberg

    Copyright: Getty Images

    The World Economic Forum (WEF) officially starts today, and teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is set to deliver a speech.

    But it’s thought almost 600 private jets flew into the Swiss mountain town in 2019, carrying politicians, celebrities and high-profile business people.

    Dominic Waughray, head of the centre for global public goods at the World Economic Forum dismissed claims of hypocrisy.

    He said: “For the past three years, we’ve been independently audited by an organisation called ISO, for the most sustainable events that there are. Everything is 100% offset here, including all of the private aircraft.

    He added: “We’ve also put forward a commitment to have all companies and organisations attending commit to the net-zero target by the middle of the century, which is slightly tougher than the Paris climate goals.”

    Find out more about what to expect at the 2020 WEF summit here.

  14. What’s behind Anglo American’s bid for a Yorkshire mine?

    Today Programme

    BBC Radio 4

    Polyhalite mine in Yorkshire

    Copyright: SIRIUS MINERALS

    Image caption: The project is set to be the world’s largest polyhalite mine

    Mining giant Anglo American offered to buy Sirius Minerals for almost
    £405m on Monday, potentially safeguarding thousands of jobs at a Yorkshire
    mining project.

    The future of the mine had been in doubt after
    Sirius Minerals was forced to abandon plans to raise $500m.

    It’s set to be the world’s largest mine for polyhalite, a
    naturally occurring fertiliser which is used in agriculture. So what’s behind
    the bid?

    In his first interview since Anglo American made the
    offer, chief executive Mark Cutifani told the BBC’s Today programme that he hadn’t expected that the company would find UK projects to take on.

    He said: “We’re very interested on the basis we like
    fertilisers. We have a lot of experience there, we know the sector. The more we
    looked at the project, the more interesting it became, both in terms of
    potential and the very different nature of the product that they’re proposing
    to produce.”

    Read more about the story here.

  15. Business rates an ‘enormous overhead’ for Beales

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Wake Up To Money

    Beales shopfront

    Copyright: PA Media

    Beales, one of the country’s oldest department stores, collapsed
    into administration on Monday, putting more than 1,000 jobs at risk.

    Bournemouth is home to the chain’s founding store, which
    could now be one of 23 forced to shut.

    Martin Davies, chair of the Bournemouth Town Centre Business
    Improvement District, told Wake Up to Money that the current retail environment
    was “a challenge”, and described business rates as a major problem.

    He said: “If you look at Beales, they lost about £3m. The
    business rates on their Bournemouth flagship store alone were £440,000 a year.
    That’s an enormous overhead for a business to try and carry, even in good
    times. It’s appalling.”

    He suggested an alternative “where all businesses pay tax
    on the profit they make, rather than where they locate their premises.
    Otherwise, the internet has a permanent and natural competitive advantage.”

  16. New China virus: Drug makers soar on contagion fears

  17. Facebook to create 1,000 UK jobs

    Facebook logo

    Copyright: PA Media

    Facebook is to create 1,000 new jobs in London by the end of the year.

    The new posts will take the tech giant’s total number of UK employees to more than 4,000.

    More than half of them will be technology-focused, with roles in software engineering, product design and data science, the company is to announce at an event in London.

    Facebook has more than 35,000 employees worldwide, with London its biggest engineering hub outside the US.

    The company said many of the new jobs would be in its Community Integrity (CI) division, which builds the tools and technology it uses to detect and remove harmful content from its platforms.

  18. What does HS2 mean for business?

    BBC Radio 5 Live

    Wake Up To Money

    Freight train

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Yesterday a leaked report suggested that the high-speed
    rail project could cost almost double the £56bn expected in 2015.

    The transport secretary has asked for more information
    about the scheme as the government prepares to decide whether to go ahead with
    the project.

    But Debbie Francis, managing director of Direct Rail Services
    – a government-owned private rail company – told Wake Up to Money there was a “need”
    to build HS2 for freight companies.

    “The main spine of the country on the London-North
    Western line is at capacity.

    “HS2 is not being built so we can all get somewhere 15
    minutes faster. It’s being built because there isn’t the capacity to expand the
    rail network for passengers or freight. For both of us, it’s a big win.”

  19. Asian shares fall amid new China virus concerns

    Man watches Asian stock market boards.

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Shares have fallen in Asia as China confirmed the first person-to-person spread of a new virus,
    which has killed four people so far.

    China’s Shanghai Composite fell 1.2%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was 2.3% lower, and Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was 0.9% lower.

  20. Good morning

    Good morning and welcome to what is shaping up to be a busy day of business news.

    We’re due to get trading updates from both EasyJet and Dixons Carphone, and a bit later the latest UK unemployment figures will be released.

    And the big World Economic Forum meeting in Davos gets under way today, with an opening speech from Donald Trump.

    As ever, you can contact us via email on:

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