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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Pound above $1.43
  3. WPP shares fall 6.5% as Sorrell departs
  4. Wetherspoon cuts social media
  5. Whitbread climbs 7% on break up rumours
  6. Bid target Shire to sell cancer business

Live Reporting

By Daniel Thomas

All times stated are UK

Good night!

That's all we have time for tonight on Business Live - thanks for reading.

We're back bright and early at 06:00 Tuesday so do join us then.

Netflix profits up

Few more Netflix numbers: net profit rose to $290.1m in the three months to 31 March, up from $178.2m for the same quarter last year.

Total revenue rose 40.4% to $3.7bn - about what analysts had expected.

BreakingNetflix keeps signing up subscribers

Parker Posey
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Parker Posey appears in the Netflix series Lost in Space

Netflix added more international subscribers than expected in the first quarter as a slate of original shows including Altered Carbon kept viewers hooked to the video streaming service.

It signed up 5.46 million subscribers internationally in the quarter compared with the average analyst estimate of 5.02 million, according to data and analytics firm FactSet.

Netflix said it added 7.4 million total subscribers compared with the average analyst estimate of 6.5 million, according to FactSet.

Wall Street higher

US stock markets ended higher on Monday, with the biggest boosts from the technology and healthcare sectors as investors turned their focus to upcoming results and appeared less worried about US-led missile attacks in Syria.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 212 points, or 0.9%, to 24,573, the S&P 500 gained 0.8% to 2,677.8 points and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.7% to 7,156.2 points.

Lamar wins another prize

Kendrick Lamar
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Rapper Kendrick Lamar has won the Pulitzer Prize for music, becoming the first non-classical or jazz artist to collect the award.

The 30-year-old Californian won the prize for his album DAMN, organisers said.

It follows the five Grammy awards won by Lamar in January for the album.

Previous Pulitzer music winners include jazz musicians Wynton Marsalis and Ornette Coleman.

Pointing the finger

It seems Facebook doesn't want to be the only kid in the dock, or on the block - take your pick - as BBC North America technology reporter Dave Lee tweets...

View more on twitter

Trump appoints new Fed board members

US Federal Reserve building
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President Donald Trump has nominated two new members to the Federal Reserve Board.

They include former Treasury official Richard Clarida and Kansas banking regulator Michelle Bowman.

If confirmed by the Senate, the picks allow Trump to further mould the central bank leadership to his liking.

The Fed board currently has only three serving members, two of whom are Trump appointees, allowing him the unprecedented opportunity to select all but one of the board's seven members.

Toyota unveils plans for 'talking vehicles'

Toyota car
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Toyota says that within three years it will start selling cars in the US that can communicate with each other using wireless technology - a move that could potentially prevent thousands of accidents.

So called talking vehicles - which have been tested in pilot projects and by US carmakers for more than a decade - use short-range communications to transmit data up to 300 metres, including location, direction and speed, to nearby vehicles.

Toyota has deployed the technology in Japan to more than 100,000 vehicles since 2015. It said it hoped that by announcing its plans, others in the US market will follow suit.

The very real business of fake brand-name trainers

Amazon 'will not enter drug distribution market' - report

Amazon logo on building
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Amazon has a reputation for muscling into new markets and upsetting the competition, but it appears to have shelved a plan to start distributing medicines to hospitals.

The change of tack comes partly because the online retailer has not been able to convince big hospitals to change their traditional purchasing processes, CNBC said, quoting people familiar with the matter.

Instead Amazon will focus on selling less sensitive medical supplies to hospitals and smaller clinics, CNBC said.

Shares in US drugstore chains and drug distributors rose on Monday after CNBC reported the claims.

US stocks trade higher

US traders
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US stocks are up as fears over a wider conflict in Syria ease and investors focus on results season which kicked off today.

The Dow Jones index is up 1.2% at 24,666.82, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have both added 1%.

This week S&P 500 companies are expected to report an 18.6% jump in first-quarter profit - the biggest rise in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Today JB Hunt Transport Services and Bank of America both posted better-than-expected quarterly profits. Netflix is due to report after the bell.

Starbucks: Protesters call for boycott after black men arrested

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The arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in the US city of Philadelphia has sparked protests and boycott calls.

The coffee chain's chief executive, Kevin Johnson, apologised for the arrests in a statement on Saturday.

But protests continued, with many entering the store on Monday to call for the manager's dismissal.

On Twitter, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks has been shared tens of thousands of times.

Read more

Vauxhall to cut number of UK dealerships

Vauxhall cars
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Vauxhall has said it will reduce its number of dealerships in the UK as it cuts costs and adapts to changing consumer tastes.

The Peugeot-owned car firm said it would cancel the contracts of all 326 of its UK-based dealers and re-franchise with just 200 of them over a two-year period.

It said there would be “no job losses” among the 12,000 employees of Vauxhall dealers as the sites would move to other brands or into selling used cars.

The move is part of wider plans to save €1bn by 2022 amid falling demand for Vauxhall and Opel cars in the UK.

Boss Stephen Norman said Vauxhall wanted to sell more cars through a smaller number of dealers in future, as well as focusing on an increased online presence.

Martin Sorrell

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable accuses the advertising giant of a lack of transparency.

Read more

Russian cyberwar fears mount

Gordon Carrera

BBC Security correspondent

Vladimir Putin
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British and American officials are warning that Russia has targeted a wide range of organisations by hacking into the infrastructure which moves traffic around the internet. Hacking into these routers and switches is being used to support espionage and steal commercial secrets, they say.

A White House official warned that this kind of access could potentially be used to carry out destructive attacks. This might mean switching off systems such as an electricity grid.

Millions of machines around the world may have been targeted.

British officials say they have been monitoring the activity for at least a year and now have a high degree of confidence in attributing the actions to the Russian state.

This activity predates recent events in Salisbury and Syria and so is not in any sense retaliation.

Cyber security officials in the UK are on alert for any possible action. So far though, there has not been any sign of significant change of behaviour by Russia, which is described by the head of the national cyber security centre as Britain's most capable hostile adversary.

What does your perfume say about you?

Tronc shares up on Softbank claims

Chicago Tribune offices
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Shares in the newspaper group Tronc have jumped more than 9% on reports that Japan's SoftBank is a potential suitor for the firm.

According to news portal Axios, SoftBank - which owns big stakes in firms like Uber and Alibaba - has joined private equity group Apollo and rival publishers Gannett and Newscorp in mulling bids for the firm.

Tronc publishes the Chicago Tribune among other titles and sold its California papers, including the Los Angeles Times, to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong for $500m in February.

BT responds to Chinese telco warning

BT logo
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As we reported earlier, officials have warned British telecoms firms not to buy components from the state-owned Chinese firm ZTE over fears it could threaten national security.

Commenting on the guidance, BT told the BBC:

“We note the guidance issued by the National Cyber Security Centre with regards to the supply of ZTE equipment to the UK telecommunications sector.

“ZTE is just one of many research partners with which BT is engaged around a number of joint projects. Such projects focus on the future uses of networks and technologies and do not necessarily result in the commercial deployment of the research partner’s kit in our network.

“BT takes the security of the UK’s critical national infrastructure very seriously and has a robust testing regime in place to ensure that the equipment from all suppliers used in our network remains secure.”

FTSE 100 closes lower

Passersby crossing Waterloo Bridge
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The FTSE 100 has closed lower after weak performances from commodities firms and the ad giant WPP.

The blue chip index lost 0.9% - or 66.36 points - to 7,198.20.

The biggest faller was Russian miner Evraz, which shed almost 7% after the US said it was planning new sanctions on Russia as a punishment for helping the Syrian regime.

BP, which is also exposed to Russia via its Rosneft stake, lost 1.6%.

Meanwhile the world's biggest ad company, WPP, fell 6.5% after boss Martin Sorrell said on Sunday he was stepping down after a scandal.

Comeback story

As this chart shows, the pound has almost recovered its losses against the dollar since the Brexit vote in June 2016.

BB chart

Why is the pound climbing?

Pound coins/ notes and dollars
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As we have been reporting, the pound is trading above $1.43 today, near post referendum highs.

David Madden of CMC Markets says it's part of a longer term trend.

"There were no major UK economic announcements today, but that didn’t stop the pound from driving higher. Sterling has been climbing versus the greenback for over a year, and the trend isn’t showing signs of changing."

However, he said traders will be keeping an eye on UK unemployment and wages data, which are out tomorrow.

Can Fitbit get itself back in shape?

China's ZTE 'poses risk to UK security'

ZTE phones
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The UK's cyber-defence watchdog has confirmed it has blacklisted one of China's leading state-owned companies.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has written to UK telecoms providers warning them that the use of ZTE's equipment and services could pose a national security risk.

The move coincides with a US government ban preventing American businesses from selling components to the Shenzhen-based company.

ZTE has yet to respond to the moves.

Read more

Tim Martin on social media addiction

JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin tells the BBC why the pub chain is so keen to get off social media...

Tim Martin: 'People on social media feel they can't get off it because they're addicted'

Cable will 'use Parliament' to weigh in on Sorrell investigation

Bloomberg journalist tweets...

FTSE 100 falls

People outside LSE
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The FTSE 100 has slipped further after a fall in oil prices hit big commodities firms.

The pound is also up near post-referendum highs which can hamper firms that trade internationally (as their earnings will be worth less when converted back into sterling).

The biggest faller was Russian miner Evraz - down 9% - and BP and Fresnillo also slipped.

WPP shares have slumped 7.2% after boss Sir Martin Sorell announced on Sunday he was stepping down.

Trump - no time for games

You might think that Donald Trump has rather a lot on his plate at the moment, what with the Syria airstrikes and ex-FBI chief James Comey claiming that the US President is "morally unfit" to hold that role.

However, the leader of the free world found time to fire up his phone and tweet - this time about Russia and China apparently playing fast and loose with currency devaluation...

View more on twitter

US bans firms from selling to Chinese company

ZTE logo
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The US will ban American companies from selling components to Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE for seven years for breaching the terms of a sanctions violation order.

A federal investigation found last year that ZTE had conspired to evade US embargoes by buying US components, incorporating them into ZTE equipment and illegally shipping them to Iran.

State-owned ZTE paid $890m in penalties and promised to dismiss senior employees and discipline 35 others. But in March it admitted it had not disciplined those staff.

Analysts believe the ban will severely affect the company, given its reliance on US products and software. It is a major smartphone seller in the US too.

US markets open higher as Syria fears ease

US taders
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US stocks have opened higher as investors bet the weekend's US-led missile attack on Syria would not escalate into a broader conflict.

They were also buoyed by predictions of a big rise in earnings when firms report their quarterly results this week.

A short while ago the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.8% at 24,545.41 pints.

The S&P 500 had gained 0.5% to 2,669.96 and the Nasdaq was 0.3% higher at 7,129.13.

JD Wetherspoon 'didn't have clear social media strategy'

A mobile phone screen
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A slightly different view arrives about Wetherspoon's social media departure.

Reader Kevin Dougans writes: "Of course it won’t affect their business because they didn’t have a clear strategy and were wasting their time. It’s the business they are missing out on they should be worried about."


US retail sales 'back on track' after hurricanes

Hurricane damage
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The ongoing clean-up job after recent hurricanes partly explains March's strong US retail figures, says Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

"Core sales, which strips out autos, gasoline and food, rose for the second straight month as people replaced items lost or damaged," he says.

"Spending has now returned to the pre-hurricane track."

Add to that strong car sales and energy spending, and he predicts US retail sales in the second quarter of the year could be stronger than the first.

Amazon is now UK's fifth largest retailer

Retailers' graph
Top 10 retailers' share of UK retail spend 2017

Amazon's rising revenues have pushed the online site to fifth largest retailer in the UK, reckons analytics firm GlobalData.

It's calcuated that the online giant accounted for over £4 in every £100 spent on retail in 2017.

GlobalData said Amazon's retail revenue is estimated to have risen by 22.5% in 2017, in comparison to total online spend rising 8.4%.

The internet store is forecast to have accounted for 33.5% of all UK spend online in 2017 against 29.6% in 2016.

The big supermarkets remain ahead of Amazon with Tesco top, followed by Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons.

US retail sales rebound

US shoppers
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Some good news for the US economy as latest official figures show retail sales rebounded in March following declines for three months in a row.

Sales rose by a stronger-than-expected 0.6% last month, the Commerce Department said, helped by purchases of cars and other big-ticket items. On an annual basis, sales were up 4.5% from March last year

The so-called "core" retail sales measure, which excludes sales of cars, gasoline, building materials and food services, rose 0.4% last month.

A close eye is kept on sales figures as consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the US.

Tenants 'afraid of complaining about shoddy homes'

Front door key
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More than a quarter (28%) of private tenants in England have not complained about problems with properties they are renting because they fear "revenge evictions", according to Citizens Advice.

The charity wants the government to use a planned introduction of an ombudsman for private landlords to give more protection to tenants from such action.

"People who rent shabby or unsafe homes have few options when landlords let them down. Resolving disputes can be risky, costly and complicated." said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

However, Richard Lambert, chief executive officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said the Citizens Advice report was "simply not an accurate picture of how the vast majority of landlords would respond to such requests".

Betting suspended on next Bank of England Governor

Andrew Bailey
Andrew Bailey

A bookie has suspended betting on the next Governor of the Bank of England after taking a number of bets on Andrew Bailey.

The Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority had been relatively unfancied at 9/1, but the online bookmaker said is has suspended the market after getting a "sudden influx" of bets on him succeeding Mark Carney.

Betway’s Alan Alger, said: “The current Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority was available at 9/1, but as a result of the weight of support towards him, we’ve had no choice but to suspend the market.”

The Evening Standard's City Editor tweets...

View more on twitter

Understanding how WPP works 'the big challenge'

'It's a pub'

Getty Images

Reader Carl Howard reckons Wetherspoon's decision to ditch social media will not hit the company at all.

He writes: "It's a pub, as long as they sell good-value drinks and have free Wifi, I can't see why it would affect them at all. Too many businesses seem to jump in to having a social media presence without a coherent rationale.

"I also admire them taking a stand on this for what appear to be genuine reasons - too many of us (myself included) spend too much time browsing social media."

That seems to be a popular view. Do you agree? Email us at

Profits up at Bank of America

Bank of America sign

First quarter profits at Bank of America have risen by just over a third, with the bank posting net income of $6.5bn (£4.54bn) for the first three months of the year.

Like its rivals, the bank has benefited from rising US interest rates, which makes it easier for banks to increase the difference between how much they charge for loans and how much they pay out on deposits.

"Strong client activity, coupled with a growing global economy and solid US consumer activity, led to record quarterly earnings," chief executive Brian Moynihan said in a statement.

Revenues at the bank's biggest business - consumer banking - increased by 9% to $9.03bn (£6.31bn).

Sorrell 'unlikely to set up rival to WPP'

Sir Martin Sorrell

The departure of Sir Martin Sorrell from WPP has led to speculation that he could set up a rival business, as he didn't sign a non-compete clause.

However, analysts at Liberum think this is unlikely given his age (73) and "more importantly, that WPP is his creation and he would not want to do anything that would be seen as damaging the company".

Liberum's analysts do, however, think that chunks of WPP could now be sold off as Sir Martin was "arguably... the glue that bound much of WPP together".

They reckon the market research unit is the most obvious part of the business to be sold, and that it could raise about £3.5bn.

FTSE losing ground

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The FTSE 100 drifted steadily lower during the morning and currently stands down 30.92 points, or 0.4%, at 7,233.64.

Whitbread is the biggest riser on the index, up nearly 7%, following the news that a US hedge fund has taken a 6% stake in the Costa Coffee and Premier Inn owner, raising speculation it could be broken up.

The biggest faller is WPP, which is now down more than 6% following the departure of Sir Martin Sorrell.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index is up slightly, trading 3.77 points higher at 19,842.31.