Live updates



UK to secure £18 billion business deals with China

A team of Chinese business bosses, led by the country's Premier Li Keqiang, are in Britain for the return leg of a trade boosting link-up begun by David Cameron last year.

The three-day visit is expected to yield business deals worth over £18 billion total.

Here are some of the deals:

  • BP will sign a £5 billion deal to supply liquefied natural gas to China
  • £120 million deal to reopen UK lamb and beef meat exports to China
  • Nord Engine, a Chinese financial services group, will announce £150 million investment in UK and European small and medium tech businesses
  • China’s largest private sector investment group, China Minsheng Investment Corporation, will announce a new European HQ in London with an investment of around $1.5 billion
  • Royal Dutch Shell secured a new partnership with China's state-owned energy giant CNOOC

Government confirms no ban on zero-hour contracts

The Government has said zero-hours contracts will not be banned despite admitting that "there has been evidence of abuse".

"While for many people they offer a welcome flexibility, for others it is clear that there has been evidence of abuse around this type of employment, which can offer limited employment rights and job security", a Business Department spokesman said.

Ed Miliband will today promise new rights for workers to stop the 'worst abuses' of zero-hours contracts. Credit: Press Association Images/CHRIS YOUNG

He added that the Government was still analysing the results of a consultation following research carried out last year into the key concerns and would publish a response in due course.

Labour leader Ed MIliband is set to promise new rights for workers to stop the "worst abuses" of zero-hours contracts later today.

Shop vacancies fall but north-south divide widens

Shop vacancies in Britain dropped to a three-year low in 2013, although some northern regions saw numbers rise compared to 2012.

Empty shops in Bradford city centre Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Vacancies dropped to below 14 per cent last year, down from 14.6 per cent in February 2012, said a report by the Local Data Company.

But the proportion of empty shops rose in the north east and north west to a combined average of 17 per cent - nearly 5 per cent higher than the average of 12.2 per cent.

Seven out of 10 of the worst performing regions were in the north east or north west, while six out of the 10 best were in Greater London.

Load more updates