Homebase to disappear from UK as Australian brand Bunnings takes over

The Australian institution known for its friendly staff and ‘sausage sizzles’ is ready to challenge B&Q as it seals the takeover for £340m

Homebase will disappear from the UK market and be replaced by the Australian brand Bunnings after Home Retail Group accepted a £340m bid for the troubled DIY chain.

Bunnings, an Australian institution, is the country’s number one hardware retailer and will be hoping to bring its winning combination of low prices, huge range and excellent customer service to the UK market.

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China closes 2% higher but other markets fall after US jobs data – as it happened

Investors have been buoyed by the People’s Bank of China’s decision to boost the yuan for the first time in nine days. US jobs showed stronger than expected growth, prompting rate hike talk

5.59pm GMT

And in Europe the FTSEurofirst 300 fell 7% over the course of the week, marking its worst weekly performance since August 2011 amid the eurozone crisis.

On that, gloomy, note it’s time to close the blog after what has been a tumultuous week. Thanks for all your comments, and we’ll be back on Monday to cover all the week’s financial developments.

5.47pm GMT

To add to the New Year market gloom, the FTSE 100 has made its worst weekly start to the year since 2000. The Dow Jones Industrial had already recorded its worst ever 4-day opening at the start of the year and the modest rise so far on Friday is unlikely to improve things, unless there is a major revival before the close.

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China Telecom boss Chang Xiaobing quits amid corruption crackdown

Head of one of China’s biggest state-owned companies has stepped down days after being detained for ‘severe disciplinary violations’

The boss of one of China’s biggest companies has become the latest victim of President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption.

Chang Xiaobing quit as chairman and chief executive of China Telecom in the wake of his detention by Beijing authorities this week for “severe disciplinary violations”.

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Yanis Varoufakis: Europe is being broken apart by refugee crisis

Former Greek finance minister says the monetary union has ‘failed spectacularly’ leaving Europe too fragmented to respond to influx of refugees

Europe’s stumbling response to the refugee crisis is the result of the divisions caused by the six-year monetary crisis which has fragmented the continent and turned nations against each other, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has told the Guardian.

With thousands of migrants travelling to Europe from Africa, the Middle East and south Asia, Varoufakis said the future of the European Union was threatened by the worst such crisis since 1945.

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Banks face falling profits, rising costs and branch closures, report warns

After nearly 20 years of growth on back of mining and housing booms, KPMG report says banks must tackle challenges or lose to stronger competition

Australia’s big four banks face a mounting threat from falling profits and rising costs which could result in reduced dividends and branch closures in coming years, a report has said.

After nearly 20 years of stellar growth on the back of the mining and housing booms, the banks must tackle the challenges or see their grip on lending and financial services loosened by upstart disruptive competitors, the consultancy KPMG warned in the report.

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Stock markets rattled after dovish Fed leaves rates unchanged

Wall Street follows European markets lower, after Chinese slowdown stops US central bank from raising interest rates

5.48pm BST

The US Federal Reserve may have left interest rates unchanged but the central bank’s cautious comments about the outlook for the global economy sent shudders through global markets.

Chris Beauchamp, senior market analyst at IG said: “Markets can be a fickle thing. Going into last night’s Fed meeting, talk revolved around how damaging a rate hike would be to equity markets. It turns out that no hike can also be rather problematic, especially when accompanied by a sober statement and downgrades to economic forecasts. As a result, stocks moved swiftly into the red this morning and have stayed there all day.”

4.41pm BST

Christopher Vecchio, Currency Analyst at DailyFX, confirms that a US rate hike this side of Christmas is now less likely than before:

The implied probability of a rate hike in October, per the Fed funds futures contract, dropped from near 45% yesterday to 18% today; for December, from above 60% yesterday to 26% today.

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Wall Street closes sharply higher after world markets rally – as it happened

10.07pm BST

It would be reckless to claim that this bout of volatility was suddenly over, especially when we have Societe Generale insisting we’re in a bear market.

So lets just stick to the fact that the financial sector is looking a little less alarming tonight, and come back tomorrow and see if it holds up.

9.38pm BST

The oil price has rocketed by 10% this evening, its biggest rally in six years.

A barrel of Brent crude oil jumped by $4.49 per barrel to $47.63, a huge move. US crude oil jumped $4.18 per barrel to $42.78.

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Australian dollar slumps to new six-year low as greenback strengthens

Fresh indications of a US rate rise, uncertainty about the Chinese economy and a second rate cut by resource-rich Canada sends the Aussie downwardsThe Australian dollar has fallen to a new six-year low as the US greenback strengthened and continued unc…

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