Irish fruit firm Fyffes and US rival Chiquita are to merge to create the world's largest banana company, worth about $1bn (�597m).
Britain's strengthening recovery will see the economy surpass its pre-crisis peak earlier than expected, according to two leading business bodies, with private-sector optimism now stronger than all other advanced economies.
In October, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, responded to the currency-manipulation claims by ordering a �full examination� of internal records.
Public sector workers still earn significantly more than those in private firms despite a freeze in wages and Government spending cuts, official figures show.
Reckitt Benckiser, the UK producer of Durex condoms, is to buy the K-Y brand of sexual lubricants as it increases its focus on healthcare products.