All-cash deal is the second largest in Google's history after the $12.5 billion acquisition of mobile phone maker Motorola in 2012

Optimism rises in service sector

A glimmer of good news broke through the gathering clouds of recession yesterday, as the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply revealed that managers in the service sector – representing about 70 per cent of the economy – are at their most optimistic about prospects in three months.

Flagging confidence has spread to business services, says CBI

Falling profitability and flagging confidence have spread from the consumer sector to Britain's business and professional services firms, a survey of the services industry shows.

Britain lurches towards recession

Fears that Britain may soon slide into recession were fuelled yesterday by news that the economy grew by just 0.2 per cent in the second quarter, down from the already poor 0.3 per cent recorded in the first three months of the year and the weakest rate of growth in three years.

Minutes show split over rates decision

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee split three ways when it met to set interest rates earlier this month. Although the MPC voted by 8 to 1 to keep rates on hold, the minutes of the meeting, published yesterday, suggested some members were keen to raise rates immediately to dampen inflationary pressures, though in the event they voted for no change.

Instructions for Modern Living, Barbican, London

"Have you ever noticed," asks Duncan Sarkies, "that in just about every children's story you've ever read there's a happy ending?" And have we never realised, he says, the coercive aspect of such injunctions as "Merry Christmas"?

New limits on firms offering tax break on share options

Many employees of small businesses may lose their entitlement to tax relief under Budget provisions on the enterprise management incentive (EMI) scheme, despite an announcement from the Chancellor that he would make the initiative more generous.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Directed by George Stevens

Inventory figures worst since 1973

Indications of underlying weakness in the economy came yesterday as the Office for National Statistics confirmed that the UK economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the final quarter of 2007, giving an official annual growth rate for the year of 3.1 per cent, in line with previous estimates.

Dismal data on US services spook markets

Stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic endured another difficult day as a round of depressing economic data pummelled the exchanges yesterday.

Leading article: The heart of the matter

Bernard Ribeiro, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, is evidently a brave man. The heads of professional bodies do not usually prosper by demanding more transparency from their members. And one suspects that Dr Ribeiro's suggestion that Britain's 6,000 surgeons should make their clinical records available to patients is unlikely to be greeted with wild enthusiasm by the RCS.

Contractors warn over hospitals 'deep clean'

Gordon Brown's much trumpeted hospital "deep clean" is in danger of becoming a "£50 million flash in the pan", cleaning contractors warned today.

Secuestro Express (18)

If you really must scare yourself this week, try Jonathan Jakubowicz's harrowing kidnap drama for size. It recounts the quite nightmarish ordeal of a young couple, Carla (Mia Maestro) and Martin (Jean Paul Leroux), who emerge from a Caracas nightclub straight into the itchy hands of three gun-toting thugs, the kidnapping of the affluent middle-classes being at epidemic levels in the Venezuelan capital. Most abduction dramas vary the pace as the victim acclimates to the surroundings; this one just goes at headlong, terrifying speed through 24 hours of vicious criminality. Here is a place so dangerous that you can be held up even while someone else is kidnapping you. No use looking to the police for help; they're scumbags and rapists too. Jakubowicz, who had a struggle on his hands getting this feature debut made, films in a city as divided as Victorian London between privilege and privation, and the stink of class war rising from its ghetto housing is almost palpable. Venezuela for a holiday? You'd have to be Caracas.

Slowdown threatens to put Brown forecasts at risk

The economy is braced for a sharp slowdown early next year according to a raft of gloomy forecasts published today which cast further doubt on the Chancellor Gordon Brown's ambitious growth targets.

Industrial output stalls, leaving growth weakest since last year

A slump in British industrial output in the third quarter led to the weakest economic growth since early last year.

Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
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How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
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Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
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Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
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Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own