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Evening wrap up: today's late breaking business stories

Top stories from around the web.

European Commission raids oil groups over price benchmarks (FT)

European regulators are investigating oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Statoil of Norway, as part of a probe into the way that oil price benchmarks are set.

Platts, the world’s leading price reporting agency, is also among those investigated.

The European Commission in Brussels said in a statement that raids had occurred on Tuesday in the offices of “several companies” in two EU countries and another country. It did not identify the firms or the countries involved.

Amazon hit by German strike action (FT)

Amazon employees in Germany have gone on strike in what is believed to be one of the first such stoppages to hit the US internet retailer.

About 850 workers at warehouses in two German cities had joined the stoppage, due to last for one working day, by lunchtime on Tuesday, with union representatives saying more would strike when a later shift at the facilities was due to begin.

US shale oil supply shock shifts global power balance (BBC)

A steeper-than-expected rise in US shale oil reserves is about to change the global balance of power between new and existing producers, a report says.

Over the next five years, the US will account for a third of new oil supplies, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Workplace whistle-blowers 'ignored', survey suggests (BBC)

Some 60% of whistle-blowers who voice fears about their workplace receive no response from their managers, a survey suggests.

The charity Public Concern at Work also said that of 1,000 whistle-blowers it questioned, 19% were disciplined or demoted after speaking up.

RBS warns of more jobs cut and branch closures (Telegraph)

Royal Bank of Scotland will need to make further job cuts and branch closures as part of the continued turnaround of the taxpayer-backed lender, according to its chairman Sir Philip Hampton.

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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.