Back when Rangers FC was at the height of its difficulties in 2012, I used to distract myself with long stints playing Football Manager. As the financial turmoil of the club - of which I was only ever an armchair fan - played out in the courts and the media, I was bringing back-to-back Champions League titles to Glasgow with the team of world beaters that I had put together over eight virtual seasons.
Similarly, with the presidency of Donald Trump, I’ve engrossed myself in The West Wing box set – the imaginary President Josiah Bartlett setting an impossibly high benchmark for anyone, let alone the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Yesterday, many were hoping that Theresa May would channel a virtual prime minister – that played by Hugh Grant in Love Actually – and deliver a barnstorming putdown of the president whilst withdrawing the invitation for a state visit.
That didn’t quite come to pass, but May was firm in her condemnation of Trump re-tweeting videos posted by the deputy leader of right-wing hate group Britain First. It was also stated that the invitation for the state visit stood.
However, The Telegraph reports today that the scaled down state visit, which had been penciled in for early in 2018, has been pushed into the long grass, with no new date picked.
Jeremy Corbyn has lashed out at the banking sector in a video posted on his social media accounts. The Labour leader targeted Morgan Stanley in particular after the bank issued a report earlier this week arguing that a Corbyn government would represent “the most significant political shift in the UK” since Margaret Thatcher’s election and could pose “a bigger risk than Brexit” to the British economy. Corbyn summed up by saying: “So when they say we’re a threat, they’re right. We’re a threat to a damaging and failed system that’s rigged for the few”.
The DUP has warned that Brexit talks could jeopardise the deal keeping Theresa May in power. The Conservatives fell short of a majority at the general election in June and require the support of the 10 DUP MPs in a confidence and supply arrangement to govern. However, the DUP has voiced concerns after reports that the government is preparing to agree that trading relations in areas such as agriculture and energy would remain harmonised between Northern Ireland and the EU after Brexit – which could involve the province diverging from the rest of the UK.
England will learn who they will face in the group stages at the 2018 World Cup later today. Gareth Southgate’s men were the only home nation to qualify for the tournament which is being held in Russia. England are in pot 2 for the draw, meaning that they will avoid Spain and Uruguay, but could still face the likes of Brazil, France, and holders Germany.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
RBS is to close 259 branches with the loss of 680 jobs to reduce costs and encourage customers to use online and mobile services. 62 Royal Bank of Scotland branches and 197 NatWest locations will be affected. Unite has accused RBS of "decimating its branch network and betraying communities".
The world’s leading oil exporting states have agreed to extend a deal that limits oil production. The agreement, orchestrated by Russia and Saudi Arabia, was reached at a meeting of the 14 members and 10 non-members of Opec in Vienna, and will continue curbs agreed last year throughout 2018. The move is designed to reduce stockpiles and keep prices above $60 a barrel.
The price of Bitcoin has tumbled, dropping 16% from the record $11,434 it reached on Wednesday. As a non-regulated currency with few traders, Bitcoin is particularly volatile. However, Neil Wilson, an analyst at ETX Capital described trading over the past 24 hours as “a rollercoaster like nothing I’ve ever seen” and suggested that this was due to investors "with no market experience" buying and selling the coin.
The future of Donald Brydon, chairman of the London Stock Exchange, will be put to a vote after a rebel shareholder refused to back down yesterday. The Children’s Investment Fund, which holds 5% the shares, declined to withdraw a resolution demanding that Brydon step down and a shareholder meeting will now go ahead on 19th December. Sir Christopher Hohn, founder of TCI, had objected to the board’s decision to remove Xavier Roler as chief executive, who resigned on Wednesday.
What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 closed down 66.89, or 0.90%, to 7,326.67 points yesterday.
Mediclinic, the private hospital group, was the day’s biggest gainer, rising 4.72% after its rating was upgraded to “buy” from “underperform” by analysts at Jefferies.
Aviva also performed well, climbing 0.39%, thanks to increased growth targets and dividend payouts.
Pharmaceutical giants Astrazeneca and GlaxoSmithKline were amongst the fallers, shedding 2.51% and 2.14% respectively, whilst Prudential dropped 2.16%.
Elsewhere, the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 24,000-point mark for the first time, which President Trump, characteristically, attributed to himself.
On the currency markets, the pound climbed 0.72% against the dollar to $1.3506 – the first time it has exceeded $1.35 in two months. This was due to hopes of progress in Brexit negotiations following widespread reports that the UK had offered to pay around £45 billion to settle the so-called “divorce bill”, as well as an article in The Times which suggested that a deal over the Irish border was close. However, the dollar also faltered amid reports that Trump is considering replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Against the euro, the pound climbed 0.11% to €1.1334.
PJSC Megafon GDR (Reg S)
Aberdeen Asian Smaller Companies Investment Trust, DFS Furniture, Green Reit, James Halstead, Purecircle Limited (DI), Ruffer Investment Company Ltd Red PTF Pref Shares, Starvest
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) PMI Manufacturing
International Economic Announcements
(08:55) PMI Manufacturing (GER)
(09:00) PMI Manufacturing (EU)
(14:45) PMI Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) Construction Spending (US)
(15:00) ISM Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) ISM Prices Paid (US)
COLUMNS OF INTEREST
Writing in The Telegraph, Fraser Nelson says that, two years into the “Trump phenomenon”, the president’s critics still do not understand his main tactic. He points out that Trump can change the agenda simply by posting a tweet, and argues that by rising to his bait, critics accept fighting on his turf – meaning that they will lose.
In The Times, Ed Conway examines the argument for abolishing inheritance tax. He contends that, rather than increasing inequality, as general consensus would have us believe, removing inheritance tax altogether would spread wealth. He points out that assets are usually divided between children, with the same thing happening in following generations, resulting in dilution and dissipation. He also highlights that Sweden, an “egalitarian bastion”, abolished inheritance in 2004 and investment has been boosted as a result, as wealthy Swedish expats return home.
DID YOU KNOW?
Shrek was originally supposed to be voiced by Chris Farley, who actually recorded approximately 90% of the character’s dialogue. However, Farley died in 1997 before he could finish and Mike Myers was brought in to replace him. After his first recording, Myers decided he wanted to give Shrek his now famous Scottish accent and the entire film was re-recorded. You can hear what Shrek would have sounded like had Chris Farley not sadly passed away in this test footage.
House of Commons
The House is expected to sit on this day to consider Private Members' Bills (Standing Order No. 14(8))
Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill - 2nd reading - Afzal Khan
Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill - 2nd reading - Maria Caulfield
Green Belt (Protection) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Public Sector Exit Payments (Limitation) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Sublet Property (Offences) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Speed Limits (England) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Health and Social Care (National Data Guardian) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Peter Bone
Judicial Appointments and Retirements (Age Limits) Bill - 2nd reading - Mr Christopher Chope
Terms of Withdrawal from EU (Referendum) Bill - 2nd reading - Geraint Davies
Representation of the People (Young People's Enfranchisement and Education) Bill - 2nd reading (day 2) - Jim McMahon
Voter Registration (No. 2) Bill - 2nd reading (day 2) - Mr Peter Bone
Registration of Marriage (No. 2) Bill - 2nd reading - Dame Caroline Spelman
House of Lords
No business scheduled
No business scheduled