11 April

Susan Arthur

11 April

Good morning,

Only a few days ago I wrote this briefing as we woke up to the news that the US had retaliated against the Syrian chemical weapons attack. President Trump’s action has dominated international relations since.
 
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told a meeting of G7 officials yesterday that the US missile strike had “changed the game” and is demanding tougher sanctions be imposed on Russia. 
 
Behind the scenes Johnson has managed to win over US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who encouraged Boris to keep pushing for official sanctions. This may be Johnson’s first proper chance to present himself as a diplomatic heavyweight.
 
Theresa May has thrown her weight behind Johnson’s efforts, describing Trump’s actions as having created a “window of opportunity” for Vladimir Putin to change course. Other members of the G7, however, are resistant to the idea of sanctions. 
  
Meanwhile, the US President’s son Eric Trump has expressed support for his father, telling The Daily Telegraph that the air strike against the Syrian army proves his father is not in league with Russia nor will he be "pushed around".

 

NEWS

A camp housing 1,500 migrants in northern France has been destroyed in a fire that officials say began during a fight between Afghans and Kurds. At least 10 people have been injured. 

 
Britain’s high street saw the biggest drop in retail sales, excluding food, in nearly six years in the first quarter of 2017. Non-food retail sales fell by 0.8 per cent in value over the period compared to a year earlier, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium. This will raise concerns about the strength of the country’s consumer boom as shoppers focus on essential goods such as food and fuel.

Talks begin in Brussels today on the formal text of the EU’s negotiating mandate with the UK. EU member states look set to give their blessing to guidelines that indicate officials will adopt a tough stance in talks with the UK. Draft negotiation guidelines state that Britain will have to accept the EU’s laws, court and budget fees if it seeks a gradual transition from the single market. 

United Airlines is under fire  after US Marshals forcibly removed a passenger from an overbooked flight. A dramatic video of events began circulating on social media late on Sunday. Several hours after the video went viral, United’s chief executive issued an apology. This incident will add to the US carrier’s woes after it was similarly criticised last month when two teenage girls were told they could not board a flight as they were wearing leggings.

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Barclays hasn’t had a good few days.  First the Libor scandal, now chief executive Jes Staley faces his own investigation. Mr Staley is being investigated by regulators and faces a significant pay cut after admitting trying to unmask a whistle-blower who made allegations about a long-term associate he had brought to the bank.

Meanwhile Tom Hayes, the ex-trader who is serving an 11-year sentence for Libor rigging, has called for a public inquiry to be launched into the suggestion that the Bank of England was involved in manipulating the rate.

An investigation has claimed that Royal Dutch Shell bought a $1.3 billion Nigerian oilfield knowing that the proceeds were destined for leading political figures, including a convicted money launderer, rather than government. The investigation relates to an oilfield Shell and Eni purchased in 2011. Most of the proceeds of the sale went to political figures led by a former oil minister who had secretly awarded himself the field in the late 1990s. Shell’s claim that the deal was with the Nigerian government has been contradicted by leaked emails, according to investigators in campaign groups.

 

MARKETS

Geopolitical concerns weighed heavily on stock markets overnight, which is likely to spill over into the European bourses this morning.
 
The FTSE is expected to open down six points at 7,343 with Germany's Dax falling 30 points at 12,170. France's CAC will drop eight points at the open to 5,099, according to IG analysts.
 
The Asia-Pacific excluding Japan index fell 0.4 per cent overnight as traders worried about how the Syrian situation would play out and stressed about the West's tensions with North Korea.

Finals
JD Sports Fashion, Vedanta Resources
 
Interims
Applied Graphene Materials, APC Technology Group, Egdon Resources 

Q1 results
XP Power Ltd

AGMs
Law Debenture Copr, Porvair 

UK Economic Announcements 
09:30 Producer Price Index, Retail Price Index 

Int Economic Announcements 
10:00 Industrial Production (EU)

 

COLUMNS OF NOTE

The FT offers us a glimpse inside Trump’s inner circle, profiling key influencer David Cordish -  once a rival property developer but now a friend. Like President Trump, Mr Cordish is heir to a family enterprise and made his name with big-city property developments and diversified into casinos. Mr Cordish has dipped in and out of politics and pioneered in the US the use of public-private partnerships to revive urban areas. His son, Reed Cordish, now serves as assistant for intra-governmental and technology initiatives in the White House.
 
Spend too much time on Facebook? The MIT Technology Review believes we all do and that we need more alternatives as the platform becomes increasingly powerful. Although Mark Zuckerberg has outlined efforts to tweak his service, the writer is sceptical of his manifesto published earlier this year “Are we building the world we want.” It suggests Facebook is contributing to a better society – implying instead that for it to be a place of enlightened civic and political engagement is a mismatch with its function as a social network.

DID YOU KNOW?

Since 1600, 278,880 people have been killed by volcanic activity, with many of these deaths attributed to secondary hazards associated with the main eruption.

 

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

House of Commons

House in recess until 18 April

House of Lords

House in recess until 24 April

Scottish Parliament

Parliament in recess until 18 April