11 May 2017

@SueArthur

11 May 2017

Good morning, 

Occupying most of the front pages this morning is news that Labour’s draft election manifesto has leaked before it was due to be signed off by the party’s leadership today, ahead of an official launch next week. The document has been described as the party’s “most leftwing platform since 1983” (Financial Times) and The Daily Telegraph calls it a “fantasy-land blueprint for a socialist Britain”.
 
The party has refused to comment on the leak - but national campaigns co-ordinator Andrew Gynne told Good Morning Britain that it was not a manifesto, but rather a “draft list of ideas.” However, according to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, senior Labour figures have acknowledged that it is the “real thing”, subject to a few last minute changes.
 
Kuenssberg suggests that the document – which runs to more than 40 pages and 20,000 words – will be “manna from heaven” for Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters, with ideas that will poll well with many voters, but won’t necessarily please the traditional centre ground.
 
Ideas include plans to nationalise energy, rail and mail services and the introduction of a 20:1 pay cap for businesses. The manifesto has also committed to achieving a “nuclear free world”. It says that Labour will rule out a “no deal” Brexit and refuse to set a migration target.
 
Of course, the very fact that the manifesto was leaked at all speaks to the disharmony within the party. An act of sabotage on that scale does nothing to boost Labour’s credibility – or indeed Jeremy Corbyn’s – as having the ability to form a government in a matter of weeks.

NEWS

Credit rating agency Moody’s has said that the Conservative Party’s energy price cap would hit the operating profits of the biggest utility companies by as much as £1.2bn and potentially push the industry to losses. Centrica and SSE are expected to be hardest hit by the measure, as they have a higher proportion of customers on the standard tariffs that the proposed cap plans to target.

Trump faces growing opposition to his decision to sack former FBI director James Comey. It has emerged that Comey was seeking more funding for the FBI investigation into links between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign. The Financial Times looks here at how yesterday unfolded.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Barclays chief executive Jes Staley delivered a personal apology to shareholders at the bank’s AGM yesterday, for his actions in trying to unmask the identity of a whistle blower to the board. He is under increasing pressure from shareholders, with signs of growing disquiet about his position.
 
Mr Staley also indicated that he saw no reason to shift British jobs to Europe as a result of Brexit. His remarks contrast with other rivals, including JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank, both of which are preparing to move roles out of London. He suggested that Brexit would not be as complex as some of the other problems the bank had encountered.

Surveyors predict a flat summer for the UK housing market, with activity continuing to slow down. The number of sales and new instructions declined in the month of April, while average house prices have fallen over the last three months.

High street chain Pret a Manger is exploring plans to list on the New York stock exchange later this year following a jump in sales which could value the company in the region of £1.4bn.

MARKETS

Markets in Europe await the Bank of England’s interest rate decision at midday today. No interest rate change is expected from the bank.
 
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed 0.1 per cent higher yesterday while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended about 0.2 per cent lower on the back of poor results from Snap. The Snapchat owner’s shares dropped more than 23 per cent yesterday after its first quarter results underperformed forecasts on user growth and revenues.
 
In commodities markets, the price of Brent Crude was pushed back above the $50-a-barrel mark to $50.43 a barrel in Asia.

Finals
3i Infrastructure, BT Group, Stobart Group

Interims
Impax Asset Management Group, On the Beach Group

Q1 Results
Sampo OYJ, Coca-Cola HBC AG

AGMs 
Direct Line Insurance, Lloyds Banking Group, Mondi, Petrofac, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Serco Group

UK Economic Announcements
09:30 Balance of Trade
09:30 Industrial Production
09:30 Manufacturing Production
12:99 BoE Interest Rate Decision

US Economic Announcements
13:30 Continuing Claims, Initial Jobless Claims, Producer Price Index

COLUMNS OF NOTE

Has Trump finally gone too far? Luca Trenta, lecturer in International Relations at Swansea University, thinks so. Her article, published on Capx, suggests Trump badly miscalculated the reaction to FBI director James Comey’s dismissal. The piece describes the Hillary Clinton email affair as a “dead scandal involving a vanquished opponent” and suggests that there is no justification for this as a reason for Comey’s dismissal. It considers whether this will seriously damage Trump’s presidency, calling this Trump’s “Nixon moment”.

The Conversation is concerned about the impact of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency on the UK’s financial sector. It suggests that Britain should take seriously his threat of a hard Brexit and his call for EU passporting rights for UK financial institutions to be banned. The article points out Macron used to be a banker, and will be aware that many French bankers and FinTech experts will be only too happy to come home, if offered the right incentives.

DID YOU KNOW?

Today’s Google doodle marks the 80th birthday of the Los Glaciares National Park. It is Argentina’s largest national park, 30 per cent of which is covered by ice. The main attraction is the Perito Morena glacier, which is 97 square miles and 19 miles in length.

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY
House of Commons
In recess until 19 June

House of Lords
In recess until 19 June 

Scottish Parliament
General Questions
 
First Minister’s Questions
 
Scottish Government Debate: Keeping Children Safe Online
 
Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee Motion: Lobbying (Scotland) Act 2016 – Standing Order Rule Changes

TOMORROW
Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled.