15 September

@SueArthur

15 September

Good morning,

In the early hours of this morning, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan for the second time in three weeks.
 
The missile travelled 2,300 miles – further than previous tests – passing over the Japanese island of Hokkaido, before landing in the Pacific Ocean.
 
The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting later today to discuss its response. With 90 per cent of North Korean exports already under sanction, the US is pushing for China and Russia take direct action.
 
Closer to home, there’s a focus on Britain’s obesity problem with The Times leading on newly published guidelines for GPs to refer almost two million overweight people for NHS cooking and exercise classes.

Bake Off judge Prue Leith would agree with this initiative – in a recent column for The Spectator she called for a return to healthier eating to start in schools, alongside a combined focus on exercise and better food education, to all  be part of  a holistic solution. It’s not just cake that is making Britain fat.

NEWS

Nurses and other NHS staff have demanded a 3.9 per cent pay rise and an extra £800 to make up for what they say is a 15 per cent fall in pay since 2010, once inflation is taken into account. Fourteen unions have come together to ask for the increase. The health sector workers’ demands will ratchet up the pressure in the public sector pay debate.
 
The inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire opened yesterday. Chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick set to win the confidence of survivors when he opened with a promise to unearth the truth about the fire and not to shy away from making recommendations which could lead to criminal charges. However, confidence is the inquiry is low and there is a perceived lack of community involvement following Sir Martin’s decision not to include any survivors on his advisory panel, which he explained was in order to insure its independence.
 
parliamentary inquiry into security contractor G4S opened yesterday, after the company was accused of “system failure”. The inquiry follows two undercover investigations into UK detention facilities  featured on BBC's Panorama which revealed serious misconduct by staff.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

The head of HMRC John Thompson has said that up to 5,000 extra staff will be required to handle customs and border checks after Brexit. He also suggested that a new customs arrangement with the EU could cost up to £800m and would take up to seven years to implement.
 
In contrast, here's a positive view on Brexit - the former chief executive and current chief creative officer of Burberry Christopher Bailey believes post-Brexit Britain has enormous potential, seeing room for growth in the UK and overseas, and describing London as an “energy hub” for creative industries.  Bailey was speaking to BBC Radio 4 on the opening of London fashion week.
 
JD Wetherspoon has released its results today, recording a 4 per cent growth in like-for like sales in the year to July. Full year revenues were £1.6bn compared to £1.5bn for the previous period. But most interesting in the results statement are the chairman’s extensive comments on Brexit and the risk to free trade  – where he advises the EU’s negotiating team to “take a wise-up pill” to avoid causing further economic damage.

MARKETS

What happened yesterday?
The pound rallied yesterday following the Bank of England’s decision to keep interest rates at 0.25 per cent. However, the Bank did leave open the possibility of an interest rate hike before the end of the year to combat the impact of rising inflation.
 
The FTSE 100 share index fell 84.31 points to 7,295.39 on the back of the rise in sterling, with the stronger currency cutting the value of companies’ overseas earnings.
 
Shares in supermarket firm Morrisons were one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100, down 5.1 per cent. Meanwhile Next shares rose 13 per cent on the back of the firm raising full year sales and profit outlook.
 
Shares in FTSE 250 listed firm Spire Healthcare fell significantly by 18.6 per cent after it revised forecasts downwards following a drop in NHS referrals over the summer. The firm also had to set aside £27m to compensate victims of rogue breast cancer surgeon Ian Paterson.

Finals
Wetherspoon

AGMs
Aberdeen Private Equity Fund, Blenheim Natural Resources, Invesco Income Growth Trust, PetroNeft Resources, Tungsten Corproation

Trading Announcements
Booker Group, Safestore Holdings

 

US Economic Announcements
(13:30) Retail Sales
(14:15) Industrial Production
(15:00) Business Inventories
(15:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (Prelim)

COLUMNS OF NOTE

As Britain looks to renegotiate its trade deals, Marian L Tupy offers a history lesson on the birth of international free trade and its recognised importance in increasing economic prosperity. She acknowledges that Liam Fox understands the benefit of free trade but that, unfortunately, Donald Trump seems to see trade as a means of exploitation of one country by another, and warns the US president against too strong a focus on self-sufficiency.
 
The FT’s latest “out to lunch” interview is with Liu Qiangdong, the ‘Jeff Bezos of China’, and discusses the rise of his e-commerce company JD.com, now the fourth largest global internet company. The interview reflects on the rise of China’s billionaire class and Qiangdong’s determination to overtake Alibaba, China’s  e-commerce champion.

DID YOU KNOW?

A Swiss chocolate maker has invented pink chocolate – the first new natural colour for chocolate since Nestle made white chocolate over 80 years ago. The innovation is based on a special type of cocoa bean and took over ten years to develop.

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY

House of Commons
In recess until 8 October for party conference season.

House of Lords
In recess until 8 October for party conference season.

Scottish Parliament
No meetings scheduled.