16 November

@scottreid1992

Good morning,

‘Like a dream.’
 
It’s not how many of us would have imagined it – if indeed at all - but this was The Guardian’s headline on the morning after what appears to have been a successful coup d’etat in Zimbabwe, ending the country’s 37-year rule by President Robert Mugabe. The deposed leader remains under house arrest after the military pushed into the capital of Harare on Wednesday and declared on the national broadcaster, ZBC, that it had temporarily seized control in order to ‘target criminals’ around Mugabe.
 
But is this a coup in everything but name? On the face of things, the constitution remains in force, any word of violence seems muted, the military have actively disowned any action of a takeover and, so far, it shows no signs of assuming a governing role. In the Zimbabwean capital, life goes on as it did before: one local said ‘I am doing business, and these politicians are doing their business.’
 
And yet - whisper it – Mugabe is out. The push appears to have resolved a bitter battle to succeed the 93-year old president, which had pitted his wife Grace against the former vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mr Mnangagwa is now thought to have returned to Zimbabwe after fleeing to South Africa last week when the president stripped him of office in an attempt to clear a path to office for his wife. Whilst reports that Grace Mugabe had fled to Namibia yesterday appeared false, the deposed first lady is likely to emerge as a key player in ongoing discussions between the outgoing regime and the military.
 
A former guerrilla leader who seized power in 1980 following Zimbabwe’s independence from the UK, President Mugabe had pursued strong authoritarianism at the expense of economic growth, favouring loyal followers with gifts of land, office and money. To his opponents, he dealt a cruelty only partially mitigated by a residual respect for the law.
 
For now, at least, the mood in Harare remains disarmingly serene. But as plans for a transition start after ‘the coup that wasn’t’, it is worth remembering that appearances can be deceiving.

News

The number of MPs ready to defy the government over its Brexit legislation rose to more than 20 yesterday in frustration at a suspected leak from Downing Street. A Daily Telegraph article published yesterday revealed the names of those Tory MPs who plan to rebel against Theresa May’s attempt to state the time and date in law when Britain will leave the EU. The prime minister hinted she could make concessions on the issue yesterday as MPs debated on the second of eight days scheduled for the Brexit withdrawal bill.
 
The number of EU citizens working in Britain has risen to a record high in the year after the Brexit referendum. According to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2.37 million migrants from EU states were employed between July and September – an annual increase of 112,000. Whilst numbers from western EU countries, including France, Italy and Germany rose by 45,000 to 987,000, numbers from the EU8 from eastern European states fell to just over 1 million.
 
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) was bought for $450 million in New York yesterday evening, making it the most expensive artwork ever sold. The painting, which was once part of Charles I’s Royal collection and was sold for just £45 in the 1950s when it was mistaken for a copy, is the last remaining work by Da Vinci to remain in private hands. Auction house Christie’s estimated audience of 27,000 at a world tour organised for the painting is claimed to be the largest ever convened for an individual work of art.

Business & Economy

In a major speech ahead of next week’s autumn Budget, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell will today call for an ‘emergency Budget’ to address a ‘crisis’ in public services. Mr McDonnell is expected to say that the government needs to halt the rollout of universal credit and invest heavily in house building programmes, health, education and local government.
 
Volkswagen is to invest €10 billion in new energy vehicle developments within China in response to the Chinese government’s ‘green’ push in consumer products. The German carmaker will launch 40 locally-produced vehicles in a move prompted by Chinese legislation which requires car manufacturers to meet a quota of electric vehicle sales next year. China is also planning an eventual ban of petrol and diesel vehicales by 2040.
 
TCI Fund Management has called for board members at the London Stock Exchange to be personally liable for any payoff handed to its CEO, Xavier Rolet - unless it is disclosed and approved by shareholders. The unusual action by one of the LSE’s largest shareholders is intended to repel moves by the exchange’s chairman, Donald Bryon, to force Rolet out of his position.

 

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 dropped to its lowest level since early October yesterday, closing down 41.81 points at 7,372. London’s heavy weighting of oil and mining stocks dragged the market down as the sector struggled following recent falls in global oil and commodity prices with Brent crude have fallen more than 1% to $61.40 a barrel by lunchtime.
 
The biggest losers included Royal Dutch Shell, whose shares were down 1.4% at £24.01, with Glencore, Rio Tinto and Anglo American all down by more than 2% as a result of lower metal prices. Fresnillo was an outlier whose stock prices rose by 42p to £13.25, benefitting from a rush out of equities and an upgrade to ‘buy’ from HSBC, who still considers the firm the ‘premier buy’ in the sector.
 
Elsewhere, Royal Mail saw hedge funds ramp up their bets against the beleagured parcel service ahead of announcing its interim results today. The firm was recently dumped out of the FTSE, with its share prices slipping to a new low of 369.9p earlier this month. The company is expected to report on Thursday a 15% decrease in operating profit to £270mln for the first half, according to Jefferies.
 
On the currency markets, sterling stabilized after its recent losses, ending the day flat against the green back at $1.31, and up 0.26% on the euro at £1.12.

Finals
Nanoco Group

Trading Announcements
Close Brothers Group, Coats Group, Genus, Keller Group, Premier Oil, Regional Reit ZDP, Safestore Holdings, Ted Baker, Vitec Group
 
AGMs
Close Brothers Group, El Oro Ltd, Genus, Prairie Mining Limited

 

EGMs
Societatea Nationala De Gaze Naturale Romgaz S.A. GDR (Reg S)
 
UK Economic Announcements
(09.30) Retail Sales
 
International Economic Announcements
(10:00) Consumer Price Index (EU)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Import and Export Price Indexes (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Philadelphia Fed Index (US)
(14:15) Capacity Utilisation (US)
(14:15) Industrial Production (US)

Columns of Note

In the Financial Times, Edward Luce casts doubt on Mark Zuckerberg’s presidential ability as a man better suited to the digital industry but that lacks the ‘human’ quality of great leaders following the Facebook founder’s ‘listening tour’ across America. He comments that Zuckerberg personifies the ‘myopia of America’s coastal elites: they wish to do well by doing good’. Luce suggests more fruitful moves by an aspirant to the Oval Office could include actual investment in local industries, training and culture.
 
Writing the The Times, Iain Martin speculates that a Labour government would move quickly to re-introduce capital controls that were removed by the Thatcher administration in 1979. Martin encourages a fair hearing for Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of next week’s Budget, and comments that many of Corbyn’s ‘broad church’ of supporters are oblivious to his speculation that a far-left, anti-market Labour government might trigger an economic crisis.

Did you know?

At 93, Robert Mugabe was the world’s oldest head-of-state. The title now passes to Queen Elizabeth II who is 91 years old.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY
          
House of Commons
Oral Questions
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (including Topical Questions)
Attorney General
 
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Andrea Leadsom
 
Backbench Business
Debate on a motion on the roll-out of universal credit - Frank Field 
 
House of Lords
Introductions
Lord Geidt
Lord Hogan-Howe
 
Oral questions
An adequacy decision for data transfers between the UK and the EU after Brexit - Baroness Ludford
 
Debate
Impact of Universal Credit on claimants - Baroness Hollis of Heigham
Human rights of older persons, and their comprehensive care - Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
 
Scottish Parliament
General Questions
 
First Minister’s Questions
 
Members’ Business
Alex Cole-Hamilton: Incontinence in Scotland
 
Preliminary Stage Debate
Pow of Inchaffray Drainage Commission (Scotland) Bill
 
Scottish Government Debate
Scottish Government Support for Veterans and the Armed Forces Community in Scotland
 
TOMORROW
 
House of Commons
No business scheduled

House of Lords
No business scheduled
 
Scottish Parliament
No business scheduled