2 Aug 2018

Daisy Penman

2 Aug 2018

Good morning, 

Google is facing criticism following US media reports that it is designing software to block certain search terms in order to allow the company to reenter the Chinese market. The software would leave out content that has been blacklisted by the Chinese government, according to the New York Times, and Chinese human rights organisations have said that the implementation of such software would be a “dark day for internet freedom”.

China has a long history of media censorship and organisations such as Amnesty International have been calling for an overhaul of the sanctions for years, claiming that access to a free and uncensored internet is a human right.

The findings of a recent study in the UK suggests Britons are taking full advantage of that human right with a fifth of British people feeling stressed if they can’t access their phone. The Ofcom study also found that the average Briton checks their phone every 12 minutes and is online for 24 hours a week, with just 12% of adults saying they never use the internet. 

The danger of fake news on sites like Facebook and Twitter is a growing problem in the UK, but perhaps we should be looking on the bright side: we are able to fact check almost anything we read online and we can contact almost every country in the world without getting out of a chair. Yes, we may all be addicted to our phones, but we are free to choose how we use them. 

News 

Theresa May has been warned that UK-only passport lanes at airports could cause longer wait times for Brits at home and abroad. The proposal came as part of the government’s attempts to make Britain look different once Brexit is complete. Sajid Javid, the home secretary, is reportedly resisting these plans as airports are already struggling to deal with the growing number of passengers passing through and Britain’s immigration policy has not yet been agreed, so the status of Europeans entering would be is unclear.

Three people have been killed in Harare, Zimbabwe, during protests following the country’s presidential election. The army was deployed in the capital after the police struggled to deal with the number of protestors who believe that Monday’s election is being rigged; witnesses have reported seeing soldiers beating people with makeshift batons. The claims that the election is rigged have come from opposition supporters who want to know why the results have still not been released. This is the first election in Zimbabwe since Robert Mugabe was ousted after four decades as leader.

Far-right activist Tommy Robinson was released on bail yesterday following a challenge against his 13-month sentence. He had been convicted in May of contempt of court for live-streaming his commentary of a trial outside a court in Leeds, despite the restrictions on reporting that the judge had put in place. Robinson, who founded the English Defence League, was released after Lord Burnett of Maldon ruled that the legal processes had not been properly followed in the original case. Another hearing has been ordered.

Business & Economy 

House of Fraser has faced another setback after its potential Chinese investor has dropped out. C.banner said that the dip in its own share price meant it would be dangerous and unrealistic to try and raise £150 million to invest in the struggling department store. The most likely saviour now is Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley who is been in talks for a month, but these talks are apparently not advanced. If House of Fraser collapses, 17,000 jobs could be at risk.

Tesla reported a record $717.5 million loss in the second quarter of 2018, but its stock price shot up by 9%. Elon Musk, the CEO, reportedly restored investor confidence with an “apologetic and restrained performance” on an analyst call. This comes after a tough period for Tesla, largely due to negative headlines around Musk and his behaviour - he referred to one of the Thai cave divers as a “pedo”, before apologising, and in a call in May he accused Wall Street analysts of asking “boring bonehead questions”. 

Analysts have warned that it could take months for the manufacturing sector to recover from weakened factory growth in July. The purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing slipped from June’s 54.3 to 54 - a figure above 50 indicates expansion, while a figure below indicates contraction. Further, business confidence in the sector also dropped to a 21-month low due to uncertainty around the UK’s departure from the EU. 

Markets 

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 finished the day down 1.24% and the Dow Jones also finished down by 0.32%. Despite this dip, the American markets remained relatively stable following the the latest policy statement from the Federal Reserve, who left interest rates unchanged and calmed fears surrounding a US-led global trade war. 

US technology stocks also performed well as shares in Apple rose 5.9%, drawing the tech giant closer to becoming the first $1 trillion company. Undeterred by this good news in the West, equity markets continued to grapple with trade tension between China and the US; this was reinforced by reports that the US may double planned tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports.

Finals
Clipper Logistics

Interims
Aviva 
Barclays
Convatec Group
Eurocell
London Stock Exchange Group
Merlin Entertainments
Portmeirion Group
RPS Group
Rolls-Royce Holdings
Serco Group
Vivo Energy

AGMs
Baillie Gifford UK Growth Fund
Civitas Social Housing
Highbridge Multi-Strategy Fund GBP Shares
VP

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) PMI Construction
(12:00) BoE Interest Rate Decision

Int. Economic Announcements
(11:00) Producer Price Index (EU)
(12:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(15:00) Factory Orders (US)

Columns of Note 

In The Guardian, Jonathan Lis posits that a no-deal Brexit simply won’t happen. He looks at the consequences of leaving the EU with no agreement (nothing to replace EU laws which means all British planes and pilots will not be certified or insured, all British lorries will have to be checked at French ports for tariffs and standards which would halt cross-Channel traffic) and promises that this will not be the outcome of negotiations. Lis says that this is because all evidence points to Theresa May being terrified of this scenario and because if no-deal seemed to be becoming reality, Britain would “shut down”. EU citizens would leave, manufacturers would close, the pound would tumble and there would be no public confidence in the government. 

In The Times, David Aaronovitch looks at a new book about the perils of misconception in the modern world, and asks whether it is the media or our emotions that skews our judgement. He presents the false perceptions many people have about immigration, voting, and foreign investment, and compares this to the “alternative truths” that Trump spouted on the campaign trail and beyond. The author of the book, Bobby Duffy, attributes these misconceptions to a new kind of confirmation bias: we don’t need to seek out confirming facts anymore, as algorithms present them to us in the form of clickbait.

Did you know?

When Gavin Williamson was Chief Whip he kept a tarantula on his desk. It was called Cronus, named after the youngest of the Titans - an apparent reference to Williamson’s reputation as the “baby face” of the parliament. 

Parliamentary highlights 

House of Commons
 
Recess until 4 September
 
House of Lords
 
Recess until 4 September
 
Scottish Parliament
 
Recess until 3 September