2 February

@lyle_h_hill

2 February

Good morning,

Theresa May will fly back from China today fairly pleased with herself. She has met and drank tea with President Xi, making her "Global Britain" slogan a little more believable than when she jetted off, plagued by questions about the longevity (or otherwise) of her leadership.

Those questions have not gone away, however, and May is flying back to the UK with familiar tensions to deal with. Foreign trips may be booked into her diary in order to give her some respite from Brexit, but the issue follows her wherever she goes.

Whilst in China, the prime minister was talking trade, even bringing along the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, to shake hands and chin-wag. But both found themselves fending off Brexit questions from the eager UK journalists who had made the trip with them.

Back home, a debate was erupting as to whether the next round of Brexit negotiations will require a decision on the future trading relationship with the EU. May was insistent that these talks will not force her into a decision on whether there will be a closer, lasting relationship with Brussels or if the UK will sever relations in a ‘hard’ Brexit.

"We will be out there ensuring the deal we get delivers on what the British people want", May replied. All very clear.

And no sooner had May and her companion touched down, Fox was out making his case for the UK leaving the customs union. As has so often been the case regarding both the EU and now the Brexit process, this debate has really been focused on an internal Tory feud. Will the Remainers or the Brexiters get their way?

The international trade secretary falls firmly into the latter of those two camps, and announced today that Britain must be allowed to "take control" outside the customs union in order to negotiate trade deals around the world.

I know what you are thinking: "Global Britain" and "take control". How very little progress our political debate has made since June 2016.

News

More men in the UK are dying from prostate cancer as an ageing population means that more are diagnosed and dying from the disease. Figures from Prostate Cancer UK show that for the first time men are dying in greater numbers from prostate cancer than women from breast cancer. In 2015, there were 11,819 deaths from prostate cancer and 11,442 from breast cancer.

After a power cut on Wednesday evening left them trapped underground, 995 workers at a South African gold mine have been rescued. The mine had 23 levels and stretched over 1,000 metres into the ground. A spokesman for Sibanye-Stillwater, the company operating the mine, said that while there were cases of high blood pressure and dehydration, no worker was seriously injured.

Tech giants were once again warned yesterday that they need to do more to protect people from far-right extremism online, following the conviction of Darren Osborne for the Finsbury Park mosque attack. Commander Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, said that Osborne had become “self-radicalised”. This intervention follows Theresa May's Davos speech on the same topic.

A vehicle carrying gas tanks has crashed into pedestrians in a crowded street in Shanghai as Prime Minister Theresa May visited the city. It is thought that 18 people have been injured during the attack and hospitalised, according to local and state media.

Business & Economy

Apple has announced a record breaking quarter of $88.3bn in revenues and $20.1bn in net profits, but has fallen below some analysts’ expectations as "super-cycle" growth has failed to materialise with the new iPhone X. Despite a revenue increase due to higher prices, Apple sales dropped by 1% in the key quarter that includes the holiday season.

Sony has announced today that chief executive Kazuo Hirai will step down in April and that chief financial officer Kenichiro Yoshida will take on the position of CEO. Hirai became chief of the electronics giant in 2012 and has improved the fortunes of the company, which is expected to post record earnings for the year to March.

Global investors with over £10.5 trillion assets under management have together signed up to promote a greater level of female representation in senior management and board positions in the UK's largest companies. The scheme, organised by the 30% Club, pushes for 30% female representation on FTSE 350 boards. Twenty-seven investors signed, including JPMorgan, Standard Life and BlackRock.

Markets

What happened yesterday?
Hawkish signals from the Federal Reserve has caused bond market jitters and sent ripples through the markets, as the world's markets struggle to maintain the staggering growth of 2017.

In its latest meeting, the last chaired by Janet Yellen, the Fed prepared markets for a March interest rate hike and left the door open to a further three rate rises before the end of 2018.

This news meant that the FTSE 100 struggled yesterday, down 43.16 points at 7,490.39, representing a seven-week low. Capita shares fell again on the UK markets as analysts pointed to rival firm Serco as evidence of slow turnarounds in the bloated sector, despite comments made yesterday by chief executive Jon Lewis that Capita was not the next Carillion.

Meanwhile, TalkTalk rebounded 2.7% following a 9% plunge yesterday on the back of a scathing analyst report.

Finals
Royal Dutch Shell ‘A’
Royal Dutch Schell ‘B’
Unilever

Interims
F&C Managed Portfolio Trust Growth Shares
Rank Group

Trading Announcements
Barr (A.G.)
Clark (T.)
Cranswick
Euromoney Institutional Investor
Glencore
3i Group
UK Commercial Property Trust
Vodafone Group

GMs
Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust
AGMs
Avon Rubber
Euromoney Institutional Investor
Premier Veterinary Group
Redhall Group
Stride Gaming

UK Economic Announcements
(07.00) Nationwide House Price Index

Intl. Economic Announcements
(08.55) PMI Manufacturing (GER)
(09.00) PMI Manufacturing (EU)
(13.30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13.30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(14.45) PMI Manufacturing (US)
(15.00) Construction Spending (US)
(15.00) ISM Manufacturing (US)
(15.00) ISM Prices Paid (US)
(20.30) Auto Sales (US)

Columns of Note

Philip Stephens, writing in the Financial Times, argues that Britain's Brexit policy is tantamount to upturning over 50 years of considered policy decisions that have set the national course at the drop of a hat. However, he argues that the UK could end up remaining in the EU, as the incompetence of its policymakers will make it impossible for Britain to fully disentangle itself.

Gaby Hinsliff, writing in The Guardian, argues that women's equality in the work place is down to respect, rather than money. While equal pay is an important discussion, Hinsliff believes that it stems from issues regarding respect and responsibility within workplaces.

Did you know?

A panda's entire mating season lasts only about two or three days

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons

Legislation

Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill - 2nd reading - Tim Loughton

Parking (Code of Practice) Bill - 2nd reading - Sir Greg Knight

Licensing of Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill - 2nd reading - Daniel Zeichner

Healthcare (Local Accountability) Bill - 2nd reading - Sir Christopher Chope

Local Roads (Investment) Bill - 2nd reading - Sir Christopher Chope

Live Animal Exports (Prohibition) Bill - 2nd reading - Theresa Villiers

Food Insecurity Bill - 2nd reading - Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck

Terms of Withdrawal from EU (Referendum) Bill - 2nd reading - Geraint Davies

Clear Air Bill - 2nd reading - Geraint Davies

Kew Gardens (Leases) (No.2) Bill - 2nd reading - Zac Goldsmith

Adjournment
Ambulance delays and the leadership of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust - Norman Lamb

House of Lords

No business scheduled

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled