2 May 2019

Katie Stanton

2 May 2019

Good morning,
 
In what seems to be a growing trend amongst my age group, I consider myself more of a lurker than a sharer. While social media remains – somewhat sadly – a pivotal part of my daily life, little miss everyday Instagrammer is creating less content than ever.
 
Obviously I share and consume it, enthusiastically lapping up posts that serve to give me an unhealthy mix of body dysmorphia, inferiority complex and intense fomo (fear of missing out, for those not clued up in young people jargon).
 
But while I’m rejoicing in a blend of mildly amusing memes and ‘how to lose three stone in three weeks’ clickbait, I’m contributing virtually nothing to the platform. In fact, lots of people contribute nothing. Close to 30 per cent of Instagram users appear to be inactive, posting one or fewer photos or videos each month.
 
Set this against a backdrop of 32.2 million sponsored Instagram influence posts in 2019 and it becomes clear: the people really creating the content are getting paid for it. It seems every third post you see on Instagram is an ad. And that’s before you consider all the ambiguous influencer content you’re soaking up.
 
I, for one, don’t care to have people see what I’m doing anymore (not least because it’s mainly watching Netflix). Aside from the occasional picture of my dog or a particularly triumphant Sunday lunch, I’ve grown quite fond of keeping my private life just that – private.
 
And it seems Mark Zuckerberg has cottoned on to this growing trend. After widespread criticism of how the firm protects user data in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Facebook boss unveiled the details behind a brand rethink that will see privacy as paramount.
 
Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp will be redesigned and integrated: end-to-end encryption will keep Facebook’s grubby little hands off your data; a “private like counts” feature will make the apps less of a popularity contest; community groups will be central to feeds; content sharing will become more “ephemeral”.
 
And the really big news: Facebook will ditch the blue.
 
But, with mistrust plaguing the platforms and competitors working to gain ground, I can’t help but feel that the changes will have to go much further than just a lick of paint.

News

Opposition MPs are calling for a police inquiry after defence secretary Gavin Williamson was sacked over a National Security Council meeting leak. Williamson has strenuously denied involvement in disclosing plans to allow Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to help build the UK’s 5G network. But Downing Street said it had “compelling evidence” and the matter was closed.
 
Britain must plant close to three billion trees by 2050 to end Britain’s contribution to global warming, the government’s climate advisers have said. According to the committee on climate change, the landscape needs to be transformed and people’s habits need to change drastically to reduce greenhouse emissions to net zero. Consumption of beef, lamb and dairy will need to fall by a fifth, while flying is likely to become more expensive. (£)
 
A man has been charged with preventing a lawful burial after the bodies of two women were found in a freezer in Canning Town, east London. Police have warned it will take several more days to identify the women because of the conditions in which the victims were discovered. Detectives have also arrested two men on suspicion of murder – a 50-year-old, who was released under investigation, and a 34-year-old.

Business & Economy

The Bank of England’s inflation report is released at noon today and will set out the economic analysis and inflation projections that the monetary policy committee uses to make interest rate decisions. While the economy is doing better than expected and inflation is on the rise, the environment is simply too uncertain to predict a rate rise now.
 
Activist investor Edward Bramson is zoning in on a new target in his campaign for Barclays to shrink its investment bank: leveraged loans. Bramson, who will try to force his way on to the board at the company’s AGM later today, has told top shareholders that the bank is too reliant on revenues from lending to fund leveraged buyouts of companies by private equity houses and other acquirers. (£)
 
Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe has vowed to remain in post despite the grocer’s failed £7.6 billion mega-merger with Asda. The cost of the takeover misadventure was laid out in yesterday’s financial results: Sainsbury’s spent $46 million on the Asda deal, part of a £396 million bill of one-off items that sent pre-tax profits down 41.6%.

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 closed lower yesterday, as markets braced themselves for the result of the US Federal Reserve’s next policy meeting. The index closed down 0.4% with software firm Micro Focus International the top loser of the day. The company dropped five per cent after investment manager Meyer Handelman reduced its stake by 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019.
 
US stocks also closed lower as comments from Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell dampened expectations that the central bank could move later this year to cut interest rates. The fall was also due in part to falling oil prices after latest data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed a much larger build-up in US inventories than expected. Brent crude was down 0.2% at $71.95.
 
On the currency markets, the pound was up 0.02% against the dollar at $1.31, but down 0.08% against the euro at €1.16.

Finals
Morses Club
 
Q1 Results
Indivior
Lancashire Holdings Limited
Royal Dutch Shell ‘A’
 
Trading Announcements
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI)
Fisher (James) & Sons
Howden Joinery Group
International Personal Finance
Lloyds Banking Group
Paddy Power Betfair
Reckitt Benckiser Group
Schroders
Smith & Nephew
 
AGMs
Aberdeen Smaller Companies Income Trust
Barclays
BlackRock World Mining Trust
Dalata Hotel Group
Arabian Food Industries Company Domty S.A.E. GDR (Reg S)
EKF Diagnostics Holdings
Equiniti Group
Empiric Student Property
Eve Sleep PLC
F&C Investment Trust
Fisher (James) & Sons
Gresham Technologies
Howden Joinery Group
International Personal Finance
JPMorgan American Inv Trust
Kaz Minerals
Kerry Group ‘A’ Shares
MPAC Group
Personal Group Holdings
Phoenix Group Holdings
Reach
Rolls-Royce Holdings
Schroders
Urban Exposure

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) PMI Construction
(12:00) BoE Interest Rate Decision
 
Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(08:55) PMI Manufacturing (GER)
(09:00) PMI Manufacturing (EU)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(15:00) Factory Orders (US)

Columns of Note

Writing in The Atlantic, Marina Koren ponders the unnerving silence after a SpaceX spacecraft designed to carry humans into orbit burst into flames. More than a week on, SpaceX still has nothing to say about the incident which could have hefty impacts on efforts to launch NASA astronauts into space. While there is no doubt that the first launch will be a national achievement, Koren argues that a lack of transparency – the “frequent hallmark of private technology companies” – won’t work here.
 
Writing in the Financial Times, Philip Stephens argues that Brexit makes the case for an independent Scotland. Brexit was a project in English nationalism for which Scots are now paying the price. But 2021 looks too soon for an independence vote considering the upheaval currently created by the UK’s departure from the EU. That said, Stephens suggests it is “hard to imagine that five or so years from now a majority of Scots will see any purpose in the relationship.” (£)

Did you know?

In 1969, The Beatles considered the name ‘Everest’ for their new album, but since nobody wanted to go to Tibet for a cover photo, the album was named ‘Abbey Road’.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY
 
House of Commons
 
Oral questions
Transport (including Topical Questions)
 
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Andrea Leadsom
 
General debate
World Immunisation Week
 
Adjournment
Case for building a new town in Essex - Sir David Amess
 
House of Lords
 
Oral questions
National system recording the number of, the treatment received by, and the dates of treatments for, new amputees attending limb fitting centres in England - Lord McColl of Dulwich
 
When Ministers will next meet Ministers from the Scottish Government, and what will be discussed at that meeting - Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
 
Impact of rural crime on farming communities - The Lord Bishop of St Albans
 
Debate
Government's legal responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as detailed in the Climate Change Act 2008 and the implications for global security and stability and for the world economy of continuing climatic changes - Lord Rooker
 
'Tackling antimicrobial resistance 2019 to 2024: the UK's 5-year national action plan' - Lord Lansley
 
Scottish Parliament
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
General Questions
 
First Minister’s Questions
 
Members' Business — S5M-16380 Iain Gray: 25th Anniversary Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Ministerial Statement: The Scottish Government’s Response to the Sturrock Review
 
Portfolio Questions
 
Stage 3 Proceedings: Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill
 
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
 
Business Motions
 
Decision Time
 
TOMORROW
 
House of Commons
 
No business scheduled.
 
House of Lords
 
No business scheduled.
 
Scottish Parliament
 
No business scheduled.