23 May

@Stu7Tay

23 May

Good morning, 

Late last night, news emerged of a suspected terror attack at a music concert in Manchester which killed at least 22 people and left another 59 injured.
 
The incident occurred around 10:35pm when a huge explosion shook Manchester Arena following a performance by the US pop star Ariana Grande, whose fan base is predominately children and teenage girls. The singer herself was unhurt after the attack.
 
The blast is the worst such incident in the UK in more than a decade, when bombings on London buses and the underground killed 52 people in July 2005. The targeting of a music event is reminiscent of the 2015 attacks at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. 
 
Speaking this morning, Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, confirmed that the attacker detonated an “improvised device” in a rucksack, following reports that paramedics treated the wounded for "shrapnel-like injuries". He also declared that he believed the suspected attacker acted alone and died at the scene.
 
Home Secretary Amber Rudd labelled the attack “barbaric,” and said it was intended to target “some of the most vulnerable in our society." Campaigning in the General Election has been suspended for the foreseeable future and Theresa May will this morning chair a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee, where it is expected more details will be established.
 
In the short time since the attack, we have once again seen a city – and a nation – demonstrate an incredible sense of resilience and solidarity as people come together to decisively reject this brutal form of terror.

NEWS

Theresa May has defended her decision to introduce a cap on the cost to social care, a move which has been described as a U-turn on her party’s flagship manifesto commitment. Critics have called the prime minister’s change a “manifesto meltdown” after a poll over the weekend showed Labour gaining ground following the publication of the Conservative manifesto.

Michael Flynn, who in February was fired as US national security adviser after lying about the nature of his contacts with the Russian ambassador, will refuse to hand over documents to a Senate probe into possible links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. In a letter to the Senate Intelligence committee, Flynn instead invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, protecting him from legally testifying against himself in a criminal case.

President Donald Trump has implored Israel to bury its differences with its Arab neighbours in the Gulf in light of increasing Iranian aggression in the region, raising hopes of peace in the Middle East. The president will today meet the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, on what is the final day of his visit to the Middle East. (£)

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Employees on zero-hours contracts should be given the right to request a move onto fixed hours, a government commissioned inquiry into controversial working practices is expected to say today. Matthew Taylor, the head of the Royal Society of Arts, who is leading the inquiry, will say that some workers might be being exploited by businesses and any business which rejects the request will need to give its reasons for that decision.
 
Car giant Ford has replaced its chief executive with the man in charge of its driverless vehicle programme, signalling its intent to challenge in the market of artificial intelligence, 3D printing and robotics. The decision to replace Mark Fields with Jim Hackett after only three years in the role comes only seven weeks after Tesla’s market value climbed past Ford’s. (£)
 
High street lenders are falling behind challenger banks when it comes to meeting consumer needs for digital services, a survey of 1,000 British banking customers has revealed. The report by US financial services group FIS also showed UK banks, overall, are considered to be underperforming in areas such as safety, security, fairness, reliability and transparency, though they are making up ground against counterparts in Germany and the US.

 

MARKETS

The FTSE 100 ended the first day of the week 25.52 points, or 0.34%, higher. Marks and Spencer saw its shares rise 2.75% ahead of the publication of its results tomorrow.
 
One of the biggest fallers on the day was Worldpay Group, which suffered a 2.4% drop in its shares following the decision of Bryan Garnier to cut its rating on the company to "sell" from "neutral".
 
On the currency markets, the pound hovered around the $1.30 mark during the day but dropped 0.5% against the euro, to 1.1573 euros.

Finals
Assura, Aveva Group, Big Yellow Group, Cranswick, De La Rue, Electrocomponents, Entertainment One Limited, Hibernia Reit, Homeserve, Scapa Group, 1Spatial, Severn Trent
 
Interims
easyHotel, Greencore Group, Paragon Group Of Companies, Premier Veterinary Group, Renew Holdings, Shaftesbury, Topps Tiles, UDG Healthcare Public Limited Company

AGMs
EG Solutions, Foresight VCT, Royal Dutch Shell 'A', Marshall Motor Holdings, Time Out Group
 
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Public Sector Net Borrowing

Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Gross Domestic Product (GER)
(09:00) IFO Business Climate (GER)
(09:00) IFO Current Assessment (GER)
(09:00) IFO Expectations (GER)
(15:00) New Homes Sales (US)

COLUMNS OF NOTE

Writing in The Independent, John Rentoul says that Theresa May’s decision to U-turn on the so called “dementia tax” has actually made a bad policy worse. He says the prime minister’s move to cap the cost to people to fund their care will end up costing the taxpayer more than the initial manifesto pledge and do little to reassure voters that she has the answers to tackling the escalating problem of social care funding.

The company that likes to think it’s a country” is the subject of the FT’s Big Read. Alibaba, the ecommerce company, has grand ambitions to be bigger than the gross domestic product of the world’s fifth-biggest economy by 2036. To achieve that, owner Jack Ma aims to reverse the trend and show that business, and not government, is flying the flag for globalisation. (£)

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY

House of Commons

In dissolution. The House will next sit on Monday 19th June.
 
House of Lords 

In dissolution. The House will next sit on Monday 19th June.

Scottish Parliament

Topical Questions

Stage 1 Debate: Seat Belts on School Transport (Scotland) Bill

TOMORROW

Scottish Parliament


Portfolio Questions: Economy, Jobs and Fair Work

Scottish Government Debate: Safe, Secure and Prosperous: Achieving a Cyber-resilient Scotland