24 July

@lyle_h_hill

24 July

Good morning, 

The government has announced new rules that will allow energy consumers to save money by making it cheaper and easier for people to generate and store their own power using solar panels and batteries. The government also said it will make it easier for consumers to sell energy back into the National Grid.

According to Ofgem, these radical changes could save consumers between £17 and £40 billion by 2050. The news comes as Greg Clark, the business secretary, is set to announce a £246m investment in the UK's industrial strategy, which will look to encourage innovation in battery technology.

All of these moves are designed to reduce fluctuations in demand on the national grid by allowing people to use energy they generate flexibly.

This new flexibility will be needed sooner rather than later if substantial energy price rises occur, as hinted at by Ian Conn, the chief executive of Centrica, owner of British Gas, in an interview with The Sunday Times yesterday. He argued that while companies try to protect customers from changes in the wholesale cost of energy, rises such as the 15% over the past year must at some stage be shared by the consumer.

His comments are a far cry from the energy price freeze promised in the Conservative manifesto, and even further from Jeremy Corbyn's pledge to renationalise the industry. These debates rumble on without any clear sign of resolution, but in the meantime maybe the government's announcement today will go a little way to easing the burden on households.

NEWS

Ukrainian businessmen are exploiting the academic reputation of Oxford University in order to falsely sell "awards" to unwitting businesses and individuals. The scam has earned the so-called European Business Assembly millions of pounds, by charging up to £9,300 to victims for "administrative costs" and a license to use the award brand.

Jeremy Corbyn, speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, denied making a pledge to wipe out student debt, but admitted that he did not fully realise the scale of the debt burden. Jo Johnson, the universities minister, accused Corbyn of "shamelessly abandoning" a pre-election position.

Nine people have died in a suspected people smuggling case in Texas. The driver of a truck was arrested after his vehicle was found in a Walmart car park with over thirty people inside. Nine had died and a further 28 were taken to hospital.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

The bosses of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, and Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, saw the value of their shareholdings in their respective businesses rise by a combined $314 million over the course of 2016, as stock prices in US banks soared following Donald Trump's victory in November. The findings were made by The Financial Times and consultancy Equilar’s annual review of bank chief executives' pay.

The IMF has downgraded growth predictions for both the UK and the US, following slower than expected growth in the first quarter for both economies. UK growth in 2017 is now predicted to be 1.7%, down from 2% while the US growth forecast has been downgraded from 2.3% to 2.1%.

In UK corporate news, the UK grocery market is once more in focus, with reports of a London Stock Exchange listing for ready-meal provider Bakkavor, and speculation of a bid for B&M Value Retail by Asda. No formal statement was forthcoming from B&M this morning however further speculation is likely with a 5% rise in share price. Ryanair has reported quarterly results, with news of a 55% rise in post-tax profits leavened by warnings that some or all of its UK based aircraft could be moved out of the country if there is no clarity on the future of the UK’s position in the Single Market by summer 2018.

MARKETS

The week ahead

The UK, France, Spain and the United States will all publish preliminary growth estimates for Q2 this week. The UK will lead the pack out of the blocks on Wednesday, but after sluggish growth figures for Q1 it is not expected to finish ahead.

According to forecasters, it is expected that the British economy will grow 0.3%, up slightly from the 0.2% earlier this year. While the figure will be an estimate, subject to revision, it will likely still provoke debate by those on opposing sides of the Brexit divide.

On Friday, France, Spain and the US will follow suit. The US is expected to improve on its Q1 growth rate. The Federal Reserve will have met on Wednesday, and if the predictions are correct they will not raise interest rates. As is so often the case, when no change is made, scrutiny turns to the Fed's statement which may point to future monetary policy changes.

Interims
Dialight, Microgen, McColl's Retail Group, Reckitt Benckiser Group

Q1 Results 
Ryanair Holdings

Trading Announcements 
Connect Group, Cranswick, Earthpo

AGMs
Active Energy Group, Cranswick, EIH Plc, Origo Partners, Prime People, Solo Oil

Int. Economic Announcements 
(15:00) Existing Home Sales (US)

COLUMNS OF NOTE

Kevin Pringle, writing in The Sunday Times, argues that we have entered an age of intolerance in our political debate and that in many cases hate has blinded us to our sense of common good.

Ruth Davidson, writing in UnHerd, outlines her views on how capitalism can be reformed. She argues that government must be bold and decisive to make capitalism work for the most disadvantaged in society.

DID YOU KNOW?

The average person spends 6 months of their lifetime waiting on a red light to turn green.

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

House of Commons
In recess until 5 September.

House of Lords
In recess until 5 September.

Scottish Parliament
In recess until 5 September.