25 January

Lyle Hill

25 January

Good morning,

The World Economic Forum in Davos welcomes the UK prime minister Theresa May today and she is expected to use her speech to send out a stark warning to social media providers.

The address will call for social media platforms to do more to ensure that people using them, especially the young, are safe from extreme content.

Recent investigations have highlighted that paedophiles and terrorists use social media readily, and that Facebook has often refused to remove images, arguing they did not breach its “community standards”.

May will today warn these social media sites that “no one wants to be known as the terrorists’ platform or the first-choice app for paedophiles” and will also urge investors in these companies to do more to force a change of culture.

The prime minister has often voiced her belief that big business should have a clear social conscience and is expected to tell her audience today that “investors can play a vital role by considering the social impact of the companies they are investing in."

May's message is clear, but it risks being overshadowed by the arrival of Donald Trump at the Swiss resort. Many in attendance believed he would never be elected and that even if he was to win, that he would never show up at their special event, a celebration of globalism that would appear to be at odds with Trump’s ‘America First’ narrative. But the president will today give a speech in Davos urging European companies to invest in the US.

While many of the business leaders in Davos deplore much of Trump's rhetoric, there is no denying that they enjoy his economic policies. Tax cuts and deregulation have helped the stocks they own rise to record levels.

Trump may well understand the mood and sentiment in Davos far more than Obama ever did, despite his protectionist rhetoric. In fact, the globalist Obama never travelled to Davos during his eight years in office and Trump is the first US president to visit the gathering since Bill Clinton in 2000. Whether he is there to listen, as well as talk, remains to be seen.


The disgraced former US gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser was sentenced to a maximum of 175 years in jailyesterday for sexually assaulting more than 150 women. The judge in Lansing, Michigan, told Nassar she had "signed his death warrant" before handing down the sentence. In the seven day hearing, many atheletes had testified against him, including Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman.

According to the National Science Foundation, for the first time in history China has produced more academic research than the United States, a figure that has long been hailed as a turning point in the battle to cement China as a true superpower. The figures highlight that in 2016, China produced 426,000 scientific studies, the highest of any country, while the US published 409,000.

The chief constable of Surrey police and a senior figure in the National Police Chiefs Council, Nick Ephgrave, hasadmitted police have a cultural problem with disclosure of evidence. He argues that disclosure of evidence to the defence is often seen as something to be done at the end of an investigation, rather than the beginning and insists changing this mindset is an "immediate challenge".


Business & Economy

Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan, has warned that the bank could cut its UK workforce by up to a quarter if financial rules diverge following Brexit. JP Morgan currently employs more than 16,000 people in the UK, and whilst Dimon admitted it had not had to make drastic cuts following the referendum, he revised his job loss estimate upwards if there was no deal on financial services.

Steve Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary, warned the audience at Davos yesterday that the Trump administration was preparing to toughen trade measures in 2018. Despite admitting that the US wanted to identify and stop what it deemed to be unfair trading practices around the world, Mnuchin denied that this represented 'protectionist' trade policies on behalf of the US.

Insurers have agreed to pay out more than £30 million to suppliers owed money by collapsed Carillion. The fees will range in size from a few thousand pounds to millions in compensation and will be paid to companies that had taken out insurance policies to mitigate this scenario. However, many suppliers will still be left without payment as this insurance policy was only taken out by a minority of firms.


What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 struggled yesterday as the pound rose steadily throughout the day. Sterling rose against the dollar to $1.42, a level not seen since the EU referendum in June 2016.

The soaring pound was largely down to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin welcoming a weak dollar as he launched an investment push alongside business leaders at Davos yesterday. 

Additionally, the pound was pushed higher by employment figures in the UK showing that employment was at its highest level since records began in the 1970s. The UK economy continues to show a resilience unexpected by many experts following the Brexit vote. The buoyant global economy has helped lift the UK.

As many companies on the FTSE 100 have large overseas profits that have to be converted back to sterling, a rising pound often sends the blue chip index spiralling in the opposite direction.

The FTSE 100 lost 1.2% and closed at 7,643.43 points. The biggest losers were Sage Group, Shire and Mondi, which closed down seven, four, and 3.5% respectively.


Blue Prism Group

Trading Announcements
Anglo American
Brewin Dolphin
Close Brothers Group
Greene King
St James's Place

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) BBA Mortgage Lending Figures
(11:00) CBI Distributive Trades Surveys

Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)
(09:00) IFO Business Climate (GER)
(09:00) IFO Current Assessment (GER)
(09:00) IFO Expectations (GER)
(12:45) ECB Interest Rate (EU)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(15:00) New Homes Sales (US)


Columns of Note

Writing in the Washington Post, Niall Fergusonexamines Trump's upcoming trip to Davos and what it means for American economic policy. He highlights that Trump the businessman perhaps understands the Davos sentiment more than many business leaders give him credit for, especially when it comes to the feelings of the middle classes.

Iain Martin, writing in The Times, takes aim at Theresa May, arguing she is "temperamentally incapable, with close to zero capacity for initiative". He urges the Conservative party to rid the country of her as prime minister and breathe new life into the government.

Did you know?

The World Economic Forum was founded in 1971 by the academic Klaus Schwab.