25 May

@SueArthur

25 May

Good morning,

Britain continues to be on high alert in the wake of the Manchester bombing. Almost 1,000 soldiers, armed with rifles and wearing body armour, were deployed across the country yesterday.

The Times and The Telegraph lead with reports indicating that the security services were warned about the man responsible for the bombing, Salman Abedi, on five occasions in the last five years. The authorities will no doubt face questions as to why they apparently failed to take action on these alerts.

Someone else who will face questions today is Donald Trump when Theresa May meets him in Brussels at a Nato meeting. The New York Times published photographs of the Manchester bomb debris, pictures which are thought to have been leaked by US security agencies, prompting a furious response from ministers in the UK. It is highly unusual that evidence of this nature should be shared publicly during an investigation, and officials are concerned that this could not only compromise the investigation, but is likely to cause further distress to victims and their families.

Meanwhile, it has become clear that Abedi was part of a wider network and the search for his accomplices gathered pace yesterday. Two more men have been arrested this morning, taking the total number of men in custody to eight. A woman arrested last night has been released without charge.

A minute’s silence will be held at 11am today, as the UK continues to try to come to terms with Monday’s shocking events. Manchester United players dedicated their team’s Europa League final victory over Ajax last night to the victims of Monday’s attack.

News

Donald Trump will visit Nato headquarters in Brussels today along with other leaders, where the focus of the meeting will be the surge in attacks by the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Nato members will be hoping that President Trump will end months of policy incoherence by formally renewing America’s commitment to the alliance, after his repeated criticism of Nato as “irrelevant” during his election campaign. The meeting will also be a chance to restate the organisation’s relevance to the fight against terrorism, following the Manchester attack.

General Election campaigning will begin again in the UK today after a two-day suspension. UKIP will launch what it describes as a “clear-cut and uncompromising” manifesto, as the party desperately tries to persuade voters it has not become an irrelevance, while Labour and the Conservatives will resume their campaigns at a local level and continue with national efforts from Friday.

Business & Economy

China’s ministry of finance has dismissed Moody’s decision to downgrade its credit rating from Aa3 to A1, blaming the agency’s “inappropriate” methodology and claiming it had overestimated the country’s economic difficulties. This is the first downgrade of China’s economy by Moody’s in almost 30 years. The ratings agency cited fears on slowing growth and spiralling debt.

Car production fell by almost one fifth in April compared with the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Around 122,000 cars were built during the month, compared with 189,505 in April 2015. The SMMT points out that the Easter holiday reduced the number of active production days available for manufacturers over the course of April this year.

Marks and Spencer suffered a sharp fall in earnings last year due to restructuring costs and lower clothing sales. Pre-tax profit dropped 63.9 per cent to £176.4m in the year to April. However shares in the company rose yesterday after the Chief Executive said it was “starting to stabilise” its market share in apparel, after five consecutive years of decline.

Markets

The FTSE 100 index came close to record highs yesterday, advancing 26.91 points, to 7,514.90.

Asian stocks were higher on the back of a record high for the S&P 500.

In company news, gold miner Acacia suffered its biggest one-day fall on record after an investigation by the Tanzanian government revealed that the FTSE 250 firm under-reported the presence of gold in its exports.

Ahead of tomorrow's Opec meeting, firmer oil prices lifted Royal Dutch Shell B shares 15.5p to £21.72, while BP added 4.3p to 478.5p.

Miners came under pressure after Moody’s debt downgrade on China, the world’s biggest metals consumer. Glencore dipped 0.2p to 291.8p, Randgold Resources shed 105p to £71.35 and Rio Tinto ended the day down 17p at £31.76.

Finals
Caledonia Investments, Halfords Group, PayPoint, Pets at Home Group, QinetiQ Group, Tate & Lyle, United Utilities Group, Wizz Air Holdings

Interims
Daily Mail and General Trust A (Non.V), Schroder European Real Estate Investment Trust, Urban &Civic

Q1 Results
PJSC Megafon GDR (Reg S)

AGMs
Alliance Pharma, Belvoir Lettings, Cambridge Cognition Holdings, EnQuest, F&C Private Equity Trust, Ferrexpo, G4S, Gama Aviation, Hastings Group Holdings, Inchcape, Jersey Oil And Gas, Kenmare Resources, Legal & General Group, NAHL Group, Old Mutual, Parity Group, Robert Walters, Total Produce, TP Group

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30): Index of Services

US Economic Announcements
(13:30) Continuing Claims
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims

Columns of Note

The Conversation celebrates the ability of poetry to connect with people, citing Tony Walsh’s poem “This is the Place” which he recited to thousands of people attending a vigil on Tuesday evening for the victims of the Manchester attack. His moving poem captures the spirit of Manchester as a cultural and industrial centre, as well as paying tribute to the resilience of its people.

Matt Singh runs an analysis of historical election results in the FT, to predict a convincing Conservative victory, despite a narrowing in opinion polls that suggests the race is getting closer.

Did you know?

The worker bee has been part of Manchester’s identity since 1842, when a new city coat of arms was unveiled depicting bees swarming across the globe. It speaks to Manchester’s industrial background but this week has come to define the city’s spirit and unity in the wake of Monday’s terrorist attack.

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

First Minister's Questions

Stage 1 Debate: Contract (Third Party Rights) (Scotland) Bill

TOMORROW

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled