At a time when the papers only seem to care about deciding which candidate for PM’s plan for Brexit is more Brexit than the other guy’s, I figured it would be timely to reach for that other most-clichéd of our nation’s talking points in my opening comment today.
When in doubt, of course, talk about the weather.
But by Jove, it’s hot. Like, really hot. As in, “have you remembered to sunscreen the tapir, dear?” hot as The Times pictures desk reminds us this morning, with photos of the extraordinary measures taken by those baking under the continent’s latest heatwave.
Temperature records are falling dime-a-dozen, schools and roads have been closed across several countries for safety concerns, and the Spanish press have aptly dubbed the latest balmy weather, el infierno (hell). Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic all hit their highest-ever recorded June temperatures yesterday, with France and Switzerland expecting to see levels above 40C later today. Even in usually cauld Scotia where temperatures sit above a safer 20C, I think we can assume we are now in ‘taps aff’ territory.
Meteorologists have attributed the phenomenon to a jet of hot air originating on the plains of northern Africa, being blown northwards by movements in the jet stream, which in the UK is known as the “Spanish plume”.
You’d be a fool not to connect the frequency of the extreme weather we’ve seen in the last couple years to the climate emergency. And for once, hot air from politicians on the issue seems more than just that. Despite cries of overreaction from the opposition, French prime minister Edouard Philippe has suggested climate change is indeed to blame for the plume. While on Monday, a Parisian court found the state responsible for heat-related pollution that had caused two women’s respiratory illnesses. In response, Parisian officials have enforced a total ban on older diesel and petrol vehicles entering the city, with Marseilles, Lyon and Grenoble set to follow suit today.
If that’s got you thinking you’d just prefer to get away it from it all (maybe giving a city break to Madrid a miss on this occasion), well, why fly easyJet when you can actually take a jetpack? In an update on the weird and wonderful yesterday, Sam Rogers, a 23-year-old design student at Loughborough University, created the world’s fastest jetsuit from a 3D printer, able to fly at speeds of 56mph.
OK, so it might not get you to the Costa del Sol. But in continental climes like these, maybe that’s just as well.
Cervical cancer could be “eliminated” over the next decade in the West owing the success of the HPV vaccine, scientists have suggested. According to new meta-analysis of 60 million global patients published in The Lancet scientific journal, HPV rates in teenage girls fell by 83% on average across 14 western nations which adopted the vaccine between 2007 and 2015. The study also noted an 86% drop in cervical cancer infection rates among those aged 15 to 19 since vaccination began in 2008. (£)
Mette Frederiksen is set to become Denmark’s next prime minister following lengthy coalition talks led by her Social Democrats’ party. Despite attracting criticism for running an anti-immigration based campaign, the 41-year-old has instead pledged to prioritise environmental reform, including cutting Denmark’s carbon emissions by 70% by 2030. Frederiksen will lead a loose coalition of four centre-left parties which together won 91 of 179 parliamentary seats in this month’s general election.
The United States and North Korea are in talks to arrange a third summitbetween Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, The Times reports. According to South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, “behind-the-scenes” negotiations are currently underway to rectify the perceived failure of a second meeting between the leaders in Hanoi in February. US sanctions on North Korea remain in place, with Kim suggesting that North Korea would find a “new way” if Washington persisted. (£)
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Boeing has been hit by fresh controversy over technical issues reported in its 737 Max aircraft. The US Federal Aviation Authority yesterday identified a “potential risk” during simulator tests, which must be rectified by Boeing before a current grounding on the aircraft in place since March can to be lifted. According to Reuters, which first reported the issue, the FAA identified longer-than-expected activation times for the aircraft’s stall-prevention systems.
Bitcoin has risen to its highest value in 18-months following the announcement of Facebook’s Libra e-currency. The cryptocurrency hit a value of $13,850 yesterday evening – a daily rise of 17% - before a sudden rout saw values settle at $12,220.43 during trading in New York, up 3.1%. Analysts cautioned that yesterday’s movements “felt a lot like last time”, referencing a period during January 2017 when Bitcoin’s value fluctuated between $3,000 and $20,000.
The Department for International Trade has recorded a sharp fall in foreign investment in the UK. According to new figures, the number of new business projects in the UK funded by overseas investment fell by 14% in 2018-19, including a 24% fall in the number of jobs created to 57,625 – its lowest level in seven years. Over the same period, the number of British businesses bought by overseas firms increased by eight per cent.
What happened yesterday?
There was little movement on the London market yesterday, as the latest anxieties over US-Chinese trade talks were softened by dovish comments coming out of the US Federal Reserve. By close of play, the FTSE 100 was down 0.08% at 7,416.39 points, with the pound also flat against the US dollar at $1.27 and 0.1% down on the euro at €1.12.
Stocks benefitted from a mid-morning boost after US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested that progress was “possible”, and Bloomberg reported that the US could suspend the next round of planned tariff hikes on an addition $300 billion of Chinese imports. In the UK, governor Mark Carney suggested that the Bank of England would provide fiscal stimulus in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and the latest housing data showed mortgage approvals falling in May.
In equity markets, Evraz (up 3.97%) was the day’s biggest gainer, boosted on news that the largest US steel producer, Nucor, is set to increase its prices. Stagecoach (up 2.89%) also gained after reporting a 30% increase in full-year pre-tax profit, and announced that it has no plans to bid for any new UK rail franchises after operations end in November.
Distribution and outsourcing group Bunzl fell (down 1.49%) after suggesting its expectations for 2019 remain unchanged at its first-quarter trading update, connecting lacklustre overall trading with slowing underlying revenue growth.
What's happening today?
Africa Opportunity Fund Limited
Columbus Energy Resources
ICG Enterprise Trust
Inspiration Healthcare Group
JZ Capital Partners Ltd
Marble Point Loan Financing Limited NPV
Pacific Assets Trust
Public Joint Stock Company Rosseti GDR (Each REPR 200 ORD) Reg S
Science In Sport
Trian Investors 1 Limited NPV
Liontrust Asset Management
SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust
XPS Pensions Group
TCS Group Holding GDR
Intl. Economic Announcements
(10:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Consumer Confidence (EU)
(10:00) Economic Sentiment Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)
(10:00) Services Confidence (EU)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Gross Domestic Product (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
New Yorker columnist Benjamin Wallace-Wells looks at last night’s US Democratic presidential primary debate, and suggests that Elizabeth Warren has become the race’s surprise favourite. He questions, however, whether Warren’s diagnosis of the US political mindset is right – are American voters more concerned about “the structural change in our government and our economy”? Or, more in line with her Democratic opponents, is the problem Donald Trump?
In the FT’s latest briefing on Facebook’s Libra, Patrick Jenkins suggests that cryptocurrencies cannot fix financial exclusion as long as global infrastructure remains poor. He points that three-quarters of Libra’s “unbanked” target market in developing markets still do not have internet access, which would require investment and a more flexible global regulatory framework to overcome. (£)
DID YOU KNOW
At the end of 2018, for the first time in human history, the number of people over the age of 65 surpassed the number of people under 5.
House of Commons
Exiting the European Union (including Topical Questions)
Business Questions to the Leader of the House – Mel Stride
Debate on a Motion relating to the Contribution of Cooperatives and Mutuals to the Economy – Gareth Thomas, Mr Steve Baker
General Debate on the Children’s Future Food Report – Frank Field
SERCO and asylum seeker lock-change evictions – Chris Stephens
House of Lords
Government support to the World Food Programme - Baroness Anelay of St Johns
Recommendations of the review into post-18 education - Lord Blunkett
Proposals to grant a pension to the severely injured victims of the Northern Ireland conflict represented by the WAVE Trauma Centre - Lord Hain
Report by the UNs’ Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Investigation into the unlawful death of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi - Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
Impact of government policy on knife crime - Lord Paddick
The 'Report on the Financial Conduct Authority’s further investigative steps in relation to RBS GRG' and what plans the Government have to mitigate against any future mistreatment of small and medium-sized enterprises - Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted
Impact of recent benefit changes on vulnerable people - Baroness Janke
First Minister’s Questions
House of Commons
No business scheduled
House of Lords
No business scheduled
No business scheduled