29 September

@Stu7Tay

Good morning,

The decision by Twitter to trial a 280-character limit has prompted some questions around the company’s priorities, specifically whether it might tighten its rules on abuse and harassment before providing people with more room to express themselves. However, in the Middle East, the platform has provided female users a place to articulate their new-found liberty following the removal of a far more draconian restriction.

"What’s your dream car to drive?"; Saudi women have been answering this question on the site ever since the announcement on Wednesday that they will be granted licenses to drive for the first time, with over 22,000 responses already posted to the Arabic Twitter hashtag.

The huge response has not been lost on some of the world's biggest car makers, who were quick off the mark to post their congratulations to Saudi women.

Ford opted for an advert that showed only the eyes of a woman in a rearview mirror with the words: “Welcome to the driver’s seat”. Volkswagen went with a similar theme, their advert displaying two henna-inked hands on a steering wheel with the slogan: “My turn”.

With the country’s population around 29 million, it’s easy to see why manufacturers were in such a spin to be involved in what you would expect to be a lucrative market, given the country’s reputation for enjoying luxury goods. However, as The Washington Post report, it's likely they will have to remain cautious when it comes to forecasting any short-term boost in sales in what remains a very reserved nation. 

Economically, the Saudi car market has dipped in recent years, with 530,000 new vehicles bought last year, down from 685,000 in 2015. While a small increase in sales is expected, it is possible that women will instead begin to drive the cars they are currently being driven about in by chauffeurs. And those keen to acquire a new set of wheels will still require the permission of a father or a husband.

With one historic move, Saudi’s young prince has attempted to transform his country’s economic fortunes. It will be intriguing to see who reaches top gear when it comes to success in this shiny new market.

News

Prime Minister Theresa May will tell European Union leaders today that the UK is unconditionally committed to the defence and security of Europe. The prime minister is in Estonia, where she will call for greater co-operation on cyber threats at the Tallinn digital summit and meet with British soldiers based in Tapa.

UKIP will today announce their new leader, with an anti-Islam activist with close links to the far right speculated to win. Victory for Anne Marie Waters would mark a notable shift towards extremist nationalism in the country, with the party facing a split or even collapse if it comes to fruition.

Britain has progressively become more socially liberal on issues such as sex outside marriage, gay relationships and abortion, research has found. However, the paper by the National Centre for Social Research also found racism failed to follow this trend, with 26% of adults admitting they are discriminatory against people of other races. (£)

Business and Economy

The decision by Transport for London not to renew Uber’s operating licence was “disproportionate”, according to Theresa May. Speaking ahead of the Conservative party conference in Manchester this weekend, the prime minister said the decision “risked 40,000 jobs and of course ... damaged the lives of those 3.5m Uber users”. (£)

The Bank of England is not all powerful and asking too much of it will risk its independence, Mark Carney and Gordon Brown have said. The governor and former prime minister were both speaking at the Bank’s conference to mark 20 years of independence. Brown said the Bank could be left exposed if too much was demanded, “no matter how superhuman the governor is”. (£)

IKEA has purchased TaskRabbit, a US start-up firm that allows users to hire people to assist them in assembling furniture and other household chores. The online company, which started in 2008, will continue to operate as an independent company within the Ikea Group.

Markets

A strong recovery in the afternoon contributed towards the FTSE 100 making small gains yesterday. The index finished at 7,322.8, up 0.13%, with the building materials company CRH leading the way after seeing its shares rise 2.9%.

The FTSE 250 also ended the day higher, in part thanks to gains in industrial stocks. The more UK-focused index closed up 0.56% at 19,678.4. A notable riser was Carillion, with news that a Middle Eastern firm was preparing a bid for the outsourcer seen their shares rise 16%, taking its two-day gains to 37%. 

On the currency markets, the pound increased 0.34% against the dollar to $1.3432 and rose 0.07% on the euro to €1.1405

Finals

CVS Group

Interims

Styles & Wood Group, Zegona Communications

AGMs

IMImobile, KSK Power Ventur, Legendary Investments, OPG Power Ventures, Purplebricks Group, Trafalgar New Homes, Torotrak, Vale International Group Ltd (DI)

UK Economic Announcements

(00:01) GFK Consumer Confidence

(07:00) Nationwide House Price Index

(09:30) Consumer Credit

(09:30) Current Account

(09:30) Gross Domestic Product

(09:30) Index of Services

(09:30) M4 Money Supply

(09:30) Mortgage Approvals 

Int. Economic Announcements

(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)

(09:00) Unemployment Rate (GER)

(13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)

(13:30) Personal Income (US)

(13:30) Personal Spending (US)

Columns of note

On the 20th anniversary of the decision to make the Bank of England independent of government Jim O’Neill, a former chief economist of Goldman Sachs and Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, looks at whether the move has made the UK economy better off. Writing in The Evening Standard, O’Neill says the Bank has carried out the remit it was tasked with, but has so far failed to solve the country’s structural challenges. 

Writing in The Times, Philip Collins has criticised the Labour moderates for falling silent in their criticism of Jeremy Corbyn. Collins says those singing the Labour leader’s name on the conference floor in Brighton whilst still believing his policies are incompatible with majority public opinion must listen to their consciences and act. (£)

 Did you know?

The 50-star American flag was designed by an Ohio high school student for a class project. His teacher originally gave him a B–.

 

Parliamentary Highlights

TODAY 

House of Commons

In recess until 9th October for party conference season

House of Lords

In recess until 9th October for party conference season

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled