3 May

@stu7tay

3 May

Good morning,

With campaigning in the general election now in full swing after the dissolution of parliament at the stroke of midnight last night, the Conservatives have today turned their attention to the economy with an attack on Labour’s tax and spending plans.

Unveiling an advert personally attacking Jeremy Corbyn, the Conservatives claim his plans will result in a “more debt, higher tax” bombshell to the tune of £45bn. Theresa May’s party reached this figure having calculated detailed costings of every policy announcement made by Corbyn and his team dating back to his election as Labour leader in 2015. Brexit Secretary David Davis called Corbyn’s plans “nonsensical and irresponsible” and said it would bring the future of the country’s economy and finances for families into peril.

The Conservatives usually find the economy fertile ground when it comes to election issues but Theresa May has come under pressure for failing to rule out future tax increases, including the pledge made by her predecessor David Cameron not to increase income tax and National Insurance until 2020. Labour said her inability to answer whether she intended raising tax showed her party could not be trusted.

Whatever the economic plans of the new government on 9 June, they may have to factor in an EU “divorce bill” of around €100bn after the EU raised its demand for an upfront payment by €40bn. The development reflects a hardening stance of many EU member states and presents a large obstacle in the way of a smooth Brexit negotiation.

Having already rejected the concept of any Brexit bill, May might have to show she is a “bloody difficult woman” earlier than she might have hoped.

News

Emmanuel Macron wants to build a majority of MPs from the wreckage of France’s mainstream parties as he closes in on becoming the country’s next president. However, he is unlikely to receive enough support from the far-left. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who polled 19.6 per cent in the first round of the presidential election, published the result of a survey yesterday in which he had asked his supporters how they recommended voting in the second round. A total of 65 per cent said that they would abstain or spoil their ballot papers. (£)

President Trump’s ability to unify his party around a key campaign pledge was last night put to the test as he battled to gain the support he needed to overhaul Obamacare. The US President was 216 votes short of being able to scrap his predecessor’s signature domestic policy as moderate Republicans resisted the proposal.

Angela Merkel has implored Vladimir Putin to investigate reports of the torture and persecution of gay men in Chechnya and to ensure the safety of LGBT people across the region. Speaking during her first visit to Russia in two years, the German chancellor asked Putin to “utilise his influence” to protect minority groups.

Business & Economy

Uncertain price pressures as a result of the Brexit-hit pound and a competitive High Street has been blamed for Sainsbury’s full-year profits before tax falling 8.2% to £503m. Despite the disappointing results, chief executive Mike Coupe said the supermarket chain was "well placed to navigate the external environment".

 Apple CEO Tim Cook has claimed leaks about the next iPhone has been the cause for an unexpected one per cent decline in unit sales of its flagship device in the last quarter. Earlier and more frequent reports of future iPhone models brought about a “pause in purchases” and took the shine off what was otherwise a strong financial performance for Silicon Valley’s richest company.

 Having promised more austerity, Greece has reached agreement with its international lenders in a deal that unlocks fresh financial aid for the eurozone’s weakest economy. The country will now commit to about €3.6 billion of cuts and reforms to labour, pensions and state assets. (£)

Markets

Shares in the online grocery service Ocado were up 5.8% yesterday after newspapers over the weekend reported that they could tie up with Marks and Spencer when the High Street store launches its online offering.

The benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 46.11 points, or 0.64%, to 7,250.05, partly thanks to improved first-quarter profits propelling shares in BP by 1.6%.

A stronger-than-expected survey of the UK's manufacturing sector helped sterling climb back above the $1.29 mark, and by the evening the pound was up 0.27% against the dollar at $1.2922. Against the euro, the pound crept up 0.21% to 1.1848 euros.

Finals
Inspiration Healthcare Group
Osirium Technologies
Quantum Pharma
Sainsbury (J)

Interims
Imperial Brands
Sage Group
Focusrite

AGMs
BlackRock Latin American Inv Trust, Ocado Group, Standard Chartered, Secure Trust Bank, Virgin Money Holdings (UK)

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) PMI Construction

International Economic Announcements
(08:55) Unemployment Rate (GER)
(09:00) Producer Price Index (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(15:00) ISM Non-Manufacturing (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Columns of Note
Isabel Hardman outlines why elections are both an exciting and sad time for those who love Parliament and expresses her frustration for those who waste their time on the hallowed green benches.

Writing in the Guardian, Owen Jones claims that Theresa May has shown a record of broken promises and it is up to Labour to illuminate this in this election campaign. He says Jeremy Corbyn and his party must hammer home the message that the prime minister is playing party politics with the future of the country, and present an alternative and optimistic vision of what Britain can achieve.

Did you know?
Bees are the only insect that produce food eaten by man, and honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water. It is also the only food that contains "pinocembrin", an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

In dissolution. The House will next sit on Monday 19th June.

House of Lords

In prorogation. The House will next sit on Monday 19th June.

Scottish Parliament

TODAY

First Minister’s Questions

General Questions

Portfolio Questions – Education and Skills

TOMORROW

No business scheduled