30 October

@lyle_h_hill

30 October

Good morning,

The Catalan crisis looks set to deepen today after a weekend of heightened tensions and continued protests in Barcelona, following the Catalan parliament's declaration of independence late last week.

The ousted ruler, Carles Puigdemont, faces a jail sentence of 30 years if convicted by Spanish courts of the charge of rebellion. It is expected that charges will be brought today, as Spain retakes direct rule over the running of the Catalan region.

Marches and protests in Barcelona by independence supporters were countered yesterday by hundreds of thousands taking to the streets to voice their support for the government in Madrid.

Spain's constitutional court will rule in the coming days whether Catalan's declaration of independence breached the 1978 Spanish constitution. The ruling is more a formality than a debate, and will lead to new elections being held for the Catalan regional body on the 21st December.

Throughout this crisis, the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has been particularly bullish. Yesterday he backed the pro-Spain protest in Barcelona and urged “concord, peaceful coexistence and common sense, democracy and dialogue within the law”.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how Puigdemont and his supporters react today, and whether they attempt to continue to perform their day-to-day duties in spite of Spain's orders.

News

Theresa May faces calls to take tougher action on sexual harassment as two senior Conservative MPs were accused of acting inappropriately with an aide and job applicant respectively. May was accused of not doing enough by merely referring the cases to the Cabinet Office for an inquiry into the actions of Mark Garnier, the international trade minister, and Stephen Crabb, a former welfare secretary.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that Philip Hammond is "stuck between a rock and a hard place" and faces an almost impossible task at the upcoming Budget. Hammond must confront the prospect of abandoning his fiscal targets or ignoring completely the growing demand for increased spending for public services.

Kevin Spacey has apologised after a former child actor accused him of sexual harassment. Anthony Rapp said when he was 14 Spacey made a drunken sexual advance on him. Spacey has released a statement, claiming he does not remember the incident but added "if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour."

Lewis Hamilton has won his fourth Formula One world championship, following a fifth place finish at the Mexican Grand Prix yesterday. The win makes Hamilton the most successful British driver of all time, surpassing Sir Jackie Stewart.

Business & Economy

Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, has this morning announced a $3.9 billion deal to buy a French company, Advanced Accelerator Applications, that specialises in nuclear medicines used to treat tumours. Novartis believes the acquisition will strengthen its oncology businesses and make it a world leader in the field.
 
HSBC's revenue climbed more than analysts had expected in the third quarter of 2017. Revenue rose 2% to $13 billion, beating an average broker estimate of $12.7 billion. The bank said the rise was due to strong deposit income growth across the retail banking, wealth management and commercial banking divisions.
 
According to reports in the United States, President Trump is set to nominate Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reservelater this week. Powell would replace Janet Yellen, whose four year term ends in February. Powell has been on the board of the Federal Reserve since 2012 and is a former investment banker and Treasury department official.

 

Markets

The week ahead

All eyes will be on Mark Carney and the Bank of England this week. The Monetary Policy Committee is expected to raise interest rates on Thursday amid improved growth figures and increased inflation. 
 
The key figures in the Bank of England, including Governor Mark Carney, have been hinting at interest rate rises for months. The speculation has earned Carney the nickname of the "unreliable boyfriend", who hints at changes but never delivers.
 
This time, the markets have priced in an interest rate change at nearly 85%, so if Carney lives up to his nickname once again it would be something of a shock.
 
The economic reasoning for the rate rise centres around a deepening fear for the supply side of the UK economy. The Bank is raising interest rates whilst simultaneously downgrading growth forecasts. 
 
The UK’s economic growth over the last couple of years has been stimulated by using up spare capacity in employment, capacity which is running short as employment reaches a record high. Meanwhile, productivity continues to lag expectations. 
 
With this in mind, the Bank is worried about future growth, and raising interest rates may be seen as an attempt to revive the UK economy.

Finals
Artilium, Lok'n Store Group

 

AGMs
Ideagen, Mirada

UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) GFK Consumer Confidence
(06:00) Nationwide House Price Index
(09:30) Consumer Credit
(09:30) M4 Money Supply
(09:30) Mortgage Approvals

Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(10:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Consumer Confidence (EU)
(10:00) Economic Sentiment Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)
(12:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)
(12:30) Personal Income (US)
(12:30) Personal Spending (US)

 

Columns of Note

Writing in Prospect magazine, Duncan Weldon examines the anticipated Bank of England rate rise on Thursday and explains why he thinks it is more out of despair than hope for the UK economy that the Bank feels it needs to raise interest rates.

Richard Barrett, writing in The Guardian, speaks of the moral and societal issues that we will face when British citizens return home from fighting for ISIS. He argues that justice and tolerance define our resilience as a society, and we should stick to these principles when dealing with returnees from ISIS.

Did you know?

Janet Yellen, who took the helm at the Federal Reserve in January 2014, is married to Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof.

Parliamentary Highlights

TODAY
          
House of Commons
Oral questions
Communities and Local Government (including Topical Questions)

Legislation
Armed Forces (Flexible Working) Bill [HL] - 2nd reading
 
House of Lords
Oral questions
Anticipated rise in flu cases this winter - Baroness Wheeler
Support and maintenance of public parks in the UK - Baroness Jones of Whitchurch
Impact of the benefit rate freeze - Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services - Baroness Walmsley
 
Scottish Parliament
No business scheduled.


TOMORROW

House of Commons

Oral questions
Justice (including Topical Questions)

Legislation
Finance Bill - Report stage - Mel Stride

Adjournment
Awareness of Pompe disease - Nick Thomas-Symonds

House of Lords
Oral questions
Review of probation contracts - Lord Ramsbotham
Legislation to require letting agents to join a registration scheme -Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
Removing Hamas from the list of terrorist organisations, in the light of the reconciliation agreement with Fatah and reports of its willingness to hold new elections and to recognise the international frontiers of Israel - Lord Hylton

Legislation
Air Travel Organisers' Licensing Bill - 3rd reading - Lord Callanan
Financial Guidance and Claims Bill [HL] - Report stage (day 2) - Baroness Buscombe

Scottish Parliament
Ministerial Statement 
Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target Report for 2015

Scottish Government Debate
The Promotion of Walking and Cycling as Active Travel in Scotland