31 January


31 January

Good morning,

“I am not a quitter.” That was the message from Theresa May in the face of growing speculation around her leadership.
Speaking to journalists during her flight to China, the prime minister said: “First and foremost I’m a servant of my country and my party. I’m not a quitter, and there is a long-term job to be done.”
The language echoed the comments she made last year when she said she would fight the next election as Conservative leader.
One interpretation of her rather repetitive speech is that she is making a conscious effort to steer clear of her predecessor's leadership errors.
Prior to the 2015 general election, David Cameron said he would not serve a third term as prime minister if his party were to remain in government. This led to speculation that he would need to stand down in 2018 in order to allow his successor time to bed in ahead of the following general election, scheduled for 2020 at the time. As a result, leadership contenders jockeyed for position, at times undermining his government.
The thing is, the decision to quit may not be May’s to make.


President Trump struck a conciliatory tone during his maiden State of the Union address last night, promising a “new American moment” and stating that “there has never been a better time to start living the American dream”. He highlighted the strong economy and repeated his proposal of a “down the middle compromise” on immigration designed to appease both Republicans and Democrats. However, the division in the chamber was clear, with Republican lawmakers offering a standing ovation whilst most Democrats sat in stony silence.
The UK government will release its Brexit impact assessments, but only after a final deal has been reached with Brussels. Calls have been made for the government paper analysing the economic impact of Brexit, which was leaked to Buzzfeed, to be made public. Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Steve Baker, a minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union, claimed the report was at a preliminary stage and not approved by ministers. Theresa May followed up by saying that MPs will receive “appropriate analysis on which to be fully informed” ahead of the parliamentary vote on the deal.


Business & Economy

Property developers will lose planning permission for unused land if they do not hit construction targets under plans to boost house building. A government review being conducted by Sir Oliver Letwin is expected to recommend “use it or lose it” planning permissions in the spring. In an interview with The Times, Sajid Javid, the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, said developers could expect a “muscular approach” from the government.
UK car production has fallen for the first time since the peak of the recession in 2009, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). In 2017, 1.67 million vehicles rolled off production lines – a 3% fall on 2016. Furthermore, the number of cars produced for the domestic market dropped by 9.8%. This was attributed to declining economic confidence, confusion over government policy on diesel and uncertainty stemming from Brexit.
A cut in the fee operators receive from banks each time an ATM is used could result in thousands of free-to-use cash machines being closed. Link, which oversees ATMs, is encouraging operators to place machines in more remote areas by reducing the interchange rate from 25p to 20p per withdrawal over four years. Link claims the move will "shift the incentive" for operators which have been clustering ATMs in city centres. However, critics, including the ATM Industry Association and Which?, have warned that the move could lead to mass closures of free-to-use machines.


What happened yesterday?
Global stocks saw sharp falls for the second consecutive day over concerns about high valuations and a sell-off across government bond markets. In addition, investors were bracing themselves for President Trump’s State of the Union address, as well as the outcome of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting on Wednesday.
Yesterday’s losses dented what has been an otherwise incredible run. The FTSE All-World Index ended the day down 0.98% but is still enjoying its best start to a year since 1987.
Here in the UK, the FTSE 100 was down 83.55 points, or 1.09%, whilst the FTSE 250 fell 1.01%.
Leading banks suffered, with Standard Chartered dropping 2.93%, Barclays down 2.84% and RBS falling 2.73%.
Unilever, publishing group Informa and Coca-Cola were amongst those to buck the trend, climbing 0.42%, 0.87% and 0.96% respectively.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the S&P 500 saw its worst day since last August, dropping 1.09%, and the largest two-day loss since May. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also suffered, shedding 1.37%.
US healthcare stocks saw their recent strong showings put into reverse with news that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase are setting up a company aimed at reducing healthcare costs for their US employees.
On the currency markets, the pound was up 0.53% against the dollar at $1.4146 and 0.38% stronger against the euro at €1.406.


Centamin (DI), Infrastrata, Low & Bonar
Angle, Best of the Best, Joules Group
Q3 Results
Wizz Air Holdings
Trading Announcements
Britvic, Flybe Group, PPHE Hotel Group Ltd, SSE
BMR Group, Britvic, CYBG, Finsbury Growth & Income Trust, Renew Holdings, Schroder UK Mid Cap Fund, Sunrise Resources, Topps Tiles, Teritary Minerals


UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) BRC Shop Price Index
(00:01) GFK Consumer Confidence
International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(09:00) Unemployment Rate (GER)
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(14:45) Chicago PMI (US)
(15:00) Pending Homes Sales (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)


Columns of Note

Writing in The Times, Daniel Finkelstein contends that a second EU referendum after any deal is struck would still result in the same outcome, and possibly a bigger winning margin for Leave. He acknowledges that the argument that the British people would reverse their decision is reasonably strong but highlights three issues that would assist Leave. Firstly, Leave would have a deal to point to and which would give a certain level of clarity. Secondly, Leave could rely on the support of the government which negotiated the deal. Last is that a second referendum would be perceived as establishment politicians not liking the original result, which would spark retaliation at the ballot box.
In the Financial Times, Martin Wolf debunks President Trump’s claim that “after years of stagnation, the United States is once again experiencing strong economic growth”. He accepts that the US economy is performing strongly but asserts that Trump has been lucky, and is simply taking credit for the continuation of a post-crisis recovery which was initiated under President Obama. Wolf also warns Trump that he may regret lauding a high stock market, which “is at no president’s beck and call”.

Did you know?

The Twitter bird’s name is Larry. This was revealed in a tweet by Ryan Sarver, formerly a product manager at Twitter, in 2012.    

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons
Oral Questions: Wales
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Opposition Day Debate - subject to be announced
House of Lords
Legislation: European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – Second Reading (day 2) - Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
Oral Questions
Strategy for reducing income inequality - Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Government objectives for the Brexit transition period - Lord Lennie
Scottish Parliament
Porfolio Questions: Communities, Social Security and Equalities
Stage 1 Debate: Budget (Scotland) (No.2) Bill
House of Commons
Oral Questions: Exiting the European Union – including Topical Questions
Backbench Business
Debate on a Motion on baby leave for Members of Parliament - Ms Harriet Harman, Mrs Maria Miller, Hannah Bardell
Debate on a Motion on hospital car parking charges - Robert Halfon, Lucy Allan, Emma Hardy, Martin Vickers
House of Lords
Oral Questions
Changes to the planned paying off of Royal Navy warships - Lord West of Spithead
Publishing the Voluntary National Review of the UK in relation to the UNs Global Goals for Sustainable Development - Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2017, England' revealing the largest number since 2010 - Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Scottish Parliament
General Questions
First Minister’s Questions
Stage 3 Proceedings: Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill