31 July

Stuart Taylor

31 July

Good morning,
 

He may well be in the minority but one person who may be glad of Monday morning and a new week is Donald Trump, having seen seven days of turmoil in the White House end with another eventful weekend in Washington.
 
It began on Friday when the president appointed John F. Kelly to replace Reince Priebus as chief of staff, after Preibus resigned following a bitter public feud with Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director. Kelly is the first general to hold the position since Alexander M. Haig during the Nixon administration and is expected to impose discipline on what has often been a disorderly and chaotic West Wing.
 
His appointment has been praised by both Republicans and Democrats. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat Senator for Connecticut said he hoped that “we’re at a turning point now,” the extent of irony in his comment unclear.
 
And it didn’t take long for Kelly’s in-tray to start to fill. The threat of North Korea continues to grow after the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the second such missile launch this month. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has claimed the missile could hit anywhere on the US mainland, a development which prompted Trump to vow to take “all necessary measures” to protect the country from this intensifying danger, and implore China to do more to rein in the dictator.

Not one to miss an opportunity to cause further chaos, Russian president Vladimir Putin used the distraction from Pyongyang to order the United States to reduce its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 people, a move the White House has deemed to be “unjustified”. The move is in retaliation to new US sanctions approved by Congress following Russia’s alleged involvement in last year’s presidential elections.
 
And if that’s not enough on his to-do list, Kelly will also need to work on healing the rift between the president and his own party as clashes continue over the best way forward for fundamental issues such as tax and healthcare reform.
 
As he arrives for his first day today, the new employee will be doing more than just receiving his log-in details and learning where the canteen is.

 

NEWS

Philip Hammond, the chancellor, has told a French newspaper that the UK will not cut taxes and regulations after Brexit in an attempt to undercut European rivals, instead saying Britain’s social, economic and cultural model would remain “recognisably European”.

Venezuelans on Sunday largely snubbed Nicolás Maduro’s controversial election for a new all-powerful political assembly. Electoral officials said turnout was 41.5%, while the opposition coalition said 88% of voters abstained. Sunday's election was marred by violence, with widespread protests and at least 10 people killed, with opponents saying the new assembly is a power-grab, allowing Maduro to dissolve the democratically elected Congress, where the president’s opponents have a majority; rewrite the constitution; scrap future elections and draft new laws.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has vowed to end the "historic imbalance"between mental and physical health services as he announced the government’s NHS expansion plan for mental health services in England. He said 21,000 new posts would be created under the £1.3bn plan – with more trained nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, peer support workers and other mental health professionals, as well as a major initiative to retrain and retain mental health staff.

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

MUFG, Japan’s biggest bank, is expected to choose Amsterdam as the new EU base for its investment banking operations as the competition between European capitals to house financial services companies after Brexit hots up. It is believed that uncertainty over passporting rights has been integral to the decision, which could involve some of the 2,100 jobs MUFG currently employs in London moving to Amsterdam. (£)
 
HSBC has reported a 5% rise in profits in the first half of 2017, while also confirming the widely expected share buyback of up to $2 billion. The buyback is expected to be completed by the end of this year and raises the amount of total stock it has pledged to buy over the past year to $5.5 billion. The strong results posted by Europe’s biggest banks represents somewhat of a financial turnaround in the last 12 months, after last year posting a fall of 45% in pre-tax profits in the second quarter. (£)

Britain’s biggest insurer is set to look for buyers for about £10 billion-worth of its annuities business, a move which could eventually see the sale of the entire £45 billion division and the transfer of thousands of policyholders to a new provider. Prudential tentatively decided to start with a £10 billion sale, which could be split into two blocks of £5 billion. (£)

The UK's financial services regulator has ruled that the "status quo is not an option" when it comes to overdraft fees in a report into the rules governing high-cost lending. The Financial Conduct Authority has said that banks must change the way they charge customers going into the red unexpectedly. The report also said that restrictions on payday loans were having a positive effect and, therefore, pay-day loan cap rules would remain in place until at least 2020.

 

MARKETS

The week ahead
We will find out this morning if there are to be any changes to interest rates as the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee publish updated forecasts for economic growth and inflation.
 
Hawkish statements by both governor Mark Carney and chief economist Andy Haldane in recent months have heightened expectations that there might be an increase in the base rate despite last month’s vote that favoured leaving the rate unchanged.
 
The spotlight will then turn to Apple, who will publish their fiscal third-quarter results on Tuesday. In particular, attention will turn to the tech giant’s guidance for its fourth quarter amid concerns that a shortage of new OLED screen technology will cause at least one new iPhone model to fail to launch before October, meaning it falls outside the company’s financial year. 

AGMs
Aria Bioscience, Coats Group, FDM Group (Holdings), Fidessa Group, Hutchison China Meditech Ltd, Hiscox Limited (DI), Old Mutual, Senior, Trinity Mirror, XP Power Ltd. (DI)

Finals
OPG Power Ventures

 

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Consumer Credit
(09:30) M4 Money Supply
(09:30) Mortgage Approvals
 
International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(14:45) Chicago PMI (US)
(15:00) Pending Homes Sales (US)

 

COLUMNS OF NOTE

Kevin Pringle, in The Sunday Times, evaluates the danger that the UK’s potential trade deal with the US may pose to the “shining star of the Scottish economy”; the food and drink sector. He argues that any imports from the US must not undermine the reputation for quality that our food and drink products currently enjoy.

In The Guardian, William Keegan advises Jeremy Corbyn to learn some lessons from Harold Wilson and change tack on how Labour position themselves over the issue of Brexit. He says Wilson was not a Europhile but understood that staying in the EU was the most practical choice as it was less disruptive politically, economically, industrially, than to pull out.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

In 1856, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech so captivating that every single reporter forgot to take notes. There is no transcript of the speech in existence and the content could only be guessed at. The speech is known as “Lincoln’s Lost Speech”.

 

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY

House of Commons

In recess until 5th September

House of Lords

In recess until 5th September

Scottish Parliament

In recess until 5th September