31 October 2018

Adam Shaw

31 October 2018

Good morning,

Think back to 11th April 2000. Bill Clinton occupied the White House. The September 11th attacks were 18 months away and unimaginable. Facebook had not yet been founded, indeed, Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school. And, the floppy disk was a physical object in widespread use, not just an icon in the top left corner of your computer.
It was also the day that Angela Merkel became leader of the Christian Democratic Union, then the opposition party in Germany before it gained power in 2005.
With 18 years at the head of her party, and 13 as chancellor of Germany, Merkel’s longevity has been remarkable, and her leadership has been a pillar of stability at a time Europe has faced a number of challenges – the financial crash, the Eurozone crisis and the rise of populism.
By announcing that she will not seek re-election, Merkel hopes to ensure an orderly exit and give her party a chance to reinvent itself outwith her shadow. However, setting a departure date always poses problems. Although Merkel hopes to remain as chancellor until 2021, she has essentially given herself “lame duck" status, and there is speculation that she will be forced out earlier, particularly if the SPD withdraws from the governing coalition.
There is also the ambition of her potential successors to contemplate, with three figures - Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (widely considered to be Merkel’s heir and preferred candidate), Jens Spahn and Friedrich Merz – currently in the running.
What happens next will depend much on who emerges from the CDU’s December conference as the party’s next standard bearer.


President Trump has said that he plans to remove the right to citizenship for babies born on US soil to non-citizens and illegal immigrants by signing an executive order. The move marks an intensification of his anti-immigration rhetoric and would no doubt face a legal challenge due to the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which says: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Jeremy Hunt will today unveil plans to invite business leaders to become senior diplomats, reflecting the US system. In a speech to the Policy Exchange think-tank, the foreign secretary will say that he wants to open a number of UK ambassadorial roles to applicants from outside the civil service, expand the network with 12 new posts and 1,000 additional personnel, and boost language training.

Jim Mattis, the US defence secretary, and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, have called for a swift ceasefire in Yemen. Mattis has said he wants to see all sides come to the negotiating table and an end to air strikes within 30 days, whilst Pompeo has called for UN-led negotiations to resume next month. The Trump administration has previously faced criticism for its support of Saudi Arabia’s role in the conflict. 

James “Whitey” Bulger, the infamous Boston gangster, has been found dead in a US federal prison in West Virginia. A prison official said that the death is being treated as murder and the FBI has confirmed an investigation. Bulger was convicted in 2013 of 11 murders and his life inspired several films, including “The Departed” which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2007.

Business & Economy

Facebook’s value rose in after-hours trading after its third quarter figures showed increased growth, revenue and profits. Despite missing analysts’ estimates with regards to user growth, total revenue rose 33% to $13.73 billion – roughly in line with forecasts. It has been a difficult few months for the social media giant following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a major data breach and the departure of the two founders of Instagram, which Facebook now owns. As a result, shares in the company have fallen nearly 20% in the year to date. 

S&P Global Ratings has warned that a no-deal Brexit – the chances of which have increased – would result in recession and likely reduce the UK’s credit rating. The ratings agency stated that its baseline scenario continues to be a transition agreement running until 2020, followed by a free trade agreement. However, it added that the risk of the UK leaving without a deal “has increased sufficiently to become a relevant rating consideration” and this would spark a “moderate recession lasting four to five quarters”.

Mike Ashley has acquired another high street chain after buying Evans Cycles as part of a pre-pack administration deal. In a statement, the Sports Direct owners said he was “pleased to have rescued the Evans Cycles brand” but said that half of the bike retailer’s 60 stores will be forced to close.


What happened yesterday?

It was a mixed day for global equity markets. US markets made gains, with the S&P 500 up 1.57%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 1.77%, and the Nasdaq climbing 1.58%.

However, European stocks fell on the back of data showing slowing economic growth across the Eurozone during Q3. Germany’s Dax dropped 0.42% and the French CAC 40 was down 0.22%. 

In London, despite early gains, the FTSE 100 ended the day up just 0.14% at 7,035.85, assisted by a weak pound and better than anticipated earnings from BP.

The oil and gas giant climbed 2.02% after reporting that it had more than doubled its year on year third quarter earnings – far exceeding analysts’ expectations.

Online grocer Ocado also performed well, rising 4.97% after it confirmed the terms of a deal with Kroger, the US supermarket chain.

Meanwhile, this week’s budget – considered comparatively favourable for housebuilders – led to gains for Taylor Wimpey, Berkeley and Barratt, which increased 3.47%, 3.11% and 2.43% respectively.

On the currency markets, the pound was up 0.04% against both the dollar and the euro at $1.2709 and €1.1202.

Q3 Results
Gem Diamonds Ltd. (DI), GlaxoSmithKline, Next, Smurfit Kappa Group, Standard Chartered
Trading Announcements
Computacenter, Gem Diamonds Ltd. (DI), Just Group, Next, PPHE Hotel Group Ltd, River and Mercantile Group, Riverstone Energy Limited, Watkin Jones
AEW UK Long Lease Reit, Brooks Macdonald Group, Defenx, JP Morgan Global Growth & Income, Maxcyte, Pantheon International, Rainbow Rare Earths Limited NPV, VietNam Holding Ltd

VietNam Holding Ltd
UK Economic Announcements 
(00:01) GFK Consumer Confidence
International Economic Announcements
(06:00): Retail Sales (GER)
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(11:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(13:45) Chicago PMI (US)
(14:45) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Columns of Note

In The Times, author Max Hastings bemoans the resurgence of casual abuse of foreigners which has emerged since the EU referendum. He criticises the likes of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg for returning to the bluster and triumphalist rhetoric that was prevalent in the aftermath of World War II, suggesting that civility and sympathy would be more likely to lead to compromise.

Writing in The Telegraph, Maria Miller, chair of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, calls for regulation of the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to ensure greater transparency and prevent victims being silenced. She highlights that Parliament would be better placed to tackle this issue if it wasn’t itself caught up in the use of NDAs.

Did you know?

The White House requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its outside surface.

Parliamentary highlights


House of Commons
Oral Questions: Northern Ireland
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion: Banking and Post Office Services (Rural Areas and Small Communities) - Luke Graham
Debate: Continuation of the Budget Debate
Adjournment: Air pollution in relation to the A10 and Broxbourne - Mr Charles Walker
House of Lords
Oral Questions
Supporting the UK as a global green financial centre - Lord Teverson

Safety implications for consumers of the retail sale of weedkillers such as Roundup - Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

Government progress in putting together the governance of their Industrial Strategy - Lord Fox

Ensuring that where tenants share payment of rent, their individual payment histories are taken into account by credit service providers - Lord Bird

Legislation: Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - committee stage (day 2) - Baroness Williams of Trafford

Debate: Provision of new technologies, such as flash glucose monitoring systems, for Type 1 diabetes patients throughout England and Wales - Lord Morris of Aberavon
Scottish Parliament
Portfolio Questions 
Communities and Local Government
Social Security and Older People
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Debate: Concern Over the State of Scotland's Ferry Services
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Debate: Early Years
House of Commons
Oral Questions
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (including Topical Questions)
Attorney General
Business Statement: Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Andrea Leadsom
Debate: Conclusion of the Budget Debate
Adjournment: UK leaving the EU and central counterparty clearing stability - Mr Chris Leslie
House of Lords
Oral Questions
Advice for UK residents booking holidays to EU Member States after March 2019 - Lord Bruce of Bennachie

Architectural competition to design a standard prefabricated council house - Lord Thomas of Gresford

Deployment of the Royal Navy in the South China Sea and the implications for Chinese trade relations - Lord Davidson of Glen Clova

Debate: Initiatives in early intervention in children’s lives that would improve the welfare, life chances and social mobility of young people in the UK - Baroness Massey of Darwen

Short Debate: Reducing the number of problem gamblers hospitalised each year and protecting vulnerable people from gambling addiction - The Lord Bishop of St Albans

Debate: Impact on family life of reductions in welfare benefits, tax credits, housing benefits and child benefit - Lord Bassam of Brighton
Scottish Parliament

General Questions

First Minister’s Questions

Ministerial Statement: The Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target Report for 2016: Setting Scotland's Future Direction on the Low Carbon Transition
Ministerial Statement: Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route Update
Scottish Government Debate: A Place of Safety: Supporting Asylum Seekers in Scotland