4 October

Ania Lewandowska

4 October

Good morning,

Scores of people have been laying flowers and lighting candles in Las Vegas, in tribute to the victims of Sunday night’s tragic events, as the city tries to come to terms with the deadliest mass shooting in US history, which killed at least 59 people and injured more than 520 others.

The police force has asked for patience while they try to understand what caused 64-year-old Stephen Paddock to open fire on concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort in a meticulously planned attack. At the same time, dozens of stories of heroism emerge from the horrifying attack.

President Donald Trump assumed a role that was all too familiar for his predecessor – consoling a distressed nation after another deadly mass shooting. However, unlike President Obama – who was and is a strong advocate of tighter restrictions on gun ownership – Trump would appear to have given himself little room for policy solutions to this issue, having pledged regularly during his election campaign to protect Americans’ right to bear arms. Indeed, the president has said that any debate about gun controls is “not for now” and kicked the issue further into the long grass by adding that the US will "be talking about gun laws as time goes by".

Needless to say, not everyone shares the president’s view that this is an issue for another day and many politicians and commentators have called once again for tighter gun controls, something our founding partner Malcolm Robertson has advocated in the past and does again in this short blog published yesterday.

However, lawmakers in the US seem resigned to the position that stricter gun legislation stands little chance under a Republican-controlled Congress and White House. And instead, some of more strident proponents of Second Amendment rights revert once again to the well-worn “don’t politicise a tragedy” line, conveniently forgetting that politics is how laws are made, and that mass shootings like this one could just be prevented by a change to the law.

News

Spain's King Felipe VI has condemned organisers of Catalonia's independence referendum for putting themselves "outside the law". Addressing the nation after days of unrest, King Felipe said the region's leaders had behaved irresponsibly and are risking the whole country's economic stability. The King made the address on the day of a massive Catalan general strike, held in protest at Spain's response to the referendum. Meanwhile, Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the autonomous region, said Catalonia will declare independence from Spain within days.

Prime Minister Theresa May will tell the Conservatives to "shape up" and "go forward together" as she closes her party’s annual conference in Manchester today. The prime minister will call for unity and use her conference speech to demand an end to internal squabbling. Addressing the main hall yesterday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it is time to "let the British lion roar" as he called for Brexit to be a moment of national renewal.

Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s energy minister, said yesterday a moratorium on fracking - the practice of extracting oil and gas from shale rock - which has been in place since the beginning of 2015, would be extended “indefinitely”. The move was welcomed by environmental groups but sparked outrage among industry organisations and the GMB union, with potential legal challenges to follow. Explaining the decision, Wheelhouse said 99 per cent of 60,500 responses to a public consultation opposed fracking. However, Ineos has warned that England will now "reap the benefits" of a "potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance” associated with the process.

Business & Economy

EU regulators are expected to order Amazon to pay Luxembourg hundreds of millions of euros in backdated taxes. The European Commission ruling wraps up a three-year long investigation into whether Amazon received an unfair advantage based on a 2003 Luxembourg tax ruling which allowed a subsidiary to pay less tax there than other companies. The move by the EC would be similar to a 13bn euros (£11.5bn) bill levied against US technology giant Apple last year for Irish back taxes.

Royal Mail workers have voted to strike following the company’s move to replace its defined benefit pension scheme, potentially threatening postal delays at Christmas. The Communications Workers Union (CWU) said 89.1 percent of its members at Royal Mail voted for the strike. The postal executive will meet later this week to determine any potential strike dates.

Yahoo, now part of Verizon Communications, confirmed yesterday that all of its three billion user accounts were affected in the August 2013 data theft – three times the number previously reported. Following an investigation involving forensic experts, the company said the information that was stolen did not include passwords in clear text, payment card data, or bank account information.

Markets

What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 continued higher yesterday, with the top share index closing up more than 29 points at 7,468.

Shares in plumbing supplies group Ferguson topped the blue-chip benchmark, after it reported rising profits and announced a £500m share buyback. The firm, formerly called Wolseley, reported an 8.6% rise in annual revenues at its ongoing businesses, with trading profit up 8.7% to £1.03bn. Ferguson shares closed up four per cent, while shares in Greggs were 1.4% higher after the High Street baker reported rising sales.

The biggest loser was insurance giant Admiral Group, which shed 2.73%. Advertising giant WPP also featured among the biggest fallers, with shares down by 2.1% percent after Morgan Stanley sold 22.5 million shares.

Shares in bottling firm Coca-Cola HBC fell 1.4%, after the company announced the death of its chief executive, Dimitris Lois. The company said Michalis Imellos, previously its finance director, would continue in the role of acting chief executive until a permanent successor could be found.

Sterling slipped to a three-week low yesterday after data showed construction sector activity tumbled in September, and as investors worried about political and economic uncertainty surrounding Britain's exit from the European Union. The pound dipped 0.25% against the dollar to $1.3242 and fell 0.46% against the euro to €1.1264.

Finals
Avacta Group plc (AVCT)
Ceres Power Holdings plc (CWR)

Trading Announcements
Avacta Group plc (AVCT)
Topps Tiles plc (TPT)

Interim Results
Tesco plc (TSCO)
Walker Greenbank plc (WGB)
AGMs
Adept Telecom Plc (ADT)
Amedeo Air Four Plus Ltd (AA4)
Goodwin plc (GDWN)

UK Economic Announcements
(01:00) BRC Shop Price Index

Int. Economic Announcements
(11:00) Retail Sales (EU)
(15:00) ISM Non-Manufacturing (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Columns of Note

Writing from Moscow, Tom Parfitt sheds light on a growing campaign of harassment and intimidation of Russia’s opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, as he prepares to take on President Putin in elections next year. The author claims in The Times, that the Kremlin is unnerved by Navalny’s rising popularity outside Moscow.

In The Daily Telegraph, Rosa Prince analyses the foreign secretary's conference speech, which was “riddled with classic Boris-isms”. While Boris Johnson carefully phrased words professing loyalty to the prime minister, he was according to Prince also keen to convey the message “he’s still got it, but, no, he’s not ready to deploy it – at least not yet”.

Did you know?

If the human sense of smell is affected, the sense of taste is also affected as the brain interprets signals from both the nose and tongue to establish taste.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons

In recess until 9th October for party conference season

House of Lords

In recess until 9th October for party conference season

Scottish Parliament

Portfolio questions: Health and Sport

Ministerial statement: Delivering Employment support for Scotland

Economy, Jobs and Fair work committee debate: Gender pay gap

TOMORROW

Scottish Parliament

General Questions

First Minister's Questions

Ministerial Statement: Scottish City Region Deals – Next Steps

Stage 1 Debate: Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill