5 November 2018

Stuart Taylor

5 November 2018

Good morning,

“Don’t boo, vote”

It was a simple – and familiar – message from Barack Obama as the former president made a whirlwind tour of the US on the final weekend of campaigning before the country’s midterm elections.

As millions of Americans prepare to head to the polls tomorrow, the 44th president repeated his oft-repeated phrase from 2016 multiple times as he crisscrossed the country to attend rallies in Miami, Atlanta, Indiana and Illinois, scolding President Trump and the Republicans as he went. Provoking his ire was the party’s efforts to repeal Obamacare - the affordable healthcare act that has come to bear his name - and Trump’s scaremongering over a group of migrants headed toward the US-Mexico border.

Fans were treated to many of his greatest hits as he spoke of hope and change, though the man who continues to be a box office attraction also told packed audiences that America was at a “crossroads” and tomorrow “will be the most important election of our lifetimes”.

Obama’s successor in the Oval Office was also on the campaign trail, choosing to stay away from swing states in favour of rallying in states he won in 2016. Again, it was a blast from the past with supporters chanting "lock her up" as he invoked Hillary Clinton, before receiving wild applause as he praised his own record on low unemployment figures and his hard-line stance on immigration. The Washington Post has reported that President Trump is averaging 30 lies per day during the campaign.

Although there is no love lost between Obama and Trump, both will agree on one thing: this election is going to be close. The smart money is on the Democrats gaining control of the House but the Republicans, barring something quite extraordinary, will retain control of the Senate. This deadlock is likely to be the preferred outcome for Wall Street, as it would temper Trump’s radical agenda somewhat. Further tax cuts would be off the table, while an increase in infrastructure spending – long backed by the Democrats – could rise up the political agenda.

Obama found the time in his hectic schedule last night to post on Instagram to mark a decade since he was elected as the country’s first black president. On that historic night back in 2008, the president-elect told a crowd at Grant Park in his home city of Chicago that the true strength of the nation came from the “enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.” A decade on, in a country as polarised as ever, tomorrow’s ballot is an opportunity for Americans to make their claim on the interpretation of those ideals.

News

Dominic Raab will implore Theresa May to back a hardline plan over the Irish border as exit talks with Brussels are set to reach the final stage. The Brexit secretary has written to the prime minister with a proposal for Britain to have the right to pull out unilaterally from any “backstop” plan to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland with just three months’ notice, despite the EU demanding an “all-weather” guarantee. (£)

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, will today set out a long term vision of the NHS that will focus on preventing illness and boosting life expectancy. Hancock will encourage people to take more responsibility for their own health and encourage them to cut back on alcohol, sugar, salt and fat in a speech later today.

The UK government is to announce a change in the rules for those wishing to join Britain's Armed Forces as it seeks to boost recruitment. Foreign nationals living abroad will now be allowed to join the Army, Navy and Air Force after the Ministry of Defence lifted the ban that meant citizens from Commonwealth countries could only join if they had lived in the UK for five years.

Business & Economy

Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement and Italy’s deputy prime minister, has said that he believes Rome’s controversial spending plans will become “a recipe” for reviving European growth and the continent is ready to scrap austerity in favour of the deficit-busting approach of US president Donald Trump. (£)

A survey has shown that confidence among businesses has slumped to its lowest level since the financial crisis in what will be seen as a setback for the chancellor a week on from delivering his budget. The Business Confidence Monitor survey, the latest snapshot index compiled by the accountancy body for England and Wales, found that confidence among businesses is in negative territory in every region and almost every sector of industry in Britain and at its worst level since the second half of 2009. (£)

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders has found that car sales in the UK recovered slightly in October, although they were still down on a year previously. Figures show that sales fell to 153,000 units during the month, down about 3% year on year.

Markets

The week ahead

Iran is set to be hit with sanctions today as the US targets the country’s oil industry and bank transactions. The sanctions are designed to undercut Iran’s foreign earnings, weakening the rial and fuelling inflation, at a time when Tehran has launched a scheme to distribute food baskets to poor families.

The state of the high street may be clearer come Thursday afternoon following a big week in retail. Investors will be keen to hear of the financial health of fashion chain Primark when its owner, Associated British Foods, posts its full-year results on Tuesday. Furthermore, the British Retail Consortium and KPMG posts its monthly UK retail sales report for October, and Marks and Spencer announce half-year results on Wednesday. Finally, we should hear more on the progress of the merger with Asda when J Sainsbury announce results on Thursday.

The Federal Open Market Committee meet on Wednesday as it begins a two-day meeting on interest rates. Further rate increases are likely, having already raised rates three times this year and eight times in the current cycle.

Interims
Totally

AGMs
Europa Metals Ltd NPV (DI)
Murray Income Trust
NB Private Equity Partners Limited (USD)
Ncondezi Energy Limited (DI)
Verseon Corporation (DI/REG S)

Murgitroyd Group
 
UK Economic Announcements
(08:30) Halifax House Price Index
(09:30) PMI Services
 
Intl. Economic Announcements
(14:45) PMI Composite (US)
(14:45) PMI Services (US)
(15:00) ISM Non-Manufacturing (US)

Columns of Note

Kevin Pringle tackles the issue of tax in yesterday’s Sunday Times, saying that Scotland would maximise its autonomy of action were the full set of tax, spending and borrowing powers to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Pringle notes that all parties in Holyrood support the parliament north of the border controlling income tax rates and bands, so it makes no sense that the parliament should simply copy whatever originates from Westminster.

The FT’s Nick Butler writes that Sir Jeremy Heywood was a British public servant of the highest quality. In a tribute to Britain’s former cabinet secretary, who died at the weekend after a long fight against cancer, Butler says he did tremendous work in reforming and renewing the civil service and ensuring it remains a “beacon of integrity”. (£)

Did you know?

The loudest sound in recorded history was the Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883. The sound was so loud that it ruptured the eardrums of people 40 miles away, travelled around the world 4 times, and was clearly heard 3,000 miles away.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

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

General Debate
Dame Laura Cox Report on the Bullying and Harassment of House of Commons Staff

House of Lords
Oral questions
Sheffield City Region Devolution Deal - Lord Scriven

Provision of greater training and employment for ex-offenders - Lord Lee of Trafford

Implementation by the British Board of Film Classification of age-verifications to prevent children accessing pornographic websites - Baroness Benjamin

Allowing Design Engineer Construct levels 2 and 3 as project-based qualifications - Lord Redesdale

Scottish Parliament
No business scheduled

TOMORROW

House of Commons
Oral questions
HM Treasury

General debate
Centenary of the Armistice

House of Lords
Oral questions
Promoting shared ownership amongst prospective house buyers - Lord Naseby

Ensuring fewer decisions on immigration matters are reversed on appeal - Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Representations to the government of India about the continuance of manual scavenging - Lord Harries of Pentregarth

Scottish Parliament
Scottish Government Debate: Impact of the UK Government Welfare Cuts and Universal Credit on Poverty

Legislative Consent Motion: Ivory Bill – UK Legislation