7 February

@Stu7Tay

7 February

Good morning,

Unless you had hopped in Elon Musk’s space car to one of the trillion newly-discovered extragalactic planets, you are probably aware that Theresa May is fighting to keep her job as prime minister. Rising tensions and hostile clashes within her party continues to threaten her premiership.
 
As the almost daily drama for the keys of 10 Downing Street commands the headlines in Westminster, in South Africa, the scrutiny over the political future of President Zuma intensifies in the midst of his own power struggle.
  
Yesterday the country’s parliament took the unprecedented decision to postpone tomorrow’s annual state of the nation address, as frictions escalated between the beleaguered president and his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.
 
December’s election of Ramaphosa as leader of the governing African National Congress (ANC) party triggered calls for Zuma to step aside, leading to the two factions fighting for command of the leadership of both party and country.
 
Zuma’s term is not due to end until 2019 but the decision to postpone the state of the nation address for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994 will further loosen the president’s grip on power. Support for his resignation has come from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, with the organisation saying that the actions of Zuma and those around him had “betrayed” the country Mandela dreamed of and he should step down “sooner rather than later.”
 
Zuma’s eight-year tenure has been divisive to say the least. He has been plagued by allegations of corruption, with this political instability contributing to a sluggish economy characterised by an unemployment rate as high as 28%.
 
Unfortunately for the president, one event that has not been cancelled is the meeting of the ANC today, where they will decide the fate of their embattled leader. It’s expected that they will call for him to go, although I think we’re all living on another planet if we believe he’ll step down without a fight.

NEWS

The European Union wants to be have the ability to restrict the UK's access to the single market if there is a dispute after Brexit, according to a leaked document. A draft section of the UK and EU's withdrawal agreement showed that the EU wanted the power to halt "certain benefits" during the post-Brexit transition phase before the final arrangements come into force. The sanctions could see flights grounded, the suspension of single market access and trade tariffs imposed. Theresa May will chair the first of two key Brexit meetings with her senior ministers later today.
 
SpaceX, the company owned by US entrepreneur Elon Musk, successfully launched its first rocket capable of reaching the moon yesterday. The Falcon Heavy is the world’s most powerful rocket and the successful launch marks a significant step for the private space industry. (£)
 
President Trump has asked the Pentagon to organise a large military parade in Washington DC, having reportedly being impressed by a French Bastille Day parade last year. Democrats compared such displays of military power to those organised in autocratic countries. Parades of this nature are normally only reserved in the capital to mark victory in a war.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Venture investment in UK financial technology more than doubled last yearcompared to 2016, according to new data published yesterday. A report by Innovate Finance, the British fintech trade body, showed there was $1.8bn of venture capital investment last year, up more than 150% from $704m in 2016. However, global fintech investment fell 18% to $14.4bn. (£)
 
Workers in the gig economy are to be given new rights including holiday and sick pay for the first time. The UK government’s Good Work plan will incorporate the recommendation from last year’s Taylor Review into changes in conditions to reflect modern working practices.

Some of the most exclusive homes in London are selling at the biggest discounts in more than a decade, with some homes selling for as much as 10% less than the initial asking price. The prices buyers will pay and what sellers ask for in the high-end market is now greater than it was in either 2008 or 2009 according to the research company LonRes. (£)

Venture investment in UK financial technology more than doubled last yearcompared to 2016, according to new data published yesterday. A report by Innovate Finance, the British fintech trade body, showed there was $1.8bn of venture capital investment last year, up more than 150% from $704m in 2016. However, global fintech investment fell 18% to $14.4bn. (£)
 
Workers in the gig economy are to be given new rights including holiday and sick pay for the first time. The UK government’s Good Work plan will incorporate the recommendation from last year’s Taylor Review into changes in conditions to reflect modern working practices.

Some of the most exclusive homes in London are selling at the biggest discounts in more than a decade, with some homes selling for as much as 10% less than the initial asking price. The prices buyers will pay and what sellers ask for in the high-end market is now greater than it was in either 2008 or 2009 according to the research company LonRes. (£)

MARKETS

What happened yesterday?
Volatility in the US stock markets continue to have an effect on markets across the globe. The FTSE 100 closed 2.6% down on at 7,141.40 points, with £50bn wiped of the market value of the 100 leading companies. France's Cac 40 and Germany's Dax also saw losses, around 2.4%. The Eurostoxx 50, which comprises the biggest eurozone companies, lost 2.5.
 
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 4.7%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell by 5% and South Korea's Kospi index gave up 2.6%. Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 lost 3.2%.
 
The global losses follow Monday’s decline in the Dow, its biggest fall in percentage terms since August 2011. The index was down 1,175 points, or 4.6% at the end of Monday's session.

Finals
Sampo OYJ
GlaxoSmithKline
Rio Tinto
Smurfit Kappa Group
Tullow Oil

Interims
Redrow

 

AGMs
Artemis VCT
Blackrock Frontiers Investment Trust
Daily Mail and General Trust A (Non.V)
Grainger
Income & Growth VCT
Imperial Brands
Nektan (DI)

UK Economic Announcements
(08:30) Halifax House Price Index
 
International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Industrial Production (GER)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
(20:00) Consumer Credit (US)

COLUMNS OF NOTE

Writing in The TimesDaniel Finkelstein sets out why lowering the voting age to 16 is not an automatic advantage for the left and instead could work in favour of the Conservatives. Finkelstein says that while most 16 year olds would likely vote overwhelmingly for a Corbyn government if they were given the chance today, the Conservatives have a history of adapting to extensions of the franchise and sees no reason why that wouldn’t be the case again. (£)

In today's Financial Times, David Pilling says America disengagement in Africa presents an abundance of political opportunity for China. He notes that China’s influence is apparent across the continent, with investment in roads, rail, telecoms and infrastructure, as the Far East make a “commercial bet” on a continent that, though poor, contains several of the world’s fastest-growing economies. (£)

DID YOU KNOW?

Art competitions formed part of the modern Olympic Games from 1912 to 1948. Medals were awarded for works of art inspired by sport, divided into five categories: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. The juried art competitions were abandoned in 1954 because artists were considered to be professionals, while Olympic athletes were required to be amateurs.

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY 
House of Commons
 
Oral questions 
Northern Ireland
 
Prime Minister’s Question Time
 
House of Lords
 
Oral questions
Minimising the number of animals slaughtered without stunning in UK abattoirs - Lord Trees
Effectiveness of Government planning for the winter crisis in the NHS - Lord Clark of Windermere
Reducing the use of plastic and ensuring the maximum amount is recycled - Baroness Neville-Rolfe
The future relationship between the UK and the EU Customs Union. - Baroness Ludford
 
Legislation
Asset Freezing (Compensation) Bill [HL] - Third reading - Lord Empey
Nuclear Safeguards Bill – Second Reading – Lord Henley
 
Scottish Parliament
 
Portfolio Questions: Economy, Jobs and Fair Work; Finance and the Constitution
 
Scottish Government Debate: Stemming the Plastic Tide: Action to Tackle the Impact of Single-use Plastics on Land and in our Seas

TOMORROW
House of Commons

Oral questions
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (including Topical Questions)
Attorney General

House of Lords

Oral questions
Size of the prison population and conditions within prisons -  Lord Lee of Trafford

Debate
Report from the Economic Affairs Committee 'Brexit and the Labour Market' -  Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

Scottish Parliament

General Questions

First Minister's Questions

Stage 1 Debate: Islands (Scotland) Bill