8 Aug 2018

Stuart Taylor

8 Aug 2018

Good morning, 

School children across Scotland yesterday received exam results and, as with just about all of life’s experiences these days, social media became the natural home for the expression of pride, joy, disappointment and hope for what the grades will mean for the future.
#NoWrongPath trended on Twitter for much of the day, with thousands of users sharing their career journey to illustrate that not achieving what you hoped in exams doesn’t mean you can’t go on to fulfil your goals. Some rather amusingly observed that such sage advice was being delivered to a young audience who have long deserted the site for ‘trendier’ platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
The use of social media was also making headline news across the Atlantic. Elon Musk, the entrepreneur whose maverick behaviour has made him a familiar name to this briefing, took to Twitter to announce that he was considering taking Tesla private in a move that would value the company at $70bn, apparently responding to the report that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had taken a $2bn stake in the firm. Shares in Tesla soared following the tweet, ending the day’s trading 11% higher at $379.57.
As well as speculating what Musk’s plans might mean for the future of the company, it also raised questions about whether he had breached investor rules and if social media is a legal outlet to make market-moving statements – especially as no-one seemed to be aware of the funding he has supposedly secured.
Those trying to make sense of the intervention were directed to the Reed Hastings rule, made following a US Securities and Exchange Commission decision in 2012. Named after the Netflix CEO who wrote in a Facebook post that viewing on his company’s video-streaming service had “exceeded 1 billion hours for the first time”, the markets watchdog ruled that social media was perfectly suitable for communicating company information as long as investors are alerted and access isn’t restricted.
Nonetheless, it’s yet another intriguing example about just how ingrained social media has become in our daily lives and perhaps elevates the wider questions raised in a New York Times article earlier this week that looked at the realities of a whole generation of Chinese who have grown up with an internet absent of Twitter, Google, and Facebook, and what consequences can be expected from such a large proportion of the world population growing up with a distinctly different internet ecosystem to that of Western society.


Conservative Muslim Forum founder Lord Sheikh has called on Boris Johnson to be kicked out of the Conservative Party for his comments about the burka. The Tory peer has said Theresa May’s apology was insufficient and the former foreign secretary should have the party whip removed.
A petition that could force a by-election in a key seat in Northern Ireland and remove the current MP Ian Paisley will open later today. The DUP politician is already suspended over his failure to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. He has apologised but will face a by-election if 10% of his constituents sign the petition.

The Rail Delivery Group has said that customs areas should be set up at rail freight terminals around the UK, rather than at the mouth of the Channel tunnel, in order to avoid delays after Brexit. The group argue that creating railway customs areas (RCAs) at rail freight terminals “would avoid the need for a single border checkpoint”. (£)


Business & Economy 

An Indian cab-hailing firm has ramped up its competition with Uber after announcing plans to launch in Britain. Ola, which currently operates in 110 Indian cities, plans to begin operating in South Wales, where it has a licence, within the next month before establishing an operation in Greater Manchester soon after. (£)
Shares in Walt Disney fell last night despite sales at its studio entertainment division rising by 20% in the last quarter. Profit for the three months to June, Disney’s third quarter, increased by $0.5 billion in the comparable period last year to $2.9 billion, while revenue was boosted to $15.2 billion from $14.2 billion. However, the figures were below analyst forecasts, causing shares in the company to slide 2.4 per cent to $113.80 in after-hours trading. (£)
The US has said that further tariffs on Chinese goods will begin on 23 August, as the trade war between the world's two biggest economies shows no signs of diminishing. The top US trade body said the 25% import taxes would apply to about $16bn of annual imports.


What happened yesterday? 
An encouraging open by Wall Street gave a boost to European markets yesterday, with the FTSE 100 and 250 both ending the day higher. London’s blue-chip index ended the day 54.7 points or 0.7% ahead to 7,718.48, with the biggest riser being Standard Life. Shares in the fund manager closed nearly 5% higher, despite seeing a fall in pre-tax profits. It was instead the acceleration of a share buyback programme worth up to £1.75 billion, along with a 7.3p interim dividend that whet the appetite of investors.
On the FTSE 250, building product manufacturer Ibstock led the winners after its stock rose 5.3% to 247.2p following the news that broker Berenberg had reaffirmed its buy investment rating on the company’s stock.
Further afield, a dispute between Ankara and Washington has brought Turkish bonds and currency under severe pressure, with the lira failing to bounce back strongly from an all-time low on Monday and the country’s benchmark bond reaching an unprecedented high of more than 20%. With the central bank restrained in their attempts to stabilise the Turkish economy after Donald Trump slapped sanctions on the country in response to the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey on espionage and terrorism charges, government officials will now fly to America’s capital to try and repair relations.

Sampo OYJ
Hill & Smith Holdings
Hastings Group Holdings
Morgan Sindall Group
Mereo Biopharma Group
Paddy Power Betfair
Share plc
Societatea Nationala De Gaze Naturale Romgaz S.A. GDR (Reg S)
Spirax-Sarco Engineering
Secure Trust Bank
Stock Spirits Group
TI Fluid Systems

Bushveld Minerals Limited
Puma Vct 11
Puma VCT 12
Puma VCT 9
TechFinancials (DI)
Tongaat-Hulett Ltd.
Majestic Wine
Int. Economic Announcements
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Columns of Note 

Writing in the FT, Gu Bin argues that the Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure project that encompasses 65 economies across Asia, Africa and Europe, will herald a new world order with China at its core. Although critics argue that China’s aim from the project is to build an alliance of beneficiary countries to confront the west, Bin says the opposite is true and the country wants to develop a new world order through by achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration. (£)
Writing in The Guardian, Afua Hirsch says that US sanctions on Iran have no justification and are morally wrong. Hirsch goes on to predict that the action will fail and only serve to bring suffering to innocent people.


Did you know?

Using a programme that tracked news, a Cambridge computer scientist calculated that 11 April 1954 was the “most boring day in history”. Events that took place on that date included a general election in Belgium and the birth of a Turkish academic.

Parliamentary highlights 

House of Commons
In recess until 4 September 2018
House of Lords
In recess until 4 September 2018
Scottish Parliament
In recess until 4 September 2018