9 April 2018


9 April 2018

Good morning,

The pictures are grotesquely familiar – and utterly heartbreaking. At least 70 people, including children, have died in a suspected Sarin gas attack on the Syrian rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, with the death count expected to rise further.
It is estimated that more than 400,000 Syrians have been killed since the start of the conflict in 2011. Every death is, of course, a tragedy. However, the use of chemical weapons provokes particular anger – largely due to their indiscriminate nature.
Discovered inadvertently in 1938 by German scientists who were attempting to create stronger pesticides, Sarin usually causes death by asphyxia due to the inability to control muscles involved in breathing.
The question is: what now? A Syrian airbase has already been struck by missiles, although the US has denied launching an attack.
However, Trump has warned of a “big price to pay”. Last year, he ordered a cruise missile attack against Syria following a similar incident in Khan Sheikhoun – setting a benchmark.

Furthermore, he’s all too aware of the criticism received by Barack Obama following his inaction in 2013. Expect a strong US response.


A fall in police numbers is likely to have contributed to a rise in serious violent crime, according to a leaked Home Office document. More than 50 people have died in violent attacks in London since the start of the year, with officials saying that, although it was not the main driver, offenders may have been “encouraged” by a lack of police resources and fewer charges. Home Secretary Amber Rudd is due to launch the Serious Violence Strategy today, and rejected claims that there are not enough officers on the streets in an article for The Sunday Telegraph yesterday.
Eighty-seven million Facebook users will today find out of their details were shared with Cambridge Analytica. The social media network said that affected users would receive a detailed message on their news feed. The majority – about 70 million – are in the US and more than one million are in the UK. In addition, all 2.2 billion Facebook users will receive a “Protecting Your Information” notice with a link to see what apps they used and what information has been shared. They will then be able to shut off apps individually or remove third-party access.
Patrick Reed has won his first major title with victory at the 2018 Masters. The 27-year-old Texan shot 71 on the final round to finish on 15 under – one shot ahead of fellow American Rickie Fowler. Rory McIlroy, who had been chasing his first green jacket to complete the grand slam, finished with a tie for fifth on nine under.

Business & Economy

Deutsche Bank has removed John Cryan as chief executive and named Christian Sewing as his replacement. The move comes two years before Cryan’s contract runs out and follows a spat with chairman Paul Achleitner. Sewing had been co-head of the bank’s retail division and takes on his new role with immediate effect. 
A study from law firm Linklaters has shown that high street retailers and restaurants are being targeted by short sellers – an indicator of potential distress. The research showed that a third of the total short positions on the stock market are in the consumer sector. Debenhams, the Restaurant Group (owner of Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito), Pets at Home, Marks & Spencer, and Greene King are among the top ten most shorted companies.
Moya Greene is to step down as chief executive of Royal Mail Group, according to Sky News. Greene has been in the role for eight years and was at the helm during the organisation’s privatisation in 2013. Rico Black, who currently heads up GLS, Royal Mail’s parcel delivery arm, is being lined up as Greene’s replacement.


The week ahead
All eyes will be on Mark Zuckerberg this week. The Facebook chief executive is set to testify before Congress following allegations that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data to target voters in the 2016 US presidential election and the EU referendum in the UK. Zuckerberg will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Commerce Committee on Tuesday and the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
On the global affairs front, Theresa May is in Scandinavia to meet with her Swedish and Danish counterparts to discuss Russia, trade, and Brexit. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s presidential election takes place and North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly is holding its annual meeting.
Next weekend, Saudi Arabia is hosting an Arab League summit, with the Arab-Israeli conflict top of the agenda.
In company news, Tesco, Delta Airlines and Asos are amongst the organisations reporting results. 

Cathay International Holdings Ltd., Etalon Group GDR (Reg S), Frenkel Topping Group, Northbridge Industrial Services
Belimo Holding AG, African Battery Metals, Starcom

Columns of Note

Kevin Pringle uses his column in The Sunday Times to argue that Scotland needs to increase and diversify the goods and services it sells to the rest of the world in order to boost the economy.
Ahead of the inauguration of a new Cuban president next week, the first time a Castro has not held the post since 1976, the Financial Times’ Big Read considers Cuba’s prospects post-Castro.

Did you know?

Libraries in Los Angeles County allow children to read to pay off their late fees. Each hour that a child spends reading in the library knocks $5 off their account.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons
In recess until 16 April 2018
House of Lords
In recess until 16 April 2018

Scottish Parliament

In recess until 16 April 2018