9 August

Ania Lewandowska

9 August

Good morning,

US president Donald Trump has warned that threats from North Korea "will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”. His comments came hours after a Washington Post report, citing US intelligence officials, said Pyongyang has successfully created a miniaturised nuclear weapon designed to fit inside its missiles.

Trump didn’t have to wait long for North Korea to respond; around an hour later, state-run media said the country is considering plans to strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam.

The exchanges reflect the sharp rise in the use of military rhetoric between the two countries. If the reports of North Korea’s nuclear warhead success are confirmed, it would mean the state is developing nuclear weapons at a much faster rate than previously thought.

While the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program is alarming, this is a regime noted for its bombastic threats - analysts warned that Trump’s language may inflame the already unsettling situation.

Meanwhile in South Africa, the president, Jacob Zuma, is still in power after narrowly surviving the latest attempt in parliament to remove him from office yesterday. The vote of no confidence was the eighth for Zuma, and the most serious attempt yet to unseat him after months of growing anger over alleged corruption, cronyism and a sinking economy.

Zuma’s scandal-prone presidency has survived this battle but he is still fighting for his political future. The fact that a number of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) MPs have either voted in favour of the motion or abstained, means he no longer enjoys the full support of a significant number of members of his own party. Indeed, ANC politicians are already looking to a future without Zuma - whose term ends in 2019 - as the party prepares to meet in December to choose his successor.

News

Provisional results from Kenya’s presidential election indicating that Uhuru Kenyatta was set to win re-election were rejected as “fake” and “illegal” by his main challenger Raila Odinga. With results from 80 per cent of the 41,000 polling stations declared, the electoral commission said Kenyatta was leading Odinga by 54.9 per cent to 44.3 per cent. Kenya's last election in 2013 was mainly peaceful, but many fear a repeat of the violence that followed the disputed 2007 election when more than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced.

French President Emmanuel Macron is to abandon plans to create an official role of first lady for his wife Brigitte. French media report that Brigitte Macron's position will be clarified in the coming days, but that the constitution will not be altered, after an online petition against the role gained almost 290,000 signatures.

The NHS is set to see the "biggest ever" expansion to the NHS medical workforce in England after health officials confirmed plans to increase training positions.
Following a consultation, the Department of Health has confirmed that an extra 1,500 doctors a year will be trained by 2020 - boosting the current number of 6,000 by 25%.

Rhinestone Cowboy singer Glen Campbell has died at the age of 81 after "a long and courageous battle" with Alzheimer's disease. The legendary guitarist announced his diagnosis in 2011. A self-taught prodigy, he rose from a poor rural childhood to release over 70 albums and sell 45 million records.

Business & Economy

Sky is set to retain the rights to the Football League in a blockbuster bidding battle with BT that has seen the price nearly double to £180m a season. The Guardian reports that the Football League is understood to have entered into exclusive talks with Sky for the live rights, in a three to five-year deal worth between £500m and £900m.

The Bank of England said a transition period after Britain leaves the European Union would give banks more time to make orderly changes to avoid risking financial stability. With the UK due to leave the bloc in March 2019, the BoE's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) said it faces heavy demands from Brexit fallout on banks and insurers.

Official figures have revealed that pensioners’ incomes have nearly tripled in real terms, rising much faster than the incomes of working people. The average gross income for a pensioner household soared to £29,000 in 2016 from £10,500 in 1977, after the figure was adjusted for inflation, according to the Office for National Statistics. Over the same period the gross income for working households doubled from £20,200 to £41,900.

Markets

What happened yesterday?
After briefly hitting an all-time high, the FTSE 100 closed up 10.79 points or 0.14% higher at 7,542.73, just five points short of the record close the index attained in May of 7,547.63.

Paddy Power Betfair was the biggest mover, down 4.1%, after the bookmaker said it had suffered from "adverse sports results" in recent months.

Another big faller was Intercontinental Hotels Group, which shed four per cent after it reported a slowdown in revenue growth.

Shares in Standard Life dipped 0.3% after it revealed its flagship GARS (Global Absolute Return Strategies) range of funds had seen net outflows of £5.6bn in the first half of the year. However, the company reported a 6% rise in operating profits to £362m and said its merger with Aberdeen Asset Management was on track to complete on 14 August.

In the FTSE 250, Pets at Home shares jumped 5.7% after it reported a 5% rise in first-quarter revenues, helped by strong demand for its veterinary and pet grooming services.

On the currency markets, the pound fell 0.38% against the dollar to $1.2967 and was flat against the euro at 1.1044 euros.

Interims
G4S Plc (GFS)
Hastings Group Holdings plc (HSTG)
Interserve plc (IRV)
Legal & General Group plc (LGEN)
Princess Private Equity Holdings (PEY)
Riverstone Energy Ltd (RSE)
Share plc (SHRE)
Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc (SPX)
Stock Spirits Group plc (STCK)

Trading Announcements
Quantum Pharma plc (QP.)
International Economic Announcements
12:00 MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
15:00 Wholesales Inventories (US)
15:30 Crude Oil Inventories (US)

AGMs
Majestic Wine PLC (WINE)
Mountview Estates plc (MTVW)
Zamano Plc (ZMNO)

Columns of Note

Writing in The Guardian, Anne Perkins examines Emmanuel Macron’s intention to give his wife, Brigitte a formal recognition as France’s first lady. Macron promised during the election campaign he would create the office of first lady, to bring transparency to a role, but since an online petition against the move and Macron’s decreasing ratings caused him to backtrack on the promise. However, the author insists Macron was trying to do something important and “if voters want politics to be about character, the partner can’t be silent”.

In The Times, Paul Goodman suggests that Ruth Davidson and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s popularity means conservative voters are ready for something new and lost patience with the old order. Goodman, the editor of ConservativeHome, examines the recent general election result and concludes grass roots “the decision the Conservatives must make is not so much one of political strategy as of ideas”.

Did you know?

On this day in 1974, Richard Nixon resigned as President of the United States of America while facing impeachment and the almost certain removal from office due to the Watergate Scandal.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons
In recess until 5th September

House of Lords
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Scottish Parliament
In recess until 5th September