Charlotte Street Partners

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DAILY BRIEFING

Best shipping news Ever Given

Written by Javier Maquieira, senior associate 
Edited by Iain Gibson, associate partner
30 March 2021

Good morning,

It’s moving, at last. After what has felt like a week-long re-run of Free Willy, efforts to refloat the Ever Given cargo ship stuck across the mud and sand of the Suez Canal finally bore fruit yesterday.
 
The 400m-long, 200,000-tonne vessel was blocking one of the world’s busiest trade routes after it had run aground last Tuesday, leaving more than 360 ships with a vast range of goods from Ikea furnishings to tens of thousands of livestock stranded.
 
The operation to free the Ever Given has been of biblical proportions, despite what images of a seemingly solitary (and now world-famous) digger might suggest. And with good reason.
 
According to data from Lloyd’s List, an estimated $9.6bn (£7bn) of goods was being held up each day as a result of the blockage. It was disrupting not just the global shipping industry and the Egyptian economy, but also supply chains around the world at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has placed additional pressure on the availability of containers.
 
The good news is that the worst-case scenario – that of weeks of blockage – hasn’t materialised in the end. Among other concerns, such as having to divert cargo ships around the southern tip of Africa, businesses worried they would have to pay for new orders to be sent over air freight, which is far more costly.
 
Interestingly, some have seen in the Suez Canal incident an opportunity to accelerate the global shift away from single-supplier and just-in-time dependence to just-in-case supply chains; a model that allows companies to avoid being caught short by delays, by maintaining much higher levels of inventory to rely on.
 
Although disruptions could take weeks or months to unravel, news of the breakthrough was welcomed by a sigh of relief from traders, as the fall in oil prices on Monday signalled the pressure on global supply chains is set to ease.
 
It is those who aren’t quite ready to let go of all the Ever Given memes just yet that my heart goes out to. Take it from them: there’s always a reason to laugh.

News

Boris Johnson has urged caution as Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed in England, where people can now meet outdoors under the rule of six or two households. The prime minister said at a Downing Street news conference yesterday that it was unclear how “robust” the vaccine programme would prove against a new wave in infections in the UK. He added that “there will be more infections, and unavoidably more hospitalisations and sadly more deaths” as lockdown is further eased.
 
Prosecutors accused former police officer Derek Chauvin of killing a defenceless George Floyd at the opening yesterday of a murder trial seen by many as a pivotal moment in US race relations. Chauvin has denied charges of second- and third-degree murder, and manslaughter, which carry sentences of up to 40 years in prison. Three other officers present will go on trial later in the year.
 
David Cameron is facing a probe by the Committee on Standards in Public Life over his links to Lex Greensill, the Australian financier who was given an unpaid but influential role at the UK government years before hiring the former prime minister as an adviser. The standards watchdog said on Monday that it would consider submissions made by the opposition Labour party, which may be included in a review by the committee into standards in public life due to report in the autumn. (£)

Business and economy

The prime minister has announced a deal with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to “fill and finish” 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine at the pharmaceutical company’s facility in Barnard Castle, County Durham, from as early as May. Part of the jab, which has yet to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, is already being manufactured in the North East, at a Fujifilm site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.
 
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has banned disposable gloves made by Top Glove after it found the Malaysian company uses forced labour in its production. In response to the ban, Top Glove, which is the world’s largest producer of latex gloves, said it has taken extensive actions to improve its labour practices.
 
The Biden administration has threatened to impose 25% tariffs on British exports to the US, including clothing and footwear, ceramics, beauty products, and furniture, after the UK levied a digital services tax on big tech firms. A UK trade department spokesperson defended the new digital services tax as “reasonable, proportionate and non-discriminatory” and added Britain “would consider all options to defend UK interests and industry” if the US decided to go ahead with the retaliation.

Columns of note

Writing in the Financial Times, Sarah O’Connor argues that the huge improvements in life expectancy experienced in the past century shouldn’t necessarily lead to an increase in the retirement age, especially as health inequalities affecting low-paid workers risk getting worse. O’Connor concludes that unless we tackle growing inequality, growing older will be harder to bear. (£)
 
Michael Hayman writes in City AM that climate change needs to be restated not only as a societal and ecological challenge, but also as the commercial opportunity of our lifetime. For this to happen, capital needs to be deployed on a previously unimaginable scale to drive huge levels of research, development, and deployment. If COP26 is to be remembered, argues Hayman, the franchise has to extend well beyond big government and big corporations.

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed slightly weaker on Monday. The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.07% at 6,376.17 while sterling was stronger against both the dollar by 0.03% at $1.38 and the euro by 0.15% at €1.17.
 
In the US, the S&P 500 index fell 0.1% on the day, while the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.6%.
 
In company news:
 
Renishaw rose 4.17% after Bloomberg reported late on Friday that the engineer was attracting initial interest from Swedish rival Hexagon AB and US medical equipment maker Danaher.
 
AJ Bell was up 1.71% after the financial services platform lifted full-year revenue guidance as it continued to see growing customer numbers in the first half of the year.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Animalcare Grp
Barr (A.G.)
Central Asia
Chesnara
Dialight
Ekf Diagnostics
Itaconix Plc
Loopup Group
Michelmersh Brick
REI
S & U
Silence Ther.
Yu Group

Interims
Nanoco

AGMs
Keras Res
Mediazest
Polar Cap Gbl
Power Metal  
Pressure Tech
Toople Plc

UK economic announcements
(09:30) Mortgage Approvals
(09:30) M4 Money Supply
(09:30) Consumer Credit

Int. economic announcements
(10:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Consumer Confidence (EU)
(10:00) Economic Sentiment Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Services Sentiment (EU)
(10:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)
(14:00) House Price Index (US)
(15:00) Consumer Confidence (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as New Holland. (source: @8fact)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess and will next sit on 13 April

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess and will next sit on 12 April

Scottish Parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess ahead of the Scottish parliament election on 6 May

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