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DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

It never rains but it pours

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner
18 May 2021

Good morning,

They say it never rains but it pours and that’s the devastating outlook in India today.
 
Cyclone Tauktae made landfall in the state of Gujarat on the north western coast of the country yesterday. Its wind speeds have topped 130mph and it’s set to snake its way up the centre of the state.
 
Anyone with one eye on the news this week won’t need telling that India was already in the grips of a crisis. The arrival of this cyclone, and the four-metre storm surge that could follow it, have piggybacked a lethal second wave of coronavirus which has killed hundreds of thousands and overwhelmed hospitals.
 
India is suffering and this natural disaster is compounding it.
 
Before the storm hit, Indians were already taking stock of prime minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and questioning his perplexing priorities in the face of disaster.
 
Many accused him of performing a vanishing act, queried his insistence to press on with billion pound parliament renovations, and were seeking explanations as to why vaccines were sent abroad. The Guardian reports a “visceral wave of public anger” at the scale of human loss.
 
One crematorium worker in the city of Panchkula told reporters “everybody is angry… whether it is the state government or the central government everybody has failed”.
 
Indians have been left at the mercy of the virus and now they’re at the mercy of the climate too.
 
Last week, the COP26 president Alok Sharma made a speech at the foot of a wind turbine in a field outside Glasgow.
 
He confirmed the UK government’s intention to press on with holding the climate conference in person and stressed it should be as inclusive as possible, given that developing countries will bear the immediate brunt of more warming.
 
COP Glasgow has been delayed once already. As with many events, there has been a temptation to delay and delay until we can hold it exactly how we’d like to. But at times like these, we need to push on with tackling the unavoidable.
 
The terrifying situation in Gujarat should remind us all of that. Not only did they have to evacuate 150,000 people but major hospitals were forced to shift covid patients receiving critical care. There is no easy option.
 
While the huge fanfare Scots had envisioned may not be possible, the risk of being too cautious may be greater than the risk of holding COP. Rolling variants could extend this pandemic by years. True. But the pandemic will (hopefully) pass. Humanity is facing more than one problem and we need to get cracking.

News

Westminster health secretary Matt Hancock has revealed that 2,323 cases of the Indian variant have been found in 86 English council areas. As a result, the UK government has delayed its next review of social distancing rules stating that the spread of the new variant could “pose a threat” to the process of deciding whether the planned easing of restrictions can progress on 21 June.
 

President Biden has called for a ceasefire after days of heightening conflict between Israel and Gaza. The American president told Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu that the US was working with other countries on halting hostilities, and encouraged Israel to “make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians”. This is despite the US blocking a UN Security Council statement that called for an end to the violence.
 

It has been confirmed that the US Supreme Court will hear an abortion case challenging Roe vs Wade this autumn. The ruling in the case will be the first major decision on the divisive issue since Amy Coney Barrett took over Ruth Ginsburg’s seat on the court. The court has outlined that it will review whether prohibitions on early abortions are unconstitutional in the wake of a case involving a Mississippi state law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. (£)

Business and economy

Rolls-Royce is seeking £300m to develop miniature nuclear power stations which it believes will help power the UK’s “green industrial revolution”. The consortium the firm leads, UK SMR, has completed design plans for a “low cost small modular reactor” which it now intends to put before regulators. (£)
 

Bitcoin fell to a three-month low yesterday after Elon Musk’s recent remarks intensified speculation that Tesla may abandon the cryptocurrency. Musk has raised questions about his group’s investment in the digital asset, citing concerns about energy consumption. Tesla has been one of the currency’s largest corporate champions, having bought £1.5bn of the currency. (£)
 

The UK jobless rate fell slightly in March to 4.8% and the number of workers on payrolls had risen by 97,000. The new figures cover the period of lockdown, but the Office of National Statistics has said they indicate “early signs of recovery”.

Columns of note

Public health professor Devi Sridhar has warned of the risk of a third wave if restrictions are loosened too early, in her Guardian column. She argues that Boris Johnson is repeating the mistakes of last summer by leaving the borders open and states that it leaves the UK in a “precarious position”, having not yet vaccinated enough people to avoid a third wave among younger people.

Sherelle Jacobs questions in The Telegraph whether “variant caution” has become an excuse to never return to normality. She suggests that large numbers of the public are not wanting to address the economic and social damage done by the pandemic, likens lockdown to the Stanford prisoner experiment and our resulting attitude to Stockholm syndrome, before concluding that it’s time to face the mounting problems the pandemic has stored up. (£)

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed lower on Monday as investors’ fears about the spread of the Indian variant trumped positivity over the next stage of the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.15% at 7,032.85, while the FTSE 250 was down 0.55% at 22,241.14.

Sterling was in a more positive state, trading up 0.24% stronger against the dollar at $1.41. It also gained 0.16% against the euro, changing hands at €1.16.

In company news?

Rolls-Royce dropped by 4.33% after Deutsche Bank suggested that one element of its guidance for the financial year looked “a bit daunting”.

Ryanair’s shared fell by 2.37% after it reported a post-tax loss of €815m.

Precious metal firms had a more positive day with Polymetal, Centamin and Hochschild jumping by 2.94%, 3.11% and 4.73% respectively after the price of gold rose.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Assura
First Derivatives
Homeserve
Land Securities
Mckay Securities
Minds+mach
Sanderson Design
Trinity
Vodafone

Interims
Benchmark Holdings
Hyve Group
Imperial Brands
Sureserve
Tritax Euro
Watkin Jones

Q1 Results
Georgia Capital

Q2 Results
Benchmark Holdings

Trading Announcements
Dp Eurasia

AGMs
4lmprint
Accesso Tech
Burford Capital
Cairn Homes
Chaarat Gold
Chesnara
Forterra
Greggs
Kakuzi
Metro Bank
Mobeus l&g 4
Myanmar Strategic holdings
Royal Dutch Shell A
Standard Life Aberdeen
Us Solar Fund
Vivo Energy

Final Dividend Payment Date
Fidelity European Values
Merchants Trust
Phoenix Group Holdings
Savills
TP ICAP

Interim dividend payment date

Murray International 

UK economic announcements
(07:00) Unemployment Rate
(07:00) Claimant Count Rate

Int. economic announcements
(10:00) Balance of Trade (EU)
(13:30) Building Permits (US)
(13:30) Housing Starts (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The U.S. Supreme Court has its own private basketball court. It’s been nicknamed, “The Highest Court in the Land” (Source: Sporcle)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Justice

Urgent question
Enforcement of the ministerial code and publication of the register of interests 

Debate
Queen’s speech: Affordable and safe housing for all 

Adjournment
Future of the Anderson School, Chigwell 

Ministerial statement
BEIS 10 point plan, 6 months on

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Ending online right-to-work checks for UK nationals
Proportion of electricity supply to the UK provided from continental Europe
Report by the Railway Industry Association – Why Rail Electrification?
Report on the Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House 

Private Notice question
Access to cancer treatment drugs in Northern Ireland 

Statement
Recent antisemitic attacks across the UK
Covid-19 update 

Debate
Home affairs, justice and culture

Scottish Parliament 

The parliament will convene in the afternoon for the selection of the First Minister.

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