Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

The long and winding roadmap

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate 
Edited by Tom Gillingham, associate partner
25 February 2021

Good morning,

The world didn’t end on 22 October 1844. For the thousands of followers of the American preacher William Miller, that day, on which they had anticipated the return of the Messiah, became the “Great Disappointment”.

Nearly 177 years clear, it’s an intriguing reminder of the risks of being too definite on dates. Covid-19 has left us all desperate for an equally clear prediction on when we might again hug a loved one or go to the pub, depending on one’s priorities.

Dates and rumours of dates have featured heavily in this week of roadmaps and roadmap responses. On Monday, the UK government set out plans to end restrictions in England by 21 June, providing strict conditions are met.

On Tuesday, the Scottish government unveiled its roadmap. Deliberately devoid of dates, it proposes only that, in two months’ time, the whole country may return to something like the restrictions of late October.

Yesterday, Scottish businesses reacted; and bafflement characterised their responses. This marks a tonal contrast to Monday’s reports of growing confidence among employers. Missed goals or new strains may make a mirage of Johnson’s June 21 target. Yet, for businesses, it appears even a provisional date is better than none.

For hospitality and tourism, the problem is acute. While foreign visitors are restricted, these businesses will need domestic tourism. Yet the Scottish government’s proposals give a potential visitor from England little confidence to plan a holiday in Scotland. 

The first minister’s strategy is, as it has long been, to pitch Nicola’s strait and narrow Boris’ wide and broad. So far, this has largely made sense. The UK government’s reluctance to impose stricter measures have too often appeared rash.

Yet vaccines seem to be shifting sentiment. For the UK government, the success of Britain’s roll-out – unparalleled among larger countries – has put the spring back in Johnson’s step. For Sturgeon, a more definitive roadmap could have served as a vote of confidence in a Scottish vaccination programme which, despite a faltering start, is showing results.

Caution is still vital. The unpredictability of this virus is why the UK government’s proposed dates remain provisional. Easing the restrictions must, as both governments recognise, be an irreversible step along the way to full recovery.

Any proposed reopening date carries the possibility of joy and the risk of disappointment. For many businesses, the Scottish government’s current roadmap offers disappointment now with only a remote possibility of joy later.

News

The UK’s first real-world study of Covid-19 immunity has found Covid-tackling antibodies in nearly nine in ten over-80s who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer jab. The study by Imperial College London also shows immunity rises significantly after a second dose of the vaccine. (£)

The UK government’s education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has announced plans to give teachers in England substantial powers to determine pupils’ vocational, GCSE and A-Level grades. School leaders have welcomed the move; however, some have also warned of grade inflation due to the lack of clear guidance on how assessments should be marked.

The US vaccinations authority, the FDA, has approved Johnson and Johnson’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine. This is the third vaccine to be approved for use in the US, fuelling speculation that the country will soon experience a surge in vaccine availability.

Business and economy

The UK government is considering a rise in the headline rate of corporation tax to 25%. Business leaders had expected a lower rise but have been largely relaxed about the proposed changes. Labour has reversed its earlier support of the policy and is now planning to align with Conservative rebels in an attempt to block the changes. (£)

The governor of the Bank of England has warned the EU not to attempt to attract the clearing of trades away from the City of London. . This, he argued at an appearance before MPs, means the EU should not be targeting the market.

Bank of England economists have told MPs not to overestimate savers’ potential to contribute to Britain’s economic recovery. Many Britons have accumulated savings during the pandemic and there are hopes these can fuel a recovery when businesses reopen. Yet Ben Broadbent, a deputy governor of the Bank of England, claimed as little as 5% of accumulated savings may go back into the economy.

Columns of note

In the Financial Times, George Parker, Chris Giles and Jim Pickard suggest next week’s budget will revitalise fiscal conservatism as a major issue in UK politics. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s plans to control the deficit with tax rises are already causing dissension among Conservative MPs. Labour MPs are also divided over whether Keir Starmer should present himself as more fiscally responsible than the government or whether he should commit to big spending. (£)

In the Guardian, Martin Kettle argues that the feud between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon represents a risk to the SNP, organisationally and electorally. The issue’s cut-through has been dampened by larger issues, particularly Covid-19. The chances of an internal split are also reduced by Salmond’s lack of support, especially among younger activists. Yet Kettle identifies Sturgeon’s carefully honed, and in his view, overstated reputation for competence as being under serious threat in this clash.

Cartoon source: Daily Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

In American markets, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ended the day up 1%, having fallen almost 1% on opening. The benchmark S&P 500 also climbed 1.1%. These reversals come on the back of support for accommodative policies from Jay Powell, US Federal Reserve chairman.

In European markets the Stoxx 600 regional index and the FTSE 100 both rose 0.5% with now preceding slump. This comparatively good performance is likely due to these markets’ relative lack of tech giants.

The UK government’s reopening plans have seen sterling hit $1.42 against the US dollar for the first time since April 2018. The pound also touched a one-year high of €1.17 against the euro.

In company news

TUI jumped 12% today and cruise operator Carnival gained 10% as holiday companies continue to rebound.

Rolls-Royce finished the day 5% higher.

Commercial property firms British Land and Land Securities were also buoyant, up 3.7% and 4% respectively.

What’s happening today?

Finals

BAE Systems
Centrica
Drax
Evraz
Grafton Group
Gran Tierra
Hikma Pharmaceuticals
Howden Joinery
Impax Asset Management
Inchcape
KAZ Minerals
Macfarlane Grp.
Menzies
Mondi
Morgan Sindall Group
National Express
Pjsc Polyus S
Serco
Romgaz S
Spectris
St James Place
Standard Chartered
Total Produce

Interims

Cap-xx
Dotdigital
Genus
Ricardo

Q4 results

Bank Of Georgia Group
Gran Tierra
Pjsc Polyus S

AGMs

GCM Resources
Shaftesbury
Virgin Money UK
Zytronic

GMs

Zytronic

Annual reports

Evraz

Final ex-dividend date

Barclays
Boot(h) Prf
Newcastle 125/8
Plus500
Sigma Capital
Tate & L.6hpf
Tharisa

Interims ex-dividend date 

Aberdeen Emic
Alumasc Group
Appreciate Grp.
Astrazeneca
Diageo
Hargreaves Serv
Home Reit
Ideagen
Jarvis Securities
Jpmorgan G
Jpmorgan I
Jpmorg.gbl.g&i
K3 Capital Gro.
Lxi Reit
Nb Global
Redrow
Riverstone Cred
Schroder Real
Seneca Glbl
Wilmington
Witan 

Interim ex-dividend payment date

Brickability
City Merch.high
Ig Group Holdings
Jpmorgan Global

Quarterly ex-dividend date

Brunner Inv.tst
Canadian Gen.
Honeywell Int.
Land Securities
Unilever

Special ex-dividend date

Plus500

Int. economic announcements

(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)
(09:00) M3 Money Supply (EU)
(10:00) Services Sentiment (EU)
(10:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)
(10:00) Economic Sentiment Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Consumer Confidence (EU)
(13:30) Durable Goods Orders (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) GDP (Preliminary) (US)
(15:00) Pending Homes Sales (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Macaroni cheese was introduced to America by Thomas Jefferson and his enslaved chef, James Hemings.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
International Trade (including topical questions)

Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House – Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg

Ministerial Statements
Education Return and Awarding Qualifications in 2021 – Gavin Williamson
Rough Sleeping Update – Robert Jenrick

Select Committee Statement
Publication of the Third Report from the Environmental Audit Committee, Growing back better: putting nature and net zero at the heart of the economic recovery – Philip Dunne

Backbench Business
Debate on the proposal for a national education route map for Schools and Colleges in response to the covid-19 outbreak – Robert Halfon, Steve Brine, Munira Wilson
General Debate on Welsh Affairs – Kevin Brennan, Stephen Crabb, Hywel Williams

Adjournment
UK alcohol duty system – Douglas Ross

Welsh Affairs Committee
Oral evidence: Railway Infrastructure in Wales

Public Accounts Committee
Oral evidence: MoD: Improving single living accommodation for service personnel          

Scottish Affairs Committee
Oral evidence: Universities and Scotland

Petitions Committee
Oral evidence: Black history and cultural diversity in the curriculum

House of Lords 

Oral questions
Various

Orders and regulations
Automatic Enrolment (Earnings Trigger and Qualifying Earnings Band) Order 2021Baroness StedmanScott

Legislation
Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Bill – committee stage and remaining stages – Lord True

Scottish Parliament 

First Minister’s Questions

Portfolio Questions
Health and Sport

Stage 1 Debate
Budget (Scotland) (No.5) Bill

Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee
Oral evidence: EU-UK trade and co-operation agreement

COVID-19 Committee
Oral evidence: Covid-19: Next steps
Ministerial statement: Covid-19

Equalities and Human Rights Committee
Oral evidence: Evidence from Equality and Human Rights Commission and Scottish Human Rights Commission

Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee
Oral evidence: Major Capital Projects
Oral evidence: Section 23 report – NHS in Scotland 2020

Social Security Committee
Oral evidence: Child Disability Payment

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email