Wednesday, 31st May: We will start with UK politics today as overnight, a YouGov research poll, published in The Times has shown Theresa May and the Conservative Party have lost further ground, putting them in danger of losing the parliamentary majority when voting stations open next week. The poll showed the Tories look to take 310 seats (vs 330 currently holding), with 326 seats needed for a majority win. Labour may win 257 seats, up from 229. However the poll should be taken with a slight pinch of salt as it allows for large variations and a large margin of error. However, should a hung parliament be the conclusion from this snap election, negotiating with the rest of the EU over the UK’s Brexit deals could become quite interesting.
Jeremy Corbyn is looking to capitalise on the momentum swing by u-turning on his decision not to take part in the 7-way “leaders” debate this evening. The BBC debate is to go ahead without Theresa May, who has instead sent Amber Rudd, the current Home Secretary. The Prime Minister has refused to take part in the debate, 7 days before polling stations open, with Corbyn claiming it is “another sign of Theresa May’s weakness, not strength”.
Sterling took a blow following the publication of the latest poll, and began European trading continuing such declines. It reversed the red trend against both the euro and US dollar (more so towards the close) and at the time of writing is +0.18% @ €1.1484 and +0.75% @ $1.2905. The late surge on the foreign exchange markets weighed on London’s blue chip index as it gave up all time highs to close -0.09%, leaving the index with monthly returns of 4.39% as we enter election month.
Latest Kantar data released today has shown sales at discount retailers Aldi and Lidl have grown at their fastest rate in more than 2 years. Sales between the two discounters is up 19.2% in the 12 weeks to 21 May 2017, together combining to achieve a record market share of 12%. Further so, 62% of the UK population shopped at an Aldi or Lidl store in the 12 week period, up from 58% this time last year. To put that in to figures, an additional 1.1 million households have visited either of the stores. The Kantar data also revealed a continued rise in grocery inflation, up 2.9%, with household spending an additional £27.
Brent oil flirted with $50/bbl, falling more than 2% at the time of writing. The fall comes a week after OPEC members , and other producers, agreed to prolong a production cut through to March 2018. Although the decision was widely anticipated, investors had been hoping they would be more aggressive. Libya, who are part of OPEC is exempt from the agreement, but is ramping up its own output. Investors have remained further sceptical that these production cuts will make a dent in global crude stocks.