‘Brexit’ and ‘Trump’ have continued to fill news headlines with the US president elect announcing the first high-profile appointments of his administration. Meanwhile, a leaked memo from Deloitte claimed the UK government has no overall plan for Brexit. However, markets settled down this week; the FTSE 100 and S&P 500 indices rose 1% by close of trading on Thursday, while the FTSE Europe (ex-UK) index was up by 0.6%.
Trump’s top jobs
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first foreign leader to meet with the president-elect. Donald Trump indicated during the election campaign that relations with Japan were not a priority, promising to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, Abe has declared his trust and confidence in the incoming administration. This meeting followed a telephone call with President Putin, with the aim of improving ties between the US and Russia.
Trump announced two key cabinet appointments, Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff and Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. The second appointment in particular has attracted controversy due to the content of a right-wing website run by Breitbart News, of which he was executive chairman.
Keep calm and carry on
Janet Yellen testified to Congress on the economic outlook on Thursday. In essence she said it’s full steam ahead for a rate hike in December, and highlighted the potential dangers of waiting too long. Yellen also indicated her intention serve her full term as US Federal Reserve chair until January 2018. Meanwhile in the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May – while sticking to her formula that she would not provide a running commentary on Brexit – said Britain must shape a “new era of globalisation”, and would strive to forge new and dynamic trade agreements that work for the whole world.
Consumer confidence continues
Colder weather and Halloween helped the UK record its fastest annual increase in retail sales in 14 years in October. But this didn’t help Asda, the UK operation of retail giant Walmart. Asda maintained its position as the worst performer of the “Big Four” UK supermarket chains with a 5.8% decline in sales in the third quarter.
Brexit and the collapse of sterling have accentuated problems at EasyJet. This week, the budget airline announced a 28% fall in profits – its weakest performance in three years. While passenger numbers continue to rise, external shocks, including the impact on air travel of terror attacks and French air traffic control strikes, had an adverse impact.
We wanted to bring you an ‘And finally’ story with bite this week. And we stumbled across news that a group Italian archaeologists had unearthed the world’s oldest dentures in Lucca. The group, mainly made up of palaeontologists from the University of Pisa, found something that really made them smile – the world’s oldest set of falsies. Discovered in an old tomb – though there’s no word on whether any drilling was required – it’s believed that the dentures date back to somewhere between the late 14th and early 17th century so they are clearly long in the tooth. Let’s hope there are no teething problems with the fuller analysis.