Good morning,

‘Britcoin’ could be coming to a virtual wallet near you in the next few years, as Rishi Sunak has set up a working group between the Treasury and the Bank of England to look into the viability of a digital Pound.  The technology could improve payment speed and efficiency and may also provide a platform for future innovations – though given that for a UK consumer making and receiving a payment is pretty straight forward, we’re not too sure what they could do that would be a quantum leap forward, however fraud prevention springs to mind as an area where this could improve things.  The UK is now one of at least 50 banks researching digitizing their currency and China is leading the way.  The Telegraph has the story.

Boris Johnson is set to announce even more ambitious climate change goals, with a decrease in carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, up from the original pledge of 68% by 2030.  Five more years for ten more percent may not sound too ambitious, but in order to do this he’s going to have to include aviation and shipping industries in his plans as well as throwing even more money at the problem.  The money is the sticking point, as it’s not yet clear what the treasury is going to do in terms of funding the massive amount of investment that this pledge would take to hit and this is where there’s a bit of skepticism, because what’s the point in having a target you’re not going to work hard to hit?  What this may well do is spur other governments to increase their own targets though, which would be no bad thing.  The Guardian has more.

The government has intervened in the takeover of UK microchip specialist ARM Holdings by the US company Nvidia and will review the transaction before deciding whether to give its approval, on national security grounds.  There is a small irony that a US company is being blocked from making such a purchase, given how tough their stance has been on protecting their own national security and barring foreign businesses from certain technologies.  The BBC has more.

Early reports of retail activity are proving promising, with a stronger than expected rebound following the first week of lockdown easing.  Sales were still lower than the same week in 20019, but have bounced back far more quickly than they had done following previous lockdowns and analysts are expecting the gap between the current situation and the pre-pandemic norms to narrow over the next few weeks, particularly once indoor hospitality comes back online.  The FT has the story.

Across the Pond:  America are set to increase the countries on their do not travel list which will take it to covering 80% of the world. Currently there’s only a ‘level 4’ do not travel to 34 countries, so to get this to 80% implies adding 130 countries to the list! By comparison, the UK currently has 40 countries on the ‘red list’ and is adding India to the list from Friday.

In Germany:  Armin Laschet has taken the party nomination to stand in place of Angela Merkel on behalf of the CDU and CSU parties at the election later this year.  The contest was between Mr Lasecht, who leads the CDU and governs Germany’s most populous region, North Rhine Westphalia, and Markus Söder who leads the CSU and governs Bavaria.  Mr Söder has so far refused to concede and though he hasn’t got the nominations sees himself as the more popular choice amongst the people and therefore the one more likely to win the election – and he may have a point.

Yesterday’s mild risk-off tone looks like it’s continuing as we get going with today.  The data calendar is reasonably limited, having seen UK unemployment numbers come and go – headline unemployment fell to 4.9% in December to February, but given we were under lockdown and furlough had helped soak up significant impacts, the market wasn’t really looking at it – so we’re left with sentiment driven trading and any geo-political commentaries that might move markets – failing that, trading desks will have more time to debate the pros and cons of the European Super League!

Be well.

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