1. News
February 21, 2017

French presidential candidate Macron in London; Walmart results; OBR revises up UK forecast

These three things will change the world today.

1. French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron visits London

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron will hold a speech tonight in Central Hall, Westminster, as he attempts to appeal to the UK’s French population.

Macron is considered an unusual candidate in the presidency race. His economic views are aligned right but socially he stands on the left – very different to the right-wing Francois Fillon and the National Front’s far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Recent polls in January suggested that the former banker could beat both Le Pen and Fillon in a hypothetical second round as he appeals to moderate centrists on the left and right of the political spectrum.

Currently, Macron and Fillon are tied at 20 percent in the first round, seven points behind Le Pen.

This could be why the candidate has made his way to London.

London is apparently known as France’s sixth biggest city, with around 300,000 French citizens living on this side of the Channel. Up to 3,000 voters are expected to attend Central Hall tonight to hear him speak.

2. Walmart’s results will be out later today

Supermarket giant Walmart is set to release its fourth quarter results today.

Whilst it had mixed results in the third quarter, its net revenues increased 0.7 percent year over year to $118bn. It is thought the company benefited from growth in the domestic market, which is expected to continue into the fourth quarter as well.

Investment is on the cards for Walmart as it is planning to invest more than $1bn in improving store technology and customer services. As well as this, it is currently upgrading its 4,648 US stores as well as investing heavily in its online presence to offset challenges posed by other online retailers.

The company’s earnings and cash flows will be under pressure as a result of these investments.

In addition, earnings per share for the retailer are down by 13 percent, compared to the previous year, coming to $1.29 according to the forecast of the Wall Street consensus.

3. OBR has a positive outlook on UK’s economic growth

There has been some good news for the UK economy as the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has revised up predictions for the UK economy, from 1.4 percent to 1.7 percent, according to EY Item Club.

As well, it will trim back forecasts for net borrowing by £3bn to £65bn for 2016/17. It is thought this is because there has been a bigger haul from tax receipts than expected and a stronger performance from UK GDP in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Martin Beck, senior economic adviser to EY Item Club, said:

“The OBR will paint a marginally better picture of the UK economy and public finances in the short term, but fiscal policy faces major challenges on both the revenue and spending sides in the longer term. One of the most interesting aspects will be how the OBR deals with the latest Brexit developments.”

The UK economy has managed to offset worries of a Brexit-induced slowdown as GDP grew by 0.6 percent throughout 2016.