Hong Kong has a GDP bigger than many industrialised countries and is a world-class financial centre boasting a stock market with a total value of more than £2.5tn. No wonder business is showing signs of nerves after 11 weeks of street protests (you can follow a day in the life of a protester here). The consultancy Capital Economics predicts a recession in the next quarter: “Retail sales are particularly badly affected and mainland tourism has fallen,” says Capital’s Julian Evans-Pritchard. “Four per cent of Hong Kong’s GDP is from tourism and 75% of tourists are from the mainland and they’ve stopped going because of the way the protests are portrayed there. We see this continuing deep into [the third quarter] with a technical recession – the first since the global financial crisis.”
On the markets overnight, Asian shares have struggled to make headway amid uncertainty over how much further the US Federal Reserve will cut interest rates. Investors are keenly awaiting Fed chair Jerome Powell’s speech at a gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, around 1pm UK time. The pound is worth around $1.222 and €1.104 while the FTSE is headed for a higher open.
Boris Johnson’s Brexit showdown with Emmanuel Macron is on the front of several of today’s papers, including the Guardian: “Macron tells Johnson Irish backstop is indispensable”. The Telegraph’s headline is “Johnson demands fresh border plan”. The i’s splash is “Johnson encounters French resistance”. The Express carries an obscured picture of the PM, with his arms raised and fists clenched: “Brexit victory salute” it declares, saying Johnson can “rightly feel buoyant after winning over hardline Macron”.
The Sun and the Mirror both carry stories about Prince William’s “budget” holiday. “Wills gives Harry a flying lesson” is the Sun’s headline, noting the prince’s family’s budget flight after his “bruv’s private jet storm”. The Mirrorhas “Wills & Kate’s £73 hols flight”. The Mail says “Wills and Kate’s £73 flight – and a first class lesson for Harry and Meghan”, but it saves its splash for a health “breakthrough”. Its headline is “Four-in-one pill that slashes heart risk”, reporting a combination of aspirin, statins and blood pressure drugs “could stop thousands dying”.
The Times leads on “Girls close gender gap in science and tech”, as it reports on Thursday’s GCSE results in which the number of girls sitting computing exams “jumped by 14% in one year”. The FT carries a large picture of the burning Amazon, but its main story is “EU plans crackdown on use of facial recognition in public areas”.