Good afternoon,

It's a quiet start to the week following the long weekend, but I'll add a few snippets below for those releases which might be of interest. 

I hope you all had a relaxing break!



UPDATE: The FTSE is lower by 2% and the pound is up 1.4% against the dollar, after Theresa May called a snap general election for 8 June.

So in the short-term, we can look forward to a lot more uncertainty and plenty of hand-wringing over the immediate effects this will have on business confidence and of course on the consumer.

Looking to the slightly longer-term, however, it should result in an increased majority for the Conservatives. With potentially a 200-seat lead, and with no election due until long after Brexit negotiations should have completed, perhaps we'll get a little bit more macro-political stability than we expected (which is not saying much, of course).

I try to focus much more on the prospects for individual companies than I do on the economy as a whole, but I would certainly welcome GBP strength and the knock-on effect this would have on British retailers and importers. The forthcoming election should clear a path forward for a new government to settle the terms of Brexit and deliver the certainty which the currency markets crave.

Begbies Traynor (LON:BEG)

Share price: 48.5p (-3%)
No. shares: 106.7m
Market cap: £52m

Red Flag Alert Research: Q1

The long-standing threat that insolvencies might return to normal rates sounds closer than ever, according to the headline from this latest quarterly alert

Apparently, the level of "significant" financial distress is up by 26% on average, when one looks at what Begbies describes as "key supply industries" - namely, Industrial Transportation & Logistics, Wholesale, and Food & Beverage Manufacturing.

However, that does sound like a fairly limited set of industries, compared to the size of the business sector as whole.

It's true that the impact of the new National Living Wage hasn't been measured yet, and that there is some considerable uncertainty over these industries' future access to European labour.

But I don't think this report will be enough to sway too many minds on the subject of future insolvency rates. For me, I continue to suspect that it's primarily a question of interest rates and bank policies.

Ashmore (LON:ASHM)

Share price:…

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