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Breakfast Briefing: Tesla, Brexit & US Nuclear Policy

Rees-Mogg Slams Treasury

The Tory backbencher accused the Treasury of “fiddling the figures” over Brexit.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who many tip to be a future prime minister, is the head of the European Reform Group and feels that the UK Treasury is deliberately providing negative Brexit forecasts in an attempt to hinder the process of leaving the EU. The Treasury lashed back and said that Rees-Mogg’s claims were “absolute nonsense”. Rees-Mogg’s latest comment comes just after aggressive hard left protestors attempted to stop him from speaking at the University of West England. Since the summer, Rees-Mogg is increasingly viewed as a contender to succeed Theresa May, and has established himself as a leading Brexiteer.

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Apple Super Cycle Failed

Amid falling sales, the expected “super cycle” of iPhone upgrades has failed.

After releasing results on Thursday evening, the iPhone-maker’s share price fell over 4% on the back of weaker-than-expected demand for the iPhone X. Analysts have quickly proclaimed that the anticipated wave of new customers, upgrades and general buzz that the iPhone X was expected to prompt is not coming. Apple’s CFO Luca Maestri has also forecast that the average selling price for the iPhone will fall this quarter as customers struggle with the X’s $999 price point. Overall, the smartphone industry saw shipments decline year on year by a record 9% last quarter.

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Woodford’s Woes Continue

The star fund manager has been hit by a number of recent share price drops.

Since May, investors have pulled out almost a fifth of their assets from The Woodford Equity Income Fund. Total assets under management fell from £10.15bn in May to £8.2bn in December. Investors are concerned about his poor performance given the UK markets reaching all-time highs at several points throughout 2017. Woodford’s woes continued last week when Capita’s share price fell by nearly 50% on Wednesday, leading to estimated paper losses for his fund of £40m. Woodford was also burned by a similar price collapse when Provident Financial tanked last year.

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Tesla’s Australia Plan

The South Australia government wants Tesla to power 50,000 homes.

Tesla is due to soon start working with a trial set of 1,100 public homes that will be powered using the company’s 5 kilowatt solar panels and 13.5 kilowatt-hour Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries The hardware will be installed for free and will be paid for through electricity sales, according to the South Australia government. This plan, if successful, will then be rolled out to a further 24,000 properties gradually scaling up to a total of 50,000 in the next four years. The introduction of Tesla to the Australian energy market is expected to radically shake things up.

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US Shifts Nuclear Policy

The US has confirmed they will consider using nuclear weapons in the event of a non-nuclear attack.

The US has changed its policy on the use of nuclear weapons to include retaliation against ‘significant non-nuclear strategic attacks’. Given the current concerns of cyber warfare, this indicates that the US could respond with nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances. The Trump administration states that this is simply a clarification of previous policy. However, others view this as a significant change that removes the US from their leading role in non-proliferation. Jim Mattis, the US defense secretary, stated: “Our goal is to convince adversaries they have nothing to gain and everything to lose from the use of nuclear weapons.”

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