Daily briefing: Police search for bomber accomplices, China downgraded, Reagan and Thatcher RIP

Britain’s terror threat raised to ‘critical’ following Manchester Arena attack

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00

Sign up to receive FirstFT by email here

The hunt is on for clues about Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people in the English city of Manchester on Monday night. Abedi, the Manchester-born son of Libyan dissidents, appears to have had links to an area of the city which has been home to a string of extremists in recent years, many with strong Libyan connections. Fears that he may be part of a larger terror network are thought to have been behind the government’s decision to raise the country’s terror threat to “critical” — meaning security agencies have specific intelligence suggesting a further attack could be imminent. In a statement Amber Rudd, the UK home secretary, said “it seems likely, possible, that he wasn’t doing this on his own”. 

The tragedy of the attack is emerging as survivors recount the moment the bomber struck just after an Ariana Grande concert ended. So far nine victims have been named, and they include a girl as young as eight and parents waiting for their children outside the concert venue. (FT, Telegraph, BBC, Guardian)

In the news

China hits out at Moody’s
Thecountry’s finance ministry on Wednesday condemned the rating agency after it downgraded Beijing’s sovereign credit rating for the first time in almost three decades. The cut to A1 from Aa3 puts the country on par with the Czech Republic, Estonia, Israel, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Chinese officials said the agency had underestimated the government’s ability to “deepen reforms”. (FT, Bloomberg)

When Donald met Francis
Donald Trump met Pope Francis, one of his most high profile critics, at the Vatican on Wednesday. Mr Trump, who at times looked less than comfortable, presented the pontiff with a boxed set of writings by Martin Luther King. Pope Francis, who has been critical of the US president’s stance on climate change, presented Mr Trump with his 2015 encyclical on the environment. (Reuters, FT)

© Reuters

Uber drivers get refund Uber is paying tens of millions of dollars in back-payments to drivers in New York, after overcharging them over two-and-a-half years. This is the second big refund for the San Francisco-based car-booking app this year, after it made a similar back-payment to drivers in Philadelphia in March. (FT)

Trump budget blasted 
Within hours of the release of Donald Trump’s first major budget, it had come under fire for basing its outlook on questionable growth assumptions and dubious accounting. Here’s Jonathan Chait arguing the budget is “based on a $2tn math error”. Separately, revelations continued to emerge in the Russia investigation, with the former head of the CIA revealing he was concerned about the possibility that Russian intelligence services had co-opted aides to Mr Trump’s campaign. (FT, WaPo, NYMag)

The world's VC hotspot 
Asia’s tech start-ups are on track for a 132 per cent rise in venture capital funding this year, with much of the investment centred on China. Overall, global venture capital funding fell 23 per cent to $100.8bn in 2016 and Silicon Valley took the biggest hit. Funding there was down 28 per cent year on year to $24.9bn, with 21 per cent fewer deals than in 2015.(FT)

Top job at WHO filled 
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has become Africa’s first director-general of the UN health agency. He faces a daunting fundraising challenge, with a quarter of the World Health Organization’s budget potentially drying up. This week there has also been outcry over the WHO’s high travel costs, which were revealed as greater than the agency’s disease budget. (Politico, AlJazeera)

The day ahead

Fed minutes 
The Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its May 2-3 monetary policy meeting, when it decided the US economy’s slowdown was likely to be temporary and signalled that it remained on course to raise interest rates next month. Investors will be keen to hear the Fed’s balance sheet details. (FT)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

What we’re reading

California’s driverless car gold rush 
Money is flooding into autonomous car start-ups. For the sector’s evangelists, questions about business models miss the point. (FT)

Reagan and Thatcher RIP
The belief of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the benefits of free markets and free trade is being lost as they are repudiated by their supposed heirs: Donald Trump and Theresa May. (FT)

Keeping the lights on in the Middle East 
Forget militias and terrorism; the real challenge in much of the region is a lack of electricity that is crippling economies and making daily life miserable. (New Yorker) 

England's Dickensian court system Inside the exquisitely English (and wildly lucrative) world of London clerks, men and women hustle to connect solicitors and barristers and, in many ways, run the British court system. (Bloomberg)

When kings fly planes The news this month that King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has been co-piloting commercial flights for the past two decades caused bemusement around the world. It also highlights how expensive training and low wages mean that those dreaming of flying commercial planes need independent means to qualify — which helps explain the global shortage of pilots. (Economist)

Video of the day

Trump in the Middle East US President Donald Trump said changes in the Middle East presented a rare opportunity to pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and achieve what he called the “toughest deal of all”. (FT)

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.