TODAY’S FAYRE – 7th January 2014

TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 7th January 2014

“The schoolboys still their morning ramble take
To neighbouring village school with playing speed,
Loitering with pastime’s leisure till they quake,
Oft looking up the wild-geese droves to heed,
Watching the letters which their journeys make;
Or plucking haws on which their fieldfares feed,
And hips and sloes; and on each shallow lake
Making glib slides, where they like shadows go
Till some fresh pastimes in their minds awake.
Then off they start anew and hasty blow
Their numbed and clumpsing fingers till they glow;
Then races with their shadows wildly run
That stride huge giants o’er the shining snow
In the pale splendour of the winter sun.”

John Clare –poet – 1793-1864

I feel sorry for those British cricket hacks who write books on these tours to supplement their incomes! I hope that they have decent Australian literary agents, as they will hardly sell a copy back here in Old Blighty! I am still reeling at the manner of England’s total capitulation. Come the merry month of May let’s hope the smell of freshly cut grass on that hallowed turf of Lord’s sees a return of form to cricketing normality against Sri Lanka! Will Paul Downton seems to have re-endorsed Andy Flowers as coach and Alistair Cook as captain to rejuvenate and re-vitalise this forlorn outfit, which superficially still has plenty of talent.

How do you re-select a captain that has failed to rally his team throughout a 5-0 series drubbing? I must confess that I would be inclined to select a real leader as captain. Kent’s Robert Key could do the job!

Ever since the first “The Wire” series and the TV drama “Luther” I have been a very committed acolyte of Idris Elba. The quality of Elba’s acting and his incredible versatility was confirmed in his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in the film “Mandela – The Long Walk to Freedom.” Elba’s performance was very special. He mastered his voice, the way he walked and his general demeanour perfectly. The only characteristic that was missing in this 2.5 hour marathon, which did not drag for one minute, was the humour and the ‘twinkle in his eye’ that never deserted Mandela, despite years of unacceptable treatment during his incarceration.

Yesterday the US ISM non-manufacturing index fell to a six-month low of 53 from 53.9 in November, resulting in the three main indices on the Street of Dreams closing down by an average of 0.3%, with derisory levels of trading. The rather dull neutral mood was not helped by China imposing new controls on the multi-trillion-dollar shadow-banking industry, with an order that targets off-the-books loans and shores up enforcement of current rules. The rules included a ban on transactions designed to avoid regulations, such as moving interbank loans off balance sheets to reduce reported levels of lending.

If the truth be told only Janet Yellen’s confirmation to succeed Ben Bernanke as FED chairman on 1st February and Friday’s forthcoming Non-Farm Payrolls were the only major issues to interest market protagonists. Last night the Senate confirmed Yellen’s appointment by 56 to 26 votes and the Payroll number is expected to see 190k jobs created in December. The 4th quarter earnings season does not really come ‘under a wet sail’ until next week, with many of the banks stepping up to the plate. With all the adverse publicity and fines that JP Morgan has attracted in recent months, Jamie Dimon’s team will be pleased to get these out of the way next Tuesday. Boeing still remains the largest plane maker in the world with Airbus snapping at its heals.

London enjoyed rather a sluggish start to the week’s trading, with the FTSE 100 closing flat on the day. Mining stocks were on the whole lower in response to China’s rather soft economic outlook. The media and the public spent much of the day disseminating and squabbling over the Chancellor’s predictable announcement that another £25 billion must be cut from the debt and that welfare would feel much of the pain, with cuts of £12.5 billion needing to be found from its budget. In the grand scheme of the UK’s balance sheets, this is a peanut amount. However Labour and the ‘Mickey-Mouse’ Lib-Dems enjoyed making great negative capital, despite both parties knowing further cuts have to be made and having no credible alternative ideas. The mansion tax would raise pennies and would be very expensive to implement – in fact it would be a thoroughly counterproductive exercise. What is very sad is the fact that virtually the only certain outcome at the next election is that Nick Clegg will remain DPM and the Lib-Dems will wield a ludicrously disproportionate amount of power – madness!

There were plenty of nuggets of information which was brought to the street’s attention. The Co-op’s executives face a watch dog probe through the FCA and the PRA. I am confident that Lord Myners will prove an excellent non-executive director. The public still want to know why Coop Bank bid for the 630 Lloyds branches was tabled, when clearly they could not afford it. How did this get through?

UK PMI for last month was extremely buoyant at 58.8 – great news for the government; eat your heart out M Hollande! France’s came in at a miserable 47.3! It was also interesting to note that Spain’s unemployment came down by 110kk last month, but over 4 million remain on the dole! EU bank lending has not picked up despite the economy estimated to have grown by 0.9% in the last quarter. Lending increased by 1.6% against estimations of 3.8%. Phil Bentley, having left BG Group has found gainful employment as CEO of C&W Communications. Dunelm posted a reasonable trading statement, but the shares fell by 2% and easyJet’s saw revenues up by 3.5% in the last trading period from 4.5 million passengers with the load factor at an acceptable 87.5% – shares up 0.7%.

Panmure’s Barrie Cornes recommended RSA as a buy when the shares hit 82p on break-up value or a possible – maybe around 134p. The shares rallied by 7.2% on Friday to 98p. It seems apparent that RSA needs more capital. This can be achieved by either having a rights issue, selling re-insurance or selling its Scandinavian and Canadian operations.

Samsung’s 4th quarter earnings were short of expectations – Won 8.6 billion against estimates of Won 10 billion.

These are David Buik’s personal views

Twitter – @truemagic68

David Buik

Market Commentator

D +44 (0)20 7886 2775
Panmure Gordon & Co
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