TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 9th September 2014

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats – poet – 1795-1821

This whole Scottish independence saga is not only a shambles but also a very sad emotional state of disrepair. The break-up of England’s marriage to Scotland which has been in place since the Act of Union in 1707 is desperately sad. This Union has epitomised its strength and resolution. Now it could be turned to dust for purely hysterical and emotional blackmail without a scrap of economic logic.

I am flabbergasted that Westminster could not see the danger of a poorly articulated ‘No!’ argument. It was only going to let the wily, clever, politically adroit Salmond in, via the side door, allowing him to promulgate his disingenuous blather to vote ‘Yes!’ to independence!

What has happened to financial markets – the Pound and equities associated with Scotland – in the last 48 hours, should have been sufficient evidence to realise that the outside world does not cope with uncertainty. An independent Scotland would mean at least 3 years of tortuous unpleasant and visceral negotiations with Scotland and the rest of the union suffering irrevocably. Overseas trade with Scotland and the rest of the UK could be trashed beyond recognition. The last minute initiatives by Gordon Brown and the coalition to offer all but home rule to Scotland is an act of panic – also too little too late. Frustratingly PM Cameron could never take a leading role in the ‘No!’ campaign. The idea was always a non-starter in the wake of Thatcher’s legacy. I could have also predicted that Messrs Darling, much as I admire him, Murphy & Brown never had the charisma to galvanise the pro-Union vote. Whether good sense prevails is now in ‘the lap of the Gods!’ Even Paul Krugman, the celebrated economist, could not help himself in saying Scotland would be mad to decouple from the UK.

All the chat and influence on markets seems to be geopolitical rather than good old fashioned economic and corporate news! The sooner Scotland makes up its mind, the better for all concerned. Everyone can try and plan for the future. I fear the Ukraine/Russia saga will drag on for some months. Sanctions don’t seem to bother Russia for the time being and this ceasefire seems to be one-sided.

European market sulked yesterday with the FTSE easing by 20 points at 6834. It was energy and mining stocks that continued to look weak, though it was Scottish based companies – RBS, Lloyds, Standard Life, SSE and Aberdeen Asset Management – that attracted some selling or the use of market makers’ red pens, taking a total value of about £2.5 billion off their value. The Pound continued to take a good slapping – $1.6070 – down about 4 cents in the last week. This news brought hoots of laughter and derision from the misguided ‘Yes!’ campaign voters. AB Foods lost 4% yesterday despite Primark suggesting that sales could go up by 17% this year with like for like sales improving by 4.5%. In fairness AB Foods has rallied by 60% this year – so probably profit taking. Primark are off to the US to take on the likes of Urban Outfitters, Dollar General, Wal-Mart and even Abercrombie & Fitch. This is a bold move. However Primark’s fashions are attractive and cheap!

This morning Whitbread posted a decent trading statement with sales across the spectrum up 12.8% – Cots Coffee +17% – shares up 1.5%. Dixons Carphone, which joined the FTSE 100 this week, saw sales up 4% in the last quarter – shares down 0.2%. Quindell, having won it’s court action, rallied by 11% this morning. The FTSE 100 opened up 5 points this morning. RBS announced its intention of selling 29% of Citizens Bank in an IPO valuing the bank at between $12.5 billion and $14 billion. No official date has been set.

On the Street of Dreams last yesterday energy stocks such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron – both down a short 1% took the froth off the top of the DOW and S&P 500. The Dollar hit a six year high. Yahoo! added 5.6%, based on the value of its 22% stake in Alibaba. The Jack Ma road-show started yesterday. Apple lost 0.6% in value yesterday ahead of today’s announcement of the unveiling of iPhone 6 and the iWatch. Will Tim Cook, the CEO, titillate consumers’ taste buds for these new innovative toys, in the wake of Samsung’s new hardware? On the whole Asia put in rather a neutral session, with Hong Kong closed.

Later this week the following UK companies post results or trading updates – Wednesday – BARRATT DEVELOPMENT, MANCHESTER UNITED, THORNTON’S, KINGFISHER, ALLIANCE PHARMA, Thursday – ASHMORE, DUNELM, WM MORRISON, OCADO, HOME RETAIL, Friday – JD WETHERSPOON.

Today in the US BARNES & NOBLE and KRISPY KREME post interim results.

These are David Buik personal views

Twitter – @truemagic68

David Buik

Market Commentator

D +44 (0)20 7886 2775
Panmure Gordon & Co
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  1. Clive Hobbs says:

    Thank you David Buik for your regular posting of “Today’s Fayre”!
    An excellent poem to start & then as
    always topical, relevant, & to the point commentary & views

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