TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 11th November 2014
For the Fallen
“With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death August and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted:
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the starts that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.”
Laurence Binyon – poet – 1869-1943
It must be some years since a Conservative Prime Minister’s speech was so poorly received by the ‘head-honchos’ of the CBI at their annual conference. I, like millions of others, were staggered at the ambivalence shown by both the CBI’s President Sir Mike Rake and Director General John Cridland towards the essential renegotiation of terms for the UK to remain in the UK, ahead of the 2017 referendum, which will only take place if a Conservative Government or Conservative coalition is returned in 2015. I accept that these august people speak for business, but they are clearly insensitive as to the concerns of small businesses and much of the country at large. Apart from concern shown by Lord Wolfson, all the other FTSE 100 CEOs would vote to a man to stay in.
However that does not mean “that’s it! We stay” – far from it. The burgeoning bureaucracy and stifling regulation that is killing off incentive for SMES to broaden their trade base with the EU, seems of no consequence to Mr Cridland, which is very disappointing. The CBI, Labour and the Lib-Dems are just scare mongering. We are not going to surrender thousands of jobs and business contracts. Punitive tariffs will not be introduced. The EU needs us for trade as much as we need them. With the UK having to accommodate the EU’s economic and financial incompetence, these EU federalists cannot possibly expect us to lie on our back and allow us to have our tummy tickled. The UK needs compromise on a hatful of issues – regulation, bureaucracy, federalism and immigration. The UK must go down to the wire to gain better terms. You can’t threaten and not go through with it. The UK is very unsettled and this problem is not going away.
Ed Miliband made a couple of intelligent comments about changing Labour’s awful policies implemented 16 years ago – really following Tory plans on apprenticeships. Apart from that Mr Miliband comes across like the Prince of Darkness; He is NOT pro-business and nor is Labour. He and they frighten the living daylights out of me and probably most but the most ardent supporters.
A few decent earnings (Dean Foods +14%), a bountiful day for Alibaba (+4.01%) ahead of Singles Day in China today and improving confidence in the US economy kept the momentum going for investors on the Street of Dreams last night, with the S&P achieving another record ‘high.’ The DOW was up 0.23%, the S&P 500 by 0.31% and the NASDAQ by 0.19%.
Through all the brouhaha and flashing lights in Beijing, which provided some fanfare for the APEC Conference in Beijing, the Chinese authorities grabbed this opportunity to introduce fresh infrastructure stimulus packages. Japan also saw the Yen take a leathering, despite improvement in its balance of payments. However the NIKKEI closed up 2%.
I will comment on Mark Carney and the Financial Stability Board’s decisions on ‘too big to fail!’ under separate cover. Singles Day in China got a cracking start if Alibaba’s sales were anything to go by. Last year Alibaba sold 150,000 packages valued at $5.75 billion. In the first hour’s trading $2 billion of sales had been recorded; so last year’s number could easily be eclipsed. Mobile sales are up 300% and that is only one third of the total sales. Singles day is probably bigger than Thanksgiving in terms of retail. Last year total Singles Day sales topped $394 billion. Alibaba’s turnover is now three times eBay and Amazon combined.
This morning, buoyed by rather a better than expected outlook from Vodafone, which saw shares up by 5%, the FTSE 100 rallied by 14 points to 6625 at 8.30am. Good to see that Aldi will be opening another 54 outlets this year increasing their presence in the UK to 1000 in five years, which will mean that another 35k people will be employed. One wonders if some of the staff may not come from Sainsbury and Tesco. We wait with bated breath to hear Sainsbury’s Mike Coupe’ revolutionary plans. Fenner, TalkTalk and BTG also posted numbers. So did Taylor Woodrow, whose efforts were impressive.
UK companies posting results and trading statements this week –Wednesday – CSR, J SAINSBURY, BURBERRY, G4S, INTERSERVE, SSE, WH SMITH, PUNCH TAVERNS, MONEYSUPERMARKET.COM (TS), TULLOW (TS), BARRATT DEVELOPMENT (TS), SIG (TS), Thursday – VEDANTA, SAB MILLER, GENEL, 3i GROUP, OPHIR ENERGY, WS ATKINS, TED BAKER, ROLLS ROYCE (TS), LSE (TS), ITV (TS), Friday – AGGREKO, PREMIER FARNELL, RESTAURANT GROUP.
US companies – Tuesday – DR HORTON, Wednesday – CISCO SYSTEMS, VALERO ENERGY, ADT CORPORATION, MACY’S, BEAZER HOMES, JC PENNEY, Thursday – WAL-MART, VIACOM, KOHL’S & NORDSTROM.