TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Sunday, 16th November 2014

 

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rage at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

 

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

 

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Dylan Thomas – poet – 1914-1953

 

It is interesting to note that ‘KP’s’ autobiography is now selling for under 50% of the original cost. How can such an iconic player have made himself so unpopular with the bread & butter supporters of cricket?

 

 Saturday’s second autumn international at Twickenham proved to be yet another frustrating contest with England seemingly incapable of turning dominant possession in to points, losing the game by 31-28 to a decent but far from all conquering South African side. We don’t seem to have talisman. Should Ford be given an extended run? Owen Farrell kicks well, but that’s it!

 

 There have been five main issues that have dominated the financial pages and screens of the media last week – The APEC and G20 meetings, oil prices, EU growth such as it is, the Bank of England Inflation Report and the lamentably unacceptable behaviour of a few unethically greedy brain-dead jumped-up supposedly numerate twerps, who are alleged to be guilty of foreign exchange rate fixing. As these perpetrators drown in their own arrogance and hubris, I sincerely hope they reflect on the damage they have inflicted on their colleagues, who were trying to regain the trust of their clients. Gentlemen, you have done such a huge disservice to the financial sector’s reputation. If and when you feel the pain of justice for your actions, I hope you will spend a long period of incarceration at Her Majesty’s pleasure, as a deterrent to others who might contemplate the same folly! Damn you! Enough has already been expressed on this subject. Suffice to say that that every effort will be made by these 5 banks plus one supposes Barclays to claw back bonuses paid out on erroneous profits pre-exposure of rate fixing. Bonuses for this year are also likely to be distributed in full.

 

 I am less than convinced that the APEC meeting in Beijing was all that it was cracked up to be! There was plenty brouhaha about possible trade deals in the future – all highly laudable but not much cop when two of the three most powerful nations in the world are threatening to return to the ‘Cold War’ tactics of the ‘60s & ‘70s. The stand-off between Obama and Putin can only be described as dangerous, particularly with David Cameron using an over-sized wooden spoon to stir the pot of intrigue up at the G20 meeting in Australia. We know that Putin is 100% wrong over Ukraine, BUT there needs to be a conciliatory tone to get ‘Uncle Vlad’ to the negotiation table. He’s a street fighter and life is cheap in Russia. Loss of faith is unthinkable. Contrary to what many people think Putin is calling the shots and I think it is possible that many underestimate the untold damage Russia is capable of inflicting.

 

 The price of oil may have fallen 23%, but Putin controls the oil pipelines through Syria and from Iran and Iraq. Also the gas pipelines from Russia and Ukraine are also under Russian control. Before too long Putin has the ability to make life very uncomfortable for the West and particularly the EU. Along the way Russian reprisals against sanctions could be very painful. We should not expect too much from the OPEC meeting next week. OPEC controls 40% of global oil with Saudi Arabia very much in the vanguard. Having filled their boots in the first 6 months of the year Saudi Arabia will be quite happy for oil prices to fall a bit more, putting pressure on Iraq and Iran. The US is all put self-sufficient in oil – ‘I’m alright Jack!’ So this leaves the rest of the world’s energy policy and the supply of it looking decidedly vulnerable.

 

 Observers were considerably more impressed by the EU’s 3rd quarter GDP data than your scribe was. The EU grew by 0.2%, Germany by 0.1%, France surprisingly by 0.3% and Italy stared over the precipice of recession with a -0.1% decline. What worried most people was the lack of investment in the last quarter.

 

 As for the Bank of England’s quarterly Inflation report, the MPC seem to hone in on the fact that wages were growing by 1.3% on annualised basis against inflation of 1%. It’s the inflation figure of 1% that is worrying. One cannot rule out the possibility of Mark Carney having to write to the chancellor before too long as the guideline of 2% inflation begins to look unattainable for the time. Philip Aldrick in the Times on Saturday also pointed out that Governor Carney looks to be working perhaps too closely in tandem with George Osborne so near to the General Election. The BOE probably needs to be more transparent about interest rates rather than appear to change its stance like the weather. Surely there is little chance of rates increasing before August of next year. That being the case that BOE should be unambiguous about its independent views. The BOE in concert with other countries was forced to rein in its growth forecast for the year from 3.1% to 2.9%.

 

 Global indices had another decent week with the S&P 500 adding 0.38%, the FTSE 100 1.3%, European stocks circa 0.04% and Japan a ludicrously unrealistic 3.6% thanks to Abe-san’s so called stimulus packages which look no more than semantic to me. The NASDAQ only added 0.04% and the DOW actually fell by 0.08% on the week. Nymex fell to $75 a barrel with gold hovering around $1156 an ounce. Where are Japan’s infrastructure projects? Have I missed them? The US was blessed with a continued flow of acceptable interim results with 3rd Quarter GDP hovering around 3.5%. Employment data is satisfactory and retail sales grew by 0.3% last month. Wal-Mart posted great numbers and its shares rallied by 4.7% on Thursday. Nordstrom also gave a good account of itself with a 3.9% increase in sales taking its shares forward by over 2%. Virgin America had a great debut. Its IPO closed the first day’s trading with a 17% premium.

 

 Here in Old Blighty Tesco and Sainsbury had small but measurable rallies from trashed levels. Despite encouraging rhetoric from Mike Coupe the CEO who replace Justin King at Sainsbury, the sales figures for the last 13 weeks of -1.6% were not good. These juggernaut supermarkets face massive closures as the big 3 look to alter their business plans to compete with Aldi and Lidl. These German infiltrators are not going away. Rupert Soames, the CEO of Serco found himself under the cosh with another profits warning – shares fell 30% on the week. If I was a betting man, I would be happy to back Soames. Virgin Money enjoyed a satisfactory if unspectacular IPO debut with the shares closing at 283p, where they were issued, making the filthy rich Branson and Ross, who owned 90% of the company, even richer. I though Ed Miliband had more front than Blackpool Pier criticising Mike Ashley of Sports Direct’s employment conditions. In case it had escaped his notice Sports Direct employees are capable of earning a 40% bonus! Mr M, its dog eat dog out there. If you want to live by the sword you must be prepared to die by it.

 

 

US companies posting results and trading statements this week – Tuesday – MEDTRONIC, DICKS’S SPORTING GOODS, TJX, JACK-IN-THE-BOX, Wednesday – TARGET, STAGE STORES, Thursday – BEST BUY, ROSS STORES, GAP, Friday – ANN INC, FOOT LOCKER

 

 

UK companies – Monday – BODYCOTE, MITIE, MAJESTIC WINE Tuesday – EASYJET, ENTERPRISE INNS, BRITISH LAND, PRUDENTIAL, PACE, BALFOUR BEATTY, MANCHESTER UNITED, UK MAIL, SMITHS GROUP Wednesday – ROYAL MAIL, AMLIN, ICAP, CHESNARA, MELROSE, Thursday – CENTRICA, CLOSE BROS, JOHNSON MATTHEY, INVESTEC, FRENCH CONNECTION, BABCOCK INTERNATIONAL, MOTHERCARE, QINETIQ.

 

 

David Buik

Market Commentator

 

+44 (0)20 7886 2775

Panmure Gordon & Co  One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF | United Kingdom  www.panmure.com

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