TODAY’S FAYRE – Friday 20th March 2015
“A Rose, in tatters on the garden path,
Cried out to God and murmured ‘gainst His Wrath,
Because a sudden wind at twilight’s hush
Had snapped her stem alone of all the bush.
And God, Who hears both sun-dried dust and sun,
Had pity, whispering to that luckless one,
“Sister, in that thou sayest We did not well —
What voices heardst thou when thy petals fell?”
And the Rose answered, “In that evil hour
A voice said, `Father, wherefore falls the flower?
For lo, the very gossamers are still.’
And a voice answered, `Son, by Allah’s will!'”
Then softly as a rain-mist on the sward,
Came to the Rose the Answer of the Lord:
“Sister, before We smote the Dark in twain,
Ere yet the stars saw one another plain,
Time, Tide, and Space, We bound unto the task
That thou shouldst fall, and such an one should ask.”
Whereat the withered flower, all content,
Died as they die whose days are innocent;
While he who questioned why the flower fell
Caught hold of God and saved his soul from Hell.”
Rudyard Kipling – poet – 1865-1936
The Sky production, filmed in Iceland – ‘Fortitude’ – is becoming just a little too vicious even for me! I have always been up for a bit of gratuitous violence on celluloid but this stuff with bodies not only being torn to shred as well as disembowelled plus clipping off fingers should be a little too rich for most people’s blood. In passing what a wonderful actor Sir Michael Gambon is!
I suppose we could call the latest chapter in this ‘Greek Tragedy’ another ‘Groundhog’ day or another opportunity to kick the can around Le Grand Place in Brussels and down Friedrichstraße in Berlin on Monday. This whole issue is just becoming more of a joke as time marches on – an absolute charade! For a start Germany railroaded Greece in to the EU, when it wasn’t even close to making the financial criteria. Secondly, despite Syriza – the left wing party, who elected PM Alexis Tsipras – wanting no part of austerity and being sufficiently financially illiterate unable to spell ‘tax’ – a word, I hasten to add, with just one syllable, Greece seems desperate to stay within the EU. This current meeting of the EU’s good and the great this time has PMs and Presidents, rather than Finance Ministers. So meetings which lasted until 2.00am, should have resulted in more than statements of intent; not surprisingly it didn’t. It was just waffle without even a semblance of ‘meat and potatoes.’
The EU and the outside world needs to look at the facts. Greece has 11 million people with insufficient numbers employed in industry, manufacturing and commerce. Hell has a better chance of freezing over than Greece has of servicing debt of E240 million, let alone paying it back. The Greek government is currently scrubbing around to find money to pay public servants and keep the country’s infrastructure turning over!
We are all conversant with the fact that if concessions are made towards Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain will demand similar treatment. The fact remains that if the EU is keen for Greece to stay – Ladies and Gentlemen ‘SWALLOW IT!’ or organise a withdrawal (GREXIT) over a say a 3-year period in a sensible orderly and controlled manner. If 5 years Greece will thrive on a 40% devaluation of the re-introduced Drachma. I respectfully disagree with Chancellor Osborne. The financial fall out with Greece should be controllable. The writing has been on the wall for years over Greece – so if some contingency plans have not been already made by the banks, I have little sympathy. In June 2011 Greek 10-year bond yields were 20.55%. They declined steadily down to 7%+. They now stand at 11.64%. There has been ample opportunity for investors to fill their boots and get out!
It sound patronising, but dear Janet Yellen, the FED chairman! She is beginning to talk in ‘Alan Greenspan FED Talk!’ Call for the Bletchley Park Code book. So ‘Patient’ has gone from the rhetoric but she will not be impatient. Reading between the tea leaves we suspect that the current data will postpone the thought of a June hike for rates in the US. There is talk about September now. Personally if it does not happen this year it will come as no surprise to me. China, despite a re-confirmed GDP target of 7% for this year may disappoint. The EU is hanging in rags and US corporate earnings are threatening unexciting earnings. Wage inflation is key as 2% inflations like the possible zenith of achievement.
Yesterday the FTSE 100 was enjoying the remnants of Euphoria from this so-called ‘sunshine Budget’ in adding 17 points to 6962, having clipped the record of 6982 during the session! Next, after great results eased by 4% thanks to a guarded outlook. However in the last 3 years these shares have rallied by 168% and 15% in the last year – Titfer duly doffed in the direction of Lord Wolfson. European markets were in a nondescript frame of mind! The Street of Dreams, on weaker fuel, Yellen indecisiveness and a softer Dollar saw investors take some risk off the table – the DOW easier by 0.65%, the S&P 500 by 0.41%, though the NASDAQ was up 0.19%. Asian stocks were mixed this morning with the NIKKEI up 0.83% at the close and the Hang Seng down 0.94% at lunchtime.
AutoTrader’s £2.35 billion IPO debut was very successful yesterday– floated from private equity from such activists as APAX, saw a 15% premium on the first day of trading to 275p. Banco Sabadell confirmed its E1.6 billion purchase of TSB at 340p a share. Lloyds will be delighted to get shot of it. Paul Pester will be pleased to hold on to his job. However what a disappointing counterparty as a bed fellow – 4th largest bank in Spain with just E9 billion against Santander E91 billion.
UK companies posting results this week –Monday –SVG CAPITAL, PENNON, Tuesday – AG BARR, SPIRE HEALTHCARE, FAROE PETROLEUM, Wednesday – CARD FACTORY, BELLWAY, TOPPS TILES, BALFOUR BEATTY, UNITED UTILITIES, BOWLEVEN.
US companies posting interim results – Tuesday – SONIC, CHRISTOPHER & BANKS, Thursday – FRED’S