In so many ways equity activity was predictable today! Uncertainty triggered by Central bank vacillation and prevarication, concern about Chinese economic data, stock valuations and oil prices – what a toxic cocktail. So once Asian markets followed New York in taking their pound of flesh out of the proceedings, punters basically were left with no alternative but to say ‘YOURS!’ So at the death the FTSE 100 was down 71 points at 6157. Oils were flat for much of the day, but as the price of crude eased, so did stock values – down an average of 1.5% with BP down 2%. Mining stocks had to take it on the chin again as their flags were lowered by between 3.5% and 4%. Drugs were up 0.5% with Astra Zeneca the strongest performer. Banks were friendless in the ring with HSBC, Lloyds and Standard Chartered down an average of 2%.
It was a big day for retail. Why so many would want to report on the same day escapes me. Dunelm did well with their numbers but they have had a run on the rails so they eased by 0.5%. Home Retail is struggling to keep up with the pace – -3%. Wm Morrison failed to impress shareholders for reasons discussed in Today’s Fayre – shares down 2.84%. Dixon Carphone (+2%) with sales up 10% and profits by 7.1% and NEXT (+1.7%) were the stars. Despite of the last two months turmoil, NEXT is the only company which maintained its value – 7400 to 7784p – quite amazing – up 12% on the year! Barratt Development also added another 4%. Sage disappointed -2.5%.
Aldi and LIDL declared war in Middle England – in villages and in Waitrose country such as Notting Hill, Highgate, Chelsea and even Mayfair. With news that John Lewis’s Waitrose efforts were not quite so ebullient with sales dropping 1.3%, Lidl announced that it is looking to open up 281 stores around M25 and something like 1500 outlets are being considered in the long terms. At the time of writing, the DOW was up 35 points and markets seemed without inspiration. Mark Carney and the MPC left rates unchanged after 6 years 5 months. The Labour data will now be of concern, as will issues beyond these shores and so will the lack if inflation and poor manufacturing data. When at all possible and the sooner the better a decision must be made on rates – no more hopes and dreams. As Joe Friday in ‘Dragnet’ said all those years ago ‘Just the facts Ma’am, just the facts!’