TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 12th November 2015
“Some say love’s a little boy,
And some say it’s a bird,
Some say it makes the world go round,
Some say that’s absurd, And when
I asked the man next door, Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn’t do.
Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.
Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It’s quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I’ve found the subject mentioned in Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.
Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand? I
s its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.
I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn’t even there;
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton’s bracing air.
I don’t know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said; But it wasn’t in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.”
WH Auden – Poet – 1907-1973
I wrote yesterday of the sad death of former 11-time champion jockey Pat Eddery and the trainers he was associated with. For some unknown reason I forgot to mention his close association with John Dunlop over many years, highlighted by ‘Silver Patriarch’s’ winning the St Leger. About 20 years ago, I recall Messrs Dunlop and Eddery lunching with Angus Gold and other members of Sheikh Hamdam’s racing entourage in the Ritz Hotel. After lunch Pat smoked the largest ‘la-de-dah’ I have ever seen in my life. It was as long as he was tall!
We took in the well hyped film ‘Suffragette’, directed by Sarah Gavron. Kerry Mulligan and Helena Bonham-Carter put in sensational acting performances with a fine cameo role portrayed by Ben Wishaw. However the script was poor and Meryl Streep was hopelessly miscast. I was not close to being riveted by the fayre on offer.
Here in the UK everyone enjoyed the fact that unemployment fell by 103k in the last quarter to 1.75 million – the lowest level for eight years. However wages only grew at 2.5% per annum, which was marginally disappointing. John McFarlane, Barclays’ chairman, whilst endorsing the Government and ‘Big’ business’ wish to remain in the EU under renegotiated terms, throughout a warning to Chancellor Osborne that EU financial regulation concerning levy, taxation including transaction taxation plus capital requirements could tip London off the top of the global financial rostrum. This is no exaggeration and the government should take heed.
This message was particularly important since Governor Mark Carney, at yesterday’s BOE’s open Forum, was in no mood to ‘hug a banker’, reaffirming the general public’s angst and contempt for the sector, which is sadly understandable after a few frenzied and contemptible individuals within its ranks had inflicted so much pain back in 2008. Not surprisingly Chancellor Osborne was metaphorically at his elbow to endorse Mr Carney’s sentiments. In fairness this forum, supposedly the brainchild of Andy Haldane was a sensible way to attempt to start the healing process between the banks and its customers. There is much to be done!! However both these august operators need to remember that financial services contribute about 15% of UK GDP and the City of London and in particular banks about 7.5%. Everything that manifests itself in life emanates from a bank – from a bunch of grapes to a smartphone to a neck tie – a fact that is often forgotten. Mr Carney, Minouche Shafik and Andrew Bailey need to get out there and play hardball with Mr Barnier and the other regulatory bureaucrats in Brussels. Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels Amsterdam etc are ‘Mickey Mouse’ financial centres in comparison to London. To a point of boredom, it must be emphasized that London is the centre of the time zone. English is the international language of the world. Our infrastructure for business in London is better than any! Why throw the baby out with the bathwater? In passing we were delighted to hear that the EU has delayed the final negotiations on bank regulation.
Yesterday London experienced another infinitely forgettable day’s trading – one of excruciating boredom, leaving many market makers ambivalent. The FTSE 100 actually finished the session in positive territory – up 21 points at 6297. The market was very happy that Lady Dido Harding managed to tell us that TalkTalk’s liabilities from the cyber-hacking crisis were considerably less than expected at circa £30-£35 million. It took time to see through Sainsbury’s rather limp results, which saw its shares ease by 3.5% on the day. Barrett Development posted a 20% increase in sales, but the shares slid – traveled and arrived, after a terrific run on the rails. Much of yesterday’s headlines were taken up with the confirmation of InBev’s successful bid for SAB Miller at £44.00 a share. This is the biggest UK corporate deal in history. InBev will be raising $75 billion of debt to pay for the deal. The joint venture is valued at about £325 billion. There would be $1.4 billion in efficiency savings and there will inevitably be some serious redundancies from the 224k workforce. SABM will be selling its Miller/Coors operation. The professional fees for banks, accountants and lawyers will be an eye-watering $235 million!
On the Street of Dreams the falling oil price put the energy sector to the sword with Exxon Mobil and Chevron losing just short of 2%. On the back of poor results from Macy’s, whose shares fell 13%, there were indifferent efforts from JC Penney, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and Dillard’s; all lost value between 3% and 9%! The DOW, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ ironically ended the session down 0.32%. Chinese retail sales, after yesterday’s rather dispiriting industrial production data, were moderately encouraging, suggesting the decline in economic activity may be flat lining. Also Japan’s factory orders were on the march. However a neutral session in Asia prevailed. The ASX closed +0.06% and the NIKKEI +0.03%. Just after lunch the Shanghai composite was down 1%, though the Hang Seng was +1.92% to the good. The final outcome to Alibaba’s ‘Singles’ day trading saw sales up 55% on last year to $9.5 billion, including a $603k Aston Martin. Shares were down 1.92% at the close as Jack Ma
This morning there have been another slew of earnings. There were solid efforts from Rexam, WS Atkins, Restaurant Group, and Card Factory. Premier may also enjoy a bit of a spurt in its share price. Halfords cycle sales disappointed. Burberry’s effort, considering the plight of Asia posted very acceptable numbers with a 9% jump in pre-tax profits with sales in Japan doing surprisingly well. Finally ROLLS ROYCE. CEO Warren East initially seemed to make light of his statement, but looking amongst the tea leaves next year in terms of orders and profits looks horribly like a nasty profits warning for 2016. Shares are expected to be down 12% at the opening.
UK companies posting results – Thursday – PUNCH TAVERNS, SAB MILLER, HALFORDS, PREMIER OIL, REXAM, BURBERRY, 3iii, ROLLS ROYCE, RESTAURANT GROUP, CARD FACTORY, MAN UTD, INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY, Friday – AUTOTRADER
US companies posting interim results – Thursday – NORDSTROM, Friday – JC PENNEY
ECONOMIC DATA – Thursday – UK Treasury Budget Statement, Friday –EU GDP.
David Buik – market commentator
Panmure Gordon & Co