TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 18th November 2015
“All Thoughts, all Passions, all Delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal Frame,
All are but Ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.
Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o’er again that happy hour,
When midway on the Mount I lay
Beside the Ruin’d Tower.
The Moonshine stealing o’er the scene
Had blended with the Lights of Eve;
And she was there, my Hope, my Joy,
My own dear Genevieve!
She lean’d against the Armed Man,
The Statue of the Armed Knight:
She stood and listen’d to my Harp
Amid the ling’ring Light.
Few Sorrows hath she of her own,
My Hope, my Joy, my Genevieve!
She loves me best, whene’er I sing
The Songs, that make her grieve.”
William Wordsworth – poet – 1770-1850
One didn’t have to be remotely interested in football to have been deeply moved by the solidarity shown by fans from England and France against terrorism, at Wembley last night. It was a very emotional occasion with a rousing rendition of ‘La Marseillaise’ lustily sung by 70,000 respectful fans, led by the President of FA, the Duke of Cambridge and PM Cameron before the start of the game. The fact that England won 2-0 was entirely incidental. Horrific to hear that it has all ‘gone off’ in St Denis again last night, though localised, with 3 people killed.
Many will have been slightly unnerved that two Air France passenger planes had to make diverted landings in Salt Lake City and Halifax, Nova Scotia on their way to Paris yesterday, due to bomb threats. One suspects that there will be continued interruptions of this nature for many months to come as the world attempts to get on top of terrorism threats.
Desperately sad news to hear that at the tender age of 40, Jonah Lomu, the All-Black winger – probably the outstanding ‘back’ of his era, tragically died yesterday from a debilitating disease he had been fighting for some years. He was a legend of his time – the unbelievably physical strong specimen of his time, who was also hugely talented. Who will ever forget his performance against England in the World Cup in South Africa in 1995?
Yesterday’s performance by the three main European bourses beggared belief. Surely it had little to do with economic and financial issues. So commodity prices rose reticently, which gave mining and oil stocks a bit of a fillip. Smiths Group added 10% in value thanks to cutting pension contributions, which frees up an extra £36 million of cash. ASOS rallied by 4% thanks to an upgrade and C&W added 8% thanks to a virtually confirmed takeover by US’S Liberty Global. However there was nothing I could find that should have ignited such an explosion of goodwill that caused the FTSE 100 to add 1.99%, the DAX 2.41% and the CAC 2.77% yesterday apart from resolution and defiance to terrorism. Yes, EasyJet’s numbers were well received allowing the shares, initially down by 2% to rally by 3% at the close. Anyway I am pleased for the people of France and old gits (pensioners) such as me! Inflation in the UK – or lack of it! – -0.1% was posted for the second month running. Not helpful for the MPC aspirations to get rates up in the UK. However inflation should be 1% by June 2016 with wage inflation and a strong pound aiding the cause and oil unlikely to fall another 40% in the next year.
The Street of Dreams put its best foot forward, aided and abetted by surprisingly good numbers from Wal-Mart and Home Depot. To date retail performances have been very poor with the likes of shareholders from Macy’s and Nordstrom being the recipients of a good hiding. However the jet diversions and a little unrest over the content of today’s FOMC minutes plus falling oil prices brought an abrupt halt to any euphoric sentiment. The 3 main indices closed fairly flat – DOW +0.4%, the S&P 500 -0.13% and the NASDAQ +0.03%. Consumer Prices rose by 0.2% giving a tiny bit of added credence to the FED’S quest to raise rates by 25 basis points in December.
One easily forgets how big Wal-Mart is! 3rd quarter sales were up 2.8% at $122 billion – like for like sales up 1.5%. Revenues came in at $117 billion ($119 billion last year). Profits were down 11% at $3.3 billion. 1.7% more people visited Walmart than did this time last year. Up until yesterday Walmart’s shares had fallen 31%. CEO David McMillon said conditions remain challenging. International business was doing well. Sadly it was not the case with ASDA in UK, where sales were down 4.5%, following the 4.7% last quarter. It is interesting to note that Aldi and Lidl after 3 years have 10% of supermarket business, just eclipsing Waitrose. Shares in Wal-Mart rose by 3.5% yesterday and Home Depot had a good set of numbers – shares up 4.2%. Dick’s Sporting Goods and Urban Outfitters did nor fair quite so well – shares down 9.4% and 3.8% respectively.
House prices rose in China for the first time in 14 months – just 0.1%. However this news may just be the catalyst for those who believe the worst is over for the Chinese economic pullback. The ASX closed up 0.29%, with the NIKKEI likely to close up about 0.1%. The Shanghai Composite was down 0.54% at lunch and the Hang Seng was easier by 0.13%. The UK will have a quieter day in terms of results and the FTSE 100 according to IG is expected to open down 17 points at the open. There may be some evidence of profit taking after yesterday’s stellar efforts. Tomorrow is a major date for banker bashers. The report on HBOS and the management’s deficiencies will be made public after 6 years. Lord Stevenson, James Crosby and Andy Hornby may find the contents uncomfortable.
UK companies posting results – Wednesday – UK MAIL, MONEYSUPERMARKET, Thursday – GRAINGER, ROYAL MAIL, CLOSE BROTHERS, JOHNSON MATTHEY, TED BAKER, and Friday – FULLER, SMITH & TURNER
US companies posting interim results – Wednesday – TARGET, Thursday – BEST BUY, ROSS STORES, MATCH, SQUARE (IPO), Friday – FOOT LOCKER, ABERCROMBIE & FITCH
ECONOMIC DATA – Wednesday – FOMC MINUTES, Thursday – UK RETAIL SALES, EU BALANCE OF PAYMENTS, and Friday – UK PUBLIC SECTOR FINANCES.
Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co