TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 8th March 2016
“Love, while you were away there came to me –
From whence I cannot tell –
A plaintive lady pale and passionless,
Who bent her eyes upon me critically,
And weighed me with a wearing wistfulness,
As if she knew me well.’
‘I saw no lady of that wistful sort
As I came riding home.
Perhaps she was some dame the hates constrain
By memories sadder than she can support,
Or by unhappy vacancy of brain,
To leave her roof and roam?’ ‘Ah, but she knew me.
And before this time I have seen her, lending ear
To my light outdoor words, and pondering each,
Her frail white finger swayed in pantomime,
As if she fain would close with me in speech,
And yet would not come near.
‘And once I saw her beckoning with her hand
As I came into sight At an upper window.
And I at last went out;
But when I reached where she had seemed to stand,
And wandered up and down and searched about,
I found she had vanished quite.
‘” Then thought I how my dead
Love used to say, With a small smile, when she
Was waning wan, that she would hover round
And show herself after her passing day
To any newer Love I might have found,
But show her not to me.
Thomas Hardy – poet – 1840 – 1928
I so hope Leicester City win the Premiership. It is so good to see that this team, with perhaps on two or three star attractions, put together by Nigel Pearson, whose contribution should not be forgotten in keeping them up two years ago and of course, ‘The Tinkerman’ Claudio Ranieri, who has ‘fine-tuned’ this team to perfection! Well it will be perfection if Leicester were to win the title! It would be great for the game, proving the ‘top four’ – money or no money can be seen off!
With all that Andy Murray has done to raise tennis’s profile in the UK, how disappointing to hear revelations that Maria Sharapova and maybe others have been in to the stimulant’s game! Yes, we know that Andre Agassi was involved a few years ago, but dear God in Heaven, is no sport scared or free from this kind of skulduggery?
Yesterday’s session on global financial markets, apart from some currency fluctuations, some involving the Yuan, was a nebulous sort of affair. Europe felt they had done their bit last week, with most bourses having all but recovered the year’s losses, which resulted in some risk being taken off the table. The FTSE closed down 17 points at 6182. Then New York, having preened itself like a peacock over Friday’s better than expected employment data, apart from the disappointing wage inflation, more or less downed tools for the day, leaving the DOW in positive territory +0.4%, with the S&P relatively flat at +0.09% and the NASDAQ closing just below the Plimsoll line – -0.19%. Crude oil had nudged the $40 a barrel threshold. Oil is up nearly 50% from its low three months ago. Apart from that there was little to report, though the energy sector rose by 2.4%. Valeant Pharmaceuticals grabbed the ‘yellow jersey’ – up 7.1% ahead of next week’s results. The fact that Alphabet and Microsoft both lost circa 2% and Apple 1% was the reason that the NASDAQ did not perform during yesterday’s session.
Then overnight came the big bazooka from left-field – The Chinese monthly trade data – last months was the worst since 2009 with exports down 25.4% (EST 13%) and Imports lower by 13.9% (Est: 10%). However I think we have known for some time that any improvement on growth or economic activity in China is going to come and be entirely dependent on domestic demand. Manufacturing output and industrial production has fallen like a stone in recent months and it is rumoured that as many as 8 million people will be laid off from the coal and steel operations. They will need to be found jobs in other sectors. Easier said than done! At the time of writing Asian markets have taken the bad Chinese trade data on the chin – quite comfortably – The ASX closed -0.68% and the NIKKEI -0.76%. Just after lunch the Shanghai Composite was -0.4% and the Hang Seng was -0.7%.
Overnight we heard that BRC sales had been fairly flat at +0.1% as against +0.2% this time last year and +2.6% in January. With BOE Governor Mark Carney due to give evidence before the Treasury Select Committee, many were surprised that the BOE found it necessary to announce that extra liquidity would be provided for the banks in event of markets reacting poorly to the EU referendum. I suspect it will become clear that the BOE will remain neutral heading towards 23rd June. However if contingency plans were not made clear perhaps the BOE might be accused of being asleep on the job. One cannot help feeling that these comments could be construed as fuelling the flames of uncertainty. But as the expression goes, damned if he does and damned if he does not!
Yesterday it was the miners that prevented the FTSE from falling more than it did – Anglo American +6%, Rio +5%, Glencore+6.7%. Wealth managers did well – St James’s Place and Standard life. Old Mutual leapt like a grilse – up 9% on rumours that the company would be split. Randgold, following the price of gold fell 3%. Metro Bank made a very satisfactory debut for its IPO, where conditional trading saw its share price up 7.5% to £21.50 (issued at £20). The fight for the hand in marriage for the LSE is gathering momentum. Though the Deutsche Boerse remains the jolly, ICE is coming up fast on the rails with some cash increment being offered in the price. Anyway, the CEO Xavier looks the winner with £14 million likely to find its way in to his coffers.
UK companies posting results this week – Tuesday – Foxtons, Paddy Power Betfair, Worldpay, Regenersis, Wednesday – DS Smith, G4S, StatPro, Prudential, Lookers, Thursday – Aldermore, Cineworld, Michael Page, Ophir, Marshalls, Robert Walters, Amec, Wm Morrison, Friday – Pace, Old Mutual, Computacenter
US companies posting interim results – Korn/Ferry, Thursday – Dollar General
ECONOMIC DATA – Tuesday – BRC Sales, Wednesday – RICS, UK Industrial production and Manufacturing output, Thursday – BOE quarterly bulletin, Friday – UK Trade Balance
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