TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 16th March 2016
“He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.
WH Auden – poet – 1907 – 1973
They say great steeplechasers never come back to their former glories after injury or illness. How absolutely wonderful that “Sprinter Sacre” proved to be a rare exception to the rule, as he galloped up the hill to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This fabulous looking gelding virtually took the new Grandstand’s roof off with the crowd’s roar, in vanquishing the ‘jolly’ ‘Un de Sceaux’s’ challenge with more than a little in hand. There was hardly a dry eye on the course. ‘Hats off!’ to Caroline Mould who never wavered in her support of her steed; to Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville for their total commitment and talent. Also spare a thought for Raymond Mould who gave so much to racing – RIP.
It is astonishing that in 5 weeks we have seen the FTSE 100 rally by 10.7%, partly thanks to the fact that the market was probably a tad oversold, oil prices rallying by 25% and a modest improvement in commodity prices. However there are no doubts that Central banks’ QE packages and the adoption of some negative interest rate policies have been the main contributors to global equity rallies. The icing on the cake probably came last night when FED Chairman Janet Yellen confirmed that the US economy was growing relatively robustly with some encouraging economic data, particularly employment numbers. However concern was expressed by Yellen that global growth may now be on the back foot. Consequently the FED was in no mood to implement 4 rate hikes in 2016. In fact in attempting to read the tea leaves the FED might contemplate two hikes this year. I would not be surprised if there were none. The Street of Dreams replied appropriately by maintaining its poise. The DOW closed up 0.43%, with the S&P adding 0.56% and the NASDAQ closing flat on the day. Oil prices rallied taking US crude to $39.10 a barrel, which gave comfort to energy and oil stocks.
I have no intellectual or economic input worthy of comment on yesterday’s UK Budget – the eighth delivered by George Osborne with no less than 77 pieces of legislation to reach the statue book. For comment read the excellent Simon French! For business and the City I thought it was an excellent budget! Why? For small businesses the tax threshold was raised from £6k to £15k, 600k small businesses will pay no business rates. Capital gains tax will be lowered from 28% to 20%, Corporation tax will come down to 17% in a year. Income tax thresholds will be increased – basic rate to £11,500 and higher rate to £45k. The public will be delighted that the banks will be clobbered for another £3.5 billion levy. Chancellor Osborne may well have been wrong footed by the fact that bank shares collapsed in January, thus making any sale of RBS impractical. Some say RBS will incur a permanent loss of £17 billion. I am not so pessimistic – but any sale cannot be calculated realistically in this parliament. Cutting debt has proved a problem and many now believe it will be a miracle if George Osborne can achieve a £10 billion surplus by 2020. So much has been pushed forward in the hope that the economy will improve. The OBR dropped GDP from 2.4% to 2%. Such forecasting is a ‘nonsense’, anyway. As matters stand £7.6 billion of spending cuts will need to be made in 2019 including £3.5 billion from Whitehall! That is a big call. That is the equivalent of a 14% increase in corporation tax revenues and only a 1.92% increase in public expenditure.
This morning in Asia the ASX closed up 1%, the NIKKEI down 0.25% with the Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng both up 1.2%. At 8.54am the FTSE was up 35 at 6210. Sir Andrew Witty of Glaxo served notice that he will go in March 2107 and Rio’s Sam Walsh will retire soon.
UK companies posting results – Thursday – Premier Farnell, OneSavings Bank, International Game Technology, Ted Baker SOCO, Kier Group, Friday – Investec, Berkeley Group
US companies posting interim results – Thursday – Adobe Systems
Economic Data – Thursday – MPC minutes, Friday – BOE quarterly bulletin and US Phili-Fed.
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