TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday 5th April 2016
“The nicest child I ever knew
Was Charles Augustus Fortescue
He never lost his cap or tore
His stockings or his pinafore.
In eating bread he made no crumbs-
He was extremely good at sums.
To which however he preferred
The Parsing of a Latin Word-
He sought, when it was within his power
For information twice an hour.
And as for finding Mutton Fat
Unappetising, far from that!
He often, at his Father’s Board
Would beg them of his own accord
To give him, if they did not mind
The Greasiest Morsel they could find-
His Later Years did not belie
The Promise of his Infancy,
In Public Life he always tried
To take a judgement Broad and Wide.
In Private, none was more than he
Renowned for quiet courtesy
He rose at once in his Career
And long before his Fortieth Year
Had wedded Fifi, Only Child
Of Bunyan, First Lord Aberfylde.
He thus became immensely Rich
And built the Splendid Mansion which
Is called The Cedars, Muswell Hill
Where he resides in affluence still
To show what everybody might
Become by SIMPLY DOING RIGHT.”
Hilaire Belloc – writer & poet – 1870 – 1953
‘The Archers’ has been broadcasted on BBC Radio for 65 years. I haven’t listened to it for probably 35 years. Recently my wife has persuaded me to listen to the omnibus edition. Like hundreds of thousands of other listeners we have all been sucked in to this case drama concerning a control freak, Rob, who cruelly manipulated his wife, Helen, over a protracted period in the village of Ambridge. It came to a crescendo on Sunday, when Helen could take it no more! In a fit of uncontrollable rage, Helen stabbed Rob! We found out last night that he had only been badly wounded. I suspect that ‘murder’ is not on ‘The Archer’s’ agenda. Who would have believed that a gentle every day story of country folk could attract not only a huge audience way in excess of ordinary listeners but also become totally mesmerised by such harrowing experiences? These levels of domestic violence affect so many people, who have little idea of how to deal with such horrific emotional bullying and mental cruelty, all too prevalent in society these days.
So perhaps England did not make enough runs in the T-20 World Cup final. However, though I accept that the humidity was unbearable, which made gripping the ball very difficult, Ben Stokes bowled Brathwaite 4 consecutive balls right in his space – ‘middle & leg’, resulting in all 4 consecutive balls going in to orbit – out of the ground! – Job done! However it was great to see that the England team had improved beyond recognition in the last year.
Before Sunday I suspect few people apart from the rich, famous and duplicitous had ever heard of Mossack Fonseca. Now it will be a household word. Not many people will be unhappy that tax dodgers and money launderers have had their cover blown, particularly the political despots and their clones. To have acquired access to 11.5 million documents dating back to 1977 was a task of Herculean proportions. I have only one worry about this rather tawdry event and that is if those who have behaved entirely properly have had client confidentiality breached and thrown out of the window. No one can be surprised at these revelations. In recent years the indignity suffered by UBS at the hands of US regulators in terms of dodging tax and the fact that Switzerland now seems to fully cooperate with many governments on tax issues ventures to suggest that there are fewer and fewer havens of rest for taxation transgressors. Personally I felt that it was sad to have to expose David Cameron’s father. He is now dead and should be left to rest in peace. No doubt Ian Cameron’s executors will do the right thing, IF there has been any wrong doing.
China was closed for a holiday yesterday, which left New York to make its own decisions for the day. The Yen continued to weaken and oil prices were soft again. Factory orders for manufactured goods in the US declined by 1.7% last month. Not surprisingly energy and material sectors suffered. Mohamed EL Erian, Allianz much respected economic guru, expressed the market’s concern that the FED’S Janet Yellen continues to vacillate on her interest rate policy. This is again becoming an issue. So the market has regained its poise and eradicated its losses for the year – who would have believed it! However where do we go now for gravy? This is a quiet week as we build up for the 2nd quarter earnings season. There needs to be some measurable improvement in the quality of earnings starting next week, otherwise equities are going to struggle to maintain their value.
Allergan’s shares have fallen by close to 20% in after-hours trading, as the US Treasury expressed its concern to ‘inversion deals’, in which US firms attempt to reincorporate overseas following an acquisition. Allergan has agreed to be bought by Pfizer in a $160bn deal that would see Pfizer move its headquarters to Ireland. Few felt this deal would be mired in US Treasury’s forthcoming plans. However, the US Treasury has announced that it would be making it more difficult for companies to invert by putting a three-year limit on foreign companies stocking up on American assets to avoid ownership requirements for a later inversions deal.
There wasn’t much joy in London yesterday with the FTSE 100 gaining 18 points to 6164 in painfully quiet trading conditions, not helped by PMI Construction data coming in at its lowest for three years. The CAC performed marginally better adding 0.3% with the DAX behaving similarly to the FTSE +0.1%. This morning a strong Yen and the perception that Abenomics is not working saw the NIKKEI lose 2.4% on the day with the ASX closing down 1.4%. Towards the close the Shanghai Composite had regrouped in adding 1.4%, though the Hang Seng failed to drag itself out of the doldrums -1.4%. The Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates on hold (2%) for the eleventh consecutive month.
Ahead of the EU referendum, understandably inertia in banking, insurance and the housing market has set it. In terms of banking there could be more unemployment as deal making in investment banking slides. You can’t blame it all on BREXIT, if any of it, as deal activity in the US is also derisory. Perhaps we need to look at the housing market. There were a huge number of deals executed ahead of the April tax changes and stamp duty hikes. Activity ahead of 24th June could be almost non-existent. Many think that the likes of Rightmove, currently trading at 30X earnings may be over-priced and a little rich for some peoples’ blood, though it is acknowledged that Rightmove’s on-line service is excellent. Conversely Zoopla trades at about 20X earnings. This morning AA and Tate & Lyle posted acceptable numbers. At 8.45am the FTSE was down 72 points at 6092 – banks, mining, oil and some retail stocks are having an unhappy day.
UK companies posting results – Tuesday – AA, Tate & Lyle, Wednesday – HSS Hire, Topps Tiles (TS), Thursday – M&S (TS), Dunelm (TS) Alliance Pharmaceuticals.
US companies posting interim results – Tuesday – Walgreen Boots Alliance, Darden Restaurants, Wednesday – Monsanto, Constellation Brands, Apollo, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Thursday – Fred’s, Rite Aid, Ruby Tuesday, L-Brands, Gap.
Economic Data –
Tuesday – BRC Sales, UK PMI Services, and Wednesday – Halifax house prices, Thursday – US Initial Jobless Claims, Friday – UK Trade Balances & Industrial production.
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