TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday 6th April 2016
“Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget,
For we are the people of England, that never has spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet:
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet.
They have given us into the hands of the new unhappy lords
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath may come after Russia’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.
Philip Larkin – poet – 1870 – 1953
Joe Marler fined £20k and banned for 2 games for calling Samson Lee a gypsy boy!! – PATHETIC! Handbags at 4 paces gentlemen! If that is the full extent of the England prop’s misdemeanour; discriminatory behaviour; then World Rugby should be ashamed of itself, particularly as the RFU and WRU had cleared Marler of any wrong doing!
It wasn’t a great or memorable session yesterday. Neither Europe nor the UK brought much in the way of encouragement to the table to stimulate the dormant risk buds. Even the PMI data revolving round the service sector did not jump out of the page with glee and hit you between the eyes. Figures out yesterday morning also confirmed that the BOE had acquired another $5bn worth of foreign reserves in March, taking current holdings above $100bn and up from less than $80bn last year. Simon French, Panmure’s Chief Economists is of the opinion that “this is the BoE stocking the tool-shed just in case Sterling needs explicit intervention around the referendum. This would be the first time this has happened since 1992, and in my view unlikely to be needed but probably prudent to have the tools at your disposal of you are the Bank.”
Further to all that, oil was on the decline, though its price has picked up overnight. Mining was given another leathering. Banks came under the cosh for copious reasons. There was their alleged involvement in tax avoidance courtesy of the Mossack Fonseca Report. That will run for months with no doubt the highly charged and fiery members of Andrew Tyrie’s Treasury Select Committee putting their two cents worth in at the earliest opportunity. It appears the likes of Deutsche Bank, UBS, Credit Suisse and HSBC have some explaining to do as to their involvement in tax planning. HSBC will, I am sure, have presented its credentials very regularly to the US authorities and others since it was fine $1.2 billion for alleged money-laundering three years ago. So I doubt and hope that much in the way of dirt will be found! Since then, HSBC has attempted to make the ‘local’ bank smaller enabling management to have greater control of the varying compendiums of culture. One hopes that more than the lion’s share of their activity and involvement in tax planning was entirely legal and bona-fide. It is unfortunate that HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver will be tainted by thoughts that he used the good offices of Mossack Fonseca to squirrel away tax-free funds. I am sure it was all above board but in terms of perception, it doesn’t look good.
There was a little addendum on the end of a Barclays regulation update suggesting that all was not well with its investment banking division. The Bald Eagle’s share price was subject to a bit of retribution as was the sector – Barclays -2.4%, Standard Chartered -4.3%, RBS -2.2% and HSBC -3.1%. Barclays and RBS have both shed over 30% in share value since the start of the year and many of our banks are now close to or below crisis levels in 2008/9. Capital requirements resemble penury. Low interest rates, falling growth and reluctance to borrow ahead of EU referendum make a very toxic and unpalatable cocktail.
Yesterday the FTSE eased by 74 points to 6091 for reasons explained above. On the Street of Dreams investors were rocked back on their heels when the Pfizer/Allergan deal was pulled, one suspects with the US Treasury’s heavy hand on both shoulders. Tax inversion deals are not appreciated by the US government and both companies failed to consummate the deal with head office in Dublin in time to beat the hangman. So that message plus falling energy prices skimmed some cream off the top of all three bourses – DOW -0.75%, S&P 500 -1.01% and NASDAQ -0.98%. The conundrum facing investors is clear. Having clawed back massive losses incurred this year up to and including 11th February, markets will need to see an improved quality of 2nd quarter earnings, with the floodgates due to be open next week. Otherwise another correction cannot be ruled out. However there is another school of thought that believes globally PMI data has improved, wage inflation is up 3% globally, oil prices remain benign and consumer confidence in the US is reasonably buoyant. Some believe that is enough for equities to keep drifting along. I am not in that camp.
Asian markets seem to have suffered from a dose of inertia this morning. At the time of writing the ASX closed up 0.44% with NIKKEI finishing down 0.11%. The Shanghai Composite, as investors head for noodles at lunch, is down by 0.31% and the Hang Seng is just above the Plimsoll line. The FTSE 100 is expected to open up +20 points.
UK companies posting results – Wednesday – HSS Hire, Topps Tiles (TS), Thursday – M&S (TS), Dunelm (TS) Alliance Pharmaceuticals.
US companies posting interim results – Wednesday – Monsanto, Constellation Brands, Apollo, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Thursday – Fred’s, Rite Aid, Ruby Tuesday, L-Brands, Gap.
Economic Data – Wednesday – Halifax house prices, Thursday – US Initial Jobless Claims, Friday – UK Trade Balances & Industrial production.
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