TODAY’S FAYRE – Friday, 29th April 2016
“The orchards half the way
From home to Ludlow fair
Flowered on the first of May
In Mays when I was there;
And seen from stile or turning
The plume of smoke would show
Where fires were burning
That went out long ago.
The plum broke forth in green
The pear stood high and snowed,
My friends and I between
Would take the Ludlow road;
Dressed to the nines and drinking
And light in heart and limb,
And each chap thinking
The fair was held for him.
Between the trees in flower
New friends at fairtime tread
The way where Ludlow tower
Stands planted on the dead.
Our thoughts, a long while after,
They think, our words they say;
Theirs now’s the laughter,
The fair, the first of May.
Ay, yonder lads are yet
The fools that we were then;
For oh, the sons we get
Are still the sons of men.
The sumless tale of sorrow
Is all unrolled in vain
May comes tomorrow
And Ludlow fair again.”
A.E. Housman – poet – 1859-1936
We were out late last night but could not wait to watch the final episode of ‘Line of Duty’, which had been recorded. And was it worth waiting for! WOW! – Such a finale! Even though Keeley Hawes was murdered in the penultimate episode, Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compston, Craig Parkinson and Vicky McClure all put in memorable performances to bring this fantastic ‘cops & robbers’ drama to a breathtakingly exciting and violent ending (won’t spoil it for those who have yet to view it). Bring on the next series!
It looks as though PM Cameron will go to any lengths to stay in the EU. Two weeks ago it was Lord Ashdown and Lord Kinnock who shared the call centre with the PM. Yesterday it was Lord Brendon Barber (of TUC fame) at the Caterpillar plant (thank you to my friend, Barack) and soon it is going to be Jeremy Corbyn who will share the hustings with the first Lord of the Treasury! Whoever next?
So GB cyclist fails drug test! When will it stop – if ever!
Yesterday was yet another confused sessions for markets. Dealers were all agreed that Japan’s BOJ let the side down with no action taken re increased stimulus packages and sentiments were mixed about the FED’s comments, suggesting a June hike was still on the agenda. The market’s intelligentsia felt these comments were dovish, as if one looked at the PCE yesterday afternoon within the GDP data, which was in isolation very disappointing coming in at 0.5% for the first quarter. In fact they felt that the dataset was the worst possible combination – weak growth and rising inflation. ‘Thickies’ like me saw the message as slightly ‘hawkish.’ Anyway equity geeks were certainly confused and yesterday the Street of Dreams took some risk off the table leaving the DOW down 1.17%, the S&P 500 lower by 0.92% and the NASDAQ off 1.19%.
Ironically all the stock price action happened after hours, apart from Ford, whose results were initially well received – shares up 3.8% but after hours were taken down to +0.21%. Altria pleased quietly +1.04%. However after the bell, Linkedin powered forward with much better than expected results – +15%. Amazon more than beat the hangman with stellar numbers +12%. So there is still some light at the end of the tunnel with a few focused companies performing with aplomb. Bombardier concluded a $5 billion deal to build some C-Series aircraft for Delta Airlines. Carl Icahn popped his head above the parapet and told the world he was lightening up on Apple shares due to huge pressure from Asia with cheaper models. Apple shares were down 3.8% but recovered some poise after hours.
What amazes me is that there is still plenty of appetite for global and cross-border M&A activity with news or confirmation of forthcoming deals in the pipeline. Comcast is to pay $3.8 billion for animator & movie maker Dreamworld. Abbott Laboratories is to pay a gargantuan $25 billion for St Jude, the leading heart device maker. Coming up on the rails we hear that Sanofi-Aventis has gone hostile to acquire the oncologist drug maker Medivation for $9.3 billion. By any standards these are major deals.
The FTSE 100 had a flat day adding just 2 points to 6322. Lloyds Banking Group grabbed most of the serious headlines with net profits halving to a net £654 million, after one off provisions including shelling out £790 million to buy back high interest bonds from customers. The underlying profits were down 6% at £2.05 billion. The shares were down 1.07% at 69.25p – still below breakeven at circa 73p. Fat cat pay was still high profile conversation with Sir Martin Sorrell unrepentant of his £70 million bonus – ‘I built the company up from scratch!’ The only way to cut his bonus is to mutilate WPP’S share price! Shire and Bunzl executives have been added to the rebuked list which already includes BP, Reckitt, Anglo-American et all! The Credit Suisse AGM today is likely to reject remuneration for Tidjane Thiam’s management team. I suspect that Sir Philip Green is starting to feel very uncomfortable. Though legally he has done nothing wrong, it is strange that he has no moral conscience – or little – as to the plight of 11k BHS workers – though in fairness the Dominic Chappell dynasty pulled the trigger for BHS’S demise.
Asia was left to contemplate what the NIKKEI might have done (closed for a public holiday). At the time of writing the ASX was up 0.39%, with the Hang Seng easier by 1.35% and the Shanghai Composite down 0.31%. Over the weekend rumours abound that taxation packages will be introduced with view to stimulating manufacturing output and industrial production.
This morning IAG posted better than expected results – a profit of £155m for the first quarter against expectations of £145m. RBS, ahead of today’s results admitted that it was likely to miss the sale deadline date of Williams & Glyn Bank (branches Santander failed to pick up). The delay may cost RBS £50 million a month. RBS posted an operating profit of £421m for the quarter, BUT there was a cumulative loss of £968m for restructuring & impairment costs and £1.19bn went to UK government. Tier one capital at 14.6% was good. Loans increased by 15% and personal banking income was up 9%. It’s a long tortuous road ahead – hence the share price of 244.8p – breakeven 503p! It will be like pulling teeth for George Osborne – desperate to get rid of this turbulent noose around the Treasury’s neck!
UK companies posting results –Friday – ASTRA ZENECA, RBS, AON. IAG
US companies posting interim results – Friday – CHEVRON, EXXON MOBIL
Economic Data – Friday EU unemployment.
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