TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 12th May 2016
“She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which Heaven to Gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o’er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek and oe’r that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,-
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.”
George Gordon, Lord Byron – poet – 1788-1824
I must confess to being not best pleased, having bought tickets, when Sheridan Smith did a ‘no-show’ for the second night running at the Savoy Theatre to play Fanny Brice in ‘Funny Girl’, She may be acclaimed as a huge talent, but she is professionally obliged to rock up to play her role, when the pubic have paid good money to see her talent. She may have been disappointed not to have won the BAFTA for best actress. However she did not have to stay out, partying till the small hours. There seems to be a touch of the Marilyn Monroe’s or Luciano Pavarotti’s about her. Fragile she may be, but the public are at least due a proper explanation!
Equities feel as if they have been in neutral for too long. Many investors and analysts are beginning to move somewhat uncomfortably from one cheek of their backside to the other. Stocks seem to be sitting nervously at the crossroads. Many indices look fully valued, having seen energy and commodity sectors rally in recent weeks. However interest rates in the US, UK and EU are unlikely to move in any measurable manner for some time. Observers may well say that low interest rates and the power of QE is good for equities. However with virtually no inflation tighter and narrowing margins, a fall in manufacturing activity and a measurable drop in retail business on both sides of the Pond hardly make up an appetising menu to encourage investors to back the truck up. On top of all this the outcome to November’s Presidential election looks murky and uncertain. There are those who say they are equally concerned in Europe about the threat of BREXIT. They shouldn’t be, as nothing material will happen for two years in the event of BREXIT which gives everyone the chance to get their ducks in a row!
Today’s presentation of The Bank of England Inflation Report by Governor Mark Carney which is now a joint meeting with the MPC, may make rather more interesting reading than it has done for some time. There will be no change in rates at the MPC, I venture to suggest – left at 0.5% since March 2009. However with the economy contracting in certain areas, thanks to rising petrol prices, poor wage inflation, dispiriting industrial activity and retail trading well off the boil, it will be interesting to see if Chief Economist Andy Haldane gives any hint of a further easing in monetary policy. Mark Carney is likely to lower growth for 2016 from 2.2% to 2%. Some independent economists may lower it to 1.8% before too long. It will be interesting to see whether makes any further veiled threats about the damage BREXIT could do to the UK’S economy. It appears that the Government have Mr Carney on side, supporting their argument.
The Street of Dreams experienced a dire session, despite oil prices jumping 4% on US inventory data. It was the adverse news from the retail sector that triggered losses on the DOW – closed down 1.21%, with the S&P 500 easing by 0.96% and the NASDAQ by 1.02%. Poor numbers and outlook from Macy’s saw this share price lowered by 15%, with Fossil clattered by 29%, Office Depot by 40% and Staples by 18% – a mere bagatelle! Investors in the retail sector took no prisoners.
We had another desperately dreary session in London yesterday, resulting in the FTSE closing fairly flat – up 6 points at 6162 – with nowhere to go. I suspect this index will open down 25 points in early skirmishes. William Hill did not please its supporters with online revenues falling 11% in 17 weeks; nor to P2P Global investors capture investors’ imagination – both down circa 5%. Sir Philip Green is certainly going to put up a robust defence of the sale of BHS, fiercely arguing that the Trustees and the Pensions Regulator Lesley Titcomb were given plenty of notice about the sale. Some sort of notice was served in July 2014 with the sale executed in March 2015. The King of Gowns & Blouses is not going down without all guns blazing!
New York’s less than upbeat performance was expressed in Asia this morning the Shanghai Composite was down 0.53% with the Hang Seng easier in sympathy down 0.4%. The ASX closed down 0.44%, with the NIKKEI rallying towards the close on a weaker Yen – up 0.36%. It was also announced that Nissan is ruminating over a 25-30% stake in ailing Mitsubishi Motors. One gets the impression Nissan may have had its lapel tugged by the authorities.
ITV posted what looked superficially a reasonable trading statement with total external revenue up 14% to £755m (2015: £665m) – Broadcast & Online revenue up 2% to £539m (2015: £530m), with ITV Family NAR flat and continued strong growth in Online, Pay & Interactive up 17% – Total ITV Studios revenue up 44% at £322m (2015: £224m), driven by acquisitions – ITV share of viewing up 3% and ITV Family share of viewing up 1% – Non-NAR revenues up 34% to £428m (2015: £319m) – On track for double digit revenue growth in Online, Pay & Interactive and double digit revenue and profit growth in ITV Studios over the full year.
UK companies posting results – Thursday – VESUVIOUS, ITV, HIKMA, TALK-TALK, OLD MUTUAL, Friday – MANCHESTER UNITED, COCA COLA HBC
US companies posting interim results – Friday – JC PENNEY
Economic Data – Thursday – MPC & BOE INFLATION REPORT, Friday – UK CONSTRUCTION
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