TODAY’S FAYRE –Thursday, 7th July 2016
“At Dawn she lay with her profile at that angle
Which, when she sleeps, seems the carved face of an angel.
Her hair a harp, the hand of a breeze follows
And plays, against the white cloud of the pillows.
Then, in a flush of rose, she woke, and her eyes that opened
Swam in blue through her rose flesh that dawned.
From her dew of lips, the drop of one word
Fell like the first of fountains: murmured
‘Darling’, upon my ears the song of the first bird.
‘My dream becomes my dream,’ she said, ‘come true.
I waken from you to my dream of you.’
Oh, my own wakened dream then dared assume
The audacity of her sleep. Our dreams
Poured into each other’s arms, like streams.”
Sir Stephen Spender – poet & novelist – 1909-1995
The day of reckoning finally arrived! Sir John Chilcot posted his rather damning comments on his inquiry’s findings after 7 years and over 2 million words and they did not make great reading for the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, his Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, Lord Goldsmith and his spin doctor Alastair Campbell. I feel so sad and overwrought for the bereaved families of the 179 servicemen who died in action plus those maimed, who seem to have waited an eternity for these rather dispiriting findings. Spare more than a passing thought for the 150k Iraqi civilians who lost their lives. I was gobsmacked that Mr Campbell was exonerated from playing any role in the ‘sexing-up’ of the WMD Dossier!
What is so frustrating is that many of our incredibly brave military may feel that their efforts were in vain. Nothing could be further from the truth. They were valiant to the end. What upsets me more than anything was the lack of contingency plans for the rehabilitation of Iraq post the war and the fact that the US and UK took their under-resourced military capability to Afghanistan without leaving Iraq adequately equipped. Our arm forces’ equipment was almost mediaeval with a massive shortage of helicopters to back up our ground troops, often resulting in unnecessary carnage!
Yet one has to hand it to Tony Blair! A decade on and he can still deliver a great speech and pull the heart strings! Yes, he was remorseful, but sadly he and ‘Dubya’ were a tad ‘gung-ho’ and more than a little reckless! Tony Blair was 44 when he became PM – young and vibrant. The pictures of him taken yesterday at the age of 63, tells us the years have taken their toll.
Valiant and brilliant Wales – but this match was a bridge and game too far considering the very limited resources available to Chris Coleman’s team. However England, please, mark, learn and inwardly digest what can be achieved with passion alone!
The performance of the FTSE 100 was nothing to write home about yesterday but it was wholly predictable with energy and property stocks leading the market south, with supermarkets – TESCO -8% and MORRISON -7% vying for the yellow jersey as the worst performer. It was also sad to see RBS languish in slipping by 6%. The FTSE lost 81 points at 6463. Up until yesterday morning the FTSE 100 had gained 3.2% since BREXIT, BUT against the DOLLAR it had lost 10% since 22nd June 2016. Conversely, much more of a barometer of UK economic activity was down 9.5% over the same period.
Much of the problem affecting property shares was illustrated by the fact that there were SIX property fund managers that had to temporarily call a halt to paying out on redemptions – Henderson Global, Canada Life, Threadneedle, Aviva, M&G and Standard Life. The total sector was valued at £25 billion. It has fallen in value by 35% in the last 2 months.
This morning a few key retailers have stepped up to the plate with mixed efforts. AB Food’s Primark posted a 7% increase in sales – shares up 4%. Then that retail Maverick Mike Ashley posted what amounted to a profit warning for Sports Direct and no dividends for 2017. However that crafty monkey has been buying back shares and he now controls about 55% of the company and the shares bounced up by 10% to 308p. Many also believe he will be on the acquisition trail. Finally M&S – dear oh dear! Steve Rowe posted a drop in clothes sales of over 8.9% and food sales were down on a like for like basis by 0.9%. Total food sales were only up 4% because of new stores! Shares were down 1.3% at the time of writing and 44% in the last year – disaster! The news of these operations follows in the wake of this month being the 38th consecutive one that prices have fallen in shops.
We are all obviously concerned about the Pound at $1.29 to $1.30. Many believe it has further to go. If we are pro-tem concerned about it, which we are, thanks in some ways to having either a moribund government or a rudderless one, then consider the plight of the Euro long term. With Italy’s Renzi waging war looking for €46 billion of bail-out funds for its banks and some of Germany’s banks not being in a very good shape, the Eurozone looks an unattractive prospect.
Yesterday the Street of Dreams added some ballast – the DOW added 0.44%, the S&P 500 +54% and the NASDAQ +0.75%. However the FOMC minutes were not that upbeat about increased growth prospects plus issues such as BREXIT and China, which were cause for concern. I think it is fair to say that any talk of a rate increase is now futuristic. Asian markets were mixed, with the NIKKEI slightly off colour due to a strong Yen – closing down 0.62%. The FTSE is up 95 at 6560 at 9.05am, with mining and oil the main dramatis personae!
UK companies posting numbers – Thursday – AB Foods, Bovis Homes, Marks & Spencer, Great Portland Estates, Sports Direct, Friday – Ilika PLC
US companies posting interim results this week – Thursday – Costco and PepsiCo
Economic data – Thursday – UK Industrial Production & Manufacturing Output, Friday – UK Balance of Trade, US Non-Farm Payrolls & unemployment data
David Buik Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co D +44 (0)20 7886 2775 Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877 Panmure Gordon & Co One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF | United Kingdom