TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday 16th August 2016
“She gives him his eyes, she found them
Among some rubble, among some beetles
He gives her her skin
He just seemed to pull it down out of the air and lay it over her
She weeps with fearfulness and astonishment
She has found his hands for him, and fitted them freshly at the wrists
They are amazed at themselves, they go feeling all over her
He has assembled her spine, he cleaned each piece carefully
And sets them in perfect order
A superhuman puzzle but he is inspired
She leans back twisting this way and that, using it and laughing
Now she has brought his feet, she is connecting them
So that his whole body lights up
And he has fashioned her new hips
With all fittings complete and with newly wound coils, all shiningly oiled
He is polishing every part, he himself can hardly believe it
They keep taking each other to the sun, they find they can easily
To test each new thing at each new step
And now she smoothes over him the plates of his skull
So that the joints are invisible
And now he connects her throat, her breasts and the pit of her stomach
With a single wire
She gives him his teeth, tying the the roots to the centrepin of his body
He sets the little circlets on her fingertips
She stitches his body here and there with steely purple silk
He oils the delicate cogs of her mouth
She inlays with deep cut scrolls the nape of his neck
He sinks into place the inside of her thighs
So, gasping with joy, with cries of wonderment
Like two gods of mud
Sprawling in the dirt, but with infinite care
They bring each other to perfection.
Ted Hughes – poet Laureate – 1930-1998
I am very glad I made the effort to see Sheridan Smith in ‘Funny Girl’ at the Savoy Theatre. However I must confess that I was a little disappointed. M/S Smith is a very fine actress as we all know, but her singing voice was very weak. Darius Campbell – he of ‘X-Factor’ fame really looked the part – tall, dark and handsome with an adequate voice but, Oh dear! What a ‘cheesy’ script this musical had! There will only ever be one ‘Funny Girl’ production as far as I am concerned and that was the 1968 film version with Barbra Streisand as ‘Fanny Brice’ and Omar Sharif as ‘Nicky Arnstein’ with Kay Medford as Fanny’s mother and dear old Walter Pigeon as Florenz Ziegfeld. A classic romantic musical!
Not much sleep was had in the Buik household on Sunday night, watching the velodrome drama unfold after the gymnastics with Max Whitlock winning two golds within the hour. However it was Justin Rose’s golf gold medal that started to capture the imagination followed by Andy Murray’s titanic 4-hour struggle in beating Juan-Martin Del Potro in 4 sets which took us in to the small hours followed by the sporting icon to end all icons – Usain Bolt’s demolition of a strong 100 metre contingent to win his 7th gold with two almost certainly to follow. Yesterday Charlotte Dujardin hit the spot for the third time yesterday with the gold in the dressage and Mark Cavendish, after an incredible Tour de France, secured a silver medal in the Velodrome.
Looking at the performance of most global equity indices, you would be forgiven for thinking that the world’s economy is on the way to the moon. Wall Street has hit record levels; the FTSE 100 is only 200 points off its all-time record achieved very briefly in April 2015 and Japan’s NIKKEI has enjoyed a decent recovery since February on the back of Abe-san’s aggressive stimuli policies. Yet there is still a stench of fear and uncertainty in the air. Many canny investors believe some of these bourses are too frothy with a few cute hedge and money funds actively looking to ‘short’ some stocks they have little faith in. We seem, now, to have arrived at a critical point in the investment cycle. Just take the FTSE 100 – up 15% since 27th June 2016. With little sign of improving profits and growth, that recovery looks beyond the call of duty, regardless of a cut in rates and a further £70 billion QE package.
When the sun starts to drop below the yardarm in October, will these equity buccaneers vent their spleen on the market? Already this year fortunes have been won and lost in the banking and housebuilding sectors. Mining has made an indecently robust recovery this year whilst the old ‘faithfuls’ – M&S, Sports Direct, Tesco, Ocado, Sainsbury, Morrison, Thos Cook, Tui Travel – look vulnerable – like sitting ducks on a wall if the UK’S economy is found seriously wanting post BREXIT. It is fair to say that despite the price war the supermarkets are currently engaged in, the consumer seems as buoyant and confident as ever. They are down in the shopping malls in their droves and holidays do not appear to have gone ‘on hold’, though perhaps ‘Old Blighty’ has more appeal than it has had in recent years due to threat of terrorism and the falling Pound.
The whole world has taken extreme pleasure hurling condemnation at Sir Philip Green for supposedly allowing BHS’S pension scheme to get in to disarray. This parlous situation may not be his fault as he is not on the board of the pension scheme. Also there are few companies that would let their businesses fall in favour of its pension scheme. The message that must go out – public and private sector – is that two thirds pension on retirement is history. Employees need to be told this fact in words of one syllable. They must also save and make contingency provisions for themselves in the future. The £570 million BHS black hole is but a mere bagatelle in comparison to many other deficits. We are told that the retail sectors black hole may be as much as £6 billion. Other companies purported to have large pension deficits include BT (£7.6 billion), BAE Systems (£4.5 billion), BP (£4.2 billion) and Shell (£2.9 billion). Companies must legally be allowed to move away from inflation/RPI increases, which they cannot afford. This is a real problem and few seem to be addressing it. For one I am sad that Baroness Altmann is no longer in the government, beating the warning drum!
Taking all the vagaries and pitfalls that markets and the economy are currently enduring and the time of year, there are still a remarkable number of deals and initiatives on the table for conversation or consummation. Yesterday William Hill again rebuffed Rank/888 Holdings’ inadequate £3 billion + bid. It appears that Sky Bet’s owner CVC Capital may step up to the plate with a more fulsome bid. Talking of Sky (unconnected) it is interesting to see that the ambitions of this TV titan are still there with sorties in to Spain very much on the agenda to take Netflix and Amazon on, following in the wake of their German and Italian acquisitions. Misys may be heading back to the City for another £5 billion float. EOne, the owner of ‘Pepper Pig’, having rejected recent overtures from ITV, may soon have to deal with another suitor – KKR. There is also talk of Prosieben keeping its options open. Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has attracted more than its fair share of adverse publicity in recent times. Nonetheless the company, to put the record straight, has agreed to pay as much £1 million to staff who have been paid less than the minimum requirement. Some staff may get as much as £1,000.
Yesterday proved to be just a journeyman’s session for London, with the FTSE 100 adding another 25 points to 6941. On rising oil prices Wall Street hit new record levels though corporate news was rather thin on the ground. Later in the week Walmart, Target and others post interim results. The DOW added 0.32%, the S&P 500 0.28% and the NASDAQ a bright 0.56%. This morning Asian bourses saw a few profit takers as the YEN remained strong, causing the NIKKEI to ease by 1.02% at 6.45am. The ASX was easier by 0.13% with the Shanghai Composite lower by 0.52% and the Hang Seng just in positive territory – +0.16%.
At 9.30am this morning UK CPI and RPI data will be posted. Inflation may just flicker a point higher than last month to 0.6%. Inflation may not select another gear until well in to 2017. Tomorrow many expect the unemployment level, if at all, to have maintained its current level of 4.9%. The effects of BREXIT may again not be felt for some months. BHP Billiton posted some fairly unexciting numbers just now. The only person to be excited will probably be the CEO – Andrew Mackenzie – who has picked up $12 million for his troubles in the last 2 years! Balfour Beatty has won a $697 million railway contract in the US. That is something to shout about
UK companies posting results this week – Tuesday – BHP Billiton, Antofagasta, Cairn Energy, John Menzies, Mears Group, John Wood Group, Wednesday – Gem Diamonds, Balfour Beatty, Lookers, Admiral, CLS Holdings, Thursday – Evraz, Rank Organisation, Kaz Minerals, Premier Oil, Kingfisher
US companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday TJX, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Urban Outfitters, Wednesday – Target, American Eagle, Staples, L-Brands, Thursday – Walmart, Hormel Foods, Applied Materials, America’s Car-Mart, Ross Stores, Gap, Friday – Foot Locker
Economic data being posted this week – Monday – US Rightmove Housing Data, US NAHB & Empire State Manufacturing, Tuesday – UK CPI & RPI, US Industrial production, Germany ZEW, Wednesday – UK employment data, US FOMC Minutes, Thursday – UK retail sales, US Initial Jobless Claims, US Phili-Fed, Friday – UK Public Sector Borrowing
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