TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday 18th August 2016
“Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;
And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;
And the countryside not caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;
Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word—the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.”
Philip Larkin – poet – 1922-1985
Didn’t you love the pictures in today’s newspapers of the scowling Sir Philip Green, whose holiday was interrupted by Sky News on the island of Ithaca? Despite the warmth of the sun and glow which can emanate from Ouzo, there was little sign that the King of Gowns & Blouses had forgotten his full vocabulary of Anglo-Saxon terminology!
It would have been great to have spent the day at the Ebor meeting on the Knavesmire in York yesterday. The weather was glorious. The Yorkshire ladies were out in force dressed to kill in all their finery. The racing was top class and I would love to have witnessed ‘Postponed’ win a shade cosily by a length and a mumble from ‘Highland Reel’. He looks a very useful tool, having won the Juddemonte over a mile and 2 furlongs, when his ideal trip is a mile and a half. Let’s hope Roger Varian can keep him sweet for a tilt at the ‘Arc’ in October; if not one of those big turf races at the Breeder’s Cup or both!
In early skirmishes, yesterday, it appeared that US equity markets might be inclined to shed about half a per-cent in value. However the rather benign minutes of the FOMC steadied the ship, with stocks finishing just above the Plimsoll line – DOW +0.12%, S&P +0.19%, NASDAQ +0.03%. The Fed, though keen to implement another rate rise this year, assuming the data supports its intention, the minutes of yesterday’s FOMC indicate that the next US rate hike will be delayed. Prevarication seems to be the by-word! In a relatively inauspicious session Target posted their interim results. They were not well received when it was announced that its profit forecast was being cut with sales of electrical goods faltering. Apple products performed particularly badly with sales down by 20%! Shares were down 6.45%. Today the great God ‘Walmart’ posts its numbers. Walmart shares have enjoyed a decent little pop in the last 3 months – up from $62 to $72 (+16%). This move suggests hopes for a decent result are high. Cisco Systems served notice to bin 5,500 jobs, sending shares 1.3% lower.
Some of you who may from time to time read this drivel will recall that yesterday I covered the relatively bland machinations of the FTSE with the exception of Admiral. This car insurance titan rather surprisingly chose market volatility as a result of BREXIT as the reason for missing their sales and profits target. The market was underwhelmed and took the stock down by 7.7% – very unforgiving reaction! From the small caps Indivior, an emerging pharma bounced out of the traps adding 8.8%.
On the domestic front, many like me were pleased that the employment data posted yesterday offered hope, even though the monthly unemployment rate increased monthly – April 4.8%, May 4.9% and June 5.1%! It was also interesting that house prices had been more adversely affected in areas of the UK that voted to ‘REMAIN!’ However consumer and business sentiment has started to improve in the last month. Let’s hope retail sales posted at 9.30am don’t prick the balloon of hope. I sincerely hope that when the beautiful, bronzed, lithe, lissome and gazelle-like beautiful people return from their holiday, they put their shoulder to the wheel and stop whining! BREXIT is done! Make it a success!
In Asia the session was mixed. The ASX closed down 0.5% and the NIKKEI was easier by 1.5%. The Shanghai Composite traded much of the session in positive territory and the started to wilt – down -0.2% at the time of writing. The Hang Seng was up 1.7% in the morning but towards the close it was only +0.8% to the good. Interest in trading started to flag.
There were some interesting results this morning. Kingfisher posted a 3% like for like increase in sales. Sales were substantially better in the UK with Screwfix at the centre of its success, than there were in France. Kingfisher has bought back £150 million of shares. The share price dipped by 1.5%, but is only down 0.11% at the time of writing. The shares have risen 14% in 5 weeks. Tullow Oil confirmed that its Ghana operation is starting to produce oil and 23k barrels a day is expected. Tullow’s shares are up about 30% in recent weeks, admittedly from a trashed level. The company is quite heavily indebted so don’t expect too much more in the tank until production selects another gear. Kaz Minerals benefitted from currency vagaries and the shares popped 8.5%.
UK companies posting results this week – Thursday – Evraz, Rank Organisation, Kaz Minerals, Premier Oil, Kingfisher
US companies posting interim results this week –Thursday – Walmart, Hormel Foods, Applied Materials, America’s Car-Mart, Ross Stores, Gap, Friday – Foot Locker
Economic data being posted this week – Thursday – UK retail sales, US Initial Jobless Claims, US Phili-Fed, Friday – UK Public Sector Borrowing
Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co
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