TODAY’S FAYRE – Friday, 26th August 2016
“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
WH Auden – poet – 1907-1973
The Jeremy Corbyn/Owen Smith Circus is an excruciatingly boring saga, even for many Labour party supporters, as the candidates continue to faff about with rule book trivia. Labour are losing credibility by the day. Despite the fact that BBC/Sky/ITV are obsessed about covering this leadership charade, the sooner 23rd September comes the better. Government needs a robust opposition and it certainly isn’t getting with these two jesters. Sort yourselves out Labour and produce a plausible candidate to hold the Government to account! This nonsense is unhealthy.
BREXIT is now starting to ask many searching questions on the job front – in other words dealing with the manual and care work needed to fill some of the 600,ooo job vacancies that currently exists, as well as the seasonal work required liking picking hops and potatoes, that are mainly filled by immigrants from Europe. Many of our unemployed don’t fancy these vacancies or the prospect of manual labour. There is also a movement of Labour issue – all very frustrating. However in years gone by the young of today – 16 years + used to have holiday jobs, which in my day we all relished. Today, surely this kind of temporary work would help with painful tuition fees. I would love to know why these jobs are no longer or rarely available to the young of today.
Let’s start off with some great news, particularly as the “Doubting Thomases’ in the media hardly give the news set out below major bold headlines and the “REMAIN” cognoscente seem reluctant to discuss its merits –
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders announced yesterday that July UK car production continues growth with over one million cars already built this year! WOW! July marks 12th consecutive month of growth for UK car makers, with output up 7.6% to 126,566 units. 1,023,723 cars produced in the year-to-date, the first time the 1m milestone reached in July since 2004. Double digit growth for home and export markers in first seven months as new models drive global demand. All I can say is – ‘Oh Ye of little faith!’ The UK still remains the number 2 car assembly country behind Germany. What an effort! No one doubts for a minute that there will be pitfalls as the UK negotiates its way out of the EU. The new trade agreements are likely to offer significant challenges, starting with the diplomatic skills of Messrs Johnson Davis and Fox, who seem to have been remarkably somnolent in the past two months. Had I been in charge I would have been flat to the boards looking for negotiators from across the globe. Maybe these august ministers have been hard at work on these issues.
Sports Direct’s chairman Keith Helliwell and CEO Mike Ashley really have been under the cosh. Yesterday a major shareholder – L&G – together with the Investor Forum, which has £14.5 trillion of investments have lambasted this retail titan for further very poor corporate governance. The latter believes that Sports Direct should conduct a thorough independent review. Chairman Helliwell has been accused three times by L&G for its unacceptable stance to dealing with its staff. The unacceptable behaviour includes the following –
“Six strikes and you are out” policy – with strikes given to employees if they spend too long in the lavatory, take a break for a drink of water or time off when children are unwell
Shop staff asked to clock out early so wages aren’t over budget despite being asked to work overtime
Paying warehouse staff below the national minimum wage as a result of bottle-necks in search queues.
110 ambulance or paramedic call outs to Sports Direct’s warehouse in Shirebrook with 50 classified as “life threatening” and one woman giving birth in the toilet
Temporary staff promised permanent employment contracts in exchange for sexual favours
A year ago Sports Direct shares stood at 765p and today they stand at 305p (-1.53% yesterday). Not only has the company had corporate governance issues but it has also posted a profits warning a few months ago. Mr Ashley should not be underestimated. It would not surprise me if this operation went private again or share ‘buy-backs’ were implemented, if pertinent, to give him greater control, despite already owning 61%! 80% of Sports Direct workers are on ‘zero hour’ contracts.
Yesterday London enjoyed a rather rudderless session as it headed towards the Bank holiday. There was also the obsession with the Jackson Hole meeting of Central bankers who will all have arrived with their own copy of a Bletchley Park code book to dazzle monosyllabic congenital idiots like me with their economic science. I suppose a rate hike in the US in December is on the cards. Drug companies in concert with those in the UK were under pressure due to jingoistic comments made by Hillary Clinton on the cost of drugs and patents. She has been on this crusade since President Bill took office in 1992! She has a real chance of bringing change on that front if she makes to Pennsylvania Avenue in November. ITV closed the door finally on Entertainment One and dear Old Peppa Pig! The FTSE 100 eased by 18 points to 6816.
The session in New York yesterday was just as uninteresting with the DOW, S&P 500 and the NASDAQ all closing just below the Plimsoll line. Most healthcare companies shed about 1% in value. In Asia, the session was mixed. The ASX closed down 0.43% with the NIKEI down 0.99%, thanks to fall in consumer prices. China was having a more cheerful time of it – just after lunch the Shanghai Composite was up 0.27% and the Hang Seng was 0.34% to the good. The FTSE 100 is expected to open up relatively flat.
UK companies posting results this week – Friday – Restaurant Group, Lavendon Group, Marshalls, Computacenter
US companies posting interim results this week – Friday – Big Lots
Economic data being posted this week – UK 2nd quarter GDP estimate.
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