TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 8th September 2016
“He saw her from the bottom of the stairs
Before she saw him. She was starting down,
Looking back over her shoulder at some fear.
She took a doubtful step and then undid it
To raise herself and look again. He spoke
Advancing toward her: ‘What is it you see
From up there always—for I want to know.’
She turned and sank upon her skirts at that,
And her face changed from terrified to dull.
He said to gain time: ‘What is it you see,’
Mounting until she cowered under him.
‘I will find out now—you must tell me, dear.’
She, in her place, refused him any help
With the least stiffening of her neck and silence.
She let him look, sure that he wouldn’t see,
Blind creature; and awhile he didn’t see.
But at last he murmured, ‘Oh,’ and again, ‘Oh.’
‘What is it—what?’ she said.
‘Just that I see.’
‘You don’t,’ she challenged. ‘Tell me what it is.’
‘The wonder is I didn’t see at once.
I never noticed it from here before.
I must be wonted to it—that’s the reason.
The little graveyard where my people are!
So small the window frames the whole of it.
Not so much larger than a bedroom, is it?
There are three stones of slate and one of marble,
Broad-shouldered little slabs there in the sunlight
On the sidehill. We haven’t to mind those.
But I understand: it is not the stones,
But the child’s mound—’ Thomas Hardy – author & poet – 1874 –1963
I was interested to read this morning that Donald Trump would up the US’ military game if he were elected. Well that makes sense for a Republican President. Many of my US contacts tell me that Trump would have a far better relationship with Putin than Mrs Rodham-Clinton would be ever likely to have. However this escalation could rattle Putin’s cage, I fear!
If someone like Sam Mendez was thinking about producing a remake of ‘‘Gone with the Wind’ and was concerned as to who should be cast as Rhett Butler he need look no further than Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, were he of course looking for another career – the quintessential matinee idol – suave, good looking, super-confident and an aura of inaccessibility. AND he clearly does not suffer from desperate halitosis, as Clark Gable did, due to food being lodged in his false teeth!
Anyway, enough of such frivolity and supercilious comment! Giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee Mr Carney, probably a dormant ‘REMAIN ACOLYTE’ supported by Sir Jon Cunliffe, a celebrated European and Kirstin Forbes described the Bank of England pre-emptive strike to prevent a deep-seated recession as ‘serene!’ – An interesting choice of adjective. Certainly the BOE was decisive and in the wake of jingoistic comments made by a coterie of heavyweights including the PM, Chancellor, Treasury, IMF, President of the US plus copious distinguished economists, as a duty of care, he felt obliged to cut rates and open the QE floodgates. Whether it was necessary immediately remains conjecture. I don’t think it was essential to blow the whistle of panic with such indecent haste!
However the BOE titans who also include Andy Haldane and Andrew Bailey clearly believe there is bad news on the horizon, which will include a measurable drop in GDP, which may necessitate triggering another rate cut! Jacob Rees-Mogg and Governor Carney clearly would not choose to spend time in each other’s company and that little side drama adds to the enjoyment of theatrical indulgence. For two pins Mr Rees-Mogg would have had the Governor, as an apostle of George Osborne, removed. I don’t think that would have been constructive as a knee-jerk reaction it would have caused further confusion and uncertainty!
Right across the spectrum yesterday equities enjoyed rather a non-descript session. London and New York finished just above the Plimsoll line despite poor UK manufacturing data which was already priced in. Keith Hellawell and Mike Ashley were castigated at Sports Direct’s AGM for unacceptable corporate governance. Ashley refused to sack Hellawell at the insistence of major shareholders such as Standard Life. As Ashley owns 55% of the shares, he can do as he pleases. However he must improve the company’s performance to maintain support and to improve the share price.
Hellawell, who will go next year, is 74 and one wonders what he knows about retail. Many fear he is Ashley’s puppet. Sports Direct will not be going private in the foreseeable future, reiterated Ashley. Shares have fallen 60% in the last year and there is much work in progress for this company to satisfy its outside shareholders if it is to improve its tarnished image. The flashing of a wad of £50-notes by the flamboyant CEO, shown to million on TV would not have enhanced Ashley’s reputation amongst his staff at the Shirebrook Derby warehouse yesterday.
The contents of the Beige Book suggested that the US economy was making decent if not spectacular progress. Hewlett Packard posted satisfactory results and indirectly Meg Whitman’s management team may have been indirectly buoyed by Micro-Focus agreeing in principle to step up to the plate and pay £7 billion to scoop up HP Software, which could turn out to be the largest tech acquisition by a UK company. Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered the Apple iPhone 7 with a great fanfare. It would appear to be different with more bells and whistles than some had hoped for. Apple shares rose by 0.6%. What was interesting was the fact that at much the same time Nintendo’s shares jumped 28.79% following the announcement that Super Mario Run is coming to the iOS App Store in December! It is interesting to note that former Deputy BOE Governor, Sir Charlie Bean popped his head above the parapet yesterday with his prognosis that London would lose FX business, as a result of BREXIT. It was going to anyway with Asia gaining ground on the back of Remninbi trading.
In Asia this morning again it was a lack-lustre session. The ASX closed -0.7% and the NIKKEI was down 0.03%. The Shanghai Composite was up a negligible 0.1% with HK 0.7% to the good. At 9.50am the FTSE was up 40 at 6885. Zoopla posted adequate numbers and Fenner after a few months in the doldrums has recently started the recovery process and its shares were up 5%. The yellow jersey was undisputed and belonged for this session to Micro-Focus – up 16% having been up 23% at the opening.
UK companies posting results this week – Thursday – Fenner, Dixons Carphone (TS), Monitise
US companies posting interim results this week – Thursday – Donaldson’s, Barnes & Noble
Economic data this week – Thursday – US Initial Jobless Claims, ECB Press Conference, Friday – RICS House prices, UK Trade Balances
Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co
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