TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 15th December 2016

 

“Have you forgotten yet?…

For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,

Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:

And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow

Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,

Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.

But the past is just the same–and War’s a bloody game…

Have you forgotten yet?…

Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

 

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz–

The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?

Do you remember the rats; and the stench

Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench–

And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?

Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack–

And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then

 

As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?

Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back

With dying eyes and lolling heads–those ashen-grey

Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?…

Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.”

 

    Siegfried Sassoon – poet & soldier – 1886-1967

 

I have always been a tremendous devotee of the Donmar Theatre. Occasionally they go ‘left field’ or ‘off-piste’ if you prefer with some of their productions. The Josie O’Rourke interpretation of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘St Joan’ was both – it was also truly awful and excruciatingly boring. I remember seeing the Jean Seberg portraying her in the film versions. That was another ‘match-stick jobby’ – hence I was prepared to try again. I am sure Gemma Arterton is a wonderful actress – a pity she did not get a chance to show us her talent. Her day will come. The only star of the evening was Bloomberg’s Mark Barton who relayed fictitious egg and cattle prices on the screen with great gusto and panache! The evening was an experience best forgotten!

So FED chairman Janet Yellen and her FOMC board finally got their act together and raised the FED rate to between 0.5% and 0.75%. M/S Yellen is ultra-cautious and conveys the impression that she needs to call a board meeting before putting one foot in front of the other. She has been consistent in saying that any rate hike would only be implemented subject to the quality of the data – Payroll, Inflation, wages and construction/manufacturing. However she has not been consistent with her forecasting. Last year Yellen forecasted four hikes in 2016. I think last night’s was the first of the year. The FED intimated there may be three hikes in 2017 and in 3 years’ time the FED rate could hit 3%. US equity markets were slightly ‘non-plus’ with the comments and eased by an average of 0.5%. The FED should be commended for weaning its economy off QE, allowing it eventually to stand on its own two feet. However this policy is in contrast to the rest of the world, who seem hell-bent on hanging on to Central banks’ A&E facilities. US banks’ shares’ reaction was mixed – Wells Fargo -2%, JP Morgan and Citibank both -0.5%. However since 8th November – Presidential election day Goldman Sachs is up 21% as is JP Morgan. Citibank has rallied by 23% and Wells Fargo by 20%!

 

In the same period the following European banks performed well but not as ebulliently as their US counterparts. HSBC +11.8%, Barclays +21.5%, Lloyds Banking Group 11.1%, RBS +19.1%, Standard Chartered Bank +8.8%, Deutsche Bank +47%, UBS +15.6%. So the market seems none too concerned about BREXIT or do the ‘Doubting Thomases’ think this expansion of business will take place from the hinterland of EU!

 

Yesterday the FTSE was on top of its game adding 78 points with the banks leading the charge. However there was a degree of disappointment in Carphone Dixon’s figures presented by that ultra-Europhile Sir Charles Dunstane, who was very downbeat about the future – shares fell by 4.98%. It also emerged that Punch Taverns became embroiled in a takeover battle in an eternal triangle of lovers. The two ‘Beaux’ were very different in pedigree. The bid is valued at circa £410 million and the two predators are Heineken and Alan McIntosh the Co-Founder of Punch and of Spirit Group; the latter was sold to Greene King. His bid was made by his investment company Emerald. There are 3,300 pubs in the Punch group and this company has turned round a loss last year of £120 million to a profit this year of £60 million. Heineken would split the group into two. They would take 1895 pubs and put them into their Star Pub Group and the rest would go to Patron Capital advisors. The shares rose by over 30% yesterday to £174p, but the outcome is far from certain. Punch Taverns have been highly leveraged. A takeover of this nature would alleviate a little pressure from the balance sheet.

 

The second cyber-attack on Yahoo!’s clients, supposedly involving 1 billion users and contacts is very regrettable and CEO Marissa Mayer’s reputation will look rather damaged and tarnished if it prevents Verizon from buying its operating business for the pre-agreed price of $4.83 billion. There were a numbers of company results this morning which were on the whole quite sound – Just Eat bough HungryHouse for £200 million and Centrica posted a really encouraging trading statement. Go-Ahead and Petrofac slightly disappointed. 888 Holding’s efforts were solid. Vivendi already owns 20% of Mediaset but would like to own it lock stock and barrel. It seems unlikely that Mr Berlusconi would countenance such an idea. At 10.00am the FTSE was trading down 10 points at 6940. Gold continues to drift – down 0.6% at $1137 an ounce.

 

There was some delightfully playful speculation in an article written by Hugo Duncan in the Daily Mail on who might succeed Robert Swannell as chairman of M&S. Mr Swannell has been there for 6 years and probably allowed Marc Bolland to outstay his welcome. When he started his tenure M&S’S share price was 307p. It went to 597p in May 2015 and back down to 348p.  Amongst the runners and riders to succeed as chairman is Kate Swann, the former CEO of WH Smith. She is attractively priced at 7/1, though Sir Charlie Mayfield (he of John Lewis fame) is the ‘red-hot-jolly!’

 

UK Companies posting results this week – Thursday – Petrofac, Tungsten, PZ Cussons, Go-Ahead, Centrica, Just Eat, 888 Holdings, Friday – Trinity Mirror

 US Companies posting interim results this week – Thursday – Oracle, Adobe Systems

 Economic data this week – Thursday – MPC Meeting, UK Retail Sales, CBI Industrial order expectations, Friday – US Housing starts & Trade Balance

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

David Buik]]6 Market Commentator

D +44 (0)20 7886 2775 Panmure Gordon & Co  One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF | United Kingdom www.panmure.com

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