Monthly Archives: March 2017

TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 30th March 2017

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.”


TS Eliot – author, playwright & poet – 1888-1965


So one of the great political ‘red-letter-days’ for decades to throw up exciting challenges for the UK electorate – BREXIT DAY – came and went yesterday.  There was an excessive, almost unacceptable, degree of concern, surprise, hatred, acrimony and divisiveness. The uncertainty was brilliantly fuelled the divergent support of the media – written and visual.  They were given a great opportunity and they capitalised on the electorate’s mixed feelings with alacrity and adroitness almost to a point of saturation. It will be almost two months before any meaningful negotiations take place with succulent meat on the bone to chew on.  The EU has other pressing business to consider and deal with such as the French Presidential election.


I think we should all calm down and reflect before doing a ‘Lily Allen!’   In passing I just make the following observation.  Surely people do not expect our government to behave like a ‘shrinking violet?’  Do people really expect PM May to lie down and have her tummy tickled or have J-C Juncker’s or Michel Marnier’s ‘size-12’ hobnailed boots launched in to her rib cage? These negotiations must be dignified.  However we have a massive amount to offer the EU in not only trade, financial services, but also in security and defence.  The EU needs to be told this courteously. The UK wants to negotiate; to find common ground and not just be told how it is. EU politicians know this and will respect the UK negotiators’ perspective.  Hence we must expect just a smidgen of jingoistic friendly veiled threats just to keep the balance at the right level – level eyeball to eyeball contact!


Clearly there are frayed nerves from business leaders in Europe, Japan and the United States at the level of uncertainty that has been thrown up – totally understandable.  However the EU refused to allow any discussions to take place – formal or informal – until Article 50 had been invoked. So that was an effective delaying tactic.  I must confess to being a little nervous at the inordinate length of time it is taking to set these negotiations rolling. It is folly just to blame the UK government.  The longer the EU can prolong its ‘delaying tactics’ the greater the pressure on the UK.  Tusk, Juncker and the likes of Verhofstadt will be salivating from their chops with relish! It is generally felt that M Barnier will be as tough as teak as the lead negotiator.  He is experienced and the EU will expect his very best shot.  Initially I doubt he will offer the scraps from Lazarus’s table. At the end of the day 400 million people have to eat and trade. So a pragmatic approach by both sides will be preferable.


A long walk in the spring sunshine to clear the cobwebs and a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc tonight is surely the order of the day!


Equity markets hardly blinked yesterday, though later in the day on the back of  a measured Wall Street surge the FTSE 100 closed 30 points to the good with oil stocks waking briefly from its slumber – to 7373.  Positions in equities were taken months ago and the valuation of the FTSE is dependent far more on the Dollar and Trump, rather than BREXIT.  Sterling has enjoyed its 17% fall against the Dollar and 12% against the Euro in the last 9 months, thanks to the BREXIT cloud of uncertainty.  Bond yields across the globe has risen gradually.  The US may tighten interest rates again. The UK and EU are still pondering, awaiting fresh adverse inflation data.  GDP in the UK looks OK at around 2% currently for 2017, but is likely to drift later this year. There were good results from James Halstead and Alliance Pharma and indifferent efforts from Tui Ag and Saga.


It was the cancelled merger between Deutsche Boerse and the LSE that grabbed most headlines. A rather pathetic rejection was offered by EU regulators, probably fuelled by some spurious 9% LSE involvement in MTS, an Italian bond trading platform. What will raise a few eyebrows will be the £97 million of professional fees due to Goldman, JP Morgan, Linklaters and Deloitte. Even though the deal was aborted a high percentage of these fees will be due! I suspect Xavier Rolet will have contingency plans for the LSE.  Perhaps an association with CME might suit both parties.  Who knows but there certainly appears to be a degree of synergy in their respective businesses. Shares closed up 2.63% at 3103p. LSE shares have rallied from £10 in 2006 when Rolet took over from Dame Clara Furse – a job well done!


Yesterday US markets responded in places maianly thanks to a strong Dollar and higher oil prices – Here is how they closed and positions to date DOW: 20,659 -0.20% +4.54%, S&P: 2,361 +0.11% +5.46%, NASDAQ: 5,430 +0.43% +11.65%, Asian markets were experiencing a rather nebulous session. –  NIKKEI: 19,046 -0.90% -0.3%, HANG SENG: 24,281 -0.47% +10.33%, CHINA: 3,432 -0.92% +3.68%, ASX: 5,896 +0.39%% +4.07%. The FTSE is expected to open up 4 points


UK companies posting interim results today – Genel, Booker

 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

+44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF



So the letter was delivered by Sir Tim Barrow to Donald Tusk at 11.20am GMT.  The response was solemn, though respectful, but hardly conclusive.  I thought PM May was very statesmanlike and conciliatory, but very factual and to the point, always stressing that the relationship with all member countries in Europe must be maintained.  Though it is unrealistic to expect any real progress with negotiations before the French elections, it appears the month of May is the earliest date that opening salvos will be made. PM May wants trade negotiations to coincide with withdrawal terms.  I think she might be lucky to achieve that. The one issue I do not hold with is the negative tone of the media – This looks too difficult. This is so complicated!  Folk need to understand – we bring a great deal to the party such as defence, trade and financial prowess.  We should not be shrinking violets in these negotiations.


So how did the markets react? Frankly positions were taken months ago such as the value of Sterling – still down 17% against the Dollar since 24th June 2016. Sterling drifted to $1.2370 in Asia but has recovered to $1.24.25. The FTSE has added 20% in value since June last year courtesy of the fact that 60% of the constituent stocks produce Dollar earnings.  However it is fair to say that expectations from the Trump administrations have provided significant momentum.  If he fails to deliver over infrastructure spending and tax cuts mind your eye. There could be a correction!


The FTSE started positively adding 20 points but soon gave up the ghost and at 1.45pm the FTSE is down 10 and 7330.  Miners and oils lead the early rally but soon gave back their modest gains. Of those companies to post numbers, Saga failed to pass muster – -2.25%, Tui AG -0.7% and James Halstead +1%. The only interesting news was the collapse of the Deutsche Boerse deal to merge with the LSE.  However since the LSE’s share price is up 2.45% at 3098p. When CEO Rolet took over it was £10. He’s done a great job and few would be surprised if he did not trigger a relationship with someone like CME – good synergy with global derivatives.

TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday 29th March 2017



“Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,

As his corpse to the rampart we hurried;

Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot

O’er the grave where our hero we buried.


We buried him darkly at dead of night,

The sods with our bayonets turning;

By the struggling moonbeam’s misty light

And the lantern dimly burning.


No useless coffin enclosed his breast,

Not in sheet nor in shroud we wound him;

But he lay like a warrior taking his rest,

With his martial cloak around him.


Few and short were the prayers we said,

And we spoke not a word of sorrow;

But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead,

And we bitterly thought of the morrow.


We thought, as we hollow’d his narrow bed

And smoothed down his lonely pillow,

That the foe and the stranger would tread o’er his head

And we far away on the billow!


Slowly and sadly we laid him down,

From the field of his fame fresh and gory;

We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,

But we left him alone in his glory.”




Charles Wolfe – poet – 1791-1823


 Since the atrocities in Westminster last week, there has been Wall-to-Wall news coverage of this heinous crime of the very highest quality. Apart from the fact that it was a crying shame that PC Keith Palmer was not armed, the police, security and public services came out of this terrible ordeal with the greatest possible credit. Being abroad at the times only went to exemplify how fortunate the U.K. is to have such incredible support of the highest quality immediately at hand. The whole torrid act of barbarism was all over in 82 seconds. The damage to those who perished their families and those injured will regrettably be with them in perpetuity. 


Messrs Clinton, Blair and Campbell may have a minute point in flagging up Martin McGuinness’s contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland. However, in a previous life, he was an out and out bounder – a less descriptive word for a terrorist. Just think of all the hundreds of people that suffered courtesy of the IRA. For me the adulation he received at his funeral from those not associated with Sinn Fein was way over the top. He was never incarcerated for a prolonged period of time for his crimes. Just think about poor old Sgt Alex Blackman – 10 years for murder reduced to 7 for manslaughter for serving his country with courage in the line of duty. Sometimes I think the law is an ass!


When one considers the number of political imponderables that have dogged the equilibrium of our day to day lives – Trump’s inability to get his reforms through Congress, the vagaries of Brexit, the tiresome M/S Sturgeon’s relentless quest for a second Referendum, damaging inflation, a drop in U.K. consumer confidence, not forgetting the dark election clouds of uncertainty that hang over France and Germany, it is amazing how robust equity markets have remained.


In the past couple of weeks most of the main indices have drifted from record levels by just a couple of per cent. In my humble opinion that is a right Royal result. There is also concern about the last quarter earnings on both sides of the pond. The earnings season starts in a couple of weeks when all will be revealed. I believe that investors should be far more concerned about Trump failing to have Obamacare repealed, which does not augur well for the 45th President guiding his tax cuts and infrastructure spending unimpeded, than they should be about antagonism towards Brexit.


After an 8 day losing streak the DOW broke out of the Doldrums, partly due to better Consumer Data than of late. The Street of Dreams closed as follows including YTD numbers – DOW: 20,701 +0.73% +4.75% S&P: 2,358 +0.73 +5.35% NSDAQ: 5,407 +0.61% +11.180%. In Asia trading activity was rather listless as investors awaited news on the introduction of Samsung’s Galaxy 8 smartphone. These markets were heading for the close as follows. NIKKEI: 19,208 +0.03% +0.53%, HANG SENG: 24,374 +0.13% +10.83%, CHINA: 3,482 +0.38% +5.17%, ASX: 5,873 +0.90%% +3.67%.


This morning – BREXIT DAY! – Market activity was nebulous at best. The FTSE 100 is down 3 points at 7340. The Pound was easier but has improved to close to $1.25. Never have I seen so many downbeat commentators and contributors in the media than today. Yes the country is divided politically, but we are left with the impression that business wants to be pragmatic. Theresa May’s biggest job will be to attempt to pull the country together in the next few months. In terms of negotiations little will happen before May. Michel Barnier, the main EU negotiator sounds all sweetness and light – don’t you believe it. He will be cussed to the ‘nth’ degree! No quarter will be asked or given.



The EU would rather lose out economically than agree a pragmatic deal – trust me! The first issue to be dealt with must be immigration – those 3 million EU citizens must be allowed to stay and the 1 million UK citizens must be allowed to remain in the EU. Students should be exempt from the ban. Then this nonsense of a €60 billion divorce bill, made up of pensions, contracts agreed but not dealt with and structural funds – M Juncker, M Guy Verhofstadt and M Barnier, in your dreams! Are we geared up for these negotiations – Messrs Davis and Fox have had 9 months to get their act together. However the intransigence of the EU refusing to even draw up heads of agreement has been unhelpful.


Comments from Sir Ivan Rogers and Professor Woolcock on trade negotiations may be perceived to be negative and they have a right to warn of the complexity, but not to spoil endeavor. Many like me have great faith in Sir Tim Barrow. Let’s hope that the main dramatis personae can keep cool heads on both sides of La Manche. I have my doubts. However 400 million have to eat and trade – so why cut off your nose to spite your face.


I missed the BT fine of £42 million and their obligation to repay £300 million to co-suppliers. Also Tesco’s fine for over stating profits has done little harm to its share price.

Yesterday the Bank of England stated that he UK’s biggest banks have been told to expect tougher stress tests to meet a wider range of challenges, partly down to contingency plans from any sudden slowdown in foreign interest in UK assets. The seven major lenders taking part are Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, Santander UK, Standard Chartered and Nationwide. Last year, RBS had to bolster its finances by about £2bn after failing the last stress test.


Finally surprise, surprise the Deutsche Boerse, as expected has been refused permission to merge with the LSE by the EU Commission. Both parties have worked hard at this deal for good reasons. Also many in the UK will be delighted at its failure. So expect Xavier Rolet to galvanise the troops and bed down the LSE with another counterparty, every bit as auspicious. How about CME? That deal would bring all derivative markets to the party. Also it would enable M Rolet to collect its largesse. LSE shares were up 3% initially – now up 2% at 11.00am.


UK companies posting interim results today– James Halstead, Saga, Stagecoach, Alliance Pharma, Tui Travel

 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF


TODAY’S FAYRE – Sunday, 19th March 2017


The grey sea and the long black land;

And the yellow half-moon large and low;

And the startled little waves that leap

In fiery ringlets from their sleep,

As I gain the cove with pushing prow,

And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.


Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;

Three fields to cross till a farm appears;

A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch

And blue spurt of a lighted match,

And a voice less loud, thro’ its joys and fears,

Than the two hearts beating each to each!”






Round the cape of a sudden came the sea,

And the sun looked over the mountain’s rim:

And straight was a path of gold for him,

And the need of a world of men for me.”


Robert Browning – poet – 1812-1889


“You cannot love God and Mammon.” Having had his wings clipped by Theresa May, I can understand that George Osborne might want to bring his influence to bear back into the UK corridors of political power through the back door as Editor of the Evening Standard, particularly with his obsession to ‘REMAIN’ in the EU.  He must still be having nightmares over his disastrous ‘project fear’ campaign, which failed to galvanise the electorate. However, as editor of a brilliant London based newspaper, representing that electorate, which voted 65% to remain, how he can possibly represent Tatton as MP in the North of England and fill his coffers with significant largess from Blackrock and give all those appointments justifiable value, escapes me.



We all know that revenge is best served up cold. Perhaps being editor of a really powerful newspaper, owned by that politically adroit Russian, Evgeny Lebedev, will prove an excellent springboard to be a constant thorn in Mrs May’s side.  He can select his lead journalists and make life as difficult as imaginably possible with editorial influence of his choosing.  Let me remind George Osborne, who I thought was a decent chancellor, that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn!’  It is true to say that on a couple of budget issues she has rolled over and had her tummy tickled. However I believe she has more resolution than we have seen to date! So George, you won’t be able to call all the shots!

Suffice to say that we have heard more than enough from Nicola Sturgeon on the subject of a second referendum last week, with the flames of discontent being fuelled with unbridled relish by the media.  The PM has spoken succinctly and clearly as to her objection to the idea; so can we put any referendum on hold until after March 2019 please. Very boring, excessively divisive and how can any decision be made constructively until we know what the terms for BREXIT are?


The Cheltenham Festival was full of its astonishing achievements.  Gordon Elliott was champion trainer with 6 winners. Willie Mullins also had 6 winners but less placed horses. ‘Sizing John’ was a very popular winner of the Gold Cup for Jessie Harrington and Robbie Power. Everyone was gutted for Rich Ricci and connections of ‘Douvan’, a true champion that sustained an injury, thus failing to win the Champion Chase. Nicky Henderson has trained a record number of champion hurdlers and JP McManus broke through the ‘festival’ 50 winner barrier. The bookies had a field day with so many jollies rolled over!  I never want to hear a bookie plead poverty again. However, I was reluctantly pleased for Mike Dillon, David Williams and Kieron O’Brien, the really great turf accountants of racing! 


As for the 6-Nations it did not go to plan! Ireland were the better side on the day and England’s attacking prowess was left on the training ground.  Frankly the team never turned up. To be without Heslip, Murray and Kearney and still win just shows the level of spirit displayed by Ireland with Sexton displaying always a trick too many.  For me Eddie Jones remains the sporting coach of the year! – A true inspiration!



Again the past week has hardly been uneventful.  The FED raised interest rates with a slightly dovish tone in its accompanying message. President Trump’s ‘want list’ for his first Budget seemed hardly likely to get through Congress unopposed apart from the infrastructure spending.  The MPC in the UK kept rates on hold at 0.25%, though Kirsten Forbes voted to raise rates. The outlook understandably seemed hawkish. It seems unlikely that rates can remain at 0.25% for that much longer, if inflation is heading towards 2.7%, particularly with inflation falling to its lowest rate of 4.7% since 1975. The G20 finance ministers’ meeting looked far from an unqualified success, with no decision on climate change and the US appearing to adopt a protectionist outlook towards the rest of the world on trade issues.  



Despite all these imponderables, equity markets refused to lose heart and were determined to keep the faith.  The S&P 500 added 0.43 last week. The FTSE 100 breached and remained above the 7400 threshold for the week in adding 1.2%.  In the case of European stocks, the average gain of the major indices was 1.4%. The Nikkei in Japan bucked the trend easing by 0.42% thanks to a stronger Yen, despite the BOJ leaving rates unchanged. Gold regained a little poise adding $3 on the week to $1225 an ounce and oil remained flat with Nymex settling at $49 and change per barrel.



The Street of Dreams was not a particularly inspiring arena of activity last week. Snap Inc’s share price fell 11.3% last week to $19.54. Tiffany posted adequate results but was very reliant on its Asian operation. Here in Old Blighty, AMEC Foster Wheeler, after the announcement of its possible69 takeover by John Wood posted news that it had secure a contract with the US Airforce. Tullow Oil’s shares tumbled by over 14% as it announced a £607 million rights issue through Barclays. Having managed to buy Agent Provocateur for a mere pittance the previous week, Sports Direct announced that his quest to build a stake in Debenhams was not yet complete. There was also further evidence that the respective managements of Unilever and Burberry were making contingency plans to avoid making themselves vulnerable to a takeover.  Unilever’s share price has popped from £39 to £46.50 since Kraft Heinz expressed interest. Unilever are considering a sale of Flora, Stork and other margarine operations for £6 billion rather listening to other benign bidders such as Colgate Palmolive. We may have to wait for Burberry’s new CEO to get his feet under the table before we see an improvement.



Bank of England officials including Prudential Banking are becoming increasingly concerned about the long term future of the Coop Bank.  No ready-made purchasers has yet been identified. Investors in Bovis, the troubled housebuilder have told the company to raise their game in bid talks with Redrow.  



In closing, my colleagues at the coal face at Panmure Gordon are delighted at the prospect of being exposed to more capital, courtesy of Bob Diamond’s Atlas Merchant Capital and Qinvest with possible access to a wider client base, who will require financial advice for raising capital or for floatation purposes.  By going private Panmure has a tremendous opportunity to compete with the best in the SME field. These are truly exciting opportunities for this venerable long-standing well respected brand name in the City of London.


UK companies posting interim results this week – Monday – John Laing, Finsbury Food, Tuesday – Fever-Tree Drinks, EKF Diagnostics, Earthport, Faroe Petroleum, 888 Holdings, Amec Foster Wheeler, Bellway, IG Group, Wednesday – Savill’s, Kingfisher, Xaar, Ferrexpo, Thursday – Next, Ted Baker, Kier Group, Halma, Friday – Smiths Group

US companies posting numbers this week – Monday – MaxCyte, Tuesday – General Mills, Lennar, Nike, AAR, FedEx, – ConAgra, Micron Technology, KB Homes, Friday – Finish Line


Economic data this week – Monday – Rightmove House Prices, Tuesday – UK PPI & CPI, Thursday – BBA Mortgage approvals,


 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & co

+44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF


I must confess to be scratching the back of my head in bemusement! Why equities should bounce out of the traps on the back of relatively dovish comment from the FED accompanying the 25 basis point hike in the FED rate escapes me. In fact if we think about it a rate hike was not really necessary. Even the fact that HM The Queen had signed the BREXIT document failed to have a negative effect on equities. The EU heavyweights will be delighted that Dutch PM Mark Rutte saw off Wilders and will take heart that this news could damage Mme Le Pen’s prospects in April/May – probably, but France is France. Le Pen spoke to Nigel Farage on LBC for an hour last night. Interesting to note that the only banks she could get to lend her money for her campaign were Russian! The establishment really have closed ranks in France. Could it have an adverse effect on voters?


Anyway punters and investors were off to the races! The FTSE 100 leapt like the proverbial grilse at the opening initially adding 50 points. Mining stocks lead the charge – Anglo American +8%, Glencore +4% and Rio +4%. Vodafone on loose gossip that Liberty Media was sniffing around the mobile operator saw its stock rise by 2%. Banks were somnolent.


Of those companies that posted numbers today, Sainsbury eased by 1.3%. Argos posted good sales +4.3% but food disappointing -0.5%. Balfour Beatty saw profit takers – -4%. OneSavings initially added 4% on good numbers but as I write the shares have fallen by 2% – again profit taking. I, personally, have a serious dose of the ‘pip’ at the Culture Secretary’s decision to refer 21st Century’s £11.5 billion bid for SKY. The Murdoch Empire has been a brilliant investor in TV in this country creating thousands of jobs. Why mealy-mouthed politicians want to put their hob-nailed boots in to this issue? I have no idea. This deal has NOW’T to do with newspaper hacking. SKY shares are up 0.25%. The FTSE at 4.24am 40 points at 7410. Activity in DOW related stocks has been sepulchral – down 10 points.


I know we are all waiting for the tapes to go up at Cheltenham just after 2.00pm this afternoon with the Supreme Novices Hurdle – the first race on the card, catching everyone’s imagination. Unfortunately the fayre in the City is not encapsulating the same fervour. Equities seem to have died on us. There is no doubt that Dollar earning stocks are under pinning the market thanks to Sterling’s weakness. Banks have been weak and mining and oils look rather soft and a little unloved. At 1.01pm the FTSE is down a mere 8 points at 7360.


With a wonderful card at Cheltenham and with little prospect of Mrs May pulling the trigger on Article 50, courtesy of M/S Sturgeon’s skulduggery, there is scant chance of the FTSE reacting at all in the warm spring sunshine. Of those companies that have reported numbers today the ‘yellow jersey’ was handed to SIG – up a short 10%. Of the FTSE 100 companies the Pru pleased its acolytes with a 14% increase in profits. Shares rose by 2.1% having gained 2.82% early doors. Ocado cracked on with good numbers achieved thanks to Waitrose and Morrison – +4.75%. Antofagasta’s efforts never even created a flicker – unchanged. TP ICAP disappointed – -2.5%. Close Brothers were slightly better than expected – +1.75%. All is all a deeply forgettable session. The DOW may open down 0.25%. I hope to be watching ‘River Wylde’ scampering up the Prestbury Park Hill to victory in the ‘Supreme!’


I must say just looking at Andrew Tyrie, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee terrifies the living daylights out of me – let alone being interrogated by him or the sneering John Mann or the super confident Mark Garnier or the delightfully supercilious Jacob Rees-Mogg or the relentless Rachel Reeves, who conveys the impression that she eats nails for breakfast and spits rust out!  


Charlotte Hoog’s CV is impeccable – economist, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, Santander and finally fingered by Mark Carney to restructure the workings of the Bank of England.  I must say I expressed surprise that the Governor saw M/S Hogg as Princess Regent to his coveted position.  I felt she lacked experience in the corridors of Central bank and political power.  But what do I know.


There are surely more heinous crimes than not disclosing that your brother works for Barclays Bank, though I must say it should have crossed her mind that in submitting that fact, she could have batted away any conflict of interest complications with a great deal more authority. What is a crime is to come before the Treasury Select Committee without being word perfect and supremely confident, if not arrogant.  If you do appear as innocent as the day, in the wake of the credit and banking crisis, they will eat you alive.  The TSC thrives on raw meat – the rarer the merrier. You will recall Sir Paul Tucker giving evidence in to the TSC enquiry on Bob Diamond’s suitability to be CEO of Barclays.  His evidence was perceived to be flawed.  Sir Paul is delightful, but his contribution, it was thought, fell short. He is now enjoying a brilliant sojourn at Harvard. He is a huge loss and very much Harvard’s gain!


Clearly the TSC thought M/S Hogg was an unsuitable candidate as Deputy Governor – hence her resignation. Very sad, but today there is no hiding place.


“Sweet, I blame you not, for mine the fault was, had I not been made of common 
I had climbed the higher heights unclimbed yet, seen the fuller air, the 
larger day.

From the wildness of my wasted passion I had struck a better, clearer song,
Lit some lighter light of freer freedom, battled with some Hydra-headed wrong.

Had my lips been smitten into music by the kisses that but made them bleed,
You had walked with Bice and the angels on that verdant and enamelled meed.

I had trod the road which Dante treading saw the suns of seven circles shine,
Ay! perchance had seen the heavens opening, as they opened to the Florentine.

And the mighty nations would have crowned me, who am crownless now and without 
And some orient dawn had found me kneeling on the threshold of the House of 

I had sat within that marble circle where the oldest bard is as the young,
And the pipe is ever dropping honey, and the lyre’s strings are ever strung.

Keats had lifted up his hymeneal curls from out the poppy-seeded wine,
With ambrosial mouth had kissed my forehead, clasped the hand of noble love in 

And at springtide, when the apple-blossoms brush the burnished bosom of the 
Two young lovers lying in an orchard would have read the story of our love;

Would have read the legend of my passion, known the bitter secret of my heart,
Kissed as we have kissed, but never parted as we two are fated now to part.

For the crimson flower of our life is eaten by the cankerworm of truth,
And no hand can gather up the fallen withered petals of the rose of youth.

Yet I am not sorry that I loved you -ah! what else had I a boy to do? – 
For the hungry teeth of time devour, and the silent-footed years pursue.

Rudderless, we drift athwart a tempest, and when once the storm of youth is 
Without lyre, without lute or chorus, Death the silent pilot comes at last.

And within the grave there is no pleasure, for the blindworm battens on the 
And Desire shudders into ashes, and the tree of Passion bears no fruit.

Ah! what else had I to do but love you? God’s own mother was less dear to me,
And less dear the Cytheraean rising like an argent lily from the sea.

I have made my choice, have lived my poems, and, though youth is gone in 
wasted days,
I have found the lover’s crown of myrtle better than the poet’s crown of bays”.


Oscar Wilde – poet & Playwright – 1854-1900

My good friend Simon French, with his tongue heavily protruding through his cheek, playfully suggested that I was being hypocritical in condemning Nicola Sturgeon for obsessively seeking independence for Scotland, considering my support for BREXIT. He may have a point. However I pointed out that Scotland’s economy was nothing like robust enough to go it alone. With no Sterling (officially though Scotland believe it can get round that idea) on a long-term basis, no Bank of England, no regulation, greater difficulties in meeting the criteria for membership to the EU than she lets on and a real problem over nuclear power and membership of NATO. This is hardly a cocktail for success when you add the fact that oil prices are lower than they were in 2014.


However M/S Sturgeon is some piece of work. Talk about a maverick or chancer to capitalise on PM May’s political moment of truth – serving notice on Article 50 – M/S Sturgeon is ‘Queen of the Wooden Spoon’ mob! – She takes the biscuit! She was determined to steal the PM’S thunder and she did a great job.

Simon French insists that I do not play the oil card. As he put it to me Luxembourg (3 million), Switzerland (11 million0, and Ireland (4 million) are small countries whose economies have thrived independently. Of course Ireland and Luxembourg are both in the EU, which will buoy Sturgeon’s aspirations.

Eventually the UK government will have to grant Scotland’s request for another referendum – after March 2019. It would be wrong not to do so. However, hopefully between now and then, the people of Scotland will realise that they are staring over a precipice of economic despair and penury, if they vote to leave the Union. If not, sadly, so be it! Perhaps they don’t care!


Yesterday saw another ‘Merger Mania Monday’ with John Wood Group (+4%) buying AMEX Foster Wheeler (+8%) in a deal valued at £2.2 billion to make a substantial as well as the largest UK energy services company. It also saw INTEL buy Israel’s Mobileye for $15.3 billion to promote its commitment to autonomous cars. Its normal chip business is good but not expanding in the same manner. So the company is sensibly regrouping in to other technological areas. The FTSE closed up 24 points despite M/S Sturgeon’s attempts to spoil the party.



CityAM also posted that there was the prospect of London’s IPO market benefitting to the tune of as much as for £30bn of business from the likes of Logicor, O2, Misys, TI Fluid Systems, BGL Group & Kuwait Energy in the months to come, with the possibility of a piece of ARAMCO to follow. On the Street of Dreams the main markets performed as follows including YTD performances – DOW: 20,881 -0.10% +5.66% S&P: 2,373 +0.04% +6.01% NASDAQ: 5,394 +0.16% +10.92% VIX: 11.35 -2.66% -19.16%. In Asia we heard that Toshiba had postponed announcing its results. Shares have halved in value in the last year. Asian markets headed towards the close as follows – NIKKEI: 19,609 -0.12% +2.59%, HANG SENG: 23,780 -0.18% +8.13%, CHINA: 3,452 -0.17% +4.3%, ASX: 5,759 +0.03%   +1.65%.


This is a huge week for markets with equity, bond and foreign exchange markets all likely to be affected. Tomorrow is the Dutch Election with Wilders likely to be the largest party, though PM Mark Rutte is likely to form the next government with the support of many of the other 26 minority parties! Wilders is not going away and the EU will be left with a thorn it its side. Wednesday is almost certainly likely to see the FOMC put rates up again by 0.25%. Friday’s non-farm payrolls (+235k) were the last positive piece of data that M/S Yellen required for the FED to act. Thursday sees the whites of the eyes of Trump’s first budget. Will there be meat on the bone? – An extra $54 billion defence budget plus the endorsement of $1 trillion infrastructure spending and corporate tax cuts. Will these policies get through Congress? Finally the first G20 meeting attended by President Trump takes place in Germany. The President may not like criticism of his protectionism policies.

A number of companies posted numbers today with Ocado’s efforts encouraging. We await Prudential’s figures at 11.00am.


UK companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday – Antofagasta, Ocado, Close Brothers, Prudential, French Connection, TP ICAP, SIG, Applegreen, Wednesday – Gem Diamonds, Robert Walters, Marshalls, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, PolyMetal, Thursday – J Sainsbury, Balfour Beatty, OneSavings Bank, Friday – Berkeley Group, Investec


US companies posting numbers this week – Wednesday – Christopher & Banks, Oracle, Thursday – Adobe Systems


Economic data this week – Tuesday – BRC Retail Sales, US NAHB Housing Data, Germany’s ZEW, Wednesday – US FOMC meeting, UK BOE Quarterly Report, Thursday – MPC Meeting, Friday – US Industrial Production, University of Michigan Consumer Confidence


 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & co

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF ​

TODAY’S FAYRE – Sunday, 12th March 2017


“An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly
And, here and there, a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.

The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the Temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.”


Oscar Wilde – poet & Playwright – 1854-1900


My daughters whizzed us around the David Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain last week. When it comes to art, I would describe myself as a bit of a Philistine. However my daughters bring exhibitions alight with their appreciation and knowledge of that specific culture. Hockney depicts his relationships, experiences and his background with massive splashes of colour. This fellow is a total genius. Even I more or less understand what he is driving at. Having always had a deep love affair with God’s own county – Yorkshire – I tend to enjoy even greater affinity with some of his landscape work.


Patrick Garber’s National Theatre production of Henrik Ibsen’s play ‘Hedda Gabler’ was screened in a number of cinemas last week. The play was directed by Ivo Van Hove and he updated this late 19th century ‘pot-boiler’ to the 21st century. The action of this play takes place in the dark, bleak under furnishes attic apartment of ‘Hedda Gabler’, brilliantly played by the often very sinister Ruth Wilson – she of ‘Luther’ and ‘The Affair’ fame – and her new husband in whom she has scant romantic interest.


This play is deeply depressing and tells the story of a woman, who is the model of destructive discontent, jealousy and malice who is still in love with her new husband’s best friend. Ruth Wilson is a combination of a paranoid schizophrenic and being just breathtakingly and mendaciously evil as well and mentally unbalanced in to the bargain. It would be best not to take this challenging play on board after a few glasses of Pinot Grigio! To say that this play is heavy duty theatre would be an understatement.


What a weekend of sport, culminating with England’s emphatic destruction of Scotland 61-21. This demolition job was due partly through injuries to a host of Scottish players, but mainly down to inspired and brilliant back-play by the men in White plus a fair bit down to Scotland failing to turn up, which it has most certainly done during the rest of the 6-Nations!


It appears that with or without assistance from the House of Lords and to a lesser degree the Commons, PM May could serve Article 50 to leave the EU in two years’ time as early as next Tuesday.


Considering the weight of political, economic and corporate news that manifested itself last week, many will find it astonishing that most global bourses were seemingly so comfortable in their own skins with investors appearing ambivalent to the possibility of any turmoil. Oil fell by 7%. Gold was lack-lustre all week falling by 2.5%. US non-farm payroll came in way in excess of expectations with 235,000 jobs being created in February.  This was the last and probably most significant piece of data required by Janet Yellen and her FED cohorts to hike rates next week by 25 basis points. Bond yields dipped on this news and a little bit of froth was skimmed off the Dollar.


The content of the UK Budget was generally neutral, which made sense with contingencies being made for any unexpected vagaries that could transpired from negotiations over BREXIT with the EU, in the event of them turning ugly.  However the party faithful were totally downcast over a manifesto broken promise. The Government had given its word not to raise income tax, VAT or NIC in this Parliament.  Chancellor Hammond put NIC up for some of the self-employed, which will only glean a parsimonious £145 million with potentially huge reputational damage. Surely it cannot be worth biting off the hand of your voters, when their continued support is desperately required. By his standards President Donald Trump was relatively quiet, though his battle with sections of the press on ‘fake news’ continued to rage. He sat up and took a little interest in Syria and talked in platitudes about the Mexican Wall, as well as his immigration plans to keep undesirable people coming in from countries that are perceived to cultivate ISIS culture. Last week the major equity bourses eased by parsimonious percentages – S&P 500 -0.53%, FTSE 100 -0.43% and European stocks by an average of 0.71%.


On the Street of Dreams last week it was energy, healthcare and some retail outlets that felt the wheels of pain on their backs. Retail is certainly conveying the impression that the previous few weeks have not provided halcyon times for the shopping sector in the US. Here in the UK we saw a decent but not spectacular set of numbers from Wm Morrison. Shares came back by 5% but in the past 15 months they are up over 40%. Aviva posted stellar numbers last Thursday.  CEO Mark Wilson has revitalised this insurance/fund management group in the past 4 years. Profits were up 12% with M&G’s contribution up 30%. In 16 months the shares are up 50%. Mr Wilson is taking Aviva’s business along the digital track as fast as possible.


Royal Dutch Shell sold its sand oil projects to Canadian Natural Resources for $7.25 billion, which goes some way to justifying paying £47 billion for BG Group. Gas appears to be the main matinee idol going forward.  There was loose talk that EXXON had their eye on BP. Panmure’s Colin Smith thinks this idea is very unlikely. He says “BP is more likely to be interested in Anadarko (which is also a recurring rumour) given its recent deal to take 25% of Area 4 offshore Mozambique from ENI (it needs exposure to Area 1 to make the whole thing meaningful in XOM terms). BP is currently trading on a forward debt adjusted cash flow multiple of 9.8 for 2017 which is probably even higher than for XOM (ie it would be dilutive before the premium). Moreover, if you look at BP’s portfolio, the growth is coming from ADCO (which XOM turned down because it was too low margin), North Sea oil which from an XOM perspective is a mature basin and gas production in Trinidad, Oman and Egypt which is interesting but not the sort of thing you do a US$130bn equity deal for – BPs entry cost to Zohr last November was circaUS$500m.”


It was only a question of time before OFCOM and the government were no longer prepared to put up with third world broadband service.  Broadband is essential for education and business. It had been encouraged that BT and Openreach should come under separate management. After more than a year of wrangling, BT has finally agreed to legally separate from the Openreach part of its business. BT CEO Gavin Patterson had been criticised for spending an excess of BT’S largesse on sport and football in particular, having topped up by £1.2 billion their involvement in European football.   This decision will see Openreach become a completely separate entity with its own staff, management and strategy to increase competition in the industry. Openreach will now have to consult with its customers, which includes Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Plusnet, on investments and serve all of its customers equally. BT’s shares closed up by 4.9% on Friday.


The Sunday Times tells us that Redrow will be casting its beady eyes over Bovis as a possible bed partner.  It is also possible that Whitbread Chairman Richard Baker is being considered to replace Robert Swannell as chairman of Marks & Spencer.




UK companies posting interim results this week – Monday – Computacenter, Clarkson Tuesday – Antofagasta, Ocado, Close Brothers, Prudential, French Connection, TP ICAP, SIG, Applegreen, Wednesday – Gem Diamonds, Robert Walters, Marshalls, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, PolyMetal, Thursday – J Sainsbury, Balfour Beatty, OneSavings Bank, Friday – Berkeley Group, Investec


US companies posting numbers this week – Wednesday – Christopher & Banks, Oracle, Thursday – Adobe Systems


Economic data this week – Tuesday – BRC Retail Sales, US NAHB Housing Data, Germany’s ZEW, Wednesday – US FOMC meeting, UK BOE Quarterly Report, Thursday – MPC Meeting, Friday – US Industrial Production, University of Michigan Consumer Confidence


 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & co

+44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF​


TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 9th March 2017


My Soul, there is a country

Afar beyond the stars,

Where stands a winged sentry

All skillful in the wars;

There, above noise and danger

Sweet Peace sits, crown’d with smiles,

And One born in a manger

Commands the beauteous files.

He is thy gracious friend

And (O my Soul awake!)

Did in pure love descend,

To die here for thy sake.

If thou canst get but thither,

There grows the flow’r of peace,

The rose that cannot wither,

Thy fortress, and thy ease.

Leave then thy foolish ranges,

For none can thee secure,

But One, who never changes,

Thy God, thy life, thy cure.”


Henry Vaughan – poet – 1621-1695


Some of you must have watched the last pulsating test match in Bangalore which India won by 75 runs to draw the series to date with one to play.  In a moment of madness Aussie skipper Steve Smith looked to his dressing room for assistance on a DRS review until Umpire Nigel Long and Indian players protested. Some would describe his behaviour as ‘sharp practice.’ He and Australia’s management were indignant at the suggestion he might be guilty of wayward behaviour. I don’t know why.  Personally I will never forgive him for insisting Ben Stokes be given out when Starc hurled the ball at Stokes like a missile at the last Ashes encounter at Lord’s.  Was that dismissal legal? Yes! Was it sharp practice? Absolutely!


So the Budget came and went.  It was well presented by Chancellor Hammond with a clear vision about the future.  There was less short-termism than a normal Budget statement. He looked like a sophisticated edition of Gordon Brown, with plenty of ‘prudence’ on offer.  The UK debt is humungous so not surprisingly our ‘Chief Bean Counter’, despite many good initiatives for education, business and average ones on social care, kept his powder dry for a rainy day.  The presentation was definitely upbeat, though a small pocket of uncertainty called ‘BREXIT’, though never mentioned by name, was part of the Chancellor’s calculations. The only comment I have to make is whoever suggested the idea that NIC contributions for self-employed should be increased or that the threshold for dividend tax relief should be decreased from £5k to £2k must be ‘brain-dead’ – if not they are mean-spirited.  Small business are the backbone of growth and must be given every consideration and help over the next few years. This proposed piece of legislation must be reversed! It is NOT Conservative philosophy or anyone’s for that matter!


Market in London were unmoved by the Budget with the FTSE hardly ever moving from within a 10 point range.  It closed down 4 points at 7334.  Premier Oil on help from the government re oil in Scotland rallied 3.3% ahead of their numbers today and house builders were a smidgen better though housing was surprisingly never mentioned in dispatches in the Budget!


Activity on the Street of Dreams wasn’t that inspiring either.  A 5% drop in oil prices hit the likes of Exxon and Chevron, which saw their valuations fall by a short 2%. Having lost 10% on Tuesday Snap Inc bounced out of the traps gathering in 6% in value to $22.81, which helped keep the NASDAQ just above the waterline – up 0.06%. US markets closed as follows with YTD performances DOW: 20,855 -0.33% +5.53% S&P: 2,362 -0.23% +5.54% NASDAQ: 5,359 +0.16% +10.20% VIX: 11.86 +3.58% -15.53%. Asia was concerned with the highest Chinese inflation number seen since 2008.  Markets were in the doldrums apart fro Japan, which saw the NIKKEI respond to a weaker Yen – NIKKEI: 19,318 +0.34% +1.07%, HANG SENG: 23,465 -1.30% +6.82%, CHINA: 3,418 -0.87% +3.3%, ASX: 5,741 -0.32%   +1.33%.


This morning there were a slew of earnings and interesting corporate news. Royal Dutch Shell sold its oil sands business in Alberta to Canadian Natural Resources for $7.25 billion.  This news is synergistic with the £47 billion acquisition of BG Group last year.  Business expansion obviously revolves around natural gas for the time being. It was announced, not unexpectedly that Jan Du Plessis, until recently chairman of Rio Tinto, was appointed chairman of BT Group.  That appointment will keep CEO Gavin Patterson on his metal – less football more broadband please! Liam Coleman CEO of the Coop Bank, which has just declared a loss of £477.1 million sais he was pleased at the number of prospective buyers of the bank.  It seems that the Coop will be unable to make its capital requirements once it has repaid the £400 million loan.  One assumes that the US hedge fund majority owners are in agreement with the plans for the Coop Bank’s disposal.


Aviva grabbed the yellow jersey this morning with a great set of numbers, a share buyback and a 12% increase in dividend plus a great performance from M&G up 30%. Operating profits were also up 12% to £3.01 billion and the net profit for the year came in at £703 million. Mark Wilson, CEO since the days of Andrew Moss in December 2013 said that general insurance had seen the best returns for 11 years, helped by the acquisition of business from RBC.  The share rallied by 6% in early trading and 48% since July 2016. Wm Morrison today posted like for like sales for the year ex-fuel/ex-VAT up 1.7%, positive in all four quarters and 2.5% in Q4 four quarters and 2.5% in Q4 £16.1bn) despite store closures. Reported PBT was up 49.8% to £325m (2015/16: £217m). Clearly relationships with Ocado and Amazon are going to provide momentum going forward.  Morrison shares have rallied by 77% since December 2015 until the numbers. Shares fell 4% – travelled and arrived   with a smidgen of disappointment on final numbers. At 8.55am the FTSE 100 was down 37 points 7297.



UK companies posting interim results this week – Thursday – Aviva, Wm Morrison, Aldermore, Old Mutual, Premier Oil, Countryside, DS Smith, Domino Pizza, International Game Technology, Cineworld, Friday – eSure,


US companies posting numbers this week – Thursday – Staples


Economic data this week – US initial Jobless Claims, Friday – RICS housing data, UK manufacturing production & Consumer Inflation expectations , US Non-Farm Payrolls and employment data.


 David Buik


Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & co

+44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF​