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
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