TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday 12thApril 2017
“Not often con brio, but andante, andante
Horseless, though jockey-like and jaunty,
Straddling the touchline, live margin
Not out of the game, nor quite in,
Made by him green and magnetic, stroller
Indifferent as a cat dissembling, rolling
A little as on deck, till the mouse, the ball,
Slides palely to him,
And shyly, almost with deprecatory cough, he is off.
Defenders towards him, the ball a bait
They refuse like a poisoned chocolate,
Retreating, till he slows his gait
To a walk, inviting the tackle, inciting it.
At last, unrefusable, dangling the ball at the instep
He is charged – and stiffening so slowly
It is barely perceptible, he executes with a squirm
Of the hips, a twist more suggestive than apparent,
That lazily disdainful move toreros term
A Veronica – it’s enough.
Only emptiness following him.
Now gathers speed, nursing the ball as he cruises,
Eyes judging distance, noting the gaps, the spaces
Vital for colleagues to move to, slowing a trace,
As from Vivaldi to Dibdin, pausing,
And leisurely, leisurely, swings
To the left upright his centre, on hips
His hands, observing the goalkeeper spring,
Heads rising vainly to the ball’s curve
Just as it’s plucked from them; and dispassionately
Back to his mark he trots, whistling through closed lips.
Expressionless enchanter, weaving as on strings
Conceptual patterns to a private music, heard
Only by him, to whose slowly emerging theme
He rehearses steps, soloist in compulsions of a dream.”
Sir Stanley Matthews
Alan Ross – celebrated sports columnist – 1922 – 2001
I must confess that when I heard that Germany and Italy refused to support ECO Secretary’s motion at the G& meeting to impose further sanctions against Russian and Syrian Military personnel, I could only guffaw with contemptuous laughter. I have always been concerned that the EU is disingenuous, with each component country concerned with its own individual issues and needs rather than the common good. Yesterday’s decision really only endorsed my original decision to vote to leave, rather than continuing to play this ridiculous charade that we must stick together through thick and thin. Of course Germany and Italy are more reliant on energy supply and trade than other EU members. So no surprise the way they voted. At least at an early juncture we know where we stand.
It appears that Sean Spicer, the White House Press head honcho is not growing in diplomatic stature. That was a terrible faux-pas of his talking about an analogy with ‘Hitler’ and ‘sarin gas!’ This guy needs to go back to school and learn a little sensitivity. That was quite shocking as was the aggressive, if not violent man-handling of a passenger by United Airlines personnel, due to ‘over-booking’ for this flight. Initially after the news United Airlines share price fell by 1.1% costing $255 million – a mere bagatelle consider its market capital stands at $22 billion. After hours the shares were only down 0.4% at $70.40! – How cynical is that?
Yesterday was one of those days when the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing or even thinking! Most investors, traders and analysts focused on the political abuse being hurled across the globe by Trump, Putin, Kim Jong Un, Tillerson, Johnson and Spicer – all inconclusive stuff, but very worrying. The world has rarely looked in a more parlous and dangerous state than it did for the highly toxic ‘Bay of Pigs’ confrontation just off the shores Cuba back in 1961! Investors did not panic. They just sat on their hands and ruminated. The FTSE bobbed around like a cork in a bath in a fairly sustainable range. It started down 10 points rallied through the morning up by 60 points, fell back to ‘unchanged’ thanks to New York having little stomach for a battle and closed up 16 points at 7365. Miners and oil and defensives such as ‘Diageo’ to the fore. JD Sports grabbed the yellow jersey closing up 8.4%%. It is interesting to note that the FTSE 250 breached its all-time record, despite the ‘REMAIN prophets of doom’ over BREXIT – up 0.2% at 19306!
In New York investors were not only reflective but lethargic. The three main indices closed fairly flat though tech stocks have experienced an eight day pull back, though it has been modest. Here are the numbers including YTD – DOW: 20,651 -0.03% +4.50% S&P: 2,353 -0.14% +5.13%, NASDAQ: 5,398 -0.43% +10.99%. Apple appear to have been at it again. Having served notice on ‘Imagination’, which cost the company nearly 60% of its value, it has now turned its attention towards Dialog Semiconductor. It designs chips for the Apple iPhone and relies on 70% of its business from Apple. Reports suggest that Apple have been building a team of 80 technicians to design and manufacture chips, resulting in Dialog losing £1.2 billion in value as the shares fell by 36%. Thanks to Toshiba posting a £4.2 billion loss yesterday, there is considerable angst that the UK’s £10 billion Moorside Nuclear Plant in Cumbria – to trade under the name of NuGen – may be under duress with a very uncertain future ahead of it. In Asia sentiment was slightly negative with a strong Yen not helping the NIKKEI – performances to date as follows – NIKKEI: 18,505 -1.30 -3.18%, HANG SENG: 24,057 -0.14% +9.33%, CHINA: 3,520 +0.10% +6.40%, ASX: 5,930 +0.03% +4.69%.
This morning Tesco posted a 30% increase in pre-tax profits for the year to £1.28 billion. Debt is down by 27%. Like for like sales were up 0.9% on the year and food by 1.1%. Group sales increased by 4.3% to £49 billion. Margins have widened from 1.8% a year ago to 2.3%. Dave Lewis the CEO was upbeat about the £3.7 billion purchase of Booker. It remains to be seen whether Schroders and Artisans have been sufficiently impressed. Dividends should start to return. Tesco shares were down 5.6% this year as against a rally of over 30% last year. Tesco shares be stable this morning. Inflation is an issue for Tesco going forward. The FTSE is expected to open up flat. Dunelm, WH Smith and PageGroup posted satisfactory numbers if not electric.
UK companies posting results this week – Wednesday – Dunelm, Tesco, WH Smith, PageGroup, Thursday – Hays, Avocet Mining, PZ Cussons
US companies posting results this week – Wednesday – Delta Airlines, Thursday – JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo.
Economic data out this week – Wednesday – UK Employment data, Thursday – BOE Credit, Friday – University of Michigan Consumer Confidence, US CPI and Retail sales
Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co
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