TODAY’S FAYRE – Sunday 23rdApril 2017
“I found a ball of grass among the hay
And progged it as I passed and went away;
And when I looked I fancied something stirred,
And turned again and hoped to catch the bird—
When out an old mouse bolted in the wheats
With all her young ones hanging at her teats;
She looked so odd and so grotesque to me,
I ran and wondered what the thing could be,
And pushed the knapweed bunches where I stood;
Then the mouse hurried from the craking brood.
The young ones squeaked, and as I went away
She found her nest again among the hay.
The water o’er the pebbles scarce could run
And broad old cesspools glittered in the sun.
John Clare – poet – 1793-1864
William, Duke of Cambridge, officiated at some of last week’s investitures at Buckingham Palace. He would have enjoyed an eclectic bunch of recipients, which included making Mark Rylance, the celebrated left-wing actor, a knight of the realm as well as honouring Mrs Posh Beckham with an OBE for her contribution to girl bands and fashion! Sir Mark adorned a new ‘titfer’ – rather less tatty and more in keeping with a grandiose occasion! I wonder if Dave is still smarting over ‘no’ knighthood being forthcoming in last year’s New Year’s honours list!
Many people over the years have admired the interpretations of Georges Simenon’s French detective ‘Maigret’ by Rupert Davis and Sir Michael Gambon. However in recent years Rowan Atkinson has left a huge impression with his recent portrayals. I just love the way his performance is under-cooked and very low ‘key.’ I think he’s a better ‘straight’ actor than he is a satirical comedian.
Although Bertolt Brecht’s play ‘THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI’, adapted by Bruce Norris for the Donmar was tumultuously received by the audience, I did not care for it at all. I suppose I am just tired of ‘left-wing’ political adaptions of a perfectly good story, based on a parody of ‘Hitler’s story’ in a speak-easy in Chicago. I also got the ‘pop’ at the two Mayor Daley’s of Chicago during the days of prohibition and in the 70’s by father and son, but the ‘Trump’ invective we could have done without! However odious people find President Trump, it brought nothing to the production at all. I suppose if it made Sir Lenny Henry feel better, job done. Sir Lenny confirmed that he is a very decent Thespian, but the play was not for me. Frankly I didn’t have the intellect to gain full enjoyment.
Well against all the odds, PM May, frustrated by subversive activity over BREXIT, finally called a General Election last Tuesday, supposedly against her better judgement. She felt that the Government could not negotiate a satisfactory BREXIT deal with the likes of Tony Blair, Jeremy Corbyn, ‘Little Timmy’, Nick Clegg, Gina Miller, Nicola Sturgeon and others constantly trying to sabotage her efforts. She was right – even if some polls say her lead in the polls has been slashed due to alleged and spurious tax increases and the fact that she changed her mind! The suggested cut in Mrs May’s popularity could make this a very messy seven weeks of unpleasant rhetoric. So for once Trump’s adventures in Syria, Afghanistan and flirtation with North Korea were off the front pages and PM May took pride of place!
The markets coped quite well. The FTSE 100 fell by 2.9%, which was a currency ‘trade-off’ as Sterling rose against the Greenback by a similar amount. Conversely the FTSE 250, which is probably a more accurate barometer of UK activity fell by only 0.3% in the same period. The strength of Sterling was down to a strongly held perception that Mrs May should get a decent mandate from which to negotiate her BREXIT, rather than some half-baked plan being hurled back to and from Brussels. On Saturday the Times poured cold water on the idea that the UK was higher in the queue than the EU for a negotiated trade deal with the US. That I doubt, as the US has always taken an inordinate amount of time over any trade deal and apart from TPP, which it has pulled out of in January, no trade deal of any substance or complexity has been pulled off since ‘the Old King Died!’ Trying to deal with 27 countries? I suspect I will be pushing up daisies before a US deal with the EU is consummated!
The earnings season was in full flow last week. In the US most companies did not disappoint, maintaining a decent increase in profits with the exception of Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson. The S&P 500 added 0.97% in value over the week. Europe’s indices eased by 0.75%. Japan’s Nikkei added 1.5% thanks in the main to a weaker Yen. Here in London mining, oil, tobacco and some banks felt the wheels of pain across their backs thanks to the strength of Sterling. Though AB Foods pleased their acolytes, the same could not be said for Burberry, which did well at home but saw sales drift in US and Asia and as for Debenhams, there was a little ‘trouble at mill.’ Some outlets are being closed as margins are squeezed due to inflation and the tepid reception to their fashions. Unilever seem to respond well to the threat of Kraft Heinz’s predatory instincts hovering over CEO Paul Polson’s shoulder. Reckitt Benckiser seem on course to buy baby food titan Mead Johnson.
This coming week the earnings season sees the floodgates open. In the UK Lloyds Banking Group update the market with a trading statement on Thursday, with Barclays and RBS stepping up to the plate on Friday. RBS is expected to post a small profit of about £70k for the first quarter up from a loss of £963m. We also expect more meat on the bone in regards to Williams & Glyn – its sale or appropriating £750 million towards SME as well as improved capital requirements. Barclays is expected to post a profit over the same period of £1.5 billion up from £902 million and Lloyds Banking Group should post a comfortable profit of £1.2 billion. When CEO Bill Winters presents Standard Chartered Bank’s credentials a modest profit of $290 million.
AND SO TO THE FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION TONIGHT! – TOO CLOSE TO CALL, but if Melenchon & Le Pen make the final ballot! Look out! However I suspect it will be Macron & Le Pen, with the natural conservative (small C) culture of the French prevailing. However Mme Le Pen is far from dead in the water post the recent shootings in Avenue des Champs Elysee!
UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Amex Foster Wheeler, Whitbread, BHP Billiton, Carpetright, Virgin Money – Wednesday – LSE, GKN, Croda International, Standard Chartered Bank, Proactis Holdings, Glaxo SmithKline, Boohoo, Metro Bank, Tullow Oil Thursday – Persimmon, Jardine, Lloyd Thompson, Cobham, Aggreko, Harvey Nash, Travis Perkins, C4X Discovery, Lloyds Banking Group (TS), Weir Group, Schroders, Astra Zeneca, WPP, Kaz Minerals, Howden Joinery, Friday – Barclays, RBS, Rotork, Hastings – 2nd May BP, 3rd May Royal Dutch Shell, 4th May HSBC
US companies posting numbers – Monday – Alcoa, Kimberley-Clark, Hasbro, Whirlpool, Tuesday – Caterpillar, 3Ms, Lockheed Martin, JetBlue, Valero Energy, Freeport-McMaHon, Coca-Cola, Pulte, Biogen, Texas Instruments, Wednesday – Nasdaq, PepsiCo, Boeing, Twitter, Procter & Gamble, Hershey, General Dynamics, PayPal, Amgen, Thursday – Ford, Raytheon, Zimmer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Mead Johnson, CME! KKR! AbbVie, Intel, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks
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