Monthly Archives: May 2017

TODAY’S FAYRE – Markets – BA – Greece – AIB

TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 31st May 2017

 

 Not we the conquered! Not to us the blame

Of them that flee, of them that basely yield;

Nor ours the shout of victory, the fame

Of them that vanquish in a stricken field.

 

That day of battle in the dusty heat

We lay and heard the bullets swish and sing

Like scythes amid the over-ripened wheat,

And we the harvest of their garnering.

 

Some yielded, No, not we! Not we, we swear

By these our wounds; this trench upon the hill

Where all the shell-strewn earth is seamed and bare,

Was ours to keep; and lo! we have it still.

 

We might have yielded, even we, but death

Came for our helper; like a sudden flood

The crashing darkness fell; our painful breath

We drew with gasps amid the choking blood.

 

The roar fell faint and farther off, and soon

Sank to a foolish humming in our ears,

Like crickets in the long, hot afternoon

Among the wheat fields of the olden years.

 

Before our eyes a boundless wall of red

Shot through by sudden streaks of jagged pain!

Then a slow-gathering darkness overhead

And rest came on us like a quiet rain.

 

Not we the conquered! Not to us the shame,

Who hold our earthen ramparts, nor shall cease

To hold them ever; victors we, who came

In that fierce moment to our honoured peace.”

 

John McCrae – Canadian soldier & poet – 1872 –1918

 

Like millions of others I found it very sad to see the sports pages plastered with a disheveled looking Tiger Woods. This golfing legend and sporting icon is in need of help and some TLC, despite the domestic problems of his past.

 

Lord’s looked magnificent last Sunday with the new Warner stand finished and full to the rafters. Sir Pelham would have chortled with approval and delight. Such a pity England’s woeful performance against South Africa did not do justice to the occasion.

 

Perhaps BA’S corporate communications and their PR advisors did not do as good a job as they thought they had over the weekend’s debacle, which grounded all flights and ruined thousands of holidays. It appears that no power company has come forward to endorse BA’S comments that its computer breakdown was power driven. Even if it was, where was the emergency/disaster back-up? IAG’s share price fell only 1%. If, after due diligence and further investigation, BA is found to have been economical with the truth, I think we might see the market show a degree of irritation. However I must confess these prickly issues tend to be conveniently lost in the small print. It strikes me that excessive cuts and insufficient contingency plans for technological breakdowns may be closer to the nub of the problem. The public waits in trepidation, Mr Cruz, for the full explanation. The silence may be deafening.

 

Global equity markets have been very frothy of late, either breaching record levels or flirting with them, despite political uncertainty in recent months in US, France and Holland, culminating with a bit of a wobble in the last week here in Old Blighty. The Times’ recent ‘YouGov’ model is not really a poll, but it certainly did the job of providing a wake-up-call to those, particularly in the city, who believe that a Corbyn led left-wing Government, would lead the UK down a rocky road into penury and economic damnation. Equity geeks refuse to believe in the possibility of that option, as the FTSE 100 only lost 21 points at 7526 yesterday and the FTSE 250 33 to 19991. Those working on the ‘Square Mile and down the road in Canary Wharf are resolute in the thought that Corbyn can wait another 5 years before such profligate policies are inflicted on the voters of this ‘Sceptred Isle!’

 

Much of yesterday’s gossip revolved around BA’S ‘weekend-horriblis’. Apart from that apathy set in with some miners like Glencore doing well, others remained somnolent. Drugs were mixed and banks were failing to create much in the way of interest, apart from Barclays, which lost 1.1%. This morning the Gfk Consumer Confidence Index came in at a 4 month high. The Pound wobbled towards the $1.28 threshold as the Times attempted to frighten us with ‘YouGov’s’ latest prognosis, suggesting a hung parliament. Equity markets this morning refused to countenance the idea and the FTSE was rock solid – up 10 points at 7536 at 8.30am. IAG’S shares are up by 0.5% – amazing and IG Group, which reported decent numbers were up 2%. BUT since the regulatory changes on CFDS IG’S share price has fallen 32% in 6 months since November 2016.

 

On the Street of Dreams it was again an anemic session and here are the closing levels &YTD performances – DOW: 21,029 -0.24%% +6.41% S&P: 2,412 -0.12% +7.775% NASDAQ: 5,794 +0.11% +19.142%. Banks were in the doldrums with Goldman down 1.9% and JP Morgan 1.7%. Oil stocks were also friendless in the ring – Chevron -0.63% and Exxon Mobil -0.55%. Telecoms provided a few bright spots with Verizon +1.94% and AT&T +1.13%. Amazon.com, responsible for 43% of all on-line retail business in the US and valued at £476 billion beat Alphabet to the punch in reaching $1000 share price, though it finally settled at $996. CEO Jeff Bezos brought this company to the market in May 1997 at $25 a share.

 

Asian markets seemed moribund with the strong Yen not helping Japanese stocks. Its performance so far plus YTD as follows: NIKKEI 19,623 -0.28% +2.66% HANG SENG 25,689 -0.05% +16.82% CHINA 3,478 -0.04% +5.13%, ASX 5,721 +0.07% +0.95%

 

LSE CEO Xavier Rolet certainly picked himself up and dusted himself down after the implosion of the merger with Deutsche Boerse. He has been back in to action adding shareholder value to the LSE’S excellent reputation. LSE paid £535 million for Citi World Leading Bond Index – and an IT analysis business – another two arrows to its already powerful bow. The share price rose 1.5% to 3442p. We all wait with awe and trepidation for the ‘big-deal’ – a merger with the likes of CME, making a truly global operation. Perhaps I am dreaming.

 

Ireland, despite having a population of only 4.76 million, has shown the EU how to beat austerity with consummate ease. Allied Irish Banks went down in the 2008/9 banking crisis for €21 billion. It has risen like the Phoenix from the Ashes and has returned to profit over the last 3 years and the Irish Government will be offering 25% of this bank for sale, probably next month, in both London and Dublin, valuing the operation at between €11-13 billion. This is good news for London. The bond between London and Dublin governments is strong despite the threat of BREXIT. This deal endorses that perception.

 

I notice that Greek 10-year bonds are close to yielding 6% again as Greece’s government looks to scrap with the EU over debt issues. €7.5 billion bonds mature in July as PM Tsipras looks to renew. The EU is venturing to suggest Greece has not suffered enough austerity. Greece’s total debt is €314 billion – 180% of GDP. Hell has a better chance of freezing over than Greece being in a position to service that debt let alone repay it. How can it with a population of 11 million and limited industry & commerce with just tourism and agriculture showing the way. So we go through the same old charade rather than let Greece go with a 40% devaluation of the Drachma, which would attract huge business. But oh no! Frau Merkel would not want to see her federal dream turn into a nightmare post BREXIT!

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Wednesday – London Metric Property, Alpha Bank, IG Group, Thursday – Johnson Matthey, First Group, Friday – KCOM Group

 

US companies posting numbers – Wednesday – Analog Devices

 

Economic data this week – Wednesday – Gfk Consumer Confidence, UK Mortgage approvals, US ADP Employment Index, Chicago PMI, Thursday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US PMI Construction, Initial Jobless Claims, Friday US Non-Farm Payrolls (+183k) & employment data (unemployment 4.5%).

 

 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 ​

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TODAY’S FAYRE – MERKEL, MACRON, YORKSHIRE, IAG, CAR LOANS

 

TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 30th May 2017

 

 

“The skyline smoke veers – veers and dims

As unpredictable as your whims-

The planning seagull rockets by

With your identical watchful eye;

And everything – within, without –

Shakes to your voice, or the West wind’s shout.

Is there no peace – no kindly thought –

In this damned holiday resort?

At night, when quiet falls serene,

You’ll snore like a foundering submarine;

And I’ll lie still and watch the stars

Steal past the shuddering window bars;

Cold stars, whose rays across the years

Impartial glint, on dew – or tears.”

 

Arnold Simcock – poet – 1925 –2012

 

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been in power in Germany for twelve years. She’s a wily old bird and should know better than to not only raise the temperature in terms of her irritation with the US and the UK, but also to attempt to disenfranchise the UK when its knowledge on security and terrorism is invaluable. She has run the EU with the rod of iron for time immemorial and all other 27 constituent countries are but mere surfs to her beck and call.

Chancellor Merkel was being naïve if she ever thought President Trump was going to acquiesce to all of Obama’s policies on trade and climate change first time out! – No chance. Merkel is too used to dominating the EU without being challenged. Seeing her throw her toys out of her pram, because someone stood up to her, was unsightly. Also lumping the US and the UK together as unreliable allies was crude, unfair and unwarranted. Trump was just telling Germany to pay their fair share of NATO. Her feathers were ruffled!  Get over it! Finally many were very perplexed, though maybe not surprised to hear her uncomplimentary remarks about the UK and BREXIT. By adopting a visceral stance to the UK, Germany will be the loser.  Like it or not Germany and the EU need the UK for military and security support until it builds its own military capacity, which could take a decade. As times goes by the world should be left in no doubt that the EU is going Federal and the US and UK are becoming increasingly less than enamoured with globalisation.

 

Hats off to President Macron for inviting Putin to Versailles! The meeting may not have been an unqualified success but at least he held out an olive branch. Obama and others surrendered the initiative by putting China and Russia in the driving seat over an 8 year period with the President closing down any contact with Russia.  Yes, Putin is a despot but the West needs to be able to communicate with him, regardless of the fact he is a despot who behaved disgracefully towards Ukraine and Syria. So Macron’s move was sensible not only to establish himself as Merkel’s bag carrier, but also with the French people, who are likely to cause him endless grief over Labour laws in the years to come.

 

After all the furore, anguish and pain suffered in Manchester eight days ago, may I recommend a week of solace and R&A with a visit to the Yorkshire Moors.  They are Heaven reincarnated – virtually no WiFi, broadband or mobile reception. I have rarely experienced such beauty which is hard to replicate anywhere in the world. We stayed in Buckden near Kettlewell. I cannot recommend this area highly enough to recharge the batteries.  

 

Yesterday London and New York were shut for the Whitsun Bank Holiday and Memorial Day respectively. Just as a reminder New York markets closed as follows with YTD achievements DOW: 21,080 -0.01%% +6.668% S&P: 2,415 +0.03% +7.905% NASDAQ: 5,788 +0.17% +19.013%.  Asia saw little activity though a strong Yen saw the NIKKEI easier to start with but retail sales in Japan rallied by 3% last month, resulting in the NIKKEI heading for positive territory – Towards the close markets were as follows again with YTD achievements – NIKKEI 19,691 +0.03% + 2.989%, HANG SENG 25,701 +0.24% +16.823%, CHINA: 3,480 -0.15% +5.147% ASX: 5,726 +0.33% +1.0.054%.

This morning Ryanair posted results which saw profits up 6% to €1.316 billion with fares -13% in the year ending March 2017 Expect fares to fall further 5-7% current year.  This airline is still adding capacity faster than demand growing, but Michael O’Leary was hardly overflowing with confidence about the future, whining about the fall in the Pound and the potential adverse effect of BREXIT. The shares fell by 3.7% first thing but are now down just 0.6%. They are up 58% in the last 7 months. At 10.45am the FTSE is down just 22 points at 7525.

 

For the appalling treatment meted out to passengers by BA over the past weekend due to power failure to its computer system, the markets have been unbelievably kind to its share price – down just 2.6% in response to Madrid yesterday taking IAG’s share down 3%. This problem will have damaged the brand.  It may have cost the company £150 billion with 75k customers being adversely affected. Observers say it was just a one-off and IAG will recover quickly!  I wonder.  Where was Willie Walsh – not a ‘Dickey Bird.’  So who cares about Alex Cruz –a budget airline expert! Who wants to speak to the ‘oily rag, when the engine driver about! I must say the PR exercise gets dix points.  I accept a power issue that took the computer system out.  But there should have been a duplicate computer system with a separate power supply in another country or city at least. Talk of re-organising flights elsewhere was fanciful I fear.  IAG/BA has not heard the last of this debacle. I thought the shares would be down 8-10%.  Well done the PR company!

 

On the subject of France/Paris attracting banks courtesy of comments made by Francois, Villeroy de Galhou of the ECB on the basis of London losing clearing, which employs 80k people, ‘on yer bike, mate!’ The US has already warned the EU in words of one syllable – ‘Mess with clearing, the largest insurance company in the world, where London is the dominant player, just because you have the raving ache with the UK over BREXIT, and we will repatriate huge chunks to New York!’ Yes, I am still aware that HSBC and others want to move a couple of thousand employees to Paris for contingency plans, but that does not mean the capitulation of London as a major banking sector.

 

Finally to the problem flagged up by the FT today – that of concern over gargantuan car loans. This potential problem is parochial in comparison to sub-prime lending, despite loans for cars reaching $1.17 trillion in the US – up 70% from 2010. This is grown up money. Ex RBS Finance Director Bruce Van Saun, now CEO of Citizens Bank believes that many banks would like to steer away from car loans and head in the direction of student loans.

 

Here in Old Blighty total consumer loans stand at £1.6 trillion. Of that amount 85% of these loans are in mortgages and the rest are made in credit card loans and car loans.  Car loans are about 7% of the total and the proportions are very similar in the US. It is a worrying situations with sluggish wage inflation and the value of second hand cars dropping, but the outlook is grave rather than catastrophic – no comparison to sub-prime of credit crisis of 2008/9.

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Horizon Discovery, Ryanair, Wednesday – London Metric Property, Alpha Bank, IG Group, Thursday – Johnson Matthey, First Group, Friday – KCOM Group

 

US companies posting numbers – Tuesday – Quanex, Wednesday – Analog Devices

 

Economic data this week – Tuesday – US personal income & Spending, US Consumer Confidence, Nationwide House prices, Wednesday – Gfk Consumer Confidence, UK Mortgage approvals, US ADP Employment Index, Chicago PMI, Thursday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US PMI Construction, Initial Jobless Claims, Friday US Non-Farm Payrolls (+183k) & employment data (unemployment 4.5%).

 

 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

TODAY’S FAYRE – Monday 29th May 2017

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid

Under this cradle-hood and coverlid

My child sleeps on.  There is no obstacle

But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill

Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,

Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;

And for an hour I have walked and prayed

Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

 

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour

And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,

And under the arches of the bridge, and scream

In the elms above the flooded stream;

Imagining in excited reverie

That the future years had come,

Dancing to a frenzied drum,

Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

 

May she be granted beauty and yet not

Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,

Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,

Being made beautiful overmuch,

Consider beauty a sufficient end,

Lose natural kindness and maybe

The heart-revealing intimacy

That chooses right, and never find a friend.

 

Helen being chosen found life flat and dull

And later had much trouble from a fool,

While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,

Being fatherless could have her way

Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.

It’s certain that fine women eat

A crazy salad with their meat

Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

 

In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;

Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned

By those that are not entirely beautiful;

Yet many, that have played the fool

For beauty’s very self, has charm made wise,

And many a poor man that has roved,

Loved and thought himself beloved,

From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

 

May she become a flourishing hidden tree

That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,

And have no business but dispensing round

Their magnanimities of sound,

Nor but in merriment begin a chase,

Nor but in merriment a quarrel.

O may she live like some green laurel

Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

 

William Butler Yeats – author & poet – 1865 –1939

 

Few people will have heard of the Jermyn Street Theatre, let alone attended a production.  The auditorium has a capacity of 70. The current production is the first play by Stephen Unwin – ‘All Our Children.’ Germany 1941 – the play tells of Hitler’s Nazis rounding up children, who are backward, retarded or just unwell to be exterminated in concentration camps. Colin Tierney plays the frightened but dismayed paediatrician, who is dying of cancer with Edward Franklin cast in the roll of his fanatical SS assistant, who administrates the hospital. Lucy Speed, better known for her role as Natalie in Coronation Street, plays an outraged and understandably hysterical mother, who has suffered at the hands of Hitler’ brutal and inhumane edict. David Yelland as the Bishop who attempts to expose and unfold these atrocities, stole the show with a very polished cameo performance. This was a really harrowing ninety minutes but brilliant theatre.

 

Who would have thought that President Trump could spent a whole week out of his comfort zone in Saudi, Israel, Rome, Brussels and Sicily without slipping up on one banana skin, apart from rejecting the hand of his wife.  No one can be surprised that President Trump lacked enthusiasm towards the Paris ‘Climate Change Accord’ or that he was not enamoured about Germany’s trade surplus with the US.  At least he has been consistent.

 

Trumps acquitted himself with aplomb last week, which is more than can be said of PM May, who could not find enough banana skins to slip up on, such was the appalling presentation of her party’s manifesto. At least she had the opportunity of marginally redeeming herself at the G7 meeting in Taormina with a polished statesmanlike performance on the need to control social media in the fight against terrorism. I suspect that J Corbyn will be on the thin edge of her tongue on the hustings next week, once the election campaign gets wound up again. A five point lead is dangerously skinny and she and Sir Lynton Crosby will want to make amends for the previous 2-week debacle.

 

Jeremy Corbyn has so far rounded up nearly 2 million of the angry militant young as members of his radical left wing movement and they are making a real fist of taking the fight to the lifeless Conservatives. It seems to me that PM may has no Cabinet and only listens to Crosby, Timothy & Hill. This is a ludicrous strategy. 

 

I hope that the country realise that were Corbyn to win, 15% would probably be written off the FTSE  100, despite Sterling falling out of bed, which should aid Dollar related stocks. Notwithstanding that, sentiment would turn negative towards the U.K. Economy. Gilts would be sold off.  The tax burden, encapsulating massive hikes in income, corporation and inheritance tax would damage profits not only in FTSE 100 stocks but more relevantly in the FTSE 250 – an accurate barometer of UK economic activity. Simple economics tells us higher taxation = lower profits, less wealth creation – lower tax take = less money for NHS education & public services and probably higher borrowing = financial carnage!

 

The FTSE 100 ended last week up 1.03% – a record high at 7547 – and all the more remarkable considering sentiment had dived after the heinous barbaric bombing attack of innocent people in the Great City of Manchester. Market activists also took in to account the fact that UK GDP for the first quarter was adjusted down to just 0.2% and the realisation that the Conservative lead over Labour in the polls has narrowed from 23% down to just 5%. The ‘Corbyn factor’ saw Sterling drop to its lowest level for 6 weeks against the Dollar to $1.2783, which clearly benefitted the many Dollar earning stocks in the FTSE 100. Oil stocks were volatile as crude fell over 4% despite OPEC agreeing on Thursday that it would keep production levels cut by 1.8 million a day until the end of March 2018. Many were hoping for greater cuts.  However oil repaired some of the losses by adding an average of 0.3% on Friday. Wall Street also attained record highs’ with the S&P 500 adding 1.38% on the week.  Europe’s investors were rather more circumspect. The gains that European bourses have made in the last 4 months may have been more than just a little over-zealous. The Nikkei just bumbled along adding 0.49%, which was not a bad effort considering the Dollar had regained poise.

 

Last week M&S posted dismal results.  However initially M&S’S share price rallied on the back of the appointment of Archie Norman’s appointment as chairman – a gargantuan task, which his credentials and success at ASDA and ITV, suggest he is perfect casting.  However shares were virtually unchanged on the week. Aviva announced a £300 million share buyback.  It looks as though Micro-Focus will consummate its reverse takeover of HWP Software. Lord Blackwell the chairman of Lloyds Banking Group insisted that BREXIT had every possibility of being positive for UK business as his L&G’S Helena Morrissey. It is interesting to note that L&G have made enquiries about buying out £15 billion British Steel Pension Fund, which included the Corus deal in 2007.  It looks as though RBS Shareholders may well be thwarted from seeing Messrs Goodwin, McKillop, Cameron and Whittaker from giving evidence in court on the collapse of this Scottish titan, post its £12 billion rights issue. Ross McEwan, the RBS CEO is doing all in his power to keep this case out of court by settling the £9 million claim on the steps of the courtroom.   I suspect forlorn shareholders will refuse to be denied on this issue.  However proving anything more than incompetence and negligence will prove nigh on impossible.

BT looks as though it might cap pension benefits and call a halt on existing arrangements to those who joined after 2001, in an attempt to fill in its £14 billion pension black hole, as it grapples to provide a broadband service that a telecom operator of its standard should be providing. The Bank of England posted numbers on personal debt for March 2017 – up by £1.6 billion including credit card borrowing. The average household debt stands at £13200 the highest since the crash in 2008.  The TUC feels this number could rise to £15,400 by 2021 due to poor wage inflation not keeping pace with inflation. Finally on Migration numbers.  The net UK number is down to 284k – down 84k on last year and interestingly enough people leaving the UK is up by 43k.

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Horizon Discovery, Ryanair, Wednesday – London Metric Property, Alpha Bank, IG Group, Thursday – Johnson Matthey, First Group, Friday – KCOM Group

 

US companies posting numbers – Tuesday – Quanex, Wednesday – Analog Devices

 

Economic data this week – Tuesday – US personal income & Spending, US Consumer Confidence, Nationwide House prices, Wednesday – Gfk Consumer Confidence, UK Mortgage approvals, US ADP Employment Index, Chicago PMI, Thursday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US PMI Construction, Initial Jobless Claims, Friday US Non-Farm Payrolls (+183k) & employment data (unemployment 4.5%).

 

 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, 25th May 2017

 

 

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

 

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

 

WB Yeats – poet & author – 1865-1939

 

You couldn’t have scripted a more gratifying result to the Europa Cup final in Stockholm, if you had tried to. After the appalling tragedy that swept through the great City of Manchester on Monday night, this was a real tonic of solidarity, which might just alleviate a tiny morsel of unimaginable pain. Well done Manchester United and hats off to the indomitable Joe Mourinho!

 

What on earth is going on with the press in US?  Even if the New York Times was leaked information about the Manchester bomber, has this newspaper no code of conduct?  It must know that sensitive information of this nature can not only cause unnecessary grief but it could also hamper the on-going investigation. Here’s hoping that PM May can provide further ammunition for President Trump’s crusade against the New York Times for perpetrating ‘fake’ or mischievous news.  One does not expect such shabby treatment on security issues from a member of the press of your closest ally.

 

UK stock markets continued to flirt with all-time records – FTSE 100 closing up 40 points at 7514 (7522) and the FTSE 250 up 30 points at 19950 (19970). BAE Systems on the back of Trump’s success in Saudi Arabia saw its shares reach record levels at 650p. easyJet +3.3% and Britvic shone through a rather lack-lustre session. More stuff has been written about M&S than one can imagine.  I suspect the ‘Archie Norman’ syndrome allowed the shares to rally 4% in the last week.  It certainly wasn’t the performance in the last quarter or the year end results which were very disappointing. Despite ambivalent comments by Glencore in regards to acquiring Bunge, the grain titan, the latter’s share price gain at 16.6%. We await developments.

 

US equity markets showed a smidgen of vitality, responding to the content of the FOMC minutes, which took all three indices to new record levels – DOW 21,012 +0.36% +6.324% S&P: 2,404 +0.25%+7.395% NASDAQ: 5,730 +0.47% +17.82%.  It looks as though the FED rate may go to 1.25% in June, though some of the economic data in the last month has looked a little soft. This was reflected in the views of ‘most participants’ (both covering voting and non-voting FOMC members). They think a rate hike will be appropriate ‘soon’. As mentioned in the statement, the FOMC members were not worried about the weak GDP growth in Q1, which they think is transitory and partly reflecting negative residual seasonality. The members also noted that the unemployment rate had dropped further below the Fed’s NAIRU estimate of 4.7% to 4.4% with inflation benign at 1.9%.

 

What was really interesting was the fact that the minutes stated quantitative tightening will be conducted ‘in a gradual and predictable manner’. The staff proposes that the FOMC announces a set of gradually increasing caps/limits on the dollar amounts of bonds that will be allowed to run off each month and only reinvest the amounts that exceeded the caps each month. The FED’S balance sheet is gargantuan and stands at $4.47 trillion.  I would very much like the BOE to adopt a similar policy.  QE is only £425 billion, but the UK still needs weaning from QE.

 

This morning  the FTSE started with a spring in its heal – up 15 points but since then it has surrendered a bit of ground and at 9.30am it was down 15 points at 7499. Halfords (+1.5%) and Card Factory (+1.5%) pleased their acolytes.  DMGT definitely did not and is down 6%.  There was also little joy from Tate & Lyle. The £2 billion merger between Wood Group and AMEC Foster Wheeler seems to have encountered some difficulties over Unoil, an associate of Wood, which is under investigation over fraud. This merger would value the joint operation at around £5 billion, employing 64k in this construction and energy service group. 1280 jobs would be cut at Wood in the event of a successful consummation to the deal.

 

Asian equity markets recovered from China’s downgrade yesterday and performed as follows plus YTD progress – NIKKEI: 19,826 +0.43% + 3.737% HANG SENG 25,623 +0.77% +16.484% CHINA 3,464 +1.19% +4.882% ASX: 5,779 +0.23% +1.982%. OPEC is likely to leave current production levels unchanged when it posts its findings in Vienna today.

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Thursday – Tate& Lyle, Pets at Home, United Utilities, Halfords, DMGT, Inchcape, Card Factory, L&G, Friday – Intertek, Spectris, Restaurant Group

 

US companies posting numbers –Thursday – Hormel Foods, Best Buy

 

Economic data this week – Thursday – OPEC meeting, BBA Mortgage approvals, UK GDP 2nd Quarter estimate

 

 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 – Hardly known for my sartorial elegance, BUT…

TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday 24th May 2017

 

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate.
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods. . . . 

But there is no road through the woods.”

 

Rudyard Kipling – author & poet – 1865 –1936

 

One can only admire the fortitude and stoical attitude of the people of Manchester after their ‘loved ones’ suffered the most barbaric attack by some religiously crazed British-born jihadi maniac, detonating his suicide bomb in the foyer of the Manchester Arena. This despicable coward caused carnage and unimaginable grief not only to the grieving families but also to all who live and work in that wonderful city! The whole country salutes you and stands four-square behind Manchester! It is, of course, also alarming to hear that that the security threat level has now been upgraded from severe to CRITICAL.

 

It proved very difficult for market practioners to raise much in the way of enthusiasm, post the fall-out from the heinous Manchester bombing.  I suppose investors should be grateful for small mercies that the level of volatility that prevailed at the time of ‘9/11’ and ‘7/7’ in 2005 had dissipated almost without trace.  In fact, despite the desperate news, the FTSE 100 briefly flirted with another infra-day record at 7515 (record 7522), before closing just below the Plimsoll line at 7485.  However the FTSE 250 did reach record levels at 19920, having at one point reached 19970. This index is a relatively accurate barometer of the UK economy and its rally like the ‘Phoenix from the ashes’ since 27th June 2016 (BREXIT), when it stood at 14967 is truly remarkable – up 33%!    Activity was marginally better than moribund with banks and oils leading the way. Homeserve, the emergency repairs service operator, definitely grabbed the yellow jersey – up 10.8% on a 20% increase in profits. Chancellor Hammond will have been dispirited by the fact that government borrowing rose to £10.4 billion – up £1.2 billion more than in April 2016 and up £1.6 billion above analysts’ expectations. Why? Rising inflation has eaten in to consumers’ appetite to spend money on the high street and on-line – hence lower VAT receipts. VAT raised £11.2 billion – only 0.2% above 2016’s achievements.

 

On the Street of Dreams dealers were in a reflective frame of mind and spent most of the day contemplating over the content of today’s FOMC minutes.  Though the data looks a bit softer, many believe the FED could well raise rates 25 basis points in June.  Tomorrow’s OPEC meeting is also eagerly awaited. OPEC players seem to be offering guidance of a potential extension to the November output cut agreement, which should keep oil prices above $50 a barrel. US MARKETS CLOSED as follows with YTD performances – DOW: 20,937 +0.21% +5.947% S&P: 2,398 +0.18% +7.128% NASDAQ: 5,703 +0.07% +17.265%.  Ford Motor Company fired its CEO Mark Field – well he retired!

 

 

China was downgraded by Moody’s to A! from Aa3.  This is a worry, though the world and his wife has been concerned about the size of local government debt and the humungous exposure of Chinese banks. This downgrade is no more than a realisation. As Asian markets head to the close, the main bourses have performed as follows – NIKKEI: 19,715 +0.52% +3.127% HANG SENG: 25,367 -0.14% +15.354% CHINA: 3,403 -0.61% +1.648% ASX: 5,758 +0.01% +1.648%.

 

So M&S posted their numbers – hugely disappointing. Profits were down from £689m last year to £630m. Gone are the days of £1 billion profit in 1997 and in 2007, when Lord Rose was at the helm. I suspect Sir Philip Green’s bid in 2004. Total merchandising down 5.9% – like for like sales for food -0.8% and clothing -3.4%. I am hardly known for my sartorial elegance – pear shaped.  However I know what a fine looking filly and a good looking bloke look like and these people will not be flocking in their droves into M&S emporiums, unless there is a realisation that M&S fashions are dowdy! Thank goodness Archie Norman will be there as the new chairman to kick backsides in the same manner he did at ASDA and ITV. Also welcome to Jill McDonald who hopefully will be marginally more inspiring about fashion. The share drifted down 1.57%, but the ‘NORMAN FACTOR’ has clearly been positive – shares at 9.00am +1.6% at 393p.

 

Kingfisher posted very mixed results – awful in France with sales down 5.5%, though the UK and Ireland were encouraging – +3.5%. Sales totalled £2.8 billion.  Investors were underwhelmed dragging their shares down by 6.77%. Dixons Carphone pleased their acolytes – shares up 2.3%.

 

Finally it never seems to rain but it pours on Barclays Bank.  Fresh from Jes Staley’s problems, the ‘bald eagle’ is now confronted by a £1.6 billion PPI lawsuit from credit card company, CCUK. 

 

 

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Wednesday – M&S, Mediclinic, Babcock International, Vedanta Resources, Britvic, Kingfisher, Dixons Carphone, HSS Hire, Thursday – Tate& Lyle, Pets at Home, United Utilities, Halfords, DMGT, Inchcape, Card Factory, L&G, Friday – Intertek, Spectris, Restaurant Group

 

US companies posting numbers – Wednesday Tiffany’s, Thursday – Hormel Foods, Best Buy

 

Economic data this week – Wednesday – FOMC Minutes, Thursday OPEC meeting, BBA Mortgage approvals, UK GDP 2nd Quarter estimate

 

 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

Today my emotions have got the better of me – deep sorrow, tears, indignation, anger and resentment. However I am distressed beyond comprehension for the bereaved families. The reaction by equity markets to this barbaric annihilation is very different to what it might have experienced 15 years ago, when an act of barbarism of this nature such as ‘9/11’ or ‘7/7’ could have skimmed 5-10% off the valuation of the FTSE. Today, life goes on and traders and analysts deal with financial and economic facts rather than emotions. It sounds cynical but is not supposed to be. It’s just cold facts.  The FTSE 100 is up 10 points at 7505 at 3.10am having been up 20 points at midday – a record! Also the FTSE 250 is up 35 points at 19750 – also a record. The fact that the FTSE 250 is at an all-time record is more significant for me than the performance of the FTSE 250 – why?

 

The FTSE 250 is a proper barometer of economic activity from a broad range of sectors. Many will recall that post 23rd June last year the FTSE 250 fell out of bed due to unsubstantiated rumours about the damage BREXIT would do. This prognosis has proved to be wrong and ill-conceived. There is plenty of life in the UK economy, with stocks such as Homeserve +12% today, Cranswick +5%, Greencore, NMC, UDG and RPC performing with aplomb. There is plenty more left in the tank. Many senior market luminaries (about 37%) think equities in the senior global indices are over-priced. There is little evidence to support that view in the case of the FTSE 250.

 

The banks were in good order with RBS up 1% and Barclays and Lloyds both gaining 0.5%. Oil stocks responded to a perky crude oil price of $53 and change for Brent – BP and RD Shell were both up 0.5%. Topps Tiles never got close to pleasing their acolytes – down 4.5%. De La Rue’s show seems to be back on the road. Some analyst felt entertainment shares might suffer as a result of this heinous bombing. I’m not sure about that but Restaurant Group fell 4.5% and Merlin by 0.76%.

 

The DOW at 3.28pm was up 30 points and the DAX and CAC were 0.2% to the good. Everyone is reeling with sorrow and sadness – hence the rather moribund performance.

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 23rd May 2017

 

 

“When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d

The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;

When sometime lofty towers I see down-ras’d

And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;

When I have seen the hungry ocean gain

Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,

And the firm soil win of the wat’ry main,

Increasing store with loss and loss with store;

When I have seen such interchange of state,

Or state itself confounded to decay;

Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,

That Time will come and take my love away.

This thought is as a death, which cannot choose

But weep to have that which it fears to lose.”

 

 

William Shakespeare – poet & playwright – 1564-1616

 

 

    Not since ‘9/11’ have I felt less like writing anything on markets than I do today.  It seems so trite and frivolous in the wake of barbaric behavior by a religious and fanatical suicide bomber, who in moment of irrational cruelty, took the lives of at least 22 people, whilst at the same time maiming or brutally injuring dozens of others – too many of them children – without a merciful thought in his head! God damn him! And those with similar terrorist antics!

 

 

I suppose I better write something…..

 

 

Yesterday really belonged to US markets which enjoyed the early summer sunshine, basking in a modicum of Trump glory post his visit to Saudi Arabia. US markets closed as follows with YTD achievements – DOW: 20,894 +0.43% +5.729% S&P: 2,394 +0.52% +6.932% NASDAQ: 5,699 +0.85% +17.184%. Most defense stocks had already benefitted from the possibility of $110 billion trade deals with Saudi. However some continued their rally once the ink was dry. Blackrock was up 0.75% on news that it will spend $100 million on infrastructure. Lockheed Martin was 1.5% to the good with General Dynamics adding 1%, plus modest gains by Honeywell +0.5% and United Technologies +0.4%. Tech stocks were not without their supporters – Apple +0.6%, Alphabet +0.84%, Microsoft +1.1%, Alibaba +1.24% and Amazon +01.1%.

 

Asia had little to bring to the party this morning. It was rather an anemic session with little obvious investment pegs to hang hats upon. We await news of sales by Tata’s Jaguar Rover. Since Tata paid £1.5 billion 9 years ago sales are up four fold from 200k vehicles to around 800k.

 

Back here in Old Blighty the FTSE 100 peddled on, in adding 25 points to 7496. It is also worth mentioning that the FTSE 250 reached record heights again – up 99 at 19912. Fifteen years ago markets would have reacted adversely to this kind of barbaric behavior. No, sadly, they take machinations of this nature in their stride – such is the price of experience! We have all become so cynical!

 

This morning the London based indices stood tall. At 9.01am the FTSE was up 10 points at 7505 – a record again and the FTSE 250 was up 0.3% to 19970 – again another record and a better barometer of UK economic activity. Homserve grabbed the yellow jersey with great numbers – up 10%. Topps Tiles did not please their acolytes – down 6%. De La Rue’s numbers were in line with expectations – +0.15%.

 

It looks as though RBS is attempting to avoid exposing Fred Goodwin and his four colleagues from giving evidence over the RBS shareholders rights issue claim. Despite incurring legal bills of £100 million +over the £12 billion rights issue of RBS in June 2008, CEO Ross McEwan seems determine to settle the £800 million lawsuit with the remaining retail and fund manager shareholders on the steps of the law courts, rather than expose the bank to toxic evidence. RBS has currently cost the taxpayer £43.5 billion in buying ABN AMRO for £47 billion. Losses total over £100 billion in the last 9 years. Shareholders are still under water without the prospect of getting their money back in the foreseeable future – breakeven 503p – share price – 264p (+0.96% today). Like many others I believe Goodwin, Cameron, Whittaker and McKillop owe us an explanation.

 

In closing I see that Amazon Prime will provide live pay-TV within a couple of weeks in Europe, as well as exposure to Discovery, Eurosport and ITV channels. Since its inception Amazon’s share price is up 57.4k% and this tech retailer is twice the size of Wal-Mart.

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Home serve, De La Rue, Cranswick, Severn Trent, Shaftesbury, Paragon, Topps Tiles, Wednesday – M&S, Mediclinic, Babcock International, Vedanta Resources, Britvic, Kingfisher, Dixons Carphone, HSS Hire, Thursday – Tate& Lyle, Pets at Home, United Utilities, Halfords, DMGT, Inchcape, Card Factory, L&G, Friday – Intertek, Spectris, Restaurant Group

 

US companies posting numbers – Monday – Agilent, Target – Tuesday – Take Two, Wednesday Tiffany’s, Thursday – Hormel Foods, Best Buy

 

Economic data this week – Tuesday UK PSBR, Thursday BBA Mortgage approvals, UK GDP 2nd Quarter estimate

 

 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

TODAY’S FAYRE – Monday 22nd May 2017

 

“Your lungs fill & spread themselves,
wings of pink blood, and your bones
empty themselves and become hollow.
When you breathe in you’ll lift like a balloon
and your heart is light too & huge,
beating with pure joy, pure helium.
The sun’s white winds blow through you,
there’s nothing above you,
you see the earth now as an oval jewel,
radiant & seablue with love.
It’s only in dreams you can do this.
Waking, your heart is a shaken fist,
a fine dust clogs the air you breathe in;
the sun’s a hot copper weight pressing straight
down on the think pink rind of your skull.
It’s always the moment just before gunshot.
You try & try to rise but you cannot.

 

Margaret Atwood – poet – 1939 –

 

President Donald J Trump seems to reel from one crisis to another. He tells us it’s all fake news, but there is a growing fear that the 45th President is not on top of his game with the ‘Comey Syndrome’ and the White House’s relationship with Russian providing very unsatisfactory explanations. However the start to his state visit to Saudi Arabia looks as though it has been an unqualified success with $350 billion of trade and defence ($110 billion) deals being signed between these two nations. President Obama’s stand-off with Saudi Arabia in favour of a nuclear deal with Iran seems to have been redressed by President Trump. This is potentially very good news for jobs and growth in the US. Trump’s speech on the fight against extremism in Saudi Arabia was rather more temperate than many expected.  Like Trump or not, this was a visionary speech, which many of the delegates would have had empathy with and will have done his international stock no harm.  

 

Also France’s President Macron seems to have attracted nothing but positive international press as he put together his Cabinet; one that M Macron hopes will unite cavernous political divisions that currently prevails in France. He has left a great impression as the person who seems more likely to re-ignite the EU’S appetite to be more expansive and almost certainly more Federal, as Chancellor Merkel’s government starts to look stale. However chickens very quickly came home to roost with Merkel and Schauble telling the ‘bouncy little corporal’ to get back in his box and keeps his grandiose ideas on saving the Euro to himself! President Macron should also remember that he would find his time better spent on domestic issues such as France’s deplorably intransigent labour laws, rather trying to be a hero in the eyes of Germany, which always puts itself before anyone else!

 

The intensity of the General Election is gathering pace in the wake of the publication of the party manifestos. Despite this Election, conceivably being the most important one since 1945, enthusiasm appears to be waning, as the electorate starts to drown in an amorphous of nebulous policies. My ‘Straight-off-the-bat’ thoughts suggest that Labour’s ambitious plans make no sense financially, though aesthetically, they seem to have attracted more than a little support. ‘Little Timmy’s’ party seems to be a ‘one trick pony.’ Destroy BREXIT at all costs. As for the Conservative party’s efforts, though its manifesto seems to be more tolerant and sympathetic to the less affluent, there are policies that will not sit well with their core supporters and by business. Stopping share-buy-backs and implementing protective restrictions on M&A activity as well as legislating for too much boardroom interference will not be met with euphoric acceptance by business. Nor will adjustments to the ‘triple-lock pension and contributions to care.  The will be rejected by many, though sensible for those who can afford it, in reality. Frankly these policies have been poorly presented.

 

Global equities were rather volatile within a fairly narrow range last week, though the FTSE 100, despite Sterling flirting with $1.30, ended the week up 0.48%. There was a measurable wobble mid-week, however the S&P 500 ended the five-day run just 0.17% below the Plimsoll line. The wobble was caused by an increasing number of market protagonist being of the opinion that Trump would be bogged down with political controversies and allegations of scandal, which would prevent the government delivering on its election promises to deliver $1 trillion of infrastructure spending.  The NASDAQ was hit even harder but regained some poise at the end of the week. We were also told that 37% of fund managers and analysts, recently polled, felt global equities were over-valued. However the deals agreed with Saudi are likely to benefit companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Pratt & Witney, Honeywell and Caterpillar. As we come towards the end of the earnings season, it was interesting to note that Wal-Mart posted better than expected results, resulting in shares adding 1.59% on Friday.  Target added 0.29% ahead on Monday morning’s earnings presentation. The Dollar fell 2% last week against most major currencies thanks to alarms raised against Trump’s Presidency and Brent crude was up 2.2%. Markets may open better today post Trump’s success in Saudi Arabia. The minutes of the FOMC will be posted on Wednesday and their tone may be more dovish than of late.

 

Despite concerns expressed about US markets, which were still close to record levels, the FTSE was splendidly resilient and briefly attained similar dizzy heights. European bourses eased by just over 1% on the week and Japan’s Nikkei by 1.47% (strength of the Yen). Vodafone’s numbers were encouraging despite a £4 billion loss (mainly incurred in India.) Glaxo has agreed in principle to buy back the 36% of GSK Healthcare from Novartis. BT’s pension black hole has increased to £14 billion, making me and other very nervous. ASDA’s sales did not reflect Wal-Mart’s performance – sales posted Wednesday down 2.8% in last quarter but CEO Sean Clarke insists that progress is being made. It is interesting to note that Amazon has increased in value by 57.4k% at $460 billion – twice the size of Wal-Mart. I was fairly ambivalent to news posted by JP Morgan Chase that provision is being made to post 1000 to Dublin in concert with HSBC posting 1000 people to Paris in the not too distant future.

 

On the UK economic front inflation rose to 2.7% with wages only rising by 2.4%, which may put pressure on retail sales with less disposable income to go round though last month’s retail sales rallied by 2.3% in comparison to 4% in April 2016. The best news of the week was Lloyds Banking Group finally selling its final 0.89% taxpayer’s stake. The original bail-0ut was £23.4 billion. When Antonio Horta-Osorio arrived 6 years ago he inherited a balance sheet with £200 billion of toxic assets of which HBOS’s share totalled £100 billion. PPI repayments totalled £17 billion – half the entire banking market’s liabilities. Lloyds Banking Group required £100 billion short-term money from the Bank of England.  Hats off to Antonio Horta-Osorio and the team for making the taxpayer a £900 million profit and to Morgan Stanley for slowly and efficiently dribbling out the taxpayer’s stake. Lord Norman Blackwell tells us that the CEO will be staying. Sad to report that 12k redundancies have been made – 7% of the work force.

 

M&S has floundered in recent years.  It posts numbers on Wednesday. Though food is universally respected it accounts for 55% of turnover – 80% of the profits come from clothing – Hence CEO Steve Rowe must start to turn the business around, aided and abetted by the appointment of Archie Norman as chairman and Jill McDonald from Halfords to help with fashion. However M&S’s clothing and homewares sales are expected to have tumbled more than 3% in the first three months of 2017. Its food business is also expected to post a small decline in underlying sales. Autumn fashions have been presented and the market holds its breath to see if they catch on. Paul Geddes, CEO of Direct Line has had his name submitted to succeed Adam Crozier at ITV.

 

 

UK companies posting numbers this week – Monday – Carillion, Tuesday – Home serve, De La Rue, Cranswick, Severn Trent, Shaftesbury, Paragon, Topps Tiles, Wednesday – M&S, Mediclinic, Babcock International, Vedanta Resources, Britvic, Kingfisher, Dixons Carphone, HSS Hire, Thursday – Tate& Lyle, Pets at Home, United Utilities, Halfords, DMGT, Inchcape, Card Factory, L&G, Friday – Intertek, Spectris, Restaurant Group

 

US companies posting numbers – Monday – Agilent, Target – Tuesday – Take Two, Wednesday Tiffany’s, Thursday – Hormel Foods, Best Buy

 

Economic data this week – Tuesday UK PSBR, Thursday BBA Mortgage approvals, UK GDP 2nd Quarter estimate

 

 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​

PRESIDENT MACRON HAS BIGGER FISH TO FRY TO FRY THAN GETTING STUCK IN TO THE CITY!”

PRESIDENT MACRON HAS BIGGER FISH TO FRY TO FRY THAN GETTING STUCK IN TO THE CITY!”

 

President Macron and his ‘first Lady’ take up residency in the Elysee Palace today (Sunday). The debonair reincarnation of ‘The Little Corporal’ has it all to do, even more so than his illustrious forefather Napoleon Bonaparte, who at same age all but ruled much of Europe.

President Macron has the unimaginatively difficult task of juggling his reputation as Chancellor Merkel’s main ‘bag-carrier’ and standard bearer for the EU with the unenviable task of dealing with an ailing domestic economy. France’s labour laws and immigration problems are in severe need of reform and remedial action. Despite Macron’s ‘rebel-rousing’ rhetoric, his matinee idol good looks and his heart-felt promises to provide hope and dreams to the ‘Cinquieme Republique’, few think he has much chance of changing France’s reputation of abhorring change! He’s going to struggle to get a working majority in the June legislator elections. He is already struggling over nominations for his party for legislative elections with alleged broken promises to those who supported him.

His visit to the UK last February, as a handicapper in horse racing parlance, looking to run in ‘group’ company as an outsider for the Presidency or in betting terms, M Macron was very much the ‘rag!’ He came to London with the express intention of enticing as many as 20,000 bankers, financial and fin-tech experts back to the Seizieme arrondissement or thereabouts in Paris, as the battle lines are drawn up for BREXIT, were laudable and understandable. The same applies to his recent comments about ‘demanding’ the repatriation of Euro-clearing.

 

Most people have been appalled at the jingoistic behaviour of a few important leading political lights on both sides ‘La Manche.’ Some of the rhetoric chosen by J-C Juncker, his bag carrier – he’s so unimportant I cannot remember his name nor can I be bothered to look it up – and Guy Verhofstadt is not what is required to make for sensible negotiations. Mr Verhofstadt, for a man with his supposed distinguished diplomatic career, should know better than to refer to the UK as ‘human excrement’ – the word he is purported to have used in jest in a tweet; not at any time denied by him – was rather more succinct and colourful. Juncker seems to reel from one banana skin to another, in a first-class performance of ‘Widow Twanky on ice!’ This kind of aggressive behaviour will only damage the residue of goodwill between the EU and the UK.  Many cynics will say why should the EU care as it only does 10% of its trade whereas the UK does 40% with the EU? It’s a fair point, but if the relationship deteriorates to a point, when there is limited cooperation on defence and security, perhaps it might start caring. Talk of this nature is crazy, but emotions are running high.  Representatives at the top table need to calm down. To be honest I am much more interested in what business luminaries – industrial and financial – think rather than ‘hot-headed’ politicians.

 

I believe the EU’S indomitable resolve to damage the UK may have been exacerbated by Emmanuel Macron’s landslide victory in the French Presidential election.  Having looked decidedly weak three months ago, the EU now feels strong and resolute with Chancellor Merkel, who frankly, but all in name, is the President of Europe has found a new enthusiastic and totally committed standard bearer. Merkel is also starting to look a warm order to win the German election in October. Growth in the EU has been better of late and the fact that Italy and Greece next year could upset the apple cart is tomorrow’s story.

 

The Macron bubble will burst before too long.  His domestic problems could leave his time devoted to the EU in the in-tray for longer than he would like. Macron has real live issues as discussed above. Much as HSBC’S Gulliver, Goldman’s Blankfein, UBS’S Ermotti have huffed and puffed with heir contingency plans post BREXIT, by making plans to move a few thousand people in total as a contingency plan; its good house-keeping, I suspect they all know that Paris will NEVER compete with London as a financial centre! Why? Hopeless labour laws, taxation issues, lack of infrastructure, language and above all else London is the place to get business done with the very best legal and accountancy services on ‘Mother Earth.’  All this cannot be replicated in my humble opinion. Also on the subject of clearing, I was delighted that the US sent out a stark warning to the EU as to the damage that could be done by breaking up London’s hugely important clearing operations, which is unquestionably the largest insurance company in the world guaranteeing counterparty transactions. Though the EU is entitled to Euro based cleating, fragmenting the whole framework could have very dangerous connotations and ramifications.  M Macron, you have been warned.  Attend to your flock before attempting to assume the role of international empire builder.  You would achieve more by cooperating with the UK rather than bashing it! Finally may I commend an excellent article by Maggie Pagano in the Independent about Daniel Hodson, who is doing a brilliant in bringing ‘remainers’ and ‘leavers’ to the table with a view to having them sing from the same hymn sheet.

 

 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/view-from-the-top-daniel-hodson-chairman-the-city-for-britain-brexit-leave-remain-a7720216.html