TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 20th June 2017
“Between the dusk of a summer night
And the dawn of a summer day,
We caught at a mood as it passed in flight,
And we bade it stoop and stay.
And what with the dawn of night began
With the dusk of day was done;
For that is the way of woman and man,
When a hazard has made them one.
Arc upon arc, from shade to shine,
The World went thundering free;
And what was his errand but hers and mine —
The lords of him, I and she?
O, it’s die we must, but it’s live we can,
And the marvel of earth and sun
Is all for the joy of woman and man
And the longing that makes them one.”
William E Henley – poet – 1849 –1902
Last week was one of horrific tragedy and painful sorrow! It is fair to say that neither the government, nor the RBKC, nor the relevant property managers covered themselves in glory! Those closely associated with this tragedy have every right to be incandescent with rage, whilst spitting blood in the process. Perhaps the Grenfell Tower disaster will prove to be a lightening conductor to what appears to be a tsunami styled wave of hatred that is currently engulfing the country!
One issue that has become crystal clear since the election is the social divide that is clearly unacceptable, is becoming more acute as the days roll by. Social housing is a huge problem which no government has had a proper handle on for 50 years. It needs to be dealt with. My colleague, Simon French makes the following very salient point – ‘Any political party that has a practical handle on this acute housing crisis has a huge prize in their grasp!’
What is now desperately sad is the way politics has now deliberately stepped in the way of a tragedy. There should be a united approach with a common cause towards rehabilitating families who have lost loved ones or are displaced without even a shirt on their back. The public’s response has been fabulous. The community spirit has been glowing like a beacon! But oh no, the Labour Party could not resist the heaven-sent opportunity to make this disaster in to a game of political football, with Messrs Corbyn, Khan and Lammy to the fore, blaming this ghastly tragedy on austerity, when no one officially knows who is directly responsible.
Despite calming and sensible input from humanitarians such as the Bishop of a Kensington, this hatred and class warfare has been building up in to fever pitch – very dangerous. A calming influence is required from political leaders and it seems unlikely to come from Corbyn, who is in his element with his wooden spoon stirring up a mendacious fever of mistrust! Let’s face it; it’s a free hit in the current climate of unrest! The government needs to present a long term plan on housing in Wednesday’s Queen’s speech.
And so as if the Grenfell Tower tragedy wasn’t enough for any government to be getting on with; but no BREXIT finally appears larger than life on the horizon. This morning David Davis finally set off to meet Michel Barnier, the EU’S chief negotiator to start deliberations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in March 2019. It appears that the divorce settlement and the future domicile of 3.5 million EU/UK citizens are at the top of the agenda. Many people think the UK, in the wake of its government appearing to be in a fairly weak position, are far from in the ascendancy. I must confess I am happy having David Davis to go in to bat for us. A combination of charm coupled with the ability to eat nails for breakfast and spit rust out will do us very well. These deliberations would test the resolve of any skilled negotiator. The fact that Chancellor Hammond, aided and abetted by half the Tory and Labour parties have thrown down the gauntlet to PM May, demanding a watered-down BREXIT, will make David Davis’s task even trickier. I think he was right to offer an olive branch in the form of leaving trade negotiations until some progress has been made over divorce settlement and citizens’ rights to remain where they are.
The level of unrest was of course exacerbated by the van attack on Muslims outside their mosque in Finsbury Park – a barbaric act islamophobia or was it just an action of a mentally deranged person?
BREXIT – what is on the table for the UK at present – a bad deal or no deal! I must say I’d be inclined to take the latter. Agree reasonable divorce terms and allow EU citizens to remain in UK and UK citizens in the EU. Then we should respectfully take our leave. There will be nothing on the table from Barnier that will look remotely attractive. So I think we should take our chance with WTO rules. Very little to lose!
TOP EFFORT! – Sir Andrew Murray to donate winnings from Aegon Tennis Championship to Grenfell Tower Disaster
There has been plenty of political volatility to rattle equity market cages on both sides of the Atlantic. Considering what’s happened here in Old Blighty – The Grenfell Tower tragedy, the Finsbury Park terrorist attack and Mrs May’s Government under the cosh from the start of the week until now, for the FTSE 100 to be up 0.14%, in the past week including a 60 point rally yesterday is astonishing, particularly if you add the facts that house prices fell for the first time this June since 2009, inflation reached 2.9% and the MPC kept rates on hold voting 5-2. There is an outside chance that the base rate could go to 0.5% from 0.25% in August; but Panmure’s house view promulgated by our Chief Economist, Simon French suggests that there is unlikely to be any further increase until after March 2019 (BREXIT DAY!) In the US despite employment data remaining benign (NFP), the FED’S Janet Yellen and her troops, more often than not so cautious, hiked rates another 0.25% with another similar hike on the cards in September. However President Trump popularity is on the decline with the possibility of legal action over conversations which are alleged to have taken place with Russia pre the elections.
There was only one measurable deal in the US – Amazon stepping in to the food retail ring and buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. That move rattled the cage of US supermarkets causing Tesco to ease by 4%, Sainsbury by 3% and Morrison by 1.9%. It was interesting to see that Ocado jumped 11% in value. Many believe that this delivery service could become a takeover target. Lord Rose the chairman is not averse to making speculative waves when it suits – done a brilliant job! Last week the S&P 500 added 0.86%, the DAX added 0.56% and the Nikkei 0.8%.
In my absence last week, news was plentiful. Rolls Royce may have saved £400m in trading as a result of the fall in the Pound. The success of Jaguar Land Rover has resulted in 5000 jobs being created in the next two years. As the merger between Aberdeen Asset Management comes to fruition, it seems likely that Scottish Widows will find its way in to bed with Standard Life, once Lloyds Banking Group disposes of it 9.9% for circa £1 billion.
Yesterday the US markets had a decent run at it with tech leading the charge. Apple jumped 2.9% in its biggest one-day advance since February, while Facebook gained 1.5% and Amazon added 0.8%. Health care also was strong, highlighted by biotechs which were led by Biogen’s 3.5% surge, along with financials and consumer discretionary. US markets & YTD achievements were as follows – DOW: 21,528 +0.68% +8.938% S&P: 2,453 +0.83% +9.587% NASDAQ: 5,772 +1.60% +18.682%. Asian markets were reflective awaiting the MSCI’S treatment of Chinese stocks – NIKKEI: 20,293 +1.13% + 6.161% HANG SENG: 25,881 -0.16% +17.637% CHINA: 3,549 -0.12% +7.217% ASX: 5,769 -0.61% +1.878%.
After 9 years of deliberations with Amanda Staveley joyously stirring the pot with her audacious claim of £1 billion for her role in the Qatar £8 billion fund raising activity for Barclays, orchestrated by Roger Jenkins and her good self, the SFO have decided to proffer charges against for Barclays executives – John Varley, the former CEO Roger Jenkins, Thomas Kalaris, a former chief executive of Barclays’ wealth division, and Richard Boath, the ex-European head of financial institutions, have all been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in the June 2008 capital raising. Apparently the £8 million was never properly valuated and was shrouded in unorthodox loans and fees. Frankly, apart from the fact that the law is the law, I am grateful that Barclays never fell to the taxpayer. We should be grateful for that. The fact that everyone at HBOS, Lloyds, and RBS has walked away ‘scott-free’ from the biggest financial scandal since the 1929 depression, is an outrage!
UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Wolseley, N Brown, Wednesday – Hornby, Berkeley Group, Whitbread, Thursday – Chemring, Go-Ahead, Saga
Economic data this week – Tuesday – FOMC Minutes, Wednesday – UK PSBR, US Existing Home Sales, Thursday – Initial Jobless Claims, US PMI Manufacturing and services, Friday – US New Home Sales
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