TODAY’S FAYRE – Sunday, 10th July 2017
“The cruel Moon hangs out of reach
Up above the shadowy beech.
Her face is stupid, but her eye
Is small and sharp and very sly.
Nurse says the Moon can drive you mad?
No, that’s a silly story, lad!
Though she be angry, though she would
Destroy all England if she could,
Yet think, what damage can she do
Hanging there so far from you?
Don’t heed what frightened nurses say:
Moons hang much too far away.”
“The Cruel Moon”
“Are you shaken, are you stirred
By a whisper of love,
Spellbound to a word
Does Time cease to move,
Till her calm grey eye
Expands to a sky
And the clouds of her hair
Like storms go by?
Then the lips that you have kissed
Turn to frost and fire,
And a white-steaming mist
So back to their birth
Fade water, air, earth,
And the First Power moves
Over void and dearth.
Is that Love? no, but Death,
A passion, a shout,
The deep in-breath,
The breath roaring out,
And once that is flown,
You must lie alone,
Without hope, without life,
Poor flesh, sad bone.”
Robert Graves– poet, author & playwright – 1895-1985
Though Friday had its highlights in the form of Andy Murray’s fighting win at Wimbledon and England’s relatively commanding display at Lord’s – a veritable theatre of dreams – the rest of the day left little, for many, to be desired. YouGov published its most recent poll putting Labour 8 points in the lead – Jezza/Worzel is on a roll – and probably has sufficient support to form an administration. It matters not what the quality of the pearls of wisdom or the philosophical gems that drip from his lips or those of John McDonnell, the angry, mostly well-educated and social media driven young are lapping it up. Who cares if the UK cannot afford it? ‘Anything is better than what we have’ and when the country goes ‘to hell and a handcart in a few years – so be it! It’s depressing, but the Tory Government have brought it upon themselves with a desperate election campaign, spear-headed by a manifesto, which must have been written by a couple of 7-year olds!
Until the Tories start to pull together and cease from their visceral infighting and stop briefing against each other, the situation will only get worse. If the current mood prevails, the UK is staring down the barrel of dramatic unemployment and a deep recession! It’s really hard to believe that this possibility or likely outcome is an attractive alternative. Just in passing it was deeply depressing to watch ITV’S James Mates rubbish the UK’s standing on the World stage. Surely the public is only interested in having the news reported and not having the correspondent’s personal interpretation of his/her contempt of the current political scene as an arch “REMAINER!”
Carolyn Fairbairn, who in my opinion and until recently has been a bit like a toothless tiger as Director General of the CBI, in terms of her role in the BREXIT debate, managed to mass some of her troops down to Chevening for a pow-wow with the BREXIT Secretary, David Davis over postponing exit from the single market and the customs Union. This meeting, which included such luminaries as Ian Conn from Centrica, Alison Brittain of Whitbread Inga Beale from Lloyds of London, Carolyn McCall of EasyJet, Douglas Flint from HSBC, Jes Staley from Barclays and Emma Walmsley of GSK apparently lasted 4.5 hours. M/S Fairbairn’s group, I am afraid, drew a blank. Even Chancellor Hammond, a fervent believer in restraint and accommodation supported Mr Davis that their proposal was unworkable. There would be no political appetite for this compromise and totally cow-towing to the ECJ may just prove to be a “bridge too far” as in essence it would mean the UK postponing its quest to leave the EU? However the tone of the meeting was apparently much more conciliatory than some expected, with Mr Davis telling this powerful gathering of business opinion; it was NOT being ignored. However the BREXIT Secretary of State was very clear in stating that membership of the single market was not what the country voted for! PM May is in a weak position and the CBI knows this; hence its attempt to capitalise on the situation.
The more Michel Barnier stresses that “There is no punishment for Brexit. And of course no spirit of revenge” the more we know this is just disingenuous rhetoric. Many believe that he speaks with forked tongue! He elaborated his comments by saying “A trading relationship with a country that does not belong to the European Union obviously involves friction,” Yet UK FCA chief Andrew Bailey warned Brussels not to use Brexit as an excuse to restrict “freedom of location”. He reiterated: “When I hear people say that firms need to relocate in order to continue to benefit from access to EU financial markets, I start to seriously wonder: Does Brexit have to mean abandoning the benefits of free trade and open markets in financial services? It should not.” It was good to hear Barclays Chairman John Macfarlane, supported by LSE Xavier Rolet and Catherine McGuinness, enforce the view that moving some clearing from London back to the EU out of spite, was purely political and that it made little economic sense. Dismembering the status quo would only make the US the beneficiary.
I very much want to take the entente cordial between Donald Trump and PM May on face value. Let’s hope a trade agreement can be agreed with the US soon after BREXIT. But it would be folly to underestimate Congress’s ability to stall negotiations. It knows no bounds; so I am not about to hold my breath.
Better than expected Non-farm payrolls posted on Friday (+222K EST: 154k) together with other employment data was probably the final signal the FED’S Janet Yellen and her colleagues needed to not only implement another 0.25% rate in increase in September, despite unemployment rising a pip from 4.3% to 4.4%, but more to the point for the FED to start tapering QE. Inflation is the US is not a real issue, though it would have been very encouraging to see hourly wages rally by more than 0.2% in June to 2.5% annually. Nonetheless the US economy is starting to look robust. Mario Draghi also hinted that the ECB may start to consider tapering QE too and maybe once the clouds of concern surrounding BREXIT start to disappear the Bank of England will consider jumping on the band wagon. The net result of Friday’s data was to give US equities a much needed but modest boost. The S&P 500 ended +0.10% on the week, with the FTSE +0.52% thanks to the mining and drug sectors. European bourses were sluggish and added an average of 0.12% with the NIKKEI easing by 0.53% on the week.
This past week saw decent numbers from Sainsbury, though we shall need to see a follow through. Lloyds Banking Group confirmed that Antonio Horta-Osario will be staying on as CEO. Fund managers will approve. HSBC have said goodbye to Douglas Flint as chairman, whilst welcoming Mark Tucker from AIA and previously from Prudential to succeed him. The question as to who takes over from Stuart Gulliver after 37 years of service as the new CEO remains a divisive issue. Some want an internal candidate to keep continuity going. Others would prefer that someone like Peter Hancock, ex CEO of AIG to take over. He is the jolly at present. Apple have incensed employees, management and shareholders of Imagination Technology, whose chips they are ceasing to buy, by setting up premises in St Albans close to Imagination to compete with them! Staff must be vulnerable. I smell litigation in my nostrils. Having just been sold for £7.7 billion to US’S Vantiv, WorldPay’s Chairman and ‘arch-Remainer’, Sir Mike Rake has blamed BREXIT for the sale as a result of the fall in Sterling. That’s business Sir Mike, free markets, charge what the traffic will bear! Iconiq Capital, which Mark Zuckerberg is associated with, is considering a £1 billion takeover of Spurs?!. France’s Schneider Electric is supposedly considering another bid for Aveva. M&S posts a trading statement on Tuesday. Rumour has it that sales may have improved and that they may only have dropped 2% as against 5.9% the previous quarter.
UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Callogen, Galliford Try, M&S, Carillion, PageGroup, Wednesday – Micro-Focus, JD Wetherspoon, Ophir Energy, Burberry, Barratt Development, Robert Walters, NEX Group, Friday – Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo
US companies posting results this week – wD-40, Tuesday – PepsiCo, AAR, Thursday – Delta Airlines, Friday – Citibank, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase
Economic data posted this week – M0nday – US Consumer Credit, Tuesday – RICS House Prices, BRC Retail Sales, US Federal Budget, Wednesday – UK Employment data, US Beige Book, Thursday – US PPI, US initial jobless Claims, Friday – US Retail Sales, US Industrial Production
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