TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 11th July 2017
“Through long nursery nights he stood
By my bed unwearying,
Loomed gigantic, formless, queer,
Purring in my haunted ear
That same hideous nightmare thing,
Talking, as he lapped my blood, In a voice cruel and flat, S
aying for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”
That one word was all he said,
That one word through all my sleep,
In monotonous mock despair.
Nonsense may be light as air,
But there’s Nonsense that can keep
Horror bristling round the head,
When a voice cruel and flat
Says for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”
He had faded, he was gone
Years ago with Nursery Land,
When he leapt on me again
From the clank of a night train,
Overpowered me foot and head,
Lapped my blood, while on and on
The old voice cruel and flat
Says for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…”
Morphia drowsed, again I lay In a crater by High Wood:
He was there with straddling legs,
Staring eyes as big as eggs,
Purring as he lapped my blood,
His black bulk darkening the day,
With a voice cruel and flat,
“Cat! … Cat! … Cat! … Cat!…” he said, “Cat! … Cat!…”
When I’m shot through heart and head,
And there’s no choice but to die,
The last word I’ll hear, no doubt,
Won’t be “Charge!” or “Bomb them out!”
Nor the stretcher-bearer’s cry,
“Let that body be, he’s dead!”
But a voice cruel and flat
Saying for ever, “Cat! … Cat! … Cat!”
Robert Graves– poet, author & playwright – 1895-1985
What has been written up about the successful British & Irish Lions’ tour of New Zealand has virtually solved unemployment issues in the wood/paper mill sector. I cannot and would not attempt to compete with the iconic luminary scribes of the game founded by William Webb-Ellis. However, in passing suffice to say that in the modern era of professional rugby, the Lions’ achievement is off the scale. To compete with New Zealand with a scratch team that had less than a months to gel, after a gruelling eight month season for club and country, is breath-taking in its achievement. Rugby is a contact sport with hits of bone-shattering magnitude. The players’ bodies have hardly had time to recover, prior to taking on the best side in the world, which is relatively fresh in comparison. Let me ‘doff my titfer’ to Warren Gatland and his incredible squad of truly committed warriors. The pleasure you have given thousands of fans knows no bounds.
Rarely have I enjoyed three consecutive days of remorselessly competitive cricket than the first three days of the test match at Lord’s against South Africa. Virtually every player made a contribution to England’s emphatic win, though the accolade as man of the match rightly went to Moeen Ali for his all-round performance – bat, ball and in the field! So please for Joe Root in his first match as captain. Making 190 was momentous, particularly as England was in a spot of bother at the time!
It felt like rather a nebulous session on the Street of Dreams yesterday, though the Dollar hit a two-month high against the Yen, thanks to indifferent Japanese Machinery orders. Amazon shares rose 1.8%, at the start of its 30-hour sales charge akin to Black Friday, resulting in the NASDAQ adding 0.8%. Fed Chairman Janet Yellen’s starts her Humphrey Hawkins semi-annual testimony to Congress on Wednesday and Thursday. It may be the highlight this week for investors looking for cues on further interest rate hikes. Shares of Best Buy fell 6.3% on news that Amazon was planning to roll out a Geek Squad competitor. Abercrombie & Fitch Co. shares lost 20% of their value after the embattled retailer said it terminated a potential buyout of the company. Wall Street closed as follows with YTD performances for the year – DOW 21,408 -0.03% +8.328% S&P: 2,427 +0.09% +8.424% NASDAQ: 5,694 +0.67% +17.076%. In Asia, most bourses attempted to ride on Wall Street’s coattails helped by a softer Yen, helping export stocks in Japan – NIKKEI 20,196 +0.58% +5.656% HANG SENG 25,871 +1.46% +17.636% CHINA 3,688 +0.95% +11.368% ASX: 5,726 +0.03% +1.041%.
Profit forecasts for several of the biggest US banks including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have taken a fall as concerns mount that a dearth of dealing in markets is leaving trading desks idle. Wall Street is anticipating a mixed batch of earnings, in spite of a boost to banks from higher interest rates and recent success in the Federal Reserve’s stress tests. Among the six largest US banks, Goldman may have had the steepest decline since the start of the year. Estimates for Citibank, which also has a global retail banking business and helps kick off the reporting season on Friday, may be 8% weaker than at the start of the year. Morgan Stanley’s consensus forecasts are down 5%. Earnings expectations are higher for US banks with retail divisions. They in particular are set to benefit from tighter monetary policy, because higher interest rates allow lenders to profit by increasing charges for borrowers. JPMorgan’s adjusted net income is expected to leap by a tenth from a year ago to $5.7bn and Bank of America’s 19% to $4.7bn according to the FT. Yet for these banks, too, the forecasts are less punchy than they were earlier in the year. Analysts have also cautioned that tepid demand for loans could offset some of the benefit from higher rates. Yet the cautious estimates show some of the buzz in the sector has fizzled. The more sober tone is in contrast to the mood following the election of Donald Trump, which spurred hopes of a profits boost from lower taxes and lighter regulation. Wells and JPMorgan join Citibank in kicking off the results season on Friday about two weeks after the Fed gave banks the green light to make their highest cash distributions to shareholders since the financial crisis. Since 8th November 2016 US Election day – shares in the following have performed well – JP Morgan +18%, Citibank +39% & Wells Fargo +22% – all report Friday. Have these banks run out of steam?
It was another rudderless sector in London yesterday, with the FTSE 100 finishing just above the Plimsoll line. Carillion – the road/airport/railway builder attracted significant interest. The shares fell 39% on an atrocious profits warning, horrendous borrowing requirements, resulting in a £845 million right off and CEO Richard Howson leaving the company with indifferent haste. Hedge funds are alleged to have made £80 million shorting this stock, leaving the likes of Marshall Wace, BlackRock and Naya Capital and another dozen predators smiling like Cheshire cats at the pain inflicted on Carillion.
This morning Page Group posted adequate progress, Young’s making great progress, with M&S posting marginally less than awful numbers. Clothes and merchandise like-for-like sales in the last quarter fell by 1.2% with food dropping by 0.1%. It could have been a great deal worse – sales were down 5.9% last quarter. In isolation the food sales were disappointing. CEO Steve Rowe and Jill McDonald, fresh from Halfords really are on their metal to deliver, as retail may not be a happy hunting ground for some, as inflation flirts with 3% leaving consumers with less disposable income. Shares have fallen form 395p in the last 2 months to 338p today 9-0.9%).
UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Callogen, Galliford Try, M&S, PageGroup, Wednesday – Micro-Focus, JD Wetherspoon, Ophir Energy, Burberry, Barratt Development, Robert Walters, NEX Grou
US companies posting results this week – Tuesday – PepsiCo, AAR, Thursday – Delta Airlines, Friday – Citibank, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase
Economic data posted this week – Tuesday – RICS House Prices, BRC Retail Sales, US Federal Budget, Wednesday – US Yellen’s 2-day Humphrey Hawkins lecture, UK Employment data, US Beige Book, Thursday – US PPI, US initial jobless Claims, Friday – US Retail Sales, US Industrial Production
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