TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 1st August 2017
“The rank stench of those bodies haunts me still
And I remember things I’d best forget.
For now we’ve marched to a green, trenchless land
Twelve miles from battering guns: along the grass
Brown lines of tents are hives for snoring men;
Wide, radiant water sways the floating sky
Below dark, shivering trees. And living-clean
Comes back with thoughts of home and hours of sleep.
To-night I smell the battle; miles away
Gun-thunder leaps and thuds along the ridge;
The spouting shells dig pits in fields of death,
And wounded men, are moaning in the woods.
If any friend be there whom I have loved,
God speed him safe to England with a gash.
It’s sundown in the camp; some youngster laughs,
Lifting his mug and drinking health to all
Who come unscathed from that unpitying waste:
(Terror and ruin lurk behind his gaze.)
Another sits with tranquil, musing face,
Puffing bis pipe and dreaming of the girl
Whose last scrawled letter lies upon his knee.
The sunlight falls, low-ruddy from the west,
Upon their heads. Last week they might have died
And now they stretch their limbs in tired content.
One says ‘The bloody Bosche has got the knock;
‘And soon they’ll crumple up and chuck their games.
‘We’ve got the beggars on the run at last!’
Then I remembered someone that I’d seen
Dead in a squalid, miserable ditch,
Heedless of toiling feet that trod him down.
He was a Prussian with a decent face,
Young, fresh, and pleasant, so 1 dare to say.
No doubt he loathed the war and longed for peace,
And cursed our souls because we’d killed bis friends.
One night he yawned along a haIf-dug trench
Midnight; and then the British guns began
With heavy shrapnel bursting low, and ‘hows’
Whistling to cut the wire with blinding din.
He didn’t move; the digging still went on;
Men stooped and shovelled; someone gave a grunt,
And moaned and died with agony in the sludge.
Then the long hiss of shells lifted and stopped.
He stared into the gloom; a rocket curved,
And rifles rattled angrily on the left
Down by the wood, and there was noise of bombs.
Then the damned English loomed in scrambling haste O
ut of the dark and struggled through the wire,
And there were shouts and curses; someone screamed
And men began to blunder down the trench
Without their rifles. It was time to go:
He grabbed his coat; stood up, gulping some bread;
Then clutched his head and fell. I found him there
In the gray morning when the place was held.
His face was in the mud; one arm flung out
As when he crumpled up; his sturdy legs
Were bent beneath his trunk; heels to the skye.”
Siegfried Sassoon – soldier & poet – 1886-1967
The Commemorative service held under the Menin Gate last Sunday for the battles at Passchendaele and Ypres 1oo years ago, when 500,000 soldiers from UK, France, the Commonwealth and Germany were slaughtered, was a sad, poignant and moving occasion. King Philippe of Belgium and the Duke of Cambridge both gave memorable addresses.
After just 10 days as White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci (The Mouche) has been summarily dismissed for inappropriate remarks about colleagues, by President Trump’s chief of Staff General John Kelly, who will attempt restore some discipline down Pennsylvania Avenue. I think we can bin poor old Michael Sheen’s ‘West Wing’ and continue to watching this saga. You couldn’t make it up if you tried!
Extraordinary how emphatic the results from the three test matches played this summer between England and South Africa. England now leads 2-1 with the last match starting at Old Trafford next Friday. It took England a little time to diddle out the final 6 wickets yesterday, after a fantastic rear-guard action from Dean Elgar who made a dogged and spirited 136 before Moeen Ali finished the match off with a hat trick with England winning by 239 runs.
Up until the market opening yesterday HSBC’S shares had added virtually 50% in value to 745p in concert with many other global banks, which had made similar though not as spectacular progress than the ‘local’ bank, thanks to their balance sheets being in better shape than they were nine years ago, the prospect of slightly higher interest rates and expectations of greater growth on a global basis. Just after 5.00am yesterday Douglas Flint the retiring chairman of HSBC posted a 5% increase in pre-profits to $10.2 billion on revenues of $26 billion (+3%), coupled with a 10p interim dividend. Expenditure fell by (12%) $2.2 billion. The cull of 30k redundancies is well on the way to being completed. Mark Tucker, formerly CEO of Prudential, AIA and a partner of Goldman Sachs will replace Douglas Flint on 1st October as chairman. With HSBC now doing 75% of their business in HK, China and Asia, we are all interested in whether CEO Stuart Gulliver’s replacement will be an internal appointment or whether Mark Tucker will want a new brush. Despite a new UK head office in Birmingham under the chairmanship of Dame Clara Furse (1000 news jobs); the UK is playing a less significant role as will the case be for the US. I hope Dame Clara does a better job than she did as CEO of the LSE.
Tier One capital increased from 13.6% to 14.7%. Trading revenues were up in fixed interest and equities which is more than can be said for Goldman and Deutsche, Citibank and BOA. As was rumoured HSBC confirmed a $2 billion share buy-back. The market was pleased with these numbers. Only another £300 million provision for PPI was made and provisions for bad debts was lower, down from $1.5 billion to $663 million. HSBC shares were up 1.8% to 757p on the day!
Apple post numbers tonight. It is estimated that revenues of $44.9 billion will be gleaned from the sale of 41 million iPhones and other equipment with EPS of $1.57. There are two imponderables. Is Apple late with iPhone8? Will it be October rather than September? If so it could be a costly error. Also will Tim Cook carry out his indication to President Trump that he would build 2 assembly plants in the US? Apple shares are up from $105 a year ago to $149, off their best levels from a week ago. Snap Inc post numbers on 10th August. Shares were issued at $17 5 months ago. They shot up to $27 on the opening day. They have drifted on lower sales than expected and revenues to $13. Facebook offered to buy the company some time ago and the bid was rejected. Facebook now owns Instagram which has seen its sales increase – so there is no need for Snap. Few would be surprised that when the lock-up period finishes as many as 957 million shares come on the market. Let’s hope the figures are better than expected or there could be carnage.
It will come as no surprise that the two highly respected and obsessively pro-REMAIN’ newspapers – The FT and the Guardian have written about a highly controversial paper drawn up by consultants Oliver Wyman, who are suggesting that a hard BREXIT will raise the costs of banking by 4% and the need for an extra 30% more working capital, conceivably resulting in 40,000 job losses. There is a need to make provisions but the findings look a tad alarming and maybe a little hysterical. HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver thinks BREXIT could cost his bank £200-300 million and the bank intends to relocate between 1000 and 6000 jobs to Paris. I hasten to add official negotiations have yet to take place so perhaps it might be prudent not to push the panic button too eagerly!
Yesterday the White House of horrors tended to dominate the Street of Dreams. The Dow Jones closed at a record high on Monday, boosted by Boeing, while selling in Facebook, Alphabet and other technology companies weighed on the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ. Apple, which is expected to report quarterly results after the market close on Tuesday, dipped 0.51%.Tesla declined 3.46% after chief executive Elon Musk warned that the electric carmaker would face “manufacturing hell” as it ramps up production of its new mass-market Model 3 sedan. Wall Street closed as follows with YTD – DOW: 21,891 +0.28% +10.77% S&P: 2,470 -0.07% +10.339% NASDAQ: 5,880 -0.48% +20.904%. In Asia despite the Trump issues Asia made a little progress – Asian Markets & YTD – NIKKEI: 19,974 +0.25% +4.50% HANG SENG 27,449 +0.65% +25.088% CHINA: 3,755 +0.48% +13.626% ASX: 5,769 +0.85% +1.806%.
Yesterday was all about HSBC’S results. The FTSE 100 bounced out of the traps and was 40 points to the good. This all dissipated by the end of the day. This morning has been a little different, with a huge list of companies posting results – many of them very positive. At the time of writing Rolls Royce, having eased 5% yesterday, was up 7.3%. CEO, Warren East seems to be getting RR’S act together having last year posted three profits warnings. BP efforts saw an improvement with Bob Dudley offering jam tomorrow – some from the North Sea, with Russia a long way up his sleeve – +3.5%. Direct Line had plenty to crow about – +6.5%. Centrica despite losing customers and raising electricity prices by 12.5% from mid-September saw its shares a short 3% up. At 9.38am the FTSE 100 up 55 points at 7425. The DOW futures are 90 points to the good despite White House internal carnage
UK companies posting numbers this week – Tuesday – Centrica, Taylor Wimpey, SDL, Man Group, Rolls Royce, Greggs, Direct Line, Meggitt, BP, Greggs, Genel, NWF Group, Filtronic, International Game Technology, Wednesday – Rio Tinto, Dignity, Travis Perkins, Aggreko, BAE Systems, Johnston Press, RSA Group, William Hill, StatPro, Standard Chartered Bank, Thursday – Cobham, Mondi, Serco, Shire, Inmarsat, eSure, LSE, Spirent, Portmeirion, Friday – RPS Group, Pearson, Aon, Royal Bank of Scotland, Merlin Entertainment, Millennium Copthorne,
US companies posting results this week – Tuesday – Xerox, Pitney-Bowes, Sprint, Pfizer – Wednesday – Groupon, Time Warner, Metlife, Tesla, Zynga, Thursday – Aetna, Allergan, Yum Brands!, Kraft Heinz, Viacom, Friday – Revlon, Calgon Carbon
Economic Data – Monday – UK Mortgage approvals, Tuesday – Tuesday, UK PMI Manufacturing, Wednesday – UK PMI Construction, Wednesday – UK PMI Services, MPC Meeting, Friday – US Non-farm Payrolls & employment data.
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