TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 3rd August 2017
“The winged bull trundles to the wired perimeter.
Cumbrously turns. Shivers, brakes clamped,
Bellowing four times, each engine tested
With routine ritual. Advances to the runway.
Halts again as if gathering heart
Or warily snuffling for Picador cross-winds.
Then, then, a roar open-throated
Affronts the arena. Then fast, faster
Drawn by the magnet of his idee fixe
Head down, tail up, he’s charging the horizon.
And the grass of the airfield grows smooth as fur.
The runway’s elastic and we the projectile;
Installations control –tower mechanics parked aeroplanes-
Units all woven to a ribbon unreeling,
Concrete melts and condenses to an abstract
Blur, and our blood thickens to think of
Rending, burning, as suburban terraces
Make for us, wave after wave.
Of truth is here. We can only trust,
Being as wholly committed to other hands
As babes at birth, Europa to the bull god.
And as when one dies in his sleep, there’s no divining
The instant of take-off, so we who were earth-bound
Are air-borne, it seems, in the same breath.
The neutered terraces subside beneath us.”
Cecil Day Lewis – Author & poet – 1893-1918
Yesterday I saw the best play I have seen for decades – ‘The Ferryman” at the Gielgud Theatre. The play was written by Jez Butterworth and directed by Sam Mendez. Powerful, as a description, does not do it justice. From start to finish it is exciting, insightful, violent, moving and sad. The cast has about thirty performers including a 6-week old baby and a rabbit!
The play takes place in Northern Ireland, 1981. The Carney farmhouse is a hive of activity with preparations for the annual harvest. A day of hard work on the land and a traditional night of feasting and celebrations lie ahead. But this year they will be interrupted by a visitor. The date of the play tells you it is all about the troubles in Northern Ireland, the IRA and the death of Bobby Sands. Laura Donnelly and Paddy Considine put in massive performances with tremendous supporting contributions from Stuart Graham and Genevieve O’Reilly and make no mistake the sons and daughters make telling appearances. This is a must and the production was to finish at the end of August, but performances have been extended to January 2018, in response to public demand!
A continuing weak Dollar and the relentless ridiculing of the Trump Presidency brought zero interest bear on equity markets in beautiful downtown Manhattan yesterday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 22k for the first time, powered by Apple’s stellar results, as the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ struggled. The Dow Jones rose 0.2%, to close at 22,016. The S&P 500 ended with a gain of one point, or less than 0.1%, at 2,478. Telecom shares shed 1.1% as shares of AT&T Inc. fell 1.6% and Verizon Communications Inc. lost 1.3%.Adding to the positive tone on the day, private-sector hiring remained strong in July as employers added 178,000 jobs in the month, more than had been expected, according to the ADP Index for the private sector. Apple, McDonald’s Corp and UnitedHealth Group Inc have each added more than 200 points to the index. Post the market close tonight Tesla Inc, Fitbit Inc and American International Group Inc. were among major companies to report. Asian markets were mildly affected by the KOSPI falling 1.9% due to faltering growth in South Korea. Asian Markets were looking to close as follows with & YTD achievements – NIKKEI: 20,024 -0.27% +4.792% HANG SENG: 27,571 -0.13% +25.296% CHINA: 3,738 -0.59% +12.885% ASX: 5,730 -0.24% +1.14%.
Yesterday saw another slew of earnings – most satisfactory on the whole, though the FTSE ended the session just in negative territory – down 0.16%, thanks in the main to a poor response to Standard Chartered refusing to pay a dividend. There is no doubt that Bill Winters has done a great job since he took over as CEO. He has thrown the kitchen sink at the task of reviving this mini HSBC. A profit of £1.9 billion for the last six months was up 93% on last year. But investors will not countenace no dividend. Up until yesterday shares were up 37% in the last year but yesterday’s disappointment was met with Standard’s share price being larruped by 6%. Enough said!
ASDA sales and results were dismal. It amazes me that the WalMart magic does not work in the UK. Profits fell by 19% and sales fell by 5.7%. ASDA seems to be have been more adversely affected by Lidl and Aldi’s antics. Maybe a new broom of managment needs to take over or maybe WalMart might like to sell it to Aldi or Lidl – both German companies can well afford it looking at the size of their respective operations at home.
On executive pay, nothing like enough is being made of the difference bewtween entrepreneurial and managerial pay – quite different. Sir Martin Sorrell deserves every penny – he’s been there built WPP up man and boy. Other FTSE CEO remuneration looks on the generous side though due to shareholderr pressure it has fallen by an average of 17% in the last year. It is good to see shareholders not abrogating their resposnsibilities and making their influence count in a meaningful manner.
At today’s MPC/Inflation Report meeting I exepct no change despite the 5-3 vote last time. Kirtin Forbes as a last act of defiance before leaving the MPC joined Messrs McCafferty and Saunders in voting for a change at the last meeting. In this morning’s inflation report I expect lower growth forecast for UK to 1.7% and 1.5% for 2017 and 2018 (current forecast 1.9% and 1.7%) and sluggish wage inflation will dissuade the BOE from cutting until 2018. It was encouraging to see food inflation drop 1% last month.
This morning the FTSE 100 is down 20 at 7390 at 9.50am. NEXT posted improved sales on line – up 11.4% despite like for like shop sales falling 7.4% – in aggregate much better and well received – share +9%. Most people will be very pleased for Lord Simon Wolfson, who is held in the highest regard as a retail doyen. NEXT’S shares have fallen 20% in the last year and 45% since November 2015. Aviva posted solid numbers (+0.5%) as did LSE +0.5% and Portmeirion +1.5%. Inmarsat slightly missed – -3% and Cobham recorded a considerable improvement after a few profits warnings – +8%.
Thursday – NEXT, Aviva, 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 – Thursday – Aetna, Allergan, Yum Brands!, Kraft Heinz, Viacom, Friday – Revlon, Calgon Carbon
Economic Data –Thursday – MPC Meeting, Friday – US Non-farm Payrolls & employment data.
Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co
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