Monthly Archives: November 2017

TODAY’S FAYRE

“You must remember this! A kiss is just a kiss….” Markets are experiencing another ‘play it again Sam!” day. As we head to the close London’s leading index is up 78 points at 7463. Sterling is down (-0.7% at $1.3222 against the Greenback), as BREXIT negotiations look to be sailing into more trouble waters. Dollar based earnings have seen Reckitt Benckiser (+3%) and Diageo (+1.7%) have a run on the rails. So has RD Dutch Shell – up4% thanks to a good investors’ day, with BP hanging on grimly to its coattails – +1.5%. Glencore has not glistered today – down 2%. HSBC has kept the flag flying for the banks (Dollar related earnings again).

 

Of those companies that posted numbers today Ocado is up only 20% having been up 27% early doors thanks to a delivery deal with Casino in France. Shaftesbury was up 0.5%. On the Street of Dreams the DOW is up 80 points with energy stocks acting as standard bearers.

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TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 28th November 2017

 

 

“By noon your breathing had changed from normal

to shallow and panicky. That’s when the nurse said

Nearly there now, in the gentle voice of a parent

comforting a child used to failure, slipping her arms

beneath your shoulders to hoist you up the pillows,

then pressing a startling gauze pad under your jaw.

 

Nearly there now. The whole world seemed to agree—

as the late April sky deepened through the afternoon

into high August blue, the vapour trails of two planes

converged to sketch a cross on the brow of heaven.

My brother Kit and I kept our backs turned to that

except now and again. It was the room I wanted to see,

 

because it contained your last example of everything:

the broken metal window-catch that meant no fresh air;

your toothbrush standing to attention in its plastic mug;

the neutral pink walls flushed into definite pale red

by sunlight rejoicing in the flowering cherry outside;

your dressing-gown like a stranger within the wardrobe

 

eavesdropping. That should have been a sign to warn us,

but unhappiness made us brave, or do I mean cowardly,

and Kit and I talked as if we were already quite certain

you could no longer hear us, saying how easy you were

to love, but how difficult always to satisfy and relax—

how impossible to talk to, in fact, how expert with silence.

 

You breathed more easily by the time we were done,

although the thought you might have heard us after all,

and our words be settling into your soft brain like stones

onto the bed of a stream—that made our own breathing

tighter. Then the nurse looked in: Nothing will change

here for a while boys, and we ducked out like criminals.

 

I was ordering two large gins in the pub half a mile off

when my mobile rang. It was the hospital. You had died.

I put my drink down, then thought again and finished it.

Five minutes later we were back at the door of your room

wondering whether to knock. Would everything we said

be written on your face, like the white cross on the heavens?

 

Of course not. It was written in us, where no one could find it

except ourselves. Your own face was wiped entirely clean—

and so, with your particular worries solved, and your sadness,

I could see more clearly than ever how like mine it was,

and therefore how my head will eventually look on the pillow

when the wall opens behind me, and I depart with my failings.”

 

Andrew Motion – poet laureate – 1952-

 

 

I noticed some months ago that the Labour Party’s ‘Momentum’ drive had developed the use of social media very effectively to another level of contemptuous hatred with the most appallingly vituperative language, which is some cases was threatening and frightening.  It is at times like this that one wonders whether it has altered inexorably previously reasonable exchanges between members of the human race.  However I suspect that I am out of kilter with most members of society and that behaviour of this nature is now the norm.

 

To my horror I have noticed unacceptably visceral hatred and bile being exchanged between ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers’ in the Brexit debate. Passions run high in this emotive forum, but personally I want no part of this hideous behaviour.  It does not augur well for the future! I doubt I shall ever comment again about Brexit on Twitter! There are some truly vile exchanges manifesting themselves.

 

When tfl, endorsed by Mayor Khan, blamed the drop in passenger numbers on the uncertainty created by BREXIT, I was “gob-smacked!!”  Absolute Bunkum!  The drop in numbers is down to three issues – A shocking service, expensive tariffs and the threat of terrorism! The last mentioned is sadly unavoidable. We know Mayor Khan is obsessively ‘REMAIN’ but ill-thought-out-anal comments continue to drive a characteristically and increasingly unpleasant wedge between both parties.

 

On the first day of the first test match at the Gabba, it looked as though both sides were evenly matched. It would appear after 5 days and an ignominious defeat by 10 wickets that England was not at the races! Australia has not lost in Brisbane since 1988, but that is no reason for England to perform so poorly. Steve Smith’s brilliant century and their better balanced bowling attack may prove to be the difference between the two sides. As we head for Adelaide this weekend, let’s hope I am wrong. Conditions in this day-night match might favour England initially, but I shall not be holding my breath!

 

 

Currently papers make desperate reading and TV unattractive viewing when it comes to international news and politics. So yesterday it was great to have confirmation of the forthcoming betrothal of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – they gave a great interview to BBC’S Mishal Husain. It was also splendid to hear that two drug and healthcare companies – Qiagen and Merk were committed to spending £1 billion in London and Manchester on research which could generate 1750 jobs to add to what is becoming an increasingly important sector, which the FT told us employs 233k people and is responsible for a turnover of £64 billion in a year. There was also enlightening news that despite BREXIT the City of London and the financial sector had generated £72 billion of revenue for the Treasury last year. I am sure that will not have escaped Philip Hammond’s notice. Hopefully the Cabinet and particularly David Davis will do all they can to agree a decent transition period without delay! Before moving on, I must confess I had a little chuckle at the possibility of Persimmon’s Jeff Fairburn earning £80 million as performance bonus over a few years. Many were incandescent with rage at this huge amount of money going to one individual. Mr Fairbairn has been there man and boy since the age of 17. In ten years Persimmon’s share price has risen from 230p to £26! So maybe that is why he will claim so much largesse! Considering there was no money on the table, I thought the Government’s business plan had considerable merit.

 

 

The Bank of England posted some quite stringent stress tests. That was inevitable since our Central bank has been so downbeat about the economy for the last 17 months. Apparently these figures assume a 30% drop in house prices, a 4% drop in GDP and unemployment at 9.5%. Governor Carney says the UK needs 18-24 month transition period. Simon French Panmure’s chief economists points out a few idiosyncrasies in these tests. He says “Just to put those Lloyds results in context. In 2016 the company saw the stress test reduce their Tier 1 capital from 12.8% to 10.3% (down 250 bp). This year it went from 13.6% to 7.9% (down 570bp). To put this in context RBS was down 880bp in the 2016 stress tests but just 640bp this year.

 

So the marginal move on the year is that the Lloyds business model has become far, far more sensitive to an economic downturn (almost certainly due to MBNA acquisition), while RBS has done in the other direction and become relatively safer to this particular stress scenario. With RBS due to be pumped up to facilitate £3bn worth of share sales by UKFI it appears well placed to outperform Lloyds over the near term.”

 

Yesterday’s session in New York was somewhat nebulous post Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where sales for the latter in the US were up 17% totalling $6.6 billion, whereas in Old Blighty sales may have only increased by 3%. Time Inc may be bought by Meredith with the support of the Koch brothers for £2 billion. The Street of Dreams closed as follows – DOW +0.10%, S&P -0.04%, NASDAQ -0.15%. Asian stocks initially did not fare well as investors took risk off the table in China and Hong Kong. However these markets recovered and closed as follows – ASX -0.04%, Shanghai +0.3%%, Hang Seng unchanged, Nikkei -0.10%.  This morning the FTSE is 14 points in credit at 7398 at 9.05am. The star performer was OCADO – up 27% at 327.6p, thanks to an announcement that it will be delivering for France’s Casino. We have been waiting for this. The ‘short sellers’ have been temporarily to put to the sword – hence the exaggerated gain!

 

 

Yesterday Bitcoin approached the $10k threshold in price. This crypto-currency stood at $235 in May 2013, rose to $945 in December 2015 and yesterday it was $9804. This is not a market for the faint-hearted. Bitcoin is not a “share” it is a distributed ledger system. It is very clever. Think peer to peer share/land registry without single point of trust/authority/failure. The BoE cannot “regulate” it. That’s the whole point; it is out of the hands of central planners. CME is planning to open a futures contract. Good luck!

 

 

UK companies posting results this coming week – Tuesday – Shaftesbury, Cranswick, ITE Group, Pets at Home, Sanderson Group, Greencore Wednesday – LondonMetric, RPC. Brewin Dolphin, Thursday – Greene King, Grainger, Go-Ahead, Pay-Point, Marston’s

 

US Companies posting interim results this coming week – Tuesday – American Eagle Outfitters, Christopher & Banks, Autodesk, Wednesday – Tiffany & Co, Jack-in-the-Box, La-Z-Boy, Thursday – Costco, Barnes & Noble, Friday, Big Lots , Genesco

 

Economic data due this coming week – Tuesday – Nationwide House Prices, Wednesday – BRC  shop prices, UK Consumer Credit and Mortgage Applications, Thursday – UK Consumer Confidence, Friday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US PMI Manufacturing

 

 

David Buik

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

 

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF 

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Sunday, 26th November 2017

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
Obscures desire:
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 & playwright – 1895-1985

 

“Breathe” as a film, is a tear-jerker to end all tear jerkers and is based on a true story. However there is some truly splendid acting.  The two lead roles Robin Cavendish, played by Andrew Garfield and his wife Diana portrayed by Claire Foy are worthy performances of their considerable talents.

Robin Cavendish who was given only three months to live. He was paralysed from the neck down having contracted polio at age 28. This film tells how Robin was forced to live and take up life’s challenges by his wife, despite his terrible affliction. He lived for 20 years (1958-1978) in his bed and wheel chair, taking on fresh contests which included trips abroad, which most people at the time would have considered to be irresponsibly dangerous. He became a pioneering advocate for the disabled on an international basis.  Apart from being a very sad story, the film has an abundance of pithy humour.  There are some joyous cameo parts played by Hugh Bonneville, Diana Rigg and Tom Hollander.

 

There was little the Chancellor could at Wednesday’s Budget to rekindle the smouldering embers of innovation.  As expected Philip Hammond just about took his foot off the pedal of austerity by providing stimulation and financial assistance for the housing market plus a much needed £7.5 billion for the NHS spread over 5 years – never enough but better than nothing. It would be out of character if he had adopted a ‘gung-ho, fixed bayonet and over the top!’ approach in the wake of his concern about BREXIT for which he has made a £3 billion provision. The growing budget deficit, which widened by £8 billion last month, which required increased borrowing, continues to plague UK finances and few can see this Government or any other coming to grips with it by finally erasing it before 2030. The most depressing aspect of UK’S economy was news posted on Thursday that growth has been 0.5% annually below pre-2009 crisis levels. The IFS’s Paul Johnson also stated – “We are in danger of losing not just one but getting on for two decades of earnings growth,” he said. “We will all have to get used to the idea that steadily rising living standards may be a thing of the increasingly distant past.”

 

So that was all a bit of a blow – though not unexpected in many quarters – Then came news of more ‘BREXIT FACTOR’ that the EMA (medicine) and the EBA (banking), both based in Canary Wharf, were taking their toys, understandably, to play in Amsterdam and Paris respectively.  This announcement was followed by Deutsche Boerse throwing down the gauntlet with Eurex and challenging the LSE and LCH over the world’s international clearing business.  The EU has been warned as to the consequences of breaking up the current international clearing arrangements and the threat to security and the safety of trading and that New York will be the main beneficiary. However as far as the EU is concerned, it’s all about power, retribution and keeping the EU dream alive and little to do with pragmatism. Finally with great glee, the FT told us that European banks had shed E350billion of UK-based asset from their balance sheets in the last year. The reason given was concern over a ‘cliff-edge Brexit’ and the uncertainty that might be created in sensitive arenas such as derivatives.  I suspect that these assets have and will be picked up by other slightly more enthusiastic counterparts.

 

Chancellor Hammond’s Budget in the circumstances, received a qualified degree of acceptance. In the US, it seems likely that there will be another hike in interest rates.  The week across the pond was also dominated by Thanksgiving and the expectations from Black Monday. The FOMC clearly sought to cement market expectations of a rate hike in December in their October/November meeting minutes. The economy was seen as continuing to enjoy better than expected growth, thanks to robust gains for household consumption. Built on income gains as well as strong confidence, this trend is expected to persist. Inevitably though, an economy cannot be built on consumption alone. Investment is necessary, and this is an area of the growth outlook where doubts are harboured. Trump has to date, failed to pull the rabbit out of the hat as regards delivering infrastructure spending of the magnitude he suggested a year ago. Should investment growth remain tepid, then productivity and income growth will be held back. This is a key reason why this current rate hike cycle is likely to top out around 1.875%, after the December decision and two further hikes in 2018.

 

Taking in to account all these imponderables and I have failed to mention to date the political plight Chancellor Merkel is in and the damage it could inflict on the rather flabby EU/UK negotiations, markets were remarkably robust, with international equity markets performing very steadily – S&P 500 +0.92%, FTSE 100 +0.39, European bourses an average of +0.71% and the NIKKEI +0.69%. In fairness to and despite the German Chancellor’s current plight, Germany’s ifo data was very positive about the progress of its economy. Gold was near enough flat on the week at $1287 an ounce. Nymex was up 3.6% on the week and the Pound did ok at about $1.33 to the Dollar.  However a ‘No deal’ scenario could see the Pound go into sharp reverse against the Greenback and the Euro. I have to say I am less than convinced that the EU want to negotiate despite encouraging sounds from Juncker, but I would not describe him as the most reliable barometer!

 

Tech stocks took pride of place in the US and China, with Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Baidu, TenCent and Alibaba continuing to either blaze the trail or attract interest.  The NASDAQ hit a new high early last week.  Also having posted better than expected results in the past two weeks, JC Penney, Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Kohl’s and American Eagle Outfitters all added value in expectation that Thanksgiving and Black Monday would prove bonanza sales periods though profits must surely have suffered. Cenrtica, after yet another profits warning lost 15% on the week.  This stock now yields about 9% and will soon surely attract buyers.

As for Black Friday sales the estimates look astronomical to me – sales are estimated to be up 4% in the US – a total of $682 billion was apparently spent or $967.13 found its way out of each shopper’s pocket book with over 30% spent on line, with Amazon claiming to have executed between 45-50% of the trades! The Telegraph tells us that it will unveil reasons why Xavier Rolet is leaving the LSE with indecent haste. The Sunday Times informs us that Vue is planning a £1 billion swoop on Odeon and that Viva is planning a £1 billion share buy-back.

 

UK companies posting results this coming week – Tuesday – Shaftesbury, Cranswick, ITE Group, Pets at Home, Sanderson Group, Greencore Wednesday – LondonMetric, RPC. Brewin Dolphin, Thursday – Greene King, Grainger, Go-Ahead, Pay-Point, Marston’s

 

US Companies posting interim results this coming week – Tuesday – American Eagle Outfitters, Christopher & Banks, Autodesk, Wednesday – Tiffany & Co, Jack-in-the-Box, La-Z-Boy, Thursday – Costco, Barnes & Noble, Friday, Big Lots , Genesco

 

Economic data due this coming week – US New Home Sales, Tuesday – Nationwide House Prices, Wednesday – BRC  shop prices, UK Consumer Credit and Mortgage Applications, Thursday – UK Consumer Confidence, Friday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US PMI Manufacturing

 

 

David Buik

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

 

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF

POST-BUDGET – ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT!

It wasn’t an inspirational Budget! It was in character as to what one might expect from Philip Hammond – a real ‘Steady Eddie’ who needs to cut the deficit and worry about the possible cost of BREXIT. The main beneficiaries were the NHS (£10 billion over 5 years), house building, though stamp duty relief up to £300k is not what is required apart from the middle-classes we need affordable housing or council housing. Apart from that it was a bit of tinkering here and there. The OBR downgraded GDP for the next few years – 2017 2% to 1.5%, 2018 1.6% to 1.4%, 2019 1.7% to 1.3% and 2020 estimated at 1.3%. This could cost the exchequer £20 billion in terms of tax revenues. There was a few quid for technology. There was nothing for savers – gone are the days of the Osborne ‘goodie bags’ – ISAS, property ISAS and savings allowances.

 

So at 3.20pm the Main UK index is up 35 points at 7445. Gilt yields are unchanged. The Pound is a smidgen firmer at $1.3270 against the Greenback. The stand-out performers are Shire +4.5%, Reckitt Benckiser +3%, HSBC +2%. House builders have reacted adversely to the very neutral Budget help to building – Persimmon -2%, Berkeley -3%, Bovis -1%. Thos Cook had a shocker on poor numbers – down 8.5%. Conversely of smaller companies Quiz Clothing Group posted a 32% increase in profitability – shares up 3.65% having been up 5.5% at the opening. The DOW is 28 points easier ahead of Thanksgiving in sepulchral trading conditions.

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 22nd November 2017

 

 

We five looked out over the moor
At rough hills blurred with haze, and a still sea:
Our tragic day, bountiful from the first.

We would spend it by the lily lake
(High in a fold beyond the farthest ridge),
Following the cart-track till it faded out.

The time of berries and bell-heather;
Yet all that morning nobody went by
But shepherds and one old man carting turfs.

We were in love: he with her, she with him,
And I, the youngest one, the odd man out,
As deep in love with a yet nameless muse.

No cloud; larks and heath-butterflies,
And herons undisturbed fishing the streams;
A slow cool breeze that hardly stirred the grass.

When we hurried down the rocky slope,
A flock of ewes galloping off in terror,
There shone the waterlilies, yellow and white.

Deep water and a shelving bank.
Off went our clothes and in we went, all five,
Diving like trout between the lily groves.

The basket had been nobly filled:
Wine and fresh rolls, chicken and pineapple—
Our braggadocio under threat of war.

The fire on which we boiled our kettle
We fed with ling and rotten blackthorn root;
And the coffee tasted memorably of peat.

Two of us might stray off together
But never less than three kept by the fire,
Focus of our uncertain destinies.

We spoke little, our minds in tune—
A sigh or laugh would settle any theme;
The sun so hot it made the rocks quiver.

But when it rolled down level with us,
Four pairs of eyes sought mine as if appealing
For a blind-fate-aversive afterword:—

‘Do you remember the lily lake?
We were all there, all five of us in love,
Not one yet killed, widowed or broken-hearted.”

 

 

Robert Graves – poet & playwright – 1895-1985

 

 

The jubilation in Harare seen on TV last night should have warmed the cockles of most peoples’ hearts. It was good see that geriatric despotic old buzzard, Robert Mugabe finally booted in to the long grass after 37 years of tyranny. I am amazed he is not going to be charged for crimes against humanity. This coup will only have been successful if there are free elections with any tampering to follow very quickly. Otherwise don’t be surprised if a Mugabe clone rises like a phoenix from the ashes. Zanu is Zanu – always has been always will be. To expect an immediate change in culture without an election could be folly!

 

I nearly had cardiac arrest following Fulham’s visit to play Sheffield United. Having been comfortable with a 2-5 lead with 15 minutes to go, the ‘Men in White’ did all in their power to not only draw the game but could have ended up losing it. They won 4-5!

 

It’s Budget Day in the UK and for most people on the other side of the Pound; they are getting geared up for Thanksgiving tomorrow with Black Friday to follow. Unless Philip Hammond pulls a few unexpected rabbits out of the hat, I don’t expect markets to move measurably.

 

Mr Hammond is not the most popular of Chancellors in living memory. He is an awkward ‘remainer’ who also believes in fiscal profligacy. So personally I will be every surprised if this is a block-buster budget. These days there are rarely many surprises in the Budget. Housing and public sector pay will receive special attention. Gimmicky innovations like driverless cars will be supported and schools should get about £200m for special circumstances re mathematics and for career development. There will also be a business rate review. However the ‘gung-ho’ gay-abandon infrastructure spending that we would all like to see on hospitals, schools, roads and HS3, I think you can forget. Top of ‘Phil’s’ pops is putting money away for a rainy day for BREXIT gyrations and pairing down the budget deficit. Even though ‘remainers’ will have been forlorn that Manufacturing posted its best month in October since 1975, despite a truly awful outlook for the economy drawn up for the CBI by PWC, this figure will doubtless not have clipped their wings. The CBI really has nailed its flag to the mast as ‘REMAIN’S’ standard bearer. Carolyn Fairbairn needs to understand we are leaving, as Adam Marshall of the BCC fully understands.

 

Yesterday saw all the European bourses put on some good gains; London’s main index was the least impressive adding 26 points at 7311. But with Pound relatively strong at $1.32 and change, Dollar related stocks would justifiably been relatively unimpressed. Imperial Brands had a run on the rails – +3.5%. Babcock International and Melrose underwhelmed their acolytes losing 5% each. Germany’s DAX did not have a care in the World. On the Street of Dreams investors were dreaming of Thanksgiving with plenty of Turkey, pecan pie all washed down with a decent Chardonnay with the prospect of Black Friday and a visit to the shopping malls to follow. Tech had a good day with Apple purring in adding another 1.8%. There were good performances from Home Depot, McDonald’s and Old Blue! New York’s main bourses closed as follows – DOW +0.69%, S&P +0.65%, NASDAQ +1.06%. Asia hung on to Wall Street’s improved sentiment and cracked on as follows – ASX +0.4%, Shanghai +0.6%, Hang Seng +0.6% and the NIKKEI +0.5%.

 

Today London’s main index is 20 points to the good at 7430 at 9.30am. There have been a few company results. Sage pleased its acolytes. Thos Cook did not and the shares fell 9.8% having at one point being down 13%. Quiz Clothing Group posted a 32% increase in EBITDA and the shares rallied 5.5%

 

UK companies posting results this coming week – Wednesday – Euromoney, Sage, Thos Cook, Countryside, Thursday – Majestic Wine, M&B, Severn Trent, Worldwide Healthcare Trust, CMC Markets, Paragon Group, Rotork, Centrica, Domino’s Pizza,

Economic data due this coming week – Wednesday – UK BUDGET, FED minutes, Thursday – UK GDP estimates, Friday – Nationwide House prices, UK High Street Lending, US Composite PMI

 

 

David Buik

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

 

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

 

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF

MARKET UPDATE

Markets have been over-concerned with the content of tomorrow’s budget. Hammond has been given more advice, particularly by those who would like his job about being bold and adventurous – sick and tired of austerity – however the poor fellow has little if any room to manoeuvre, if the Chancellor wants to be fiscally prudent. So guessing the content seems a fruitless exercise. He has to balance the need for spending on infrastructure for housing, the NHS and Education whilst at the same time being cognoscente of the very tricky and sensitive negotiations with the EU, which could cost £40 billion.  That settlement figure won’t be popular with a faction of the Tories. Philip Hammond is mindful that the country knows he is a ‘remainer’ but he has to deliver BREXIT and placate the services sector and the City, in attempting to do a decent job for them. 

There is also the German political minefield to traverse. The uncertainty seems to have been dismissed out of hand by investors, but the EU/UK negotiations look fraught with uncertainty, irritation and bile. Let’s deal with the DAX – caution has been thrown to the wind – up 0.9% at 4.05pm. The FTSE 100 has added 26 points at 7415.  The DOW is up 0.75%! So equities are in good shape today and tomorrow?; well superficially there seems very little to upset the applecart ahead of Black Friday.

 

This is how the companies that reported today fared. Again there is no hiding place for those operators that do not deliver. Babcock International and Melrose both down 5% (the latter was down 7% early doors). AO World eased by 1%.  Kingfisher turned around a 1% loss to a 1% gain on the session. Compass failed to pass muster (-3%) but a new CEO is being installed. The Yellow Jersey on the day goes to Dame Carolyn McCall’s easyJet, in her valedictory presentation of numbers, which posted a 17% drop in profits but good traffic numbers, which alleviated any negative thoughts – shares up 6% on the day!

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 21st November 201

“O Love, be fed with apples while you may,
And feel the sun and go in royal array,
A smiling innocent on the heavenly causeway,

Though in what listening horror for the cry
That soars in outer blackness dismally,
The dumb blind beast, the paranoiac fury:

Be warm, enjoy the season, lift your head,
Exquisite in the pulse of tainted blood,
That shivering glory not to be despised.

Take your delight in momentariness,
Walk between dark and dark—a shining space
With the grave’s narrowness, though not its peace.”

 

Robert Graves – poet & playwright – 1895-1985

 

One swallow does not make a summer!  However one has to be amazed at the fortitude shown by investors in response to Angela Merkel being unable to form a coalition government after two months, which could result in another General Election.  The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Chancellor Merkel has nowhere near enough guaranteed support to lead the CDU in another election. The DAX, which admittedly has only 30 stocks, which is hardly a barometer of the Germany economy, eased by 0.5% circa at the opening yesterday.  However by the close it was 0.50% in surplus. The Euro, after a few early gyrations only fell by 0.4% against the Dollar and 0.6% against Sterling.  This represents an astonishing level of calm towards quite a testing period of instability.  Germany without a Government exposes cracks in the EU’s framework, as well as political instability in the strongest member country within the EU.  France has also been somnolent in recent weeks as Macron grapples with Union problems in France.

 

‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ this period of inertia is bad for the BREXIT negotiations.  It just leaves Barnier in an unenviable position of just playing ‘Stonewall-Jackson’ and sticking to the script of no concessions of any shape size or description, whilst the main ‘dramatis personae’ are otherwise disposed.  This could damage all three parties irrevocably.  Sending out the wrong message could lead to ‘no-deal.’ Whatever Barnier or his cohorts say, this would be bad news for one and all. If that is what the EU wants, it would be better for one and all that we stopped playing charades and made the best of our lives. M Barnier says he is up for an exciting and imaginative trade deal, when the requisite boxes have been ticked. Let’s take him at his word. The British public will not be best pleased with PM May if she agrees to a £40 billion divorce package if the UK Government has nothing to show for its efforts in terms of a trade deal.

 

The Times’s Rachel Sylvester tells us that Jeremy Corbyn received a warmer welcome than PM May at the CBI Conference. God help us if that is true. Labour is financially innumerate and economically illiterate! Shows you how bad matters are for the Government.

 

Not surprisingly Canary Wharf has lost two regulators – The European Medicines Agency to Amsterdam and the European Banking Authority to Paris. In the case of the latter I sincerely hope it manages to improve on its totally hopeless bank stress tests. The UK Government is supposed to pay for this exercise. I hope it doesn’t. Any payment should be part of the trade negotiations.

 

The question of Eurex and Deutsche Boerse raining on London’s parade for clearing business, particularly derivatives, is more of a concern. The support of the ‘hob-nailed-boot-brigade’ – alias HSBC, BBVA, JP Morgan, Citibank and Deutsche provides real clout to reclaim Euro based deals. It will of course put the cost of clearing up and make the exercise less safe than it was. The US has warned the EU authorities that they may claim back their business. There’s now’t as stubborn as those obsessed with pride and resentment.

 

Yesterday markets were almost exclusively focused on Germany’s political problems and Merkel’s inability to form a coalition, which could lead to another election. Initially the DAX shed 0.5% and the Euro came marginally under pressure. Ironically the DAX did end the session 0.5% to the good. Investors remain contrary and fickle. The FTSE finished up 8 points at 7389. Cyclicals rebounded a tad but there were few outstanding or poor performances. Perhaps TalkTalk falling 4.5% is worthy of mention.

 

 

Despite the frustration of still not having any clarification over tax changes, the Street of Dreams pushed on cautiously ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday which begins on Thursday. This period of course encompasses Black Friday and Cyber Monday and will provide a reasonable litmus test as to the robustness of the US economy. Asia took hold of the bit on the back of New York’s marginally improved sentiment – The ASX closed 0.3% to the good and the NIKKEI finished the session up 0.7%. Hong Kong was metaphorically on fire – up 1.9% as we head to the close with Shanghai gathering in 0.5%.

 

This morning in London we have had a slew of earnings – some pleasing some disappointing. Focusrite put its best foot forward as did easyJet – both up 5%. However easyJet may have cost control issues in the next year which will be left to Dame Carolyn McCall’s successor, Johan Lundgren ex Tui Travel – to sort out. Despite all its corporate governance issues, how extraordinary that Uber should agree a deal to buy 24k Volvo cars starting to use them in 2019. Clearly they are attempting to embrace a new culture that will take time to catch on.

 

 

 UK companies posting results this coming week – Tuesday – Babcock International, Halma, AO World, Big Yellow Group, Johnson Matthey, Homeserve, Aggreko, Focusrite, CYBG, Compass Group, easyJet, Intertek, Kingfisher, Melrose, Cineworld,  Wednesday – Euromoney, Sage, Thos Cook, Countryside, Thursday – Majestic Wine, M&B, Severn Trent, Worldwide Healthcare Trust, CMC Markets, Paragon Group, Rotork, Centrica, Domino’s Pizza,

 

US Companies posting interim results this coming week – Tuesday – Analog Devices, Chico’s FAS, Campbell Soups, Hormel Foods, Dollar Tree

 

Economic data due this coming week – Tuesday – UK PSBR, Wednesday – UK BUDGET, FED minutes, Thursday – UK GDP estimates, Friday – Nationwide House prices, UK High Street Lending, US Composite PMI

 

 

David Buik

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

 

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

 

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF

TODAY’S FAYRE – Cricket, EU, Labour’s social media & markets

 

TODAY’S FAYRE – Sunday, 19th November 2017

“In the licorice fields at Pontefract

My love and I did meet

And many a burdened licorice bush

Was blooming round our feet;

Red hair she had and golden skin,

Her sulky lips were shaped for sin,

Her sturdy legs were flannel -slack’d.

The strongest legs in Pontefract.

 

The light and dangling licorice flowers

Gave off the sweetest smells;

From various black Victorian towers

The Sunday evening bells

Came pealing over dales and hills

And tanneries and silent mills

And lowly streets where country stops

And little shuttered corner shops.

 

She cast her blazing eyes on me

And plucked a licorice leaf;

I was her captive slave and she

My red-haired robber chief.

Oh love! For love I could not speak,

It left me winded, wilting, weak

And held in brown arms strong and bare

And wound with flaming ropes of hair.

Ah well……….. nothing like this seems to happen in the South Hams……”

 

 

Sir John Betjeman – Poet Laureate – 1906-1984

 

I am so very much looking forward to the first ‘Ashes’ test match at the ‘Gabba’ starting next Thursday.  I am having my first sortie with BT Sport. I always swore I would never install it until BT provided a proper broadband and internet service across the country.  The lure of an Ashes series was far too potent for me to get left behind. My weakness to the attraction of test cricket was pathetically exposed.

I must confess I am worried about the commentary.  Though both very knowledgeable, Michael Vaughan and Graeme Swann are not my favourites – both arrogance personified. I can take any amount of Geoffrey Boycott. Ricky Ponting is a legend and Alison Mitchell grows in stature every game. Kevin Pietersen was an astonishing talent, lost to England before his time, but I can certainly survive without him as a commentator- not a character I warm to! I will just have to cope!

I was absolutely astonished to hear that the Labour Party, having had unprecedented success attracting members through the use of persuasive and sometimes poisonous social media, has had schools in its sights.  Though children are not eligible to vote until they are eighteen, Momentum and the more strident wings of socialism, have seen 16 year olds as easy prey, using the left-wing NUT to woo support.  This is a very clever and unscrupulous marketing ploy, as sweet nothings are pumped into these youths’ earholes to considerable effect, as they will no doubt dive head-long into a vortex of economic despair under an economically illiterate and innumerate Labour Government, elected by an understandably bitter youth, which see little hope or chance of owning a home or earning a decent salary.  Little do they know it could be very much worse! Unemployment is at its lowest for 42 years!

 

It is probably me but I think Donald Tusk, despite appearing to speak perfect English, may still have problems understanding it idiomatically. He needs to comprehend that it takes two parties to negotiate.  Everyone understands that the UK served notice to leave and that it’s Government is very weak and the EU probably has a mandate from its 27 members to concede nothing to the UK. With Merkel, currently politically very week and the chirpy Macron acting as omnipotent standard bearers, they clearly seem in no mood to be accommodating. Tusk and Juncker need to learn some diplomatic skills and stop briefing against the UK or dictating to Davis & Co through the media. It is unhelpful. For the UK to walk away from negotiations could be unnecessarily harmful to all parties. However the UK needs to make a decision, as to whether it is being just trifled with, with the EU having no intention of negotiating.  No point Tusk and his cohorts banging on about a divorce settlement, if the goodwill is not there to negotiate a sensible trade deal!

 

There was plenty of UK data to peruse over the last week – some of it good, much of it disappointing. Superficially solid UK employment data was posted on Tuesday. However concern was expressed that wage inflation at 2.2% languishes below inflation which seems to have steadied at 3%, with food a stand-out issue coming in at 3.5%. This of course means the consumer has less disposable income and this above all else probably contributed to a further drop in retail sales. Retail sales have fallen 0.3% since October 2016.However they were up 0.3% in October this year, but this gain was insufficient to pale back the 0.7% drop from August to September. Sales in the High Street fell 5.2% in October. How much longer the High Street can compete with Amazon and on-line services remains to be see, the differential in cost being astronomical? On-line sales in the UK are growing all the time and now account for 24% of total sales. All eyes will be pealed towards Black Friday, which starts on 24th November 2017.  Based on the current retail activity, in my opinion and it is a humble one, there is absolutely no case for another increase in interest rates in the foreseeable future. Deputy Governor of the BOE, Sir Jon Cunliffe, speaking in Oxford last week would appear to be of that opinion.

 

Global equity markets had a small monkey on their back for much of the week. On the Street of Dreams it was the lack of progress on the well-chronicled Trump tax plans that dampened the mood in beautiful downtown Manhattan.  Market inertia was further clouded by Robert Meuller subpoenaing members of Trump’s administration on the probe into Russia’s possible interference of US Presidential election. The downbeat mood on Wall Street was alleviated periodically by really stellar interim results from the likes of Walmart – up 10% in value after Thursday’s brilliant effort and Cisco Systems, which bounced by over 5% on their better than expected performance. Abercrombie & Fitch really surprised its acolytes on Friday with its shares rising like a grilse – up 23%, with Foot Locker doing much the same +28%.  However both brands are still feeling pressure from the great Retail God – AMAZON!

As previously mentioned retail in the UK remains in the doldrums and the fact that wage inflation is stagnant may not bode that well for growth and retail stocks. On Thursday Walmart’s subsidiary ASDA posted slightly disappointing sales, which were down from the previous quarter – a drop from 1.8% in like for like sales in the previous quarter to 1.1% in the quarter ending end of September. Roger Burnley has taken over from Sean Clarke as CEO, in the hope that ASDA’S fortunes will improve.   However it should not be forgotten that life styles in the UK are changing all the time.  People care rather less for sartorial elegance. No offence to the fairer sex as they attempt to turn themselves out attractively, if cheaply.  Blokes remain largely unshaven and they are entirely happy in jeans, bobby socks sneakers and a t-shirt. They would rather spend their money on entertainment and holidays.  So as long as the service sector remains buoyant, GDP should not feel the wheels of pain across its back. Last week ITV suffered with a slightly dispiriting drop in sales. Carillion share price was smashed by 48% on Friday, thanks to another profits warning and excessive debt. Mining shares were out of favour as were utilities and some retail emporiums. House builders had some support and Royal Mail disappointed.  Unless this company becomes a takeover target, it is hard to see where the growth comes from. Over the last week the S&P fell just a smidgen below the Plimsoll line – -0.02%; the FTSE lightened up by 0.7%, European bourses by an average of 1.28% and the NIKKEI by 1.25%.

Here in Old Blighty last week there were two very interesting corporate finance situations developing.  Firstly the spat between Xavier Rolet the departing CEO of the LSE and its chairman Donald Brydon and other members of the board was brought in the public domain by Sir Christopher Hohn, CEO of Childrens’ Trust, which owns 5% of the LSE.  He, like many others was surprised, disappointed and annoyed by Rolet’s notice to leave which was served with indecent haste.  Rolet may be autocratic but he is a decision market and since his arrival nearly 9 years ago the share price has risen from $4 to £37. Clearly a situation has developed, which many of us are not privy to. Hohn has called a meeting with a view to having Brydon replaced and Rolet reinstated.

With Culture Secretary Karen Bradley sitting for an indecently long period on 21st Century’s request to buy the remaining 61% of Sky for £11 billion+, either Rupert Murdoch has become frustrated and bored or he is being playful by stirring the media pot. All of a sudden Comcast, which owns the NBC and Universal studios and Verizon have expressed interest in picking up assets from 21st Century or Sky itself.  There is a bit of a ‘dog in the manger’ attitude being expressed by Murdoch. Sky’s shares were up 4.1% and 21st Century by 6.24%.

 

I will leave the vagaries of the Budget on Wednesday to much greater luminaries than me.  Suffice to say that Chancellor Hammond needs a big bold show – housing (big time) education and NHS.  I fear because of the deficit, he may disappoint. Some bold infrastructure borrowing would send out the right message. Finally will Black Friday expose the weakness in the high street as we head for Christmas?

 

UK companies posting results this coming week – Monday – William Hill, Mitie, Tuesday – Babcock International, Halma, AO World, Big Yellow Group, Johnson Matthey, Homeserve, Aggreko, Focusrite, CYBG, Compass Group, easyJet, Intertek, Kingfisher, Melrose, Cineworld,  Wednesday – Euromoney, Sage, Thos Cook, Countryside, Thursday – Majestic Wine, M&B, Severn Trent, Worldwide Healthcare Trust, CMC Markets, Paragon Group, Rotork, Centrica, Domino’s Pizza,

US Companies posting interim results this coming week – Monday – Agilent, Tuesday – Analog Devices, Chico’s FAS, Campbell Soups, Hormel Foods, Dollar Tree

Economic data due this coming week –Monday – Rightmove House prices, Tuesday – UK PSBR, Wednesday – UK BUDGET, FED minutes, Thursday – UK GDP estimates, Friday – Nationwide House prices, UK High Street Lending, US Composite PMI

 

David Buik

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

 

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Wednesday, 15th November 2017

“Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,

And like enough thou knowst thy estimate.

The Charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;

My bonds in thee are all determinate.

For how do I hold thee but by thy granting,

And for that riches where is my deserving?

The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,

And so my patent back again is swerving.

Thy self thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,

Or me, to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking,

So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,

Comes home again, on better judgement making.

Thus have I had thee as a dream doth flatter:

In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.

 

William Shakespeare – playwright & poet – 1564-1616

 

 

The celebrated advocate Lord Jeremy Hutchinson died very sadly last Monday, after a truly great and memorable life aged 102. Those with experience in criminal law will tell you that he was probably the most charming, lucid and brilliantly effective defence barrister to grace the Old Bailey and any other criminal court he appeared in.  During his illustrious career he defended George Blake and Horace Vassell the UK’s most notorious spies, Howard Marks, the drug smuggler, John Profumo, Christine Keeler and the publishers of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover.’ I can thoroughly recommend a book on his professional life – Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories by Thomas Grant. I could not put it down!  He even had time to marry actress Peggy Ashcroft – his first wife!

 

The Street of Dreams declined yesterday as General Electric received another larruping for the second consecutive day. A drop in crude prices hit energy shares quite sharply as well. The Dow fell 30 points, or 0.13%, to 23,409, the S&P 500 lost six points, or 0.23%, to 2,579 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 20 points, or 0.29%, to 6,738.

 

GE lost 5.9% in the largest daily volume in two years as investors wondered if a massive overhaul of the company by new chief executive John Flannery will be enough to revive the industrial conglomerate. Exxon Mobil fell 0.8% and ConocoPhillips was down 2.5%, while the energy sector fell 1.5%, the most in more than four months. Newfield Exploration was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, tumbling 7.1%. Range Resources lost 6.6%.

 

Utilities and consumer staples were the best performers on the day. Utilities rose 1.2%. Elsewhere Advance Auto Parts soared 16.3% after it affirmed its full-year profit forecast and beat quarterly profit estimates. Other big retailers failed to impress traders. TJX Cos. and Marshalls, fell 4% after it reported revenue and earnings that missed analysts’ estimates. Dick’s Sporting Goods slid 2.8% after the retailer reported a solid quarter but also said its earnings per share could drop as much as 20% next year.

 

Yesterday the FTSE finished unchanged at 7414, thanks in the main to Tesco’s share price rallying 6.4%, after news was posted by the CMA expressed its views that the £3.7 billion purchase of Booker (+6.8%) would not adversely affect the main supermarkets’ over all business plans. Needless to say the opposition profoundly disagreed and were amazed that the authorities nodded the deal through. The likes of Spar, Betway, Bidfood, Confex and Sugro also objected as Tesco with 3k outlets and Booker with 5k smaller outlets were handed an unfair advantage. This deal gives credence to the opportunity to this major supplier providing goods to 125k independent outlets and 468k restaurants. The other company that kept the FTSE above the Plimsoll line was Vodafone’s strong organic sales performance which saw its share price rise just over 5%. Miners and ITV were the main laggards.

 

There were another slew of earnings this morning. Barratt posted an 8% rise in sales but shares were a down a tad – travelled and arrived. TalkTalk posted a loss of £75 million for the last trading period– shares were trashed down 10%. Conversely Card Factory leapt by almost 10% before settling at just up 4.4%. First half sales beat expectations. Airbus announced the sale of 400 jets to an investment company to be sold on to 4 package airlines valued at $49 billion. However the deal may be heavily discounted.

 

Despite the fact that Japan’s GDP continues to blaze the trail at 1.5%, Asian markets saw profit takers with the dropping price of oil exacerbating the fall in equity markets. Stocks were down today in morning session as cautious sentiment from the last session continued, with energy-related plays in the region falling on weakening oil prices.

 

Japan’s Nikkei 225 traded 1.57% lower on the back of five consecutive negative sessions. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi was off 0.3% in the morning session. Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.58%, extending losses made in the last session.

 

Greater China markets came under slight pressure with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index off 0.70%. Mainland markets were also lower. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.61% and the Shenzhen Composite slipped 0.41%.

 

The UK unemployment rate remained at a 42-year low in the quarter to September, but the number of people in work fell for the first time in a year, new figures have shown.

The number of jobless people fell by 59,000 from the previous quarter to 1.44 million in the three months to August, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Unemployment was unchanged from the 4.3% recorded in the previous month, which was the lowest on record since 1975

 

 

UK companies posting results this coming week  – Wednesday – Fenner, Avon Rubber, Game Digital, Barratt Development, Crest Nicholson, Premier Foods, TalkTalk, Thursday – 3iii Group, Keller, Manchester United, British Land, Qinetiq, Young’s Brewery, Royal Mail, Close Brothers, Ted Baker Friday – Kier Group

 

US Companies posting interim results this coming week – Monday – Tyson Foods, Tuesday – TJX, Beazer Homes, Wednesday – Target, L-Brands, Cisco Systems, Thursday – Best Buy, Viacom, Ross Stores, Gap, Wal-Mart, Friday – Foot Locker, Abercrombie & Fitch

 

Economic data due this coming week – Tuesday – UK PPI, Wednesday – UK Average Earnings, UK Unemployment rate, Thursday – UK Retail Sales, Friday – US Housing starts

 

David Buik

Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co

 

  +44 (0)20 7886 2775

Mobile – 0044 7788 144 877

Panmure Gordon & Co

One New Change | London | EC4M 9AF

MARKET UPDATE

Let’s pick the bones out of today’s trading on FTSE 100. The main index is flat at 3.45pm. The Pound is unchanged $1.3115, despite inflation coming in at 3.1%.   Oil is 2% lower.  Miners are the laggards today – BHP Billiton, Rio and Glencore all down 3%.  Oil stocks are easier with BP 1% easier.  The FTSE 100 is only up a short 5% up this year.  It has been the Dollar related stocks that have done well.  The rest have not really performed with much in the way of panache, with retail and utilities looking very sad.

 

It has been a breathtakingly boring session with turnover derisory. Vodafone at last pleased its acolytes adding 5% in value after posting encouraging organic growth. UBM rose like a grilse adding 6%. Tesco was 6% to the good having heard that the CMA have approved a deal to buy Booker (+5.5%). ITV also reported today. The shares were initially up 3% but have ended the session down 2.5%. Of other companies to report today Meggitt was +1.8%, Land Securities -1.6%, UBM is up a massive 6%,. Aveva was plus 2.5% and Aviva +0.5%, BTG +2% and Vesuvius bounced out of the traps gathering in a handy 4%.

 

The DOW, as I write is 100 points lower.