TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 14th December 2017
“Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.
Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside, the wind’s incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds in the sky,
And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation
It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.”
Philip Larkin – poet – 1922-1985
On Tuesday I was going make my views known on the question of who should win BBC SPOTY this year. It looked quite an average year for achievement. I suppose Lewis Hamilton and Anthony Joshua will be the red-hot jollies! I was going to make a very strong case for Chris Froome, who this year won his third Tour de France and the Spanish Vuelta. Until whoops! – Out came the news that he had taken double the acceptable dose of a hay-fever drug, recommended by his doctor during the Spanish cycling marathon. Even though it was not a performance-enhancing stimulant, it is still against the spirit of the sport. Why does cycling always have to court controversy or skulduggery! I suspect that Froome is a pillar of sporting society, but surely he must realise that in cycling competitions ANY drug has DANGER written all over it! Back to the drawing board to find the winner of next Sunday’s competition!
The government’s defeat by the opposition and just over a dozen Tory rebels headed by Stephen Hammond and the passionately trappy Anna Soubry of the Dominic Grieve Amendment to its EU exit bill is more significant than many people think. To be a person of principal by putting your country before party may be laudable, but nonetheless that is very much in doubt in my opinion. It may just prove to be an act of subversion to destroy BREXIT, even though that may not have been the overall intention. What should be far more worrying for these ‘REMAIN REBELS’ is that they are helping to hand the keys of No: 10 to Jeremy Corbyn. To me and many thousands of others that is a really horrifying prospect and significantly more dangerous than leaving the EU in an orderly manner!
And so to the WACCA in Perth, where England won the toss on a very good, but dry pitch. The batting line up is struggling with the extra bounce with four back in the hutch for 175 – Cook, Vince, Stoneman and Root. A big first innings score is essential and England are struggling! We need a massive century and it is hard to see this manifesting itself against an aggressive trio like Starc, Hazlewood and Cummings, with Lyon chipping in!
The FED, as was expected, raised short term interest rates for a third time this year and predicted possibly five more rate rises in the current cycle to maybe as high as 2.75%. This meeting of the FOMC was Janet Yellen’s valedictory effort as she prepares to hand over the chair to Jerome Powell amid robust employment data and surging financial markets. The FOMC increased the target range for the federal funds rate by a quarter point to 1.25-1.5 per cent. Policymakers’ median forecast was for another three quarter-point increases in 2018 and two in 2019, even as they acknowledged inflation is continuing to undershoot their target. Also yesterday the US Senate and House Republicans reached a possible agreement over tax legislation (corporation tax don to 21%) that could add fuel to a recovery that is already seeing annualised growth exceeding 3 per cent and the lowest unemployment for over a decade.
Bob Iger of Walt Disney is close to acquiring many of 21st Century Fox’s assets hoping to accelerate the entertainment giant’s ambitions in streaming media, shore up its television business and grab hold of lucrative movie franchises. The deal, expected to be announced today, would value the assets Disney is acquiring at $60 billion, including debt. Those assets include the Twentieth Century Fox movie and TV studio, cable channels including regional sports networks and key international properties. They don’t include properties such as Fox News and broadcast assets. The pact would value 21st Century Fox as a whole at around $40 a share, the people said. Disney would pay $28 to $29 a share for Fox assets, and the all-stock deal would leave Fox investors owning about 25% of the enlarged Disney.
Yesterday US markets did well to keep their poise against a background of the FED decision and a softer Dollar. Markets on the Street of Dreams closed as follows – DOW +0.33%, S&P -0.05%, NASDAQ +0.20% This morning Asian markets paused and reflected on the global effect of FED decision resulting in stronger Yen – At the time of writing Asian markets stood as follows – ASX unchanged, Shanghai -0.20%, Hang Seng-0.02%, Nikkei -0.41%. Yesterday the FTSE lost 4 points to 7496 in a quiet session with many fund managers attempting to rule off for the year. Dixon Carphone’s numbers grabbed what few headlines there were and its shares rallied by 6.3% to 179.99p, as the results were deemed to be slightly less awful than expected. Profits halved for the half year down to £61 million, as expected and this drop in activity was down to the fact that consumers are reluctant to pay £1000 for all singing and dancing mobiles and are hanging on longer to what they have. CEO Sebastian James said the company that it was not the intention to cut back on the 700 outlets currently used. Dixons has 2139 stores and enjoyed a robust Black Friday and Cyber Monday with PC World and their own brand doing well. Mobile phone sales were down 3%. Rupert Soames’s Serco had a great session and its shares were up 6.7% on news it had bought good assets from Carillion’s healthcare division.
The Office for National Statistics said average weekly wages rose by 2.3% in the three months to October, slightly better than last month but below inflation at 3%. Real earnings, which take into account the cost of living, fell by 0.4%. Unemployment declined by 26,000 to 1.43 million, while the jobless rate remained at 4.3%, the lowest since 1975. It does not sound like Christmas will be great for retailers with consumers having less disposable income. Real incomes have not grown for about 11 years.
Simon French Panmure’s chief economist says – “It’s the second day of the Bank of England’s policy meeting – with the decision at noon. It would a major surprise if it was anything other than 9-0 for HOLD after last month’s rate hike. Much like last night’s Fed meeting it is all about the guidance for 2018. We still expect Bank Rate to be on hold throughout 2018 but any signs that tighter labour supply is causing higher wages (or a continued spike in oil prices) could bring the MPC back into play. The other aspect to this is that given the government has seemingly thrown in the towel on hard Brexit, then that most damaging economic outcome is now more unlikely so may embolden more bullish commentary. I expect it to be written up as a “hawkish hold”.
Sports Direct and Ocado
UK Companies posting numbers this week – Thursday – PZ Cussons, Capita, Sports Direct, 888 Holdings, Bunzl, Ocado, Petrofac
US companies posting interim results this week – Thursday – Oracle, Adobe Systems, Jabil Circuits, Costco
Economic data due this coming week – Tuesday – UK Inflation Data, UK House Price Index, US PPI, Wednesday – UK Wage Growth, UK unemployment data, US CPI, US Federal Reserve monetary policy decision, Thursday – UK Retail sales, MPC Decision Meeting, US Retail sales & US PMI Composite, Friday – US industrial Production
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