TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 14th November 2017
“I poke among fallen stones, molehills, the spoil
Left by archaeologists and carelessly sieved.
I am not above ferreting out a small piece
From the foreman’s basket when his back is turned.
One or two of my choicer things were acquired
During what the museum labels call ‘the disturbances
Of 1941’ : you may call it loot,
But I keep no records of who my vendors were-
Goatherds, Johnnies in berets, Neapolitan conscripts
Hot foot out of trouble, dropping a keepsake or two.
I know a good thing, I keep a quiet ear open when
The college body snatchers arrive from Chicago,
Florence, Oxford, discussing periods
And measuring everything. I’ve done business with them:
You will find my anonymous presence in the excavation reports
When you get to ‘Finds locally purchased’.
I know three dozen words of English, enough French
To settle a purchase, and enough Italian
To convince the austere ‘dottore’ he’s made a bargain.
As for the past, it means nothing to me but this:
A time when things were made to keep me alive.
You are the ones who go on about it: I survive
By scratching it out with my fingers. I make you laugh
By being obsequious, roguish, battered, in fact
What you like to think of as a typical Arab.
Well, Amr Ibn el-As passed this way
Some thirteen hundred years ago, and we stayed.
I pick over what he did not smash, and you
Pay for the leavings. That is enough for me.
You take them away and put them on your shelves
And for fifty piastres I give you a past to belong to.”
Anthony Thwaite – poet – 1930-
An Agatha Christie thriller – ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Branagh himself as the great detective Hercule Poirot, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Olivia Coleman, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi and Sergei Polunin – what’s not to like? I saw the 1974 effort starring Peter Ustinov, Mia Farrow, Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman, directed by Sydney Lumet. Fortunately I could not remember the ending! I have to say it matters not a jot whether it be an Ibsen play, portraying Henry V, Richard 111, Hamlet, Wallenger or Poirot, there is no finer Thespian on God’s earth than Kenneth Branagh. His adoring public see all too little of him!
Last week on the Street of Dreams there were some decent retail results from Macy’s, Nordstrom and finally JC Penney on Friday, whose shares shot up 15%, admittedly from a very low base. Also it would be churlish not to comment that Walt Disney’s shares rose 2.1% despite reporting an earnings and revenue miss late Thursday. Disney also announced it will be making a new “Star Wars” trilogy, as well as developing a live-action TV series tied to the sci-fi classic. The same cannot be said of retail here in the UK, where retail sales on the High Street fell by 5.2% in October. I doubt today’s Inflation numbers will offer much solace to the retailers or consumers – likely to be 3.1%.
Yesterday Wall Street gained in morning session, as a sharp decline in General Electric was more than offset by an advance by high dividend-paying sectors including consumer staples and utilities.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 17 points, or 0.07%, to 23,440, the S&P 500 gained three points, or 0.10% to 2,585 and the Nasdaq Composite added seven points, or 0.1%, to 6,758. General Electric slashed its dividend by 50% and cut its profit forecast while unveiling a plan that narrowed its focus on aviation, power and healthcare. Shares of the industrial conglomerate fell 7.2% after touching a more than five-year low of $18.75. Shares of regional banks rose after reports that a bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers reached a tentative agreement to ease some regulations on the sector. Investors are also closely tracking developments around the tax bill after US Senate Republicans last week unveiled a new plan that differed from the House of Representatives’ version.
Toymaker Mattel jumped 20.7% after a report that rival Hasbro made an approach to acquire the company. Hasbro rose 5.9%. Qualcomm gained 3.0% after the chipmaker rejected rival Broadcom’s $103-billion takeover bid, saying the offer “dramatically” undervalued the company.
Yesterday the FTSE yielded a modest 17 points yesterday. There was a decent result from Taylor Wimpey and Ladbrokes Coral at last seems to be making some progress. This morning markets attempted to digest some Chinese data – industrial production +6.8% and retail sales in October +10%. However Chinese bourses seemed somewhat underwhelmed – The Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng were down 0.5% and 0.1% respectively. The NIKKEI closed flat and the ASX was easier by 0.9%.
There were a slew of earnings this morning. Vodafone pleased its acolytes with modest organic growth her and more to the point in Germany. Operating profits were up 35% at £2 billion for the half year on £23.1 billion of revenue. Pre-tax profits came in at £1.2 billion. Until this morning the shares have done nothing in the last year hovering around 216p – up 3.9% this morning post results. ITV initially responded to reasonable trading across the spectrum of its facilities by adding 3%, but come 9.00am the shares were down 2%. Market needs to know more about its plans but until Dame Carolyn McCall arrives in January we may have to wait. Does Liberty Media wait in the wings to pounce?
The CMA posted good news this morning that it saw no reason why Tesco should not buy Booker for £3.7 billion. The deal is likely to go through. It felt prices would not go up as a result of this merger. Of the other companies that posted numbers today they performed as follows – TESCO & BOOKER both +4%, Land Secs +1%, Vesuvius +2.5%, Meggitt +0.25%, BOVIS +2%, UBM +1%, BTG +1.5%. At 9.20am the FTSE was up 10 points at 7422.
UK companies posting results this coming week – Tuesday – Cobham, Vodafone, Speedy-Hire, DCC, Electrocomponents, Aveva, McCarthy & Stone, Bovis Homes, ITV, 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 – 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
Market Commentator – Panmure Gordon & Co
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