TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Thursday, 14th September 2017

 

“The morning sun shows like a pillar
Of fire through smoke on frosty days.
As on a faulty snap, it cannot
Make out my features in the haze.

The distant trees will hardly see me
Until the sun at last can break
Out of the fog, and flash triumphant
Upon the meadows by the lake.

A passer-by in mist receding
Is recognized when he has passed.
You walk on hoarfrost-covered pathways
As though on mats of plaited bast.

The frost is covered up in gooseflesh,
The air is false like painted cheeks,
The earth is shivering, and sick of

Breathing potato-stalks for weeks.”

 

 

Boris Pasternak – poet & author– 1890-1960

 

 

Sir Peter Hall, who died recently at the age of 86, having suffered from dementia since 2011, is generally acknowledged to be the father of National Theatre, which he put together with the assistance of Kenneth Tynan, the doyen of theatre critics of the day and our most celebrated actor Laurence Olivier. He was a man of complete artistic creativity, which he developed whilst at Cambridge.  Not only was he a leading light behind that National Theatre but he also directed opera at Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House, as well as directing many films.  Over the years he worked with Sir Trevor Nunn and was married first to the delectable Leslie Caron – she of ‘Gigi’ fame – and to the opera diva Maria Ewing.

 

Chancellor Hammond has informed the City that he will help craft a “bespoke deal” for the UK financial services sector in Brexit negotiations, as industry voices continue to call for greater clarity on the details of any proposed transitional period. In his speech to the UK Finance Annual Dinner at Mansion House last night, Hammond set out his plans for a transition period after March 2019, “during which the UK and the EU 27 will retain access to each other’s markets, and will operate a harmonised customs arrangement.” This news will please the ‘soft’ BREXIT brigade, but his ideas may not get a smooth passage from some whilst Juncker and Barnier adopt such an obstreperous attitude to negotiations and possible trade deals.

 

Yesterday did not see US equity markets at their best, as investors in beautiful downtown Manhattan ruminated over the possible introduction of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s much vaunted taxation cuts. Congress will prove to be no push over with these imaginative cuts. The main US indices closed as follows – DOW -0.18%, S&P +0.08%, NASDAQ +0.09%.  Chevron, Dupont, Verizon and GE shone through in quiet almost anaemic session. Caterpillar, Pfizer and Apple found few friends as they all drifted by an average of 1%. Asian bourses were mostly flat on Thursday after the release of slightly disappointing Chinese data. Markets watched with interest the rise in U.S. Treasury yields overnight following tax reform headlines out of Washington, although the dollar’s advance paused. Industrial Production, investment in fixed asset investment and retail sales came up a little short in China today.

 

London’s market was a dull affair as the FTSE 100 drifted by 21 points to 7379. Halfords appointed Graham Stapleton from Dixons Carphone to replace Jill McDonald as CEO of Halfords. Dunelm saw a small drop in sales (-2.4%) but the outlook was very positive as revenues rose by 8.5%, resulting in the shares adding 9% on the day.

 

I think the market always feared that Apple would not be delivering its new ‘all singing and dancing’ iPhoneX in time. Tim Cook eluded gently to it some weeks ago. Apple’s shares went mildly in to reverse but are unchanged over the last month. Ironically Softbank which bought ARM Holdings saw its share price rise by 0.34% today.  However, IQE (-6%), Imagination (-4.8%), and Laird (-0.3%) – all key suppliers to Apple, mainly chips – have fallen in price due to supply concerns, as their chip production levels fall.  I suspect these reverses are temporary as Apple’s support seems very strong and the expectations for iPhoneX are almost stratospheric. However Swatch (-3%) and Richemont (-1.4%) may be a different kettle of fish. The iPhone could damage long term sales from these two companies – who needs a watch and an iPhone unless it’s a Rolex.

 

Many like me would have been very disappointed that Culture Secretary Karen Bradley referred 21st Century’s bid for the remaining 61% of Sky to the CMA against the findings of Ofcom and the fact that even the EU waved it through.  Who is getting to the Culture Secretary?  This deal has nothing to do with politics and there is stench of professional jealousy in the air from the competition. Murdoch does not have to be liked.  Sky has created thousands of jobs and has provided entertainment for millions.  He has also saved many newspapers.  If corporate governance issues can be agreed, this deal should be allowed to go through. Shares closed all but unchanged but the day before fell from 950p to 937p.

 

There was further good news on the UK’s employment data yesterday – UK unemployment fell by 75,000 in the three months to July, bringing the jobless rate down to 4.3% from 4.4% in the previous quarter. The rate stands at its lowest since 1975, but a squeeze on real incomes continues, according to the ONS. Wages in the period were 2.1% up on a year earlier, little changed from the previous months’ growth rates. Inflation hitting 2.9% in August, wages are failing to keep up. In real terms, wages have fallen by 0.4% over the last year.

 

 

Sports Direct seems to be under the corporate governance cosh again.  Two influential Parliamentary select committees are contacting Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley over concerns that the retailer’s Hermes drivers are underpaid. Amazon is also be challenged for failing to cooperate fully in tackling a multibillion-Pound fraud that is putting scores of small companies out of business. Some foreign companies are alleged to be selling goods on Amazon and eBay thus evading tax on a third of it sales.  According to the Times this could amount to £1.5 billion of lost revenue to HMRC.

 

EU car sales for June to August inclusive were up 4.5%.  However it was Japanese car makers that excelled in the EU in August – Nissan +17%, Toyota+17% – both up despite tariffs. BMW only up 2.4% and VW 2.7% but Fiat grew by 9.4%! Wm Morrison posted numbers for the half year – like for like sales grew by 3% including fuel (1.4% last year). EX fuel 2.6% – Turnover was up 4.8% and profit before tax was up 12.7% to £177m (£157m last year). For the last 6 months NEXT posted numbers thus –  NEXT Brand full price sales1 in the first half were down -1.2% and total sales2 (including markdown) were down -2.3% on last year. Group profit before tax was down -9.5% and Earnings Per Share (EPS) were down -6.2%. The first half has seen a marked divergence of performance between our Retail and Directory businesses, with sales and profits down in Retail (-8.3%) but moving forward in Directory (+5.7%). The FTSE 100 is expected to open virtually flat.

 

UK Companies posting, results this week –Thursday – NEXT, Booker, Ophir Energy, Haynes Publishing Wm Morrison, SQS Software, Friday – JD Wetherspoon, Investec

US companies posting interim results this week – Thursday – Cisco Systems, Oracle

Economic data due this week – Thursday – UK Retail Sales, MPC Meeting, US CPI and Initial Jobless Claims, Friday – BOE Quarterly bulletin.

 

 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

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MARKET UPDATE

 

The London equity market opening promised some positive action after the relief rally in New York yesterday and a reasonable session in Asia.  But London failed to deliver, stuttering most of the day and looking listless through a recent lack of volatility. At 4.00pm the FTSE 100 was down 12 points at 7401. The 2.9% inflation number caused Sterling to breach through the $1.325 threshold, but I would be reluctant to hold my breath in regards to an interest rate increase.  There are too many imponderables such as BREXIT. Inflation, according to our excellent economist, Simon French could be nearer 2% than 3% in a year’s time. Anyway the banks rallied with Barclays, RBS and Lloyds all adding 2%+. Mining, despite the strength of the Pound, was steady.  Astra Zeneca held on to recent gains. Sky shareholders had a ‘dose of the pip’ when it was becoming increasingly apparent that 21st Century’s bid would be referred.  Shares dipped from 950p to 910p but have recovered to 937p.

 

Of those companies that reported today – Ashtead held on to its 5.25% gain.  JD Sports initial 10% gain was impaired down to just 9%, but hardly shabby. Oxford Instruments failed to please their acolytes – down 3%. SMS initially lost 2.5% but were looking to close just 0.5% down. Hilton Foods added just 1% from decent numbers. The DOW is currently up 60 points!

 

TODAY’S FAYRE

TODAY’S FAYRE – Tuesday, 12th September 2017

 

 

“I hid my love when young till I

Couldn’t bear the buzzing of a fly;

I hid my love to my despite

Till I could not bear to look at light:

I dare not gaze upon her face

But left her memory in each place;

Where’er I saw a wild flower lie

I kissed and bade my love good-bye.

 

I met her in the greenest dells,

Where dewdrops pearl the wood bluebells;

The lost breeze kissed her bright blue eye,

The bee kissed and went singing by,

A sunbeam found a passage there,

A gold chain round her neck so fair;

As secret as the wild bee’s song

She lay there all the summer long.

 

I hid my love in field and town

Till e’en the breeze would knock me down;

The bees seemed singing ballads o’er,

The fly’s bass turned a lion’s roar;

And even silence found a tongue,

To haunt me all the summer long;

The riddle nature could not prove

Was nothing else but secret love.”

 

John Clare – poet– 1793-1864

 

HC Blofeld, affectionately known as ‘Blowers’, is probably not on the tip of everyone’s tongue as a household name unless you are a major cricket freak like me! Anyway after 46 years as a commentator with his own very personal style – ‘My Dear Old Thing’ or ‘you are absolutely right’ – finally hung up his microphone last Saturday. After play there was an incredible unsolicited outpouring of affection for this very eccentric Old Etonian cricket journalist. The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he toured around this hallowed piece of turf waving to the fans.  For a cricket commentator, this was unprecedented. One thing is for sure Henry Blofeld brought a sense of fun to this great sport.  He will be sorely missed!   

 

 

Yesterday BGC Partners hosted their 13th Charity Day. It is always a day of mixed emotions – sadness at the loss of their 658 friends and the 61 that worked for Eurobrokers, who perished in a mindless terrorist attack on the North Tower in the World Trade Center 16 years ago to the day. However a huge amount of money was raised for worthwhile charities. The generosity of banking clients and the staff of BGC, Mint, Cantor Fitzgerald and GFI will generate $10 million + in the form of donations for distribution. Great contributions from the likes of Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Sir Alex Ferguson, Keira Knightley Danny De Vito, Kay Burley, Mary Berry, Sam Allardyce, Didier Drogba, Frank Bruno, Kyle Sinkler, Damian Lewis and Nick Ferrari added some real colour to the occasion.

 

Labour and other renegades failed to lower the Government colours in losing the EU withdrawal Bill 326-290. Though the vote is significant, one can see those opposed to BREXIT becoming a thorn in the Government’s side but challenging every single amendment to a point of boredom, in the hope the BREXIT will never happen. I think they will fail!

 

J-C Juncker – The President of the European Commission will push for more thorough screening of foreign takeovers in the EU. This is a response to criticism that the Commission does not do enough to protect its own companies. That’s laugh! The EU is already breathtakingly protective, thus stifling free enterprise!

 

Yesterday the market told us that North Korea was now just an on-going problem rather than a major crisis. Also the fact that Hurricane Irma was starting to blow itself out, provided some stability to the frayed nerves of investors. Consequently the Street of Dreams selected second gear and thanks to this strong relief rally, markets closed as follows – DOW +1,19%, S&P +1.08%, NASDAQ +1.13%. Gains were felt across the board with tech, banks, and retail all performing with aplomb. In Asia sentiment also turned more positive. The Nikkei closed up 1.2% and though the Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite were relatively unchanged Australia ASX was 0.76% to the good!

 

Yesterday the FTSE 100 added 35 points to 7413. Again it was more of a relief rally. The Pound continued to gain in value against the Greenback. At 9.30am we may see a blip in inflation to 2.8% from 2.6%, but Simon French, Panmure’s economist feels there is a good case for inflation falling below 2% a year from now. Despite wholesale management changes at Carillion the shares only fell 1.4% yesterday but they have fallen from 192p in July this year to 43p yesterday. This morning there were good numbers from JD Sports (+10% and always oversold in recent weeks). Hilton Foods also did well. Ashtead also was on the climb – +5.75%. It is interesting to see that Vodafone is driving its business on in Germany and hope to have 13.1 million users in a year’s time.

 

The EU is playing with fire by venting its spleen in suggesting that the likes of Google and Apple have their turnovers’ taxed rather than relating to profits. The EU is becoming so protective. It is in danger of cutting off its nose to spite its face and will alienate these US titans. The on-going challenges on fines implemented on Google for $2.2 billion for protective policies on sales may well have a back lash. The same applies to Apple being required to pay €12 million back taxes for its operation in Ireland. I remind the EU it is not the only place to do business.

 

 UK Companies posting, results this week – Tuesday – Ashtead, Futura Medical, Hilton Foods, JD Sports, Vernalis, Wednesday – Galliford Try, Soco International, Alliance Pharma, Dunelm, Just Group, Thursday – NEXT, Booker, Ophir Energy, Haynes Publishing Wm Morrison, SQS Software, Friday – JD Wetherspoon, Investec

 

US companies posting interim results this week – Thursday – Cisco Systems, Oracle

 

Economic data due this week – Tuesday – UK Inflation, Wednesday – UK PPI & Employment data, Thursday – UK Retail Sales, MPC Meeting, US CPI and Initial Jobless Claims, Friday – BOE Quarterly bulletin.

 

 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, 10th September 2017

 

 

The grey sea and the long black land;

And the yellow half-moon large and low;

And the startled little waves that leap

In fiery ringlets from their sleep,

As I gain the cove with pushing prow,

And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.

 

 

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;

Three fields to cross till a farm appears;

A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch

And blue spurt of a lighted match,

And a voice less loud, thro’ its joys and fears,

Than the two hearts beating each to each!”

 

 

Robert Browning – Soldier– 1887-1915

 

THIS COMING MONDAY IS THE 16th ANNIVERSARY OF “9/11” – WE SHALL NEVER FORGET! – RIP

 

 

If there is any occasion more ‘British’ than the BBC’S Last Night at the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall I have not heard of it.  So why the chosen conductor for the occasion, Sakari Aramo, chose the occasion to make a long and rather boring veiled political speech swathed in EU flags really escapes me and I suspect many others in what is a very NON political event.  I thought it distasteful in every way. I accept this is just about a free country; so people should be allowed to express themselves. However this much cherished occasion, did not need any objectionable disenchanted political flavour.  Thank goodness there was a huge number of Union Jacks in the vast crowd enjoying the occasion in Hyde Park.

 

Though not a week to remember politically or economically, what a fabulous one for sport. Tennis saw a titanic match between Del Potro, who vanquished Federer, the current Wimbledon champion. Whilst on the subject of tennis I wonder if we will ever see Sir Andrew Murray at his most potent ever again.  A new hip does not sound like the best antidote to become the World’s Number One again! England easily eclipsed the West Indies at Lords in 3 days winning by 9 wickets with Jimmy Anderson taking a magnificent 9 wickets in the match, whilst becoming the very first England bowler to claim 500 test wickets. It looks as though Chris Froome will be the first UK cyclist to win the Tour de France and Spain’s Vuelta by this afternoon, in the same year – a top effort!

 

Last night the TUC led us to believe that British households are being squeezed in the wake of the Brexit vote. Its research showed wages have fallen, economic growth has weakened and the UK’s reliance on the European Union for trade has increased since the referendum to leave the EU – not sure about the latter!  The TUC urged Theresa May to invest in infrastructure and to guaranty workers’ rights to ensure the UK could hold its own as a major trading partner. Francis O’Grady’s organisation felt growth had slowed in 11 industries in the year to June. She has a point.  However the negative political approach to BREXIT has certainly damaged investment confidence, despite the democratic decision taken by the people in the UK on 23rd June 2016. I think on this issue democracy is going to play a ‘spear-carrying’ role, rather than one associated with a ‘matinee idol!’

Let’s be under no illusions that this country has never been more divided on an issue than it currently is over BREXIT since perhaps the depression in 1930 or perhaps when the country turfed Winston Churchill in to touch in 1945. Though the anti-BREXIT demonstration in London yesterday, which may have attracted 50k people appeared to be good natured and well organised, politicians need to get a grip to prevent civil unrest, if the furore and wave of contempt which is gathering momentum in the country is anything to go by.

 

Even though the schools are back, the markets still seem, in the face of geopolitical instability across the world and potentially the worst damage from hurricanes in living memory, near enough fast asleep. Equity markets had a few wobbles as North Korea squared up the West, but only lost marginal ground – Last week the S&P eased by 0.5% and the FTSE 100 by 0.7%.  European bourses hardly mover – 0.2% and the NIKKEI suffered the most down 2.2% thanks to N Korean missiles flying over Hokkaido and a relatively strong Yen.  Gold, a haven for those who have become risk averse, added $19 last week to $1343 an ounce, though it did touch $1357 briefly.  However the fact that the Greenback fell to its lowest level against a basket of currencies for nearly three years, put the rally in to context.  Oil, in the wake of N Korea and Hurricane Irma was up 2.7% on the week. Hurricane Irma could cost an eye-watering $150 billion in claims. There was decent Chinese trade and manufacturing data, but that seemed to pale in to insignificance in the current climate.

 

In the UK house builders on the whole posted decent numbers last week, especially Bovis Homes and Redrow. On Friday Berkeley Group, whose shares have rallied 35% this year superficially did not let the side down, but Tony Pidgeley took home £29 million, which did not go down at all well, whatever his contract said – shares down 3.4%. Pubs had a bad week with Greene King losing 15%, blaming bad weather and poor sales, JD Wetherspoon which posts numbers this coming Friday lost 5.7% and Marston’s 8%.  Rockhopper Explorations added a much-enjoyed 8% with a better outlook.

 

The ECB’s Mario Draghi continued to toy with investors and economist, titillating them with threats to taper its current E60 billion QE facility shortly – again no date.  This kept the Euro strong. However it is interesting to note that there are calls across the world for higher interest rates especially from bankers such as Deutsche’s John Cryan.  Deutsche did not appear to have a completely clear bill of health from the BOE’S ‘Prudential Authority’ – much of it rumoured. Talking of banks it was not a great week for HSBC, who appeared to have closed thousands of accounts in recent times of those people without reference, who refused to answer questions on re-locating money to and from abroad. Also RBS will soon becoming under close scrutiny from the FCA and the Treasury Select Committee on the 12000 business that may have been transferred to GRG between 2007 and 2012, which were “exhibiting clear signs of financial difficulty” and that in a “significant majority of cases, it was likely RBS’s actions did not result in material financial distress”. This is unwelcome publicity, which will disturb Ross McEwan, who rumour has it may be a candidate to become CEO of CBA in Australia. RBS’S head of commercial and private banking Alison Rose is a favoured contender to replace McEwan if he goes.

 

Sports Direct’s AGM was a feisty affair with Chairman Keith Hellawell just about beating the hangman 53-47% to remain in situ, saved in essence by Schroder’s vote!  I won’t be holding my breath but Mike Ashley, who did a ‘no-show’ for the meeting, presumably having done his maths, would be well advised to listen to his main shareholders and to the importance of good corporate governance, if he wants to maintain his share piece momentum – up from 287p to 393p in the last 3 months. Jaguar Rover followed in the footsteps of Volvo, in announcing that all cars manufactured would be electric by 2020. BMW followed suit but said not until 2025 – twelve models electric and thirteen hybrid. BMW currently manufacture about 1.9 million cars annually – 338k in the UK (minis). Google and Apple are under fire from the EU on the unacceptable level of taxation currently paid.  Google is also fighting an E2.2 billion fine for monopoly abuse. Provident Financial’s problems are still manifesting themselves.  It is attempting to rejig its sale force and debt collection routine.  This will take time to restore investor confidence – share were down another 7% this week.  The Sunday Times tells us that Carl Svanberg’s time as chairman of BP for the last seven stormy years is all but up – maybe next May. The possible replacement could be either HSBC’S Douglas Flint or BG’S Helge Lund.

In closing how sad to see an iconic PR company such as Bell Pottinger virtually collapse from a totally unnecessary badly run business in South Africa, tainted with racism comments. Lord Tim Bell has not been well of late. Sad to see his and Piers Pottinger’s dynasty go up in a puff of smoke. What was James Henderson doing? We all want to know.

 

 

UK Companies posting, results this week – Monday – AB Foods, John Laing, Abcam, Christie Group, EKF Diagnostics, Tuesday – Ashtead, Futura Medical, Hilton Foods, JD Sports, Vernalis, Wednesday – Galliford Try, Soco International, Alliance Pharma, Dunelm, Just Group, Thursday – NEXT, Booker, Ophir Energy, Haynes Publishing Wm Morrison, SQS Software, Friday – JD Wetherspoon, Investec

US companies posting interim results this week – Thursday – Cisco Systems, Oracle

Economic data due this week – Tuesday – UK Inflation, Wednesday – UK PPI & Employment data, Thursday – UK Retail Sales, MPC Meeting, US CPI and Initial Jobless Claims, Friday – BOE Quarterly bulletin.

 

 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 – Thursday, 7th September 2017

“When Beauty and Beauty meet

All naked, fair to fair,

The earth is crying-sweet,

And scattering-bright the air,

Eddying, dizzying, closing round,

With soft and drunken laughter;

Veiling all that may befall

After — after —

 

Where Beauty and Beauty met,

Earth’s still a-tremble there,

And winds are scented yet,

And memory-soft the air,

Bosoming, folding glints of light,

And shreds of shadowy laughter;

Not the tears that fill the years

After — after –“

 

Rupert Brooke – Poet & Soldier– 1887-1915

 

It is thought that Sky News has seen a letter, which has been circulated praising the government for seeking a transition period after Brexit. It is thought that FTSE 100 CEOS have been asked to sign this letter of support. The letter apparently is rumoured to say the following – “And as the UK makes progress towards establishing stronger trading links with markets like the US, India, Japan and Mexico, British businesses who know these markets well, should stand ready to use their expertise and networks to cement future relationships. As business leaders, we have a duty to our shareholders and employees to continue to grow our businesses and ensure that they remain strong. As part of this we are also determined to see the UK continue to be a prosperous and united force for good in the world and are ready to play our full part to achieve this as Britain leaves the European Union.” CityAM has also covered this nugget of news very comprehensively.

 

Even if this letter is substantiated, I suspect that ‘hell has a better chance of freezing over’ than any FTSE 100 companies signing that letter, even reluctantly.  To a man all CEOS of FTSE 100 companies are ‘REMAINERS’ apart from one who might be in a quandary.  The Government would need to agree a great deal more in regards to Citizens’ rights for a start to glean any signatures!

 

Yesterday the Fed’s Beige Book report posted limited wage pressures as labour market remains tight. Economic growth was modest to moderate across the U.S. in the past two months. With Trump agreeing to raise the Government’s debt ceiling equity markets regained some poise. This news in some ways calmed Wall Street’s frayed nerves, with the three main indices closing as follows –  DOW +0.25%, S&P +0.31%, NASDAQ +0.28%.

 

In the Caribbean, dangerous Category 5 Hurricane Irma slammed across islands with pounding winds and raging surf en route to a possible landfall in Florida this weekend. Home Depot, which is likely to benefit from reconstruction efforts related to Irma and storm Harvey, was among the Dow’s major winners, rising almost 2.4%. Chevron and Exxon Mobil unsurprisingly each rose by more than 2%. GAP was up by more than 7% after it said it would focus efforts on its lower cost brands and close about 200 Gap and ‘Banana Republic’ stores over three years. Expedia shares sank after Trivago, in which it has a major stake, said revenue and profit growth would be weaker than expected.  Apple has secured the renewal of a deal for songs from Warner Music Group, the technology giant’s first agreement with a major label since introducing its on-demand music service two years ago, according to people familiar with the matter. 

 

Asian shares regained some poise today after President Donald Trump and congressional leaders unexpectedly agreed to raise the government debt limit until December, eliminating the near-term risk of a government shutdown. The euro maintained its poll position ahead of the ECB’S policy meeting later in the day while oil prices were supported as U.S. Gulf Coast refineries restart in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. ECB President Mario Draghi is set to start laying the groundwork for stimulus reduction (QE) when policymakers meet on today. At the close the NIKKEI was up 0.2% with the ASX unchanged. Just after lunch the Shanghai Composite was easier by -0.6% and the Hang Seng by -0.4%.

 

In London yesterday the FTSE 100 was down 26 points at 7356, mainly due to financials underperforming and Barratt Development slightly underwhelming numbers – only 76 more houses built than last year though profits were up 12%. Its shares fell 4.47% but up 22% in the last year. Bovis Homes was the pick of the companies posting numbers today – stellar numbers +9% at the opening – FTSE unchanged at 8.50am at 7356

 

Despite considerable concerns expressed by institutional shareholders such as Fidelity, Royal London Asset Management, Standard Life Aberdeen and Hermes Investment, as to the suitability of Sports Direct’s chairman Keith Hellawell, the former drugs ‘Czar’ appointed by Tony Blair, to remain in his position, he squeaked home at yesterday’s AGM.  Shareholders voted 53-47% for Mr Hellawell to remain in situ.  I suspect the fact that CEO Mike Ashley, did not rock up to the meeting – a diary clash was submitted as an excuse – had done the maths and knew Mr Hellawell would be nodded through, though the margin was dangerously narrow.

 

I think the confrontational Mr Ashley would be well advised to listen to his main institutional shareholders going forward.  The company’s corporate governance is constantly being challenged. Mr Ashley will be pleased that Sports Direct’s share price has rallied from 287p three months ago to 392p yesterday (+1.9%), though some way from 922p achieved in April 2014.  The company is expecting growth of 15% against a 59% drop in profits last year.  To maintain this momentum it would be best to have his main institutional shareholders on board. Last year was an ‘annus horriblus’ with terrible employment issues at the Shirebrook Warehouse in Derbyshire, not forgetting the unsavoury court case against Merrill’s Blue, which also attracted adverse publicity.  The show is back on the road.  Some stability would do no harm.

 

Nicky Morgan, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, has demanded that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), release its full report into RBS’s controversial restructuring arm. The report is likely to reveal that 92pc of “viable firms” that entered the taxpayer-owned bank’s Global Restructuring Group (GRG) were mistreated in some way, such as facing inappropriate interest charges or fees. Only one in ten ever made it back to the main bank, the broadcaster reported. More than 12,000 companies were transferred into GRG between 2007 and 2012. It has been accused of helping push firms under in order to take over their assets more easily. Markets and the public need more meat on the bone.

 

 

UK Companies posting, results this week – Thursday – McBride, Bovis Homes, Brady, Molins

 

US companies posting interim results this week –Thursday – Donaldsons, Barnes & Noble, American Outdoor Brands

 

Economic data due this week – Thursday – Halifax House Prices, RICS House Prices, MIESR GDP estimate, Friday – UK Trade balance, UK Manufacturing and Industrial Production, UK Consumer Inflation Estimates.

 

 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, 6th September 2017

 

 

“With one consuming roar along the shingle

The long wave claws and rakes the pebbles down

To where its backwash and the next wave mingle,

A mounting arch of water weedy brown

Against the tide the off-shore breezes blow.

Oh wind and water, this is Felixstowe.

 

In winter when the sea winds chill and shriller

Than those of summer, all their cold unload

Full on the gimcrack attic of the villa

Where I am lodging off the Orwell Road,

I put my final shilling in the meter

And only make my loneliness completer.

 

Here in the gardens of the Spa Pavilion

Warm in the whisper of a summer sea,

The cushioned scabious, a deep vermillion,

With white pins stuck in it, looks up at me

A sun-lit kingdom touched by butterflies

And so my memory of winter dies.

 

Across the grass the poplar shades grow longer

And louder clang the waves along the coast.

The band packs up. The evening breeze is stronger

And all the world goes home to tea and toast.

I hurry past a cakeshop’s tempting scones

Bound for the red brick twilight of St. John’s.”

 

Sir John Betjeman – Poet Laureate– 1906-1984

 

I fully understand the idea that the UK should take back control of its borders, but news leaked through sources close to the Guardian that the Government intends to cut the numbers of low-skilled migrants from Europe, following Brexit is hardly going to instil confidence or win over public support.  Immigration is a sensitive issue and requires deft handling.  Why David Davis and Michel Barnier cannot understand the need to quickly agree on the rights of EU/UK Citizens and where they want to live and work escapes me. That is fundamental to any successful outcome to BREXIT negotiations. It is thought that free movement will end upon exit in March 2019 and the UK will adopt a “more selective approach” based on the UK’s economic and social needs. Access to labour in industries without shortages may be curbed. These politicians and bureaucrats clearly lack political savvy and diplomatic prowess on this vital issue.

‘Dr Foster’ returned to our small screens last night.  They say that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!’ Well, I don’t think we are going to be disappointed.  Last night’s opening episode got off to a slow start, but Suranne Jones gave us hope that all the nastiness and revenge that she and her poisonous husband can muster have all the trappings of an entertaining, venomous and exciting ‘soap!’

 

 

It was surely only a matter of time before investors, however resilient they may be, were going to make some sort of protest in response to protracted geopolitical brinkmanship that currently and consistently prevails over North Korea.  Enough was enough. Wall Street was unabashed in taking some risk off the table. Yesterday’s session was the worst since 17th August. The Street of Dreams responded accordingly – DOW -1.07%, S&P -0.75%, NASDAQ -0.93%. Investors’ nerves were also heightened by news of a powerful storm heading to the southern US closely on the heels of devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey.


Shares in home insurers with exposure to Florida tumbled as investors braced for losses as Hurricane Irma appeared set to hit the state. Financials were the worst-performing sector, dropping 2.2% as US Treasury yields dropped sharply. Goldman Sachs’ shares fell 3.6%, dragging down the Dow, while the S&P was pulled lower by a more than 2-percent fall in shares of JP Morgan and Bank of America. Aerospace stocks were rattled by United Technologies’ $23 billion deal to buy avionics maker Rockwell Collins. United Technologies shares slumped 5.7% and were the Dow’s biggest decliners, while shares of fellow Dow component, plane maker Boeing, fell 1.4%. Rockwell Collins shares rose 0.3%. Delta Air Lines shares fell 3.5%. Insmed shares more than doubled after the company said its drug for a rare lung disorder met the main goal in a late-stage study.

 

The session in London took its time to come off the boil starting the day modestly in positive territory, but by the close the FTSE 100 was down 38 points at 7372. Punters were always looking over their shoulders at activity in beautiful downtown Manhattan and they were underwhelmed by what they saw! Redrow posted ‘stellar’ results initially adding 5.5%, but closing up just 2%.  IQE attempted to grab the yellow jersey adding nearly 20% but it went to the tech operator, Aveva, who after much titillation and foreplay over many months landed in the warm bed of Schneider Electrical of France – up 25%. It is a reverse £1.3 billion takeover and if my memory serves right Schneider bought Invensys’s assets for £3.4 billion some years ago. Though Aveva’s London quotation will remain as will head office in Cambridge, some of the 2700 jobs are likely to go.  Again another successful tech company falls in to foreign predators’ hands!

 

 

Today Sports Direct holds its AGM. It should be a lively affair, even though CEO Mike Ashley is doing a no show! Fidelity and Hermes, its two large shareholders will again object to Keith Hellawell, the former drugs czar, remaining as chairman.  Despite Mike Ashley’s contempt for corporate governance and the aftermath of the court case brought by Merrill’s Blue which found in favour of Ashley, Sports Direct’s share price has rallied from 287p to 387p in three months and it is up 11% in the last year, but a long way away from the halcyon days of April 2014 when it reached the dizzy heights of 922p. Lego has seen its sales fall 5% to £450 million and will be releasing 1400 employees from its 18,200 workforce of which 900 work in the UK. Astra Zeneca have appointed two high flying non-executive directors – Sheri McCoy, CEO of Avon and Deborah DiSanzo of IBM Watson Healthcare.  Both can expect remuneration packages of between £90k and £160k.  Nice work if you can get it! Barratt Development posted a 12% increase in profits this morning.  The shares were down 2.8% at the opening – results slightly short of expectation. The FTSE 100 was down 40 points at 7331. Sentiment is negative in concert with other global indices.

 

 

UK Companies posting, results this week – Wednesday – McCarthy & Stone, WanDisco Berkeley Group, Loop Up, Barratt Development, Thursday – McBride, Bovis Homes, Brady, Molins

US companies posting interim results this week – Wednesday – Fred’s, Korn/Ferry, Thursday – Donaldsons, Barnes & Noble, American Outdoor Brands

Economic data due this week – Wednesday – BRC Shop Prices, , Thursday – Halifax House Prices, RICS House Prices, MIESR GDP estimate, Friday – UK Trade balance, UK Manufacturing and Industrial Production, UK Consumer Inflation Estimates.

 

 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 – Tuesday 5th September 2017

 

“Lovers in the act despense

With such meum-tuum sense 

As might warningly reveal

What they must not pick or steal,

And their nostrum is to say:

 

‘I and you are both away.’

After, when they disentwine

You from me and yours from mine,

Neither can be certain who

Was that I whose mine was you.

 

To the act again they go

More completely not to know.

Theft is theft and raid is raid

Though reciprocally made.

Lovers, the conclusion is

Doubled sighs and jealousies

In a single heart that grieves 

For lost honour among thieves.” 

 

Robert Graves – Poet & playwright– 1895-1985

 

Rupert Murdoch’s TV operation – Star India – has landed the spoils from under the noses of from Sony Pictures and Facebook with a record $2.6bn bid to secure the rights to show the Indian Premier League cricket competition around the world for the next five years.  Star India, part of 21st Century Fox beat Sony Pictures and Facebook, which had bid $600m for the digital rights, to secure the right to screen the tournament. Sony had paid about $1bn for its ten-year contract, meaning the value of the competition has quintupled in a decade. The IPL lasts for just two months of the year, but its popularity among cricket-mad Indians means it has become one of the most lucrative sports tournaments in the world. It has already set records for player fees, with the Rising Pune Super Giants paying England all-rounder Ben Stokes about $2.3m to play for them.

 

So Andrew Marr is now back on Sundays and surprisingly the BREXIT bandwagon rolled in and out of the BBC studios. I thought David Davis gave a good account of himself, but I would say that, wouldn’t I, being a BREXITEER.  I felt he was calm and encouraging, suggesting progress had been made, which was at odds with Michel Barnier’s assessment of the talks. Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary gave a lucid account of why ‘Labour’ wanted to remain in the ‘Single’ market and the ‘Customs Union’, until a smooth transition has been achieved. I think, if he’s honest, it’s another way of saying let’s hope we can block BREXIT for ever and a day. His ideas, which will receive healthy support from Emily Thornberry, Barry Gardiner, Chuka Umunna, Sir Vince Cable and other obsessed ‘Remainers’ may find that their subversive activity backfires on them. Hopefully dissenting Tories won’t jump on the bandwagon.  If they do, then five years of penury surely awaits us all – Massive unemployment and recession under the ‘Corbynista regime’ stares us in the face! Everyone will be pleased to hear that the PM and David Davis want to the EU/UK to raise their game in terms of the negotiations. Both want the negotiations to be continuous, until agreement is reached, thus avoiding being accused of dragging their feet.

 

I see that Kevin Bond, who just turned 60, is back at Harry Redknapp’s side at Birmingham City, having enjoyed a great deal of fun in a low-profile capacity in Honk Kong. They make a great pair – different as chalk from cheese, but a superb understanding.

 

No one can be remotely surprised, that in the wake of the ‘Labor Day’ holiday yesterday in beautiful downtown Manhattan that European bourses suffered marginally from inertia and a lack of guidance. Terrifying platitudes from Donald Trump should never be categorised as guidance, leadership or constructive help. Considering Kim Jong Un’s belligerent antics, it was hardly surprising that sentiment in stock markets went a little sour. The irrational North Korean leader really is trying the free world’s patience and I suspect China’s as well.  China really is caught between a rock and a hard place.  It just cannot let North Korea starve to death, but China is the only country that could persuade Kim Jong Un to come back on the bridle, even if only temporarily.  Yesterday the FTSE 100 eased by 27 points to 7411. The DAX and CAC lost similar percentages – 0.33% and -0.38% respectively.

 

Asian stocks this morning performed unenthusiastically today. Let’s put down the anaemic performance to Kim Jong-Un belligerence. The ASX closed +0.07%, with NIKKEI unhappily down 0.6%. Towards the close the Hang Seng was unchanged and the Shanghai Composite +0.1%. The FTSE 100 opened up 18 points at 7429. Volumes were thin and activity sporadic. Redrow posted stellar numbers and its shares rallied by 5.5%. Aveva finally fell in to Schneider’s ‘scratcher’ after years of titillation, resulting in Aveva’ shares rocketing like a proverbial grilse – up 25%.

 

Construction data in the UK was poor last month measured at51.1 – the lowest growth since June 2016. Reduced government spending, a tumble in commercial building demand and yes – you guessed – BREXIT was blamed for the downturn! However manufacturing last month was buoyant – up to 56.9 from 55.3. 6000 companies were contacted and the UK has had 13 consecutive months of jobs growth, despite a 31% of companies experiencing price material increases. Manufacturing dropped 0.6% in the 3 months to the end of June, but may have increased by 0.5% last month. I’m gutted for REMAINERS!

 

 

The Sun’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn posted a dispiriting but totally accurate tweet about Lord Tim Bell being flayed alive for his deceit over the Guptas on BBC Newsnight. The once great Bell Pottinger was dying live on air. How are the mighty fallen, through gross mis-management resulting in unacceptable allegations of racism in South Africa. BP represented the Gupta family, which has been accused of attempting to capture the South African Government. The PRCA has seen its way clear to ban Bell Pottinger for 5 years, which all but ends this dynasty. Lord Bell was of course the advisor that Baroness Margaret Thatcher coveted most in terms of PR and policy. Bell Pottinger is thought to have advised 400 clients and 20.000 individuals globally.

 

The Tesco fraud trial against 3 executives attempted to get under way yesterday but it was postponed until 25th September due to complications on the deferred prosecution agreements. Tesco have already agreed to pay a fine of £129m to avoid the company being prosecuted. The three accused have pleaded not guilty and deny the charges. The SFO is having a real go at this, as it will have major ramifications for other companies when facing similar charges. Tesco over-stated profits by £263 million, which took the share price down to 156p shortly after Dave Lewis, arrived as CEO from Unilever in 2016. Tesco’s share price has been on the decline since November 2007 when the share price reached a racy 477p, when Sir Terry Leahy was in situ. The company never thrived under Phil Clarke and today its shares stand at 185p.

 

UK Companies posting, results this week – Tuesday – Redrow, IQE, Wednesday – McCarthy & Stone, WanDisco Berkeley Group, Loop Up, Barratt Development, Thursday – McBride, Bovis Homes, Brady, Molins

US companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday – Casey’s General Stores, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Wednesday – Fred’s, Korn/Ferry, Thursday – Donaldsons, Barnes & Noble, American Outdoor Brands

Economic data due this week – Tuesday – BRC Retail Sales monitor, Wednesday – BRC Shop Prices, , Thursday – Halifax House Prices, RICS House Prices, MIESR GDP estimate, Friday – UK Trade balance, UK Manufacturing and Industrial Production, UK Consumer Inflation Estimates.

 

 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, 3rd September 2017

 

 

“As I walked out one harvest night
About the stroke of One,
The Moon attained to her full height
Stood beaming like the Sun.
She exorcised the ghostly wheat
To mute assent in Love’s defeat
Whose tryst had now begun.

The fields lay sick beneath my tread,
A tedious owlet cried;
The nightingale above my head
With this or that replied,
Like man and wife who nightly keep
Inconsequent debate in sleep
As they dream side by side.

Your phantom wore the moon’s cold mask,
My phantom wore the same,
Forgetful of the feverish task
In hope of which they came,
Each image held the other’s eyes
And watched a grey distraction rise
To cloud the eager flame.

To cloud the eager flame of love,
To fog the shining gate:
They held the tyrannous queen above
Sole mover of their fate,
They glared as marble statues glare
Across the tessellated stair
Or down the Halls of State.

And now cold earth was Arctic sea,
Each breath came dagger keen,
Two bergs of glinting ice were we,
The broad moon sailed between;
There swam the mermaids, tailed and finned,
And Love went by upon the wind
As though it had not been.”

 

Robert Graves – Poet & playwright– 1895-1985

 

Though I read the papers assiduously and watch most news programmes, I smiled both wryly and irritatingly at the EU/UK spat.  Leaving the EU is needless to say, the most important decision this country has made in generations, but it pales into insignificance in comparison to the threat of nuclear war, that today looks in to everyone’s eyes!  Even the 1961 ‘Bay of Pigs’ showdown is probably not as significant as the threat of jingoistic bellicose behaviour from North Korea, Russia, China, Iran and the USA! I have to say that since the art of diplomacy is now a dying art, I am extremely worried for the well-being of mankind. Sadly, not enough people in the world share my views. …..And I wrote this before news that Kim Jong Un ordered a nuclear test explosion 10-times greater than the atomic bomb that fell on Nagasaki in 1945

 

Even though I am a fanatical football fan – Supposedly a gentleman’s game played by hooligans – there is a touch of vulgarity attached to the trappings of our national game I find hard to live with.  I know that being a free marketer, one must accept that charging what the traffic will bear in a grossly over-paid trade, will highlight the over-indulgence of some high-profile players. Take West Ham’s Centre forward Andy Carroll, who as a result of injury, has hardly played three matches consecutively over the past four to five years, bought himself a watch for£22,000!  Of course, violently attacking a person must never be condoned, but Mr Carroll was a touch naïve wearing such an obviously ostentatious object. It courts attention! As for Wayne Rooney, well his nocturnal party pieces are well chronicled over the years; so nothing surprises me!

 

I spent Saturday as a ‘couched potato’ watching the T-20 cricket semi-finals and final from Edgbaston on TV.  What exhilarating entertainment – Fantastically athletic cricket, inspired commentary and wonderfully unexpected entertainment from ‘Bumble’ and Freddie Flintoff with their renderings of Johnny Cash, Elvis and Neil Diamond! It was such incredible value – a guinea a minute!

 

August is often a very peculiar month in many respects. Holidays often distort economic data and business activity. That seemed to be the case when the US Department of Labor posted August’s Non-farm Payrolls and accompanying employment data, which was marginally disappointing. Only 156,000 jobs were created in August (EST: 178k) and the unemployment rate ticked up one from 4.3% to 4.4%. Wage inflation remained relatively benign, by increasing 0.2% last month – annualised at 2.6%. There appeared to be no demons in these figures and many on the Street of Dreams seemed happy that this set of numbers would not prevent the FED from starting to taper its $4.5 trillion quantitative easing balance sheet in September. However there would have to be some measurable blip in wage inflation for rates to rise again before December. US equities took this news on the end of its nose and hardly flinched. In fact the S&P 500 added 1.44% last week, despite the Houston floods. Trump’s determination to get tax cuts through Congress and start infrastructure spending stimulated investor’s risk taste buds on Wall Street.    However this side of the Pond there was talk by BOE Governor Mark Carney that the case for raising rates in the UK was growing, but how many times have we heard that before? The number of economic and political imponderables ventures to suggest that any meaningful increase in the next year would be a surprise to the market.

 

China posted some decent PMI Manufacturing data and in the U.K., much to the chagrin of the subversive ‘Remain’ supporters there was an improvement in consumer confidence and manufacturing output! Though the general data from the EU was positive, unemployment in France went up from 9.6% to 9.8%, venturing to suggest that President Macron has yet to walk on water. He is just about to take the unions on over labour reform in their back garden and I wish him well. Despite the very adverse vibes and publicity that emanated from Brussels in regard to the EU/UK negotiations, the FTSE 100 managed to add 0.5% in value last week, much of it down to the drop in the value of Sterling which hit an 8 month low against the Euro and did not do that much better against the Greenback. European bourses added a similar amount in the same period. During the week investors lost a little investment confidence, resulting in gold, a natural haven for those fleeing the battle field, reaching $1323 an ounce – its highest level for many a moon. Bond yields also drifted a few pips over the week.

 

In the US, technology stocks had a great week, with Apple leading the charge, reaching its all-time high on Wednesday $164.50 a share valuing the operation at $820 billion.  The expectations behind the iPhone 8 likely to be presented on 12th September is off the scale. Retail in the US continued its recent good form with good news being provided by GAP, Lululemon, L-Brands, Foot Locker, Express and Guess, all of whom showed better than expected form.  In the UK, the FTSE 100’s usual suspects benefit from a weak Pound – the mining sector was all the rage! Banks and drugs also attracted a little of investors’ appetite for risk.  Ladbrokes Coral are slowly getting their technology act together, but the market needs more to push the share price along than was provided in last week’s numbers.  The threat of Amazon niggled at some of the supermarkets with Morrison, Tesco, Sainsbury and Ocado all losing a bit of value though Tesco and Sainsbury recovered some poise at the end of the week. It was good to see Imagination Technology making a steady recovery, after the Apple debacle. Sports Direct’s chairman, the former government drugs baron, Keith Hellawell finally stepped down.  Mike Ashley will temporarily fill both roles (chairman and CEO) – PLEASE not for too long! There was a small amount of M&A gossip – the possibility of a merger between shop centre titans Hammerson and Intu.

 

Hopefully its back to work with a vengeance this week – all guns blazing, though the corporate and economic agendas look a bit thin on the ground!

 

UK Companies posting, results This week – Monday – Dechra Pharmaceuticals, Johnson Service Group, – Tuesday – Redrow, IQE, Wednesday – McCarthy & Stone, WanDisco Berkeley Group, Loop Up, Barratt Development, Thursday – McBride, Bovis Homes, Brady, Molins

US companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday – Casey’s General Stores, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Wednesday – Fred’s, Korn/Ferry, Thursday – Donaldsons, Barnes & Noble, American Outdoor Brands

Economic data due this week – UK PMI Construction, Tuesday – BRC Retail Sales monitor, Wednesday – BRC Shop Prices, , Thursday – Halifax House Prices, RICS House Prices, MIESR GDP estimate, Friday – UK Trade balance, UK Manufacturing and Industrial Production, UK Consumer Inflation Estimates.

 

 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 – WHAT IF THE UK PULLS OUT?

TODAY’S FAYRE – Friday, 1st September 2017

“Down, wanton, down! Have you no shame
That at the whisper of Love’s name,
Or Beauty’s, presto! up you raise
Your angry head and stand at gaze?

Poor bombard-captain, sworn to reach
The ravelin and effect a breach–
Indifferent what you storm or why,
So be that in the breach you die!

Love may be blind, but Love at least
Knows what is man and what mere beast;
Or Beauty wayward, but requires
More delicacy from her squires.

Tell me, my witless, whose one boast
Could be your staunchness at the post,
When were you made a man of parts
To think fine and profess the arts?

Will many-gifted Beauty come
Bowing to your bald rule of thumb,
Or Love swear loyalty to your crown?
Be gone, have done! Down, wanton, down!” 

 

Robert Graves – Poet & playwright– 1895-1985

 

Yesterday was a bad day in Brussels for both the EU and the UK.  There is a massive chasm in terms of what Michel Barnier and David Davis required out of this third round of negotiations.  An expected unpleasant tone to the deliberations has manifested itself. So we should all calm down, take a deep breath and reflect on the last eighteen months, starting with David Cameron’s abortive negotiations with Chancellor Merkel in the early spring of 2016. Firstly, let’s not mince words, David Cameron came back from his deliberations with ‘zippo’, whatever he and his team think or said. Secondly Angela Merkel should never have sent him back with nothing. She should have thrown him a bone to bring back to London to prevent a referendum.  Then of course the referendum for such a titanic political decision – certainly the most momentous in my life-time – should have offered two bites at the cherry with the vote requiring a 65% majority. 

 

It is too easy to be wise in hindsight, but such was the importance of this decision, anything short of a thumping majority would mean disgruntlement on an industrial scale. Though the BREXIT campaign did not cover themselves in glory with wild promises without substance, David Cameron and George Osborne’s ‘Project Fear’ was also pitiful and inept. In all fairness it is generally accepted that George Osborne wanted no part of any referendum. Anyway here it was on 23rd June 2016, the LEAVE Campaign won on the terms set down by David Cameron – FACT.  Let’s move on and forget the cretinous election campaign, orchestrated by Sir Lynton Crosby, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill – words fail me and millions of others. The UK Government, without an overall majority, needs to deal with reality with their eyes wide open.

 

Some say that David Davis’s team is-under-prepared and under-staffed with quality negotiators.  That may well be the case. Leaving the EU was always going to be difficult regardless of the majority. The EU realises the ramifications of a successful UK release from the house of bondage! Others could follow – probably Greece, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland etc. Logically I cannot see there is anyway Barnier, Verhofstadt, Juncker, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all could possibly be prepared to negotiate a successful divorce.  It is not in the EU’s interests.  Understandably they want the project to fail. Also however cute a negotiator Michel Barnier is, he is but a mouth piece for 27 other countries.

 

So after three rounds of frustrating and less than constructive talks, little has been achieved. David Davis cannot and will not sign a cheque for circa E100 billion without scrutiny for the benefit of taxpayers. Anyone who has the time to read this missive I ask them to consider the following –

 

  • 25 years ago Europe was responsible for 35% of GDP – today 10%. China, Asia, US, Commonwealth, S America and Africa offer greater prospects a few years down the line for growth.
  • The German and Italian banking sectors are creaking. It is felt that there may be a rationalisation of Italian banks down from 600 to just over 100.  There are far too many German banks and their sector may not be properly regulated.
  • The unemployment in Spain, Greece, Portugal and France is heinously unacceptable. Unemployment in France went up last month from 9.6% to 9.8%! Does President Macron walk on water?  I have my doubts.
  • The population in the EU is an aging one, best illustrated in Germany and Italy. The cost of social services will spiral.
  • Germany’s exports are based on cars about 250k a year to the UK and heavy engineering (companies like Siemens). 25% of Germany’s exports end up in the UK
  • French agricultural produce and wine as exports to the UK are vital to France.

 

CONCLUSION.

It looks as though these talks are going nowhere fast.  Though, we in the UK love our European neighbours individually and want to trade with them, the EU is not ‘the be and all’ to the UK’s success and the EU certainly does not hold all the aces in the hole, as it would have us believe. At the end of the day it will not be the politicians that bring as much influence to bear as they think.  It will be the pragmatism of business, industry and commerce. If there is total impasse and the UK just walks away and I’m not recommending that as a solution, but it is an option, the sheer weight of business opinion should force the politicians to see sense. When Chancellor Merkel sees the German Union IG Metall rattling her cage as the dole queue lengthens in Wolfsburg and Stuttgart and the same protests from French agricultural workers, who are slamming on the doors of the Elysee Place, they will make the politicians see sense.

 

So before this spat gets totally out of hand, the politicians should contemplate their over-sized navels and get back to the table in a positive frame of mind.  I make it sound easy and no it isn’t, but an unnecessary economic mess is ludicrous alternative.

 

Economic data due this week – Friday – UK PMI Manufacturing, US Non-Farm Payrolls, unemployment rate and hourly earnings, US PMI Manufacturing, US ISM Manufacturing & Construction.

 

 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

Though everyone is levitating about 3 inches above the carpet at Michel Barnier’s arrogance and David Davis’s intransigence, with another eye 7000 miles away looking at PM May’s performance with Abe-san in Tokyo, meanwhile back here at the ranch the FTSE 100 has bounced out of the traps adding 52 points at 7417 on very little business at 1.00pm. In response to Australia’s session, mining stocks are in good order with Glencore blazing the trail – up 2%.  Banks are also on buoyant terms with themselves – HSBC, Standard Chartered, RBS and Barclays all up 0.7%. Market makers are clearly AGAIN enjoying their new pair of black NIKE’S, dodging buyers with ‘coach & four prices.’  The level of activity and business is derisory.

Of those companies posting results some have fared better than others. Restaurant Group, after months in the doldrums added 7% having initially added 10%. STV’S effort was solid in a soft media market – +2%. Chesnara pleased its acolytes +3%. Melrose did not pass muster – off 4%. Ladbrokes Coral just missed with the numbers, but started the session by adding 1.5% – but there was insufficient meat on the bone looking forward easing down -1%. 888 Holdings, despite their large fine was up 5.3% – relief rally!

DOW futures are scheduled to open 50 points to the good.