“Light, so low upon earth,

You send a flash to the sun.

Here is the golden close of love,

All my wooing is done.

Oh, all the woods and the meadows,

Woods, where we hid from the wet,

Stiles where we stayed to be kind,

Meadows in which we met!

 

Light, so low in the vale

You flash and lighten afar,

For this is the golden morning of love,

And you are his morning star.

Flash, I am coming, I come,

By meadow and stile and wood,

Oh, lighten into my eyes and my heart,

Into my heart and my blood!

 

Heart, are you great enough

For a love that never tires?

O heart, are you great enough for love?

I have heard of thorns and briers.

Over the thorns and briers,

Over the meadows and stiles,

Over the world to the end of it

Flash of a million miles.

 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson – poet – 1809-1892

 

“My Name Is Lucy Barton” is currently being produced at the Bridge Theatre, near Tower Bridge and is a dramatization of Elizabeth Strout’s bestselling novel. It is a one person play about a woman laid up in a Manhattan hospital bed, battling a life-threatening illness after a routine appendix operation. It stars the American Laura Linney.  In the play she reveals not only her fear of her hospitalisation, but also her dysfunctional relationship with her mother who lives in Amgash, Illinois, her decaying marriage, which eventually ends in divorce, which seriously and adversely affects her relationship with her two daughters.

Laura Linney’s performance is breathtakingly strong, as well as it being filled with subtle humour. Laura is on stage for 90 minutes without a break. This is a must for all theatre goers. An outstanding performance by this wonderfully sensitive actress, who portrays her mother’s chilly attitude to her daughter as well as her own shortcomings in life with great heart-rending emotion in a low-key manner. 

 

Before assessing the reasons as to why the only international bourses to perform with any aplomb last week were US and Japan, it is as well to look at reasons why investors have just started to feel a little more cautious about global growth than they were led to believe at the beginning of the year. Investors are losing a little confidence in equities, even in the US, despite barnstorming employment data. 2.5% US GDP is just starting to look ambitious for 2018 and there are signs of anxiety the EU is not selecting another gear in the manner France’s President Macron and others would have had us think. Of the larger constituent countries, only Spain seems to be blazing the trail. Admittedly we are only half way through the year. As for the UK some of the trashed embers of UK economic data are beginning to be rekindled – UK PMI and retail sales perked up over the recent holiday period and some encouraging news that the UK’S export sales soared by more than 6% last month was pleasing, defying the fear of a post-Brexit slump in trade, despite overall growth seemingly unexciting at about 1.4%.

 

INDEX

1/6/18

8/6//18

% gain/loss

FTSE 100

7701

7681

-0.26%

XETRA-DAX

12839

12766

-0.57%

CAC40

5497

5450

-0.86%

DJIA

24727

25316

+2.39%

S&P 500

2741

2779

+1.39%

NASDAQ

7570

7645

+0.99%

Hang Seng

30836

30958

+0.40%

Nikkei

22365

22694

+1.47%

Shanghai Comp

3083

3067

-0.52%

 

 

The sting came out of the Italian political storm and the pressure on its banks, but many believe there will be a scorpion sting in the tale to this saga. The EU will eventually feel uncomfortable.  So, in some respects it was surprising to hear ECB’S Mario Draghi discuss the possibility of tapering QE before too long. The trade tariff war, which President Trump is attempting to wage, seems to have gathered momentum in Quebec over the weekend. There were already signs of anxiety last week with ‘Le Petit Napoleon’ stoking the fires of retaliation. At the G7 meeting Canada’s PM Trudeau seemed to hit a raw nerve with President Trump over agricultural tariffs, which may result in the US hitting back with car import duty!  The President seemed to throw his toys out of his pram before heading back to Washington, ahead of his meeting with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore on Tuesday.   So, last week US markets were full of summer joy, with the NASDAQ hitting an all-time high on Thursday. The UK Culture minister, Matt Hancock nodded through 21st Century Fox’s £11 billion bid for 61% of Sky provided Sky News is protected, allowing Comcast or possibly Disney, though unlikely, to scrap it out for 21st Century.  Then enter stage left came a $7.6 billion bid for software specialist Github by Microsoft.

 

Here in Europe the auto sector and steel making operations took a bit of tap and the market cynics were convinced that there were large cracks appearing in the ‘Fortress EU’s’ defences with Italy and Spain providing the evidence to support that theory. In the UK, despite better news for retail over the Bank Holiday, Poundsworth and Mothercare were throwing out distress signals as did House of Fraser, which served notice to close 29 of their 59 outlets with a view to placating their creditors and banking covenants. This dispiriting news follows in the wake of bad news emanating in recent weeks from Maplin, Toys R Us, Debenhams and M&S. Local government and Central Government need to understand that business rates are too ‘high’ and that corporation tax is too low at 17-19%.  Quiz, which came to the market last year broke the negative trend with a 30% increase in sales and AO World also saw some improvement. This week Ted Baker and Boohoo are expected to please their acolytes on Tuesday. Amazon announced that another 2500 jobs will be created in the UK.

 

TSB’S Paul Pester was subjected to some severe criticism from Andrew Bailey at the FCA and from Nicky Morgan’s Treasury Select Committee for gross incompetence over its flawed IT systems.  He will do well to keep his job. Such good fortune did not fall on BT’S Gavin Patterson, who was thrown to wolves at the behest of the city.  Since Patterson took over from Lord Ian Livingstone in 2013, BT’S share price has fallen from 330p to 205p due to a litany of judgement errors and poor management.  This compendium of bad news includes a €500m Italian fraud issue, an £11 million pension black hole, over-spending on BT Sport and the total incompetence of BT to provide quality broadband service to millions of customers and users. Who will replace him?  It is hard to look further than Marc Alera from the internal candidates.  Maybe Chairman Jan Du Plessis will want fresh blood from outside – someone like Adam Crozier who has retail experience even though he will lack the technical savvy. News filtered out over the weekend that 4000 jobs are due to be shed by Rolls Royce – most of them in Derby. CEO Warren East has been ruthless in his efficiency drive at RR. Finally, the CYBG/Virgin Money merger may trigger the loss of 1500 jobs.

 

This morning equity and bond markets have a reflective look about them. Corporate results are thin on the ground and the investment agenda is likely to be dominated by the FOMC and ECB meetings.

 

UK companies posting results this week –  Tuesday – BATS, Bellway, Halma, Ted Baker, Cres Nicholson, Boohoo, Wednesday – Norcross, Thursday – Aveva, Majestic Wine, SafeStore, N Brown, PZ Cussons, Friday – Tesco (TS)

 

US companies posting results this week – Wednesday – Korn/Ferry, Thursday – Fred’s, Adobe Systems, Jabil

 

Economic data posted this week – Monday – UK Industrial production & Manufacturing output, UK Trade Balance, Tuesday – UK Labour statistics, US CPI Data, Wednesday – UK Inflation, UK House Prices, FOMC Meeting, Thursday – ECB Meeting, US Retail sales, UK Retail Sales, Friday – US Industrial Production

 

David Buik  

Core Spreads

Core Spreads is financial trading as it should be. No noise – just tight spreads on thousands of markets..

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