I ne’er was struck before that hour

With love so sudden and so sweet,

Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower

And stole my heart away complete.

My face turned pale as deadly pale,

My legs refused to walk away,

And when she looked, what could I ail?

My life and all seemed turned to clay.

 

And then my blood rushed to my face

And took my eyesight quite away,

The trees and bushes round the place

Seemed midnight at noonday.

I could not see a single thing,

Words from my eyes did start—

They spoke as chords do from the string,

And blood burnt round my heart.

 

Are flowers the winter’s choice?

Is love’s bed always snow?

She seemed to hear my silent voice,

Not love's appeals to know.

I never saw so sweet a face

As that I stood before.

My heart has left its dwelling-place

And can return no more.”

 

John Clare – poet – 1793-1864

 

My pride in seeing Fulham’s return to the Premiership, after Saturday’s dour and ugly struggle against Aston Villa at Wembley, knows no bounds. An almost equally endearing moment came from the sportsmanship of the Villa fans; it was amazing – fulsome in their praise, magnanimous in defeat, with many fans offering to help me round Wembley, seeing me carrying crutches. It was an edifying experience. The fans were not only a credit to their club, but also to the game.

 

How the UK’S second city does not have representation in the Premiership I will never know. Aston Villa deserves to represent the City of Birmingham. It’s a disgrace that Villa are not already established in the top flight! I suspect it is down to the recent owners for differing reasons.  Doug Ellis stayed around too long without having the money to support the changing culture of the beautiful game and frankly Randy Lerner was parsimonious with his dough and his heart was never in it.  Let’s hope the current owners, Recon Group see the light and give Steve Bruce the ammunition he requires to get the job done.

 

Need I comment much on England’s dire performance at Lords – totally humiliated by Pakistan? – not really. Suffice to say, so long as night follows day, I will never understand why Joe Root did not insert Pakistan in on a greenish surface with a generous humid cloud cover. One could dream for a decade for those conditions, when winning the toss!

 

Out of all the major indices, only the NASDAQ managed to stay in positive territory last week (see table below). Despite all the issues surrounding corporate governance and data protection, investors seem to still have an insatiable appetite for tech and tech fin! As for the rest of the market there was a compendium of reasons why bourses went in to reverse, resulting in investors taking some risk off the table.

 

First and foremost, the endless briefing for and against the Sino/US trade talks was far from constructive from an equity perspective. The Yo-yo reaction to President Trump’s on/off visit to meet Kim Jong Un in Singapore sent a few volatile ripples through the world’s major bourses. As far as Europe was concerned it was probably the adverse behaviour of the Italian and to a lesser degree Spanish bond markets that took its toll on investors. The jingoistic approach of this radical Italian coalition government, which has indicated that it might like to leave the EU rattled not only the ECB’s cage but also bond fund managers’ portfolios.

Screeds have been written on the danger Italy’s revolutionary new government – an interesting blend of ‘left’ and ‘right’ – which threatens to shake the very core foundations of the EU, though the main candidate, Giuseppe Conte to become PM has been dismissed from the fray. The EU may be a little relieved yesterday that former IMF economist Carlo Cottarelli, an obsessively pro-EU, was nominated by Italy’s President, Sergio Mattarella, who did not approve of Giuseppe Conte’s nomination as finance minister. PM Rajoy’s government is in turmoil in Spain, thus providing additional challenging months ahead for the ECB.  Were Italy to contemplate leaving the EU, many believe its banks would be unable to cope with the strain. It will come as no surprise that the major Italian and Spanish bank share prices were under the cosh for much of the week - Caixabank down 4%, Santander down 3% and in respect of Italy, Banco BPM down 7% and Intesa Sao Paolo down 4%. It is fair to say that all the ‘die-hard’ Europhiles, who believe that Brussels is their Valhalla on the way to Heaven, think these issues are a temporary blip and that investors will eventually be sucked in to buying the dip. Many are not that convinced about Italy but understand the rationale behind Spain.

To add to the week’s confusion, the Euro was given a right clattering by the ebullient foreign exchange markets. Sterling against the Dollar also ‘suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’. To cap it all crude oil came off its best levels (-9.7% in recent sessions) thanks to concern on supply expectations, though the ailing Russian economy felt a very small temporary benefit from the recent sustained surge in oil prices. Last Wednesday’s FOMC meeting just confirmed the existing policy to gradually increase rates starting on 12th-13th June meeting, hardly caused a semblance of a ripple in equity markets.

UK economic data was mixed. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 2.4% in April 2018, down from 2.5% in March 2018, following in the wake of good employment data last week.  However, GDP for the last quarter was estimated by the ONS to have grown at a dangerously low level of 0.1% (1.2% on an annualised basis), which saw a dip in the Pound’s fortunes ($1.3367). This is main reason why the FTSE dipped rather less last week than its European peers, with Dollar earning related companies benefiting.  Rather surprisingly Governor Carney was determined to keep his anti-Brexit stance fully ignited by insisting that everyone would be £900 worse off a year post BREXIT. The reception to his statement was very mixed.

 

INDEX

21/5/18

25/5//18

Another astonishing % gain/loss

FTSE 100

7778

7730

-0.62%

XETRA-DAX

13115

12938

-1.35%

CAC40

5626

5542

-1.49%

DJIA

24883

24573

-1.24%

S&P 500

2725

2721

-0.15%

NASDAQ

7406

7433

+0.36%

Hang Seng

31033

30558

-1.53%

Nikkei

22937

22450

-2.12%

Shanghai Comp

3206

3141

-2.03%

 

Asia had its cage truly rattled by the inconclusive trade talks, with many auto stocks suffering – Mazda lost 5%, Toyota, Nissan and Honda easing by circa 3%. On the ‘Street of Dreams’ it was geopolitical issues that determined.

 

Deutsche Bank served notice to cut its work force on trading and investment banking by 25% in the next few years, whilst implementing £1 billion of restructuring changes. Halfords posted a profits warning which saw shares larupped by 14%. TalkTalk pleased their acolytes with recovering numbers, which saw its stock bounce by 10%. Michael Spencer posted slightly improved results in his valedictory presentation of NEX’S results, before CME takes over the reins. BT’s Gavin Anderson grabbed unappetising headlines with the announcement of his bonus, which should have been put on ice until Broadband is sorted, evidence that the £11 billion blackhole is being dealt with and the share price is on the move in the right direction.  M&S’s numbers on Wednesday, we dealt with last week.  Many are less than certain that the closing of 100 outlets with some job losses and despite respect for Archie Norman, will be sufficient remedial action to turn its fortunes around. Finally, hardware chain Homebase has been sold to retail turnaround specialist Hilco Capital for the nominal sum of £1. Homebase was put up for sale by Wesfarmers earlier this year, just two years after completing a £340m takeover from Home Retail Group. The owners said it expects to record a loss on the disposal of £200m to £230m. Hopefully this week we get an update on M&A talks concerning CYBG £1.6 billion bid for Virgin Money. It also looks as though Smiths Group, the medical titan, could tie up with ICU Medical of the US in a $6 billion deal.

Many expect to see Ocado go in to the FTSE 100 reshuffle on 18th June at the expense of G4S. Ocado share price has tripled in the last year with fresh deals in Sweden and US having been negotiated, valuing the company at circa £6 billion. Friday’s Non-Farm Payroll data is likely to be focal point of next week’s economic agenda. Estimate of 185k jobs will have been created in May with unemployment remaining at 3.9%. BBC and ITV may spend up to £1 billion to buy UTV to provide some sort of competition for Netflix and other similar broadcasters. News broke on Monday that Chancellor Hammond may decide to sell 10% (£3 billion) of RBS back to the public. The current share price is 289p – breakeven 502p.

UK companies posting results this week –  Wednesday – De La rue, London Metric, Thursday – Card Factory, First Group, Johnson Matthey,

 

US companies posting results this week – Tuesday – Booz, Allen & Hamilton, HP Inc, Wednesday – Dick’s Sporting Goods, Chico’s FAS, Thursday – Ciena, Dollar Tree, American Eagle Outfitters, Costco, Friday – Abercrombie & Fitch, Big Lots

 

Economic data posted this week – Wednesday – BRC Shop Price Index, ADP Employment Index, US 2nd Q GDP estimate, Thursday – UK Gfk Consumer Confidence, UK Lending Data, Friday – UK & US PMI Manufacturing data, US Non-Farm payrolls and employment data

 

 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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