WEEKLY FAYRE – Monday, 12th April 2021

April 12, 2021

Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.

 

We slowly drove – He knew no haste

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility –

 

We passed the School, where Children strove

At Recess – in the Ring –

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –

We passed the Setting Sun –

 

Or rather – He passed Us –

The Dews drew quivering and Chill –

For only Gossamer, my Gown –

My Tippet – only Tulle –

 

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground –

The Roof was scarcely visible –

The Cornice – in the Ground –

 

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses' Heads

Were toward Eternity –“ 

 

Emily Dickinson – Poet – 1830-1886

 

 

All news posted late last week was irrelevant in comparison to the life of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, peacefully coming to an end two months short of his 100th birthday. His stoical and steadfast service to the nation and the Commonwealth and his dedication to HM The Queen will be folklore for generations and will never be eclipsed. He was a beacon of hope for young people. His energy in promoting this country all over the world was boundless. Thank you, Sir. HM, The Queen will be bereaved and will miss his good counsel, which was always at hand.

 

 

INDEX

6th April 2021

9th April 2021

% Loss/Gain

FTSE

6746

6915

+2.51%

DAX

15289

15234

-0.48%

CAC40

6105

6169

+1.05%

DJIA

33222#

33800

+1.74%

S&P 500

4034#

4128

+2.33%

NASDAQ

13594#

13900

+2.25%

SHANGHAI

3472#

3450

-0.63%

HANG SENG

28802#

28698

-0.36%

NIKKEI 225

30084#

29768

-1.05%

# Denotes 5th April 2021

The proverbial kitchen sink has been thrown at the US economy, with Messrs Biden, Yellen, and Powell united in getting behind the $2.2 trillion stimulus package, despite any potential pitfalls, whilst at the same time resisting any talk of an official increase in interest rates in the immediate future. Certainly, the measurable drop in 10-year Treasury yields from 1.74% to 1.66% in the past week, ventures to suggest that market punters are starting to believe the authorities. This news, aided and abetted by positive US manufacturing and construction data and improving Initial Jobless Claims, which saw only 744,000 workers file for benefits for the week ending 3rd April, provided the impetus and momentum stock market acolytes needed to keep their nerve, which they duly did last week. Even the NASDAQ continued to put its best foot forward with the likes of Apple (+8%), Amazon (+6%), Microsoft (+5.4%) and Alphabet (+5.6%) adding significant value last week. Zoom and Tesla surrendered some ground during the week, which was understandable considering the gargantuan gains they have made in the past year - +420% and +138% respectively. The DJIA and the S&P 500 attained fresh record levels. Asia did not fare so well, especially China and Hong Kong, due to political uncertainty and inflationary pressures.

As those who follow global markets know only too well, the FTSE 100 is not an accurate barometer of the UK economy and has been dogged by poor performances from the energy, banking, property, and mining sectors in recent times. Hence, it has only added 33% in value since the dark day of 23rd March 2020. However, the FTSE 250, which is currently at record levels has added 64% over the same period, with constituent companies such as AO World adding 339%, CMC Markets 164%, Premier Foods 158% and Invidior 151%. Unsurprisingly, it was the likes of Cineworld, Carnival and Hammerson that suffered at the hand of Covid-19.

Last week, the best economic news emanated from the IMF, which raised its global growth outlook to 6% for 2021 and 4.4% in 2022. The UK fared better than most, with 5.3% and 5.1% GDP likely to be attained in 2021 and 2022, respectively. These estimates would be the best levels achieved since 1988. Much credit is due to the vaccination roll out. The Eurozone is only expected to grow by 4.4% next year and the US by 6.4% in 2021 and by just a rather parsimonious 3.5% in 2022. UK house sales continue to soar thanks to the stamp duty holiday, which has been extended until the end of June. There was also evidence of the UK service sector rebounding in March. Analysts are predicting that High Street sales are expected to bounce by 48% during the next few weeks, when the lockdown restrictions are eased on Monday 12th April. John Lewis will reopen its stores with an affordable range of fashions to attract young people. The ‘Anyday’ brand will focus on homeware, technology, and baby care. For the level of economic recovery to be maintained, the workforce must return to their offices in some capacity, as soon as possible, to help rebuild the shattered remnants of cities, which currently look like ghost towns. There is every hope that a significant proportion of the £180 billion that may have been squirrelled away in the past year, will provide a springboard for part of the renaissance of ailing retailers.

However, the news was not all good. UK airports will not be expanded until 2023, when demand could return to 2019 levels. The travel industry has not been backward in coming forward, begging for clarity on overseas travel rules. Also, the hospitality sector will probably only fire off three cylinders until the end of June. Considerable concern is still being expressed for the 3.5 million self-employed, who were given little, if any assistance, by the Government during the pandemic. In a visit to London, JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, despite forecasting a ‘Goldilocks’ period for the US economy, announced that the Wall Street titan would be lightening up its property requirements and office space needs and would also be considering moving staff to Frankfurt to complement its growing EU based operations.

Deliveroo, after its less than auspicious IPO the week before last, continued to shed value (9% on Friday). It has lost 34.8% in value since its debut on 6th April 2021. Despite the rather indifferent acceptance of the Deliveroo IPO, DarkTrace, the Cambridge based cyber defence technology group, intends to go ahead with its public offering in April, when £250 million of new shares will be issued, valuing the company at £3 billion.

ASOS posted stellar results on Thursday, with profits up by 253% at £106.4 million for the last 6 months with sales up 24% at £2 billion. They have raised a further £500 million by way of a bond issue for its international expansion plans. Shares are up 136% in the last year. Dunelm also fared well. Sales over all were up by 23% in the first half of the year, with on-line sales up close to 111%. Shares have increased in value by 58% in the last year. Entain, the owners of Ladbrokes, Coral, Bwin, Party Poker and Sportingbet posted a profit of £113.8 million, with revenue flat at £3.6 billion. However, its association with MGM Resorts is helping measurably with expansion plans, despite no merger plans likely to be consummated in the immediate future. Peacocks, formerly part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mills stable, has been rescued by a conglomerate run by Steve Simpson. Some 200 out of the 400 outlets will be saved. Cineworld will clearly benefit from the reopening of its US Regal chain. Last weekend saw the premier of ‘Godzilla v Kong’, which raked in £23 million in the US over that weekend. Carnival, the cruise operator, posted a loss of $2 billion, though bookings for the next quarter are up 90%.

Toshiba, the Japanese tech operator that was on the point of bankruptcy until it sold its valuable chip operations, is to be bought by CVC Capital Partners for $20 billion. The intention is to expand its electronic and nuclear power operations. German car maker, BMW (including the Mini and Rolls Royce marques) has sold 636,600 vehicles in the last quarter, with demand in the Far East being particularly voracious . Mercedes Benz sales are up 20% in the same period and Volvo sales up by 40%. Korea’s LG Electronics is to scrap making smartphones. It has lost $2 billion in the process and the company is to concentrate making TVs and electric cars.

The financial debacle, which took place at Credit Suisse due to injudicious lending to Bill Hwang’s hedge fund Archegos and to the investment bank Greensill, run by Lex Greensill, may have cost the Swiss bank $6 billion. Consequently, the investment banking CEO Brian Chin and risk manager Lara Warner have been dismissed. The Co-operative Group said it would repay about £15m of furlough scheme assistance that it received from the UK government, but has reiterated its refusal to return £66m of business rates relief. This move has irritated the public. It spent £56 million on bonuses to front-line staff last April and will move to paying them the non-statutory real living wage this year.

M&A activity is still far from dead in the UK. Expect Bain Capital to buy Liverpool Victoria Insurance Group for £530 million in the next few weeks. It is interesting to note that the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is expected to relax the rules for foreign takeovers. The UK has always been ‘open house’ and should remain so. Protectionism, adopted by much of the Eurozone, is unattractive as a business culture, clearly stunting expansion opportunities.

UK companies posting interim results this week – Monday – Sirius, Tuesday – JD Sports, Plus500, Wednesday – Tesco, Robert Walters, Thursday – The Hut Group, Deliveroo, Hays, Naked Wine, Norcros, Friday – Ashmore

US Companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday – Fastenal, Charles Schwab, Wednesday – Bed, Bath & Beyond, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Thursday – Alcoa, US Bancorp, Delta Airlines, UnitedHealth, PepsiCo, Friday – Bank of New York, Mellon, State Street, Citizens Financial, Morgan Stanley

Economic data to be posted this coming week – Monday – EU Retail sales, Tuesday – UK Retail Sales, UK GDP February (3-month average EST: -1.7%), UK Industrial Production, US Manufacturing, UK Services, Wednesday – EU Industrial Production, US MBA Mortgage Applications, US Export & Import Prices, Thursday – US Initial Jobless Claims, US Retail sales, US Industrial Production, US Business Inventories, Friday – EU Balance of Trade, EU CPI, US Housing Starts and Building Permits, Univ of Chicago Consumer Confidence

Sources – FT, Times, Sunday Times, Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Guardian, Observer, Bloomberg, CNBC, BBC, Yahoo Finance, Reuters