WEEKLY FAYRE – Monday, 15th November 2021

November 15, 2021

“Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

 

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—

Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

 

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.

 

Wilfred Owen – Soldier & Poet – 1893-1918

 

 

There is little doubt that losing the services of Jason Roy and Tymal Mills at a crucial stage of the T-20 World Cup seriously compromised England’s chances of winning the competition. However, ‘hats off’ to New Zealand, who richly deserved to beat England with a thoroughly professional performance in all aspects of their play, with a special mention of Daryl Mitchell, who bludgeoned a matching winning 72 runs, in landing the spoils for the ‘Black Cats’ in Wednesday’s semi-final. Unfortunately New Zealand were unable to finish off Sunday’s final against Australia in style. They lost by 8 wickets in the penultimate over.

For a country of 5.084 million people, New Zealand's contribution to international Rugby Union and cricket is beyond belief. What an amazing sporting nation! Congratulations all round.

Saturday’s autumn rugby internationals featured some interesting results with Ireland beating New Zealand 29-20 in the match of the weekend, England beating Australia 35-16 for the eighth time running and Scotland losing to South Africa 15-30. It will be interesting to see how well this fresh England side get on against the World Champions, South Africa next Saturday at Twickenham.

The conclusion to the two-week COP26 Conference in Glasgow could only claim to be a qualified success. The delegates from 190 countries completed a watered-down accord of the Paris Agreement rulebook and kept the Paris targets alive, giving it a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The accord’s intent was dramatically altered at the last minute with the wording of unabated coal - the burning of coal without climate change mitigating technology - changed from 'phase out' to 'phase down', leading to angry responses from European and vulnerable countries. The vulnerable countries feel let down by China and India. These two countries have some explaining to do to justify their change of heart at the eleventh hour. Consequently, perplexing caveats remain unresolved, providing challenges, if their ambitions are to be achieved. In hindsight the target was unrealistic in the period allotted.

 

INDEX

8th November

12th November

% gain/loss

FTSE

7303

7347

+0.60%

DAX

16040

16094

+0.33%

CAC 40

7041

7091

+0.71%

DJIA

36416

36100

-0.87%

S&P 500

4701

4682

-0.40%

NASDAQ

15995

15860

-0.84%

Shanghai

3491

3539

+1.35%

Hang Seng

24743

25327

+2.36%

Nikkei 225

29735

29609

-0.42%

 

International indices experienced a stuttering trading week, with inflation fears, global supply chain issues and growth concerns dominating the investment agenda. A rate of 6.2% inflation for October in the US did not make encouraging reading – the worst monthly figure since 1990. FED Chairman Jay Powell and the FOMC are doing their level best to postpone any rate increases until the New Year. Justifying that task will prove challenging in the weeks to come, as there seems little chance of the inflation bubble being as transitory as the FED had hoped for. For inflation to fall to 2% in three months looks unachievable. President Joe Biden’s administration looks to be in a bit of a bind. Inflation could damage growth prospects and therefore his ambitious spending targets for the recovery and infrastructure spending may be curtailed by Congress and the Senate. Just over a $1 trillion package was voted through by Congress last week to refresh transportation, broadband and utilities. That money fulfils a part of President Biden’s domestic agenda. Democrats must now clear multiple hurdles to enact the larger piece, a $1.75 trillion investment in the social safety net and climate policy. This is a demand of gargantuan proportions. Conversely, it was good to see Initial Jobless Claims fall to 267,000 last week, the lowest level of benefit claims since pre-pandemic days.

As we head to the end of the year, the question on everyone’s mind is; where are equity markets headed in 2022? I suspect that answer lies with the World’s central banks’ approach to interest rates. How far will they have to go up? How much will they taper quantitative easing? Is inflation transitory? Will the supply chain unchoke itself? If we knew the answer to these conundrums, plotting the path for equities would be measurably easier. It was hardly surprising that investors in the US took a little risk off the table. Asia seemed to be playing catch-up last week, though Japan saw profit takers on the previous week’s efforts. The FTSE remained in positive territory due to the weakness of the Pound on the back of GDP data, good performances from retail and mining. Let us not forget that about 60% of FTSE 100 constituent companies have Dollar related earnings.

The UK’s GDP numbers posted last Thursday were hardly euphoric. For September Y/O/Y, growth expanded by +5.3% (EST 5.4%) - September M/O/M it was +1.3% (EST +1.5%) – September in isolation +0.6% (EST +0.4%). Industrial production was disappointing at -0.4%; construction was encouraging at +1.3%, with services posting a neutral +0.7% and Investment increasing by +0.8%. The service sector remains down 5.5% on pre-pandemic levels. With marginally disappointing data of this nature, achieving GDP of 6.5% for 2021, suggested by the OBR, will prove a considerable achievement.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's Singles Day is known for being the world's biggest online shopping extravaganza. However, this year it has been a more ‘toned down’ affair as Beijing cracks down on businesses and economic growth slows. Sales for the 11-day event rose at their slowest rate since its inception in 2009, up 8.5% on last year. Nonetheless, customer spending still hit a fresh record high of 540.3bn yuan ($84.5bn; £63.2bn).

Walt Disney’s numbers were marginally disappointing. Revenues at $18.53 billion were a little light, which was due in the main to subscriptions for streaming only gaining 2.1 million viewers, taking the total to 118.1 million. The target of 230 million subscribers by 2024 looks ambitious. However, there was a measurable improvement in the theme park earnings, which were up 26% for the last quarter to $5.4 billion. Film production was buoyant. Shares were down 7% by the end of the week. Airbnb turned in a profit last quarter after three negative quarters, with revenues up 67% to $2.2 billion. These numbers triggered a 12% rise in the share price. Tesla’s Elon Musk may temporarily rue the day he asked ‘Twitter,’ whether he should sell shares in his company to pay tax. An overwhelming ‘YES’ vote may have cost him the best part of $7 billion.

In the UK there were much improved efforts from Taylor Wimpey, ASOS, Halfords, Aviva, B&M, Persimmon and Vistry. Ted Baker cut its losses from £86.4 million to £25.3 million, with revenues up 17.6% in the last six months, but 37% down against 2019. JD Wetherspoon saw sales ease by 8.9% from pandemic levels, but it was a ‘marked’ improvement on the 17.8% drop from the previous quarter. Investors vented their spleen on Burberry on Thursday, taking their shares down 8%. Due to a lack of tourists, sales slumped in UK and Europe, but were buoyant in the US and China. Their shares had regained 4% by Friday. Jonathan Akeroyd leaves Versace and takes over from Marco Gobbetti as CEO next April.

AB Foods posted impressive results last Tuesday, with Primark being responsible for 40% of the profits now that the effects from the pandemic are easing. Primark intend to open 132 new outlets – 47 in the US. AB Foods shares rallied by 8%. On Wednesday M&S’s earnings pleased their acolytes. Food sales were up 10.4% in the first half, though clothes and general merchandising sales were only up 1% in the same period. On-line sales were up 34% and represent 60.8% of total sales, with the relationship with Ocado proving to be a phenomenally successful venture. The profit before tax came in at £269 million. M&S shares bounced by 16% and are up 80.37% year to date. Advertising revenues at ITV reached near record levels and revenues for the broadcaster were up 28% for the first 9 months of the year and 8% higher than 2029, with its digital operations playing a pivotal role. S4 Capital saw profits up 42% for the pat quarter to £144.4 million, thanks to aggressive hiring in response to digital advertising and the addition of large new customers such as Facebook and HP. CEO Sir Martin Sorrell felt that the market’s response to increased expenditure for expansion as reason for in taking the share price down 10% was churlish.

Investors’ acceptance of Astra Zeneca’s 3rd quarter numbers on Friday was mixed. Astra has delivered 1.5 billion doses of its vaccine to 170 countries at cost. It is now going to start making a marginal profit on this product, which still does not have FDA approval in the US. Overall revenues rose by 48% to $9.9 billion. Excluding vaccines revenues increased by 32%, with oncology sales proving a significant contributor. Shares fell 6.9% on Friday. Copious investors are still ‘chuntering’ over his £15.4 million emoluments paid to him last year.

Having agreed in principle to build factories in Poland and Finland, it was dispiriting to hear that Johnson Matthey had withdrawn from manufacturing batteries for electrical cars. It appears that competition from the likes of BASF, which is investing €4 billion on a similar project, was too rich for its blood. BA is set to launch a short haul airline from Gatwick within weeks – BA EuroFlyer.

There has been little appetite for Bain Capital’s purchase of LV for £530 million. CEO Mark Hartigan and his colleagues have been criticised across the spectrum for selling to US private equity and for refusing overtures from Royal London, not forgetting the ludicrous £100 bonus to 290,000 members to wave the deal through.

UK Companies posting earnings this week – Tuesday – Imperial Brands, Vodafone, Land Securities, Premier Foods, HomeServe, Gear4Music, Wednesday – Sage, British Land, SSE, Experian, Speedy Hire, Workspace, Safestore, Thursday – DMGT, Royal Mail, Fuller, Smith & Turner, Grainger, Biffa, Halma, Mitie, Close Bros, TBC Bank, Friday – Great Portland Estates, Kingfisher, Wincanton

US companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday – La-Z-Boy, Home Depot, Dolby Labs, Walmart, Wednesday – Baidu, Cisco Systems, Nvidia, Target, Manchester United, Thursday – Alibaba, AMD, BJ Wholesale, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Ross Stores, Friday – Foot Locker

Economic data to be posted this week – Monday – EU Balance of Trade, Tuesday – UK Employment data, EU GDP, US Industrial Production, US Business Inventories, Wednesday – UK Inflation (CPI, PPI, RPI), US MBA Mortgage Applications, , US Housing Starts, US Retail Sales, US Crude Oil Inventories, Thursday – EU CPI, US Initial Jobless Claims, US Phil-Fed Index, Friday – UK Gfk Consumer Confidence, UK Retail Sales, UK PSBR, EU Current Account