WEEKLY FAYRE – Monday, 1st November 2021

November 1, 2021

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

John McCrae – Canadian Poet & Soldier – 1872-1918

 

 

Last Saturday provided untold joy for millions of sports fans across the spectrum. What about that ‘main course?’ - The T-20 World Cup match in Dubai - England v Australia! Annihilation is the only word to adequately describe England’s emphatic victory! Jos Buttler’s hitting was sublime. The bowling in the power play by Woakes, Jordan, and Adil Rashid set up a terrific platform for a fantastic all-round team performance! A semi-final slot beckons!

There was racing to savour at Ascot, but ‘La Piece de Resistance’ was served up by Bryony Frost’s and ‘Frodon’s’ memorable victory at Down Royal in an epic Ladbrokes Champion Chase. The Premiership provided plenty of entertainment, with Chelsea winning at Newcastle, Man City losing at Palace and Liverpool and Brighton sharing the spoils at Anfield.

However, my match of the day took place in the lunchtime kick-off at Craven Cottage, where Fulham unequivocally eclipsed WBA 3-0, with Mitro recording his second hattrick so far this season. ‘The Boys in White’ are playing some slick stuff!

Perhaps the less said about the All-Blacks’ humbling of Wales 54-16, the better.

 

INDEX

25th October 2021

29th October 2021

% Loss/Gain

FTSE

7204

7237

+0.46%

DAX

15580

15688

+0.69%

CAC40

6752

6803

+1.15%

DJIA

35692

35819

+0.36%

S&P 500

4553

4605

+1.14%

NASDAQ

15142

15498

+2.35%

SHANGHAI

3574

3547

-0.75%

HANG SENG

26020

25377

-2.47%

NIKKEI 225

28527

28892

+1.28%

 

Last week’s economic and corporate machinations made interesting reading for equity devotees. Apart from Chinese based bourses, which expressed some anxiety over what is perceived to be contracting growth and even greater concern over the health of its property market, the other main global indices made gains, especially by those in the US, where NASDAQ based companies continued to attract investors. As for the FTSE 100’s fortunes, they were curtailed by last Wednesday’s Budget, which highlighted the ongoing tax burden of working people – probably at its highest for 70 years, courtesy of Covid-19. Suffice to say that so much has been written on this year’s Budget by far greater luminaries than me; in fact, enough to deal with any paper pulp employment issues – that any further comment would be superfluous to requirement

It looks as though China’s property titans appear to be under extreme duress, especially operations such as Evergrande, which has gargantuan borrowing facilities, and it is rumoured to be having difficulty servicing its debt. It is also thought that some UK banks are into these property companies for measurable facilities, which could not be considered as just peanuts, or a mere bagatelle. Loans amounting to £180 billion have been bandied about.

US weekly Initial Jobless Claims have seen a marked improvement sinceOctober 2020, when those claiming benefits peaked at a rate of over 700,000, while in the same month in 2019, initial filings averaged just over 210,000. Last week normality was beginning to return, with just 281,000 seeking assistance. What did come as a bit of a surprise was the 3rd quarter US GDP estimate, which came in at a parsimonious 2% - somewhat lower than the forecast of a few months ago of 6%. This was its slowest increase since the end of the 2020 recession. Decelerations in consumer spending and residential investment helped keep the number lower, as did the Covid ‘Delta variant’s’ toxicity and the supply chain. Ships during October were queuing up outside Los Angeles and San Diego in their dozens. This supply chain crisis is a global one and not just the UK’s problems as many would have us believe.

On Friday the EU announced that headline inflation came in at 4.1% for this month, according to preliminary data from Europe’s statistics office Eurostat. This was the highest level since July 2008 and was ahead of a consensus forecast of 3.7%. September’s figure had come in at 3.4%. ECB President Christine Lagarde said at Thursday’s meeting that rising energy prices, the recovery in demand and supply bottlenecks are currently pushing up inflation. Nothing new in those comments! MPC

And so, let’s turn to next week’s MPC Meeting when many are expecting a symbolic hike in rates of circa 0.15% to 0.25%. Panmure Gordon’s Chief Economist Simon French wrote last Saturday’s Times – “the recent increase in consumer prices around the world has largely been described as “temporary” or “transitory” by central banks. The language has helped to reassure investors, businesses, and households that the most egregious examples of inflation are the function of a once-in-a-century disruptive event. It has been a corrective to fears that we are at the dawn of a new, high-inflation era.” Personally, I hope that the MPC waits until February to give the economy some time to build up momentum.An alternative solution to raising interest rates on Thursday, would be to taper parts of the quantitative easing programme.

There was a massive slew of earnings on the Street of Dreams last week. There were solid performances from Coca-Cola, Merk and McDonald’s amongst others and an improved effort from Boeing. However, the real meat was provided by the ‘”Heavy Tech Brigade” - Facebook, Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Tesla. In isolation, all the earnings for these titans were acceptable, but there were some qualifications. The supply chain crisis damaged the sales of Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. Apple’s Tim Cook said the supply issue cost the company $6 billion in the last quarter. The iPhone 13 looks as if it will be very popular, which should be reflected in 4th quarter earnings. Amazon is really gearing up for a great Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas, Sales were up 15% last trading period, but did not beat estimates. CEO Andy Jassy said Amazon is taking on thousands of part time workers. Many think the company could make a loss in the 4th quarter, in trying to maintain the level of service.

Investors were quite heavy handed in their treatment of shares in Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft when their numbers were announced last week – off 4%, 4% and 2% respectively. However, by the end of the week all these shares closed in positive territory – up 1%, 0.75% and 7% respectively. Amazon is valued at $1.75 trillion, Apple at $2.52 trillion and Microsoft at $2.49 trillion. Tesla agreed a contract with Hertz, whereby the car hire operator has agreed to buy 100,00 electric cars. Hertz was all but ‘dead and buried’ eighteen months ago. Astonishing though it may seem for a company that only manufacturing 240,00 a quarter, Tesla’s market capital has breached through the $1 trillion threshold.

Facebook’s numbers were taken as read, but dark cumuli-nimbus clouds hungover the perceived inadequate corporate governance plans. At the end of the week Mark Zuckerberg, to a rumble of drums and a rattling of cymbals announced that Facebook’s name would be changed to Meta. This seems like a meaningless smokescreen unless the behaviour on Facebook and Instagram improves immeasurably and there is little evidence so far.

Here in old Blighty, most of the earnings headline were grabbed by the banks, with HSBC, Lloyds Banking and NatWest stepping up the plate. I wrote on this late last week. In summation, the return on equity was impressive by Lloyds at 15.5%, following in the wake of Barclays 15.7% and it was good to see the provisions for bad debts had been cut back significantly. Apart from Standard Chartered Bank, whose results will be posted on Tuesday, the performance of the banking sector since the beginning of the year has been excellent. HSBC has been the least impressive. Its commitment to China could take its toll if property companies are unable to service their debt.

There have been excellent results from WPP, revenue up 15.7% in the last quarter (shares up 30% YTD), Bloomsbury Publishing profits up 265%, Travis Perkins sales up 13.3% and apparently not suffering from supply chain issues and C&C Group (cider etc) and now back into profit. Whitbread and Reckitt Benckiser also recorded much improved performances as the world heads out of lockdown. Royal Dutch Shell’s numbers were uninspiring, as US hedge fund, Three Point vigorously attempts to have the company split into oil & gas and green energy. GSK numbers showed improvement, as did Emma Walmsley position as CEO, as the drug titan co-opted Harry Dietz from John Hopkins on to the board.

Just Eat Takeaway is under pressure to ditch its US arm, Grubhub, for which it recently paid $5 billion to buy. Investors feel it dilutes earnings. Ikea is now the proud owner of Top Shop’s landmark shop in Oxford Street for the princely sum of £378 million. THG’s CEO Mat Moulding has failed to placate his shareholders with adequate changes in corporate governance. Its shares fell by 31.5% last week to 216.60p.

Two of Europe’s biggest car makers have felt the draught in the last quarter, with sales at VW down 12.2% and Stellantis (Fiat Chrysler etc) down by 14% thanks in the main to chip supply shortage. Volvo enjoyed an excellent IPO in Stockholm on Thursday with shares rallying from SKR53 to Skr65, valuing the company at $22 billion. The Sunday Times tells us that Qatar is set to put billions into British Green tech and will team up with Rolls Royce in green engineering projects, which could create 10,000 jobs.

The markets will be focusing their attentions on the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow between 31st October and 12th November and whether a quorum can be formed to cut global emissions by 2025, by tempering global warming to a maximum increase of 1.5°C. That is tough call, with little in the way of unqualified support from Russia, China, and India. Let’s hope that most of the assembled countries (circa 190) can show some uniformity to this very necessary goal

The markets will be focusing their attentions on the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow between 31st October and 12th November and whether a quorum can be formed to cut global emissions by 2025, by tempering global warming to a maximum increase of 1.5°C. That is tough call, with little in the way of unqualified support from Russia, China, and India. Let’s hope that most of the assembled countries (circa 190) can show some uniformity to this very necessary goal

UK Companies posting earnings this week – Tuesday – BP, Standard Chartered Bank, Flutter, Wednesday – Trainline, Coca-Cola HBC, NEXT, Smurfit Kappa, Thursday – Smith News, BT Group, J Sainsbury, Wizz Air, Smith & Nephew, Howden Joinery, Lancashire Holdings, Friday – IAG, Beazley

US companies posting interim results this week – Tuesday – Alibaba, Lyft, ConocoPhillips, Wednesday – General Motors, Spotify, Qualcomm, AIG, Thursday – Airbnb, Uber Technologies, MetLife

Economic data to be posted this week – Monday – UK, US PMI Manufacturing, US Consumer Spending, US Auto Sales, Tuesday – EU PMI Manufacturing, Wednesday – EU Unemployment data, US MBA Mortgage Applications, US Factory Orders, US Crude Oil Inventories, US PMI Services & Composite, US ISM Services, Thursday – UK PMI Construction, MPC Meeting, EU PMI Services & Composite, US Initial Jobless Claims, US ISM Manufacturing, Friday – Halifax House Prices, US Non-Farm Payrolls (EST: +195k) US Unemployment rate (EST: 4.8%), US Consumer Credit