“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

 

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,

Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

 

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, —

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

 

John Keats – poet – 1795-1821

 

Normally I wouldn’t trouble those of you who may take the time to read this missive, to engage with me over a Sky Championship match at Craven Cottage between Fulham and Millwall last Wednesday. However, the 4-0 win for the home team was very gratifying for their fans, but it was the manner it was achieved that surprised all those who attended. Fulham played precision possession football. They had 88% of the ball with over 900 passes completed - astonishing!

At half time I watched the under 10-year olds Fulham Academy strut their stuff. What talent these boys have – skill and, confidence with just a touch of arrogance - great to watch!

The 3rd test match got off to another cracking start at Headingley with England’s new hero, Jofra Archer taking 6 for 45. England may not find it easy against Messrs Cummings, Pattinson and Hazelwood this morning!

INDEX

19th August 2019

22nd August 2019

% loss/gain

FTSE 100

7117

7128

+0.15%

XETRA DAX

11562

11747

+1.60%

CAC40

5300

5388

+1.66%

DJIA

25886

26252

+1.41%

S&P 500

2888

2922

+1.25%

NASDAQ COMP

7895

7991

+1.22%

HANG SENG

25734

26048

+1.22%

SHANGHAI

2823

2883

+2.69%

NIKKEI 225

20418

20628

+1.03%

Looking at the table above you would be forgiven for thinking that markets had experienced a satisfactory outcome to the first four days of the week, as the sun remains high above the yard arm with many traders and their families showing their torsos to sun rays across the globe.  In some respects that is a reasonable assessment, but of course those close to the equity, bond, interest rate and foreign exchange markets know only too well that conditions have been extremely volatile with volumes very light, apart from the futures market, where frenetic activity has exacerbated the level of volatility.

Market protagonists have been obsessed with President Trump’s spat with FED chairman Jay Powell over the lack of an aggressive stance in cutting rates, the threat of a global recession, especially in Europe, with an inverse rate structure in the bond market and a growing appetite to own negative bond yields. Germany’s sale of a tranche of 30-year bond with a negative yield was taken up to 43% of the issue, which astounded many market watchers. Finally, on the economic summary to the week, the extended SINO/US trade war is not helping growth, even though the relationship between the two looks marginally less hostile. Observers in the far east are not enjoying the civil unrest in Hong Kong. An unsatisfactory outcome with China stepping into the breach has dangerous long-term connotations. 

The Central bank meeting in Jackson Hole today and tomorrow is pivotal. With interest rates making historic moves globally, the pressure is on Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to clarify the Fed’s intention when it comes to interest rate cuts. According to CNBC, markets want to know whether the Fed is in a serious longer-term cutting cycle or just planning a few cuts as an insurance policy against an economic downturn, as intimated in the FOMC minutes last week. Powell discussed the quarter-point rate cut as a ‘mid-cycle-adjustment, implying it was just considering a few cuts. That comment shook markets, and interest rates have plunged, along with global bond yields. What the markets want are that he unambiguously moves away from the ‘midcycle adjustment’ commentary and transitions toward an easing cycle. A rate cut in September is likely, as yield curve flashes recession warning Markets also will be watching any developments that reveal how trade talks between the U.S. and China are faring.  Since he spoke on 31st July, the US stock market has been turbulent, with the S&P 500 losing 2% +, but bond yields have dropped like a stone.  The 10-year yield was at 2.07% that day and touched a low of 1.64% yesterday.

On the Street of Dreams corporate news was fulsome. Apple announced it would be spending $5 billion on streaming with the Jennifer Aniston and Co’s programme at the head of affairs. Netflix, Walt Disney, Warner Media and others are on notice that the ‘cavalry will be arriving.’ Target produced a stellar set of numbers on Wednesday evening with profits with same store sales up 3.4% with revenues of $18.4 billion for the quarter. Shares leapt like a grilse by 19% on Wednesday after hours. WeWork Inc announced plans for its IPO next month, valuing the tech-based property rental group at the eye-watering level of $40 billion, having just posted a loss of $850 million for the first half. WeWork are in 528 locations with 60 in the UK and 527k members. Nonetheless it hard to see where the profits are going to emanate from in the immediate future.

Closer to home there were several interesting corporate stories. Greene King fell into the loving arms of arms of CK assets of HK for £4.6 billion. Former CEO Rooney Annan deserves great credit for building up this pub empire and he understandably will benefit.  NMC Health has been nibbled at by Fosun and others, which saw the shares rally by 17% after good numbers. Then, this morning we heard news of HASBO, the largest toymaker in the world with a $5 billion annual turnover had made an audacious bid for Entertainment One of £3.3 billion. 560p a share represents a 31% premium to the previous close. This operation owns the ‘Peppa Pig’ brand. Good luck to Neville Astley and Mark Baker who both devised the hugely popular cartoon character back in 2004. The mind boggles as to how much they will make out of this deal. Bad news that Ocado had another fire this time at Erith. Hopefully it will not damage sales as badly as the one at Andover 6 months ago, which cost £4.8 million. Shares fell yesterday by 3%.

The Aramco IPO reared its ugly head again. How London would love a piece of this action. 5% of the company valued at approximately $100 billion will go on sale in NY, HK and hopefully London. LSE CEO David Schwimmer – ex Goldman Sachs has started to rally the troops. The UK has maintained good relationships with Saudi Arabia and so London could well get the nod. Aramco made a profit of $93 billion.

Alleluia! The deadline for making a PPI claim will supposedly close at 11.59pm on August 29, 2019 – not before time. It has cost the banks £36 billion with Lloyds Banking Group at the head of affairs with a £18.5 billion liability. This has been a shameful process which has damaged the banking sector’s credibility and trust with its customers. It may take a decade to regain the trust. I very much dislike the fact that agents have made the claims.  The banks should have used their auditors to process the claims. I agree with former Barclays CEO – John Macfarlane – that the banks have almost certainly paid claims they should not have. It was easier to pay up than defend your corner from an optics and credibility perspective.

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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