Who died on the wires, and hung there, one of two -
Who for his hours of life had chattered through
Infinite lovely chatter of Bucks accent:
Yet faced unbroken wires; stepped over, and went
A noble fool, faithful to his stripes - and ended.
But I weak, hungry, and willing only for the chance
Of line- to fight in the line, lay down under unbroken
Wires, and saw the flashes and kept unshaken,
Till the politest voice - a finicking accent, said:
‘Do you think you might crawl through there: there's a hole.'
Darkness shot at: I smiled, as politely replied –
‘I'm afraid not, Sir.' There was no hole, no way to be seen
Nothing but chance of death, after tearing of clothes.
Kept flat, and watched the darkness, hearing bullets whizzing –
And thought of music - and swore deep heart's oaths
(Polite to God) and retreated and came on again,
Again retreated a second time, faced the screen.”


Ivor Gurney – soldier & poet – 1890-1937


The Hennessey 2-day meeting, with great respect to Ladbrokes, who are now the generous sponsors, for me normally signals the trigger point for National Hunt racing to select another gear for the season, no offense intended to Cheltenham. Friday’s card was very competitive, providing some decent pointers for the Cheltenham Festival in March. Andrew Gemmill’s ‘Paisley Park’, though a bit ring rusty, enhanced the credentials of the Emma Lavelle trained gelding to retain his ‘Stayers’ hurdle crown in March by seeing off the 11-year old ‘Thistlecrack’ in Friday’s stayers hurdle, with not a huge amount left in the tank. However, I am sure there is plenty left under the bonnet. In fact, Emma Lavelle had an impressive double over the two-day meeting winning the Ladbroke Trophy with De Rasher Counter at 12/1 on Saturday

What made the meeting for me was the summarising and interviewing skills of Ruby Walsh, now retired from the saddle, as Willie Mullins’s retained jockey. ITV has put together a formidable team under the excellent presenter Ed Chamberlin. However, despite the input from Sir Anthony McCoy, Mick Fitzgerald, Luke Harvey and Alice Plunkett, Ruby has selected another gear with his knowledge, experience and success as a horseman as well as his articulation. What a pleasure it is to hear his views. 


25th November 2019

29th November 2019


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S&P 500




















As we head to the last month of 2019, most global indices have made substantial gains (+19% to 29%), with only the FTSE 100 (+9%) and the Hang Seng (+6%) disappointing its acolytes, with uncertainty over BREXIT and acute civil unrest in the former UK colony having blunted the progress of the aforementioned respectively. Last week, European bourses found gains hard to come by. Germany’s Ifo said economic confidence had marginally improved, especially the service sector providers (17.3 vs 16.7) and traders (0.9 vs -3.3) amid signs that business will be very good this Christmas. However, confidence among manufacturers continued to deteriorate (-5.9 vs -5.3) as companies still find their current order backlog very disappointing and as they are planning further production cutbacks. 

Daimler Chrysler, soon to add Fiat, the owner of Mercedes-Benz is to cut at least 10,000 workers worldwide, taking the number of jobs losses by German carmakers to almost 40,000 this year as the industry reels from a sales slump. The cuts are part of a huge cost-saving drive to help finance development of electric cars. These hard-nosed decisions follow two profit warnings this year. Daimler, which also builds trucks and buses, said it wants to save €1.4bn (£1.2bn) in staff costs as it invests billions in environmentally friendly cars.

Here in Old Blighty, the runes in the sand from the YouGov poll looked encouraging for the Conservatives. This saw a bounce in the value of Cable, above $1.29, which ate into the value of Dollar related earnings for about 60% of the constituent stocks, even though there were still plenty of cynics around to challenge YouGov’s findings. Goldman Sachs let it be known that it was very upbeat about the UK economy’s future, provided that a draconian Labour administration did not gain power. Crude oil prices also drifted to $60.49 a barrel for Brent Crude. Gold bounced off its recent ‘low’ last week to £1470 an ounce on Friday, but is somewhat below its price of $1514, posted on 3rd November 2019.

Last week was Thanksgiving week in the US, so trading opportunities were always going to be limited. Stock pickers were buoyed by a better than expected GDP estimate number for the 3rd quarter of 2.1%. However, ‘the wind was taken out of investors’ sails’ when on Wednesday, President Trump signed two bills supporting democracy in Hong Kong. This action made the Chinese authorities incandescent with rage, which could result in ‘phase one’ of the SINO/US trade agreement being put on hold. That being the case, we must hope that at worst, any proposed tariff increases would also be deferred. LVMH confirmed its $16 billion takeover of Tiffany’s. There was a slew of retail earnings posted last week. Some were excellent – Best Buy +12% on Tuesday, Abercrombie & Fitch +5%, Chico’s FAS +6% and American Eagle +1.5% last Wednesday. Others were not so good, though far from disastrous – Dick’s Sporting Goods and Dollar Tree.

Alibaba enjoyed a very decent response to its secondary IPO in Hong Kong last week. The e-commerce giant’s stock jumped 5.6% in raising $11.2 billion, offering a 16% gain over the 3 days trading last week. It remains to be seen how well Japan’s Softbank’s $3 billion investment confirmed last week in WeWork is received.

It is becoming increasingly noticeable in the UK, that if defensive stocks fall remotely short of the mark, they are meted out rough treatment.  Such was the case with Compass on Tuesday. Profits were light and its share price fell by 6.6% on Tuesday. After a couple of dire warnings, De La Rue’s figures were not well received on Tuesday. Inadequate contacts for passports and bank notes had been secured. It shares were down 21% to 139p but did recover by Friday to 153p, possibly as a result of ‘short-sellers’ closing out their positions. Many are beginning to wonder if there is a future for this ‘stand-alone’ company. Perhaps it might prove a synergistic value to a conglomerate. Virgin Money posted its first set of number including CYBG. Due to a larger than expected PPI number of £385m, resulting in a pre-tax loss for £232 million, the outlook appears bright and its shares bounce by 22%. David Duffy (ex-AIB), the CEO saw his remuneration hit an eye-watering £3.14 million. Tata Steel are making 4000 redundancies in Europe with conceivably 1000 jobs being lost at Port Talbot in Wales. E.ON, the German owner of Npower is cutting back its operation in the UK, which could cost 4,500 jobs.  Fortnum & Mason, owned by the Weston family, saw its profits rise by 26% to £12m in the year to July 2019. Total sales increased 12% to £138m. The group’s flagship shop on London’s Piccadilly saw it sales increase by 6% during the year while online sales were up 13%, despite problems being incurred in their venture in HK. The management is confident it will come right. According to the Sunday Telegraph, the $6 billion prosed takeover of Inmarsat by Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus is likely to hit resistance from hedge fund managers, who will shortly be in court with their legal challenge. The Sunday Times informs us that Permira has put a £1 billion price tag on Dr Martens. Apparently, Carlyle Group is allegedly pondering a bid

Final figures for Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales are still being compiled. However, Online sales in the US rose more than 19.6%, reaching $7.4 billion on Black Friday, slightly shy of estimates of $7.6 billion, according to data from Adobe Analytics, which tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers. On Thanksgiving, it estimated sales grew 14.5% to $4.2 billion. Numbers from ShopperTrak, which is part of retail data firm Sensormatic Solutions, showed that visits to stores fell a combined 3% during Thanksgiving and Black Friday compared with the same days in 2018. Shopper traffic on Thanksgiving evening increased by 2.3%year-over-year but was dragged down by Black Friday, which fell 6.2% from a year ago. Top brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart Inc, Target Corp and Best Buy have continued to spend billions of dollars trying to expand their e-commerce operations to capture that growing online revenue. Nonetheless Amazon remains the ‘Grand-father’ of them all. Comments from Barclaycard suggested that transaction volumes in the UK until 10.10am on Friday were up 12.5% from last year, and between 13:00 and 14:00 they were 9% higher. The interest in Black Friday would appear to be not abating.

UK companies posting results – Monday – Character Group, Tuesday – Cineworld, Ferguson, IXICO PLC, Network Rail, Wednesday – Numis, Stagecoach, Thursday – AJ Bell, Northgate, IG Group, Joules, CareTech, DS Smith, DMGT, Friday – Berkeley Group

US companies posting results this week – Tuesday – AutoZone, Barnes & Noble, Toll Bros, Thursday – Broadcom, Brown-Forman, H&R Block, Friday – Genesco, Johnson Outdoor, Korn/Ferry, Vail Resorts,

Economic data to be posted this week – Monday – US & UK Markit PMI Manufacturing, China PMI Manufacturing, Tuesday – BRC sales, UK PMI Construction, Wednesday – UK PMI Services, US Mortgage applications, Thursday – UK New Car Registrations, US GDP final reading and US Factory Orders, Friday – Non-farm Payrolls (EST: +183k) and employment (3.6% and hourly earnings 3.4%).

SOURCES – City A.M, Bloomberg, BBC, CNBC, Reuters, Daily Mail, FT, The Times, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph


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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