And so the news starts to turn again. Over the last few days some of the companies that one would expect to be at the forefront of any recovery have started to raise the warning flags again and a series of economic analysis announcements are struggling to register a whoop of joy for the heavily indebted western nations.
Guy Hands made a somewhat convoluted argument in Paris on private equity stating that the banks were in danger of ‘doing a Japan’ over their debt exposure to the myriad leveraged buyouts of 2005-2007. In mentioning that they were not writing off much of the debt in the knowledge that most deals still had a few years to run he was probably correct but there must be a certain amount of sympathy here. The banks are probably hoping for a bit of a turn around to help them out and, with rates down below 1pc, the temptation to run the risk to the wire is high.
None of the banks wish to be asking the various governments for more money as the strings attached make Ebenezer Scrooge look positively charitable. And if the financial system can build up cash reserves over the next three years until 2013/15 when much of the debt is due for repayment the banks will be in a much better position to take equity/debt deal replacements.
M&S have finally got their man with the well regarded Mr Bolland agreeing to take up the CEO reins from the vastly over-hyped Sir Stuart. The company has hardly increased revenue for six years (up 12pc in total during the whole period) and the sole reason for the increase in profits has been margin improvements. In comparison to the other big beasts on the high street this is truly abysmal and, in reality, when matched versus inflation gives eerrr… nothing very much. The never ending ‘refurbishment’ of the whole chain continues apace but its effect on revenue enhancement remains elusive.
Dealers are selling the major indices this morning (not surprisingly given that the upside remains problematic) but the effort to force markets lower seems to be to be very high. The trading ranges of the last few days in the FTSE have been constrained in the extreme (40 points covering two days of trading) and early activity has already managed to breach the lows of the last two sessions at 5330.
Support in the FTSE is at 5305 and 5250 with resistance at the aforementioned 5330 and above here at 5375 and 5400.
For the Dow and S&P the failure to make headway on the rallies of last week may also begin to weigh on investors and profit taking (as mentioned earlier this week) may become the order of the day. The German Dax has also struggled to head into new territory and on the daily chart a double top looks to be forming, which is often followed by a correction to the downside. Asian markets also seem to be lagging the other main indices so for now the rallies across most asset classes seems to have come to a standstill. The usual end of year rally may have just commenced a little prematurely.
The flight away from riskier assets has meant the dollar is making ground this morning with the dollar index finding support once again around the 75 level. As a result the major crosses are all in negative territory but some UK retail sales that has shown a small surprise to the upside for the year on year figure has allowed cable to rise off its lows a little. The low for cable is just on the 20 day moving average which has offered support to the cross since the middle of March but in the past we’ve seen sterling reject the 1.7000 level and as we near there again bears have been coming in to sell at these levels.
The dollar strength has allowed some profit taking in gold and weakness in oil so this morning is very much a flight from risk.