This is an amalgamation of the “best bits” of the daily weekday newsletter/blog woven together to form a concise and coherent view on the things that matter in the commercial and economic news of the week.
THE DAY IN BRACKETS REFERS TO THE EDITION WHERE THE STORY APPEARED IN WATSON’S DAILY. Clicking on the day will take you to the appropriate edition of Watson’s Daily.
THINGS LOOK SLIGHTLY BETTER FOR US/CHINA TRADE AND BREXIT TALKS...
- Markets got excited as Trump got involved in China trade talks (Friday) but clearly we’ve had a lot of false dawns so far. Still, the fact that Trump is taking part himself is a good sign that something might get done
- There was more Brexit talk this week and sentiment went from despair (Thursday) to a glimmer of hope (Friday) but no-one really knows what’s going to happen there! Loads of noise from each side as negotiations heat up and details get hammered out. At least the UK looks like it’ll avoid recession (Friday) as GDP grew in the latest quarter versus the contraction in the previous one (a technical recession = two consecutive quarters of contraction)
BIG TECH FACES TAX PROPOSALS AND SAMSUNG TURNS A CORNER...
- There was an important development this week as the OECD outlined proposals to shake up global taxation (Thursday) to stop the likes of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (aka “FAANGs”) from shuffling their profits around the world to minimise the taxes they pay. Winners from the new proposals will include countries such as the US, China, UK, Germany, France and Italy as well as developing economies while the FAANGs, tax havens and low tax destinations such as Ireland could lose out big time – so expect lots of objections and dragging of feet when the details are debated!
- Although Samsung’s third quarter profits fell for the fourth quarter in a row due to weak memory chip prices it wasn’t by quite as much as everyone was expecting. Some were saying that Samsung has turned a corner (Wednesday) with its mobile and displays business putting in solid performances, but we’ll need to see semiconductor prices getting stronger before that happens IMO
AND THERE WERE LOADS OF RETAIL/CONSUMER DEVELOPMENTS...
- Pizza Express called in the advisers (Tuesday) as debt problems and general sluggishness continue to hit many restaurants on the UK high street, Vodafone and BT both said they are looking to increase their high street presence (Wednesday, Thursday), Links of London went bust (Thursday) and HMV opened a Birmingham megastore (Friday), bucking a trend of store closures. Talking of which, Hays Travel bought Thomas Cook’s shops (Thursday), giving many staff their jobs back but it certainly has its work cut out (Friday) for long term survival given online competition and overall consumer trends
- LVMH managed to put in a solid sales performance (Thursday) despite all the Hong Kong protests and Unilever promised to cut its use of virgin plastics (Monday) by making more environmentally friendly versions of its products
...WHILE JOHNSON & JOHNSON GOT EVEN MORE BAD NEWS AND DYSON MADE A U-TURN...
- Johnson & Johnson got into even more trouble this week (Thursday) as it has been ordered to hand over $8bn after claims that young men on its antipsychotic drug Risperdal could get irreversible breast growth. The company is currently facing accusations of mis-selling opioids, contributing to the US opioid epidemic, and liability lawsuits that claim its talcum powder caused cancer
- Dyson decided to end its attempts to make its own electric car from scratch (Friday) which is hardly surprising given the massive amounts of money you have to throw at this sort of thing (although this was probably pretty embarrassing given that the venture was originally launched to great fanfare!). Chinese car manufacturer Nio is also having problems (Tuesday) and the relationship between Tesla and its battery maker, Panasonic, is becoming increasingly strained (Wednesday)
This week, my favourite “alternative” stories were Marmite is hunting for its biggest haters – so they can hypnotise them (The Mirror, Courtney Pochin https://tinyurl.com/y3ztucmj), which sounds a bit creepy and Hikers left ‘uncomfortable’ after encountering man jogging in pink thong (The Mirror, Courtney Pochin https://tinyurl.com/y23r7ea6) for its sheer randomness!
I hope you have an enjoyable weekend!