Britain Is Getting Back on Track
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,580,369 (+1.46%)       Melbourne $968,248 (+0.35%)       Brisbane $884,749 (+1.39%)       Adelaide $811,373 (-0.34%)       Perth $760,863 (-2.94%)       Hobart $742,968 (+1.78%)       Darwin $648,153 (+0.66%)       Canberra $952,739 (+1.89%)       National $998,019 (+0.96%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $719,049 (-0.09%)       Melbourne $491,976 (+25.26%)       Brisbane $488,613 (+1.66%)       Adelaide $415,517 (+2.98%)       Perth $408,247 (-0.12%)       Hobart $506,404 (-0.82%)       Darwin $341,678 (-4.94%)       Canberra $481,116 (-2.08%)       National $504,022 (+1.79%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,856 (+1,115)       Melbourne 15,164 (+2,253)       Brisbane 8,441 (+272)       Adelaide 2,729 (+236)       Perth 6,841 (+1,523)       Hobart 1,229 (+73)       Darwin 276 (-10)       Canberra 1,109 (+217)       National 46,645 (+5,679)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,816 (+356)       Melbourne 8,019 (+4,046)       Brisbane 1,858 (+11)       Adelaide 509 (+3)       Perth 1,903 (-10)       Hobart 172 (+1)       Darwin 395 (+4)       Canberra 856 (+152)       National 22,528 (+4,563)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $780 (+$30)       Melbourne $570 ($0)       Brisbane $600 (-$30)       Adelaide $570 ($0)       Perth $630 (+$5)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 (+$5)       Canberra $680 (+$5)       National $644 (+$4)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 (-$30)       Melbourne $550 ($0)       Brisbane $625 (+$25)       Adelaide $450 (-$10)       Perth $575 (+$5)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $550 (-$10)       Canberra $565 (+$5)       National $575 (-$3)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,423 (+399)       Melbourne 5,636 (+347)       Brisbane 4,280 (+665)       Adelaide 1,158 (+16)       Perth 1,894 (+159)       Hobart 373 (-3)       Darwin 149 (+7)       Canberra 629 (+31)       National 19,542 (+1,621)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,616 (+1,782)       Melbourne 5,988 (+275)       Brisbane 2,048 (+24)       Adelaide 365 (+22)       Perth 605 (-3)       Hobart 155 (+3)       Darwin 294 (+2)       Canberra 716 (+54)       National 18,787 (+2,159)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.57% (↑)        Melbourne 3.06% (↓)       Brisbane 3.53% (↓)     Adelaide 3.65% (↑)      Perth 4.31% (↑)        Hobart 3.85% (↓)     Darwin 5.62% (↑)        Canberra 3.71% (↓)       National 3.35% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.28% (↓)       Melbourne 5.81% (↓)     Brisbane 6.65% (↑)        Adelaide 5.63% (↓)     Perth 7.32% (↑)      Hobart 4.62% (↑)      Darwin 8.37% (↑)      Canberra 6.11% (↑)        National 5.93% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)      National 0.9% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 27.6 (↓)       Melbourne 28.8 (↓)       Brisbane 30.9 (↓)       Adelaide 24.3 (↓)       Perth 34.1 (↓)       Hobart 28.7 (↓)     Darwin 36.9 (↑)        Canberra 27.6 (↓)     National 29.9 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 28.6 (↓)       Melbourne 29.4 (↓)       Brisbane 30.6 (↓)       Adelaide 26.3 (↓)       Perth 39.8 (↓)       Hobart 22.1 (↓)       Darwin 37.9 (↓)       Canberra 33.4 (↓)       National 31.0 (↓)           
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Britain Is Getting Back on Track

Successes in Ukraine and the Pacific and Rishi Sunak’s leadership shore up standing lost to Brexit and Covid.

By WALTER RUSSELL MEAD
Thu, Mar 9, 2023 8:00amGrey Clock 3 min

War in Europe, crisis in the Middle East, growing tensions across East Asia, and a widening chasm between a beleaguered West and the Global South: Writing a Global View column in times like these is not always the happiest of tasks. But at least one good-news story has been building quietly over the last few months. Global Britain is becoming a reality and the world is better off because of it.

The world has changed since the British voted to leave the European Union in 2016. After Brexit, enthusiastic backers expected an aggressively deregulating Britain would become a kind of Singapore-on-Thames. Russian oligarchs, Chinese moguls and Arab oil sheikhs would flock to London, eager to enjoy a sophisticated financial market that was less regulated and more hospitable than either the EU or the U.S. Free-trade agreements with the U.S. above all, but also fast-growing Asian nations, would more than compensate for the loss of the U.K.’s privileged position in the EU.

That’s not how things worked out, and the world is a much tougher place for middle powers than anyone expected when Brexit passed. Even as Covid disrupted the world economy and shut Britain’s lucrative tourism sector down, the open international economy of 2016 began to wither. Russia’s war in Ukraine and deepening U.S.-China tensions ended the dream that London could prosper as a neutral financial centre. Rising protectionism world-wide made trade agreements harder to reach and highlighted the importance of belonging to big trading blocs like the EU.

On top of this, a spat with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, aimed at keeping the border with the Irish Republic open after Brexit, proved a much larger problem for Britain than Boris Johnson’s government anticipated. The details are fiendishly complicated, but in his rush to “get Brexit done,” Mr. Johnson signed an agreement with the EU that Unionist Protestants in Northern Ireland saw as weakening ties with Britain. The resulting tensions threatened the stability of the troubled region, and by the end of his premiership Mr. Johnson was threatening to break his own agreement with the EU. That stance infuriated Brussels and alienated an Irish-American named Joe Biden, killing any talk of a free-trade agreement between Britain and the U.S.

That’s not where things stand today. Building on foundations laid down in the Johnson era, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has repaired relations with European partners and Washington even as Britain has carved out a significant place in Asia. Britain at long last may be finding a role.

Britain’s recent foreign-policy successes stand on two pillars. The first is Aukus, the agreement to work cooperatively with the U.S. to help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. The trust among these three countries enables a level of technological and economic cooperation that potentially extends far beyond the submarine program. With Britain moving toward membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (based on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the U.S. helped negotiate but then refused to join), the U.K. has achieved a stronger presence than any European state in the fast-growing Indo-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, Britain’s unswerving support for Ukraine has put London back at the centre of European politics. Britain’s stance earned deep gratitude from Poland, the Baltic states, Sweden and Finland. That, along with Mr. Sunak’s more constructive approach toward Brussels, strengthened pro-British feelings inside the EU and helped pave the way for the major concessions on the Northern Ireland Protocol that enabled Mr. Sunak to forge the groundbreaking Windsor Framework. If the deal, announced last month, holds up, it would remove a major stumbling block in U.S.-U.K. relations.

The payoff could be substantial. Last week Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), a close Biden ally, introduced a bipartisan bill with John Thune (R., S.D.) authorising fast-track talks on a U.S.-U.K. free-trade agreement. The White House plans a Biden visit next month to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which ended the violence in Northern Ireland. British negotiators hope for Britain’s eventual inclusion in tech talks between Washington and Brussels.

With an unpopular Tory government facing a revived, de-Corbynized Labour Party, and with inflation wreaking havoc on British living standards and touching off waves of strikes among public employees, foreign-policy success may not be enough to save the ruling Conservatives from the wrath of the voters. But it is likely to help, and if the Sunak government can continue to carve out a serious role for post-Brexit Britain in world politics, the next election could be a much closer affair than most forecasters currently predict.

Regardless, Americans should welcome Britain’s return to the high table of world politics. A stronger Britain means a healthier West, and given the otherwise grim state of world affairs, Washington can use all the help it can get.



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The Stocks Investors Are Putting Under the Tree

Shares of retailers including Victoria’s Secret and Foot Locker are surging despite mixed holiday updates

By HARDIKA SINGH
Mon, Dec 4, 2023 4 min

Retailers are making modest predictions about the holiday shopping season—and their stocks are going gangbusters in response.

Victoria’s Secret, Foot Locker, Ulta Beauty and Dollar Tree are among the companies that offered somewhat mixed assessments of the state of the shopper last week. Yet each received an ovation from investors.

Traders have piled into stocks en masse since a softer-than-expected inflation reading on Nov. 14 bolstered wagers that the Federal Reserve is done raising interest rates and is poised to cool the economy without tipping it into a recession. Treasury yields have sharply declined as well, giving equities a second wind.

The S&P 500 has risen 4.1% since the report, extending its gains for the year to almost 20%.

Many depressed sectors of the market, such as retailers, have risen even faster. The SPDR S&P Retail exchange-traded fund—which includes 78 retailers, from department stores and other apparel companies, to automotive and drugstores—has jumped about 13%. Victoria’s Secret has soared 52%, Foot Locker is up 50%, Ulta has risen 21% and Dollar Tree has added 12%. (Three of the four stocks have suffered double-digit percentage declines this year.)

Americans slowed their spending in October, according to last week’s consumer-spending data from the Commerce Department. But the early readings from the holiday shopping season have been more encouraging. U.S. shoppers spent $38 billion during the five days from Thanksgiving through the following Monday, up 7.8% from the same period last year, according to Adobe Analytics.

Many investors closely watch consumer spending because it is a major driver of economic growth. If spending is too strong, the Fed could be forced to raise interest rates again. Whereas, if spending is too weak, it could be a sign that the economy is entering a recession.

In the coming days, investors will look at U.S. service-sector activity for November and Friday’s monthly jobs report as they try to assess the strength of the economy and the market’s trajectory.

“The consumer has been resilient throughout it all,” said Jay Woods, chief global strategist at Freedom Capital Markets. “The economic news is now starting to back that up, that, ‘OK, we aren’t going to be in a recession. Things are getting a little bit better.’ And these stocks that had been beaten-down are finally catching a bid.”

Victoria’s Secret posted its second consecutive quarterly loss Wednesday, with the lingerie retailer facing a continued slump in sales. But the company forecast higher sales in the current quarter, sending shares up 14% the next day, their largest one-day percentage gain in more than two years. The stock is down 20% in 2023.

Footwear retailer Foot Locker said Wednesday that Black Friday sales were strong and it forecast an upbeat holiday shopping period, while reporting lower sales and profit for the third quarter. Its shares rose 16% that day, their biggest gain in more than a year, trimming their 2023 decline to 21%.

Cosmetic retailer Ulta on Thursday posted stronger-than-expected sales in the third quarter and raised the lower end of its sales and profit outlook for the year. The shares rose 11% in the following session, their best day since May 2022. They are up 0.6% for the year.

Dollar Tree reported Wednesday that same-store sales growth was weaker than analysts expected, but investors appeared to be encouraged that the discount retailer is seeing increases in customer traffic, even if basket sizes are shrinking. Its shares rose 4.4% that day and are off 11% in 2023.

Another reason why retail stocks have rallied? Warehouses have reduced merchandise, and store shelves aren’t spilling over with discounted goods.

John Augustine, chief investment officer at Huntington Private Bank, said higher interest rates and oil prices made him bearish on retail stocks over the summer. But with an easing macro environment, he believes retailers could be poised to do well.

“It seems like traffic is gonna be there for the holidays,” Augustine said. “Now can retailers make the same profit, earnings per share, with tighter inventory?”

Short sellers are licking their wounds after the recent rally. They lost about $120 million in November betting against the SPDR S&P Retail ETF, according to financial-analytics firm S3 Partners. That compares with a loss of $2.8 million through the first 10 months of the year. Short sellers borrow shares and sell them, expecting to repurchase them at lower prices and collect the difference as profit.

Many retail stocks still generally look cheap compared with the broader market. Victoria’s Secret is trading at 11.8 times its projected earnings over the next 12 months, while Foot Locker is at 16.2. The S&P 500’s multiple is 18.8.

Despite the recent excitement in markets, many investors caution that it is too soon to count on a soft landing for the economy. Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, recently cautioned that inflation could rise further and a recession isn’t off the table.

In the past 11 Fed rate-hiking cycles, recessions have typically started around two years after the Fed begins raising interest rates, according to Deutsche Bank. This hiking cycle started last March.

“It’s not an all-clear resurgence trade that we’re in right now,” said Brock Campbell, head of global research at Newton Investment Management. “This is gonna be a much more idiosyncratic stock picker’s group for a while.”

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