City Watch: Brian Tora sees hopeful signs as the season turns

Brian Tora of J M Finn & Co

Brian Tora of J M Finn & Co - Credit: Archant

A new month, a different season and everyone is getting back to work.

Included in those starting a new job is Dave Lewis, taking the helm at Tesco after a profits warning and a savage dividend cut.

No wonder one of the company’s most loyal American shareholders has decided to dump a large chunk of the stake it has held for some time. But troubles at one of our leading supermarket groups aside, shares remain buoyant, helped by Wall Street pushing even higher last week. August was a good month for the benchmark US index – the S&P 500 – which rose nearly 4%, the best monthly result for half a year. And all this despite continued rumblings in eastern Ukraine.

The FTSE 100 Share index is tantalisingly close to its all time high, but it will have to go some if it is to emulate the S&P 500. Yesterday saw it more subdued, perhaps as US markets closed for Labour Day. There was also little for investors to get their teeth into in the way of company or economic news. As September progresses, this will surely change.

We will also see the regular quarterly revision of the FTSE 100 share index list later this week. This index is popularly believed to be made up of the 100 largest firms listed on the UK stock market. In fact it comprises 100 of the 110 largest companies, by market capitalisation. Only if you rank 90 or above are you automatically included, while you are only dropped if you fall below the 110th largest company. A degree of discretion is allowed between 91 and 110 so constant climbing in or dropping out is avoided. On this occasion changes are likely to be limited, with one firm expected to leave – Rexam – to be replaced with insurer Direct Line. If that is the sum of the excitement this week, I will be relieved.

: : Brian Tora is an associate with investment manager JM Finn & Co.