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Week in Review: ditty in the City

Week in review: Ditty in the city

This week: Trump agrees to meet with North Korea, UK supermarket giants joins with Walmart subsidiary and Facebook dates.

Change at the checkout

The UK’s second-largest supermarket, Sainsbury’s, upset the shopping cart when it announced a £12 billion ($16 billion) deal to take over Asda, a subsidiary of Walmart. The joint entity would overtake Tesco to become Britain’s largest grocer by market share.

Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe pledged to cut prices of everyday items by about 10% at both stores, with neither job losses nor store closures. Sainsbury’s share price responded favourably to the news, rising nearly 20% on the day.

Clearly feeling chirpy about the deal, Coupe subsequently dropped a clanger when he was caught on camera warbling the 42nd Street-favorite, “We’re in the money.”

But he may be counting his roast-in-the-the bag chickens too soon. The deal has prompted demands from politicians and business groups for the competition watchdog to investigate. The companies’ already-beleaguered suppliers have expressed concern that they will be further squeezed to deliver the promised price cuts.

Overall, shares in large UK companies were almost unchanged, with the FTSE 100 index gaining just 0.01% for the week to close on Thursday.

No match

Recent investor behavior suggests few expect the data-sharing scandal to inflict lasting damage on Facebook’s competitive prowess.

Doubtless keen to move on from recent events, the company’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of a dating app which, he claimed, would allow some of Facebook’s 200 million singles to establish “real long-term relationships, not just hook-ups.”

The news sent investors scurrying hot-foot to sell their holdings of other dating-site shares. Even major player, Tinder, which has arguably transformed the way singles meet one another, was seen as no match for Facebook, judging by the 22% fall in the shares of its parent company, Match Group, which also owns OkCupid, Match and Plenty of Fish. U.S. stocks were down over the week, with the S&P 500 index falling 1.5%.

Where, oh where?

Few would have believed it possible a few months ago, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed to meet face-to-face in the coming weeks. Having achieved this ground-breaking feat, the choice of venue is critical.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has persuaded Kim that the Demilitarized Nuclear Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea would be most suitable. Indeed, Trump is also enthusiastic about a summit in the DMZ because “… if things work out, there’s a great celebration to be had on the site, not in a third-party country.”

However, Trump’s aides are anxious about the president’s overt eagerness for a deal, arguing that meeting at the DMZ may appear conciliatory towards Kim.

Singapore has been proposed as an alternative, having good diplomatic links with both the U.S. and North Korea. But Singapore poses logistical problems for Kim, who prefers to avoid plane travel on security grounds.

Ulaanbaatar, the sparsely populated capital of Mongolia northwest of North Korea is also a feasible option, as the Mongolian government has close ties with both North Korea and the U.S. However, like the DMZ, its convenience for Kim might be construed as a concession to North Korea. Other failed candidates included Beijing, Pyongyang and Washington, all eliminated early on for political or logistical reasons.

Ideally, they need a country that meets the security needs of both leaders and is seen to favor neither. The search continues.

And finally…

It’s hard to decide if 20-year-old Dylan McWilliams is lucky or unlucky, brave or foolhardy.

“I didn’t know if I’d lost my leg or what,” he cheerfully told interviewers after being attacked by a two-meter long shark. He then went on to recount how, while camping outdoors last July, he woke to find his head clamped in the jaws of a large adult black bear.

With admirable presence of mind, the young man poked his attacker in the eye until it let go. Not long before that, the intrepid fauna fan had been attacked by a rattlesnake while out hiking.

Rather than shirking from danger, Dylan can’t wait for his shark bites to heal so he can get back on the surf. “I’ve always loved animals and spent as much time with them as I could,” he said, happily.

Important Information

Companies mentioned for illustrative purposes only and should not be taken as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. It should not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities in this list.

Foreign securities are more volatile, harder to price and less liquid than U.S. securities. They are subject to different accounting and regulatory standards, and political and economic risks. These risks may be enhanced in emerging markets countries.

Image credit: Jochen Tack / Alamy Stock Photo

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