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Who will be the World Cup winners?



Who will be the World Cup winners?

Richard J Hunter, Head of Markets, interactive investor

Football remains big business and the World Cup is still the most-watched sporting event on the planet.

In 2014, an estimated 3.2 billion people watched the tournament, including 1 billion tuning in to the final itself.

It is debateable as to whether the hosting country’s economy benefits, given the building, infrastructure and security requirements, but the governing body FIFA looks likely to receive some $5 billion nonetheless.

In terms of the UK, however, there could be a number of companies who will be watching the finals with commercial as well as national interest in mind.

And with England’s fixtures being at different times, people may choose to watch the games at home with two of the three group matches falling on a weekday. (Monday 18th June 19.00, Sunday 24th June 13.00, Thursday 28th June 19.00).


Expect the usual bunfight and round of amusing adverts from the larger players, all seeking to gain a share of any flutters you may fancy either in the comfort of your own home, or if you are out and about. With an explosion of mobile phone betting now established, it is easier than ever to bet, which could play into the hands of the likes of Paddy Power Betfair (PPB), GVC Holdings, which incorporates Ladbrokes and Coral (GVC) and William Hill (WMH).

 Replica shirts

The main retailers are already promoting these on their websites, including a vast selection of the kits of participating countries other than England. It will be interesting to see whether Sports Direct (SPD) or JD Sports (JD.) will win the battle.


There will still be many fans who choose to watch games in a louder atmosphere, so it may be a fillip for the fortunes of the likes of Mitchells and Butlers, which include the chains of Nicholson’s, O’Neill’s and All Bar One (MAB), Greene King (GNK) or Marston’s (MARS). If history is anything to go by, it may be possible to find solace away from the World Cup entirely in a JD Wetherspoon (JDW) environment where music and sport (with volume) is usually notable by its absence.


The majority of the games will be shown on terrestrial TV, which should benefit the likes of ITV, especially now that it is possible to bet at improved odds “in play” as the game progresses and during the ad breaks in particular. Generally the added froth of advertising during large sporting events is seen as positive for the likes of WPP, not-withstanding its recent issues.


Perhaps the brewers are already ramping up in advance, in which case the likes of Diageo (DGE), with its stable of household names such as Guinness, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan and Johnnie Walker could benefit. Further afield (available to trade on various foreign exchanges) AB InBev (Stella Artois, Budweiser, Beck’s and Foster’s) is a potential winner also.

For those determined to watch the tournament from home, perhaps a new television could be the order of the day from the likes of Dixons Carphone (DC.) via its Currys brand or Sainsbury (SBRY) via Argos. In any event, at the very least a pizza takeaway could be on the cards from Domino’s Pizza (DOM).

Benefits to these stocks would come into sharper focus the further England progress – which in itself is uncertain given the last 52 years – but equally a successful (and overdue) run in the competition could have a wider positive impact on sentiment in general, at least temporarily.

This article is for information and discussion purposes only and does not form a recommendation to invest or otherwise. The value of an investment may fall. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

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China’s factory activity growth slips to nine-month low – Caixin PMI



China's factory activity growth slips to nine-month low - Caixin PMI 1

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s factory activity expanded at the slowest pace in nine months in February as weak overseas demand and coronavirus flare-ups weighed on output, adding pressure on the country’s labour market, a business survey showed on Monday.

The slowdown in the manufacturing sector underscores the fragility of the ongoing economic recovery in China, although domestic COVID-19 cases have since been stamped out and analysts expect a strong rebound in full-year growth.

The results back an official survey released over the weekend showing China’s factory activity expanded at the weakest pace since last May.

February also saw the Lunar New Year holidays, when many workers return to their hometowns, although this year saw far fewer trips amid coronavirus fears.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.9 last month, the lowest level since last May.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the index to remain unchanged from January’s reading of 51.5. The 50-mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

“Overseas demand continued to drag down overall demand…Surveyed manufacturers highlighted fallout from domestic flare-ups of Covid-19 in the winter as well as the overseas pandemic,” said Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group, in comments released alongside the data.

A sub-index for production fell to 51.9, the slowest pace of expansion since April last year, while another sub-index for new orders fell to 51.0, the lowest since May.

Export orders shrank for the second month. Factories laid off workers for the third month, and at a faster pace, with Wang noting “companies were not in a hurry to fill vacancies.”

An index of confidence in the year ahead rose however to 63.0, the highest since October. Input and output prices continued to rise albeit at a slower pace.

“Now the major challenge for policymakers will be maintaining the post-coronavirus recovery while paying close attention to inflation,” Wang added.

Analysts from HSBC this week forecast that China’s economy would grow 8.5% this year, leading the global recovery from the pandemic.

(Reporting By Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Ana Nicolaci)

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For manga’s striving artists, success lurks online



For manga's striving artists, success lurks online 2

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – Manga artist Kamentotsu didn’t expect much when he uploaded a four-panel strip about an anthropomorphic bear who runs a cake shop to his Twitter account three years ago.

But the first instalment of “Koguma’s Cake Shop”, drawn as consolation for a tired friend, attracted tens of thousands of likes. Within a week, 40 companies had approached him with offers.

“Publishing company editors have gone from bringing up manga artists, like they are farming, to hunting for them,” said Kamentotsu, who goes by his pen name and wears a mask in media appearances.

By searching for talent online, publishers squeezed by the rise of the internet can see an artist’s audience potential out in the open.

For Japan’s striving manga artists, many of whom toil in obscurity for low pay, that means going viral can be life changing.

Kamentotsu’s strip, which is published by Shogakukan, has gone on to sell more than half a million books. The titular bear, who wears a chef’s hat, has become a popular soft toy and its image was used to promote frozen dumplings.

Japanese pop culture is piled with such cute, memorable characters.

Industry observers say that a feel-good style – known as the “iyashikei” or “soothing” genre in Japanese – is particularly fitting online audiences.

But other recent hits are quite a bit darker, such as “Jujutsu Kaisen” and “Demon Slayer”.


Kousuke Oono’s “The Way of the Househusband” has a high concept idea: a feared yakuza gangster – tattooed, clad all in black but wearing an apron – quits crime to take care of the home while his wife works.

“A comedic story with easy-to-understand characters and title is suited to the internet… we thought about that from the planning stage,” said Arimasa Nishikawa, an editor at manga site Kurage Bunch, which first published the strip.

“Househusband”, popular on manga apps and in print, plays with gender stereotypes at a time of social change in Japan. A line of aprons has been a hit with fans.

The strip has been made into a TV drama, with an animated version set to stream on Netflix this year.

(Reporting by Sam Nussey and Yuki Nitta; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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Oil prices climb after progress on huge U.S. stimulus bill



Oil prices climb after progress on huge U.S. stimulus bill 3

By Jessica Jaganathan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose more than $1 on Monday on optimism in the global economy thanks to progress in a huge U.S. stimulus package and on hopes for improving oil demand as vaccines are rolled out.

Brent crude futures for May rose $1.07, or 1.7%, to $65.49 per barrel by 0042 GMT. The April contract expired on Friday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures jumped $1.10, or 1.8%, to $62.60 a barrel.

“Oil prices are recovering this morning in line with most risk assets on the back of the U.S. stimulus bill passing the House and as central banks continue to sabre rattle to ward off market-implied financial tightening,” Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi, wrote in a note on Monday.

U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package early Saturday. Democrats who control the chamber approved the sweeping measure by a mostly party-line vote of 219 to 212 and sent it to the Senate, where Democrats planned a legislative manoeuvre to allow them to pass it without the support of Republicans.

More positive news on the coronavirus vaccination front and signs of an improving Asian economy also boosted prices.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel voted unanimously on Sunday to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 shot for widespread use, and U.S. officials said initial shipments would start on Sunday.

J&J expects to ship more than 20 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by midyear, enough to vaccinate nearly a third of Americans.

Over in Japan, a private survey showed factory activity expanding at the fastest pace in over two years in February, adding to signs of a rebound in Asian growth.

On the flip side, investors are betting that this week’s meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, a group known as OPEC+, will result in more supply returning to the market.

“More supply needs to come onto the market to ensure OPEC+ meets incremental demand and keeps internal discipline ducks in a row,” Innes added.

(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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