Weekly Review: William (going down) Hill as shops close

Ben Weiss, Friday, 5 July 2019

William HillSource: Mtaylor848/CC BY-SA 4.0.

You win some you lose some. For William Hill at the moment, it appears they’re currently losing. After announcing this week that a number of stores will close, costing thousands of people their jobs, the worst could still be yet to come. Elsewhere, several indices hit record highs and Bitcoin seems is even more volatile than ever.

William Hill to shut 700 shops

UK Bookmaker William Hill announced yesterday that it was closing 700 of its shops, a move that may affect as many as 7,000 jobs. That sounds like bad news (and it is), but it gets worse. Many people are predicting further store closures are still to come, as the gambling industry is collectively feeling the brunt of tighter betting restrictions.

Earlier on in the year, the Government passed laws to limit the maximum amount a person can bet on a FOBT (fixed odds betting terminal) to £2. Previously, punters could bet £100 every 20 seconds. FOBTs are where the majority of profits for most betting come from, so this change has had a devastating effect all round.   

Ladbrokes have announced similar news of downsizing. The industry as a whole is struggling to cope with the limits that have been imposed, and the fact that the high-street in general is slowly succumbing to the online migration of commerce has only intensified the problems.  

It has been reported that around 3,000 shops in total across the industry may be closed for the same reasons. Betting shops were finding it extremely difficult to make a profit before the new restrictions came in. Now they’re here, the resistance has fallen and they have been unsuccessful in combating the loss in FOBT profits.

Bitcoin unsettled

We know that Bitcoin is notoriously volatile and predicting how it will perform from one day to the next is tough. However, at the moment things seem even more difficult to predict. After Bitcoin made impressive gains last week to nearly $14,000, it since fell to a low of $9654.5, before rising back above $11,000.

We’re now in a period of uncertainty - but then again when are we not with Bitcoin? The crypto is heavily unsettled. Where it previously had sat at certain prices for a day or so, it now fluctuates massively and shows no sign of consolidating at any level. Thousand-point day ranges in either direction are becoming the norm for the crypto, so why so volatile now?

Facebook’s announcement to launch Libra shook the crypto markets. Some predicted it will eclipse Bitcoin and force its price down, but Libra has so far done the opposite. Perhaps the fact that Facebook, such a large firm, is looking to delve into the crypto world gives the concept of a cryptocurrency validity?

Bitcoin is unlikely to settle in the short term. The next couple of weeks will be interesting to see how it fares. If the volatility continues but an upward trend occurs, bulls may get behind another rally. If it falls below the $10,000 mark for a considerable amount of time, it may prove difficult to push past this point once it settles below. Stay tuned.

Indices soaring, record highs hit

Indices have been booming. As if the stars have aligned, on the same week that Independence Day was celebrated in the US, the country’s three main indices hit record highs.

The Dow, S&P and NASDAQ all peaked this week as tensions between the US and China eased. Trump and Xi agreed to resume talks that had stalled previously. Elsewhere, expectations that the Fed intended to cut interest rates in the latest FOMC meeting after weak economic data from the US has also benefited indices.

However, the interest rate cut was expected as weak economic date had come out earlier regarding the US, but nonfarm payroll figures have since been release and it reads for a positive outlook. What was assumed by many to be a certainty has now been thrown back into the maybe pile, as traders are left wondering whether the Fed will now indeed cut rates. With earnings report season on the horizon, the next couple of weeks will determine whether indices have peaked or will kick on into unchartered territory.




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