27 October 2020

1) Oil and gas companies are bringing record level of debt to bankruptcy court, making this year the worst oil bust in decades. Companies have brought $89 billion dollars of debt to bankruptcy court this year, compared to $70 billion during the last oil bust in 2014-16. While fewer companies have gone bankrupt this year, 84 compared with the historical high of 142 in 2016, each bankruptcy filing this year reported significantly higher debt. The average bankruptcy debt per company this year is $1.05 billion dollars so far, almost twice as much as the 2017 level of $576 million. But the worst isn’t over yet, it is expected that another 15 to 21 exploration and production companies will file for bankruptcy by the end of the year, pushing the related debt to more than $100 billion. Although crude prices have climbed back to around $40 a barrel, recovery remains tenuous, since energy bankruptcies was rising before the coronavirus pandemic wiped out global demand for crude and petroleum products such as gasoline and jet fuel.

2) Another tropical storm threatens the Gulf Coast again, as 2020 ties record for most named storms. Tropical Storm Zeta has formed in the western Caribbean and is drifting north promising to unleash wind, heavy rainfall and possible ocean surge as it approaches the U.S. Gulf Coast Tuesday night and Wednesday. The storm is most likely to come ashore on Wednesday at tropical-storm level or possibly as a hurricane. The landfall zone includes areas in Louisiana where hurricanes Delta and Laura hit as well as parts of Alabama hit by Sally. The hurricane season still has five weeks left, so the record for most named storms could fall. There are some indications that Zeta could sneak in some last-minute intensification before landfall, possibly becoming a Category 2 hurricane. Zeta’s eventual merger with a frontal system could bring a swath of three to four inches of rain or more into parts of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic late in the week.

3) Walmart is suing the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration as a pre-emptive strike, anticipating a legal battle over the retailer’s responsibility in the opioid abuse crisis. Operating more than 5,000 pharmacies in its stores, Walmart says it is seeking a declaration from a federal judge that the government has no lawful basis for seeking civil damages from the company. The government blames Walmart for continuing to fill purportedly bad prescriptions written by doctors that the DEA and state regulators had enabled to write those prescriptions in the first place and continue to stand by today. In 2018, 46,802 people died from an opioid overdose, and health care providers across the country wrote prescriptions for opioid pain medication at a rate of 51.4 prescriptions dispensed per 100 people.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 OCT 20:
Dow 27,685.38 down 650.19
Nasdaq 11,358.94 down 189.34
S&P 500 3,400.97 down 64.42
10 Year Yield: down at 0.80%
Oil: down at $38.64