On January 15, 2020 (Wednesday), the USA and China signed the first phase of the US-China Trade Agreement. The first phase of the agreement, has China purchasing 200 billion dollars worth of goods and services, within the next 2 years from the United States .
The United States will then reduce the tariffs of $120 billion dollars worth of Chinese products, which is currently at 15% to be reduced to 7.5%. Chinese exports will then achieve over $260 billion dollars in the 2020 fiscal year.
The agreement provides more and better protection for American companies. American companies have discontent in China stealing intellectual property and trade stipulations. Phase 1, allows US banks to operate in China, while also enabling penalties for bad business and financial practices; instituted by US banks while operating in China.
So far the Phase 1 deal; seems to be a success as global markets have reacted positively to the signing of the USA-China Phase 1 Agreement. -SB
1) The trust funds for Social Security are in trouble and will run dry by 2035. But Social Security is not going bankrupt because the program’s primary source of revenue is payroll taxes, which at present is 12.4% of pay. So even if the trust fund should run out, Social Security still would have the money to largely keep up with benefits. A much greater danger for retirees is high inflation, for historically the first to suffer from a collapsing economy are those on fixed incomes.
2) The recently signed phase one agreement with China made for a cease-fire in the trade, but leaves the tariffs largely in place, with some considering the tariffs to be the new norm in international trade. China has committed to making $200 billion dollars in purchases from America. The agreement does not address the intellectual property issues, both the forced intellectual transfers and out right theft.
3) Claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, indicating a sustained strong labor market. Claims dropped 10,000 last week to 204,000 with the labor market remaining on a solid footing, the unemployment rate holding near a fifty year low of 3.5% for December. Layoffs were in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing.
4) Stock market closings for – 16 JAN 20:
Dow 29,297.64 up 267.42 Nasdaq 9,357.13 up 98.44 S&P 500 3,316.81 up 27.52
1) Nigeria may become the superpower of Africa, repeating the economic miracle of China and India. While investors are not moving into Nigeria yet, they are watching. Like China and India, Nigeria was once a colony of the west, and like India, was a colony of the British, and just like India its language is English. Right now, Nigeria is economically where China was forty years ago, before Mao Zedong died and Deng Xiaoping deregulated the economy to unleash it. For many other reasons, Nigeria is set to repeat the economic miracle of China.
2) House mortgage applications has soared to its highest level in eleven years, for new homes and refinance. Applications are up 30.2% from last week, and are 109% higher than a year ago. The interest rates are under 4% , combining with a rosy economic outlook and high employment causing home buyers to rush into the market. This is causing a near record low supply of housing across America, pushing prices up.
3) Retailer giant Target didn’t have a strong holiday sales in their toy departments, less than what was expected. This is ringing alarm bells for the entire industry. While Target gained market share in toys, its toy sales were flat over the 2019 holidays compared to last year. Toy makers like Hasbro, Mattel and Spin Master are offering a smaller variety of toys and games, a result in part from the bankruptcy of Toys-R-Us. Increasingly, toy sales is going to online retailers such as Amazon.
4) Stock market closings for – 15 JAN 20:
Dow 29,030.22 up 90.55 Nasdaq 9,258.70 up 7.37 S&P 500 3,289.29 up 6.14
1) J. P. Morgan Chase posted profit and revenue far in excess to analysts’ expectation at the end of 2019. Fourth quarter profit was up 21% to $2.57 a share compared with $2.35 estimates of analysts. The investment bank produced record revenue for the fourth quarter. Citigroup also beat estimates for profit and revenue, their fixed income trading revenue gaining 49%.
2) Consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in eight years, in 2019. The increase was driven by higher gasoline, health care and rent prices in addition to the biggest annual advance in inflation since 2011. The consumer price index rose 0.2% in December, while economist had forecast 0.3%. The cost of living in 2019 rose 2.3% from 2.1%. Price increase for food was mild, while prices fell for used vehicles and airline fares.
3) Three of China’s automakers are considering expanding into Mexico with factories. Car makers Changan, BYD (electric cars) and Anhui Jianghuai or JAC, who already has manufacturing facilities in Mexico, but is considering expanding. The companies are considering expansion sometime this next year. No comments on if and where cars will be exported to.
4) Stock market closings for – 14 JAN 20:
Dow 28,939.67 up 32.62 Nasdaq 9,251.33 down 22.60 S&P 500 3,283.15 down 4.98
1) Ford Motor Company’s sales in China has declined for the third straight year, falling by 26.1%. The company has been trying to revive sales in China after the decline started in 2017 and plans to introduce thirty new models in the next three years, with a third being electric models. General Motors has also experienced a decline in sales of 15% this last year.
2) One of the largest suppliers of parts to Boeing’s 737 MAX, Spirit AeroSystems, is laying off 2,800 workers. Based in Wichita Kansas, will eliminate 20% of its workforce. Smaller layoffs will happen at its facilities in Tulsa and McAlester, with half its annual sales from parts for the 737 MAX. Since last February, Spirit’s stock has fell from a high of $100 a share to $71.50 on news of the layoffs.
3) Expectations are that the U.S. will remove China from its list of currency manipulators two days before the signing of initial U.S. – China trade agreement. Part of the agreement is that both nations will not devalue its currency to gain a competitive advantages of exports. Labeling China a currency manipulator was viewed largely as a symbolic action.
4) Stock market closings for – 13 JAN 20: Stocks are up 495% in the past decade.
Dow 28,907.05 up 83.28 Nasdaq 9,273.93 up 95.07 S&P 500 3,288.13 up 22.78
1) Several name brand products have decided to withdraw from Amazon for direct sales, the latest being Ikea, who started selling through Amazon in 2018. Other brand names such as Nike, Birkenstock and PopSockets are withdrawing too, considering it isn’t worth the hassle. There are growing fears that more big brands will flee the site, although their products can still be purchased through third party sellers on Amazon.
2) A ransom ware attack on foreign currency exchange company Travelex on New Year’s Eve has disrupted cash deliveries from its network of vaults to world banks. Banks in U.K. such as Barclays PLC, Lloyds Banking Group PLC and Westpac Banking Corp. are unable to take orders from customers in branches relying on Travelex services. Travelex was attacked with a ransom ware software virus called Sodinokibi often called Revil that locks up data via encryption.
3) Half the work force doesn’t expect to retire at age 65, while 13% don’t expect to retire at all. The average worker needs to have three quarters of a million dollars saved for retirement in order to maintain their standard of living. People are just not able to accumulate such wealth with conventional 401K plans, requiring significant additional investments by individuals. This is particularly difficult for middle and lower class American workers who are struggling to meet their basic livelihood expenses.
4) Stock market closings for – 10 JAN 20:
Dow 28,823.77 down 133.13 Nasdaq 9,178.86 down 24.56 S&P 500 3,265.35 down 9.35
1) HP’s board has rejected Xerox’s $33 billion dollar takeover bid, for the same reason as Xerox’s previous offer, that the proposal significantly undervalues HP. Xerox first moved to acquire HP in November, but was rejected because HP stock holders would lose much of their value in the company. HP is a 2015 spinoff of giant Hewlett-Packard who has a market value of $300 billion dollars that dwarfs Xerox’s value of 7.7 billion dollars.
2) Mack Trucks, the manufacturer of large commercial trucks, announced plans to layoff 305 employees, which is about 13% of their payroll. After two years of high volumes of production, marked demand has dropped so the company must adapt to the lower demand. There are expectations of the truck market in America being down 30% this next year.
3) The American consumer continues to shun the traditional big department stores. Despite the monster holiday shopping season, America’s biggest department stores still lost money. This is a trend that has been in progress for several years as typified by Sears’ decline. Department stores such as JCPenny, Kohl’s and Macy’s continue to decline with dropping sales and store closings. Consumers are now going to big box stores and the internet commerce to save money, signaling a fundamental change in American consumerism.
4) Stock market closings for – 9 SEP 20:
Dow 28,956.90 up 211.81 Nasdaq 9,203.43 up 74.18 S&P 500 3,274.70 up 21.65
Breaking News: Tesla Inc market value has now surpassed both legendary Ford Motors and General Motors company market values combined.
January 8, 2020 (Wednesday) Tesla Inc had a market cap of $89 billion, approx 2 more billion dollars then Ford Motors ($50 billion) and General Motors ($37 billion) combined.
Many of Tesla Inc’s attributes for rising market cap has to be with a profitable 3rd quarter the electrical auto maker had; also surpassing auto deliveries in the Chinese market, while also having its stock more then double over the past few months. These all seem to be contributing factors to its increased market cap currently.
With all the accolades Tesla has achieved, there are skeptics in the investment community who believe the company will not able to sustain cash flow nor provide more profitability in the next few years.
1) The result of the Iranian missile attack on gas prices is expected to be minimal. Oil prices did briefly surge on Tuesday on news of the attacks fueling fears of a Middle East war between Iran and America, spiking 4% to top oil prices of $65 a barrel, but slipped down to 1.3% early next day. Some are expecting gas prices across the nation to rise five to ten cents per gallon over the next several days.
2) Data for the fourth quarter indicated 2019 will show strong growth, which will most likely lead into a strong growth for 2020. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth for the fourth quarter is estimated to be 2.3%, better than the 2.1% growth for the third quarter. This would close out the GDP growth for 2019 at 2.4%, down from the 2.9% growth of 2018, but still enough to put fears of a recession to rest.
3) Walmart has unveiled its latest technology to counter Amazon and Kroger in the grocery battle- a grocery picking robot. The automated grocery system is called Alphabot and is designed to pick and pack orders as much as ten times faster than a human. The robot will allow Walmart to rapidly expand its capacity to fill orders for ‘demand on online’ grocery shopping. The Alphabot is a 20,000 square foot facility built onto present stores consisting of about 30 small cubic robots inside a giant shelving system, which can pick and pack products from a selection of 4,500 items.
4) Stock market closings for – 8 JAN 20:
Dow 28,745.09 up 161.41 Nasdaq 9,129.24 up 60.66 S&P 500 3,253.05 up 15.87
1) Coal consumption in America dropped sharply last year, reaching its lowest level since 1975, with power plants switching to cheaper natural gas and renewables. This shift has cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10%, but other sources also contribute to growing planet warming pollution last year. The U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, as well as other greenhouse warming gases, contributing 14% of all annual greenhouse emissions.
2) The federal government is close to selling a group of nursing homes it took over eighteen months ago, a result of the biggest default in the history of a government mortgage insurance program which provides critical support to the nursing home industry. The previous owner defaulted on $146 million dollar worth of mortgages leaving the government to take possession of the facilities, which they have been working to find new owner-operators.
3) A new pizza making robot was unveiled at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronis Show) in Las Vegas, which attracts 200,000 people across the world. The machine is placed adjacent to the oven so pizzas automatically go in for cooking. The robot can make up to 300 12 inch customized pizzas an hour, while making consistent pies. Several companies are engaged in developing pizza robots including Little Caesar’s and Domino’s. The robots for the fast food industry is growing in response to demands for a minimum wage of $15 an hour for restaurant workers.
4) Stock market closings for – 7 JAN 202:
Dow 28,583.68 down 119.70 Nasdaq 9,068.58 down 2.88 S&P 500 3,237.18 down 9.10