16 January 2020

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

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.79%

Oil:    down   at    $58.13

13 January 2020

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

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.82%

Oil:    down   at    $59.11

9 January 2020

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

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.87%

Oil:    down   at    $59.98

2 January 2020

1) The ride sharing business Uber has filed a lawsuit against California, in response to a landmark gig worker law as being unconstitutional. The new law is designed to upend gig economy companies such as Uber and Lyft. Uber claims the new law unfairly targets workers and companies in the on-demand economy, treating them differently than traditional companies. The law forces on-demand companies to reclassify their independent contractors as employees, which would break up their businesses. With Uber actively researching auto-driving cars, this point may soon become mute.

2) In the wake of continual losses despite rising postal rates, America’s postal system, as a public government run entity, may be coming to a end as early as this year. New leadership is being brought into the USPS tasked with creating a package of large structural changes intent on privatizing and selling pieces of the public service off. One proposal is that the postal service stops delivering packages, since there are already several successful businesses who are already doing that.

3) Department stores and apparel retailers continue to shrink as customers continue their migration to Amazon. For the last several years, retailers such as Sears, Macy’s and the Gap have struggled to survive and prosper by closing their retail outlets with even more closures are forecast for this next year. One additional loss of retail revenues is the lost of store credit cards.

4) Stock market closings for – 31 DEC 19:

Dow                28,538.44    up    76.30
Nasdaq            8,972.60    up     26.61
S&P 500           3,230.78    up        9.49

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.92%

Oil:    down   at     $61.21

27 December 2019

1) The Permian Basin continues to experience difficulties producing oil, becoming increasingly gassy as drilling slows down. This undercuts profits for producers at a time when investors are demanding better returns. The region has long been plagued with a massive glut of gas which crude producers must sometimes pay to have hauled away or burn in the open air. This problem is intensifying as wells age and fewer new wells are drilled.

2) Oil prices rise to a three month high because of optimism on supply. The stage is set for the biggest monthly gain in almost a year on speculation that supplies are shrinking. Prices are up almost 12% for this month and are now higher since the mid-September high. The U.S. stockpiles have dropped 7.9 million barrels this last week, while Russia cut their crude output with a reduction of 240,000 barrels a day for December. Oil has surged about 36% for this year.

3) American retailers continue to struggle while some are actually thriving. The once giant Sears has fallen into bankruptcy having closed over 3,000 stores. Other major retailers in decline are Blockbuster Video, Radioshack, Victoria’s Secret, the Gap, JCPenny, Toys R Us and Borders Books. Retailers such as TJ Maxx, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Dollar General, Costco and Ross have flourished in the peril waters of American consumerism.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 DEC 19:

Dow                28,621.39    up    105.94
Nasdaq             9,022.39    up      69.51
S&P 500            3,239.91    up      16.53

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.90%

Oil:    up   at     $61.68

9 December 2019

1) The newly released November jobs report is the best in ten months and blows away expectations as striking GM workers returned to work. The good news confirms the economy remains on a moderate expansion path despite a prolonged manufacturing slump. Even better news is the unemployment rate has falling back to 3.5% damping fears of an up coming recession.

2) The oil cartel OPEC+ (plus) will adjust its output target and redistribute production cuts between its members. Saudi Arabia pressured the decision since they have long carried an outsized share of the burden. The cartel, which pumps more than half the world’s oil, agreed to reduce its output by 500,000 barrels a day. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and the de facto leader of OPEC.

3) Amazon Business, one unit of the giant Amazon, operating in the business-to-business marketplace, serving a variety of customers from large companies to hospitals, to schools and colleges. Growing faster than their consumer retailing segment, analyst say Amazon Business could be a $31 billion dollar business in four years. Started in 2015, it had over a billion dollars of sales in its first year.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 DEC 19:

Dow            28,015.06    up    337.27
Nasdaq         8,656.53    up      85.83
S&P 500        3,145.91    up      28.48

10 Year Yield:     up   at     1.84%

Oil:    up   at    $59.07

BLACK FRIDAY SALES WAS A HIT, BRICK & MORTAR STILL TOOK A HIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: Economic & Finance Report

The analytics are in, Black Friday 2019 did its numbers. Black Friday did over $20 billion in revenue, over $7 billion in online and digital sales alone, from latest info projected (Forbes.com). (1)

The revenue numbers surpassed last year (2018), from Black Friday sales. This was anticipated of course, but maybe not by the figures that came in of $20 billion.

Though with strong numbers, brick and mortars shops and stores will still be closing unfortunately, to focus more of their retail sales online because of what many speculate as being the “Amazon Effect”. The “Amazon Effect” has forced brick and mortar stores and outlets to realign their focus toward online sales and marketing. A game changer to indicate the least. -SB

(1) Content: https://www.forbes.com › sites › johnkoetsier › 2019/11/30 › record-black-f… (Forbes)

21 November 2019

1) For 80 years Boeing Aircraft has operated as an ‘association of engineers’, but this changed in 2001 when the upper management who came from MacDonnel Douglas (a failed company), elected to move Boeing’s corporate headquarters to Chicago. The rational was upper management shouldn’t be close to a principal business, because the corporate center is inevitably drawn into day to day business operations. With this, Boeing became a financially driven business instead of engineering driven, with decision based on cost cutting instead of safety. This has resulted in the 737 MAX fiasco now being played out.

2) Apple has started construction of its $1 billion dollar campus in Austin Texas, which is beside its new MacBook Pro laptop manufacturing facility. The 3 million square foot campus will have 5,000 employees with capacity to grow to 15,000. Currently, Apply employs 7,000 people in Austin. This is seen as another move by Apple to limit its manufacturing in China.

3) Walmart is redesigning its grocery department in order to counter impending competition to traditional brick-and-mortar from online giant Amazon. Already the country’s largest grocer, Walmart will widen aisles, add low profile displays in the produce departments, an organic shop and update signage throughout its stores. These changes are expected to be improvements for the customers and workers.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 NOV 19:

Dow               27,821.09    down    112.93
Nasdaq           8,526.73    down      43.93
S&P 500          3,108.46    down       11.72

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.74%

Oil:    up   at    $57.09

15 November 2019

1) Sears is laying off a little less than 300 people in their corporate headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois and company offices in San Francisco, many being informed in a company meeting. The last round of layoffs was 250 employees in September. Restructuring plans include closing 96 more Sears and Kmart stores by February leaving about 180 stores remaining.

2) Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is starting a social networking and news sharing site as an alternative to Facebook and Twitter. Called WT:Social, it will show the newest links first instead of using algorithms to bump posts with the most comments or likes to the top. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the service will be funded by advertising. Just a month old, and it already has 50,000 users.

3) Interest in tiny houses continues with Amazon now offering prefabs from 100 square feet up to 1,500 square feet and prices from $5,000 to over $100,000. These style of houses are becoming popular with the young just starting life who don’t have the resources to buy a conventional home. However, their small size, while more friendly to the environment, set constraints on peoples lifestyles, by limiting what they can own or the number of friends they can have over at any one time. Nevertheless, tiny house continue to grow in popularity.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 NOV 19:

Dow              27,781.96     down    1.63
Nasdaq           8,479.02     down    3.08
S&P 500          3,096.63           up    2.58

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.82%

Oil:    down   at    $56.86

6 November 2019

1) The money-markets have about $3.4 trillion dollars invested, and the large pile of cash could push the already soaring markets higher. The money-markets have grown by $1 trillion dollars over the last three years because of higher money-market rates, concerns of the ten year economic expansion and the ageing of the bull market. But despite the double digit gains this year, that cash remains in the money-markets amid concerns of an economic slowdown, investors wanting the safe bet of having a large cash reserve. Many fear the markets are at an unstable high and a reversal could occur at any time.

2) The U.S. trade deficit for September has falling to its lowest level in five months with imports dropping more sharply than exports. America has a rare surplus of petroleum, which has traditionally been a major source of imports. The import-export difference shrank 4.7% to $52.5 billion dollars, down from the August deficit of $55 billion dollars, with the deficit with China creeping down 0.6% to $31.6 billion dollars.

3) The Bank of America announced it will pay a $20 dollar minimum wage in 2020, a year earlier than planned. This will raise wages for more than 208,000 of its U.S. employees. The higher pay for retail bankers is becoming crucial with the increasingly competitive job market. Other main street banks have also raised their minimum wage, such as Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. Other major companies including Amazon, Walmart, Target and McDonald’s have also increased their minimum pay.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 NOV 19:

Dow              27,492.63         up    30.52
Nasdaq           8,434.68         up      1.48
S&P 500          3,074.62    down      3.65

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.87%

Oil:    up   at    $57.27