15 October 2019

1) There are fears that the manufacturing segment is in trouble and may contract for the third straight month. This in turn could drag down the U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the third and fourth quarters. Three factors are causing this down turn- the trade war with China, the GM (General Motors) strike and Boeing’s 737 MAX problems stopping deliveries and slowing production.

2) In the recent past, the online retailer giant Amazon has been unable to compete with traditional retailers when selling single items costing less than a few dollars, because the shipping cost is more than the single item cost such as toothpaste, deodorant or a simple brush. Customers had to buy these items as add-ons to make the $25 minimum for free shipping. But these items are now available for free shipping with Amazon’s Prime shipping. This could make for a significant challenge to other retailers such as Walmart, Target and CVS.

3) GM is attempting to end the month long strike of the UAW (United Auto Workers) by making direct appeal to the workers. The company has lost more than a $1 billion dollars so far, and is making several promises to the workers trying to circumvent the union’s leadership. The UAW has increased strike pay from $250 to $275 per week with union members allowed to hold other jobs as long as it doesn’t interfere with their picket duty.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 OCT 19:

Dow            26,787.36    down    29.23
Nasdaq         8,048.65    down      8.39
S&P 500        2,966.15    down       4.12

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.73%

Oil:    down   at    $53.50

2 October 2019

1) The retailer giant Amazon is expanding into the grocery business by leasing retail space across the Los Angeles area, signing leases for more than twelve locations. This is the first step of plans to open grocery stories across the nation. Amazon job postings are looking for people to work in retail concepts for a multiple customer experiences under one roof. Stores are reportedly to be about 35,000 square feet and intended to compete with big box stores such as Walmart, Target and Kroger.

2) The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index dropped to 47.8 last month, the lowest since June 2009, below the forecast 49.1. Indexes below 50 indicate a contraction in manufacturing. Manufacturing accounts for 12% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), so a slowdown could effect other parts of the economy. Other indicators have shown output increased over last month.

3) Oil prices record its weakest quarter since late last year as fears over a global economic slowdown overshadowed the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities. Brent futures are down 8.7% since the end of June, despite the peak after the attacks. The price of oil is considered an economic indicator, since demand goes down as economies slow down, making more oil available, thus causing oil prices to decline.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 OCT 19:

Dow               26,573.04    down    343.79
Nasdaq            7,908.68    down      90.65
S&P 500           2,940.25    down      36.49

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.64%

Oil:    down   at    $53.98

24 September 2019

1) Saudi Arabia has restored 75% of its crude oil output and will have restored full production by next week. The September 14 attacks had reduced crude production to half, but promises that production will be fully restored by the end of September. The Saudis have managed to avoid a world wide oil crisis by drawing upon their stockpiles to continue supplying their customers at near pre-attack levels of crude.

2) The retailer giant Amazon plans to purchase 100,000 electric delivery vans from the company Rivian as part of its carbon neutral plan. Furthermore, Amazon announced plans to up its present 40% renewable energy to 100% by 2030. Rivian will design a custom electric delivery van for Amazon to be delivered between 2021 and 2024, who also has an agreement with Ford to develop an electric F-150 pickup truck. Amazon is also working to halt its support of the fossil fuel industry, stopping donations to climate denying politicians and think tanks, and stopping the oppression of climate refugees.

3) The British travel firm Thomas Cook has collapsed with bankruptcy, leaving about 600,000 customers stranded. The 178 year old group, which is debt plagued and struggling against fierce online competition for some time, is blaming Brexit uncertainty for the recent drop in bookings, and thus its inability to secure $250 million dollar loan to prevent collapse. This also leaves 22,000 staff members unemployed, with the British government chartering airlines to fly stranded passengers home.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 SEP 19:

Dow             26,949.99         up   14.92
Nasdaq          8,112.46    down     5.21
S&P 500         2,991.78    down     0.29

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.71%

Oil:    $58.49

23 September 2019

1) The retailing mammoth Amazon has spawned a rival called ‘Free and Fair Markets Initiative’ (FFMI), who have launched a nation wide campaign to criticize Amazon’s business practices. They claim that Amazon stifles competition and innovations, inhibiting consumer choice, gorging on government subsidies, endangering its warehouse workers and exposing consumer data to privacy breaches. The group claims to have grass-roots support, but haven’t disclosed they are receiving backing from some of Amazon’s major corporate rivals such as Walmart.

2) An additional 4,500 Canadian auto workers have been furloughed as a result of UAW (United Auto Workers) strike on GM (General Motors), which is now in its fifth day. This is a result of the strike disrupting operations and supplies of auto parts and assemblies needed for Canada’s plant to manufacture automobiles.

3) The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the largest public pension system in Ohio, is moving to reduce cost of living benefits for current and future retirees. This requires legislative changes, which the board of directors have voted to ask lawmakers for. Like so many retirements, public and private, the public pension system is striving to straighten out its finances. The fund has $24 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities to contend with and this proposed action will wipe out $3.44 billion dollars of that liability. .

4) Stock market closings for – 20 SEP 19:

Dow               26,935.07    down    159.72
Nasdaq            8,117.67    down      65.20
S&P 500           2,992.07    down      14.72

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.76%

Oil:    $58.39

31 August 2019

1) Disney announced it has sold its stake in the YES Network to investors including Amazon for 347 million dollars. The YES Network airs the Yankees games as well as other local sports and specialty content, and was one of the assets the Department of Justice required Disney to sell. It’s unknown what Amazon’s role in this acquisition will be.

2) The traditional shipping companies UPS and FedEx are now being challenged by Amazon’s emerging shipping empire as exemplified by its recent breakup with FedEx. As its consumer business has expanded, Amazon has built a network of suburban warehouses package and sorting centers feeding a fleet of delivery vehicles. This is turning it from a customer delivery service to a rival. In expanding with new service centers, Amazon is gobbling up failed malls. This expansion is driven in part by its rapidly expanding Prime membership, now with 100 million subscriptions in the US, with Amazon now delivering over half of its own orders.

3) Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, the equivalent of Amazon.com, predicts that by 2030 computers and artificial intelligence will not only shrink the number of jobs by as much as 40%, but also reduce the number of work hours available to the remaining workers. This is just one more prediction of near term technology displacement coming in the next ten to twenty-five years that have recently been made public.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 AUG 19:

Dow              26,403.28         up    41.03
Nasdaq           7,962.88    down    10.51
S&P 500          2,926.46         up      1.88

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.51%

Oil:    up   at    $55.16

30 August 2019

1) The American trucking industry is in trouble with many major trucking firms such as J.B. Hunt, Knight-Swift and Schneider cutting their annual outlooks. In a growing wave of trucking firms bankruptcies, 3,000 truck drivers have lost their jobs. One positive point is the trucking volume seems to be rising, although trucking is a highly cyclic business with wide swings in high and low peaks. With about 1.8 million American truckers, there is the rising threat of automated robot trucks, which the automatic driving technology industry is eyeing and experimenting already with UPS and the post office.

2) More troubles for Tesla’s SolarCity solar-panels and fires with people’s houses being set on fire resulting in extensive damage. Both Walmart and Amazon.com are suing, claiming Tesla’s solar energy systems have caused fires at their stores and warehouses. Tesla is telling home owners their need to do preventive maintenance on their solar power systems, but with 400,000 solar customers, one of the largest customer bases in America, this may not be a strategy to avoid law suits.

3) Disney’s Disney+ is penetrating NetFlix market share with very aggressive pricing and promotion programs that undercuts NetFlix rates, offering with rates that are as much as one third of NetFlix, while locking customers into contracts for as long as three year. When Disney+ announced its entry into the streaming market, Netflix grew its customer base by 2.7 million, instead of the 5 million that had been forecast. The increased competition from Disney+ and other streaming services is forcing NetFlix to use large amounts of capital to create new video content and so remain a viable competitor.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 AUG 19:

Dow 26,362.25 up 326.15
Nasdaq          7,973.39 up 116.51
S&P 500 2,924.58 up 36.64

10 Year Yield: up at 1.52%

Oil: down at $56.61

9 August 2019

1) Mexico has become America’s largest trading partner as a result of the U.S. – China trade war. For the first half of 2019, trade between America and Mexico was $309 billion dollars worth of goods, just over 15% of all U.S. trade. In comparison, trade with Canada was $306 billion dollars and China at $271 billion dollars. Trade with Mexico has been steadily rising for several decades, while trade with Canada has historically been high it’s always been flat.

2) A battle may be developing between Amazon and FedEx over handling packages, because of surging e-commerce shipments. With their ground delivery deal ending, FedEx is deepening its pullback from Amazon. The ending of two delivery contracts with Amazon means FedEx will have to seek out new major customers for lost sales while Amazon will now depend more on the U.S. Postal Service and UPS. FedEx is seeking to serve major e-commerce companies such as WalMart as the one-day delivery service for e-commerce heats up.

3) Lift, the internet based ride sharing rival to Uber may become profitable sooner than anyone had predicted. It’s growth is accelerating faster than anticipated, which clears the path to profitability. Some are speculating that 2019 might be Lift’s ‘peak loss’ year with losses being less than 2018. Wall Street is acting positive over the news with Lift’s stock rising from an overnight boost of 4%.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 AUG 19:

Dow                26,378.19    up    371.12
Nasdaq              8,039.16    up    176.33
S&P 500             2,938.09    up      54.11

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.72%

Oil:    up   at    $52.81

10 July 2019

1) The mega giant online retailer Amazon is facing more labor problems with a strike of Minnesota warehouse workers on the first day of Amazon’s sales extravaganza. Even though Amazon has committed to pay $15 dollar an hour to all workers, the Minnesota warehouse workers plans a six hour work stoppage on July 15, the first day of Amazon Prime Day sale.

2) Cisco Systems, a major manufacture of networking gear such as servers, announced Tuesday it will acquire Acacia Communications for $2.84 billion dollars. Acacia designs and manufactures high speed optical components and is a supplier of components to Cisco. Cisco is paying $70 per share, which is 46% above Acacia’s Monday closing price.

3) The tourist spaceflight company Virgin Galactic is going public for financing by merging with the investment firm Social Capital Hedosophia. This will infuse $800 million dollars into Virgin Galactic in exchange for 49% of the company. About 600 people have spent $250,000 for a ninety minute suborbital space flight. The company has made test flights to near space and has sent its first passenger up sixty two miles near the edge of space.

4) Stock market closings for- 9 JUL 19:

Dow                 26,783.49    down    22.65
Nasdaq              8,141.73         up     43.35
S&P 500             2,979.63        up        3.68

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.05%

Oil:    up   at    $58.50

14 June 2019

1) Two tankers have been attacked near the Iran coast, which has caused oil prices to surge with fears that Iran may try to close the Gulf of Oman, which transports oil out of the Middle East. The choke point of the Strait of Hormuz is only 21 miles wide and handles 80% of the oil destined for Asia. Last month four other tankers were attacked near Fujairah using sabotage, which further fueled fears that Iran may become very aggressive in the region and against exports of oil.

2) With voters no longer showing a strong concern for the federal debt, the political support for reining in Federal spending and controlling the growing national debt is melting away with Republicans willing to accept a large deficit in exchange for tax cuts and Democrats making big spending promises in the 2020 campaigns. Some experts, who had once augured against the government growing debt, now say it may not be as critical a problem as they once thought.

3) The mega-retailer Target is upping the ante for e-commerce by offering same-day delivery on thousands of items for just $9.99. Using the delivery startup Shipt, which Target purchased nearly two years ago, the retailer is positioning itself to compete against Walmart and Amazon in what is becoming a ‘delivery time’ war of the major maga-retailers. The one day service will cover 65,000 items from 1,500 stores out of 1,800 stores in 47 states.

4) Stock market closings for- 13 JUN 19:

Dow               26,106.77    up    101.94
Nasdaq            7,837.13    up      44.41
S&P 500           2,891.64    up      11.80

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.09%

Oil:    down   at    $52.11

12 June 2019

1) For the sixth straight month of a gold buying spree, China continues to add to it’s gold reserves under the protracted trade war. China added 58 tons of gold to its reserves in the five months to April, then added 15.86 tons in May. At this rate China could buy as much as 150 tons of gold in 2019, as they diversify away from the U.S. dollar.

2) The retailer giant Amazon has opened a second cashier-free store in New York, which makes the thirteenth ‘Amazon Go’ store to open in America. The convenience robot store is about 1,700 square feet with Amazon announcing its fourteenth store will open in San Francisco. By 2021, Amazon may open as many as 3,000 of these robot retailing stores which threaten other retailers like 7-Eleven shops, CVS and Walgreens.

3) Ten state attorney generals plan to jointly file a lawsuit to stop the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. The $26 billion dollar merger will reduce the number of nationwide wireless carriers to three. So far, the deal has won the backing of the majority of the FCC, which makes the Federal Government in favor of the move.

4) Stock market closings for 11 JUN 19:

Dow            26,048.51    down    14.17
Nasdaq         7,822.57    down      0.60
S&P 500        2,885.72    down      1.01

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.14%

Oil:    down   at    $53.05