8 July 2020

1) Online grocery shopping continues to reach higher numbers, as Americans show little inclination to return to the stores. Grocery sales hit a record $7.2 billion dollars in June, up 9% from May. There are now 45.6 million households using online grocery pickup and delivery services for a larger portion of their grocery needs. The coronavirus crisis has cause drastic increases in grocery shopping online. People are now using online for buying a few items instead of just for their major shopping trips.

2) Seattle has passed a payroll tax which targets large businesses, called the JumpStart Tax. This tax is a tiered system of taxation with the highest tax levels for companies with annual payroll expenses of more than $1 billion dollars. The tax also is grated for individual income levels starting at amounts over $150,000. The prime target for the tax is Amazon, who is expected to accelerate its move to secure office space outside of Seattle. Amazon has an expansive Seattle footprint, but in recent years has moved to establish a presence in areas outside of the city. There are fears that the tax will pin Seattle’s economic future on local businesses remaining strong.

3) New York City plans to invest $157 million dollars to expand high speed internet service to low income residents as part of its plan to offer universal broadband service to New Yorkers. To pay for the expansion, the internet service providers would be charged for using the city’s infrastructure. The financially strapped city would fund the expansion by diverting $87 million from the police budget, which is being cut. But for the long run, the city is seeking state legislation to require internet service companies to pay for the use of the infrastructure they used to do business.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 JUL 20:

Dow 25,890.18 down 396.85
Nasdaq 10,343.89 down 89.76
S&P 500 3,145.32 down 34.40

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: down at $40.49

30 June 2020

1) The Boeing Aircraft Co. has started it re-certification process for the 737 MAX with the take off of a test aircraft for the first flight. An FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) pilot was on board as test flights begin, to determine if the aircraft is safe for flying with passengers. The first flight test is to fly maneuvers for about three hours, the test craft being fitted with a number of instruments and monitoring equipment to test and record how the aircraft performs. Test include the ‘wind-up turn’ which is a steep turn that essentially approaches a stall, with wings almost at 90 degrees of bank. This maneuver should trigger the Boeing software system that played a role in both crashes, which caused the aircraft design to be grounded. The software caused the aircraft’s nose to be repeatedly pointed downward at the ground until pilots lost control. These certification flights are expected to take approximately three days, and while they are an important milestone, there remains a number of key tasks to be completed.

2) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47.2% of American adults are now jobless, almost half the adult population. This is a direct result of losing 30 million jobs because of the coronavirus crisis. While there was an unexpected snap back in May, there are now signs of a slowdown in the labor market improvement because of fears of a Convid-19 resurgence increased these last few weeks. The massive loss of jobs is what is now dragging the economy down. Both Texas and Florida have paused plans for further reopening because of a record spike in coronavirus cases.

3) Lending institutions are pulling back sharply on their lending to U.S. consumers during the pandemic, because they can’t tell who is creditworthy anymore. There are millions of Americans out of work and behind on their debts, but many of these missed payments aren’t reflected in credit scores. This is a result of the government’s stimulus package which allows borrowers to defer their debt payments, but credit companies can’t report these late payments to credit reporting companies. For May, there were more than 100 million accounts with deferred debt payments. This is a sign of widespread financial distress.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 JUN 20:

Dow 25,595.80 up 580.25
Nasdaq 9,874.15 up 116.93
S&P 500 3,053.24 up 44.19

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.64%

Oil: up at $39.55

6 May 2020

1) The U.S. Bureau of Labor’s CPI (Consumer Price Index) statistic declined by 0.42% in March, the largest decline since January 2015. The CPI is used to measure the change in the cost of a typical basket of goods, which an American would buy in a month. This downward trend of the index indicates the value of the dollar is going up, which is deflation. Normally, the dollar is the subject of inflation, with prices rising between 0.1% and 0.3% per month, which makes a 0.4% drop somewhat strange. The largest factor driving this drop is energy cost, which experts attribute about three-quarters of the decline to, but other goods such as automobiles, airline tickets, household furnishing and apparel have also dropped in cost. However, there is debates among economists that the CPI is flawed, because it is based on items selected two years ago, which people may not actually be buying much of now. It doesn’t account for quick changes in people’s buying habits.

2) Oil prices continue to climb for the fifth straight day, the longest run of daily gains in nine months. Production cuts are starting to whittle down the surplus, coupled with the coronavirus lockdowns subsiding. Morgan Stanley predicts the supply glut most likely has hit its peak, but still the glut in oil will remain for quite a while.

3) Consumer debt has reached a record high to start 2020, even as credit card balances decline. Household debt balances total $14.3 trillion dollars through March, which is a 1.1% increase from the previous quarter. A $34 billion dollar drop in credit card balances was offset by an increase of $27 billion dollars in student loans and $15 billion dollars in auto debt. Mortgage balances rose by $156 billion dollars. The decline of credit card debt is an indicator that people are spending less on consumer goods as a result of the coronavirus.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 May 20:

Dow 23,883.09 up 133.33
Nasdaq 8,809.12 up 98.41
S&P 500 2,868.44 up 25.70

10 Year Yield: up at 0.66%

Oil: up at $25.68

10 June 2019

1) Many consider that it is no longer a question if the Fed will cut interest rates, but rather when. With the apparent softening of the job market, many investors firmly believe the Federal Reserve  will move to cut interest rates this year possible as soon as this July. The markets bounced up on the expectation.

2) The job numbers are in for May, with job creation slowing dramatically. There were just 75,000 new jobs added to the economy, about 100,000 less than economist expected. Both March and April job numbers were lower than expected leading experts to conclude a downward trend in the American economy is beginning. There are fears that we may see a recession as early as next year.

3) The book seller Barnes & Noble has closed a deal to sell itself to Elliott Management Corp, a hedge fund based in New York. The news sent Barnes & Noble stock surging upward as much as 36%. Like many other retailers, Barnes & Noble has struggled with little success to counter the power house e-commerce giant Amazon. It’s Nook e-book device was a bust, which the company had heavily invested in. Barnes & Noble has 600 brick and mortar retail stores.

4) Stock market closings for 7 JUN 19: The Dow has had its best week since November.

Dow                   25,983.94    up    263.28
Nasdaq                7,742.10    up    126.55
S&P 500               2,873.34    up       29.85

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.08%

Oil:    up   at    $54.04