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) 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) The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted the most in December, more than for a decade. Order volumes crashed to a near eleven year low with factory employment falling for a fifth straight month. The index of national factory activity fell to 47.2 last month from 48.1 for November and is the lowest reading since June 2009. A value of 50 or above indicates expansion, while below is contraction.
2) The electric auto maker Tesla sold more cars in 2019 than the two previous years combined. Tesla sold 367,500 cars in 2019, although its on the low end of the 360,000 to 400,000 cars the company estimated at the beginning of 2019. Its newly opened plant in China will sell its Model 3 automobile in China thus avoiding transport and import cost. China promises to be a major increase in Tesla sales for next year.
3) Despite worries by experts expecting a decline of spending by American consumers, many consider the consumer will keep the economy humming through the next year. This Christmas shopping season appears it will set new records in spending, despite trade tensions, Washington being absorbed in impeachment and oil prices creeping up. With the economy always on the minds of voters, a good economy bodes well for incumbents with 2020 being a presidential election year.
4) Stock market closings for – 3 JAN 20:
Dow 28,634.88 down 233.92 Nasdaq 9,020.77 down 71.42 S&P 500 3,234.85 down 23.00
1) The automaker of electric cars Tesla has made its first deliveries of their Model 3 that were manufactured in China. The gigafactory in Shanghai is Tesla’s first outside the U.S., which is expected to significantly boost Tesla sales in China, which Tesla considers will become its largest market for the Model 3. Production will soon be 1,000 cars a week, eventually reaching an annual production of 150,000 a year.
2) The national average price for gasoline increased by 1.6 cents to $2.57 a gallon. Gas prices had been dropping for seven consecutive weeks prior to the upswing. The price increase is a result of the drop in oil inventories while oil prices are above $61 a barrel. Gas prices are above $3 a gallon in Hawaii, California, Nevada, Alaska and Washington, while Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana are the five states with the lowest priced gas states.
3) Vietnam is switching from producing and selling raw robusta beans on the commodity markets, to producing instant coffee for the burgeoning Asian market. Instant coffee brings more profit with less risk while also bringing protection from large swings in international commodity prices. Vietnam aims to overtake Nestle as Vietnam’s biggest pure instant coffee supplier in the next five years, and doubling its coffee exports to $6 billion dollars a year.
4) Stock market closings for – 30 DEC 19:
Dow 28,462.14 down 183.12 Nasdaq 8,945.99 down 60.62 S&P 500 3,221.29 down 18.73
1) China has had another year of record corporate bond defaults, which is by design. Ten years ago, bond defaults almost never happened, not because Chinese businesses were healthy, but rather the government stepped in to prevent default. Companies were often linked to the government and bonds which were largely bought by state owned lenders, making a financial system with little discipline. The government has become more comfortable with defaults and so is stepping out of economic control, to impost more incentive to make careful assessment of companies.
2) This year, more than fifty banks have announced plans to cut 77,780 jobs, the most lost since 91,448 jobs in 2015. The 2019 cuts will bring the total for the last six years to more than 425,000 lost jobs. The European banks are still weak from the ‘o-eight’ financial crisis, and are still struggling to regain their footing, forcing continual cost cutting measures. Job losses are anticipated to continue into 2022.
3) With germs growing more resistant to common antibiotics, many drug companies are hemorrhaging money and going out of business. The effect is reduced efforts to develop new antibiotics just when they are become most needed. Other well established drug companies are abandoning the antibiotic market segment refraining from doing any research on new antibiotic drugs. One marketing problem is antibiotics are prescribed for just days to weeks, so there isn’t the revenue stream as with drugs continually consumed year after year by a patient such as insulin. Presently, drug resistant infections kill 35,000 people each year.
4) Stock market closings for – 27 DEC 19:
Dow 28,645.26 up 23.87 Nasdaq 9,006.62 down 15.77 S&P 500 3,240.02 up 0.11
1) The aircraft manufacturer Boeing Aircraft has announced it is bringing production of the 737 MAX to a temporary halt the first of January. Boeing is America’s largest manufacturing exporter and the largest component of the Dow Jones industrial average, so there are fears that Boeing’s decision will send shockwaves through the American economy. Boeing will redeploy workers on the MAX production line to other projects therefore avoiding layoffs and furloughs. After the aircraft’s grounding nine months ago, Boeing has continually encountered hurdles with domestic and global regulators.
2) Stocks closed at record highs on Monday, their fourth straight gain, a result of the Phase One trade deal between China and the U.S., clearing the way for Wall Street to end a banner year. A further positive note is strong economic data out of China, topping expectations, with American economic data showing positive signs too.
3) For the last few years, sprits distillers have seen explosive growth, a result of a tax cut from the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. But this tax cut is due to expire on 31 December, resulting in a 400% increase in Federal liquor tax, which would put the brakes on the distilling business. Renewing the tax break is running into congressional dysfunction and partisan fighting over taxes and spending.
4) Stock market closings for – 16 DEC 19:
Dow 28,235.89 up 100.51 Nasdaq 8,814.23 up 79.35 S&P 500 3,191.45 up 22.65
1) The Trump administration has reached a trade deal in principle with China. Reportedly, the United States has offered to cut existing tariffs on Chinese goods by as much as 50%, while also suspending new tariffs that are scheduled to become effective on Sunday. This is a bid to secure a “Phase One” trade deal. The 50% tariff reduction would be on $375 billion dollars of Chinese goods, and $160 billion dollars in goods scheduled to become effective on the fifteenth of December.
2) The natural gas boom has fizzled because of a glut in U.S. gas with sinking profits. Hydraulic fracturing has uncorked a lucrative new source of natural gas supply, with billions of dollars poured into export terminals to ship gas to China and Europe. But the drop in gas prices has caused a bust with energy companies shutting down drilling rigs, filing for bankruptcy protection and slashing the value of shale fields. The supply of gas has far outstripped demand and the over-supply likely to remain for several more years.
3) The number of applications for unemployment jumped to more than a two year high last week, but experts don’t think this signals a coming round of layoffs. Claims are up by 49,000 for a seasonally adjusted 252,000 for the week ending the seventh of December. The previous week, claims had dropped to 203,000, which was a seven month low. In the same period, the government reported adding 266,000 new jobs to the economy.
4) Stock market closings for – 12 DEC 19:
Dow 28,132.05 up 220.75 Nasdaq 8,717.32 up 63.27 S&P 500 3,168.57 up 26.94
1) The U.S. Federal Reserve elected not to raise interest rates, thereby signaling borrowing cost will most likely remain unchanged, and they expect moderate economic growth and low unemployment to continue into the presidential election year. The Feds left the benchmark overnight lending rate at its current range of 1.5% to 1.75% with 13 of the 17 fed policymakers supporting no change.
2) American consumer prices rose more than expected in November, giving credence to the Fed’s decision not to raise interest rates. The consumer price index increased 0.3% last month, in part from households paying more for gas. In the twelve months through November, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) increased 2.3% after a similar gain in October. Gasoline prices rose 1.1% after rebounding 3.7% in October.
3) China is accused of dumping cheap mattresses which is disrupting the U.S. bedding industry, in an attempt to gain a foothold in American markets. In recent years dozens of Chinese companies have been flooding the market with super low priced mattresses, selling them to retailers for as little as $18 each. In turn, the mattresses are sold under a wide range of labels at national chains, online businesses, local retailers and mattress stores. In recent years the industry has been troubled by disruption including thousands of job losses, multiple bankruptcies and hundreds of store closures. In 2018, about five million mattresses were shipped to the U.S. from China.
4) Stock market closings for – 11 DEC 19:
Dow 27,911.30 up 29.58 Nasdaq 8,654.05 up 37.87 S&P 500 3,141.63 up 9.11