1) A second virus shock wave is already hitting China’s factories as European factories are delaying orders and asking for delays in payments as the coronavirus sweeps across Europe closing their factories. These are cutting off orders to Chinese factories just as they were beginning to come back to life, a double hammer blow to China’s economy. Estimated April to May sales are expected to be down as much as 40% from last year. This is raising grave doubts about the world’s second largest economy being able to repair damage and return to its pre-virus station.
2) The Index of Consumer Sentiment dropped to 89.1 in March, the lowest level since October 2016, a three year low. It is the fourth largest in nearly 50 years. Further declines is dependent on the success of curtailing the spread of the virus and how soon households receive funds from the government stimulus. To date, there are 540,000 cases of coronavirus with America overtaking China and Italy with the most cases having a total of 85,000.
3) The Department of Justice is investigating the credit scoring firm FICO for possible antitrust violations. There are three other major credit companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. FICO is the only scoring model accredited by mortgage loan companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The DOJ investigation comes after TransUnion’s antitrust countercase against FICO. The lenders determine which credit scoring system is utilized on a loan application, not the consumer or loan applicant.
4) Stock market closings for – 27 MAR 20:
Dow 21,636.78 down 915.39 Nasdaq 7,502.38 down 295.16 S&P 500 2,541.47 down 88.60
1) The popular theme parks Disneyland and Disney World have been closed until April because of the threat of coronavirus. The closure commences on 14 March, but the hotel resort will remaining open until 16 March to allow guess to make travel arrangements for returning home. Walt Disney Co. will continue to pay cast members during the closure. Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning Saturday until the end of the month. At this time, it is uncertain how adversely this will financially effect Walt Disney Co.
2) A global recession, driven by the coronavirus pandemic, may result because of the flow of goods, services and people becoming more restricted. In the past day, President Trump has restricted travel from Europe, Italy has closed almost every shop, India suspended most visas and Ireland partially shut down. Many sporting events have been closed to public spectators with major lost of revenues. Many nations fear a contraction, with China the first in decades, thus ending the 11 year expansion. The Federal Reserve’s emergency interest rate cut of March 3 failed to boost investor’s confidence.
3) The Federal Reserve has announced its plan to ease market strain and halt its downward spiral. The Feds will offer a huge injection of liquidity to the Treasury market to counter market dysfunction. Government bonds are liquid assets making them the easiest thing to sell in turbulent times when investors need to raise cash. The New York Feds have been buying Treasury bills in what is called repurchase agreements or repos. This added liquidity is intended to bring stability to the markets and arrest the downward movements.
4) Stock market closings for – 12 MAR 20: The markets continue their drastic downward spiral.
Dow 21,200.62 down 2,352.60 Nasdaq 7,201.80 down 750.25 S&P 500 2,480.64 down 260.74
1) Fully 70% of the American economy is consumer spending. Even through wages and incomes have been stagnant for many households, the consumer has continued to spend. It is not new investment by corporations, tax cuts or big new federal spending programs that stimulate the economy, but rather it’s consumer spending. However, fears of the coronavirus is dampening that spending by curtailing business trips, personal travel, sports and other outings. With the interest rate near zero, the major tool used to combat a recession is now impotent.
2) The collapse of the long standing deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia, to limit oil production, fell through this weekend sending oil prices crashing from oil supplies surplus. The coronavirus has caused China to limit economic activity and therefore reduced China’s oil consumption leading to further oil surpluses. China’s purchase of oil is down 20%. The low oil prices has made the world economy very unstable and therefore volatile. For America, independent oil companies have gone deeply into debt to pay for the shale oil extraction process, who are now threaten by low oil prices making it impossible to pay that debt. Failure of these oil companies could ripple through the American economy to pull other segments down.
3) Airlines across the world continue to sink deeper into crisis from the worsening coronavirus epidemic reducing the number of passengers, who are foregoing travel fearing the virus. The situation is made worst by not being able to predict how long the crisis will likely last and therefore unable to make accommodating plans. The lockdown of Italy has further aggravated world air travel, especially with the interruption of tourism just as the tourist season would be ramping up.
4) Stock market closings for – 10 MAR 20
Dow 25,018.16 up 1,167.14 Nasdaq 8,344.25 up 393.577
1) The stock markets continue their downward crash over worries of the conronavirus impact on economies making the week the worst week since the financial crisis. Caterpillar, a bellwether stock for global growth, slide down 3%, the worst performer among Dow stocks. Apple dropped 2.9% while Chevron and Cisco Systems are down more than 2%. Investors are worried the downward slide may continue after the conronavirus subsides, especially if China doesn’t return to its previous position, so recovery could be a long haul.
2) The sale of smartphones is collapsing in China, which is the largest market in the world. The plunged in sales is directly due to the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese companies had skidded to a halt, with the accelerated outbreak last month a result of quarantine mandates, travel restrictions and factory shutdowns. Huawei, the Chinese tech company, is being hit hard because it is the top selling smartphone in China.
3) Gold prices have been acting strangely with the reversals in the markets because of coronavirus fears. Traditionally, gold has been a ‘panic investment’ that investors flee to when there’s economic uncertainty, but this time investors are selling gold to generate cash. They are fleeing anything priced via bidding, for safer assets such as treasury bonds, which in turn is driving down bond interest rates. This indicates how worried the professional investors are about the world economic system.
4) Stock market closings for – 28 FEB 20:
Dow 25,409.36 down 357.28
Nasdaq 8,567.37 up 0.89
S&P 500 2,954.22 down 24.54
1) Many on Wall Street are betting the Federal Reserve Bank will again reduce the cost of borrowing in light of the coronavirus economic threat. Futures contract traders consider there is nearly a 60% chance of a rate cut this March, when the Feds meet, in an effort to counter the effects of the virus on America’s economy. While it appears the spread of the pathogen is declining in China, elsewhere in the world it’s on the rise.
2) Oil prices continue its downward spiral with a twelve month low for U.S. crude. The drop in oil prices is in anticipation of slowing of the U.S. and world economies, a direct result of the spreading coronavirus threat. China, a major world importer of oil, has cut back purchases as it containment policies reduces oil consumption from limited travel to and from major cities, as well as travel within those cities.
3) The home food delivery business continues to grow with DoorDash filing the paperwork with the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) to start the IPO (Initial Public Offering) process to offer stock to the public. The IPO process has met with poor results from unprofitable companies like Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. while WeWork was forced to abandon its IPO last year because of a poor showing of its stock. DoorDash faces the same challenges as Lyft and Uber..
4) Stock market closings for – 27 FEB 20: This is the worst point decline ever for the three markets. The Dow has dropped 3,000 points since Monday.
Dow 25,766.64 down 1190.95
Nasdaq 8,566.48 down 414.30
S&P 500 2,978.76 down 137.63
1) Global trade experiences its first full-year drop since the financial crisis, with weaker world growth and a manufacturing recession taking their toll. The spread of the coronavirus, with its impact on businesses and households, is increasingly pulling world economics down. While the decline isn’t huge, it is the first since 2009 and follows growth of more than 3% in 2018. The virus has shut off huge areas of China causing the closing of factories and now is spreading internationally.
2) The markets continue to follow the Dow’s thousand point drop with more large loses. To add to the financial worries, bond yields are slipping down, raising concerns that the global economy is slowing significantly because of the spreading coronavirus. There is heavy buying of treasuries in order to shelter money, with the ten year Treasury yield traded at 1.32%, an all time low, with the thirty year bond yield also reaching a record low. Analysts are already cutting their earnings estimates for the first quarter, further dampening hopes for better near term growth.
3) Retail giant Amazon has opened its first Go Grocery store in Seattle. The automated store is cashierless where customers walk in, and get what they want, and on walking out, computer and sensors electronically charging their purchases. The store is over 10,000 square feet and has about 5,000 items including fresh produce, meats and alcohol. This is just another example of the grocery retailers efforts to automate their operations and reduce labor costs.
4) Stock market closings for – 25 FEB 20: Dow is down 1900 points in two days and some experts fear the markets are 500 points away from being a correction.
Dow 27,081.36 down 879.44
Nasdaq 8,965.61 down 255.67
S&P 500 3,128.21 down 97.68
1) The drug maker Moderna Inc. has shipped its first batch of coronavirus vaccine to U.S. government researchers for human testing. The government will test if the experimental shot can help suppress the epidemic that originated in China. Test are expected to start by the end of April on 20 to 25 healthy volunteers to see if two doses are safe and can induce an immune response that protects against infection. Using the virus’ genetic sequence, Moderna was able to make a fast response in developing a vaccine.
2) The United States Supreme Court has ruled on a decade long legal battle against Apple. The decision against Apple leaves the company open to paying $440 million dollars to the technology licensing company VirnetX for violations of its patents. The legal battle has been on going since 2010 for violations of VirnetX four patents. With the ruling against Apple, the case will be sent back to the district court in Texas to enforce the $440 million damages.
3) Canada’s oil sands industry may have built its last big mine. The cancellation of Teck Resources Ltd.’s Frontier project in northen Alberta, which was expected to produce more crude than OPEC member Gabon, has seen most of it’s foreign investors fall out. Other proposed mines may not be able to clear the hurdles that foil the Frontier project, thus ending an era of mega-projects that had made Canada the largest importer of crude to the United States. The dropping of crude oil prices has had a detrimental effect on the industry.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 FEB 20: The Dow closes down 1,000 points wiping out a year’s gains.
Dow 27,960.80 down 1031.61 Nasdaq 9,221.28 down 355.31 S&P 500 3,225.89 down 111.86
1) The investment bank Morgan Stanley is buying ETrade Financial Corp. for $13 billion dollars, planning to now manage money for regular people. ETrade will bring five million retail customers worth $360 billion dollars in assets, and an online bank with cheap deposits which Morgan Stanley can funnel into loans. Morgan Stanley had provided financial management to the upper end clients, the million and billionaires.
2) General Electric has avoided a business setback with exports of its jet engines to China. Fears that the Chinese could reverse engineer the new design and bolster its own aircraft manufacturing industry, has drawn threats of barring the LEAP 1C engine export to China. This would have been a major blow to GE’s efforts to recover from its slump, the engine sales being central to recovery efforts. The GE engine is slated for use in China’s C919 narrow body airliner now in development.
3) Clients of Fidelity Investments experienced shock and duress on finding their account balances at $0.00 or worst yet, even unable to find their accounts on the internet. This is a result of Fidelity’s website going down, which the company is working to resolve amongst a blizzard of Tweets from worried clients. Fidelity has 30 million individual investors, some 29.6 million brokerage accounts with a total of $7.8 trillion dollars in total customer assets.
4) Stock market closings for – 20 FEB 20:
Dow 29,219.98 down 128.05 Nasdaq 9,750.96 down 66.22 S&P 500 3,373.23 down 12.92
1) Negative yielding debt are bonds with an interest rate below 0%. Since the peaking of the U.S.- China trade dispute, a third of all investment grade bonds have rates below 0%, for a total of $17 trillion dollars. This forces portfolio managers into riskier assets to deliver returns. But because the global economy is not growing any more, the bonds may not be saleable.
2) The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in the face of 275 abuse lawsuits and another 1,400 potential cases to come. The organization has already paid out more than $150 million dollars in settlements and legal cost. Its strategy is to contain financial damage of abuse scandals and emerge as a more sustainable organization.
3) The luxury automaker JLR (Jaguar Land Rover) is facing halts in their UK production plants because of supply chain problems from the deadly coronavirus in China. The company is racing to prevent plant closures by the end of the month, going to such extreme measures as flying critical parts out of China in suitcases. Fiat Chrysler’s European plants are facing similar closures from parts shortages.
4) Stock market closings for – 18 FEB 20:
Dow 29,232.19 down 165.89
Nasdaq 9,732.74 up 1.57
S&P 500 3,370.29 down 9.87
1) In order to help contain the Chinese coronavirus outbreak, China’s central bank has started deep cleaning and destroying potentially infected cash. The virus appears able to survive on surfaces for many hours which is why buildings in affected areas are regularly disinfecting elevator buttons, door handles and other commonly touched surfaces. Since cash money changes hands multiple times in a day, it too is a potential media to transmit the virus. The cash is disinfected with ultraviolet light and high temperatures, then stored for seven to fourteen days before returning to circulation.
2) The price of wine is expected to drop to its lowest levels in five years, in part because of a surplus of grapes in California. Additionally, there is a decreased demand for wine, with the lower prices lasting up to three years. Vineyards began planting thousands of acres of new vines in 2016, plus more efficient harvesting methods have combined to increase the supply of grapes.
3) GM (General Motors) has decided to pull out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand as part of their strategy to exit markets that don’t produce adequate returns on investments. The car maker has 828 employees in Australia and New Zealand and another 1,500 in Thailand which will be eliminated.
4) Stock market closings for – 17 FEB 20:
Dow 29,398.08 down 25.23 Nasdaq 9,731.18 up 19.21 S&P 500 3,380.16 up 6.22