1) Oil has passed$40 a barrel, continuing a slow but steady recovery. This could be signaling a reawakening of the U.S. shale oil production. This rally allows the oil industry some breathing room with its high debt burden as the shale oil industry seeks to rebuild after the worst price collapse in a generation. This is far different than earlier this year when oil producers were paying to have their oil taken away. OPEC+ continues efforts to re-balance the global oil market, now abundantly clear that everyone loses in a price war.
2) More encouraging economic news with Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler returning to pre-coronavirus pandemic production schedules in their American plants. Ford plans to fully return to production levels by July 6 while also ramping up their production facilities in Mexico. Although not given any firm dates, Fiat Chrysler is also returning to former production levels as rapidly as possible.
3) Experts are predicting the restaurant business, as we know it, is coming to an end because of the Convid-19 crisis. The industry generates $900 billion dollars a year, employs 15 million people, which is 15 times more than the airline business, which many are so concerned about now. Estimates vary widely of 20 to 80% of the privately own restaurants succumbing to the pandemic. The big franchise restaurant chains are expected to mostly survive and continue, but the independents are expected to fade out. One factor is change, which is coming too fast for small operations to adapt and keep pace with. The general consensus is that the business was in trouble long before the pandemic, struggling with poor working conditions, very thin profit margins, low wages and increasing competition. But it’s not just the restaurants themselves, for behind them is farming, distribution, suppliers and commercial real estate. It’s apparent that the demise of a significant number of independent restaurants will spell a significant change to the American business environment.
4) Stock market closings for – 19 JUN 20:
Dow 25,871.46 down 208.64 Nasdaq 9,946.12 up 3.07 S&P 500 3,097.74 down 17.60
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1) Analyst say Netflix, the video streaming service, must lower its prices in 2020 to avoid lost of millions of its U.S. customers because of the rising competition. It is suggested that Netflix must add a second lower priced service to compete with Disney+, Apple+, Hulu, CBS All Access and Peacock, otherwise they risk losing four million U.S. subscribers. Since Netflix’s balance sheet cannot withstand lower revenues, the company must create a pricing tier that has lower monthly cost, but still support advertising revenue.
2) Mortgage lenders are warned to brace for a downturn, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pulling back on some mortgages meant to make home ownership more affordable. They are reducing the proportion of loans they back to borrowers with small down payments. This tamping down on risk is to limit their defaults thereby producing greater profits.
3) Morgan Stanley, the investment bank giant, is cutting about 1,500 jobs globally in a year end push for efficiency. The cuts are more in the technology and operations divisions, but include executives in sales, trading and research operations including several managing directors. These reductions amount to about 2% of the firm’s workforce with a charge between $150 to $200 million dollars in its fourth quarter.
4) Stock market closings for – 10 DEC 19:
Dow 27,881.72 down 27.88 Nasdaq 8,616.18 down 5.64 S&P 500 3,132.52 down 3.44
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
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
1) Stock markets fell sharply over new trade war moves with the Dow dropping over 700 points and the S&P and Nasdaq also sharply dropping too. Troubles renewed with China devaluating its currency, opening at seven yuan to the U.S. dollar. In return President Trump accused China of manipulating its currency which suggests the Chinese have abandoned all hopes of resolving the trade war with America, and instead are moving in another direction for the future. Reports are that China has asked state owned companies to suspend U.S. agriculture imports. A weaker Chinese currency gives them an unfair export advantage, and so can be used as a potent weapon in the trade war.
2) Fears continue to increase over a near future recession, with bond yields giving the highest alert since 2007. The 10-year notes sank on Monday to 1.74% with fears of it sinking to a low of 1.5%. This is further pressure for the feds to further cut interest rates to starve off a recession. There are further concerns about the trade war with China that America will move to let the dollar weaken to counter China’s devaluation. Wall Street’s VIX volatility index, also know as their ‘fear gage’ rose to 21.48, its highest level since May 9, with Asian markets also plummeting.
3) Huawei, China’s manufacture of smart phones, might release a phone running the HongMeng OS by the end of the year. HongMeng OS is a competitor to Google’s Android OS, which would free Huawie paying licensing fees for other’s operating systems, allowing Huawei to undercut competition in the low end smart phone market. This is a response to President Trump’s executive order banning Google and Qualcomm from Huawei over security risks. The HongMeng OS is considered part of a long term strategy.
4) Stock market closings for – 5 AUG 19:
Dow 25,717.74 down 767.27 Nasdaq 7,726.04 down 278.03 S&P 500 2,844.74 down 87.31
Jeff Bezos and Amazon (AMZN) are on a buying up everything and anything run. Amazon (AMZN) will be purchasing the healthy food store chain Wholefoods Inc (WFM), which practically is a nationwide conglomerate in its own right.
The sale now puts Amazon (AMZN) as owners of hundreds of Whole Foods (WFM) stores and subsidiaries around the country, and spearheading them with a potential rivalry with heavyweight retail chain Walmart Stores Inc (WMT). The current CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc ( John Mackey), will remain as Whole Foods (WMT) CEO, after the Amazon (AMZN) buyout. The sale of Whole Foods (WMT) increased the company’s market share by 21% on the NASDAQ boards, on Friday June 16, 2017.
Whole Foods Market Inc (WMT) has been suffering as of late and the buyout to Amazon (AMZN) seemed a natural fit for CEO Mackey, who was fighting internal control of the company from activist investors. -SB