2 December 2020

1) Orders for long-lasting goods, such as computers and military weapons, rose again in October by 1.3%. Additionally business investment increased for the sixth straight month, despite the question if manufacturers will escape the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. The surge in orders was driven by Pentagon spending, so if defense spending is excluded, orders rose a modest 0.2%. The demand for computers and related products has increased during the pandemic, from so many people working from home and needing upgraded equipment. Orders for new cars and trucks declined 3.2%, but new jobless claims rose for the second week in a row to a five-week high, pointing to an increase in layoffs. Manufacturers are less likely to be affected since they have more control over their work environments.

2) The U.S. has added 10,000 ‘budget dollar retail outlets’ since 2001, but some towns and cities are trying to push back. This is becoming a common story. A dollar store opens up in an economically depressed area, with little for healthy and affordable food options, sometimes with the help of local tax incentives. It advertises hard-to-beat low prices but it offers little in terms of fresh produce and nutritious item . . . further trapping residents in a cycle of poverty and ill-health. Since 2001, outlets of Dollar General and Dollar Tree (which bought Family Dollar in 2015) have grown from 20,000 to 30,000 in number, the number of dollar-store outlets nationwide now exceeds Walmart and McDonalds put together, and they’re still growing at a breakneck pace. This raises questions of poor nutrition in neighborhoods with limited full service food retailers. So now, communities are standing up saying that while the dollar stores may be good in the short term, in the long term there are serious disadvantages.

3) American bank profits were significantly higher in the third quarter than the first half of 2020, but still lags behind 2019 levels. Their profits jumped 173% in the third quarter, but that amount is still 10.7% lower than 2019 levels, with about half of banks reporting lower profits than a year prior. The banking industry is well capitalized with ample liquidity and so far has weathered the economic effects of the pandemic. An explosion in bank deposits drove profits up, but that appears to have now slowed.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 DEC 20:
Dow 29,823.92 up by 185.28
Nasdaq 12,355.11 up by 156.37
S&P 500 3,662.45 up by 40.82
10 Year Yield: up at 0.93%
Oil: down at $44.36