17 September 2019

1) The drone attacks on two Saudi oil refineries has caused a jump in world oil prices. The strikes wiped out half of Saudi Arabia’s output capacity leading to fears of de-stabilization of the world’s crude producing region and therefore to the world’s economy. Prices for oil leaped with the opening of markets on Monday, the biggest jump in prices ever. President Trump claims that Iran was behind the attacks and that a coalition should be formed to counter the threat of Iran. The strike was made using 10 drones with the disruption surpassing the Kuwaiti invasion by Saddam Hussein in 1990.

2) UAW (United Auto Workers) workers at GM (General Motors) have gone on strike which has shut down the automakers highly profitable U.S. operations. Lost production is expected to cost GM $40 to $50 million dollars a day. There are a number of issues which GM and union officials said must be resolved before a new contract can be signed. The UAW wants to block the closing of plants engaged in manufacturing of sedans, which the company and other manufactures are discontinuing as the market goes to SUVs and crossover automobiles.

3) Gold and silver prices have surged from the global turmoil of Saudi oil attacks. Gold and silver are the traditional safe haven for investors in times of uncertainty. This gives further impetus to lower the interest rates by a quarter point to counter a slide into a recession.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 SEP 19:

Dow            27,076.82    down    142.70
Nasdaq        8,153.54    down      23.17
S&P 500       2,997.96    down        9.43

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.84%

Oil:    down   at    $61.90

1 July 2019

1) Consumer spending increased in May as well as prices creeping up too. Both point to a slowing economic growth and benign inflation pressures. These two facts gives the Federal Reserve more reason to cut interest rates next month. Inflation is under the 2% target for this year with a projected 1.5% verses 1.8% originally expected. Consumer spending is about two thirds the U.S. economy.

2) Consumerism is changing fast, with a push to ‘no cashier checkouts’. Amazon Go stores are pushing the technology where sales payment is made automatically just by picking out items and walking out the door. E-commerce and on-line shopping continue their assault on traditional brick and mortar stores. Another strategy is showrooms in place of stores that allow the customer to try out products prior to purchasing them. Finally, drone delivery allows getting your purchases at home in less time than it takes to drive to and from a store. All these new technologies are coming together with increased profits by reducing labor cost.

3) The weekly jobless claims has increased more than expected, although there is no sign of significant layoffs as the economy slows down. Unemployment claims were 227,000 up by 10,000. The economy is slowing with manufacturing sliding down and the trade deficient widening as consumer confidence ebbs.

4) Stock market closings for- 28 JUN 19: Results from bank stress test edged markets up. Best June performance since 1938.

Dow            26,599.96    up    73.38
Nasdaq         8,006.24    up    38.49
S&P 500        2,941.76    up    16.84

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.00%

Oil:    down   at    $58.20