27 March 2020

1) The $2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill has been passed and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the people should receive cash payments within three weeks. The IRS has been tasked with distributing the monies, but the agency is hobbled by obsolete technologies such as 1960’s era computers, limited staff and a small budget. So there are questions if the agency can get the job done in a timely manner, let alone in three weeks. Experts say its more like a matter of months rather than weeks for Americans to receive their check.

2) Almost 3.3 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits this last week, more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982. This is a result of the wide spread economic shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic. This rate of layoffs is expected to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession with the collapse of revenues for a wide range of businesses. Economist predict the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May.

3) Gold has traditionally been a panic investment which people and nations buy to protect the value of their money. The worldwide panic over the coronavirus coupled with a flood of stimulus by central banks has ignited demand for gold to store wealth. But the gold market is running into difficulties in buying. Stored in high security vaults, government mandated shut downs have left access iffy. Also, refiners of gold have been forced to close because of the virus. Transporting gold is done via airlines, but the sharp drop in air service has also made transport of the metal difficult. All these factors have put a squeeze on gold futures.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 MAR 20:

Dow 22,552.17 up 1351.62
Nasdaq 7,797.54 up 413.24
S&P 500 2,630.07 up 154.51

10 Year Yield: down at 0.81%

Oil: down at $23.18

26 March 2020

1) The coronavirus crisis has also crippled the sales of automobiles with March sales down by an expected 35.5% and 15.3% decline expected for 2020. The decline poses the largest threat to the auto industry since the Great Recession which resulted in the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler. Globally, auto sales are expected to drop by 12%, which is greater than the 8% of the Great Recession. Most dealers are keeping their doors open, although some are only allowed to keep their service centers open during the shutdown order.

2) The coronavirus crisis has brought negative rates to the U.S., the first time for negative yields on government debt. The yields on both one-month and three-month Treasury bills have dipped below zero on Wednesday. Negative yields have been a part of European markets for months now, with many expecting the same to come to America.

3) Many entertainment facilities and events have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic with the closing of Disneyland and Disney World being the first world renowned closures. A long list of political events, theme parks, sporting events and leagues, cultural and concerns closures has been joined by the announcement that the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has been postpone for a year. The economic losses, both direct and indirect, are near incalculable to make. This will add to the total economic downturn of the world with innumerable support and supply businesses suffering.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 MAR 20:

Dow 21,200.55 up 495.64
Nasdaq 7,384.30 down 33.56
S&P 500 2,475.56 up 28.23

10 Year Yield: up at 0.86%

Oil: up at $24.31

20 March 2020

1) Today, more coronavirus concerns have surfaced that most airlines will go bankrupt soon without government bailouts. The virus has shut global aviation down because of virus outbreaks as well as travel restrictions that are intended to contain the virus. Within weeks, many airlines will need government help to avoid bankruptcy. Major U.S. airlines are seeking $50 billion dollars in financial assistance because of the steep falloff in U.S. travel demand. Estimates are for $25 billion dollars in grants, $25 billion dollars in loans and significant tax relief to survive.

2) Monday markets opened with another sharp downfall of all three major markets despite the Federal Reserve embarking on a massive monetary stimulus campaign to curb the slowing economic growth from the coronavirus. Shortly after opening, trading was halted for fifteen minutes from a ‘circuit breaker’ triggered by the S & P 500. The U.S. central bank has launched a massive $700 billion dollar quantitative easing program designed to help cushion the economic downside from the virus. The Dow was down 11% while both the Nasdaq and S & P fell more than 10%.

3) As fears grow of a world economic downturn, which will put economic stress on the U.S. economy, people are becoming concerned about their jobs. American workers may lose their jobs by the millions as the effects of the virus ripple through the financial system, the impact being devastating. The disease has spread rapidly around the world with whole nations shutting down as well as major cities. It’s unknown just what the impact will be for the world economy, when major economic areas isolate themselves from the system, even for a few weeks. Many segments of the economy are reporting significant problems which can lead to further problems across the U.S. and world economy. All this translates into layoffs, at a time when the young people of America have limited opportunities.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 MAR 20:

Dow 20,087.19 up 88.27
Nasdaq 7,150.58 up 160.73
S&P 500 2,409.39 up 11.29

10 Year Yield: down at 1.12%

Oil: up at $25.08

16 March 2020

1) Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft is stepping down from the company’s board of directors, which makes it the biggest boardroom departure in the tech industry, since the death of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Additionally, Mr. Gates is vacating his board seat at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., intending to devote his time to his philanthropic efforts. He will continue serving as a technical advisor to Microsoft.

2) Oil prices climbed up 5% on the announcement by President Trump that the Department of Energy would purchase crude for the nations’ strategic petroleum reserve. The objective is to boost oil prices to keep shale producers in business, because oil needs to be $40 or more a barrel to break even, depending on the particulars of an oil field. The shale oil companies are further in trouble because they are carrying a high debt level. Shale oil production is very capital intensive and therefore very sensitive to oil prices if companies aren’t to go bankrupt. Some suggest that the Russians engineered the rupture of the Saudi Arabia – Russian agreement to limit production levels as a means to cripple the U.S. shale oil production and thereby make America dependent on foreign oil again.

3) President Trump and the Congress have agreed on several provisions of a package, but have been far apart on others. Their discussions center on ways to minimize the economic impact of the coronavirus fears. One point is to ensure that every American can receive a virus test without consideration of money.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 MAR 20:

Dow 23,185.62 up 1985.00
Nasdaq 7,874.88 up 673.07
S&P 500 2,711.02 up 230.38
10 Year Yield: up at 0.95%
Oil: up at $32.93

12 March 2020

1) The WHO (World Heath Organization) has declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic, which in turn has cause the markets to make another plunge after its apparent recovery on Tuesday. The number of coronavirus cases world wide is now in excess of 100,000 with more than 1,000 in the U.S. The central banks in other western nations are cutting their interest rates in an attempt to minimize the effects of the virus and avoid a world wide economic slowdown. At present, there doesn’t seem to be an end to the markets volatility.

2) The United Kingdom is levying an additional 2% tax on big high tech companies starting the first of April. Call the ‘digital services tax’, it will levy a tax on the revenues from search engines, social media services and online marketplaces used by British citizens, but it only applies to companies making more than $650 million dollars and derive more than $35 million dollars revenue from UK users. This will encompass companies like Amazon, Apple, facebook and Google. The EU (European Union) is considering a similar tax, but with a 3% rate.

3) Oil production in the U.S. is expected to drop as a result of the dramatic collapse in oil prices. This would be the first decline in output since 2016 as drillers are cutting back on capital spending. Oil prices are below $35 a barrel, well below the breakeven price for most American shale fields. Oil prices have been pushed down by the economic impact of the coronavirus plus Saudi Arabia and Russian failing to agree on limited oil production.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 MAR 20 Stocks down 20% from their high.

Dow 23,553.22 down 1464.94
Nasdaq 7,952.05 down 392.20
S&P 500 2,741.38 down 140.85

10 Year Yield: up at 0.82%

Oil: down at $33.12

10 March 2020

1) Monday markets opened in a steep downward spiral from sell offs, driven by the coronavirus fears, followed by the sharp drop in oil prices. The Dow dropped 2,000 points, with a massive sell off of both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, which triggered a key market circuit breaker that halted trading for fifteen minutes. There are widespread fears over the economic impact of low oil prices, with some experts fearing oil prices down to $20 a barrel. Gold prices crossed the $1,700 dollar an ounce, hitting the highest since December 2012. The banks are hard pressed as the interest continues to sink, cutting into their margins.

2) Experts speculate that the Feds will cut the interest rate to zero in the next few months in an effort to forestall a downturn of the economy. The entire U.S. yield curve fell below 1% for the first time in history on expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut rates to zero in the next few months. Some speculate the Feds may adopt a negative rate just as some European countries have, such as Germany’s -1%.

3) While checkout-free with cashless supermarkets is now a novelty, Amazon expects this technology to spread to other retailers. Amazon has announced it plans to license its automated checkout technology to other retailers, telling of several other companies that have already signed up for the technology. The technology has been proven with cashless convenience stores across America and with Amazon’s new Go-supermarkets. The technology represents another significant step in retail automation.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 MAR 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude, but surprisingly effective in showing a sick economy.

Dow 23,851.02 down 2013.76
Nasdaq 7,950.68 down 624.94
S&P 500 2,746.56 down 225.81

10 Year Yield: down at 0.50%

Oil: down at $30.24

4 March 2020

1) In an emergency move the Federal Reserve has cut the interest rates by half a percent, in a effort to stem slower economic growth as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This action was two weeks before the Fed’s scheduled meeting where business was expecting a reduction of the rate anyway, but because of the volatile stock market, it was decided to move more quickly. The announcement sent the markets into wild gyrations over fears the state of the economy is worst than feared.

2) Walmart, the retailing giant, is experimenting with a new health center. People can receive routine checkups and ongoing treatment of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease at discount prices, with or without insurance. Services include lab work, x-rays, dental care, behavioral health counseling and eye and hearing exams. A checkup for an adult is $30, eye exam is $45 and dental exams for $25. Healthcare is 15% of the economy, and if the two test facilities prove successful, then Walmart is expected to expand the service to other stores. This service would also bring increased foot traffic to boost in-store sales.

3) The trading smartphone app Robinhood is experiencing a system wide outage on both its website and its app. Users are reporting issues on the platform, logging in and even trading. Equities, cryptocurrency and options trading are among some of the functionalities experiencing a major outage. Some users are demanding compensation for their losses during down times.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 MAR 20:

Dow 25,917.41 down 785.91
Nasdaq 8,684.09 down 268.08
S&P 500 3,003.37 down 86.86

10 Year Yield: down at 1.01%

Oil: down at $47.10

28 February 2020

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

10 Year Yield: down at 1.30%

Oil: down at $46.34

4 February 2020

1) All ready shaken by the trade war, China is now being racked by the coronavirus, with fears of the virus pushing the Chinese markets down by $393 billion dollars on the first day of trading since the Lunar New Year. This is an 8% drop on the Shanghai composite index, the biggest drop in more than four years. This is despite the biggest cash injection of China’s financial system since 2004. Additionally, commodities contracts have all posted sharp drops, a strong indication of an economic slowdown.

2) The shopping malls are dying as shopping habits of consumers change over to the internet. It’s estimated that 25% of American malls will shut their doors by 2022, and more of the 9,300 retail stores that closed in 2019 were in malls. Mall owners are searching for ways to halt the trend of shrinking retailing in malls, including buying major retail companies such as Forever 21 and Aeropostale.

3) As traditional brick-and-mortar stores continue its slide downwards, a number of companies are considered at risk of bankruptcy this next year. Stores like Neiman Marcus ply their way in red ink, including J. Crew, Francesca’s, Rite Aid, JCPenny, Pier 1, Dressbarn, Destination Maternity, Men’s Wearhouse and Stein Mart. Companies heavy into cloths and fashion ware are the ones struggling the most to avoid the bankruptcy courts.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 FEB 20:

Dow              28,399.81    up    143.78
Nasdaq          9,273.40    up     122.47
S&P 500         3,248.92    up       23.40

10 Year Yield:    unchanged   at    1.52%

Oil:    down   at    $49.91

27 January 2020

1) Bayer AG is facing a fourth jury trial over its Roundup weed killer causing cancer. Plaintiff’s claim glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is a carcinogen. In the three previous trials, Bayer was found liable for causing cancer resulting in damages of tens of millions of dollars, which are being appealed. The number of claimants are more than 75,000 although so far less than 50,000 claims have been formally filed.

2) Banks are raising the limit on people’s credit cards, even when they don’t ask for the raise. This is at a time when Americans are drowning in debt, in a effort to further boost their profits. For years Capital One financial Corp. resisted increasing limits of customers who looked vulnerable to getting over their heads in debt, but now have reversed their policy actively seeking more debt from customers.

3) A second coronavirus case has been confirmed in the U.S., a Chicago resident who had traveled to Wuhan in December. Wuhan is the center of virus outbreak in China, having already killed a couple of dozen or more people. China is now shutting down several very large cities in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease. Fears over the economic damage to the American economy has cause a sharp drop in the U.S. markets from news of a second coronavirus case. Presently, the U.S. government is monitoring passengers flying in from China for early signs of the illness hoping to quarantine the sick and prevent spreading of the virus.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 JAN 20:

Dow               28,989.73    down    170.36
Nasdaq            9,314.91    down      87.57
S&P 500           3,295.47    down       30.07

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.68%

Oil:    down   at    $54.20