11 October 2019

1) Social Security recipients will receive a 1.6% cost of living increase in 2020, up from the average of 1.4%. This is less than the pervious two years, 2.8% for 2019 and 2.0% for 2018, but still it’s better than the zero increases of 2010, 2011 and 2016.

2) Because of a pig killing disease in China, the U.S. could see tightening supplies of pork products this next year. With China’s supply of pork decreasing, the Chinese may be forced to import significant pork supplies from the U.S. because pork is a major source of protein in the Chinese diet. This is despite the high tariffs China has imposed on U.S. pork imports. American pork exports to China will see about a 12% increase for 2019 and 13% for 2020.

3) Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is causing concerns among businessmen with her promises to remake capitalism from the ground up. Now in the front ranks of Democratic contenders, her plans are now viewed with more concern. Warren would drastically cut back on the amount and influence of big business, push private companies from parts of the economy altogether and shift power to government and labor. The presidential contender has blamed big business for a wide range of social problems.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 OCT 19:

Dow             26,496.67    up    150.66
Nasdaq         7,950.78     up      47.04
S&P 500        2,938.13    up       18.73

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.66%

Oil:    up   at    $53.94

8 October 2019

1) GE (General Electric) announced they will freeze pensions for about 20,000 salaried U.S. employees in order to help the ailing conglomerate cut debt and reduce its retirement fund by $8 billion dollars. Presently, the company has $105.8 billion dollar debt. Their pension plans are among it biggest liabilities and is underfunded by about $27 billion dollars. This move will not effect present retirees who are collecting their pensions.

2) Twenty-one days into the strike, the UAW (United Auto Workers) and GM (General Motors) contract talks have taken a turn for the worse. The snag is product commitments for U.S. factories for new vehicles, engines, transmissions and other items represented by the union. GM is losing $80 million dollars a day, while striking workers are earning about one fifth their regular pay as $260 a month strike benefits.

3) The U.S. railroads slump is getting worse from the slowdown as manufacturing threatens U.S. economy. Trucking is also feeling a slowdown with less than truckload cargos decreasing, although long haul trucking seems to be holding up. Truck rates have dropped, which is pulling some freight business away from trains.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 OCT 19:

Dow                26,478.02    down    95.70
Nasdaq             7,956.29    down    26.18
S&P 500            2,938.79    down     13.22

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.55%

Oil:    down   at    $52.80

7 October 2019

1) As part of its restructuring plan, HP announced they will cut about 7,000 to 9,000 jobs, resulting in an estimated savings of about $1 billion dollars. While HP expects to incur labor and non-labor cost of about $1 billion dollars, they expect to generate at lease $3 billion dollars of free cash flow. As of 31 October 2018, HP had world wide employment of about 55,000 workers.

2) Consumer spending has been the bright spot in an economy showing signs of weakening on multiple fronts, in particular manufacturing. Economists worry if consumer spending will continue to prop up the economy, saying that the up coming Christmas season will be a test. Issues such as trade, interest rates, global risk factors and political rhetoric are where confidence can be eroded by deterioration of these items.

3) The new Costco in Shanghai China reports membership of more than 200,000 as compared to an American average of 68,000 per store. Costco will open a second Shanghai location in early 2021. The first day opening, the store was so swamped with customers, that the doors had to be closed for four hours to limit the number of people inside to safe limits.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 OCT 19:

Dow                  26,573.72    up    372.68
Nasdaq               7,982.47    up    110.21
S&P 500              2,952.01    up      41.38

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.52%

Oil:    up   at    $53.01

2 October 2019

1) The retailer giant Amazon is expanding into the grocery business by leasing retail space across the Los Angeles area, signing leases for more than twelve locations. This is the first step of plans to open grocery stories across the nation. Amazon job postings are looking for people to work in retail concepts for a multiple customer experiences under one roof. Stores are reportedly to be about 35,000 square feet and intended to compete with big box stores such as Walmart, Target and Kroger.

2) The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index dropped to 47.8 last month, the lowest since June 2009, below the forecast 49.1. Indexes below 50 indicate a contraction in manufacturing. Manufacturing accounts for 12% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), so a slowdown could effect other parts of the economy. Other indicators have shown output increased over last month.

3) Oil prices record its weakest quarter since late last year as fears over a global economic slowdown overshadowed the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities. Brent futures are down 8.7% since the end of June, despite the peak after the attacks. The price of oil is considered an economic indicator, since demand goes down as economies slow down, making more oil available, thus causing oil prices to decline.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 OCT 19:

Dow               26,573.04    down    343.79
Nasdaq            7,908.68    down      90.65
S&P 500           2,940.25    down      36.49

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.64%

Oil:    down   at    $53.98

25 September 2019

1) There are fears that the repo (repurchase agreements) market or short term funding, where banks lend to each other, is looking like it did on the 2007 market crash. The Federal Reserve Bank injected hundreds of billions of dollars into the repo system after it seized up last week when the interest rates quadruple. This has been coming about for the last several years after the Fed ended the policy of quantitative easing (QE) in order to increase liquidity to encourage banks to lend more. The squeeze like last week’s indicates there isn’t enough reserves in the financial system for the repo markets to operate. This means the government is having to buy back treasury securities.

2) Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has propose a tax that would cut billionaires’s net worth in half. This wealth tax takes Elizabeth Warren’s idea and pushes it even further, with Sanders goal to cut American billionaires’ fortunes in half over 15 years. This wealth tax would raise an estimated $4.35 trillion dollars over the next decade by targeting 0.1% of U.S. households.

3) The consumer confidence index has declined by the most in nine months. Americans’ expectations for the economy and the job market deteriorated posing a risk to the household spending that is key to growth. The index dropped from 134.2 to 125.1, the lowest level since January. The overall measure remains elevated suggesting consumers will continue to support the record long U.S. expansion via spending.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 SEP 19:

Dow               26,807.77    down    142.22
Nasdaq            7,993.63    down    118.84
S&P 500         2,966.60    down       25.18

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.64%

Oil:    $56.80

18 September 2019

1) World oil prices dropped sharply with Saudi Arabian source saying that their oil production could be fully back on line within weeks. This is far sooner than was initially assumed by world markets. Production may be back up in as little as two to three weeks. The attacks resulted in the largest single supply disruption in half a century.

2) Economists say the GM (General Motors) strike no longer has the economic impact that they once did. They assert it will take a lengthy shutdown to make a national impact. This is a result of GM’s market share shrinking while its work force is now smaller, in part because of automation. A prolonged strike could impact the economy by disrupting the supply chain effecting other industries. GM has shifted workers health care cost to the UAW (United Auto Workers) union, increasing pressure on the union for a quick settlement.

3) There are expectations that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates on Wednesday for the second time in two months with another likely cut later this year. The consensus is the feds will drop the interest rate by about a quarter percent in an attempt to starve off the world economic slowdown from reaching America. Job growth has slowed and the index of manufacturing activity shows contraction, increasing fears that a recession will happen in the near future.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 SEP 19:

Dow                 27,110.80    up    33.98
Nasdaq             8,186.02    up    32.47
S&P 500            3,005.70    up      7.74

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.81%

Oil:    down   at    $58.81

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

9 September 2019

1) Several state attorney generals will investigate Facebook for possible stifling competition and putting users at risk. This comes after reports that Google will face antitrust investigations from state attorney generals. The investigations will center on actions that endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices or increased the price of advertising. States investigating include New York, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

2) President Trump unhappy at GM for decision to close four of its domestic auto plants. General Motors, which was once the giant automaker in Detroit, is now one of the smallest. GM has gone from 33 plants in the US to 29, but has an additional 27 manufacturing plants in China. Presently, GM sells more cars in China than it does in America. This accounts for $16 billion dollars in profit for GM.

3) The American consumer is carrying the U.S. economy in last quarter. The personal expenditures rose last quarter while business and residential investment, net exports and inventories have declined. There are concerns that consumers may rein in spending from fears of economic future. Global commerce is slowing, partly in response to the trade war, and without strong consumer spending it’s hard to see alternate sources of economic growth.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 SEP 19:

Dow               26,797.46         up     69.31
Nasdaq            8,103.07    down    13.75
S&P 500           2,978.71          up      2.71

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.55%

Oil:     up   at    $56.73

6 September 2019

1) The Exxon Mobil oil giant agreed to sell its Norwegian oil and gas assets for as much as $4 billion dollars. The U.S. firm is exiting from production in the country after more than a century doing business there. In 2017, Exxon produced 170,000 barrels of oil per day from its Norwegian operations. The shares in Exxon, the world’s biggest publicly traded oil company, rose 1.7% on the news.

2) The announcement that China and America would resume trade talks pushed the price of oil up from optimism of an improving world economy. Chinese trade negotiators will come to Washington in early October for talks. Gasoline and distillate supplies fell, as well as stockpiles in storage.

3) Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, forecast that negative rates will soon spread to the U.S. Negative rates are now in Belgium, Germany, France and Japan with $16 trillion dollars in negative yielding debt instruments around the world. Ten year sovereign bonds are trading with a negative rate. The thirty year U.S. rate is trading at 1.95% reaching an all time low.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 SEP 19:

Dow                   26,728.15    up    372.68
Nasdaq                8,116.83    up    139.95
S&P 500               2,976.00    up       38.22

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.56%

Oil:     down   at    $56.17

21 August 2019

1) The Dollar has hit its highest value for 2019, as measured by the Bloomberg Dollar Index. This is when President Trump wants the Dollar value lowered to position America better in international trade. The President claims that the Dollar is so strong now, that it is hurting other parts of the world. He is even suggesting that the U.S. should actually weaken the Dollar, although this could turn the trade conflict into a currency war. Presently, the U.S. economy is doing much better than global peers, so it is unlikely to deteriorate faster than other countries and therefore is unlikely for the Dollar to weaken on its own accord.

2) The millennials are turning away from the large elaborate houses of the baby boomers in the sun belt. Houses built before 2012 are being sold at a deep discount, sometimes as much as a half, so owners are not making a profit. Large homes are receiving 12% to 45% fewer views on the internet and are selling up to 73% slower.

3) America’s steel giant, U.S. Steel announced layoffs of hundreds of its workers in Michigan. The layoffs are expected to be temporary because of a halt in production at the Michigan facility, while also idling two blast furnaces. The reason for production cutbacks is lower steel prices and softening demand. The layoffs are anticipated to last about six months. U.S. Steel’s stock has dropped 73% since March of 2018.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 AUG 19:

Dow              25,962.44    down    173.35
Nasdaq           7,948.56    down      54.25
S&P 500          2,900.51    down      23.14

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.56%

Oil:    down   at    $56.12