25 March 2021

1) There is a large backup of freighters parked in the San Francisco Bay and in Long Beach, which are awaiting an opening at the Port of Oakland. This is because of a trade bottleneck, a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, thereby leaving U.S. businesses anxiously awaiting goods from Asia. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the supply chain since early 2020, because it forced the closure of factories throughout China. The problem arose last March, when Americans stayed home, thus dramatically changing their buying habits. Instead of clothes, they bought electronics, fitness equipment and home improvement products. In turn U.S. companies responded by flooding the reopened Asian factories with orders, which then lead to a chain reaction of congestion at ports and freight hubs as the goods began arriving. Ships with as many as 14,000 containers have sat offshore, some of them for over a week, with as many as 40 ships waiting.

2) The manufacturing crisis with automakers continues to grow, with the auto industry bracing for more chip shortages after a fire at a plant owned by Japanese chipmaker Renesas. The company makes chips for Toyota, Nissan and Honda, and expects production at one of the buildings at its Naka Factory in Hitachinaka to be halted for a month. Renesas said the fire started when some equipment overheated and ignited, though it isn’t known what caused it to overheat. Renesas said two-thirds of the products made in the building could be produced elsewhere, although due to the recent increase in demand for semiconductors, the situation does not allow for all products to be immediately produced alternatively. This further reduction in semiconductor production will further reduce production of automobiles worldwide.

3) North Korea tells China they should team up as ‘Hostile Forces’. North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un reportedly praised his country’s close ties with neighboring China, looking to boost their ties to counter the hostile policies of the United States. China and North Korea’s close ties date back to the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, then the outbreak of the Korean War a year later. In the war, Chinese troops supported North Korean forces with the backing of the Soviet Union, against South Korea and a U.S. led United Nations coalition. However, the fighting ended in a stalemate with an armistice but no official peace, which continues to this day. The North Korea considers that the world is now undergoing transformations rarely seen in a century, which is also overlapped by the ‘once in a century’ pandemic. What this portents for China and North Korea’s future actions . . . only time will tell.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 MAR 21:

Dow Jones 32,420 down by 3.09
NASDAQ 12,962 down by 265.81
S&P 500 3,889 down by 21.38

10 Year Yields: 1.6280

Oil: up at 64.41

2 March 2021

1) The electronics giant Best Buy, has laid off 5,000 full time staff in a move the electronic retailer says was caused by changing consumer patterns because of the coronavirus, and the result of online sales growth in the Amazon race. Driven by the pandemic, their online sales has grown by almost 90 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous year. With many Americans stuck at home, there has been a surge in demand for items ranging from computers, gaming consoles to kitchen appliances. But the retailer said that owing to a spike in online sales, which have more than doubled so far in 2021 compared with the same time last year, the retailer needs fewer full-time staff and so plans to add 2,000 part-time workers to their staff.

2) Newport News Shipbuilding, the largest industrial employer in Virginia, has announced the layoffs for 314 employees. In addition, they are moving about 120 managers to lower-level positions. These changes are necessary cost controls to help ensure the shipyard’s future and the afford ability of the ships it builds, while also reducing the number of management layers. The Newport News Shipbuilding company designs, builds and refuels nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and designs and builds nuclear-powered submarines, while employing roughly 26,000 workers.

3) The badly mauled U.S. shale industry is finding a resurgence in one of the most unlikely places . . . private operators that most investors have never heard of. For instance, the case of little known and closely held DoublePoint Energy. It is now running more rigs in the Permian Basin than the giant Chevron Corp. The family owned Mewbourne Oil Co. has about the same number of rigs as Exxon Mobil Corp does. Once minor players, private drillers hold half the horizontal rig count as of December. It’s the first time in the modern shale era that they have risen to the level of the supermajors. This is the result from the big guys starting to show restraint. They’ve dialed back drilling after the pandemic sent oil prices into collapse. Now that the market is on the rise again, the majors and publicly-traded counterparts are mostly sticking to the mantra of discipline, all but ending shale’s decade-long assault on OPEC for market share. But if private drillers keep expanding at their current pace, it could eventually mean that U.S. production ends up on the higher end of analyst forecasts. And that, of course, could weigh on prices. Oil’s dizzying collapse last year is still fresh in the minds of many, and shareholders are quick to punish the producers they think are getting too aggressive.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 MAR 21:

Dow 31,535.51 up by 603.14
Nasdaq 13,588.83 up by 396.48
S&P 500 3,901.82 up by 90.67

10 Year Yield: down at 1.45%

Oil: down at $60.34

17 JUL 2020

1) Looming in the wings of the pandemic crisis is another major crisis . . . and epidemic of evictions. With the unemployment rate still more than 10% and eviction protections lapsing across America, housing experts expect millions of Americans to lose their homes in the coming months. For millions of Americans, the housing situation was already precarious before the pandemic. Many are paying large percentages of their monthly incomes toward rent, but don’t have enough to cover an unexpected expense of just a few hundred dollars. With insufficient money from unemployment, people are facing living on the streets during 100 degree plus temperatures, hurricane season and possibly freezing weather if the problem continues. This would also mean increased exposure to the Convid-19 virus.

2) A bright spot in the economy is that retail sales rose again for the second straight month as shoppers slowly trickle back into stores. But with conronavirus cases on the rise, this could be short lived. Sales increased 7.5% for June, from May, better than the 5% estimated by economists. Sales were driven by clothing, electronics and appliances as well as home furnishing. Still, foot traffic through stores is way down, people coming in with specific items to consider buying instead of just browsing. So far this year, 4,000 stores are closing permanently with as many as 25,000 expected by the end of the year. Last year, there were 9,302 store closing.

3) The traditional investing axiom of 60/40 portfolios is coming into question. This is the mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, which is generally considered the best risk minimizing strategy for individuals to use in building their fortune. But with Treasury yields now hovering around zero, and expected to stay there for years, those gains are in doubt. For decades, this strategy has given the best returns with the least risk in times of volatile markets. Consequently, investors are scrutinizing the strategy as maybe out of date in a changing economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 JUL 20:

Dow 26,734.71 down 135.39
Nasdaq 10,473.83 down 76.66
S&P 500 3,215.57 down 10.99

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: down at $40.80