1) The price of oil advanced as shrinking U.S. crude inventories added to expectations of a tighter global supply outlook after Saudi Arabia surprised the markets by pledging to reduce production for the next two months. Gasoline demand is falling to its lowest level since late May, spelling trouble for refining margins as a tighter global crude balance and straggling demand crimp profits for processing a barrel of oil. Saudi Arabia has decided to reduce crude output in February and March as part of an OPEC+ supply agreement. With the outlook for crude oil supply suddenly looking tighter, the oil options markets have grown less bearish.
2) A top scientist explains why a more infectious coronavirus variant is a bigger problem than a deadlier strain, with the deadly coronavirus having now mutated. One variant, called B.1.1.7, is more infectious, and has forced the UK into national lock down, with the variant having also been discovered in several US states, as well as other countries around the world. However, the new variant does not appear to be more deadly, so existing vaccines should also work against it. A really severe disease that one person gets won’t necessarily have as much impact as a lesser disease which a huge number of people get. While not any more deadly the new mutant B.1.1.7 is much more infectious, and is to blame for the surging numbers of people infected, filling up UK hospitals that forced the national lock down. It is estimated to have a 71% higher growth rate than other variants.
3) North Korea’s supreme ruler Kim Jong Un has announced a military expansion, but it is unclear if Pyongyang plans to ramp up its nuclear program too. This could put pressure on the incoming Joe Biden administration just when it is most vulnerable. North Korea plans to boost its military capacities in defiance of international sanctions, as well as a new five-year economic plan, admitting the previous program has failed. It’s unclear just what the military expansion will involve.
4) Stock market closings for – 7 JAN 21:
Dow 31,041.13 up by 211.73 Nasdaq 13,067.48 up by 326.69 S&P 500 3,803.79 up by 55.65
1) The markets took a sharp drop over fears of another shutdown as the number of Convid-19 cases began rising from states starting to opening up for business. The Dow Jones dropped over 1,800 points, closing on the worst day sell-off since March. It appears that this pandemic is going to linger longer than was anticipated. Texas has reported three consecutive days of record breaking Covid-19 hospitalizations. Nine counties in California are reporting spikes in hospital admissions from the virus. The U.S. now has topped 2 million cases in this pandemic. Also, oil prices have taken a sharp downward slide.
2) Inventories of unsold diamonds are increasing, with the five largest diamond producers having stockpiled excess inventories of about $3.5 billion dollars and could go as high as $4.5 billion dollars. World wide demand for diamonds has plummeted, with the renowned diamond supplier De Beers reporting diamond sales in May of about $35 million dollars, compared to last year’s $400 million dollars. The world wide lock down has closed jewelry stores across the world thereby reducing sales to a small fraction of normal. The diamond market resembles the diamond slump of the 2008 financial crisis.
3) More than 1.5 million Americans filed new jobless claims for the first week of June, again decreasing from the previous week of 1.9 million. This is in contrast to the 6.9 million claims in April, with a stead decline each week since then. There was 2.5 million jobs added to the American economy, largely due to 2.7 million workers returning from furloughs. Still, more than 40 million Americans have lost their jobs because of the pandemic forcing shutdowns of so many businesses across America. But the gradual improvement of employment is boosting hopes for a quick economic recovery, however, there remains the problem of technology displacement of jobs. In times of economic stress, businesses are seeking ways and means to cut operating cost, and that gives a niche for entry of new technologies that eliminate the human. Experts in Artificial Intelligence estimate that as much as 50% of the jobs will disappear in 15 to 25 years.
4) Stock market closings for – 11 JUN 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude but surprisingly effective at showing sickness.
Dow 25,128.17 down 1861.82 Nasdaq 9,492.73 down 527.62 S&P 500 3,002.10 down 188.04
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
1) Ikea, the pioneer of inexpensive self-assembled home furniture is adapting its manufacturing and marketing methods to inexpensive housing. Sections for homes will be built in factories, then quickly assemble into ready to move-in houses. Bringing the factory manufacturing techniques to homes would significantly reduce the cost as compared to the hand built housing techniques now used. This could open the way to home ownership by the younger generations.
2) Despite the continual upsurge of the markets, Americans aren’t convinced the economy is doing well. A survey shows 39% of U.S. consumers believe the economy is ‘not so good’ or even poor. Lower income Americans are not doing as well as macro indicators would suggest, despite getting more raises recently. These gains don’t offset years of high unemployment and stagnant wages.
3) A huge drop in U.S. crude oil inventories and the outlook for demand has pushed oil futures prices up to near $60 dollars a barrel. Domestic stockpiles fell by 12.8 million barrels last week, the biggest drop in supplies since September 2016. In the past week, oil futures have jumped 10%, with the traditional expected increase in oil demand with summer driving. Gasoline reserves are further aggravated by the fire at Philadelphia Energy Solutions, the East Coast’s largest refinery.
4) Stock market closings for- 26 JUN 19:
Dow 26,536.82 down 11.40 Nasdaq 7,909.97 up 25.25 S&P 500 2,913.78 down 3.60