6 August 2020

1) Rocket Companies Inc., the parent company of Rocket Mortgage and Quicken Loans, is trying to raise $2 billion dollars with an IPO (Initial Public Offering) after an initial capital target of $3.3 billion dollars. The reduction in the number of shares offered is believed to be because of push back from investors, who considered the valuation of the company as to high. This is based on the company being more of a consumer based company rather than a technology based company. The downsizing may signal that the IPO market’s rebound is straining as the coronavirus pandemic deepens in America.

2) Entertainment giant Disney has announced that its streaming service Disney+ (pronounced Disney plus) has surpassed 60 million subscribers, which is well ahead of Disney’s target. Disney forecasted having 60 to 90 million subscribers by 2024, fueling speculation that Disney+ has won the first stage of the streaming wars. Netflix presently has 193 million paying subscribers, but with Disney+, which was just launched last November less than a year ago, it’s clear that Disney is very rapidly gaining on Netflix, and liable to be passed by Disney in the near future. More importantly, Disney should reach profitability very soon too, something hard for new streaming services to do.

3) The ‘Services PMI’ index from the Institute for Supply Management, posted its second monthly gain in July. This indicated that despite the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the services economy keeps recovering. There is a continued weakness in the international component of services with worries of how the international economy will eventually effect America’s recovery. Investors remain focused on earnings and hopes of a vaccine to push the economy upwards more. There is still the looming question of how many of the small businesses will survive the pandemic, and therefore how much of the economy will be changed by their demise.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 AUG 20:

Dow 27,201.52 up 373.05
Nasdaq 10,998.40 up 57.23
S&P 500 3,327.77 up 21.26

10 Year Yield: up at 0.54%

Oil: up at $42.20

5 August 2020

1) The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has issued a 36 page document detailing the fixes and training that Boeing needs to implement so the 737 MAX can return to commercial service. The document was in the works before the planes were grounded in the spring of 2019, a result of two air crashes. There were few requirements that Boeing management wasn’t already aware of, and it’s considered a milestone in the certification process. The document only applies to 737 MAX aircraft flying in the U.S., and it is expected the changes will be adopted by aviation regulators around the world. Once done, all 737 MAX jets will undergo an operational readiness flight prior to returning each airplane to service. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency is waiting on doing its flight test as the FAA moves ahead.

2) The oil company giant Exxon Mobil Corp., is seeking the dismissal of a climate change lawsuit brought on by the Massachusetts attorney general. The lawsuit alleges that Exxon defrauded consumers and investors by the company’s public position on climate change, that Exxon hid its early knowledge of climate change and misled investors about the projected financial impact of global warming on its business. Exxon claims the law suit amounts to improper retaliation against the company over its views on climate change. The bases for Exxon’s challenge is the state’s anti-Slapp law which prohibits the use of litigation to punish a defendant for statements on matters that are under consideration by a legislative or judicial body.

3) The Department of Labor has come down hard on social investing or EAG, proposing rules that strongly limit such activities for private pension plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). They consider that pension fund investing is not the place to solve the ills of the world, that it is unlawful for a fiduciary to sacrifice return or accept additional risk to promote a public policy, political or any other nonpecuniary goal.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 AUG 20:

Dow 26,828.47 up 164.07
Nasdaq 10,941.17 up 38.37
S&P 500 3,306.51 up 11.90

10 Year Yield: down at 0.52%

Oil: up at $41.53

4 August 2020

1) Tailored Brands, who owns Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, has filed for bankruptcy, becoming the latest retailer to succumb to the pandemic. The Covid-19 has wiped out demand for office attire forcing the layoffs of 20% of its workforce and closing up to 500 stores. Lord & Taylor, one of the oldest department stores in America has also filed for bankruptcy. It has started liquidating 19 of its 38 stores. In the first half of 2020, more than 3,600 companies have filed for bankruptcy, with experts predicting that things are only going to get worse. Retail names such as Justice, Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, Luck Brand, J.C. Penny, Brooks Brothers, Sur La Table, Neiman Marcus, Tuesday Morning, Tailored Brands, GNC and J. Crew have gone into bankruptcy. Such a large number of retailers in trouble can only signal a fundamental change in the American economy.

2) The airline industry in America is facing a round of layoffs in the near future without additional federal aid to save jobs. The airlines received $32 billion dollars in federal payroll support from the CARES Act, with the condition of no layoffs until 30 September, and the anticipation of air traveling increasing by then. But this hasn’t occurred, so as the end of September approaches, layoffs loom. The airline unions have been pushing for an extension in payroll support to preserve the jobs sector of the airlines. American Airlines and United Airlines warn that more than 60,000 employees risk losing heir jobs when the aid terms expire. Other airlines like Alaska, Sprint and Frontier also warn of upcoming layoffs.

3) The owner of 7-Eleven is buying Marathon Petroleum’s Speedway gas stations for $21 billion dollars in cash. This will increase the present 9,800 convenience store chains by another 4,000. Investors were unnerved by the steep price for the deal, with shares falling nearly 9%. Like many other retailers, the chain has also been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with profits down significantly. Another acquisition that finalized is T-Mobile buying Sprint, with the Sprint brand name disappearing from the American business scene.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 AUG 20:

Dow 26,664.40 up 236.08
Nasdaq 10,902.80 up 157.52
S&P 500 3,294.61 up 23.49

10 Year Yield: up at 0.56%

Oil: down at $40.76

28 July 2020

1) Economist are warning that the economy needs help now to avoid faltering. As the President and Congress struggle to create another economic aid package, evidence is growing that the U.S. economy is headed for trouble, especially if the government doesn’t take steps to support hiring and economic growth. Experts say the economy is in a pretty fragile state again and needs another shot in the arm. Unemployment is still at a high 11.1% and hiring seems to be slowing in July, so the economy is likely to weaken further. Few economist consider that the recovery will be a V-shaped path, that is, the sharp recession will be followed by a quick rebound. In addition to helping the millions of unemployed Americans, the governments needs to help businesses from going bust.

2) There are five trends which indicate the U.S. economy is not rebounding as hope. The first is ‘Direction Requests’ on smart phones for walking and driving directions, have gone flat over the last few weeks indicating people are staying at home. The second is ‘Restaurant Bookings’ which show a 60% drop from last year. Third trend is ‘Hotel Occupancy’ which has stagnated with occupancy at 47%. ‘Air Travel’ was slowly increasing, but has also stagnated this last month with air travel down 70% from last year. Finally, ‘Home Purchases’ is increasing at a slow rate, a reflection of peoples uncertainty and changing employment status of potential buyers.

3) Price of gold continues to climb, as investors seek the safety of the yellow metal amidst economic fears of the future. Gold has historically been a refuge for money in times of economic uncertainty, a panic investment. Bullion has climbed to a record high of $1,946 per ounce. The real interest rates (less inflation) is driving investors to gold, as well as the tumbling dollar. Silver bullion is also increasing in price as another safe heaven for investing.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 JUL 20:

Dow 26,584.77 up 114.88
Nasdaq 10,536.27 up 173.09
S&P 500 3,239.41 up 23.78

10 Year Yield: up at 0.61%

Oil: up at $41.66

27 July 2020

1) Another indication of the contraction of the oil business is the oil services company Schlumberger who cut 21,000 jobs or about one fifth of its 105,000 global employees. This is a direct result of an expected 25% drop in the number of oil wells drilled worldwide. Revenues fell 58% from last year for north American operations. The world wide cornavirus crisis caused a massive drop in oil demand, which collapsed the price of oil.

2) Boeing aircraft is facing another trouble, this time with their older Boeing 737 jets. The FAA was warned of corrosion which could cause dual-engine failure, and has ordered inspections. The corrosion problem is a result of hundreds of aircraft now in storage that have been idled because of the drop in air travel from the virus. The order requires aircraft that have not been operated for a week or more must be inspected which will impact about 2,000 aircraft. The corrosion is in engine valves, which has caused single-engine shutdowns which resulted from engine bleed air valves being stuck open.

3) Junk bonds are back again, but are packaged in a format met to appeal to investors, avoiding their seamy 1980s era reputation. Low interest rates driven by the Federal reserve is encouraging companies to borrow, which has lead to a record $51.5 billion dollars worth of junk bonds issued in June. Junk bonds are bonds with high yields (interest rates) but having a lot higher risk. The high risk comes from companies fiscal ability to pay out the bond on maturity or dividends. In a recessionary environment awash in cheap money, a troubled company can collapse under the weight of their debt. But extensive use of junk bonds pose the same dangers of the mortgage backed securities in 2008 with massive failing of businesses pulling the already fragile economy down.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 JUL 20:

Dow 26,469.89 down 182.44
Nasdaq 10,363.18 down 98.24
S&P 500 3,215.63 down 20.03

10 Year Yield: up at 0.59%

Oil: up at $41.34

19 May 2020

1) The managing director Kristalina Georgieva of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) says the Fund is likely to revise downward its forecast of a 3% contraction of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for 2020. In turn, this will most likely cause a revision of the IMF’s forecast for a partial recovery of 5.8% in 2021. This means a longer time for a full economic recovery from the virus crisis. The IMF had forecasted that the business closures to slow the virus would throw the world into the deepest recession since the 1930’s Great Depression.

2) Gold markets have risen to their highest in more than seven years, a result of the Federal Reserve saying stocks and asset prices could suffer a significant decline as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The economic recovery could go to the end of 2021, depending on the arrival of an effective vaccine. Owning gold is considered to be a safe haven in times of economic turmoil, able to retain its value when other assets are sinking in value. Other precious metals such as silver, platinum and palladium are also experiencing a swing upward in price, but since these are commodities, their value may drop in a slower economy and reduced industrial demand.

3) The price of oil is above $30 a barrel for the first time in two months as U.S. and other country producers continue to cut production in order to restore the balance of the oil market. The world wide shut downs from the virus has drastically reduced the demand for oil world wide, with the world’s storage capacity quickly filling to maximum capacity, and for a time, producers having to pay to have their oil production removed. While the price of oil is still too low to salvage the shale oil (fracking) business in America, it still bodes well for the U.S. and world economies. Nevertheless, expectations are it will be well into the next year for the oil markets to be fully restored. Oil futures contracts that are due in June, show few signs of a resulting plunge in oil prices as when the May contracts came due and investors had to pay others to take their oil away.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 MAY 20:

Dow 24,597.37 up 911.95
Nasdaq 9,234.83 up 220.27
S&P 500 2,953.91 up 90.21

10 Year Yield: up at 0.74%

Oil: up at $32.21

15 May 2020

1) There are growing fears of another economic bomb about to go off. A popping of the housing bubble, much like the 2008 bubble collapse of the housing market, may happen as early as July. Last time, the collapse of the housing market played out over four years, but for the pandemic, the rate could be much faster, as is being seen with the stock market. Home sales have been languishing, especially with the treat of the virus and people reluctant to let strangers tour their homes with possible infections. It is estimated that 15% of homeowners will fall behind on their mortgages and this would mean more delinquencies than during the Great Depression. This in turn is causing a tightening of lending standards which could continue even after the crisis subsides. All this makes for a bubble waiting to burst.

2) Delta Air Lines Inc. has announced they plan to retire their fleet of eighteen Boeing 777 jumbo jets, and will replace them with Airbus SE aircraft. This constitutes another major financial blow to the beleaguered aircraft manufacture struggling with their 737 MAX troubles from over a year ago. Delta attributes the early retirement of their 777 fleet to the pandemic impact and the need to economize with newer fuel efficient aircraft.

3) Growing fears of a slow recovery is beginning to show cracks in the markets as investor’s anticipation of a quick recovery of the economy fades. For weeks, the hopes that the massive stimulus of $3 trillion dollars would spur a relatively quick recovery later in the year, coupled with a hot rebound of the stock market despite the massive numbers of layoffs, but now hope is fading. The growing economic uncertainty of just how many people can restart their lives amid the uncertainty of controlling the virus, plus the dangers of opening up too early, is causing investors to rethink their view of how the economy will fair in the next few months, even the next few years.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 MAY 20:

Dow 23,625.34 up 377.37
Nasdaq 8,943.72 up 80.55
S&P 500 2,852.50 up 32.50

10 Year Yield: down at 0.62%

Oil: up at $27.98

2 March 2020

1) The stock markets continue their downward crash over worries of the conronavirus impact on economies making the week the worst week since the financial crisis. Caterpillar, a bellwether stock for global growth, slide down 3%, the worst performer among Dow stocks. Apple dropped 2.9% while Chevron and Cisco Systems are down more than 2%. Investors are worried the downward slide may continue after the conronavirus subsides, especially if China doesn’t return to its previous position, so recovery could be a long haul.

2) The sale of smartphones is collapsing in China, which is the largest market in the world. The plunged in sales is directly due to the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese companies had skidded to a halt, with the accelerated outbreak last month a result of quarantine mandates, travel restrictions and factory shutdowns. Huawei, the Chinese tech company, is being hit hard because it is the top selling smartphone in China.

3) Gold prices have been acting strangely with the reversals in the markets because of coronavirus fears. Traditionally, gold has been a ‘panic investment’ that investors flee to when there’s economic uncertainty, but this time investors are selling gold to generate cash. They are fleeing anything priced via bidding, for safer assets such as treasury bonds, which in turn is driving down bond interest rates. This indicates how worried the professional investors are about the world economic system.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 FEB 20:

Dow 25,409.36 down 357.28
Nasdaq 8,567.37 up 0.89
S&P 500 2,954.22 down 24.54

10 Year Yield: down at 1.13%

Oil: down at $45.26

27 December 2019

1) The Permian Basin continues to experience difficulties producing oil, becoming increasingly gassy as drilling slows down. This undercuts profits for producers at a time when investors are demanding better returns. The region has long been plagued with a massive glut of gas which crude producers must sometimes pay to have hauled away or burn in the open air. This problem is intensifying as wells age and fewer new wells are drilled.

2) Oil prices rise to a three month high because of optimism on supply. The stage is set for the biggest monthly gain in almost a year on speculation that supplies are shrinking. Prices are up almost 12% for this month and are now higher since the mid-September high. The U.S. stockpiles have dropped 7.9 million barrels this last week, while Russia cut their crude output with a reduction of 240,000 barrels a day for December. Oil has surged about 36% for this year.

3) American retailers continue to struggle while some are actually thriving. The once giant Sears has fallen into bankruptcy having closed over 3,000 stores. Other major retailers in decline are Blockbuster Video, Radioshack, Victoria’s Secret, the Gap, JCPenny, Toys R Us and Borders Books. Retailers such as TJ Maxx, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Dollar General, Costco and Ross have flourished in the peril waters of American consumerism.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 DEC 19:

Dow                28,621.39    up    105.94
Nasdaq             9,022.39    up      69.51
S&P 500            3,239.91    up      16.53

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.90%

Oil:    up   at     $61.68