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
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
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
1) The investment bank Morgan Stanley is buying ETrade Financial Corp. for $13 billion dollars, planning to now manage money for regular people. ETrade will bring five million retail customers worth $360 billion dollars in assets, and an online bank with cheap deposits which Morgan Stanley can funnel into loans. Morgan Stanley had provided financial management to the upper end clients, the million and billionaires.
2) General Electric has avoided a business setback with exports of its jet engines to China. Fears that the Chinese could reverse engineer the new design and bolster its own aircraft manufacturing industry, has drawn threats of barring the LEAP 1C engine export to China. This would have been a major blow to GE’s efforts to recover from its slump, the engine sales being central to recovery efforts. The GE engine is slated for use in China’s C919 narrow body airliner now in development.
3) Clients of Fidelity Investments experienced shock and duress on finding their account balances at $0.00 or worst yet, even unable to find their accounts on the internet. This is a result of Fidelity’s website going down, which the company is working to resolve amongst a blizzard of Tweets from worried clients. Fidelity has 30 million individual investors, some 29.6 million brokerage accounts with a total of $7.8 trillion dollars in total customer assets.
4) Stock market closings for – 20 FEB 20:
Dow 29,219.98 down 128.05 Nasdaq 9,750.96 down 66.22 S&P 500 3,373.23 down 12.92
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
1) Saudi Arabia has started its long anticipated IPO (Initial Public Offering) of Aramco, the Saudi state run oil giant. A sliver of the firm will be offered on a local stock exchange with the intent of raising billions of dollars for the kingdom. Initially, the firm’s shares will be traded on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange, but later shares will be offered on foreign exchanges. Aramco is valued at $2 trillion dollars, with first and second quarter income of $46.8 billion dollars.
2) The high end luxury retailer Barneys of New York fell into bankruptcy, parts sold off as scrape to end an era. The retailer introduced such names as Armani, Alaia, Comme des Garcons, Louboutin and Zegna. The name Barneys was taken control of by Authentic Brands Group, a name which is part of the New York culture since 1923, and will license it to other companies like Saks Fifth Avenue. Next week, the company’s inventory at its five stores and two warehouse locations will be sold.
3) Predictions for 2020 investors include a recession, questions of interest rate cuts, market volatility, impact of the up coming election cycle, Brexit, earnings growth, low unemployment, mild inflation and wage growth. Each of these uncertainties can play a part on the ultimate outcome for the 2020 economy with interactions of them making the future economy uncertain for investors.
4) Stock market closings for – 4 NOV 19:
Dow 27,462.11 up 114.75 Nasdaq 8,433.20 up 46.80 S&P 500 3,078.27 up 11.36
1) China has announced they are ending caps to foreign financial ownership, allowing foreign firms to have full ownership of financial services companies. Starting in 2020, overseas institutions can apply for total control of onshore ventures. China has been opening its financial sector at an unprecedented pace to lure financial giants such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley into greater participation in China’s economy.
2) Investors are retracting the fastest since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. In the past six months, money market funds have attracted billions of dollars of inflows, the largest flight to safe assets since the second half of 2008, with investors raising their cash holdings despite falling interest rates. This is being driven by unresolved issues of the trade war, Brexit and the domestic political turmoil mixed with fears of a recession.
3) The U.S. and China have reached a partial agreement Friday which would broker a truce in the trade war. This will lay the groundwork for a broader deal later with Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping. News to the agreement cause the markets to shoot up over 300 points. Part of the agreement is for China to make agricultural concessions and the U.S. provide some tariff relief.
4) Stock market closings for – 11 OCT 19:
Dow 26,816.59 up 319.92
Nasdaq 8,057.04 up 106.26
S&P 500 2,970.27 up 32.14
Online stock brokers TD Ameritrade, E*Trade & Charles Schwab have officially cut their online broker commissions to zero. Charles Schwab was the first brokerage, Interactive Brokers followed suit in cutting their commission rates, then came along TD Ameritrade and E*Trade.
Many online brokers are cutting their commissions to nil (0 zero), because of the climate that brokerages such as Robin Hood has had on the industry, allowing free trades of equities to their clients.
Since then other brokers have also cut their commissions to incur more of fairer playing field for their investors, traders and account holders. Many have speculated this was bound to happen at some point. Well, it looks like it has finally arrived. -SB
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
1) Disney announced it has sold its stake in the YES Network to investors including Amazon for 347 million dollars. The YES Network airs the Yankees games as well as other local sports and specialty content, and was one of the assets the Department of Justice required Disney to sell. It’s unknown what Amazon’s role in this acquisition will be.
2) The traditional shipping companies UPS and FedEx are now being challenged by Amazon’s emerging shipping empire as exemplified by its recent breakup with FedEx. As its consumer business has expanded, Amazon has built a network of suburban warehouses package and sorting centers feeding a fleet of delivery vehicles. This is turning it from a customer delivery service to a rival. In expanding with new service centers, Amazon is gobbling up failed malls. This expansion is driven in part by its rapidly expanding Prime membership, now with 100 million subscriptions in the US, with Amazon now delivering over half of its own orders.
3) Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, the equivalent of Amazon.com, predicts that by 2030 computers and artificial intelligence will not only shrink the number of jobs by as much as 40%, but also reduce the number of work hours available to the remaining workers. This is just one more prediction of near term technology displacement coming in the next ten to twenty-five years that have recently been made public.
4) Stock market closings for – 30 AUG 19:
Dow 26,403.28 up 41.03 Nasdaq 7,962.88 down 10.51 S&P 500 2,926.46 up 1.88