27 February 2020

1) South Carolina has the lowest unemployment rate with 2.3% which ties with Utah and Vermont. But while there’s lots of jobs, they mostly pay low wages making it hard for people to make a living. The state is typical of states across the U.S., with job growth looking strong on the surface, but much of the work is meager wages and few benefits. As automation pushes more people down to the lower paying ranks, they find themselves struggling to acquire the basics of living, even with wages that are above the minimum wage.

2) With the government’s announcement that Americans should prepare for a Covid-19 (coronavirus) crisis, and the continual spread of the virus, prices of hygienic masks have surged upwards. Tracking the product on Amazon shows an immediate rise just twenty-four hours after the announcement. A pack of disposable masks which were $125 surged to $220 in just three days, showing the deep concerns people have to the coronavirus threat.

3) Micro units are small dwellings of about 350 square feet or less, which may be the answer to affordable housing. The micro unit comes complete with a kitchen, bathroom and living or sleeping space comparable to studio apartments in Paris, Tokyo or Rome. This gives everything needed for basic living, but little else. Micro units are approximately 20% to 30% cheaper than conventional sized units, and are most popular with young single working adults, age under 30, who are willing to compromise space for location, amenities and cost savings.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 FEB 20:

Dow 26,957.59 down 123.77
Nasdaq 8,980.78 up 15.16
S&P 500 3,116.39 down 11.82

10 Year Yield: down at 1.31%

Oil: down at $48.65

8 January 2020

1) Coal consumption in America dropped sharply last year, reaching its lowest level since 1975, with power plants switching to cheaper natural gas and renewables. This shift has cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10%, but other sources also contribute to growing planet warming pollution last year. The U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, as well as other greenhouse warming gases, contributing 14% of all annual greenhouse emissions.

2) The federal government is close to selling a group of nursing homes it took over eighteen months ago, a result of the biggest default in the history of a government mortgage insurance program which provides critical support to the nursing home industry. The previous owner defaulted on $146 million dollar worth of mortgages leaving the government to take possession of the facilities, which they have been working to find new owner-operators.

3) A new pizza making robot was unveiled at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronis Show) in Las Vegas, which attracts 200,000 people across the world. The machine is placed adjacent to the oven so pizzas automatically go in for cooking. The robot can make up to 300 12 inch customized pizzas an hour, while making consistent pies. Several companies are engaged in developing pizza robots including Little Caesar’s and Domino’s. The robots for the fast food industry is growing in response to demands for a minimum wage of $15 an hour for restaurant workers.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 JAN 202:

Dow                28,583.68    down    119.70
Nasdaq            9,068.58    down        2.88
S&P 500           3,237.18    down        9.10

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.83%

Oil:    up   at    $63.21 

6 November 2019

1) The money-markets have about $3.4 trillion dollars invested, and the large pile of cash could push the already soaring markets higher. The money-markets have grown by $1 trillion dollars over the last three years because of higher money-market rates, concerns of the ten year economic expansion and the ageing of the bull market. But despite the double digit gains this year, that cash remains in the money-markets amid concerns of an economic slowdown, investors wanting the safe bet of having a large cash reserve. Many fear the markets are at an unstable high and a reversal could occur at any time.

2) The U.S. trade deficit for September has falling to its lowest level in five months with imports dropping more sharply than exports. America has a rare surplus of petroleum, which has traditionally been a major source of imports. The import-export difference shrank 4.7% to $52.5 billion dollars, down from the August deficit of $55 billion dollars, with the deficit with China creeping down 0.6% to $31.6 billion dollars.

3) The Bank of America announced it will pay a $20 dollar minimum wage in 2020, a year earlier than planned. This will raise wages for more than 208,000 of its U.S. employees. The higher pay for retail bankers is becoming crucial with the increasingly competitive job market. Other main street banks have also raised their minimum wage, such as Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. Other major companies including Amazon, Walmart, Target and McDonald’s have also increased their minimum pay.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 NOV 19:

Dow              27,492.63         up    30.52
Nasdaq           8,434.68         up      1.48
S&P 500          3,074.62    down      3.65

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.87%

Oil:    up   at    $57.27

29 July 2019

1) Newly released reports says that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 will raise the wages for 22.2% of American workers. They claim that 33.5 million workers would experience a $92.5 billion dollar increase in pay or $2,800 per worker. Currently, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but it’s not expected such legislation to increase the federal minimum wage can pass through congress and not be vetoed.

2) China is looking for new markets to sell to. Presently, it has too many factories making too many goods because the trade war has diminished sales to its biggest customer America. China is seeking to create free-trade zones across the Asia-Pacific region in the hopes of opening new markets. Additionally, China is talking with Japan and South Korea to lower trade barriers. The problem is no country can absorb the volume of goods that China sells to America.

3) High tech companies are taking business to Canada and her supple of technology skilled immigrants. Canada has more relaxed controls over entry for workers having the education and skills sought by high tech companies, and therefore provides a base for such companies to expand into. Canada processes work visas for such workers in weeks, while the U.S. is noted for its long delays to grant the needed visas.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 JUL 19:

Dow             27,192.45    up    51.47
Nasdaq          8,330.21    up    91.67
S&P 500         3,025.86    up    22.19

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.08%

Oil:    down   at    $56.16

19 July 2019

1) The video streaming service Netflix has lost customers for the first time in eight years while also missing its target for new subscriptions overseas. The lost of 130,000 customers from April to June resulting in a 10.3% drop in its stock. Netflix confessed that its new TV shows for this quarter were not as appealing as expected and price increases in some markets has slowed their growth.

2) The software giant Microsoft beat analysts estimates for fourth quarter revenue and profit, primary because of its flagship cloud products Azure and Office software. Microsoft has tapped into the booming demand for cloud based services, pushing its capitalization to about $1.05 trillion dollars. Microsoft’s net income rose to $13.19 billion dollars in the quarter ending on June, up from $8.87 billion dollars.

3) The Democrats have pass legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The raises will be over a six year span from the present $7.25 hour, and will be halted if a study shows job losses or other adverse effects. The increase in labor cost will most likely spur development of automation technologies to reduce the need for people in company’s labor force. The bill still has to be voted on and passed by the Senate before it can go to the President for signing.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 JUL 19:

Dow             27,222.97    up      3.12
Nasdaq          8,207.24    up    22.04
S&P 500         2,995.11    up    10.69

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.04%

Oil:    up   at    $55.78

10 April 2019

1) The IMF (International Monetary Fund) has reduced their forecasted for world economic growth from 3.5% to 3.3%, which is the third reduction since last October. It forecasted 2.3% growth for the US economy, as well as reduced growth forecast for Germany and Great Britain.

2) Walmart is rolling out thousands of robots for use in their retail stores across America. These robots will automatically scan shelves and clean floors. With a million employees, Walmart is seeking ways to keep labor cost down.

3) Bank of America is raising it’s minimum wage to $20 an hour over the next two years. Starting the first of May, the rate will increase to $17 per hour. The bank has 205,000 employees.

4) 9 APR 19 Stock market closings: Markets pulled down by industrial sector.

Dow             26,150.58    down    190.44
Nasdaq          7,909.28    down      44.61
S&P 500         2,878.20    down      17.57

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.50%

Oil:    up   at    $64.24

30 January 2019

1) California produce prices are going up because of labor shortages and increasing cost for labor. Agriculture workers are now under California’s minimum wage and overtime laws, plus mandated medical care. In response, farmers are turning more to automation to reduce labor cost and requirements. In the mean time, farm production is down which can further drive prices of produce up nation wide. Also, farming is moving off shore.

2) Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) filed for bankruptcy, which puts pending lawsuits on hold and will consolidate them in bankruptcy court.

3) Insurance losses for California wildfires top $11.4 billion dollars, from 46,000 insurance claims. The fires destroyed 13,000 houses and businesses and left 89 dead.

4) 29 JAN 19    Stock market closings:

Dow              24,579.96          up       51.74
Nasdaq           7,028.29     down       57.40
S&P 500          2,640.00     down          3.85

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.71%

Oil:    up   at    $53.37