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

3 July 2020

1) The aircraft manufacturer Boeing Aircraft is discontinuing production of it’s iconic 747 jumbo jet after a fifty year run. The last 747-8 will be completed in two years. This marks the end of an era of giant airliners with Airbus also discontinuing its A380 production. The number of routes in the world which requires a jumbo jet are few, with airline companies preferring the twin engine aircraft for long range flights. The 747 made its debut in 1970, and went on to rack up 1,571 orders over its production life, a record seconded only by the wide body 777. Boeing has lost 40$ million dollars for each 747 since 2016, with production down to just 6 units a year. The last 747 for passenger service was Air Force One. With air travel curtailed by the Covid-19 crisis, air carriers don’t expect air travel to recover fully until the mid decade, so airlines are culling out aging jetliners and four engine jumbos from their fleets to limit spending.

2) With interest rates near zero, the most used tool for the Feds to stimulate a sagging economy is becoming ineffective in reversing the pandemic induced recession. Therefore, the Feds are considering using quantitative easing or large scale assets purchases. This is where the U.S. central bank buys hundreds of billions of dollars in assets, most of which are U.S. Treasury and mortgage backed securities. By taking bonds (mostly 2 and 10 year Treasuries) off the market it replaces them with cash in the system, meaning there is now more cash available for lending to consumers, businesses and municipalities.

3) The Senate is considering a bill which would punish retailers for refusing cash payments. Retailers have been pushing for electronic payments to reduce the risk of virus contamination from contact of paying cash. The objective of the bill is to prevent disenfranchise of minorities who have limited to no banking access.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 JUL 20:

Dow 25,827.36 up 92.39
Nasdaq 10,207.63 up 53.00
S&P 500 3,130.01 up 14.15

10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%

Oil: up at $40.32

18 June 2020

1) Retail giant Target has announced it is raising the minimum wage they pay to store and warehouse workers to $15 an hour, a $2 increase. Target had 350,000 workers employed in 1,900 stores across America. The company is also extending the benefits it started offering during the pandemic, including a new one of free visits to a virtual doctor. All this increases Target’s operating cost by more than $1 billion dollars a year. The company’s margins have been under pressure from pandemic related expenses, in addition to selling fewer high margin items such as apparel and accessories, as well as customers shifting to online shopping. Rival Walmart has announced they are testing a totally cashierless store as a way of limiting human contact because of the Convid-19 threat, but a cashierless store also means reduce labor cost, a goal long sought after by retailers.

2) There is a spike in mortgage demand driven by the record low interest rates. There is a 21% increase in mortgage applications from this time last year. The easing of the pandemic is releasing the pent up demand caused by the shutdown. A 30 year mortgage with 20% down fixed rate has an interest rate now of 3.3%. Refinancing continues to play a significant part in the home mortgage market.

3) Hilton Hotels is laying off 22% of its corporate workforce of 2,100 employees as a result of the coronavirus, while also extending furloughs for many of its corporate staff for an additional 90 days. The virus crisis has brought the hotel business to a near complete halt. The industry has lost about 7.7 million jobs, although occupancy has started to increase, signaling the worst may be coming to an end.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 JUN 20:

Dow 26,119.61 down 170.37
Nasdaq 9,910.53 up 14.66
S&P 500 3,113.49 down 11.25

10 Year Yield: down at 0.73%

Oil: down at $37.65

7 May 2020

1) The bust in the Texas oil fields is the worst in memory, says the billionaire Russell Gordy. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered an unbelievable collapse in crude oil prices that is sinking fortunes across Texas, with no clear way out visible in the near future. Texas accounts for 9% of the nations GDP (Gross Domestic Product), so as oil pulls Texas’ economy down, it will undoubtably pull the nations down too. In the past, declining energy prices have helped the U.S. economy, but this time its likely to cut into investment and employment. Texas may lose 1.3 million jobs by June, as the virus puts an end to the U.S. shale oil revolution, which may spill into a broader downturn for Texas, that will also drag the rest of the country down too. Furthermore, Americans are driving and flying much less, which has reduced the demand for oil, bringing on a crisis in storage for the oil surplus. There are expectations that home prices will decline during the remainder of this year and into the next. This in turn will impact the construction industry.

2) As a result of the pandemic, the mortgage industry is implementing reforms that will be long lasting in terms of how lenders operate and how consumers obtain financing. It’s anticipated that digital mortgage processing will become more prevalent as people seek to minimize contact with others. Relators are seeing as much as a 500% increase in home video tours. Reports are that many people are seeing involuntary credit reductions and even terminations of their credit cards as banks seek to reduce their exposure to risk in a troubled economy where jobs are at risk of elimination. This means a further reduction on consumer spending.

3) Disney has seen a 91% plunged of it profits last quarter, a direct result of the coronavirus crisis. The operating profits in Disney’s parks lost about $1 billion dollars to add to a total loss of $1.4 billion dollars in total operating income. Disney has had to close its Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, plus its Disney Stores and the suspension of its cruises and disruptions of its supply chain . However, its new video streaming service Disney Plus grew 26% to 33.5 million subscribers last quarter with revenues up 260%

4) Stock market closings for – 6 MAY 20:

Dow 23,664.64 down 218.45
Nasdaq 8,854.39 up 45.27
S&P 500 2,848.42 down 20.02

10 Year Yield: up at 0.71%

Oil: down at $24.35

6 May 2020

1) The U.S. Bureau of Labor’s CPI (Consumer Price Index) statistic declined by 0.42% in March, the largest decline since January 2015. The CPI is used to measure the change in the cost of a typical basket of goods, which an American would buy in a month. This downward trend of the index indicates the value of the dollar is going up, which is deflation. Normally, the dollar is the subject of inflation, with prices rising between 0.1% and 0.3% per month, which makes a 0.4% drop somewhat strange. The largest factor driving this drop is energy cost, which experts attribute about three-quarters of the decline to, but other goods such as automobiles, airline tickets, household furnishing and apparel have also dropped in cost. However, there is debates among economists that the CPI is flawed, because it is based on items selected two years ago, which people may not actually be buying much of now. It doesn’t account for quick changes in people’s buying habits.

2) Oil prices continue to climb for the fifth straight day, the longest run of daily gains in nine months. Production cuts are starting to whittle down the surplus, coupled with the coronavirus lockdowns subsiding. Morgan Stanley predicts the supply glut most likely has hit its peak, but still the glut in oil will remain for quite a while.

3) Consumer debt has reached a record high to start 2020, even as credit card balances decline. Household debt balances total $14.3 trillion dollars through March, which is a 1.1% increase from the previous quarter. A $34 billion dollar drop in credit card balances was offset by an increase of $27 billion dollars in student loans and $15 billion dollars in auto debt. Mortgage balances rose by $156 billion dollars. The decline of credit card debt is an indicator that people are spending less on consumer goods as a result of the coronavirus.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 May 20:

Dow 23,883.09 up 133.33
Nasdaq 8,809.12 up 98.41
S&P 500 2,868.44 up 25.70

10 Year Yield: up at 0.66%

Oil: up at $25.68

29 April 2020

1) The ‘consumer confidence index’ dropped in April by the largest amount on record. The index dropped from 118.8 in March to 86.9, while the ‘present conditions index’ plunged from 166.7 to 76.4, its 90 point drop the largest on record. The ‘expectations index’, which is based on the future outlook, improved slightly from 86.8 to 93.8. The sharp drops are a result of the sudden massive unemployment from the shelter in place orders met to contain the coronavirus. But business is stirring with retailers starting to open up again. Simon Property Group, which is the largest mall owner in the U.S., is opening 49 of its malls and outlet centers in May across the country.

2) Another housing economic crisis could be building for the near future. The mortgage market has been disrupted with millions of borrowers having to postpone payments because of the pandemic and shelter in place, a result of massive layoffs. While some mortgage companies are allowing deferment of payments during the business shutdown, there’s the rising question of how to make up those payments after returning to work. Experts expect a repeat of the 2008 fiscal crisis with mortgages, because borrowers are already stretched thin financially, now having extra debt, but not the resources to service it. There could be another wave of foreclosures coming.

3) As nations scramble to get cash for economic stimulus efforts, they are selling off bonds at a frantic rate, much of it being bought by central banks. This is particularly true for the Asian bond market, with many experts saying this hasn’t come too soon, despite the long term risks. This frenzy in government selling bonds has cause a ‘whip-saw’ reaction in yield rates. Many central banks could be in big trouble if stimulus spending fails to avoid economic recovery, or worst yet an economic collapse.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 APR 20:

Dow 24,101.55 down 32.23
Nasdaq 8,607.73 down 122.43
S&P 500 2,863.39 down 15.09

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: up at $13.27

28 April 2020

1) The economic woes of the coronavirus may not be over yet. Forecast are that the U.S. economy later this year could contract at a faster rate than for the Great Depression, with a 30% contraction of the second quarter. Durable goods have plunged 14.4% in March as the economy came to a near halt, while the unemployment rate for the same time rose 4.4%. The number of people losing jobs in the last five weeks is 26.4 million, which has wiped out all the job gains made after the Great Recession.

2) Oil continues its troubles, sliding down in price with fears of it reaching zero again. There remains a critical shortage of storage for bulk oil, so there’s no place to put new oil pumped up, and that drives the price of futures down. Oil prices plunged nearly 25% at the start of the week amid fears of limited storage. Global energy demand has fallen drastically from the pandemic shutting factories and putting limits on travel around the world, leaving a glut of oil. With the world economy down, there isn’t any light at the end of the tunnel, and therefore not much hope that the oil glut will ease significantly in the foreseeable future.

3) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced that borrowers who skip mortgage payments (called forbearance status) due to the coronavirus pandemic won’t have to make lump-sum repayments when the crisis is over. The administration is encouraging other mortgage lenders to adopt similar policies to avoid undue stress to the people and economy during a recovery. Almost 6% of borrowers have delayed making mortgage payments as of April 12, up from 3.7% a week earlier. It’s still not clear just when or how forbearance status will be granted to a borrower, thus allowing the deferment of payments to a later date.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 APR 20:

Dow 24,133.78 up 358.51
Nasdaq 8,730.16 up 95.64
S&P 500 2,878.48 up 41.74

10 Year Yield: up at 0.66%

Oil: down at $12.93

18 October 2019

1) New home construction has dropped from a twelve year high in September, although single home construction rose for a fourth straight month. This indicates the housing market remains supported by lower mortgage rates even as economy slows. Housing starts declined 9.4% last month as construction in the volatile multi-family housing segment dropped.

2) The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced a great new Brexit deal. The proposed exit plan goes before the U.K. parliament this Saturday, the EU (European Union) claimed the deal was a fair and balance one. Parliament must vote approval before the deal can be accepted, however, this time the Conservative party is now committed to this deal and not a ‘no-deal’ and so will campaign for a majority support.

3) The employees for the bank Goldman Sachs will receive the lowest pay in the last ten years. This is a result of software systems doing more and more of the company’s business, another example of technology displacement. The bank set aside 35% of its revenues for staff compensation and benefits this year, the lowest rate since 2009, with an average employee earning of $246,000 less than half of the $527,000 from last year.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 OCT 19:

Dow           27,025.88    up    23.90
Nasdaq        8,156.85    up    32.67
S&P 500       2,997.95    up      8.26

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.76%

Oil:    up   at    $54.05

26 September 2019

1) Devin Wenig, the president and CEO for eBay is stepping down as the company moves forward with potential sale of assets. EBay’s board of directors considers that a new CEO is best for the company at this time. Scott Schenkel, eBay’s senior vice president and chief financial officer has been appointed as interim CEO.

2) Inspired Brands, a restaurant chain holding company, announced it is adding Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches to its portfolio. Other restaurant chains owned by Inspired Brands is Arby’s, Sonic, Buffalo Wild Wings and Rusty Taco. This acquisition will make Inspired Brands the fourth largest restaurant company in the U.S., with over $14 billion dollars in annual sales from 11,200 restaurants in 16 countries.

3) The number of mortgage applications has fallen 10.1% this last week, as interest rates rise. However, the volume is still 46% higher than a year ago when interest rates were higher. Applications for refinancing home loans, which are very sensitive to interest rates, fell 15%, but again is still 104% higher than a year ago.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 SEP 19:

Dow                26,970.71    up    162.94
Nasdaq             8,077.38    up      83.76
S&P 500            2,984.87    up      18.27

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.73%

Oil:    $56.66

13 June 2019

1) Demand for oil is shrinking as the trade war causes the world economies to retract. China’s economy is slowing faster than experts had expected, with the EU and US also not growing in oil demand. Fears that oil prices will drop below $40 a barrel fuel fears of a continual global slowing of economies. The U.S. boom in domestic oil production using fracking is dependent on high oil prices, and with American petroleum stocks at an all time high, it may not be feasible to continue fracking.

2) With mortgage rates dropping to their lowest level in nearly two years, there has been a surge in refinancing applications. In just one week, applications increased 26.8%, which is 41% greater than a year ago. Refinance mortgages are the most rate-sensitive because when low, people rush to refinance while they can get the lower rates.

3) For the second straight month, Boeing aircraft reports no new aircraft sales. The drop isn’t just because of the 737 MAX grounding, but the company already has a massive 5,000 aircraft backorder to fill, so many customers don’t need to place additional orders. With the airline Jet Airways halting operations, their pending sales contracts have been canceled, which totaled 71 aircraft.

4) Stock market closings for- 12 JUN 19:

Dow           26,004.83    down    43.68
Nasdaq        7,792.72 down    29.85 
S&P 500          2,879.84    down      5.88 

10 Year Yield:   down   at    2.13% 

Oil:    down   at    $51.08