1 October 2019

1) The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has warned of astronomical oil prices if tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf. In a ‘60 Minute’ interview, the Prince called for strong and firm action to deter Iran and lessen the threat to world interests, so as to avoid disruptions of oil exports. The attacks on Saudi oil production facilities caused Brent crude to jump 19.5%, the biggest jump on record. The Middle East provides about 30% of the world’s energy supplies constituting about 4% of world GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

2) In order to avoid a quarterly decline in U.S. retail sales, automakers are offering big discounts to maintain sales growth. For the last three months, auto sales have flattened with average incentive spending rising 6% to more than $4,110 per vehicle, which is a third quarter record.

3) The fashion retailer Forever 21 Inc. has filed for bankruptcy protection and is the latest big fashion merchant who, like many other retailer chains, is unable to cope with high rents and heavy competition from e-commerce. The chain has 800 stores across the world, selling affordable but eye-catching designs, but has falling out of favor with the generation-Z consumers who turn to e-commerce. The bankruptcy will allow the company to reorganize and gain additional capital for operations.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 SEP 19:

Dow              26,916.83    up    96.58
Nasdaq           7,999.34    up    59.71
S&P 500          2,976.74    up    14.95

10 Year Yield:    unchanged   at    1.68%

Oil:    $54.29

17 September 2019

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

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.84%

Oil:    down   at    $61.90

26 July 2019

1) Tesla, the manufacture of all-electric automobiles, has suffered a worse than expected loss. Additionally, there has been another major management shakeup, all of which is casting doubts on the future of the unique automaker. While Tesla delivered a record number of cars in its second quarter, its stock dropped 14% with a loss of $1.12 per share. Nevertheless, Tesla has opened twenty-five new stores and service centers.

2) Concerns grow that the trade tensions may be pushing U.S. economic growth downwards. Fears that the gross domestic product figures due out this Friday will show business investment has weakened. Additional factors stem from slow global growth and falling oil prices. The gains in jobs and wages are preventing growth from sinking. It’s anticipated that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates by a quarter point to check softening of the economy.

3) Nissan, the world automobile manufacture, has announced the layoff of 12,500 employees worldwide, or about 10% of its work force. Nissan is striving to rein in the costs increases incurred during the former CEO Carlos Ghosn tenure and alleged financial misconduct. Japan’s number two automaker has suffered a collapse in its quarterly profits, a result of sluggish sales and rising cost. This is another indication of the world’s depressed auto market with other renowned automakers like Ford suffering similar major financial problems.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 JUL 19:

Dow             27,140.98    down    128.99
Nasdaq          8,238.54    down      82.96
S&P 500         3,003.67    down      15.89

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.07%

Oil:    down   at    $55.91

26 June 2019

1) President Trump’s tax cuts could be undone a little at a time. Unlikely to repel his tax cuts directly, the Democrats could slowly undo them by an ‘end-run’ with new or other tax increases. The house Democrats have a package of tax legislation to be debated Thursday which proposes changes to the estate tax which would make it apply to more people sooner and making small increases to the corporate tax rate. Also, there are proposals to raise the tax rate to 70% for those earning over a million dollars.

2) Caesars Entertainment, who’s ownership includes the famous Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, is being bought by Eldorado Resorts for about $8.5 billion dollars in cash and stock. The plan is to build up their size to compete with larger companies such as Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts. Caesars Entertainment owns and operates 34 properties in nine states and three continents.

3) Shale oil producing companies are pumping lots of oil, but are making little money. The process of fracking is an expensive procedure which requires high oil prices to be viable. As oil prices have sagged over the last couple of years, the margins have narrowed, forcing shale oil companies to more tightly control their expenses, including making extensive cuts in their labor force. Many of the older wells are failing to met expectations for production and oil companies have fewer future drilling locations than they anticipated. Shale oil wells initially produce a lot of oil and gas, but quickly taper off, so more money must be spent to coax the oil out of the rock, thus narrowing the margins.

4) Stock market closings for- 24 JUN 19:

Dow             26,727.54        up       8.41
Nasdaq         8,005.70    down    26.01
S&P 500        2,945.35    down      5.11

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.02%

Oil:    down   a   t $57.79

14 June 2019

1) Two tankers have been attacked near the Iran coast, which has caused oil prices to surge with fears that Iran may try to close the Gulf of Oman, which transports oil out of the Middle East. The choke point of the Strait of Hormuz is only 21 miles wide and handles 80% of the oil destined for Asia. Last month four other tankers were attacked near Fujairah using sabotage, which further fueled fears that Iran may become very aggressive in the region and against exports of oil.

2) With voters no longer showing a strong concern for the federal debt, the political support for reining in Federal spending and controlling the growing national debt is melting away with Republicans willing to accept a large deficit in exchange for tax cuts and Democrats making big spending promises in the 2020 campaigns. Some experts, who had once augured against the government growing debt, now say it may not be as critical a problem as they once thought.

3) The mega-retailer Target is upping the ante for e-commerce by offering same-day delivery on thousands of items for just $9.99. Using the delivery startup Shipt, which Target purchased nearly two years ago, the retailer is positioning itself to compete against Walmart and Amazon in what is becoming a ‘delivery time’ war of the major maga-retailers. The one day service will cover 65,000 items from 1,500 stores out of 1,800 stores in 47 states.

4) Stock market closings for- 13 JUN 19:

Dow               26,106.77    up    101.94
Nasdaq            7,837.13    up      44.41
S&P 500           2,891.64    up      11.80

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.09%

Oil:    down   at    $52.11

15 May 2019

1) Tensions increase in U.S. – China trade war with increasing fears that the war could be long and painful. In response to China’s new tariffs on $60 billion dollars President Trump is threatening to impose additional tariffs on $300 billion dollars worth of imports. While just a couple of weeks ago, it seemed that China and America were close to reaching an agreement, now it seems both sides have dug in their heels.

2) One military contractor is reportedly making 9,400% profit on a replacement part, a half-inch drive pin. This part should have cost $46 but the government is being charged $4,361 each. Legislation is being considered that would give contracting officers the power to demand data that would back-up billings.

3) Tensions are increasing in the middle east with Saudi Arabia claims of a terrorist drone attacks on pipeline pumping stations. The reports caused a surged in oil prices with fears of possible oil shortages if attacks on Saudi’s oil production continue.

4) 14 MAY 19 Stock market closings:

Dow            25,532.05    up    207.06
Nasdaq         7,734.49    up      87.47
S&P 500        2,834.41    up      22.54

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.42%

Oil:    down   at    $61.32

2 May 2019

1) Wall Street is expecting another surge upwards of the markets, which they are terming a ‘melt up’ and analysts are recommending call options contracts which pay off in a move higher. Call option contracts give the investor the option to buy in at an agree price, but are not obligated to buy.

2) Pork prices are expected to jump this year because African swine fever is ravaging the hog population of China, a big consumer of pork. Because there still isn’t any containment of the disease, analysts estimate it will be at least twenty months of elevated pork prices. Non-domestic pork demand will continue into 2020 at a minimum.

3) With U.S. crude stockpiles rising, traders are fearing oil prices will slide despite bullish forces traditionally pushing oil prices up. The tightening sanctions on Iran, the unstable state of Venezuela and OPEC’s desired to reduce production, are all forces that push oil prices up, but U.S. domestic production and rising stockpiles may counter these forces.

4) 1 MAY 19 Stock market closings:

Dow              26,430.14    down    162.77
Nasdaq           8,049.64    down      45.75
S&P 500          2,923.73    down      22.10

10 Year Yield:     up   at   2.51%

Oil:    up   at    $63.62