1) There are growing fears of another stimulus package as the national debt grows. One measure of unemployment suggests Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus plan may do more harm than good. The U-6 unemployment rate, a less popular reading than the commonly cited U-3, suggests additional fiscal support could be unnecessary. The gauge (which includes those only partially participating in the labor force) currently is at 11.7%. Five of the past six recessions saw higher readings. The coronavirus pandemic initially pushed the U-6 rate to a record-high of 22.9% in April, but easy monetary conditions and the $2.2 trillion dollar stimulus package brought the rate down in a matter of months. Still, there are serious questions about the long term stability of the world economics as nations struggle to pay off these huge national debts.
2) A new Covid-19 variant has been discovered in Brazil adding to the two newly emerged variants from the United Kingdom and South Africa. Brazil is one of the worst affected countries by the virus, where more people have died of the virus than anywhere else outside the United States. An urgent COVID warning says the worst months are still ahead, and is expected to get more people sicker faster. Infections and deaths are expected to continue increasing.
3) President-elect Joe Biden has an ambitious environmental agenda, with a principle goal of transitioning away from using fossil fuels. There are many questions just how this climate plan could affect the oil and gas industry in America. The new requirements include disclosure of climate risks from public companies, a commitment to end new drilling permits for federal lands, and to eliminate tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Tougher methane regulations to give incentives for Americans to buy cars that do not run on gasoline. It’s not just the big oil companies which can be hurt, for there are thousands and thousands of small companies making up the supply chain businesses, as well as the small independent wildcatters who are producing oil. But while oil is slowly recovering with prices above $50 a barrel, it is all in jeopardy if these proposals go into effect. Biden’s proposals could face stiff challenges from Texas officials and the oil and gas industry itself.
4) Stock market closings for – 19 JAN 21:
Dow 30,930.52 up by 116.26 Nasdaq 13,197.18 up by 198.68 S&P 500 3,798.91 up by 30.66
1) The price of oil advanced as shrinking U.S. crude inventories added to expectations of a tighter global supply outlook after Saudi Arabia surprised the markets by pledging to reduce production for the next two months. Gasoline demand is falling to its lowest level since late May, spelling trouble for refining margins as a tighter global crude balance and straggling demand crimp profits for processing a barrel of oil. Saudi Arabia has decided to reduce crude output in February and March as part of an OPEC+ supply agreement. With the outlook for crude oil supply suddenly looking tighter, the oil options markets have grown less bearish.
2) A top scientist explains why a more infectious coronavirus variant is a bigger problem than a deadlier strain, with the deadly coronavirus having now mutated. One variant, called B.1.1.7, is more infectious, and has forced the UK into national lock down, with the variant having also been discovered in several US states, as well as other countries around the world. However, the new variant does not appear to be more deadly, so existing vaccines should also work against it. A really severe disease that one person gets won’t necessarily have as much impact as a lesser disease which a huge number of people get. While not any more deadly the new mutant B.1.1.7 is much more infectious, and is to blame for the surging numbers of people infected, filling up UK hospitals that forced the national lock down. It is estimated to have a 71% higher growth rate than other variants.
3) North Korea’s supreme ruler Kim Jong Un has announced a military expansion, but it is unclear if Pyongyang plans to ramp up its nuclear program too. This could put pressure on the incoming Joe Biden administration just when it is most vulnerable. North Korea plans to boost its military capacities in defiance of international sanctions, as well as a new five-year economic plan, admitting the previous program has failed. It’s unclear just what the military expansion will involve.
4) Stock market closings for – 7 JAN 21:
Dow 31,041.13 up by 211.73 Nasdaq 13,067.48 up by 326.69 S&P 500 3,803.79 up by 55.65
1) General Chuck Yeager, died at age 97, was remembered Monday as America’s greatest Pilot in a tweet attributed to his wife, Victoria Scott D’Angelo. After breaking the sound barrier, Yeager continued to break records and returned to combat. He was a double ace with 11.5 aircraft shot down and became an ‘ace in a day’ by shooting down 5 or more aircraft in a single day. After World War II, in 1947, he became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound by flying the Bell X-1. In 1953 he flew more than 1,600 mph in the Bell X-1A. He also flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. Chuck Yeager had flown 361 different types of aircraft and flew 10,131.6 hours during his career, retiring from the Air Force in 1975.
2) With just 24 days to make a deal, the Brexit negotiators are finding the situation very gloomy for a trade deal, with talks now on a ‘knife’s edge’ again. The British and European teams are struggling to craft a free-trade agreement so the two sides can continue the orderly movement of goods and services across the English Channel. Otherwise, Britain and Europe will enforce new customs duties, tariffs, border checks, and quotas on goods, therefore increasing prices and fully ending the era of the free and frictionless trade. The major obstacle is the European access to fish in British waters, despite the fisheries accounting for just a small fraction of Britain’s gross domestic product. The Europeans are also pressing to maintain a “level playing field,” to keep Britain from undercutting worker protections or granting large state subsidies to British businesses, thus giving the U.K. firms unfair advantages.
3) Oil prices fell from a 9-month high while the dollar strengthened. Consumption in Asia remains robust, while other markets are soft or declining. Crude oil prices now look to be heavily dependent on how quickly Covid-19 vaccines can be rolled out. OPEC+ is facing more potential supply challenges, with Libya continuing to ramp up production while Iran prepares to raise oil exports with expectations that America will ease some sanctions under a Joe Biden presidency.
4) Stock market closings for – 8 DEC 20:
Dow 30,173.88 up by 104.09 Nasdaq 12,582.77 up by 62.83 S&P 500 3,702.25 up by 10.29
1) Exxon has announced that it will dramatically mark down the value of its natural gas properties, a result of the slow oil price recovery. The plan is to take a non-cash charge of $17 to $20 billion dollars, which is a massive hit for a company who has long opposed to taking writedowns. Exxon erred when it acquired XTO Energy, a natural gas giant, for $41 billion dollars in late 2009. Now, about half of that purchasing value has now been erased. The natural gas market is depressed with the price of gas now less than half of what it was when Exxon purchased XTO Energy. Other oil companies such as Chevron, BP and Shell have also taken massive write downs. This write down also means that Exxon will limit its near term capital spending in gas
2) Failed talks have exposed a dangerous fissure at OPEC’s core, which its partners are quietly working to repair. Diplomatic efforts center around Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on how much crude oil to pump in the coming new year. OPEC rescued the oil market this year, after an unprecedented slump in oil prices, by slashing production to compensate for the demand decline because of the pandemic. But with oil prices down for so long, many OPEC member countries life blood revenues are down which impairs operations of those governments. This puts a lot of pressure on individual countries to break away and pump without any restrictions or quotas to get the monies they need. Privately, some OPEC members are talking about even leaving the cartel and going their own way with oil.
3) During the Thanksgiving holiday week, fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits, thereby reversing an uptick in jobless claims over the previous two weeks. But still unemployment claims remain historically high, indicating many companies are continuing to lay off workers, despite the economy recovering from the impact of the coronavirus. Some 712,000 people applied for unemployment benefits, a drop of 75,000 from the week before. Another 288,000 applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a special program for self-employed and gig workers, as well as others who don’t qualify for regular state unemployment. In addition, millions are struggling to find work during the pandemic. All told, about 20 million people are now receiving some type of jobless aid, with 12 million set to lose their benefits the day after Christmas unless Congress agrees to extend funding.
4) Stock market closings for – 3 DEC 20:
Dow 29,969.52 up by 85.73 Nasdaq 12,377.18 up by 27.82 S&P 500 3,666.72 down by 2.29
1) Apple Inc is trying to limit the impact of a bill aimed at fighting child labor in China, having had meetings with government representatives in an attempt to water down the bill. Under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, U.S. companies are required to ensure that their products are not made by forced labor in the region of Xinjiang. Many American companies, including Apple, have manufacturing sites that would be effected by this legislation, which would obligate public companies to report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and could lead to prosecutions over violations. A report by an Australian government body published in March claims that around 1,000-2,000 workers from the Chinese region were involved in Apple’s camera production.
2) Royal Dutch Shell has closed its Convent refinery in Louisiana. Convent is far from obsolete, indeed it is fairly big by U.S. standards and sophisticated. While Convent’s 700 workers are out of a job, the Convent replacement complex in northeast China is starting up. China has at least four projects underway in the country, totaling 1.2 million barrels a day of crude-processing capacity. This is just one example of a seismic shift in the global refining industry as demand for plastics and fuels grows in China and the rest of Asia. America has been the top refiner since the start of the oil age in the mid-nineteenth century, but China will dethrone the U.S. as early as next year. Oil exporters are selling more crude to Asia and less to long-standing customers in North America and Europe. China’s refiners are becoming a growing force in international markets for gasoline, diesel and other fuels.
3) The United States has officially exited the Open Skies Treaty on Sunday, six months after the Trump administration signaled it would. The reason is repeated Russian Federation violations of the treaty designed to allow unarmed aerial surveillance flights by the treaty participants in Europe, Russia, and the U.S. The treaty was negotiated in 1992 and entered into in 2002, and now has 34 participant states after the U.S. exit. Russia has consistently acted as if free to turn its obligations on and off at will by unlawfully denying or restricting Open Skies observation flights whenever it desires. For more than 20 years, Open Skies has been one of the most wide-ranging international arms control efforts to promote openness and transparency in military forces and activities. But Russia has denied flights within 6.2 miles of the Georgia-Russia border, and denying a previously approved flight over a major Russian military exercise. America’s European allies, however, value the treaty as it gives them the ability to collect aerial reconnaissance information, when lacking sophisticated satellite capabilities, that they would not have access to outside of the treaty.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 NOV 20:
Dow 30,046.24 up by 454.97 Nasdaq 12,036.78 up by 156.15 S&P 500 3,635.41 up by 57.82
1) Crude oil prices and energy stocks aren’t the only things that have fallen during this oil downturn, land prices with potential oil shale have also plummeted. The average price of U.S. oil shale acreage has fallen by more than 70 percent in two years, falling from $17,000 per acre in 2018 to $5,000 per acre in 2020. The value of oil and gas assets has plunged because of the coronavirus pandemic sending crude oil demand down globally, consequently most energy companies are slashing their costs instead of purchasing new land for oil and gas drilling. Oil and gas companies are forced to sell assets to make up money lost on deals.
2) On January the first of next year, President Trump’s pause on student loan payments for 33 million Americans is set to expire, just three weeks before President-elect Joe Biden is slated to take over. The Education Department is warning borrowers this week that their monthly payments will resume. For the incoming president, the economic and administrative mess could take months to untangle, consuming the early days of his Education Department. The student loan system was not designed to start and stop at any time for 30 million borrowers. This became apparent in March when loan payments were suspending and problems for borrowers quickly arose. This is just one facet of the economic problems facing the new president in just a few months, that not only must be addressed, but addressed correcting if problems are not to get worst.
3) The United States has surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases , that’s 1 million new infections in just one week, or 2 million since the beginning of the month. Consequently, hospitals are reaching a breaking point trying to treat nearly 70,000 Covid-19 patients. Medical workers are tired . . . mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. The stress is being felt around the nation, with the virus spreading like wildfire and the medical system having no backup. If you act early, you can save lives, but if you don’t, you’ll be swamped by a tsunami of this virus. But a Covid-19 vaccine may be in the making with Moderna announcing it has developed a vaccine that’s nearly 95% effective, capable of preventing severe illness, and it could start giving vaccinations to high-risk patients and health care workers as soon as December. A week before, drugmaker, Pfizer announced that its human trials suggest its coronavirus vaccine is more than 90% effective.
4) Stock market closings for – 17 NOV 20:
Dow 29,783.35 down 167.09 Nasdaq 11,899.34 down 24.79 S&P 500 3,609.53 down 17.38
1) Even with the election stagnated, waiting on the counting of votes to find the winner, the markets were already climbing despite the final results could be days away. The Dow Jones industrial average whipsawed overnight, despite the uncertainty which usually depresses the markets. Nevertheless, the Dow climbed to a peak of over 700 points, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Nasdaq also surging upward. The state of the Senate is also in doubt with neither side having a solid majority, another source of uncertainty. Voter turnout is expected to be the highest in more than a century. Experts expect volatile markets for the coming days, and maybe weeks until the election results are finalized. While bonds have dropped in their yield as expected, oil continues to gain in price. Even the foreign markets are showing an upward trend.
2) China’s new therapy for Alzheimer’s begins a much-anticipated U.S. study, the latest effort in the multibillion-dollar search for an effective treatment for the incurable disease. The drug made by Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceutical Co. plans a $600 million dollar global Phase III trial. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave its approval in April to study whether the drug can produce lasting cognitive improvement among patients in the mild and moderate stage of the debilitating neurodegenerative disorder. The trial will have 2,046 people across China, the U.S. and Europe, the first 600 expected to start in the next six months. The first patients will begin taking the drug in four weeks.
3) Nearly 140 million votes have been cast in the 2020 elections, the most ever in a US presidential election, exceeding 2016’s record of 137.1 million. About 100 million people have voted ahead of Election Day, or about 73.4% of the total votes cast nationwide in 2016. The increased number of early votes is a result of heightened public-health concerns of coronavirus pandemic with in-person voting on Election Day. Several states have taken measures to expand early voting and access to mail-in ballots.
4) Stock market closings for – 4 NOV 20:
Dow 27,847.66 up by 367.63 Nasdaq 11,590.78 up by 430.21 S&P 500 3,443.44 up by 74.28
1) The peak oil production could come in 2028 due to pandemic, a result of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which suppresses oil demand to such a degree that it will accelerate society’s transition from the fossil fuel. Some analysts predict oil demand will peak at 102 million barrels per day in 2028, two years earlier than predicted before the virus struck. The slow recovery will permanently affect global oil demand levels, lockdowns will stunt economic recovery in the short-term and long-term, while the pandemic will leave a legacy of behavioral changes that will also affect oil use. Right now, global oil demand is averaging about 89.3 million barrels per day, a 10 percent decline from last year, which experts say won’t rebound to those levels until 2023. Despite possible economic fallout governments in Europe and Asia, they are not backing off their clean energy goals. Electric vehicle sales are expected to reach 14 percent of total global car sales by 2025, and reaching 80 percent by mid-century.
2) Norwegian Cruise Line gives up on 2020 with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings suspended all cruises through the end of November. Resuming cruises have each company installing labs for COVID-19 testing at sea, then put through costly cruising simulations, and then following a number of additional regulations. So getting back to business by next month isn’t feasible anymore, therefore Norwegian Cruise Line became the first of the three giant operators to officially cancel the remainder of its 2020 voyages. Normally, December sailings are lucrative as people seek to leave cold weather behind during the holiday season. The cruise lines may not be able to hold out that long. To survive, companies need protocols that allows them to return to sailing safely, even if there’s a less than ideal experience for customers as well as the companies’ bottom lines. Consumers are already starting to lose faith in this once aspirational mode of leisure travel.
3) This last week, more than 61,000 children in the U.S. were diagnosed with Covid-19, the highest number than any other week. The true number of children with Covid-19 is higher because the illness tends to be mild in kids and because they may not always be tested. A 13-year-old boy has died over the weekend from Covid-19 infection, less than two weeks after he last attended class.
4) Stock market closings for – 3 NOV 20:
Dow 27,480.03 up by 554.98 Nasdaq 11,160.57 up by 202.96 S&P 500 3,369.02 up by 58.78