23 March 2020

1) The shutting down of many of American service industries is having an effect on America’s hard pressed trucking industry. Suddenly, there are fewer hauling jobs, a result of the coronavirus control measures. There are 300,000 to 400,000 thousand truck drivers who own their trucks and don’t have much protection if rates or demand for their service falls. Trucking is often considered a leading economic indicator where the rest of the economy is heading, because 71% of the freight in America is moved by trucks. A downturn in freight being hauled indicates the economy is slumping.

2) President Trump says the U.S. may be headed for a recession for the first time in eleven years as the coronavirus cripples the world economies which in turn can pull the U.S. economy down despite it being strong. Experts anticipate America will enter a recession in the upcoming second quarter, from April through June, with a decline of 4% to 8% annual pace. The unemployment rate could zoom up to 6% from its current fifty year low of 3.5%, which would hinder a recovery. Typically, economic hard times opens the way for new technologies to displace workers as business strive for ways to reduce cost and remain profitable.

3) The Department of Labor reported a 30% increase in unemployment claims, which is one of the largest spikes in claims. This signals the start of feared layoffs in response to the coronavirus impact on the economy. As more businesses are vastly reducing or stopping operations, they have no real choice but to lay off workers in the hope of surviving the coming economic storm. America’s oil industry is facing massive layoffs with tens of thousands being laid off in the shale fields like the Permian Basin as oil prices drop to alarming lows. No longer profitable to pump out shale fields and strapped with high levels of debt, the oil companies are facing bankruptcy. Six years ago, a sharp price drop in oil cost 200,000 oil workers their jobs.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 MAR 20: The Dow had its worst month since 1931.

Dow 19,173.98 down 913.21
Nasdaq 6,879.52 down 271.06
S&P 500 2,304.92 down 104.47

10 Year Yield: down at 0.94%

Oil: down at $23.64

16 March 2020

1) Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft is stepping down from the company’s board of directors, which makes it the biggest boardroom departure in the tech industry, since the death of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Additionally, Mr. Gates is vacating his board seat at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., intending to devote his time to his philanthropic efforts. He will continue serving as a technical advisor to Microsoft.

2) Oil prices climbed up 5% on the announcement by President Trump that the Department of Energy would purchase crude for the nations’ strategic petroleum reserve. The objective is to boost oil prices to keep shale producers in business, because oil needs to be $40 or more a barrel to break even, depending on the particulars of an oil field. The shale oil companies are further in trouble because they are carrying a high debt level. Shale oil production is very capital intensive and therefore very sensitive to oil prices if companies aren’t to go bankrupt. Some suggest that the Russians engineered the rupture of the Saudi Arabia – Russian agreement to limit production levels as a means to cripple the U.S. shale oil production and thereby make America dependent on foreign oil again.

3) President Trump and the Congress have agreed on several provisions of a package, but have been far apart on others. Their discussions center on ways to minimize the economic impact of the coronavirus fears. One point is to ensure that every American can receive a virus test without consideration of money.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 MAR 20:

Dow 23,185.62 up 1985.00
Nasdaq 7,874.88 up 673.07
S&P 500 2,711.02 up 230.38
10 Year Yield: up at 0.95%
Oil: up at $32.93

12 March 2020

1) The WHO (World Heath Organization) has declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic, which in turn has cause the markets to make another plunge after its apparent recovery on Tuesday. The number of coronavirus cases world wide is now in excess of 100,000 with more than 1,000 in the U.S. The central banks in other western nations are cutting their interest rates in an attempt to minimize the effects of the virus and avoid a world wide economic slowdown. At present, there doesn’t seem to be an end to the markets volatility.

2) The United Kingdom is levying an additional 2% tax on big high tech companies starting the first of April. Call the ‘digital services tax’, it will levy a tax on the revenues from search engines, social media services and online marketplaces used by British citizens, but it only applies to companies making more than $650 million dollars and derive more than $35 million dollars revenue from UK users. This will encompass companies like Amazon, Apple, facebook and Google. The EU (European Union) is considering a similar tax, but with a 3% rate.

3) Oil production in the U.S. is expected to drop as a result of the dramatic collapse in oil prices. This would be the first decline in output since 2016 as drillers are cutting back on capital spending. Oil prices are below $35 a barrel, well below the breakeven price for most American shale fields. Oil prices have been pushed down by the economic impact of the coronavirus plus Saudi Arabia and Russian failing to agree on limited oil production.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 MAR 20 Stocks down 20% from their high.

Dow 23,553.22 down 1464.94
Nasdaq 7,952.05 down 392.20
S&P 500 2,741.38 down 140.85

10 Year Yield: up at 0.82%

Oil: down at $33.12

11 March 2020

1) Fully 70% of the American economy is consumer spending. Even through wages and incomes have been stagnant for many households, the consumer has continued to spend. It is not new investment by corporations, tax cuts or big new federal spending programs that stimulate the economy, but rather it’s consumer spending. However, fears of the coronavirus is dampening that spending by curtailing business trips, personal travel, sports and other outings. With the interest rate near zero, the major tool used to combat a recession is now impotent.

2) The collapse of the long standing deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia, to limit oil production, fell through this weekend sending oil prices crashing from oil supplies surplus. The coronavirus has caused China to limit economic activity and therefore reduced China’s oil consumption leading to further oil surpluses. China’s purchase of oil is down 20%. The low oil prices has made the world economy very unstable and therefore volatile. For America, independent oil companies have gone deeply into debt to pay for the shale oil extraction process, who are now threaten by low oil prices making it impossible to pay that debt. Failure of these oil companies could ripple through the American economy to pull other segments down.

3) Airlines across the world continue to sink deeper into crisis from the worsening coronavirus epidemic reducing the number of passengers, who are foregoing travel fearing the virus. The situation is made worst by not being able to predict how long the crisis will likely last and therefore unable to make accommodating plans. The lockdown of Italy has further aggravated world air travel, especially with the interruption of tourism just as the tourist season would be ramping up.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 MAR 20

Dow 25,018.16 up 1,167.14
Nasdaq 8,344.25 up 393.577

S&P 500 2,882.23 up 135.67

10 Year Yield: up at 0.748%

Oil: up at $34.62

21 January 2020

1) As Boeing’s 737 MAX crisis continues, Boeing is talking with banks to borrow $10 billion dollars or more to finance the rising cost from its 737 MAX woes. So far, the company has borrowed $6 billion dollars to cover its cash-sapped operations after having suspended production of the planes this month. The crisis which grounded the 737 MAX is now entering its eleventh month.

2) The global auto industry continues its downward slide into deeper recession with sales down 4%. Automakers are struggling to find buyers in China and India, with the downward trend expected to continue this year. The number of vehicles sold dropped from 94.4 million down to 90.3 million last year, with the record high in 2017 of 95.2 million. The IMF says new autos account for 5.7% of economic output and 8% of the goods exported. Autos are the second largest consumer of steel and aluminum.

3) Because of unrest in Iraq and Libya, oil rose to its highest in more than a week. Oil prices have always been heavily influenced by geopolitical instability, especially those countries heavily involved with oil exports. Lybia has Africa’s largest oil reserves, with their Sharara oil field being Lybia’s largest by pumping 300,000 barrels a day.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 JAN 20:

Dow              29,348.10    up    50.46
Nasdaq          9,388.94    up     31.81
S&P 500         3,329.62    up    12.81

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.84%

Oil:    down   at    $58.70

27 December 2019

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

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.90%

Oil:    up   at     $61.68

9 December 2019

1) The newly released November jobs report is the best in ten months and blows away expectations as striking GM workers returned to work. The good news confirms the economy remains on a moderate expansion path despite a prolonged manufacturing slump. Even better news is the unemployment rate has falling back to 3.5% damping fears of an up coming recession.

2) The oil cartel OPEC+ (plus) will adjust its output target and redistribute production cuts between its members. Saudi Arabia pressured the decision since they have long carried an outsized share of the burden. The cartel, which pumps more than half the world’s oil, agreed to reduce its output by 500,000 barrels a day. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and the de facto leader of OPEC.

3) Amazon Business, one unit of the giant Amazon, operating in the business-to-business marketplace, serving a variety of customers from large companies to hospitals, to schools and colleges. Growing faster than their consumer retailing segment, analyst say Amazon Business could be a $31 billion dollar business in four years. Started in 2015, it had over a billion dollars of sales in its first year.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 DEC 19:

Dow            28,015.06    up    337.27
Nasdaq         8,656.53    up      85.83
S&P 500        3,145.91    up      28.48

10 Year Yield:     up   at     1.84%

Oil:    up   at    $59.07

6 December 2019

1) Boeing says significant additional regulatory requirements may cause additional delays in returning Boeing’s 737 MAX to commercial service and in turn may cause the company to cut or even halt production. Boeing does not expect 737 MAX order cancellations to have an impact on revenues or earnings citing the size of 737 backorder.

2) Saudi Arabia has just completed the biggest initial public offering in history, which raised $25.6 billion dollars from sales of shares in its giant state owned oil monopoly. Three billion shares were sold at $8.53 a share. Aramco is valued at roughly $1.7 trillion dollars, making it the most valuable publicly traded company in the world. Saudi Arabia plans to wean their economy off an oil only base.

3) The Dollar General retailer chain is opening almost twenty stores a week, while thousands of other retail stores are expected to close this next year. So far, the retailer has opened 925 stores this year, with 1,000 opened by the end of 2020. Presently, they have 16,000 retail outlets, and estimate that three quarters of the U.S. residents live within five miles of a Dollar General store. Revenues continue to increase with sales rising 8.9% to nearly $7 billion dollars over the last three months compared to the same period last year.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 DEC 19:

Dow           27,677.79    up    28.01
Nasdaq        8,570.70    up      4.03
S&P 500       3,117.43    up      4.67

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.80%

Oil:    up   at    $58.33

2 December 2019

1) Deere & Co., the famous manufacture of green and yellow tractors, reported lower earnings blaming trade tensions and poor weather in the U.S. farm belt. Last year’s difficult growing and harvesting conditions have made farmers cautious about investing in new farm equipment. Sales of the construction and forestry division are expected to be down by 10% to 15%, while agricultural is down 5% to 10% next year.

2) Texas oil explorers say predictions of shale production isn’t reflecting the industry’s slowdown. Producers are being starved of funding, stocks have plunged and little interest in public offerings, which may cause a downturn to be more enduring. Seeking to cut costs, drillers have laid off 1,000 workers. There are predictions that U.S. oil production growth will flatten as early as 2021. There is a rapid decline of shale well production, partly a result of placing wells too close together.

3) Global manufacturing has been dragging the world economy down this last year. Weak auto sales have added to the problem, with China’s auto market the worst with a 11% decline in sales. Slow auto sales have cut production at auto plants, with Audi cutting 7,500 jobs. U.S. dealerships are struggling to clear inventory for the new year, with a 12% rise in incentive spending in November, compared to a typical 4%.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 NOV 19:

Dow         28,051.41    down    112.59
Nasdaq      8,665.47    down      39.70
S&P 500     3,140.98    down      12.65

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.78%

Oil:    down   at    $55.42

12 November 2019

1) The KKR & Co. is offering a deal to take the drugstore giant Walgreens Boots Alliance private in what could be the biggest ever leveraged buyout. The New York private equity firm is proposing to buy out shareholders of Walgreens Boots, but there are no details on the proposed transaction. Walgreens Boots has a market value of $53 billion dollars and debt of $16.8 billion dollars. A buyout would give Walgreens Boots time to adapt to a fast changing retail landscape.

2) Some U.S. oil and natural gas production companies are planning to pump less petroleum thereby reducing production for this next year. Several producers, including EQT Corp and Chesapeake Energy Corp have announced their intention to alsoreduce production thereby reining in spending and forecasting slower growth, while other fracking companies like Diamondback Energy Inc., Cimarex Energy Co. and Callon Petroleum Co. plan to hold next year’s spending the same.

3) The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has shattered their single day sales from last year. Alibaba had $33.9 billion dollars in sales, which eclipsed last year’s numbers of $30.8 billion dollars in sales for 24 hours. Alibaba’s annual shopping extravaganza is equivalent to Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the US. The eleventh of November was originally created as a student holiday in China to celebrate single people, but has been transformed into a massive day of sales on Alibaba.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 NOV 19:

Dow               27,691.49         up     10.25
Nasdaq            8,464.28    down    11.03
S&P 500           3,087.01    down       6.07

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.94%

Oil:    down   at    $56.63