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

9 March 2020

1) The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) will vote later this month on rules requiring all providers of phone service to implement automatic call blocking. This automatic technology will block illegal robocalls, that is, the automatic calling of people with a prerecorded message or to connect the person to a salesman. This will give phone and cable companies until June 20, 2021 to implement. This blocking technology is called STIR/SHAKEN protocol that authenticates the origin of a call and can automatically block it if it’s from an illegal robocaller.

2) The U.S. credit markets of bonds are suffering their worst day in a decade as fears increase over the spreading coronavirus and it’s possible effects on corporate income as well as their ability to repay debt. Bonds of American Airlines Group Inc. dropped to near distressed levels as companies worldwide canceled business travel. Other travel related bonds, such as rental car and cruise line companies, as well as energy companies, their bonds and loans fell further towards distressed levels. The selling off of bonds triggered a surge in derivative indexes that investors use to hedge against losses. The week has seen the most cash in at least ten years being withdrawn from funds buying corporate bonds and loans.

3) There are fears that the unraveling of the Saudi-Russia alliance will cause the biggest plunge of oil prices since 2015. Talks between members of the OPEC+ collapsed in Vienna, with members free to pump oil without any restrictions starting next month. The collapses is a result of Russia’s refusal to accept Saudi Arabia’s proposal for output cuts aimed at offsetting the coronavirus crisis’s impact on demand. Oil futures have plunged about 9% in New York and London.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 MAR 20:

Dow 25,864.78 down 256.50
Nasdaq 8,575.62 down 162.98
S&P 500 2,972.37 down 51.57

10 Year Yield: down at 0.71%

Oil: down at $41.57

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

5 November 2019

1) Saudi Arabia has started its long anticipated IPO (Initial Public Offering) of Aramco, the Saudi state run oil giant. A sliver of the firm will be offered on a local stock exchange with the intent of raising billions of dollars for the kingdom. Initially, the firm’s shares will be traded on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange, but later shares will be offered on foreign exchanges. Aramco is valued at $2 trillion dollars, with first and second quarter income of $46.8 billion dollars.

2) The high end luxury retailer Barneys of New York fell into bankruptcy, parts sold off as scrape to end an era. The retailer introduced such names as Armani, Alaia, Comme des Garcons, Louboutin and Zegna. The name Barneys was taken control of by Authentic Brands Group, a name which is part of the New York culture since 1923, and will license it to other companies like Saks Fifth Avenue. Next week, the company’s inventory at its five stores and two warehouse locations will be sold.

3) Predictions for 2020 investors include a recession, questions of interest rate cuts, market volatility, impact of the up coming election cycle, Brexit, earnings growth, low unemployment, mild inflation and wage growth. Each of these uncertainties can play a part on the ultimate outcome for the 2020 economy with interactions of them making the future economy uncertain for investors.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 NOV 19:

Dow           27,462.11    up    114.75
Nasdaq        8,433.20    up      46.80
S&P 500       3,078.27    up      11.36

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.79%

Oil:    up   at    $56.45

2 October 2019

1) The retailer giant Amazon is expanding into the grocery business by leasing retail space across the Los Angeles area, signing leases for more than twelve locations. This is the first step of plans to open grocery stories across the nation. Amazon job postings are looking for people to work in retail concepts for a multiple customer experiences under one roof. Stores are reportedly to be about 35,000 square feet and intended to compete with big box stores such as Walmart, Target and Kroger.

2) The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index dropped to 47.8 last month, the lowest since June 2009, below the forecast 49.1. Indexes below 50 indicate a contraction in manufacturing. Manufacturing accounts for 12% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), so a slowdown could effect other parts of the economy. Other indicators have shown output increased over last month.

3) Oil prices record its weakest quarter since late last year as fears over a global economic slowdown overshadowed the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities. Brent futures are down 8.7% since the end of June, despite the peak after the attacks. The price of oil is considered an economic indicator, since demand goes down as economies slow down, making more oil available, thus causing oil prices to decline.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 OCT 19:

Dow               26,573.04    down    343.79
Nasdaq            7,908.68    down      90.65
S&P 500           2,940.25    down      36.49

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.64%

Oil:    down   at    $53.98

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

24 September 2019

1) Saudi Arabia has restored 75% of its crude oil output and will have restored full production by next week. The September 14 attacks had reduced crude production to half, but promises that production will be fully restored by the end of September. The Saudis have managed to avoid a world wide oil crisis by drawing upon their stockpiles to continue supplying their customers at near pre-attack levels of crude.

2) The retailer giant Amazon plans to purchase 100,000 electric delivery vans from the company Rivian as part of its carbon neutral plan. Furthermore, Amazon announced plans to up its present 40% renewable energy to 100% by 2030. Rivian will design a custom electric delivery van for Amazon to be delivered between 2021 and 2024, who also has an agreement with Ford to develop an electric F-150 pickup truck. Amazon is also working to halt its support of the fossil fuel industry, stopping donations to climate denying politicians and think tanks, and stopping the oppression of climate refugees.

3) The British travel firm Thomas Cook has collapsed with bankruptcy, leaving about 600,000 customers stranded. The 178 year old group, which is debt plagued and struggling against fierce online competition for some time, is blaming Brexit uncertainty for the recent drop in bookings, and thus its inability to secure $250 million dollar loan to prevent collapse. This also leaves 22,000 staff members unemployed, with the British government chartering airlines to fly stranded passengers home.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 SEP 19:

Dow             26,949.99         up   14.92
Nasdaq          8,112.46    down     5.21
S&P 500         2,991.78    down     0.29

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.71%

Oil:    $58.49