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

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

5 March 2019

1) Shale oil companies are adding even more new wells, but that is threatening the future of the US oil boom. Their strategy of drilling more wells chose to old wells has backfired because the new wells not only have lower outputs than the old wells, but the production of the old wells also declines.

2) Again, there are reports that the US-China trade talks are still progressing well and soon may end with an agreement to end the trade war tariffs.

3) 4 MAR 19   Stock market closings:

Dow             25,819.65    down    206.67
Nasdaq          7,577.57    down      17.79
S&P 500         2,792.81    down      10.88

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.72%

Oil:    down   at    $56.45