6 February 2020

1) For the first time in six years, the U.S. trade deficit fell as the White House’s trade war with China curbed imports. The trade deficit dropped 1.7% to $616.8 billion dollars last year with steep decline in industrial materials and supplies, consumer goods and other goods. The trade deficit for goods with Mexico jumped to a record high of $101.8 billion dollars last year, with the European Union reaching an all time high of $177.9 billion dollars.

2) The Ford Motor Company is posting a$1.7 billion dollar loss and anticipates a weak forecast for 2020. General Motors is also reporting poor performance for 2019 and anticipates flat profits for 2020. Both Ford and GM’s troubles are in part from slaking sales in China, in particular with the economic slowdown in China from the coronavirus pandemic. The major competitor to the duet auto makers, Tesla, is suffering from the coronavirus closing of its Shanghai factory which builds its Model 3 sedans.

3) Macy’s, another major world renowned retailer, is experiencing the brick-and-mortar decline of other major traditional retailers. The chain is closing 125 of its stores, in addition to the 100 stores it has already closed, and cutting about 2,000 corporate jobs. Their strategy is to exit weaker shopping malls and focus towards opening smaller format stores in strip centers. But even with these changes, the future of Macy’s is abysmal. The company has lost market share in core categories such as apparel, as fewer shoppers take trips to malls, preferring on line shopping.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 FEB 20:

Dow                 29,290.85    up    483.22
Nasdaq             9,508.68    up      40.71
S&P 500            3,334.69    up      37.10

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.65%

Oil:    up   at    $51.17

31 December 2019

1) The automaker of electric cars Tesla has made its first deliveries of their Model 3 that were manufactured in China. The gigafactory in Shanghai is Tesla’s first outside the U.S., which is expected to significantly boost Tesla sales in China, which Tesla considers will become its largest market for the Model 3. Production will soon be 1,000 cars a week, eventually reaching an annual production of 150,000 a year.

2) The national average price for gasoline increased by 1.6 cents to $2.57 a gallon. Gas prices had been dropping for seven consecutive weeks prior to the upswing. The price increase is a result of the drop in oil inventories while oil prices are above $61 a barrel. Gas prices are above $3 a gallon in Hawaii, California, Nevada, Alaska and Washington, while Missouri, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana are the five states with the lowest priced gas states.

3) Vietnam is switching from producing and selling raw robusta beans on the commodity markets, to producing instant coffee for the burgeoning Asian market. Instant coffee brings more profit with less risk while also bringing protection from large swings in international commodity prices. Vietnam aims to overtake Nestle as Vietnam’s biggest pure instant coffee supplier in the next five years, and doubling its coffee exports to $6 billion dollars a year.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 DEC 19:

Dow              28,462.14    down   183.12
Nasdaq           8,945.99    down     60.62
S&P 500          3,221.29    down     18.73

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.90%

Oil:    down   at    $61.68

7 October 2019

1) As part of its restructuring plan, HP announced they will cut about 7,000 to 9,000 jobs, resulting in an estimated savings of about $1 billion dollars. While HP expects to incur labor and non-labor cost of about $1 billion dollars, they expect to generate at lease $3 billion dollars of free cash flow. As of 31 October 2018, HP had world wide employment of about 55,000 workers.

2) Consumer spending has been the bright spot in an economy showing signs of weakening on multiple fronts, in particular manufacturing. Economists worry if consumer spending will continue to prop up the economy, saying that the up coming Christmas season will be a test. Issues such as trade, interest rates, global risk factors and political rhetoric are where confidence can be eroded by deterioration of these items.

3) The new Costco in Shanghai China reports membership of more than 200,000 as compared to an American average of 68,000 per store. Costco will open a second Shanghai location in early 2021. The first day opening, the store was so swamped with customers, that the doors had to be closed for four hours to limit the number of people inside to safe limits.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 OCT 19:

Dow                  26,573.72    up    372.68
Nasdaq               7,982.47    up    110.21
S&P 500              2,952.01    up      41.38

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.52%

Oil:    up   at    $53.01

2 August 2019

1) Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, is starting a three year, $100 million dollar plan to overhaul its stock trading platform. The project, which is named Atlas, is aimed at the world’s largest quant hedge funds with the intent of shaving milliseconds off trades. The quantitative hedge fund investment has become a cutthroat business as other firms have been winning a larger share of a shrinking pie, and Goldman Sachs realizes they have been falling behind the technology race. They must make a strong effort to push forward the technology of electronic trading to maintain their market position.

2) As trade talks continue in Shanghai between China and America, President Trump has imposed an additional 10% tariff on $300 billion dollars worth of Chinese imports. These imports are due to start on the first of September. This does not include the $250 billion dollars already tariffed at 25%. The President blames the Chinese for imposing the tariff, saying China is not following through their promise to buy more American agricultural products and not doing more to stem sales of synthetic opioid fentanyl.

3) Lowe’s, the home improvement retailer, has told thousands of its workers that their jobs are being eliminated. The company will out source the jobs of maintenance and assembly workers to third party companies. These workers assembly products such as wheelbarrows and grills, claiming this will allow store associates to spend more time on the sales floor serving customers. Lowe’s employs 190,000 full time and 110,000 part time workers.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 AUG 19:

Dow           26,583.42    down    280.85
Nasdaq         8,111.12    down      64.30
S&P 500        2,953.56    down      26.82

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.89%

Oil:    up   at    $54.49

31 July 2019

1) One of the nations largest credit card companies Capital One announced a massive data breach which affects tens of millions of customers. This news has sent its stock down 7%. Most of the data lost to hackers was personal information such as names, addresses, phone numbers and income of consumers and small businesses from 2005 to 2019. About 140,000 Social Security numbers of customers was comprised with 80,000 bank links. This breach is one of the largest yet.

2) China and America have resumed trade talks in Shanghai after a three month suspension. President Trump has criticized China for it’s reluctance to buy U.S. agricultural products, the Chinese using this as a pressure point on Trump with many farmers having previously supported Trump. There are low expectations for a breakthrough in trade talks because the two sides are further apart now than three months ago.

3) American consumer confidence is at the highest level since November negating its June drop. The index rose from June’s 124.3 to 135.7. The index measures consumers’ assessment of the current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Consumers have little concern for trade tensions with China or a slowing economy. This should translate into robust spending in the near future.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 JUL 19:

Dow               ,198.02    down    23.33
Nasdaq       8,273.61    down    19.72
S&P 500      3,013.18    down      7.79

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.06%

Oil:    up   at    $58.34