20 May 2020

1) Just three months after filing for bankruptcy, the Pier 1 retail chain is closing down all its retail store outlets as soon as possible. This drastic action is blamed on store closure from the pandemic and failure to find a buyer. After modeling several options for remaining in business, they found liquidation was the best option to maximize Pier 1’s assets. Plans are to sell its remaining inventory, website and intellectual property. Once a large seller of home goods, the company has suffered severely from online retailers such as Amazon and Wayfair, while big box stores such as Target and Walmart have increased their marketing of home goods products. The fifty-eight year old retailer joins several other big name store chains now in bankruptcy, in what appears to be a fundamental change in consumerism.

2) The damage to employment continues to spread, starting with 1 million public sector workers possibly losing their jobs. All governments are seeing a drop in revenue from businesses being shut down because of the coronavirus. With limited money- cities, counties and states are facing layoffs of their workers until things improve. Restaurants have loss 417,000 jobs to closure. The low wage workers account for 86% of job losses, while over two hundred hospitals have laid off staff because of elective procedures being suspended to accommodate Covid-19 patients, because hospitals have experienced cash crunches.

3) The ride sharing service Uber has had steep revenue losses from the pandemic shutdown, and so announced another 3,000 layoffs to bring their total layoffs to 6,700 or 25% of its workforce. It’s anticipated this action will save the company more than $1 billion dollars annually. Additionally, the company is reorganizing into transportation (Uber Works) and food delivery (Uber Eats).

4) Stock market closings for – 19 MAY 20:

Dow 24,206.86 down 390.51
Nasdaq 9,185.10 down 49.72
S&P 500 2,922.94 down 30.97

10 Year Yield: down at 0.71%

Oil: down at $31.86

22 April 2020

1) Many retailers have closed their stores because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Analysts think that over the coming years, many of these stores will remain closed for good. Analysts forecast that 100,000 stores will close by fiscal 2025, the hardest hit will be the apparel retailers accounting for 24,000 closures. Most retail categories will be impacted, with consumer electronics to see about 12,000 closures, while home furnishings and grocery retailers will each have about 11,000 closures. The most insulated retailers are those that have fared best during the pandemic, including Walmart, Target and Costco Wholesale. Home Depot and Lowe’s, plus dollar stores such as Dollar General and off-price retailers like Ross Stores and TJ Maxx are also well-positioned to survive. The once powerful department stores, which were the shopping meccas that anchored malls and main streets, are now considered in their death throes with very few expected to survive.

2) As oil futures continue to slide down, the extra oil is being stored in giant ocean supertankers as oil traders scramble to find places to keep their product. There is now 160 million barrels of oil which is being stored on tankers, a record amount. The previous record was 100 million barrels during the 2009 financial crisis. A large portion of this oil is stored in about 60 super tankers called very large crude carriers (VLCC) which can hold up to 2 million barrels each. Every conceivable place to store oil is being explored, while also the U.S. government is replenishing its strategic reserves stored in old underground oil fields.

3) The Bank of America is expecting gold prices to rise to $3,000 an ounce amid the deepening world economy, which is more than 50% above the existing price record. Much of this is driven by fears that the Federal government is just printing money for the trillions of dollars being spent to counter the stopped economy because of the coronavirus. The feeling being that the ‘feds can’t print gold’ and so it will hold its value. Historically, gold has been a ‘panic investment’, a safe heaven for hard economic times, a hedge against money dropping in value.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 APR 20:

Dow 23,018.88 down 631.56
Nasdaq 8,263.23 down 297.50
S&P 500 2,736.56 down 86.60

10 Year Yield: down at 0.57%

Oil: up at $13.12

16 January 2020

1) Nigeria may become the superpower of Africa, repeating the economic miracle of China and India. While investors are not moving into Nigeria yet, they are watching. Like China and India, Nigeria was once a colony of the west, and like India, was a colony of the British, and just like India its language is English. Right now, Nigeria is economically where China was forty years ago, before Mao Zedong died and Deng Xiaoping deregulated the economy to unleash it. For many other reasons, Nigeria is set to repeat the economic miracle of China.

2) House mortgage applications has soared to its highest level in eleven years, for new homes and refinance. Applications are up 30.2% from last week, and are 109% higher than a year ago. The interest rates are under 4% , combining with a rosy economic outlook and high employment causing home buyers to rush into the market. This is causing a near record low supply of housing across America, pushing prices up.

3) Retailer giant Target didn’t have a strong holiday sales in their toy departments, less than what was expected. This is ringing alarm bells for the entire industry. While Target gained market share in toys, its toy sales were flat over the 2019 holidays compared to last year. Toy makers like Hasbro, Mattel and Spin Master are offering a smaller variety of toys and games, a result in part from the bankruptcy of Toys-R-Us. Increasingly, toy sales is going to online retailers such as Amazon.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 JAN 20:

Dow            29,030.22    up    90.55
Nasdaq         9,258.70    up      7.37
S&P 500        3,289.29    up      6.14

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.79%

Oil:    down   at    $58.13

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

8 November 2019

1) Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, says he’s happy to pay his share of taxes, but expressed consternation over Elizabeth Warren’s proposals to tax America’s wealthy. He considers the presidential hopeful is not very open minded to consider his concerns. Warren’s wealth tax proposal is 2% annual levy on household wealth above $50 million dollars with an additional 1% tax on wealth above $1 billion dollars. She estimates this would cover 75,000 tax payers raising $2.6 to $2.75 trillion dollars over a ten years.

2) Stores are starting their Black Friday sales earlier this year, in part because the holiday shopping season is six days shorter. Retailer Target will begin online Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving morning, with stores opening their doors at 5 p.m. and remaining open through 1 a.m. the next day. On Black Friday, their stores open at 7 a.m.. Other retailers such as Walmart started their holiday shopping season last October.

3) Xerox is offering HP a takeover bid of $22 per share. The bid consists of 77% cash and 23% stock which would be $17 in cash and 0.137 Xerox shares for each HP share. If accepted, the deal would generate about $2 billion dollars in cost synergies with HP stock holders owning 48% of the company. HP has announced job cuts between 7,000 and 9,000 by the end of fiscal 2022. HP is worth $29 billion dollars and is more than three times the size of Xerox in terms of market cap.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 NOV 19:

Dow                 27,674.80    up    182.24
Nasdaq              8,434.52    up      23.89
S&P 500             3,085.18    up        8.40

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.93%

Oil:    up   at    $57.07

6 November 2019

1) The money-markets have about $3.4 trillion dollars invested, and the large pile of cash could push the already soaring markets higher. The money-markets have grown by $1 trillion dollars over the last three years because of higher money-market rates, concerns of the ten year economic expansion and the ageing of the bull market. But despite the double digit gains this year, that cash remains in the money-markets amid concerns of an economic slowdown, investors wanting the safe bet of having a large cash reserve. Many fear the markets are at an unstable high and a reversal could occur at any time.

2) The U.S. trade deficit for September has falling to its lowest level in five months with imports dropping more sharply than exports. America has a rare surplus of petroleum, which has traditionally been a major source of imports. The import-export difference shrank 4.7% to $52.5 billion dollars, down from the August deficit of $55 billion dollars, with the deficit with China creeping down 0.6% to $31.6 billion dollars.

3) The Bank of America announced it will pay a $20 dollar minimum wage in 2020, a year earlier than planned. This will raise wages for more than 208,000 of its U.S. employees. The higher pay for retail bankers is becoming crucial with the increasingly competitive job market. Other main street banks have also raised their minimum wage, such as Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. Other major companies including Amazon, Walmart, Target and McDonald’s have also increased their minimum pay.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 NOV 19:

Dow              27,492.63         up    30.52
Nasdaq           8,434.68         up      1.48
S&P 500          3,074.62    down      3.65

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.87%

Oil:    up   at    $57.27

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

22 August 2019

1) Retailers Target and Lowe’s posted second quarter sales higher than anticipated by analyst. Target’s ‘same store sales’ is up by 3.4% compared to an expected growth of 2.9%. This news boosted Target’s stock by 16%. Lowe’s also reported better than expected second quarter earning results which pushed its stock up 10%. These big box store reports help qual fears of an approaching recession.

2) The chip maker Intel announced two new chip products for the AI (Artificial Intelligence) market, processors as part of its Nervana Neural Network Processor. This chips will accelerate training and inferences drawn from AI models. This will allow AI systems to gain inferences and insights more readily. They will help AI platforms address the crush of data being generated and ensure AI enterprises make efficient use of their data, by processing it where it’s collected.

3) Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer, is incurring additional cost from its grounded 737 MAX, by hiring hundreds of temporary workers to help maintain its growing fleet of 737 MAXs that Boeing is storing until the FAA restores its certification. These temporary workers have skills such as avionics technicians, aircraft mechanics, airframe and power plant mechanics and aircraft electricians. Once the aircraft is re-certified, these technicians will be needed to upgrade the software and prepare aircraft for delivery.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 AUG 19:

Dow            26,202.73    up    240.29
Nasdaq         8,020.21    up      71.65
S&P 500        2,924.43    up       23.92

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.58%

Oil:    up   at    $55.85

20 August 2019

1) Fears of a possible recession were dampened as stocks rose while Treaasury yields rebounded. The U.S. decision to extend a temporary reprieve to the Chinese telecom giant Huawein is credited with the change in markets. The Treasury notes appears to have broken out of the yield-curve inversion , which is a potential signal that a recession may be coming in the near future.

2) Delivery platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates and Grubhub have open new opportunities for America’s fast food industries. Previously, the only fast food delivered was pizza, but these new delivery services allows a wide range of foods to be delivered to customers at home or office. While it does open new opportunities for increased sales, the down side is the service could eat into restaurant’s profits and erode customer loyalty.

3) The retail giant Target, known for being the master of private label brands, is launching it’s own new food brand called ‘Good & Gather’. Due to start on the 15th of September, it will initially have 650 products, but will eventually expand to about 2,000 products, such as coffee, milk and eggs. Target describes their product line to be affordable and will replace present brands such as Simply Balanced and Archer Farms brands, while also reducing its Market Pantry line. For Target, using private label brands have been a way to boost profit margins while maintaining affordable prices. They’re a big asset in driving traffic to their stores.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 AUG 19:

Dow           26,135.79    up    249.78
Nasdaq        8,002.81    up    106.82
S&P 500       2,923.65    up      34.97

10 Year Yield:     up   at    1.60%

Oil:    down   a   t $56.08

18 June 2019

1) Traditional retail stores, who have been suffering the ravages of e-commerce, are worried about another coming blow. The new tariffs on Chinese imports, which President Trump threatens to impost, could have a disastrous effect on retailers such as Walmart and Target. These next round of tariffs will be specific to consumer goods, which these retailers sell, and will start to force price increases and so most likely will result in decline of sales revenue.

2) While President Trump has been pressing for a cut in the interest rate, the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to defer and leave the interest rates unchanged. However, the board may possibly lay the groundwork for a rate cut later this year. While the economic outlook has become less clear, there still isn’t sufficient indication of a slow down to warrant cutting interest rates yet.

3) The Pfizer pharmaceutical company is buying Array BioPharma for $10.6 billion dollars for a price 62% above the company’s closing price this last Friday. Pfizer will gain medical technology for new drugs to treat cancer that limit or suppress the effects of chemotherapy. The drugs target a mutation that’s found across many tumor types in those patients who carry the mutation. Two of Array BioPharma drugs have been FDA approved for use in advanced melanoma. There are other drugs which are in the development pipeline.

4) Stock market closings for- 17 JUN 19:

Dow               26,112.53    up    22.92
Nasdaq             7,845.02    up    48.37
S&P 500            2,889.67    up      2.69

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.09%

Oil:    down   at    $51.90