10 February 2020

1) China has announced a 50% cut in its tariffs on $75 billion dollars worth of imports from America. This is in response to last months U.S. tariff cuts on $120 billion dollars on China imports to America. This is all part of the ‘phase one’ trade deal between China and the U.S. to normalize trade between the two nations.

2) The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have approved a regulatory exemption for Nuro’s next generation of self driving delivery vehicles they call R2. This exemption will allow testing on public roads for deliveries to customer’s homes. The R2 is a zero occupant vehicle. After public road testing, Nuro will begin the first driverless deliveries in Houston with partners Walmar and Domino’s.

3) The internet retail giant Amazon will hire 15,000 new employees in Seattle to work in a new 43 story tower now being planned, with construction expected to be completed by 2024. Amazon now has 789,000 workers in the world, a 23% increase from a year ago. Amazon has also expanded in New York City by leasing 335,000 square feet of office space, and in northen Virginia’s Crystal City they’re building a second headquarters.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 FEB 20: All three markets set record highs as fears of coronavirus fears subside.

Dow 29,379.77 up 88.92
Nasdaq 9,572.15 up 63.47
S&P 500 3,345.78 up 11.09

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 1.64%

Oil: down at $51.09

23 January 2020

1) Present Trump has renewed his threats to impose tariffs on imported cars from Europe, citing that the European Union is even more difficult to do business with than China. His comments signals he is turning his attention to renegotiating trade deals with the bloc. Automobiles have been at the center of trade tensions for the past couple of years.

2) The millennials own just 4% of American real estate by value, much less than the 32% which baby boomers owned. This comparison is with approximately the same media age of the two groups, meaning the millennials are far behind the baby boomers economically. While millennials may close that gap in the next four years, it’s unlikely they will reach 20% ownership, still far behind the baby boomers.

3) There is a rash of retail store closings after the holiday season, due to sales slump. Fashion retailer Express is closing 91 stores, Bed Bath & Beyond is closing 60 , Schurman Retail Group is closing its Papyrus and American Greeting stores for a total of 254 locations in the next four to six weeks. Express is the latest in a serious of fashion retailers to close, part of the struggle of malls to compete in the new retail arena. Last year, retailers Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy, with Charlotte Russe and Payless ShoeSource going out of business.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 JAN 20:

Dow            29,186.27    down       9.77
Nasdaq         9,383.77          up     12.96
S&P 500        3,321.75          up       0.96

10 Year Yield:       unchanged   at    1.77%

Oil:         down   at    $56.17

17 January 2020

1) The trust funds for Social Security are in trouble and will run dry by 2035. But Social Security is not going bankrupt because the program’s primary source of revenue is payroll taxes, which at present is 12.4% of pay. So even if the trust fund should run out, Social Security still would have the money to largely keep up with benefits. A much greater danger for retirees is high inflation, for historically the first to suffer from a collapsing economy are those on fixed incomes.

2) The recently signed phase one agreement with China made for a cease-fire in the trade, but leaves the tariffs largely in place, with some considering the tariffs to be the new norm in international trade. China has committed to making $200 billion dollars in purchases from America. The agreement does not address the intellectual property issues, both the forced intellectual transfers and out right theft.

3) Claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, indicating a sustained strong labor market. Claims dropped 10,000 last week to 204,000 with the labor market remaining on a solid footing, the unemployment rate holding near a fifty year low of 3.5% for December. Layoffs were in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 JAN 20:

Dow              29,297.64    up    267.42
Nasdaq          9,357.13    up      98.44
S&P 500         3,316.81    up      27.52

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.81%

Oil:    up   at    $58.59

16 December 2019

1) The Trump administration has reached a trade deal in principle with China. Reportedly, the United States has offered to cut existing tariffs on Chinese goods by as much as 50%, while also suspending new tariffs that are scheduled to become effective on Sunday. This is a bid to secure a “Phase One” trade deal. The 50% tariff reduction would be on $375 billion dollars of Chinese goods, and $160 billion dollars in goods scheduled to become effective on the fifteenth of December.

2) The natural gas boom has fizzled because of a glut in U.S. gas with sinking profits. Hydraulic fracturing has uncorked a lucrative new source of natural gas supply, with billions of dollars poured into export terminals to ship gas to China and Europe. But the drop in gas prices has caused a bust with energy companies shutting down drilling rigs, filing for bankruptcy protection and slashing the value of shale fields. The supply of gas has far outstripped demand and the over-supply likely to remain for several more years.

3) The number of applications for unemployment jumped to more than a two year high last week, but experts don’t think this signals a coming round of layoffs. Claims are up by 49,000 for a seasonally adjusted 252,000 for the week ending the seventh of December. The previous week, claims had dropped to 203,000, which was a seven month low. In the same period, the government reported adding 266,000 new jobs to the economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 DEC 19:

Dow                   28,132.05    up    220.75
Nasdaq               8,717.32    up      63.27
S&P 500              3,168.57    up       26.94

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.90%

Oil:    up   at    $59.48 +0.30

25 October 2019

1) Another wave of technology displacement is sweeping across America, with 32 stores getting rid of their cashiers and checkout lanes. For the last decade or so, there has been an increasing incident of self checkout facilities appearing in stores. Driven by Amazon’s marketing model, retailers are experimenting with ways and methods to dispense with the labor cost from check out clerks. The ‘one of a kind’ Sam’s Club Now is really an incubator to develop the technologies for automated check out systems in stores. Walmart has its Scan & Go app, Kroger its Scan Bag & Go service and fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and burger King have kiosk systems for ordering.

2) California is not seeing the expected revenues for legalization of cannabis for personal use. After three years of legalization, the anticipated windfalls have failed to materialize a result of regulations and a robust black market cutting into legal sales. The legal market has produced just a fraction of what the state had anticipated, while legal growers who invested millions to cultivate the product are not seeing any profits. Growers must pay a number of fees to the government annually, which cut heavily into their profits.

3) If China signs a partial trade deal with the U.S., it will buy at least $20 billion dollars of agricultural products in a year. This would take China’s farm goods imports back to the levels of 2017, before U.S. imposed tariffs, which once removed might actually push imports up to as much as $40-$50 billion dollars a year. China has already issued waivers for 10 million tons of soybean purchases this week, and is considering an additional 4-5 million tons of grains.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 OCT 19:

Dow           26,805.53    down    28.42
Nasdaq        8,185.80          up    66.00
S&P 500       3,010.29          up      5.77

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.77%

Oil:    up   at    $56.15

11 October 2019

1) Social Security recipients will receive a 1.6% cost of living increase in 2020, up from the average of 1.4%. This is less than the pervious two years, 2.8% for 2019 and 2.0% for 2018, but still it’s better than the zero increases of 2010, 2011 and 2016.

2) Because of a pig killing disease in China, the U.S. could see tightening supplies of pork products this next year. With China’s supply of pork decreasing, the Chinese may be forced to import significant pork supplies from the U.S. because pork is a major source of protein in the Chinese diet. This is despite the high tariffs China has imposed on U.S. pork imports. American pork exports to China will see about a 12% increase for 2019 and 13% for 2020.

3) Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is causing concerns among businessmen with her promises to remake capitalism from the ground up. Now in the front ranks of Democratic contenders, her plans are now viewed with more concern. Warren would drastically cut back on the amount and influence of big business, push private companies from parts of the economy altogether and shift power to government and labor. The presidential contender has blamed big business for a wide range of social problems.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 OCT 19:

Dow             26,496.67    up    150.66
Nasdaq         7,950.78     up      47.04
S&P 500        2,938.13    up       18.73

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.66%

Oil:    up   at    $53.94

4 October 2019

1) MGM Resorts has reached agreement with families of victims who were killed in the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. The settlement for the 2,500 family victims will be almost $800 million dollars with the agreement that all pending litigation against MGM will be dismissed. The shooting left 58 dead while wounding hundreds of others.

2) Soon to be implemented, tariffs will make imports more expensive for Americans, such as Scotch and Irish whiskies, Parmesan cheese and French wine. The tariffs will be on $7.5 billion dollars of European imports. Further tariffs are threaten over aircraft subsidies by the European Union, coming at a time when economies have been hurt by the US-China trade war. The World Trade Organization has ruled America can impose tariffs because the European Union has failed to abide by earlier ruling of Airbus subsidies.

3) The service-sector activity in the U.S. slowed to its weakest pace in three years this September. This is another sign that the U.S. economy may be weakening where the services sector accounts for more than two thirds of economic activity. The non-manufacturing index fell to 52.6 last month, which was the lowest reading since August 2016 and far below the 55.3 expectations.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 OCT 19:

Dow                 26,201.04    up    122.42
Nasdaq              7,872.26    up      87.02
S&P 500             2,910.63    up      23.02

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.54%

Oil:    down   at    $52.34

13 August 2019

1) Royal Dutch Shell is building a 386 acre chemical plant to make bulk plastic. The construction project is one of the largest active construction projects in America employing over 5,000 people. The plant has hundreds of miles of pipelines to feed it petroleum and will have its own rail system with 3,300 freight cars. The new plant is expected to produce a million tons of plastic pellets each year.

2) Saudi oil company Aramco is buying a 20% share in Reliance Industries Ltd of India an oil to chemicals business. This will include the 1.24 million barrels a day Jamnagar refining complex. This is part of Aramco plan for refinery investments to double its processing network and handle as much as 10 million barrels of oil a day by 2030. Reliance has agreed to purchase 500,000 barrels of crude a day over the long term.

3) The IMF (International Monetary Fund) has warned that addition tariffs in the trade war will sharply cut Chinese growth. The IMF has already forecast a 6.2% decline in China’s growth for this year, which assumes no new tariffs. They forecast a sharp cut in China’s growth if the additional tariffs threaten are imposed on the first of September. President Trump has cast doubts on a trade deal, and indicated he might cancel the trade talks scheduled for September.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 AUG 19:

Dow               25,897.71             down    389.73
Nasdaq            7,863.41   unchanged        0.00
S&P 500           2,883.09              down     35.56

10 Year Yield:     down   at    1.64%

Oil:    down   at    $54.78

15 July 2019

1) It appears the oil boom in the Permian basins is slowing down as producers dial back growth plans in face of numerous problems. These problems include pipeline limits, reduced flow from wells drilled too close together, low natural gas prices and high land cost. Most serious is that the shale-well oil production is falling off at such a high rate (as much as 70% in first year) that producers are forced to keep spending additional money on new wells in order to maintain production output.

2) Imports from China to U.S. are down by 31% as a result of the trade war. Trade has weakened since the trade war started, with tariffs and counter tariffs and with suppliers looking for alternative countries to fill their orders. This has put pressure on the Chinese government to shore up economic growth and avoid politically dangerous job losses. Nevertheless, Chinese leaders are confident they can survive the tariff fight.

3) The Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia, world’s largest diamond mine, is closing at the end of the next year as diamond supples are exhausted. The mine is famed for the coveted pink and red diamonds it produced, rather than the quantity of lower quality gems it has produced for almost forty years. A glut of cheap and small diamonds has eroded profits worldwide with other diamond mines scheduled to also close operations.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 JUL 19: All three markets closed with record setting highs. Also Standard & Poors broke the 3,000 mark.

Dow               27,332.03    up    243.95
Nasdaq            8,244.14    up     48.10
S&P 500           3,013.77    up     13.86

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.11%

Oil:    up   at    $60.39

4 July 2019

1) Estimates for National Employment Report forecast 140,000 new jobs, but private employers added just 102,000. This compares to 41,000 new jobs for the pervious month. This report comes ahead of the U.S. Labor Departments’s more comprehensive non-farm payrolls which includes both public and private sector employment.

2) Renown former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca, the man who put the Mustang in Ford’s lineup, has died at 94. Mr. Iacocca is also noted for creating the minivan and Chrysler K-cars in his 32 year career in Detroit. He’s best noted for his turn around of Chrysler corporation when in 1979 the company was floundering with $5 billion dollar debt turning out gas guzzler cars that people didn’t want. To save the company, he secured $1.5 billion dollar loan guarantees from the Federal Government which kept the company afloat until new fuel efficient cars could be produced.

3) The U.S. trade deficient surges to a five month high in May as imports of goods increased with businesses building up stock supplies to avoid tariffs. The trade deficit increased 8.4% to $55.5 billion dollars. The widening trade deficit adds to weak housing, manufacturing, business investment and slow consumer spending which may spell a lowering of the American economy. The trade deficit may be further aggravated with the suspension of Boeing’s 737 MAX deliveries.

4) Stock market closings for- 3 JUL 19: Stocks surged up on news of new U.S.- China talks.

Dow              26,966.00    up     179.32
Nasdaq            8,170.23    up       61.14
S&P 500           2,995.82    up       22.81

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.95%

Oil:     up   at    $57.40