1) The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted the most in December, more than for a decade. Order volumes crashed to a near eleven year low with factory employment falling for a fifth straight month. The index of national factory activity fell to 47.2 last month from 48.1 for November and is the lowest reading since June 2009. A value of 50 or above indicates expansion, while below is contraction.
2) The electric auto maker Tesla sold more cars in 2019 than the two previous years combined. Tesla sold 367,500 cars in 2019, although its on the low end of the 360,000 to 400,000 cars the company estimated at the beginning of 2019. Its newly opened plant in China will sell its Model 3 automobile in China thus avoiding transport and import cost. China promises to be a major increase in Tesla sales for next year.
3) Despite worries by experts expecting a decline of spending by American consumers, many consider the consumer will keep the economy humming through the next year. This Christmas shopping season appears it will set new records in spending, despite trade tensions, Washington being absorbed in impeachment and oil prices creeping up. With the economy always on the minds of voters, a good economy bodes well for incumbents with 2020 being a presidential election year.
4) Stock market closings for – 3 JAN 20:
Dow 28,634.88 down 233.92
Nasdaq 9,020.77 down 71.42
S&P 500 3,234.85 down 23.00
10 Year Yield: down at 1.79%
Oil: up at $63.04
1) Timothy Litzenburg, a Virginia lawyer involved in litigation over the health risks of Monsanto’s roundup weed killer product, has been arrested. He is charged with interstate intentions to extort an unnamed company into a $200 million dollar consulting fee for his firm. Litzenburg threatened to find people who he would advise to sue companies for exposing them to the chemical, but that he would cease searching for potential plaintiffs in exchange for a multi million dollar consulting agreement.
2) Freddie Mac has offered early retirement to about 25% of its staff in a drive to overhaul its workforce, as a result of the Trump administration’s reforming the housing finance giant. There are 1,650 eligible employees being offer the early out, with about one quarter expected to take the buyout. This will be about 6% of Freddie Mac’s workforce.
3) The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped from more than a two year high, decreasing 18,000 to 234,000. This points to a sustained labor market strength, another sign of a strong American economy. Despite trade tensions and slowing global growth with a weighing down on manufacturing, the economy is on a moderate growth path.
4) Stock market closings for – 19 DEC 19:
Dow 28,376.96 up at 137.68
Nasdaq 8,887.22 up at 59.48
S&P 500 3,205.37 up at 14.23
10 Year Yield: down at 1.91%
Oil: up at $61.03
1) Deere & Co., the famous manufacture of green and yellow tractors, reported lower earnings blaming trade tensions and poor weather in the U.S. farm belt. Last year’s difficult growing and harvesting conditions have made farmers cautious about investing in new farm equipment. Sales of the construction and forestry division are expected to be down by 10% to 15%, while agricultural is down 5% to 10% next year.
2) Texas oil explorers say predictions of shale production isn’t reflecting the industry’s slowdown. Producers are being starved of funding, stocks have plunged and little interest in public offerings, which may cause a downturn to be more enduring. Seeking to cut costs, drillers have laid off 1,000 workers. There are predictions that U.S. oil production growth will flatten as early as 2021. There is a rapid decline of shale well production, partly a result of placing wells too close together.
3) Global manufacturing has been dragging the world economy down this last year. Weak auto sales have added to the problem, with China’s auto market the worst with a 11% decline in sales. Slow auto sales have cut production at auto plants, with Audi cutting 7,500 jobs. U.S. dealerships are struggling to clear inventory for the new year, with a 12% rise in incentive spending in November, compared to a typical 4%.
4) Stock market closings for – 29 NOV 19:
Dow 28,051.41 down 112.59
Nasdaq 8,665.47 down 39.70
S&P 500 3,140.98 down 12.65
10 Year Yield: up at 1.78%
Oil: down at $55.42
1) Boeing aircraft has not received any new orders for their 737 MAX in six months. This could give Boeing’s competitor Airbus a major market advantage having made 389 commercial plane deliveries in the same six months, making Airbus the largest supplier of this market segment with its A320 design. The grounding of the 737 MAX has forced Boeing to park completed aircraft to await its air worthiness to be restored.
2) Signs of inflation are increasing as U.S. consumer prices increased broadly in July. Expectations are for the Federal Reserve to again cut interest rates next month as much as half a percentage point in September. Continue trade tensions between China and America out weight fears of inflation so interest rates will continue to remain low, if not go lower.
3) Fears grow that protests in Hong Kong, which have persisted for the last two months, could have a lasting detrimental effect on U.S. and global markets. Hong Kong operates with a high degree of autonomy from China, having its own currency and judiciary system. This is fueling the rising concerns of investors of a major violent eruption of conflict between Hong Kong and main line China, coupled with concerns over U.S. – China trade war and the total impact on the world markets. With Hong Kong a financial hub, an invasion by Chinese troops with sever repressive measures on the people could disrupt other markets across the world. Furthermore, violence with loss of life could make it impossible for President Trump to resolve differences with China.
4) Stock market closings for – 13 AUG 19:
Dow 26,279.91 up 382.20
Nasdaq 8,016.36 up 152.95
S&P 500 2,926.32 up 43.23
10 Year Yield: up at 1.68%
Oil: down at $56.73