26 June 2020

1) General Motors is eliminating 700 factory jobs in Tennessee as a result of low sales, which they are blaming on the Convid-19 crisis. This is the third shift at their Spring Hill assembly plant, leaving 3,000 workers still employed. This plant makes Cadillac XT5 and XT6 SUVs plus the GMC Acadia. This is another sign of the weakness in auto demand, a result of record job loss coupled with people working at home and therefore putting less wear on their old cars. The GM plant for building truck engines remains unchanged, since they were working just two shifts to start with.

2) The nation wide retailer Macy’s is cutting nearly 4,000 corporate jobs, about 3% of its overall workforce. The pandemic has taken a toll on the department store chain, just like so many other traditional chain retailers. This move will save the company about $630 million dollars per year, amid a quarterly net loss of $652 million dollars. Macy’s was struggling long before the pandemic because of competition from lower priced retailers such as Walmart, T.J. Maxx and Target.

3) The U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) shrank by 5% for the first quarter, compared to an increase in the previous quarter of 2.1%, prior to the coronavirus pandemic onset. This drop is attributed to a decrease in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) because people are spending less. The real gross domestic income decreased 4.4% as compared to a 3.1% increase in the fourth quarter of last year.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 JUN 20:

Dow 25,745.60 up 299.66
Nasdaq 10,017.00 up 107.84
S&P 500 3,083.76 up 33.43

10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%

Oil: up at $39.18

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

4 March 2020

1) In an emergency move the Federal Reserve has cut the interest rates by half a percent, in a effort to stem slower economic growth as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This action was two weeks before the Fed’s scheduled meeting where business was expecting a reduction of the rate anyway, but because of the volatile stock market, it was decided to move more quickly. The announcement sent the markets into wild gyrations over fears the state of the economy is worst than feared.

2) Walmart, the retailing giant, is experimenting with a new health center. People can receive routine checkups and ongoing treatment of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease at discount prices, with or without insurance. Services include lab work, x-rays, dental care, behavioral health counseling and eye and hearing exams. A checkup for an adult is $30, eye exam is $45 and dental exams for $25. Healthcare is 15% of the economy, and if the two test facilities prove successful, then Walmart is expected to expand the service to other stores. This service would also bring increased foot traffic to boost in-store sales.

3) The trading smartphone app Robinhood is experiencing a system wide outage on both its website and its app. Users are reporting issues on the platform, logging in and even trading. Equities, cryptocurrency and options trading are among some of the functionalities experiencing a major outage. Some users are demanding compensation for their losses during down times.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 MAR 20:

Dow 25,917.41 down 785.91
Nasdaq 8,684.09 down 268.08
S&P 500 3,003.37 down 86.86

10 Year Yield: down at 1.01%

Oil: down at $47.10

9 January 2020

1) The result of the Iranian missile attack on gas prices is expected to be minimal. Oil prices did briefly surge on Tuesday on news of the attacks fueling fears of a Middle East war between Iran and America, spiking 4% to top oil prices of $65 a barrel, but slipped down to 1.3% early next day. Some are expecting gas prices across the nation to rise five to ten cents per gallon over the next several days.

2) Data for the fourth quarter indicated 2019 will show strong growth, which will most likely lead into a strong growth for 2020. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth for the fourth quarter is estimated to be 2.3%, better than the 2.1% growth for the third quarter. This would close out the GDP growth for 2019 at 2.4%, down from the 2.9% growth of 2018, but still enough to put fears of a recession to rest.

3) Walmart has unveiled its latest technology to counter Amazon and Kroger in the grocery battle- a grocery picking robot. The automated grocery system is called Alphabot and is designed to pick and pack orders as much as ten times faster than a human. The robot will allow Walmart to rapidly expand its capacity to fill orders for ‘demand on online’ grocery shopping. The Alphabot is a 20,000 square foot facility built onto present stores consisting of about 30 small cubic robots inside a giant shelving system, which can pick and pack products from a selection of 4,500 items.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 JAN 20:

Dow               28,745.09    up    161.41
Nasdaq            9,129.24    up      60.66
S&P 500           3,253.05    up      15.87

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.87%

Oil:    down   at    $59.98

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

21 November 2019

1) For 80 years Boeing Aircraft has operated as an ‘association of engineers’, but this changed in 2001 when the upper management who came from MacDonnel Douglas (a failed company), elected to move Boeing’s corporate headquarters to Chicago. The rational was upper management shouldn’t be close to a principal business, because the corporate center is inevitably drawn into day to day business operations. With this, Boeing became a financially driven business instead of engineering driven, with decision based on cost cutting instead of safety. This has resulted in the 737 MAX fiasco now being played out.

2) Apple has started construction of its $1 billion dollar campus in Austin Texas, which is beside its new MacBook Pro laptop manufacturing facility. The 3 million square foot campus will have 5,000 employees with capacity to grow to 15,000. Currently, Apply employs 7,000 people in Austin. This is seen as another move by Apple to limit its manufacturing in China.

3) Walmart is redesigning its grocery department in order to counter impending competition to traditional brick-and-mortar from online giant Amazon. Already the country’s largest grocer, Walmart will widen aisles, add low profile displays in the produce departments, an organic shop and update signage throughout its stores. These changes are expected to be improvements for the customers and workers.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 NOV 19:

Dow               27,821.09    down    112.93
Nasdaq           8,526.73    down      43.93
S&P 500          3,108.46    down       11.72

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.74%

Oil:    up   at    $57.09

13 November 2019

1) An FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) official states that Southwest Airlines should ground 49 of its airliners that had repairs failing to meet legal standards. The official claims there is a high likelihood of a violation of a regulation, order or standard, so the FAA must take immediate action to revoke the certification of the planes. Aircraft in questions is the Boeing 737 NG which were previously owned by foreign carriers, saying inspections should be speeded up, but fall short of grounding the aircraft.

2) Dean Foods, America’s largest milk producer, is filing for bankruptcy. The 94 year old company has struggled in recent years because Americans are drinking less cows milk. In 2019, sales are down 7%, while for the first half of the year, profits are down 14%, with Dean’s stock dropping 80% in a year. The company is straddled with debt and is unable to fully fund its pensions.

3) The retail giant Walmart is experiencing internal strife over its e-commerce operation with the corporate culture of traditional marketing. Apparently, Walmart’s management doesn’t have a real understanding of the complex technology of e-commerce. The impact of Walmart’s plunge into online retailing has reduced Walmart’s already thin profit margins, which are at historic lows. Some high profile acquisitions and other strategic moves have cratered and talented executives on both sides have departed.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 NOV 19:

Dow               27,691.49    unchanged    
Nasdaq            8,486.09      up    21.81
S&P 500           3,091.84      up      4.83

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.91%

Oil:    up   at    $56.78

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