…..Nasdaq record high close. Dollar gains. Greece on the edge of… China’s reserve slip. US trade deficit grows. US consumer credit inches up. CoreLogic home price index jumps. JOLT survey – openings flat, quits down. Betsy Devos confirmed. Army goes ahead with Dakota Access Pipeline. A gift for big oil. 9th Circuit hears arguments for travel ban. Oil prices down. GM workers finally catch a break. Apple number one in phone sales.
Financial Review by Sinclair Noe for 02-07-2017
DOW + 37 = 20,090
SPX + 0.52 = 2293
NAS + 10 = 5674 (record high close)
RUT – 5 = 1361
10 Y – .02 = 2.39%
OIL – .75 = 52.88
GOLD – 1.80 = 1234.40
The dollar, recovering from its worst start to a year in three decades, gained against a basket of other currencies. The euro is on the defensive, with markets nervous about elections in the Netherlands, Germany and possibly Italy, plus more wrangling over Greece’s bailout and an upcoming reduction in the European Central Bank’s monthly bond-buying. The head of the German Bundesbank responded to accusations from the Trump administration that Germany was manipulating the euro lower. Jens Wiedmann said the dollar strength was “triggered by the political announcement s of the new government.” The pound was among the biggest losers today, falling to a two-week low as Brexit and economic growth concerns return to put pressure on sterling.
Yields on two-year Greek bonds are up 9 basis points and are at their highest level since the middle of last year, as a rare split at the International Monetary Fund puts the country’s bailout at risk. The IMF says that Greece won’t meet targets set by Europe for the country to run a budget surplus. The fund also reiterated its view that Greece’s debt levels are unsustainable. The fund’s annual review of the Greek economy showed they are in disagreement over the austerity measures imposed on Athens and the need for further economic reforms. The split decision fueled fears the fund might pull out of the rescue plan for the country.
China’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped below the $3-trillion level for the first time since 2011, marking the seventh straight monthly decline as capital continues to flow out of the world’s second-largest economy. Data from the People’s Bank of China showed reserves falling by over $12 billion in January, despite government efforts to tighten capital movement controls and stabilize the yuan’s exchange rate.
The US trade deficit rose slightly in 2016 to $502.3 billion, marking the highest level in four years. The trade gap widened last year because exports fell faster than imports, the result of a weak global economy and a stronger dollar that made American products more expensive to foreign buyers. The gap with China is by far the largest among the major U.S. trading partners. Although the deficit dropped 5.5% in 2016, it still totaled $347 billion. That’s more than three-fifths of the overall U.S. trade deficit. The deficit with Mexico rose 4.2% to $63.2 billion in 2016 to mark a five-year high. Exports rose 2.7% $190.7 billion, led by higher shipments of passenger planes and parts. Imports increased a smaller 1.5% to $235 billion as demand for pharmaceutical drugs, cell phones and televisions declined.
The Federal Reserve reports total consumer credit increased $14.2 billion in December to a seasonally adjusted $3.76 trillion, posting an annual growth rate of 4.5%, The increase was below estimates for a $20 billion gain. Revolving credit, which is mostly made up of credit card loans, slowed to a gain of $2.3 billion or an annual rate of 2.9%. Non-revolving credit, which covers loans for education and cars, increased $11.8 billion in December, or at a 5.1% annual rate. For all of 2016, total consumer credit rose at a 6.4% rate, down from a 7% rate in the prior year.
Data provider CoreLogic said its home price index was up 0.8% during December, and 7.2% compared to a year ago. That’s the fifth straight month in which the yearly price increase was higher, including during months that saw mortgage rates jump nearly a full percentage point. Low supply is boosting home prices higher and higher, and CoreLogic expects that prices will rise 4.7% during 2017. That would take its national index – now 3.9% below the high last set in 2006 – to a fresh high sometime this year. Arizona prices were up 0.6% for the month and 6.8% for the past year. Home prices in Arizona are still 21.4% below the peak.
The Labor Department’s JOLT survey, or Job Openings and Labor Turnover, shows there were 5.5 million job openings on the last day of December. That was essentially flat compared to November. But 5.3 million people were hired during the month, up from 5.2 million in November. Fewer people quit jobs voluntarily in December: 3 million compared to 3.1 million in November. “Quits” are tracked as a signal of how confident workers are in their ability to secure another job elsewhere.
Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said he could support raising interest rates at the central bank’s March meeting if job market momentum holds up, growth continues and wages rise. John Williams, President of the San Francisco Fed, said last week that he sees the March policy meeting as a possible rate-hike candidate. And on the flip side, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari published a blog post today stating the economy has not reached the point in terms of inflation and employment that would necessitate aggressive monetary policy. Kashkari wrote: “From a risk management perspective, we have stronger tools to deal with high inflation than low inflation.” Investors give roughly a one in four chance of a quarter-point increase in March, according to federal fund futures.
Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be education secretary, but only after Vice President Mike Pence was called in to break a tie that threatened to defeat her. It’s the first time in US history that a vice president has needed to intervene in a cabinet nominee’s confirmation.
The Department of the Army announced today that it has completed a presidential-directed review of the remaining easement request for the Dakota Access pipeline, and has notified Congress that it intends to grant an easement. Thousands of predominately Native Americans protesters boycotted the $3.8 billion pipeline’s construction in the state of North Dakota last year. The Standing Rock Tribe have said that they will fight the decision in court.
Last week President Trump signed an executive order to roll back the Dodd-Frank Act – the 2010 legislation meant to help protect taxpayers from another financial crisis. And Congress has acted, by getting rid of the Dodd-Frank rule that forces huge oil and gas companies to disclose how much they pay foreign governments while they’re doing business abroad.
Three federal judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals are set to hear oral arguments this evening on whether Trump’s travel ban will remain suspended for now; the court is not expected to make a determination on the constitutionality of the ban. The central question for the appellate court is whether US District Judge Robart abused his discretion by putting a temporary hold on the travel ban.
Oil prices slipped as lower production by OPEC and other exporters was undermined by growing evidence of a revival in U.S. shale production and sluggish demand. Prices have been supported over the last two months by efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other exporters to cut output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of 2017. But while OPEC and Russia have together cut at least 1.1 million barrels per day so far, rising U.S. production is compensating for the shortfall. After the close, the American Petroleum Institute estimated that U.S. crude stockpiles had surged 14.2 million barrels last week.
BP’s fourth quarter earnings came in below analyst expectations, with the company saying that its cash flow won’t cover spending and dividends until Brent crude rises above $60 a barrel.
Statoil, Norway’s biggest oil company, said that it is targeting another $1 billion in cost savings after reporting an unexpected loss in the fourth quarter.
General Motors said fourth-quarter net income fell partly because of $500 million in foreign exchange losses, while the automaker forecast 2017 profit per share would be flat to slightly up from 2016. Excluding one-time items, GM earned $2.4 billion, or $1.28 a share, in the latest quarter, down 14 percent from a year earlier. The adjusted result beat analysts’ expectations of $1.17 per share.
Hourly workers for General Motors will get record bonus checks of up to $12,000 after the company reported booming sales in North America. The profit-sharing checks owed to GM’s 52,000 United Auto Workers-represented workers are based on a simple formula. They get about $1,000 for every $1 billion in annual pre-tax North American profit, according to a formula adopted as part of contract negotiations in 2011. Record U.S. industry vehicle sales powered GM to a $12 billion North American profit in 2016, up from $11 billion a year earlier.
After the closing bell, Disney reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations, but revenue fell short of estimates. The company posted first-quarter earnings per share of $1.55 on $14.78 billion in revenue.
Michael Kors Holdings reported a bigger-than-expected drop in comparable sales for the holiday quarter and forecast current-quarter profit well below estimates. Sales at stores open for more than a year fell 6.9 percent in the quarter ended Dec. 31, falling for the seventh time in eight quarters. Kors is trying to regain its brand value by reducing supplies to department stores, which have been heavily discounting its products to drive traffic.
Gap raised its profit outlook for the fourth quarter after reporting better-than-expected sales for the holiday shopping period; sales improved at its Gap and Old Navy stores.
21st Century Fox reported adjusted quarterly profit of 53 cents per share, 4 cents a share above estimates. Revenue was just slightly below estimates. Profit was up 27 percent over a year earlier, as ad sales and affiliate fees increased.
Apple pulled ahead of Samsung in smartphone shipments. Apple shipped 78.3 million units in the fourth quarter, surpassing Samsung for the first time in five years. Samsung shipped 77.5 million units, a number that was affected by its exploding-battery problem, which cost it $3 billion in lost sales.