Financial Review

Getting Warmer

…..Trump threatens fire and fury on N. Korea. Climate change is real and it has been leaked to the Times. JOLT shows record high job openings. But it takes 2 jobs. Small biz optimism. Home prices higher. CVS suits. Mayo Phx #20. Perseid on the way

Financial Review by Sinclair Noe for 08-08-2017

 

DOW – 33 = 22,085
SPX – 5 = 2472
NAS – 13 = 6370
RUT – 4 = 1410
10 Y + .03 = 2.28%
OIL – .23 = 49.16
GOLD + 3.40 = 1261.70
President Trump said North Korea will be “met with fire and fury and, frankly, power the likes of which the world has never seen before” if Kim Jong Un’s regime continues to threaten the US. Trump was speaking with reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump’s comments followed a report in the Washington Post, citing a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis, that North Korea successfully developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could fit onto its missiles. And it comes just days after the United Nations Security Council ratcheted up sanctions on North Korea, targeting about $1 billion of the nation’s approximately $3 billion in exports. Those restrictions followed two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July. The S&P 500 Index fell to session lows and the CBOE Volatility Index jumped 11 percent about a half hour before the end of the trading session on Wall Street. The 10-year Treasury yield rose. Crude retreated toward $49 a barrel.

 

The effects of climate change are already having an impact on the U.S. after average temperatures have risen dramatically over the last four decades. The U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report, compiled by a group of scientists from 13 federal agencies, found with high confidence that it was “extremely likely that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 was caused by human influence on climate.” The report states: “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor. Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible for observed climate changes in the industrial era. There are no alternative explanations, and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”

 

The report is part of the National Climate Assessment, which has been congressionally mandated to take place at least every four years since 1990. A National Academies of Science committee reviewed the study and said it was “timely, accurate, and well-written.” The report’s authors also described a link between climate change and severe weather events, citing: “A change in the frequency, duration, and/or magnitude of extreme weather events is one of the most important consequences of a warming climate,” with an increase in heavy precipitation, extreme heat events and tropical storms as a result. The report says that the cost of extreme weather has exceeded $1.1 trillion since 1980. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the paper, and it is now awaiting approval from the Trump administration.

 

The New York Times released a draft of the report today. According to the Times, scientists fear that the Trump administration could either alter or suppress the findings, and for good reason.  The report directly contradicts claims by Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited. This past week, the State Department began the formal process to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, officially notifying the United Nations. Trump has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to scrap or change regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, and has started to open up more public land and waters to fossil fuel activity. Mentions of the perils of climate change have been removed from the White House’s Web site and the Department of Interior and, in April, the EPA eliminated its online climate-change section pending a review that will be focused on “updating language to reflect the approach of the new leadership.” How the Trump administration decides to handle the report remains to be seen. The EPA and 12 other agencies have until Aug. 18 to approve the report.

 

Shortly after the Bureau of Labor releases the monthly non-farm payroll report, we get more details in a report called Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey; the JOLTS report is on a one month lag. The number of advertised job openings rose to a record-high 6.2 million in June. While the record high in job openings was good news, actual hiring declined in the month, and the number of workers quitting their jobs — a gauge of confidence in the jobs market — wasn’t significantly changed. The report shows that layoffs have become more and more rare in the past year, with about one worker in 100 getting laid off per month. With layoffs so infrequent, it doesn’t take much net job creation to keep the unemployment rate trending down.

 

Even though the unemployment rate dropped to 4.3%, there is ongoing concern about weakness in wage growth. The Labor Department reports that 7.6 million workers held multiple jobs last month, up 2% from 7.4 million in July 2016. That’s back to highs not seen in 20 years. And it should not be mistaken as a sign of healthy entrepreneurship. The principal reason workers hold more than one position is that no single job provides a sufficient income. In a strong economic recovery, the number of full-time workers should be rising, and the number of workers employed part-time or holding multiple jobs, should decline.

 

Sentiment among small-business owners skyrocketed in July as customer demand improved, in spite of continued gridlock in Washington. The sentiment gauge from the National Federation of Independent Business rose 1.6 points to 105.2. That snapped a five-month streak of readings that either declined or remained the same, and easily beat the consensus forecast for a decline to 103.2. The jump in the July survey reflected better views of the labor market: owners reported having more open positions now as well as plans to hire more in the future. Survey respondents also have stronger sales expectations, and expect better business conditions, thanks in part to resilient American consumers. The NFIB said little about Washington in the release, except to note that “stronger consumer demand” came despite dysfunction among lawmakers.

 

The CoreLogic Home Price Insights report shows home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased year over year by 6.7 percent in June 2017 compared with June 2016 and increased month over month by 1.1 percent in June 2017 compared with May 2017.  The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 5.2 percent over the next 12 months. The report finds inventories tight, with unsold inventory at 1.9 percent, the lowest second quarter reading in over 30 years. As a result, prices are marching higher and affordability is deteriorating nationally. In Arizona, home prices climbed 6.1 percent over the past 12 months, and 0.7 percent from May to June.

 

Disney reported a near 9 percent fall in quarterly profit, pulled down by higher programming costs and declining subscribers at its flagship sports channel ESPN. Disney also announced it will stop providing new movies to Netflix starting in 2019 and launch its own streaming service.

 

CVS Health forecast current quarter profit below Wall Street estimates and said it has been ordered to cooperate with investigations into possible false claims submitted to a government healthcare program and drug pricing. The No.2 US drug store chain reported quarterly profit above Wall Street estimates on strength in its pharmacy benefits management business, which helped to more than offset a 2.6 percent drop in same-store sales. The attorney general for the Southern District of New York has sought information on possible false claims submitted in connection with reimbursements for Medicare Part D prescription drugs. Minnesota’s attorney general wants info regarding a probe into pricing of insulin and epinephrine drugs. Sanofi, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk were named in a proposed class action lawsuit, which alleged the firms simultaneously hiked insulin prices by over 150 percent in the past five years. Mylan, the maker of emergency epinephrine injectors EpiPen, is facing investigations after it doubled the cost of its syringes used to treat severe allergic reactions. On Monday, a class-action lawsuit was filed against CVS Health, which alleged the company colluded with third-party PBMs to raise generic drug prices. The suit claims that the pharmacy agrees with pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs — the middlemen of the industry who manage the list of what drugs an insurer will and will not pay for — to sell certain drugs at a higher price if a customer is paying with insurance.

 

US News & World Report publishes and annual “Best Hospital Honor Roll”, ranking the 20 hospitals that outperformed all others in its review based on a variety of specialties. Mayo Clinic Hospital in northeast Phoenix ranked No. 20. It was the first time the Phoenix hospital had cracked the honor roll and the first time any Arizona hospital made the top 20. The hospital also was ranked No. 1 in Arizona and the Phoenix metro area on the publication’s overall review. Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where the health system is headquartered, was ranked No. 1. The Phoenix hospital was cited for excelling in: cancer; cardiology and heart surgery; ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology and gastroenterologic surgery; geriatrics; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; orthopedics; pulmonology; and urology.

 

Right now, Earth is plowing through a cloud of tiny bits of comet dust, turning the rice-grain-size debris into what many call shooting stars.  Known as the Perseid meteor shower, this recurring astronomical event is easily the most watched — and beautiful — shower every year. The peak viewing time will be this weekend – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, enjoy.

 

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