Financial Review

Number 9

….Another Dow record, #9. Goldman says unemployment rate could hit 3.8%. Consumer credit hits a new high. Merger Monday. Earnings news roundup. How your phone measures.

Financial Review by Sinclair Noe for 08-07-2017

 

DOW + 25 = 22,118
SPX + 4 = 2480
NAS + 32 = 6383
RUT + 1 = 1414
10 Y – .01 = 2.26%
OIL – .27 = 49.31
GOLD – 1.10 = 1258.30

 

The Dow hit an early morning, intraday high, dipped into negative territory and then hit a fresh intraday high before drifting into the close. Good enough for the 9th record high close in a row. We have a low-inflation environment, low interest rates, and corporate earnings have come in incredibly well.  Analysts, on average, expect S&P 500 earnings to have expanded 12 percent in the second quarter and project earnings up 9.3 percent for the third quarter. The S&P, which is up about 11 percent this year, is trading at 18 times expected earnings, compared to its 10-year average of 14. How long can the Dow Industrial keep hitting all-time highs? Who knows. But the markets never follow a straight line and eventually this will end.  The streak comes as August trading gets under way and with September looming—historically two of the worst months for investors. If you have cash, there really is no reason to rush out and buy at these levels, especially if you think there will be a sale next week.

 

Friday’s July employment report showed job growth, at 209,000, well above the estimates for 180,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in July, a decline of 0.1 from June, and a 16-year low. Goldman Sachs economists say the outlook for jobs is even better than they thought, and unemployment could go as low as 3.8 percent next year. The firm’s economists, in a note over the weekend, talked about a labor market “overshoot,” with the trend in job growth remaining in the 150,000 to 200,000 range. Looking at such measures as the long-term unemployment rate, job openings and quits, and reports of skill shortages, the Goldman analysts say “the labor market is about as tight as in the full-employment years 2006 and 1989, though not yet as overheated as in 2000. They expect the wage growth to finally tick up to about 3% by the end of the year. The economists said it appears that the labor market is likely to “overshoot” full employment, a condition that has resulted in recessions in the past. Even so, they are sticking with their forecast for Fed rate hikes, saying: “Our subjective probability of a hike by the December meeting remains around 60 percent, and our baseline for 2018-2019 is quarterly hikes.”

 

The dollar drifted slightly lower.  St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the Fed can leave interest rates where they are for now because inflation is not likely to rise much even if the job market continues to improve. And Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari at a speech in South Dakota today, took a shot at companies saying they have worker shortages, arguing that workers are available if the pay is higher. Kashkari said, “If you’re not raising wages, then it just sounds like whining.” Kashkari also said that reducing immigration to the United States will reduce economic growth.

 

Total consumer credit increased $12.4 billion in June to a record seasonally adjusted $3.86 trillion, posting an annual growth rate of 3.9%. The historical main source of credit growth, nonrevolving credit, which covers loans for education and cars, rose at an annual rate of 4.9% in June, down from torrid 8.2% in May.

 

Revolving credit, which is mostly made up of credit-card loans, increased at an annual rate of 3.9% in June, down from 5.7% in May.

 

The U.N. Security Council on Saturday imposed its toughest round of sanctions yet against North Korea over its two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in July. The sanctions could further choke North Korea’s economy by cutting its $3 billion annual export revenue by a third. At a summit of Southeast Asian countries, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a door open for dialogue, saying Washington was willing to talk to North Korea if it halted a series of recent missile test launches. In a statement Monday, North Korea said it would never place its nuclear program on the negotiating table as long as the United States maintained a hostile policy against the North.

 

German health-care provider Fresenius is making a big push into the US market, buying home dialysis company NxStage for $30 per share in a deal valued at $2 billion.  Shares are up 28% on the news.

 

United Technologies has submitted an offer for aircraft parts maker Rockwell Collins. Rumors that Rockwell Collins has been working with an investment bank sent the stock up 4%. United Technologies did not comment on the news.

 

Berkshire Hathaway on Friday reported a 15 percent drop in second-quarter profit and missed estimates, as lower investment gains and a loss from insurance underwriting offset improvement in its BNSF railroad business. Berkshire ended June with about $99.7 billion of cash and equivalents.

 

ON Semiconductor rose 4.6 percent on stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings and revenue.

 

Tyson Foods reported stronger-than-expected quarterly results, sending its shares up 5 percent, and said it would ramp up chicken production in the face of record demand from U.S. consumers.

 

CBS Corp, owner of the most-watched U.S. TV network, reported a 9.4 percent rise in second-quarter revenue, driven by higher content licensing and subscription fees.

 

Marriott International will partner with China’s Alibaba Group to tap into the growing number of Chinese citizens who travel abroad. The world’s biggest hotel chain said the joint venture with Alibaba would allow Chinese travelers to book rooms at Marriott hotels via Alibaba’s travel service platform, Fliggy. The partnership will connect Marriott and Alibaba’s loyalty programs. Tourists would be able to pay for their bookings using Alibaba’s online payments platform, Alipay. Marriott has nearly 300 hotels in China and around 300 hotels in the pipeline.

 

Last week, Tesla announced its quarterly numbers; and once again, Tesla announced a quarterly loss. As the company ramps up production capacity for the Model 3, it is burning through cash at a prodigious pace. So, once again, Tesla is raising money, but this time they are not issuing more shares of stock. Tesla will try to raise about $1.5 billion through its first-ever high-yield junk bond offering. Standard & Poor’s reaffirmed its negative outlook for the automaker and assigned a “B-” rating for the bond issue – deep into junk credit territory.

 

Apple’s iPhone 8 has gone to mass production, according to reports. The smartphone is likely to meet launch in September, and one of the new features will include augmented reality. AR is essentially a graphical overlay of CGI, or computer generated imagery, elements onto real world elements, typically generated by a video feed. Here’s what that means; if you want to buy a new chair for your living room, you could take of a photo of the living room and the chair, and see how the chair looks in the living room. Or how about this – for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, the only way to measure the room was with a tape measure. The new iPhone will have a virtual tape measure, very handy for measurements where the tape measure can’t reach.

 

It seems like some people have a phone glued to their hands, and when you think about all the other gadgets we use these days, you might think we are using more electricity than ever. But the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports overall residential electricity sales have declined 3 percent from 2010 to 2016, and 7 percent on a per capita basis. Americans are using less electricity than we did 10 years ago. Our numerous gadgets are all getting more efficient, so they’re less of a drain on residential electric bills. And our devices are also getting smaller. Most TVs are now flat and require less energy to operate than the giant TVs of yesteryear. Also, laptops and tablets are more efficient than those big desktop PCs. Eventually, however, the EIA figures the ubiquity of rechargeable devices will counter efficiency gains, causing a net electricity consumption increase from 2030 to 2040.

 

The Wall Street Journal reports penalties levied against firms and individuals by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in the first half of 2017 were down nearly two-thirds compared with the first half of 2016—putting regulators on track for the lowest annual level of fines since at least 2010. Fines of $489 million in the first half of 2017 compared with $1.4 billion in the 2016 period. Wink, wink, nod, nod.

 

 

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