Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The ski trip was a big success except it resulted in a broken shoulder. So all you fans of InvestmentTools are asked to exercise patience. It won't be long before we will be fully operational again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

We're off skiing - back Monday Posted by Hello

Quick Overview

The dollar may get another short-lived respite but it is heading inexorably down. The question is how much it takes with it
So far, the foreigners—mainly Asians plus a few outliers, including Russia and Brazil—have obliged, permitting America to scoop up 75% of the world's surplus savings. Together, Asian central banks have accumulated about $2.5 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves, up almost a quarter in little more than a year, most of it in dollars; Japan and China alone have reserves of nearly $1.5 trillion between them.....There are repeated suggestions that regional payments systems should be set up, such as the gold dinar standard proposed for the Islamic world in 2002 by Malaysia’s prime minister.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
Crude supplies were up 2.6 million barrels last week to 305.2 million barrels.
Unleaded supplies were down 2.9 million barrels
Heating oil supplies were down 2.4 million barrels.

OPEC agreed to increase the official quota from 27.0 to 27.5 million barrels per day. Another 500,000 barrels of production may be authorized later - if OPEC's president sees the need for it.

General Motors expects to show a loss in the first quarter, hurt by weaker than expected sales in North America.

Canadian cattlemen have taken their complaints to NAFTA, hoping to get the U.S. to open its border.

U.S. Trade Deficit Hits All-Time High of $665.9 Billion in 2004, Commerce Dept. Reports
..private economists are worried that the huge level of resources being transferred into the hands of foreigners will eventually result in lower U.S. living standards.

China's slowdown continues to challenge normal definitions. Fixed asset investment surged 24.5 per cent in the first two months of the year - 8.5 percentage points higher than Beijing's 2005 target - while industrial production hit a nine month high. But Washington's hopes that Beijing will curb growth through currency appreciation, thereby reducing the US trade deficit, look more misplaced than ever.

U.S. industrial production was up 0.3% in February.

U.S. housing starts were at an annual rate of 2.195 million in February, up .5% from January's pace. 2005 housing starts are up 15% from a year ago.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Quick Overview

U.S. economic growth will slow and then likely stop by the end of President George W. Bush's second term in office as interest rate hikes hit hard, according to researchers at the .University of California Los Angeles

U.S. retail sales were up 0.5% in February. Excluding autos, sales were up 0.4%. January's sales were revised from a 0.3% loss to a 0.3% gain.

The U.S. Treasury's international capital flows data showed the United States attracted net capital inflows of $91.5 billion in January, from a revised $60.7 billion in December.

The Green Coffee Association said that U.S. coffee stocks were up 229,016 bags in February to 5.39 million bags. YoY this is down 7.5%.

Manufacturing shipments in Canada were up 3.0% in January to C$51.5 billion.

YoY China’s industrial production increased 17% in the first two months of 2005.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan told the Senate Special Committee on Aging that the federal budget deficit is a threat to the economy and that Social Security benefits will need to be cut to accommodate the growing numbers of retirees.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Quick Overview

BBC News reported that Vietnam is suffering its worst drought in 28 years and the coffee crop is being threatened.

Reuters is quoting Cuba's Sugar Minister as saying that the current drought that damaged last year's sugar crop is also ruining the upcoming crop.

Japan's GDP was revised upward from -0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2004, to +0.1%, stronger than expected. For all of 2004, GDP was up 2.7%.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Quick Overview

The Economic Cycle Research Institute
an independent forecasting group, said its weekly leading index rose to 135.2 in the week ended March 4 compared with 134.9 in the previous week.

Greenspan Says Worried on Budget
"Our fiscal prospects are, in my judgment, a significant obstacle to long-term stability because the budget deficit is not readily subject to correction by market forces that stabilize other imbalances," he said.

Trade Deficit at 2nd Highest Ever
The Commerce Department reported Friday that the January trade gap was 4.5 percent higher than December's $55.7 billion deficit and was just below the all-time high monthly deficit of $59.4 billion, recorded in November. (But it's not our fault. It's the fault of those foreigners that save.) US's Snow-Blame slow growth abroad for trade gap

Brazil's Vegetable Oils Industry Association said that the Soybean crop is only 53.9 million tons. Southern Brazil is still dry with chances for light showers coming on Sunday.

Dow Jones Newswires reported that Colombia expects to have another 11.5 million (60-kg) bag coffee crop in 2005-2006.

ED&F Man has global sugar stocks falling by 5 million tons in 2004-2005. About the same as the USDA's estimate of a 4.8 million ton drop in ending stocks.

Fiber market set for real growth, says Corning scientist .. every sector of fiber telecom grew in 2004, including metro, premises, and submarine/long-haul. Although long-haul and ultra-long haul suffered three successive years of decline, that market grew 15 percent in 2004, albeit from a sharply-reduced base..."There is no first, second, or third world any more, because everyone is feeling the pressure of joining the fast world."

Canada's exports fell 1.6% in January to C$35.9 billion - imports increased 1.9% to C$31.9 billion. And Canada's unemployment rate in February was unchanged at 7.0% with a net gain of 27,000 new jobs.

The International Energy Agency increased their estimate of world oil demand to 84.3 million barrels per day in 2005. Less than the U.S. Department of Energy's 84.7 million barrel per day estimate.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Moore says nanoelectronics face tough challenges

Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted it won't be easy to
replace silicon. "Any material made of atoms has a fundamental limit,"
Moore said. The solution? Make the chips bigger. Carbon nanotubes, he

Quick Overview

The amount of new debt taken on by Americans rose 8.6 percent, or $1.92 trillion, in 2004, the fastest growth since 1988, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

The U.S. federal government had a $113.94 billion deficit for the month of February.

Federal Reserve Board Governor Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday the U.S. current account gap was being fueled by factors outside the United States

YoY federal government spending for the month was up $26 billion

Inventories of U.S. wholesalers increased 1.1percent in January, led by stockpiling of farm products, groceries, clothing and cars, the Commerce Department said Thursday

U.S. jobless claims were up 17,000 last week to 327,000

China import growth falls amid cooling measures
China's annual import growth slowed to 8.3 percent in the first two months of 2005

The USDA 2004-2005 U.S. ending stocks estimate for:
Corn was increased from 2.010 to 2.055 billion bushels.
Soybeans were reduced from 440 to 410 million bushels.
Wheat was reduced from 558 to 553 million bushels.
Cotton was reduced from 7.30 to 7.10 million bushels.
Sugar was reduced from 1.548 to 1.473 million tons.

The USDA's 2004-2005 world ending stocks estimate for:
Corn was increased from 117 to 122 million tons.
Soybeans were reduced from 61 to 56 million tons.
Wheat was increased from 145 to 147 million tons.
Cotton was increased from 47 to 48 million tons.

The USDA's estimate of this spring's soybean crop in Brazil was reduced from 63.0 to 59.0 million tons (2.17 b.bu.), due to dry weather. The soybean estimate for Argentina remained the same, at 39.0 million tons (1.43 b.bu.)

The USDA's estimate of the 2004-2005 Florida orange crop was reduced from 162 to 153 million boxes. The estimated juice yield remains at 1.58 gallons per box at 42.0 degrees Brix.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas fell 139 billion cubic feet last week to 1.474 trillion cubic feet. YoY supplies are up 29%.

Machinery orders in Japan were down 2.2% in January. Orders fell unexpectedly in January as demand for semiconductors and computers weakened.

Australia's unemployment rate in February remained at 5.1%, the lowest in 28 years.

Brazilian industrial output fell 0.5 percent in January from December.
The decline was expected after a strong 2004, when Brazil's economy grew at its fastest pace in a decade

New Zealands central bank increased its interest rate by a quarter-percent to 6.75%.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Why the Dollar is Falling

What about the deals that are being made between Latin American countries and China with the perspective of forming an economic symbiosis between China's need for food and oil, and this region's abundance of natural resources?..
..the fraternization between the leaders of France, Germany and Russia. This entente covers the Euro-Asian continent, the geo-strategic heart of the world. It represents an alliance that is ready and capable of challenging U.S. influence in almost any aspect. What do these constellations imply for the role of the U.S. dollar?
Jeremy Siegel's Latest Book Lays out the Future for Investors

Siegel found that historically the biggest factor in productivity growth has been advances in communication -- writing, the printing press, telegraph and telephone, and the Internet.

From 1925 through the end of 2003, tobacco company Philip Morris, now called Altria Group, delivered a 17% average annual return, assuming all dividends were reinvested in the company's shares.

A $4,000 investment in the top four would have grown to $6.29 million, versus $1.11 million for a similar investment in the stock market as a whole.


S&P reports that :"DIVIDENDS SURGE" Last month's dividend increase total was the highest for a February since 1981. The full year could be the best since 1998.
The Federal reserves Beige Book shows increasing economic activity in all twelve U.S. districts.

The International Copper Study Group (ICSG) said that its preliminary data shows 2004 world copper consumption exceeding production by 706,000 tons, up from 2003's production deficit of 386,000 tons. For all of 2004, world refined production was up 3.6% while consumption was up 5.5%. The biggest gains in demand came from the U.S., Japan, and China..

The DoE said that:
Crude supplies increased 3.2 million barrels last week to 302.6 million barrels.
Unleaded supplies were down 200,000 barrels
Heating oil supplies were down 800,000 barrels.
(The problem appears to be with the refineries not being able to keep up with demand, and not a shortage of crude).

Manufacturing in the U.K. increased 0.2% in January, stronger than expected.

Industrial production in Germany increased 3.1% in January, more than expected.

Japan's index of leading indicators increased from 41.7 to 55.0 in January, the first sign of expansion in five months.

There is renewed talk that the People's Bank of China has been considering pegging their currency to a wider basket of currencies - not just the dollar.

How Much Can Your Mind Keep Track Of?
People cannot process more than four variables at a time,
research shows... The number of individual variables we can mentally handle while trying to solve a problem (like baking a lemon meringue pie) is relatively small: Four variables are difficult; five are nearly impossible.

Researchers from Stanford University have constructed an extremely small transistor from a pair of single-walled carbon nanotubes and organic molecules.
The tiny transistor could eventually be used in ultra-low-power electronics. Transistors made from organic molecules are currently slower than today's transistors made from silicon, but are cheap and easy to work with.

Data Broker Says 32,000 Personal Records of U.S. Citizens Were Possibly Compromised
....The company played down the impact of the security breach on its profits, reaffirming its target of higher earnings and at least 5 percent growth in revenues excluding acquisitions. ...
Reed Elsevier specializes in the education, legal and science sectors, publishing more than 10,000 journals, books and compact discs, as well as almost 3,000 Web sites and portals. It also organizes 430 trade exhibitions.
(See above ”how much can you keep track of” -- But they surely have their priorities straight – EARNINGS are not impacted!!)

Plus Ça Change . . .
So, boys and girls, you see that there's no trouble at all to manufacturing a war in the modern United States. The same blueprint serves for all occasions; the U.S. regime need only employ the raw materials at hand; and the people fall for the same tricks every time – or, at least, by the time they wake up to what has been done, it's too late.

Curbing terror or menacing freedom?
However, harsh anti-terror laws are no guarantee that terrorism will stop. Worse still, they risk doing more harm than good.

(19 terrorists in 6 weeks have been able to command 300 million North Americans to do away with the entirety of their civil liberties that took 700 years to advance from the Magna Carta onward. The terrorists have already won the political and ideological war with one terrorist act. It is mindboggling that we are that weak as a society: Rocco Galati)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


U.S. consumers' confidence fell to a nine-month low in March

"What is most worrisome is that the economic outlook component sank below 50 this month. The last time it did that was back in March of 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war,"
The national average price of on-highway diesel jumped 5.0 cents to $2.168 per gallon, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has reported.

Canada's housing starts were at an annual rate of 214,900 in February, up 5.3% from January's pace.

State Department Report Says China (China?) Still Committing Numerous Rights Abuses and many who openly expressed dissenting political views were harassed, detained or imprisoned, "particularly in a campaign late in the year against writers, religious activists, dissidents, and petitioners to the Central Government."

Commodity Prices Climb to 24-Year High on Global Demand Growth

Commodity prices surged to a 24-year high, led by gains in copper and crude oil, on concern that global economic growth is eroding inventories of raw materials faster than supplies can be replenished.
Laughing helps arteries and boosts blood flow

The results suggest that laughter could help keep the lining of the arteries - the endothelium - healthy and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. "At the very least, laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium,"
What Iraq's checkpoints are like

He turned to me, his face twisted with the anguish of making me understand: "But Mrs. Annia," he said, "if you go slow, they notice you!"

Monday, March 07, 2005

We have linked to Sentix sentiment data, you may want to check it out here.
House sales, prices keep up frantic pace

How much longer can this madness continue?
As Herbert Stein, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Richard Nixon was fond of saying, “Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.”
China Stock Market Misses Out on Boom

Millions of Chinese have learned hard lessons about the risks of playing the market. China's national stock index sank 15% last year, making it the worst performer of the world's major markets. The index is down more than 40% from its peak in 2001.


Brazil's 2004-05 soybean crop (October-September) will total 57.0 million metric tons, the Agriculture Ministry said Monday. The latest forecast was down from on the 61.4 million tons predicted in December due to a prolonged drought in southern states

Building permits in Canada totaled C$4.5 billion in January, down 11% from December, but up 9% YoY.

Capital spending in Japan was up 3.5% in the fourth quarter, less than expected.

Pending home sales down 2.1% in Jan.
In a new indicator designed to provide faster and more accurate information on emerging trends in the housing market, the pending sales of previously owned homes fell in January, the National Association of Realtors said Monday

Sunday, March 06, 2005

OPEC Chief Concerned About Oil Prices

Seeking to cool market sentiment, the head of OPEC on Sunday said the organization is "concerned" about stubbornly high prices that defy what he described as a well-supplied market and adequate crude stocks worldwide.
The statement by Sheik Ahmad Fahad Al Ahmad Al Sabah, OPEC's president and secretary general, was issued as a clear attempt to dampen speculative buying that last weak briefly drove prices above $55 a barrel. Prices settled by week's end to above $53.
Australia's gold output falls to 9-year low

Australia's gold output sank to a nine-year low in 2004 following exceptionally wet weather in Western Australia early in the year and a large number of plant closures.
Gold production for the year was down to 261 tonnes, 6.5 per cent less than 2003, Melbourne consulting group Surbiton Associates said.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Chart of The Week: As an old Conti colleague in the 70th would say "if it goes up any straighter it'll have to fall over backwards".
 Posted by Hello

Friday, March 04, 2005

Chinese chase Canadian oil

CHINA’S state oil companies are creating a political furore in the Canadian province of Alberta as they seek to buy their way into the Athabasca oil sands, the world’s largest petroleum resource.
The prospect of Chinese oil companies diverting the bitumen reserves to refineries in the People’s Republic is creating anxiety in Washington and concern in the Alberta government. The high price of crude oil has stimulated billions of dollars of new investment in Alberta’s tar sands which contain more than 1 trillion barrels of oil.
With the Dow Industrials, Transports, Utilities, S&P 500, 600, etc all in new high ground this bull may be appropriate.. Posted by Hello

Without question, the re-awakening of China is the biggest economic event of our lifetimes. Chinese growth is draining resources and capital and affecting the economies of every region of the world. Our real competitive battle with China is not over jobs--it is over capital. And lets not overlook India.
China predicts 120 million Net users by year-end

China's Internet user base is expected to grow 28 percent this year to 120 million, according to the official Xinhua news agency, which cited an official with China's Ministry of Information Industry, or MII. The gains would represent an increase over 2004, when the number of Internet users grew 16 percent to 94 million.


Orders placed with factories rose 0.2% in January, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The U.S. Treasury market would be able to adjust if foreign investors decided to diversify away from U.S. government debt, the president of a regional Federal Reserve Bank said on Friday. Adjust HOW? Perhaps the adjustment would lower the dollars value by 50%?

U.S. employers created 262,000 jobs last month, the biggest gain in four months..

U.S. wholesale prices for heavy motor trucks jumped 1.6% in January, marking their largest monthly increase in more than five years, as equipment makers continued to pass along higher costs for raw materials, including steel, aluminum, wood and rubber.

The University of Michigan's index of consumer confidence dropped from 95.5 to 94.1 in February.

Conditions in southern Brazil remain hot and dry. Dow Jones Newswires quoted Brazilian analysts as saying that the soybean crop would only total 53 million tons (1.95 b. bu) The USDA estimated 63 million ton (2.31 b. bu)

The Florida Citrus Processors said that there were 141.9 million gallons of frozen orange juice concentrate in inventory on February 26th, down 7% from a year ago.
House prices in the U.K. were down 0.5% in February.
Manufacturing orders in Germany were down 3.4% in January.
The unemployment rate in the Euro-zone remained at 8.8% in January.
The EU-25 unemployment rate dropped from 8.9% to 8.8%.

Brazil Triumphs Over U.S. in WTO Subsidies Dispute

International development groups are calling on the United States to swiftly comply with a World Trade Organisation (WTO) final ruling issued Thursday declaring the bulk of U.S. government subsidies to its cotton industry illegal

Brazilian, 125, May Be the Oldest Woman

Maria Olivia da Silva, who recently celebrated her 125th birthday, "is definitely the oldest living woman in Brazil and possibly in the entire world,"

Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon

The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Intended for use against rioters,....

Thursday, March 03, 2005


News that Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree lifting the "state secret" status of platinum group metals sustained buying interest by keeping the metal on investor radar screens. Also take a look at palladium, the bigger mover today.

OPEC secretary-general said it's possible for oil to reach $80. Crude oil ended at another new contract high, with concerns that OPEC is effectively restraining supplies.

The ISM's index of U.S. services increased from 59.2 to 59.8 in February, a bit less than expected.

The Panama Canal is nearing full capacity and should seriously consider expansion to continue to be a major player in world trade, experts and users said.

First-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 1,000 in the latest week to 310,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average of new claims dropped by 1,500 to 307,000, the lowest since October 2000 The figures were in line with expectations

The Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would stop the USDA from
lifting its ban on Canadian cattle.

U.S. business productivity increased at an annual rate of 2.1% in the fourth quarter. For all of 2004, productivity was up 4.0%, the smallest gain since 2001.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were down 107 billion cubic feet last week to 1.613 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are up 35% YoY and up 29% from the five-year average.

An index of services in the U.K. fell from 55.9 to 55.1 in February, weaker than expected.

An index of services in the Euro-zone dropped from 53.4 to 53.0 in February.

Retail sales in Australia were up 0.6% in January, the first gain in four months.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Turkish Delight

Here we see in dramatic fashion America’s loss of the "Global War on Terrorism" at the moral level. By invading and occupying Iraq, a country that posed no threat to us, and threatening to do the same to other countries around the world, we have made America into a monster – even in Turkey, the country that has been our closest Islamic ally since the onset of the Cold War. So dramatically has America managed to reverse its post-9/11 moral ascendancy that not only can Turks imagine us attacking Turkey, they see Russia coming to their rescue! Russia has been Turkey’s number one enemy for centuries.

No end in sight for Moore's Law

Moore's Law will boost chip abilities for many years to come,
Intel CEO Craig Barrett predicted on Tuesday. Barrett predicted that
traditional chipmaking technology will permit features as small as 5
nanometers--about the width of 50 hydrogen atoms--to be used on
processors. He mentioned three options for replacing conventional CMOS...
Next time you are too drunk to drive,
Walk to the nearest pizza shop
Place an order,
And when they go to deliver it,

Catch a ride home with them!


The U.S. Department of Energy said that crude supplies were up 2.4 million barrels last week to 299.4 million barrels. . Crude stocks at the same time in 2004 were 275.7 million barrels.

Acting Secretary-General Adnan Shihab-Eldin has said OPEC saw a growing consensus that a $40-50 range was sustainable, backing up comments by Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi last week that prices could stay in that range this year.

India hikes rail freight to curb iron-ore exportsChina sourced more than 5 million tonnes of ore from India in January, a 46 percent increase on last year. India is China's second largest exporter of ore after Australia, according to official custom's figures

The DoE said that unleaded supplies were up 1.0 million barrels.

The DoE said that heating oil supplies fell 900,000 barrels. Supplies of distillates, which include heating oil, were lower by 1.8 million barrels.

U.S. refineries were not as active last week - the utilization rate dropping down to 89.3%.

Federal District Court Judge Richard Cebull, Wednesday granted a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Agriculture's final rule that would have allowed the imports of Canadian live cattle younger than 30 months old as of Monday, March 7.

Greenspan told the House Budget Committee that the U.S. economy is growing at a moderate pace, however Congress needs to restrain the growth of federal spending. This provided a "pleasant diversion" for bullish-minded traders, said Jason Leander, a senior market strategist with Lind-Waldock. This happy event was however erased later in the day by a solid rise in crude-oil futures.

Layoffs at U.S. corporations jumped 17 percent in February to 108,387, boosted by increased merger and acquisition activity, international outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas reported Wednesday.

July soybeans were up 14.75 cents at $6.322, the highest close in six months, continuing to gain on South America's dry weather conditions. Private weather forecasters are pushing rain back in southern Brazil by 24 to 48 hours from prior forecasts.

In Sao Paulo, where 80% of Brazil's orange crop is grown, conditions are dry and in need of rain.

Retail sales in Germany were up 2.1% in January, stronger than expected. YoY retail sales were down 0.4%.

Australia's GDP was up 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2004 and up 1.5% YoY.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Real Estate

The latest U.S. Real Estate data from the Census Bureau appears to have a discrepancy of some magnitude. The January "Average" U.S. home price is up by about $1000, while the "Median" price is down by some $30,000, or 13%.

A typo? Don't know, but I'm sure glad I own an "average" house and not a "median" one!


U.S. Construction spending was at a record high annual rate of $1.047 trillion in January, this puts it up 0.7% from Decembers pace and is stronger than expected.

The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that its factory index slowed to 55.3 in February, from 56.4 in January, still expanding however.

The consensus estimate among economists, surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires and
CNBC, is for February non-farm payrolls to rise by 225,000.

Year over year the S&P 500 is up 4.63%, however the S&P 600 (Small Cap) is up 14.5% and in new high ground today - and that's impressive.

The national average retail price of diesel fuel rose a whopping 9.8 cents to $2.118 a gallon, the Department of Energy reported.

Philadelphia Federal Reserve President said that he expects 3.75% growth this year and next with inflation under control.

Trouble continues in the Ivory Coast and Cocoa closed at its highest price in over three month.

Germanys unemployment rate is at 11.7%, the highest in seven years.

The unemployment rate in Japan remained at 4.5%, but the economy added 470,000 new jobs.
Japanese household spending increased 8.2% in January, the biggest gain in nine months.
Japans retail sales were up 2.2% in January, the best monthly gain in eight years.

Brazil's GDP increased 5.2% in 2004, the biggest gain since 1994.

U.S. life expectancy at 77.6, a record … Women now have a life expectancy of 80.1 years, 5.3 more than men.