Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Quick Overview

  • An index of Chicago-area business declined 65.6 to 54.1 in May for a second straight month, the National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago reported Tuesday.

  • The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence increased from 97.5 to 102.2 in May.

  • Germany's unemployment rate dropped from 12% to 11.6% in May.

  • The International Cocoa Organization said that the net world cocoa crop will total 3.18 million tons in 2004-2005, down from 3.46 million tons in the previous year. Ending stocks are expected to drop from 1.44 to 1.40 million tons.

  • Japan's unemployment rate fell from 4.5% to 4.4% in April, the lowest in over six years. Industrial production in Japan was up 2.2% in April, roughly as expected.

  • Canada's GDP was up 0.6% in the first quarter of 2005 and up 1.6% from a year ago, slightly less than expected.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Quick Overview

  • U.S. personal income was up 0 .7% in April.

  • The University of Michigan's final consumer sentiment index for May fell to 86.9, the fourth straight drop and the lowest level since September 2003, though it rose from a preliminary reading two weeks ago.

  • Personal spending rose for a third consecutive month in April, rising 0.6%, the Commerce Department said Friday.

  • YoY Hong Kong's GDP increased 6% in the first quarter.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

LME bets on future in plastics
The London Metal Exchange, a bastion of tradition in the financial world, is breaking from its roots in the base metals industry on Friday by launching two plastics futures contracts, the first non-metallic futures contract launched by the 128-year-old exchange.
The Short View: Has China hit the brakes? But imports are another matter. Morgan Stanley points out that growth has slowed to 13.5 per cent in the first four months of the year, down from 36 per cent in 2004. This slackening of pace may explain the developments in the commodity markets. The Baltic Dry Freight index, a measure of shipping activity, has plunged from a high of 6,208 in December to 3,366.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5% in the first quarter, faster than a previous 3.1% estimate in late April, the Commerce Department said Thursday. YoY, GDP was up 3.7%.

  • U.S. jobless claims were up 1,000 to 323,000 in the week ended May 21, the Labor Department said Thursday

  • The core rate of personal consumption expenditures, was up an annual rate of 2.2% in the first quarter.

  • The Commerce Department said that early, YoY estimate of corporate profits from current production were up 14% in the first quarter.

  • London inventories of Copper declined 2,825 tons to 46,400 tons.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau said that 139.4 million bushels of soybeans were crushed in April,

  • The USDA's drought monitor shows an increasing area of unusually dry conditions from Michigan down to Louisiana.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that natural gas supplies were at 1.692 trillion cubic feet - up 93 billion cubic feet.

  • U.S. domestic cotton mill usage declined to an annual rate of 6.17 to 6.14 million bales in April.

  • The USDA estimates 2005-2006 world sugar production at 146.3 million tons, up from the previous years 142.1 million tons. The 2005-2006 world ending stocks are expected to decrease from 35.8 to 34.2 million tons - or 23% of usage.

  • YoY New York Customs District saw overall air-cargo tonnage increase 1.67 percent in March.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Commerce Department said that durable goods orders rose 1.9% in April, stronger than expected and the first gain in 05. Excluding transportation, orders were down 0.2% on the month.

  • median sales price of a new home rose 3.8% YoY to $230,800.
    U.S. new home sales were at an annual rate of 1.316 million units in April, up 0.2% from March's pace and a new record high. So far in 2005, new home sales are up 6% from a year ago. The

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that crude supplies were down 1.6 million barrels last week to 332.4 million barrels. Unleaded supplies were up 600,000 barrels and heating oil supplies were up 1.6 million barrels.

  • China can and should move quickly toward a more flexible currency to help rebalance world trade, Federal Reserve Governor Ben Bernanke said. And a Chinese trade official on Wednesday commented that a move to allow the country's currency to trade more flexibly would eventually involve attaching the yuan to a basket of currencies

  • Goldman Sachs reiterated buy ratings on Internet heavyweights eBay Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc. on Wednesday, saying the online industry this year will see a jump in advertising as broadband access continues to spread.

  • The U.K.'s National Statistics office reduced the estimate of first quarter growth from 0.6% to 0.5%. YoY GDP was up 2.7%.

  • An index of German business confidence from the Ifo Institute dropped from 93.3 to 92.9 in May, the lowest in two years.

  • YoY Japan's exports were up 7.8% in April, while imports were up 12.7%.

  • Malaysia's GDP was up an annual rate of 5.7% in the first quarter, more than expected.

  • A USDA official estimated Vietnam's 2005-2006 coffee crop at 12.2 million bags, down 1.8 million bags from the previous year.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Quick Overview

  • Global investorconfidence slumped for the second month in a row in May to its lowest level since October 1998

  • Sales of existing U.S. homes rose 4.5% in April to a record seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7.18 million, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

  • The USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service released its estimates yesterday of Brazil's coffee crop. They anticipate a harvest of 36.5 million bags of coffee in 2005-2006, down from 42.4 million bags the previous year. The 2005-2006 Arabica crop is estimated at 26.0 million bags, down from 33.4 million bags in 2004-2005. Brazil's ending stocks are expected to fall from 10.44 to 4.81 million bags in 2005-2006.

  • Canada's composite index of leading indicators was up 0.4% in April at 203.6.

  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reduced its 2005 growth forecast for the Euro zone from 1.9% to 1.2%.

  • The volume of cargo passing through China's ports every year is expected to rise by more than 50 percent in the next five years.

  • An index of services in Japan was down 1% in March, weaker than expected.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Quick Overview

  • China's gross domestic product expanded 9.4 percent in the first quarter of 2005 from a year earlier, revised down from an initial estimate of 9.5 percent.

  • Chinese government statistics released Monday showed the combined profits of China's industrial firms rose 15.6% on year in the first four months of 2005, down 30.1 percentage points from growth in the same period last year.

  • The Chinese government has sent 3 million doses of avian flu vaccine to protect farm birds in the western province of Qinghai.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Dollar Climbs Versus Euro as France's Voters May Reject EU Constitution

The dollar rose to a seven-month high against the euro after an opinion poll showed French voters will reject the European Union constitution and France's economy barely grew in the first quarter.
Out of the doghouse?
And then Murphy's Law struck again. Almost at the very point that many of the latter-day converts to the strategy threw in the towel, the strategy started working again
'Conundrum' revisited: cheap borrowing persists

Three months after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan described peculiarly low long-term U.S. borrowing costs as a "conundrum," 10-year rates are now even lower and there is little more clarity as to why.

Quick Overview

  • America's bloated trade deficits probably wouldn't be helped by China revamping its currency system as the Bush administration has been pressing Beijing to do, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Friday. He also said that it was difficult to know when the economy was balanced and the federal funds rate had reached a neutral level.

  • Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner on Friday said the unemployment rate climbed to 12.3 percent in March from 12.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

  • China said that on June 1st they will be raising export tariffs on 74 categories of textiles.

  • Vietnam reported its 53rd death from the deadly bird flu virus.

  • The USDA said that there were 10.639 million head of cattle on feed as of May 1st, up 2.5% from a year ago. April placements were up 4% from a year ago and marketing’s were down 5%. The report is called neutral to bearish

  • The USDA said that there were 89.5 million pounds of frozen bellies in storage on April 30th, up 85% YoY. Frozen pork totaled 563.5 million pounds, up 26% YoY.

  • The USDA said that, as of April 30th, there were 1.66 billion pounds of frozen orange juice in U.S. cold storage, down 16% YoY.

  • YoY Consumer prices in Canada were up 2.4% in April, while the core rate was up 1.7%.

  • France's GDP was up 0.2% in the first quarter.

  • There is a concern about the weather and the newly-planted corn crop.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Quick Overview

  • Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 20,000 to 321,000 in the latest week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

  • The index of leading indicators show a definite loss of forward momentum by falling 0.2% in April after a downwardly revised 0.6% drop in March from 0.4% previously,

  • Mexico leading economic indicator edged 0.3 percent higher in March.

  • Taiwan's economy grew an unexpectedly weak 2.5 percent YoY.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that natural gas supplies were up 90 billion cubic feet to 1.599 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are now up 16% from a year ago.

  • This week's USDA Drought Monitor is showing relatively new occurrence of abnormally dry conditions in Michigan, Illinois, Oklahoma, and the Mississippi delta .

  • Consumer prices in the Euro zone were up 2.1% in April from a year ago, the same as in March. Also, industrial production was down .2% in March.

  • The International Monetary Fund's forecast of global economic growth this year is unchanged at 4.3 percent although the U.S. current account deficit is still weighing on the world economy.

  • UK Retail sales jumped by 0.5% much better than the 0.0% expected.

  • Japan's economy is recovering at a moderate pace, the government said on Thursday, keeping its assessment unchanged.

  • The Philly Fed index fell to 7.3 from 25.3 in April, the lowest since June 2003. It was the largest one-month decline since January 2001.

  • The Bush administration is imposing new limits on the amount of clothing that can be imported from China. Everybody is espousing free trade, but there shouldn't be double standards," Mr. Bo said to a meeting of international business leaders. "When you have an absolute advantage, you advocate free trade and make everyone open the door, but when developing countries begin to challenge you, you immediately set limits and shut the door

  • Greenspan, told an Atlanta housing conference that Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) had gotten too big for their britches, "We are highly dependent on the risk managers at Fannie and Freddie to do everything right," he said.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Almost Unnoticed, Bipartisan Budget Anxiety

"The only thing the United States is able to do a little after 2040 is pay interest on massive and growing federal debt," Walker said. "The model blows up in the mid-2040s. What does that mean? Argentina."

Quick Overview

  • The consumer price index increased 0.5% in April, due to a 4.5% increase in energy prices. Food prices jumped 0.7%. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy costs, was unchanged in April, the lowest rate of underlying inflation since November 2003.

  • Oil prices fell to a three-month low near $47 a barrel on Wednesday after the DOE repotted inventories of oil in the United States rose 4.3 million barrels last week to 334 million barrels, the 13th increase in the last 14 weeks - and the highest level in six years. Unleaded gasoline supplies were up 1.1 million barrels and heating oil supplies were up 200,000 barrels.

  • The unemployment rate in the U.K. remained steady at 4.7% last quarter.

  • China rejected U.S. pressure for quick action toward revaluing its currency and criticized U.S. and European curbs on surging textile imports as unfair.

  • U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has hit a roadblock as he stumps for the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Idaho sugar beet farmers are opposing the pact, known as CAFTA, because of provisions allowing 107,000 metric tons of sugar to be imported into the U.S.

  • Wholesale sales in Canada were up 0.5% in March to C$39.1 billion.

  • Retail sales in Australia were up 1.2% in the first quarter, stronger than expected.

  • Hong Kong caps value of its currency but government denies that the move signaled China would soon revalue its currency.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Quick Overview

  • U.S. wholesale prices increased 0.6% in April. The YoY gain in the PPI slowed to 4.8% in April from 4.9% in March. Core prices were up 2.6% YoY, unchanged from March.

  • Industrial production fell 0.2% in April. Capacity utilization eased to 79.2% from 79.4%.

  • Construction of new U.S. houses rose 11% in April to a seasonally adjusted 2.04 million annualized units.

  • Japan's economy grew at its fastest pace in a year in the first quarter of 2005, more than double the rate expected as robust private consumption and corporate investment more than made up for weak export growth.

  • Lease rates are lower due to a large surplus of new containers that has built up in China over the past few weeks as factories over-reacted to last year’s shortages.

  • U.S. manufacturing output growth will slow to a 3.5 percent pace this year from 5.1 percent in 2004 as both business and household investment weaken, the Manufacturing Institute said on Tuesday.

  • Researchers at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory have learned to produce 10-carat, half-inch thick single-crystal diamonds at rapid growth rates (100 micrometers per hour) .

  • The average price of retail diesel fuel fell for a third straight week, dropping 3.8 cents to $2.189 a gallon, the Department of Energy reported Monday.

  • YoY Consumer prices in the U.K. were up 1.9% , under the 2.0% target rate.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ratio of the spot price of gold to the Philadelphia XAU Index

Per reader request we have added the ratio of the spot price of gold to the Philadelphia XAU Index here, and the Purchasing Managers Index here. An article describing the above can be read here.

Quick Overview

  • According to the Investment Company Institute, total assets of exchange-traded funds were $228.7 billion in March, an increase of 2.2% from February.

  • President Bush urged Congress today to encourage the development of ethanol and biodiesel to reduce the U.S.'s dependence on oil.

  • The International Coffee Organization kept its estimate of 2005-2006 world production at 106 million (60-kg) bags.
    U.S. Green Coffee stocks were up 88,865 bags from a month ago to 5.78 million bags on April 30th.

  • Indonesia's GDP was up 6.3% in the first quarter, stronger than expected.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Quick Overview

  • Consumer sentiment fell in mid-May, according to a University of Michigan
    index issued Friday that registered a drop to 85.3 from an April level of 87.7.

  • Mexico's central bank held monetary policy steady on Friday after core inflation moved lower in April, easing fears that consumer prices may again be rising too high.

  • Russia struck a landmark deal on Friday to repay up to $15 billion it owes to the West, sealing its rapid transformation from economic basket case to emerging markets powerhouse.

  • Machinery orders in Japan were up 1.9% in March, stronger than expected. but the government forecast a fall in the following three months, a reminder that the economy's recovery is still shaky.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims were up 4,000 to 340,000 last week.

  • The U.S. Commerce Department said that retail sales were 1.4% higher in April.

  • The USDA's 2005-2006 U.S. ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn is 2.540 billion bushels, up from 2.214 billion bushels in 2004-2005.
    Soybeans is 290 million bushels, down from 355 million bushels in 2004-2005.
    Wheat is 678 million bushels, up from 541 million bushels in 2004-2005.
    Sugar is 759,000 tons, down from 1,343,000 tons in 2004-2005.
    Cotton is 6.30 million bales, down from 7.10 million bales in 2004-2005.

  • The USDA's 2005-2006 world ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn is 122 million tons, down from 129 million tons in 2004-2005.
    Wheat is 147 million tons, down from 150 million tons in 2004-2005.
    Cotton is 45 million bales, down from 49 million bales in 2004-2005.

  • The USDA kept its estimate of Florida's orange production at 151 million boxes, but increased the estimated juice yield from 1.58 to 1.60 gallons per box at 42.0 degrees Brix.

  • The USDA estimated this year's U.S. winter wheat production at 1.59 billion bushels, up 6% YoY.

  • Bullish outlook for FedEx ..FedEx reiterated that it expects profit to range between $1.40 per share to $1.50 per share for the fiscal fourth quarter ending May 31.

  • Shipbuilder continuing to book new orders... the world's three largest shipyards, have been winning orders at record prices to build more technologically complex vessels.

  • YoY Germany's GDP was up 1.0% in the first quarter.

  • Australia's unemployment rate stayed at 5.1% in April.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground natural gas supplies were up 54 billion cubic feet last week to 1.509 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are now up 17% from a year ago.

  • Italy's GDP contracted 0.5% in the first quarter of 2005, weaker than expected.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Seeing vessels half empty?The advance of globalisation and booming world trade have provided bumper profits for the world’s container-ship companies

Investment Tools Shipping Index

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. trade deficit narrowed unexpectedly to $55.0 billion in March in the largest drop in over three years, as exports hit a record and imports from China declined. March exports were $102.2 billion and imports were $157.2 billion resulting in a goods and services deficit of $55.0 billion, $5.6 billion less than the $60.6 billion in February.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that crude oil supplies were up 2.7 million barrels last week to 329.7 million barrels. Unleaded supplies were up 200,000 barrels and heating oil supplies were up 500,000 barrels. September crude oil closed down $1.28 at $52.75.

  • The Bank of England lowered its 2005 growth estimate from 2.7% to 2.6%. Imports in the U.K. were down 0.4% in March and exports were up 3.4%.

  • Canada's exports were up 0.2% to C$35.8 billion in March and imports were stable at C$31.5 billion.

  • The International Energy Agency said that China's demand for oil increased 4.5% in the first quarter from a year ago.

  • YoY consumer prices in Germany were up 1.6% in April .

  • YoY Household spending in Japan was down 0.2% in March.

  • Canada's trade surplus hit C$4.2 billion ($3.4 billion) in March, up from February's revised figure of C$4.15 billion, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday.

  • China has not changed its currency policy, the central bank said on Wednesday, after financial markets were worked up by a report in the nation's top newspaper that predicted the yuan would be revalued next week. On the other hand, Goldman thinks that the Chinese renminbi could be revalued by 5-10%, so says Hong Liang, Executive Director and China Economist at Goldman Sachs Asia

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Real wages in the US are falling at their fastest rate in 14 years, according to data surveyed by the Financial Times.
Inflation rose 3.1 per cent in the year to March but salaries climbed just 2.4 per cent, according to the Employment Cost Index. In the final three months of 2004, real wages fell by 0.9 per cent.

Quick Overview

  • The British Retail Consortium said that year-over-year same store sales in the U.K. were down 4.7% in April , the biggest plunge in at least ten years

  • Deloitte Research said that US consumer spending slowed in April due to lower wages and higher taxes.

The June S&P 500 is lower due to unconfirmed rumors that a large London hedge fund may be in financial trouble."I think there's a lot of concern out there that where there's smoke there's fire as far as these hedge fund rumors, and what does it mean for the rest of the market and is there another shoe to drop type of thing"
Confidence in US economy at lowest since 2001 Investor's Business Daily and TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence said their economic optimism index slipped 0.2 points to 47.2 from April's 47.4. A reading above 50 indicates optimism while a reading below 50 indicates pessimism.
Effective June 20, 2005, the Index will undergo its tenth revision, amending its components to include three additional commodities (unleaded gasoline, aluminum and nickel) and remove one commodity (platinum). Component weightings will now take into account the relative significance and liquidity of the various commodities markets. In addition, the Index will rebalance its component weightings monthly and will derive its value from nearby futures prices.

Worth more than its weight in silver for burns
The cleansing power of silver was known in the days of the Roman Empire, when silver coins were placed in jugs of water to help keep them pure. The metal seems to disable an enzyme that many types of bacteria use to generate energy. Also, silver isn't toxic to human tissue

Monday, May 09, 2005

GE to Double Spending on `Environmental' Products
``We don't have hobbies inside GE, don't do things for the goodness of doing them,'' Immelt said during a conference call that was broadcast over the Internet. ``Green means green. And we think the breadth of our technology lends itself to this.''

Quick Overview

  • Russia has a window of opportunity in the next few months to secure entry to the World Trade Organization, says official.

  • Total air cargo shipments rose 3.1% in March compared with a year earlier, following a 1.3% year-over-year drop in February, the Air Transport Association reported.

  • The USDA said that 79% of the corn, 26% of the soybeans, and 39% of the cotton crops were planted. 59% of the U.S. winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent, down from 63% a week ago.

  • The Florida Citrus Processors said that there were 148.2 million gallons of frozen orange juice concentrate in inventory as of April 30th, down 16% YoY.

  • Manufacturing in the U.K. was down 1.6% in March, weaker than expected.

  • Sales at U.S. wholesalers grew by 0.2% in March, while inventories increased 0.4 percent, the Commerce Department estimated Monday. Year-over-year Sales were up 7.2 percent, while inventories increased 10.8 percent.

  • Increasingly Embattled, DeLay Scales Back Usual Power Plays ….threatening his career and the GOP majority he helped to build and sustain since coming to the House 20 years ago. Everywhere there are signs of a politician in retreat…as businesses fret that DeLay may be radioactive

  • Eighty-eight members of Congress call on Bush for answers on secret Iraq plan"Unfortunately, the mainstream media in the United States was too busy with wall-to-wall coverage of a "runaway bride" to cover a bombshell report out of the British newspapers," Conyers writes. "The London Times reports that the British government and the United States government had secretly agreed to attack Iraq in 2002, before authorization was sought for such an attack in Congress, and had discussed creating pretextual justifications for doing so."

  • Amid rising gas prices, makers warm to diesel cars Diesels use 20 percent to 40 percent less fuel than comparable gasoline engines. And diesel fuel coming to market starting this year will have lower sulfur content, reducing emissions dramatically.

  • Chile April Trade Surplus Widens on Demand for Copper
    , the world's largest copper producer, said its trade surplus widened more than analysts expected in April after copper prices surged to 16-year highs.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

US tourism ‘losing billions because of image
The US is losing billions of dollars as international tourists are deterred from visiting the US because of a tarnished image overseas and more bureaucratic visa policies, travel industry leaders have warned.
Only in Argentina ? ? ? ? ? Foreign debt museum opens doors
"I liked best the black hole with everything the debt swallowed -- education, families, jobs," said Fabian Jader, 34, an opening night visitor. "I feel anger and pity for the people, but above all helplessness." ...."People know absolutely nothing about how we accumulated all this debt, they only know about the misery they have seen lately," said museum director Simon Pristupin...

Freedom slips another notch

In case you hadn't noticed, the United States is turning into one of those countries where citizens can't turn around without showing their "papers."...In America, having papers has never been especially important. Until now.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

US carmakers extend currency campaign
US carmakers are using growing congressional anger over the weak Chinese renminbi to boost pressure on Japan and South Korea to revalue their currencies as well, a move they hope could ease competitive pressures on the beleaguered US industry.

Friday, May 06, 2005

US defence budget will equal ROW combined "within 12 months
Defence expenditure in the US will equal that of the rest of the world combined within 12 months, making it "increasingly pressing" for European contractors to develop a "closer association" with the US, corporate finance group PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says.
The US defence budget reached US$417.4 billion in 2003 - 46 per cent of the global total.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Nonfarm payroll employment rose a stronger than expected 274,000 in April, and the unemployment rate held at 5.2 percent. Jobs in the previous two months were revised up by a total 93,000. Stock traders seem to interpret much stronger-than-expected Apr. job growth as a sure sign that the Fed will continue raising interest rates.

  • Tokyo's food safety commission said it would recommend the government waive mad cow disease tests for cattle younger than 21 months, a move toward lifting the ban on American beef imports to Japan.

  • Study finds decline in global press freedom .. USA is ranked 24th

  • Canada's unemployment rate fell from 6.9% to 6.8% in April, the lowest in over four years.

  • Manufacturing orders in Germany were up 2.2% in March, stronger than expected.

Website of the day
Moving through space, an amazing animation.

New Zealand first to levy carbon tax
The tax, planned after New Zealand signed up to the Kyoto protocol, would make polluting energy sources such as coal and oil more expensive than cleaner ones such as hydro, wind and solar..

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Hedge funds get Greenspan warning on leverage
"To them, it may all seem OK until someone gets into a car crash," Bianco said, adding that Greenspan's comments in his prepared text closely mirrored what he said less than two months before LTCM collapsed.

85.5 Trillion

Tax Receipts Exceed Treasury Predictions The Treasury Department this week reported there would be a $54 billion swing from projected deficit to surplus in the April-to-June quarter, after an unanticipated gush of tax payments poured into the Treasury before the April 15 deadline.

Truths collide The uncensored Pentagon report at least allows the international public to know that there were no less than 15,527 attacks on the occupation forces from July 2004 to March 2005. In Baghdad alone, from November to March 12, there were 2,404 attacks.

Quick Overview

  • Nonfarm business productivity grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.6% from January through March, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was up from a 2.1% rate in the preceding three months. The growth of unit labor costs accelerated, climbing to a 2.2% rate that was the largest in six months. In the year through March, those costs were up 2.5% - the highest rate in nearly four years.

  • Standard & Poor's Ratings Services cut its corporate credit ratings to junk status for both General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., a decision that will increase borrowing costs and limit fund-raising options for the nation's two biggest automakers.

  • Chile's economy expanded 5.0 percent in March, the slowest growth since February 2004.

  • International trade through the Los Angeles region will grow by more than 14% this year to a record $302.1 billion, according to an economic study released Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground natural gas supplies were up 39 billion cubic feet last week to 1.455 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are now up 20% from a year ago.

  • Compared to one year ago, U.S. 2004-2005 exports for: Corn went from -7% to -6%. Soybeans went from +17% to +18%. Wheat remained at -10%.Cotton remained at -9%.

  • USDA Secretary said that he wants to see a national animal identification system in place by 2009. The system would track the origin of all cattle, hogs, and chickens in the U.S.

  • USDA Secretary also announced new rules allowing greater logging and mining in undeveloped areas of the national forest.

  • An index of U.K. services fell from 57.0 to 56.5 in April, as expected.

  • The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment rose a larger-than-expected 11,000 last week.

  • Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said on Thursday that deflation continues to plague Japan despite a recovering economy and the government must not relent in its seven-year battle to eradicate it.

  • YoY Brazils April Green Coffee Exports were up 10 percent at 1.71 M Bags.

  • The DC-96 computer, developed by Orion Multisystems, offers a peak
    computing power of 230 gigaflops and 192 gigabytes of memory for $100,000....

  • The tanker market is likely to be the first shipping sector to suffer an oversupply of tonnage, leading to earnings declines for the next three years, Citigroup Smith Barney tanker analyst John Kartsonas has warned.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Is Russia in for an Enron-Style Price Shock?

UES -- which seems to work pretty well as things stand -- is to be broken up into (deep breath here) six national generation companies; 14 territorial generation companies; a state-owned hydro company; a National Grid Company; and local distribution companies. And then the interface between the generation companies and the Grid Company is to be managed by a "transmission system operator," perhaps also an "independent system operator" and a regulator to keep an eye on both.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. DoE said that last weeks crude oil supplies were up 2.6 million barrels to 327.0 million barrels. Unleaded gasoline supplies were up 2.2 million barrels and heating oil supplies were unchanged.

  • The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is at 691.2 million barrels, nine million barrels short of the White House's 700 million goal.

  • The ISM's index of U.S. service sector activity dropped from 63.1 to 61.7 in April - still a sign of growth.

  • Transport costs between Richards Bay, which has the world's largest coal export terminal, and Rotterdam dropped 7.2 percent last week to $18.62 (R114) a ton.

  • The Treasury, faced with large budget deficits, said in a surprise move on Wednesday it is considering regular sales of 30-year bonds, which were suspended in 2001. A decision is expected on August 3rd.
    In Vietnam, the coffee crop is said to be too dry.

  • In Brazil, wet weather has delayed the coffee harvest, but it is expected to begin soon.

  • Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian is offering to more than double his General Motors stake to 8.8 percent in a move that raised investor confidence

  • The European Central Bank kept its interest rate unchanged at 2.0%, as expected. The rate has not moved for almost two years.

  • An index of services in the Euro zone slipped from 53.0 to 52.8 in April and retail sales volume in March was up 1.4% from a year ago.

  • Australia's Reserve Bank kept its official interest rate unchanged at 5.50%

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Quick Overview

  • Layoff announcements by U.S. companies fell to their lowest level since Nov. 2000, outplacement firm Challenger Grey & Christmas said Tuesday.

    • Orders placed with factories rose 0.1% in March, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

    • The Federal Reserve increased the federal funds rate from 2.75% to 3.00%, as expected.

    • U.S. durable goods orders were down 2.3% in March, a little better than the 2.8% drop in the advanced report.

    • Monday, May 02, 2005

      Quick Overview

      • U.S. construction spending increased by a stronger-than-anticipated 0.5% in March, the Commerce Department said Monday.

      • The Institute for Supply Management reported that Factory activity in the United States slowed for the fifth straight month in April, the ISM index fell to 53.3% from 55.2% in March

      • Brazils government reported a trade surplus of $3.88 billion in April, up from $1.96 billion in the same month last year. Exports in April reached $9.20 billion while imports totaled $5.33 billion.

      • South Korea's trade surplus rose in April compared to the previous month as global demand for locally-made products remained strong despite the won's appreciation against the dollar, the government said Sunday. April's trade surplus came to 1.96 billion US dollars, compared to 1.45 billion dollars in the previous month.

      • OPEC's President said that they have increased production from 27.7 to 29.7 million barrels per day in the last month and a half, the highest daily production in 25 years.

      • The USDA said that 52% of the corn crop was planted, up from 30% a week ago, and 8% of the soybeans are planted.

      • An index of manufacturing in Australia increased from 52.6 to 52.9 in April, the lowest April reading in three years.