Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Fondness for Fossil Fuels
If we’re to have a hydrogen economy, we have to secure our supplies of natural gas.
US admits Iraq is terror 'cause'
THREE years after its invasion of Iraq the US Administration acknowledged yesterday that the war has become “a cause” for Islamic extremists worldwide and there is a risk of the country becoming a safe haven for terrorists hoping to launch fresh attacks on America.
Leftist trio seals Americas pact
The left-wing leaders of Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela have signed a three-way trade agreement aimed at countering US influence in Latin America.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. First quarter GDP was up 4.8% -- slightly less than expected. YoY, U.S. GDP was up 3.5%.

  • The U.S. employment cost index was up 0.6% in the first quarter.

  • YoY the GDP price deflator was up 3.3%.

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index dropped from 88.9 to 87.4 in April, weaker than expected.

  • The Chicago Purchasing Manager' index was down to 57.2 form 60.4 in April.

  • Canada's GDP was up 0 .2% in February and up 3.3% YoY.

  • YoY the Euro zone consumer prices increased 2.4% in April .

  • YoY consumer prices in Japan were up 0.3% in March

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran was in defiance of the U.N. Security Council.

  • Over 1.9 million shares of the silver ETF traded on the first day. This, if you assume that no real flipping occurred, means that 19 million ounces of silver now call the ETF home.
    (Some analysts estimate total world silver stocks at 500 mill oz . So 19 million would be 4%)
SEC okays Barclays silver ETF
Each share of the exchange-traded fund represents 10 ounces of silver and they will trade under the symbol SLV, Barclays said in a filing with the exchange. The price of silver has risen 44 per cent this year, in part because investors bet the Barclays fund will boost demand for the metal.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Senators to push for $100 gas rebate checks

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Jobless claims were up 11,000 last week to 315,000.

  • China raised its key interest rate from 5.58% to 5.85%.

  • Ben Bernanke signaled that after one more interest rate increase the central bank may take a break, perhaps only temporarily, from a rate-raising campaign aimed at keeping inflation at bay.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 80 billion cubic feet last week to 1.851 trillion cubic feet.

  • A registration statement for the Silver ETF from Barclays Global Investors was declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The trust is expected to trade under the symbol "SLV”, and should start trading Friday.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Health Report: White House Crisis - Medications Failing America!

She also felt that the remaining loyal 32% of Americans needed to start taking testosterone, upping their aggression level and pushing their belief in both George W. Bush and Jesus onto anybody they encountered.

Quick Overview

  • Durable-goods orders increased by 6.1% last month to a seasonally adjusted $230.61 billion, the Commerce Department said. The market was looking for just a 1.6% increase. The unexpected strength marked the fifth gain in durables in six months. A key barometer of business spending - orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft - rose by 3.0%.

  • U.S. new home sales were at an annual rate of 1.213 million units in March, up 14% from February's pace and more than expected, but down 7% from March of 2005. So far in 2006, new home sales are down 8.2% from a year ago.

  • The U.K s. GDP was up 0.6% in the first quarter and up 2.2% YoY.

  • Australia's consumer price index was up 3% in the first quarter.

  • Argentina's central bank revised its forecast for 2006 economic growth to above 7 percent from about 6 percent in January.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were down 200,000 barrels to 345.0 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were down 1.9 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies were up 600,000 barrels.
Percentage of Uninsured Americans Rising
The percentage of working-age Americans with moderate to middle incomes who lacked health insurance for at least part of the year rose to 41 percent in 2005, a dramatic increase from the 28 percent in 2001 without coverage
Iraqi Strife Seeping Into Saudi Kingdom

"Saudi Sunnis are defending Iraqi Sunnis, and Saudi Shiites are defending Iraqi Shiites,"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Consumer confidence fell sharply to its lowest level in two months, once again weighed down by high gasoline prices, ABC News and the Washington Post said on Tuesday.

  • ECB's Mersch said in Luxembourg that he sees a "gradually strengthening and broadening economy."

  • Swedish trade balance March, out at 17.5B vs. 13.0B expected.

  • The Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate by a quarter-percent to 4.00%,

  • Germanys business confidence index increased from 105.4 to 105.9 in April, the highest reading in 15 years.

  • South Korea's GDP was up 6.2% in the first quarter of 2006 from a year ago.

  • The Conference Board's U.S. consumer confidence index rose from 107.5 to 109.6 in April, stronger than expected and the highest in four years.

  • The National Association of Realtors said that U.S. existing home sales were at an annual rate of 6.92 million units in March, up 0.3% from February's. They also said there are 3.19 million homes for sale, some 5.5 months of inventory.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Warning flags flutter on economy
"exits from these illiquid assets may get crowded from time to time."

Quick Overview

  • Dollar fell to a fresh 7-month lows against the Euro, and a 3-month lows against the yen after a G7 announcement on currencies makes the first-time statement of singling out China urging it for further currency flexibility.

  • The top U.S. manufacturing lobby group on Monday lauded calls from the Group of Seven rich nations over the weekend for China to allow the yuan to appreciate, and said multilateral pressure on Beijing was more effective than U.S. demands alone.

  • UK Mar Retail Sales were up 0.7% and better than the 0.3% forecast

  • Demand from the stainless steel industry could see nickel in a shortfall of over 27,000 metric tons at the end of 2006, wiping out 2005's surplus and taking market stocks back to historic lows, Macquarie Bank Ltd. said.

  • The average price of regular gasoline jumped 24 cents to $2.91 a gallon in the two weeks ended Friday, according to the latest Lundberg Survey of filling stations released Sunday.

  • Filling stations in the Northeast are reporting scattered shortages of gasoline as the industry struggles to move to more ethanol-blended fuel, the Associated Press reported.

  • The USDA said there were 11.812 million head of cattle on feed.
Scientists find brain cells linked to choice

If choosing the right outfit or whether to invest in stocks or bonds is difficult, it may not be just indecisiveness but how brain cells assign values to different items, scientists said on Sunday.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The End of Dollar Hegemony
The artificial demand for our dollar, along with our military might, places us in the unique position to “rule” the world without productive work or savings, and without limits on consumer spending or deficits. The problem is, it can’t last.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. gross domestic product probably grew at an annual rate close to 5% in the first quater, which would be the fastest growth in 10 quarters.

  • Japan's service industry index, was down 1.5% in February.

  • Consumer spending in France was down 0.6% in March.

  • Canadian consumer spending was down 0.4% in February.

  • Taiwan’s unemployment rate improved from 3.92% to 3.87% in March.

  • Crude-oil prices broke through $75 a barrel to hit a new record.

  • Sweden said it had cut the dollar share in its foreign exchange reserves and Russia's finance minister questioned the dollar's preeminence as the global reserve currency.

  • Copper rallied above $3 a pound to close its highest level on record.

  • The USDA said there were 11.812 million head of cattle on feed on April 1st, up 8.6% YoY. March placements were up 5% YoY.

  • The USDA said there were 67.8 million pounds of frozen pork bellies in storage, down 17% YoY. Frozen pork totaled 499.4 million pounds, down 8% YoY.

  • The U.S. cocoa grind totaled 104,690 tons in the first quarter of 2006, up 2.7% YoY.

  • The USDA said there were 1.01 billion pounds of frozen orange juice concentrate in storage on March 31st, down 36% from a year ago.

Iran, You Ran, Let's Bomb Iran
When all else fails and you're becoming Nixon 2.0, why not just nuke someone, and smirk?
The real first casualty of war
The dissident novelist Zdenek Urbánek told me, "In one respect, we are more fortunate than you in the west. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and watch on television, nothing of the official truth. Unlike you, we have learned to read between the lines, because real truth is always subversive."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

China Leads The World In Executions, Followed By Iran, Saudi Arabia And U.S.

Quick Overview

  • The Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 10,000 to 303,000, less than expected.

  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional manufacturing index increased from 12.3 to 13.2 in April.

  • The Conference Board's index of U.S. leading indicators fell 0.1% in March to 138.4.

  • Canada’s consumer price was up 2.2% in March.

  • Japan's Exports exceeded imports by roughly $8.3 billion in March.

  • The unemployment rate in Hong Kong was 5.2% in the first quarter of 2006

  • The U.K.’s consumer price was up 1.8% in March.

  • The DoE said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 47 billion cubic feet to 1.761 trillion cubic feet.
Knowing Why Not To Bomb Iran Is Half the Battle
One of my teachers, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, used to say that going to war is not like asking a girl out on a date. It is a very serious decision, to be made on the basis of carefully crafted answers to even more carefully crafted questions.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Quick Overview

  • Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said on Wednesday the U.S. economy can handle a housing slowdown and that oil-price pass-through to inflation had been manageable.

  • Brazil's central bank cut its benchmark lending rate on Wednesday to a five-year low of 15.75 percent from 16.50 percent, the seventh straight cut since September to help bolster the economy as inflation eases.

  • The U.S. Labor Department said the consumer price index was up 0.4% in March and up 3.4% from a year ago. Excluding food and energy, prices were up 0.3% in March and up 2.1% YoY.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were down 800,000 barrels to 345.2 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were down 5.4 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were down 300,000 barrels.

  • London copper inventories are at 119,050 tons.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Will China's next big export be inflation?
Ordinarily in international trade, when a country pours lots of goods on to the global market and runs a large trade surplus, as China has, foreign exchange markets would tend to push up the value of that country’s currency. That, in turn, would make those products more expensive in the rest of the world — a factor that would tend to offset, at least in part, the low-inflation benefits of those cheap exports.

Sand covers one-eighth of China
Sand covered about one-eighth of China from April 14 to 18 and about 330,000 tons of sand fell in Beijing on Sunday night.
Dead zone linked to farm subsidies
Sometime this summer, a lifeless expanse of water about the size of Connecticut -- maybe a little bigger, maybe a little smaller -- will form off the state's coast.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Consumer confidence rose slightly in the latest week despite soaring gasoline prices, a survey showed on Tuesday.

  • US PPI for March was out at +0.5% vs. 0.4% expected, but less Food and Energy out at +0.1% vs. 0.2% expected.

  • U.S. New housing starts fell 7.8% in March to the lowest level in a year, the Commerce Department reported.

  • Federal Reserve officials meeting in late March felt the U.S. central bank was nearly done raising interest rates, minutes from the meeting released on Tuesday showed.

  • The USDA reduced the winter wheat crop that is rated good to excellent from 41% to 39%.

  • The average price of a gallon of diesel fuel continued to rise, up 11.1 cents to $2.765 a gallon, the Energy Department said.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Quick Overview

  • Federal Reserve monetary policy must stay "vigilant" because of the risk of higher U.S. inflation, Chicago Federal Reserve President Michael Moskow said.

  • The dollar fell against most major currencies Monday after a media report suggested that China might reduce its purchases of U.S. Treasuries, and amid speculation that U.S. interest rates may have peaked.

  • The U.S. Treasury said there were $99.5 billion in net foreign purchases of long-term U.S. securities.

  • The New York Federal Reserve's regional index of manufacturing dropped from 29.03 to 15.81 in April, weaker than expected.

  • Japan's consumer confidence index increased from 47.9 in December to 48.2 in March, the best reading in 14 years.

  • The Chinese government said that GDP was up an annual rate of 10.2% in the first quarter of 2006, stronger than expected.

  • Canada confirmed its fifth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a six-year old dairy cow.

  • The U.S. Green Coffee Association said that U.S. coffee stocks were up 81,769 bags in March, at 5.28 million bags.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Commerce Department said that March retail sales were up 0.6%. Excluding autos, sales were up 0.4%. February’s, retail sales were changed higher, from a 1.4% decline to a 0.8% decline.

  • The U.S. Commerce Department said that business sales were down 0.6%

  • U.S. Jobless claims were up 12,000 last week to 313,000, more than expected.

  • The University of Michigan's April consumer sentiment index increased from 88.9 to 89 -- better than expected.

  • Canada's manufacturing shipments were C$50.7 billion in Feb -- down 2.2% form Jan.

  • Retail sales in New Zealand were up 1.9% in Feb. -- Stronger than expected.

  • Japanese corporate bankruptcies fell in the past business year, marking the fourth straight year of decline and their lowest level in a decade, helped by an improving economy and greater financial aid for small firms.

  • Japan's government stuck to its view the economy is recovering in a monthly report on Friday, but said it has yet to emerge from price deflation.

  • A possible new case of mad cow disease in Canada upset the U.S. cattle markets on Thursday

  • The World Trade Organization ruled again that U.S. duties on Canadian lumber are in violation of international trade rules.

  • Goldfields Minerals Survey said that world gold mine production increased 2% in 2005 and they are expecting a 4% increase in 2006.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 19 billion cubic feet at 1.714 trillion cubic feet

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. government ran a budget deficit of $85.47 billion in March.

  • European 2005 GDP was up 1.3% in the Eurozone and up 1.6% in the EU-25.

  • The U.K.s unemployment rate was 5.1% in the December to February quarter, up from 5.0% a month ago. The leading economic indicator for the U.K. was up 0.8% in February.

  • Canadian exports were down 3.5% in February and imports were down 4.6%.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were up 3.2 million barrels last week to 346.0 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were down 3.9 million barrels
  • Supplies of heating oil were down 1.4 million barrels.

  • The U.S. Commerce Secretary said that China has agreed to ease its ban on U.S. beef.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

China Trade Surplus Soared to $11.2 Billion in March

Quick Overview

  • Former U.S. central bank chief Alan Greenspan said Wednesday that global economic imbalances might improve if some high-growth economies allowed their currencies to strengthen

  • Japan's current account surplus grew 6.2 percent in February on year to 2.209 trillion yen before seasonal adjustment, the Ministry of Finance said Wednesday.
    The Bank of Japan decided to keep its interest rate near zero.

  • YoY Retail sales in the U.K. were down 1.4% in March.

  • The National Association of Realtors said that they expect new home sales to total 1.14 million units, down 10.9% YoY.

  • Europe's cocoa grind totaled 308,775 tons in the first quarter of 2006, up 9.2% YoY.

  • The International Coffee Organization reduced its estimate of world coffee production from 121 to 120 million bags for 2006-2007.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Quick Overview

  • Federal Reserve governors said on Monday it was still unclear how much further interest rates need to rise to achieve correct levels of balance between growth and inflation.

  • The International Monetary Fund expects the U.S. economy to grow by more than 3 percent this year, with the world economy growing at more than 4 percent, according to European newspaper reports on Monday.

  • Japanese machinery orders, a key gauge of capital spending, rose 3.4% in February, a sign that strong investment by companies is likely to keep underpinning a steady recovery.

  • YoY Singapore's GDP was up 9.1% in the first quarter.

  • The first ETF (USO) allowing U.S. investors to engage directly (long and short) in the price of crude oil began trading on the American Stock Exchange.

  • New ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel, which is due out later this year, should be ready on time, but it may be a tough, irritating and expensive, engineers from the federal government and two oil companies told a trucking industry conference.

  • The USDA 2005-2006 U.S. ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was reduced from 2.351 to 2.301 billion bushels.
    Soybeans were unchanged at 565 million bushels.
    Wheat was reduced from 542 to 532 million bushels.
    Sugar was reduced from 1.51 to 1.50 million tons.
    Cotton was reduced from 6.60 to 6.50 million bales.

  • The USDA's 2005-2006 world ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was reduced from 130 to 129 million tons.
    Soybeans were reduced from 54.4 to 53.8 million tons.
    Wheat was increased from 142.6 to 143.1 million tons.
    Cotton was reduced from 53.3 to 52.9 million bales.

  • The USDA's estimate of Brazil and Argentina's soybean crop was reduced from 3.64 to 3.58 billion bushels, this is still 6% more than last year.

  • The USDA lowered its estimate of Florida's 2005-2006 orange crop from 154 to 153 million boxes, but raised the anticipated juice yield from 1.58 to 1.61 gallons a box at 42 degrees Brix.

  • The Brazilian government lowered its estimate of the forthcoming coffee crop from 42.0 to 40.6 million bags.

Friday, April 07, 2006

IMF warns high prices risk global crisis

High energy prices are “exacerbating” global economic imbalances, increasing the risks of a crisis, the International Monetary Fund will warn next week.
Regulators To Issue Mortgage Warning

Quick Overview

  • It would be harder for the Federal Reserve to deal with a spike in inflation than a softening of growth, a Fed policy-maker said on Friday, suggesting the central bank may want to err on the side of higher interest rates.

  • U.S. Payrolls rose 211,000 in March and the fell to 4.7% from 4.8% the previous month, the lowest in four years. YoY average hourly earnings were up 3.4%.

  • U.S. Wholesale inventories rose 0.8% in February, the Commerce Department said Friday.

  • Rail intermodal traffic on U.S. railroads rose 11%, while carload traffic inched up 0.6% last week compared with the same week a year ago, the Association of American Railroads said.

  • Canada's unemployment rate improved from 6.4% to 6.3% in March, the lowest in 32 years.

  • Germany's cocoa grind totaled 78,322 tons in the first quarter of 2006, up 35% YoY. For 2005, Germany's cocoa grind was up 10%.

  • U.S. Consumers may face gasoline shortages or price hikes at the pump this summer because of fuel additive changes at refineries and a likely strong hurricane season, the U.S. Energy Secretary said on Friday.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The number of workers filing initial unemployment claims fell 5,000 last week to a five-year low, the Labor Department reported Thursday

  • Australia's unemployment rate improved from 5.2% to 5.0% in March, the lowest in 29 years.

  • Japan's Cabinet Office said that its leading index dropped from 81.8% to 80.0% in February, still a sign of growth.

  • Mexico Sugar Growers Union sees 05-06 sugar crop down 8.8% YoY at 5.288M MT

  • The DoE said that underground supplies of natural gas were down 10 billion cubic feet to 1.695 trillion cubic feet. YoY supplies are up 36%.

  • A swan in Scotland was confirmed with H5N1.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow on Wednesday said he expects U.S. payroll data on Friday to reflect a strong economy that will increase federal tax revenues and help to shrink budget shortfalls.

  • Kansas City Federal Reserve President Hoenig was quoted saying the federal funds rate is "close" to where it needs to be.

  • An index of services in Europe stayed at 58.2 in March, the highest in five years.

  • U.K.’s Factory production was down 0.2% in February, weaker than expected.

  • The German government confirmed the deadly strain of Asian bird flu was found on a poultry farm near Leipzig. 10,000 animals will be slaughtered as a first step in trying to stop the spread of the virus.

  • London Copper inventory is at 113,925 tons.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were up 2.1 million barrels to 342.8 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were down 4.4 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies were down 1.7 million barrels.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. consumers' faith in the national economy flagged in the latest week after a short burst of confidence the previous week, ABC News and the Washington Post said on Tuesday.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Growth in federal spending unchecked
The federal government is currently spending 20.8 cents of every $1 the economy generates, up from 18.5 cents in 2001, ..
Some homeowners struggle to keep up with adjustable rates
Of the 7.7 million households who took out ARMs over the past two years to buy or refinance, up to 1 million could lose their homes through foreclosure over the next five years because they won't be able to afford their mortgage payments, and their homes will be worth less than they owe, according to Cagan's research.

The losses to the banking industry, he estimates, will exceed $100 billion. That's less than the damage from the savings-and-loan crisis in the 1990s, which cost the country $150 billion. "It will sting the economy, but it won't break it," he says.

Quick Overview

  • Construction spending rose 0.8% in February to a record high level, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

  • Japan's Tankan survey of manufacturer sentiment fell from 21 to 20.

  • Japan's unemployment rate fell from 4.5% to 4.1% in February.

  • An index of manufacturing activity in the U.K. fell from 51.5 to 50.8 in March.

  • Europe's manufacturing index rose from 54.5 to 56.1 in March, the best in over five.

  • The tiny biodiesel industry received a boost from Big Oil on Monday when a major petroleum refiner, Motiva Enterprises LLC, began blending the soy-based alternative with traditional motor fuel at a Dallas terminal