Friday, April 29, 2005

Quick Overview

  • There is fresh speculation that China may use the impending Golden Week holidays in the region to ease the renminbi’s peg against the dollar.

  • The University of Michigan's final consumer sentiment index for April dropped to 87.7, the third straight monthly decline and the lowest level since September 2003

  • The National Association of Purchasing Management's index of Chicago business activity dropped from 69.2 to 65.6 in April.

  • The Labor Department announced that the employment cost index, moderated in the first quarter to a 0.7% increase, down from a 0.8% gain in the last three months of 2004.

  • Consumer prices rose 0.5% in March, the largest increase in 15 years. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, however, the core rate of inflation - measured by the personal consumption expenditure price index - increased 0.3%.

  • Personal income rose 0.5% in March, versus the 0.4% economists had predicted. Consumer spending, rose 0.6%, versus 0.5% expected.

  • Canada's GDP increased 0.3% in February and 3.6% YoY.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Quick Overview

  • During the first quarter the U.S. economy grew at its slowest pace in two years –renewing fears of stagflation.. The economy expanded at a 3.1 % annual rate as consumers and businesses were pinched by rising energy prices. Economist had expected a growth rate of 3.6%.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday reported U.S. March soybean crush totaled 149.7 million bushels, above the average analyst estimate of 148.7 million bushels.

  • U.S. March soy oil stocks totaled 1.790 billion pounds, versus analysts
    estimates of 1.779 billion pounds. Soy meal inventories totaled 251,744 tons versus the average analyst estimate of 316,700 short tons.

  • The number of U.S. workers filing for initial unemployment benefits rose by 21,000 in the week ended April 23, reversing three straight weeks of declines, the Labor Department said Thursday

  • Industrial production in Japan was down 0.3% in March

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 73 billion cubic feet last week to 1.416 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are up 24% from a year ago.

  • The Reserve Bank of India increased its overnight rate from 5.75% to 6.00%, citing rising inflation.

  • The World Trade Organization ruled against European sugar subsidies today, saying that the subsidies violate their trade rules. The decision upheld a 2004 ruling that European sugar exporters are getting more in government handouts than allowed.

  • The unemployment rate in Germany dropped from 12.5% to 12.0% in April. The number of unemployed fell from 5.18 to 4.97 million.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Quick Overview

  • The Commerce Dept. showed a decline in durable goods orders of 2.8% last month - the biggest one-month drop in 2 1/2 years - following a 0.5% gain a month earlier that has been revised to a -0.2%, Excluding transportation, the decline was a less severe 1.0.

  • The U.S. DoE said that the U.S. imported 10.9 million barrels of crude oil last week, the third largest amount ever. Crude oil supplies increased 5.5 million barrels to 324.4 million barrels. Unleaded supplies were down 300,000 barrels and heating oil supplies were up 400,000 barrels.

  • The USDA report showed that 30% of the U.S. corn crop has been planted, more than was expected.

  • Consumer prices in Australia were up 2.4% in the first quarter from a year ago, less of a gain than was expected .

  • Overall trucking freight volumes fell 3.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis to 111.6 in March, according to an American Trucking Associations index released Wednesday.

  • Asian soybean rust has been found in Georgia, with a positive identification confirmed Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Greenspan and Snow are missing good bets

Since only about a quarter of a point separates the yield on the ten-year Treasury from that of the old 30-year bond (now 26 years), it makes sense for the government to issue longer-maturity bonds in order to lengthen the maturity of its debt, as should be the case when debt is growing faster than the economy.
Right now, the Treasury is like the homeowner who takes out an adjustable rate loan at a time when interest rates are rising. It's saving money now -- but it will pay the piper later.

Quick Overview

April consumer confidence was in line with economists' forecasts of 98.0, falling to a reading of 97.7. This is the third consecutive decline and is raising concerns about a potential economic slowdown.

New home sales for March surged 12.2% to a new record of 1.43 mln (consensus 1.19 mln)... reflect ongoing economic strength.

The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to report on Thursday
the U.S. March soybean crush at 148.7 million bushels. If it
does, that would rank as the second highest crush ever for March.

The Renewable Fuels Association said that the U.S. produced 245,000 barrels of ethanol per day in February, a new record high.

China's Ministry of Agriculture said that China will produce 10.0 million tons of sugar in 2004-2005, down slightly from the previous year and less than Chinas consumption.

Six economic institutes in Germany reduced their estimate of 2005 GDP growth for Germany from 1.5% to 0.7%.

The unemployment rate in Japan improved from 4.7% to 4.5% in March.
Japanese Household spending was down 1.1% for the month, and YoY consumer prices were down 0.2% in March.

French President Chirac asks for measures to control the flood of Chinese textile exports to the EU.

RATES for very large crude carriers have peaked and are unlikely to match the euphoric highs seen last year, says Helmut Sohmen, owner of World-Wide Shipping.

CHINA has announced further container terminal expansion by giving the go-ahead for a 2.5m teu facility at Shenzhen, the world’s fourth largest box port city.

If you’re worried about the recent European Union ban on imports of grain from the US you can now breathe a sigh of relief. Tests of Syngenta animal feed and grains imported into the European Union have shown the products to be free of a genetically modified (GMO) strain of maize blocked by the EU, the company said on Tuesday.
U.S. exporters send 3.5 million tonnes of corn gluten feed to Europe each year, a trade worth some 350 million euros ($449 million).

Monday, April 25, 2005

In a dramatic turn of events, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has joined debt campaigners across the globe by stating clearly that it is in fact possible to sell its vast undervalued (and idle) gold reserves to finance further debt relief for some of the world's poorest countries.
The viability of this proposal, after years of opposition, has been formally recognised by the staff of the IMF in a new paper. The IMF paper, prepared by the Fund's Department of Finance at the request of the major creditor nations last year, was discussed by the IMF Board on 30 April.
UN Nominee Bolton to Undergo Anger Management Therapy With Jack Nicholson
However, the Committee specified that the nominee must first undergo thirty days of "anger management therapy" to help him deal with his feelings.

Quick Overview

Sales of existing homes and condominiums rose by 1 percent in March to the third-highest sales pace on record while the nationwide median price jumped by the largest amount in more than 14 years, a real estate trade group reported Monday.

The average retail price of regular gasoline fell 4.46 cents between April 8 and Friday to $2.24 a gallon, according to the latest Lundberg Survey of filling stations nationwide.

The USDA said that 68% of the winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent, down 1 point from the previous week.

The USDA said that 30% of the corn crop has been planted.

Brazil said that their upcoming coffee crop will total 32.5 million bags, up slightly from the previous estimate.

An index of business confidence in Germany dropped from 94.0 to 93.3 in April, the lowest reading in over a year.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

U.S. Prison Population, World's Highest, Up Again
The United States has incarcerated 726 people per 100,000 of its population, seven to 10 times as many as most other democracies. The rate for England is 142 per 100,000, for France 91 and for Japan 58.

It costs around $22,000 to lock up one person for a year. The United States spends about $57 billion annually on its prison and jail system.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Website of the day: The House that Jack Built

A plane trip to London and Scotland in 2000 by beleaguered House Majority Leader Tom Delay was charged to a credit card issued to a Washington lobbyist who is the subject of a federal probe, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Quick Overview

Canada's annual inflation rate in March met market expectations, rising to 2.3 percent from 2.1 percent in February, reinforcing beliefs that the Bank of Canada will raise interest rates in the second half of 2005.

Brazil's coffee crop will total 32.46 million 60-kilogram bags in 2005-06 (July-June), according to the latest estimate released by the National Commodities Supply Corp, on Friday. This compares to 38.7 million bags last year.

The USDA said that there were 10.87 million head of cattle on feed, up 1% from a year ago, but less than expected. March placements were down 2.8% and marketing’s were roughly the same as a year ago.

The USDA said that there were 81.3 million pounds of frozen bellies in storage, up 62% from a year ago.

The USDA said Frozen pork totaled 543.4 million pounds, up 21% from a year ago.

ED&F Man said that they still expect world demand for sugar to exceed production in the upcoming year.

The USDA said that there were 1.58 billion pounds of frozen orange juice concentrate in storage on March 31st, down 12% from a year ago.

An index of services in Japan contracted 1% in February after posting a big 2.4% gain in January.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi apologized to China for Japan's wartime atrocities and expressed an interest in improving ties between the two countries.

GDP in the U.K. was up 0 .6% in the first quarter and up 2.8 YoY.

During week of April 16th Tonnage Volume for US railroads reached 33.3 billion ton-miles, up 4.7 percent from the same week in 2004.

Less than two hours before the close, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. had warned China that North Korea could be preparing a nuclear-weapons test.

Earnings for Suezmax tankers in November reached a record of more than US$150,000 a day as global oil consumption grew faster than ship supply.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Quick Overview

The number of U.S. workers filing for initial unemployment benefits fell 36,000 in the week ended April 16, the third consecutive reported decline, the Labor Department said Thursday

Manufacturing in the Philadelphia area rose to 25.3, a Federal Reserve report said Thursday. Orders and shipments also accelerated.

The Bank of Japan said on Thursday the economies of most of Japan's regions are in a mild recovery trend.

The Conference Board reported Thursday that its Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell 0.4 percent last month to 115.1. The decline was slightly larger than that expected.

Retail sales in the U.K. were down 0.1% in March, weaker than expected.

China's president on Thursday urged Asian and African leaders to pursue free trade agreements and open their markets to each other to overcome economic woes plaguing countries on the two continents.

China imported 2.7 million barrels of oil per day in March, up 23% from a year ago

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned on Thursday that unless lawmakers come to grips with spiraling U.S. deficits, the economy was at risk of stagnation "or worse."

Retail sales in Canada were up 1.7% in February to C$30.4 billion.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground natural gas supplies were up 50 billion cubic feet to 1.343 trillion cubic feet. YoY supplies are up 25%.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Quick Overview

The U.S. Consumer Price Index was up 0.6 percent last month - stronger than expected as the costs of energy clothing and airline fares all rose.

China's economy expanded 9.5 percent, faster than expected, putting fresh pressure on Beijing to rein in growth.

Argentina's economy grew a faster than expected 8.6 percent rate in February.

India's weather office on Wednesday forecast normal monsoon rains this year.

Among leading world economies, the U.S. ranks only 11th in Internet users connecting at high-speed. Compared to South Korea, Japan, even Canada, the U.S. is falling behind.

The Department of Energy said in its weekly petroleum supply report that the U.S. supply of crude oil fell last week by 1.8 million barrels to 318.9 million barrels, or 8 percent above year ago levels. Gasoline inventories declined by 1.5 million barrels to 211.6 million barrels, or 5 percent above year ago levels.
The supply of distillate fuel, which includes diesel, was flat at 104 million barrels, or roughly 1 percent above year ago levels, the agency said. Heating oil supplies were up 1.4 million barrels Gasoline demand has averaged more than 9 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, roughly 1.2 percent above year ago levels.

The Federal Reserve's Beige book said that "all twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicate that business activity continued to expand from late February through early April." The districts of Kansas City and San Francisco reported the most positive growth while "some deterioration" in retail activity was reported in Cleveland's district.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Quick Overview

The Labor Department said Tuesday its producer price index rose 0.7% in March, and prices excluding food and energy rose just 0.1%.

Housing starts fell 17.6% in March, the biggest drop in 14 years, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. YoY housing starts are up 5.5%.

The average national price of retail diesel fuel dropped 5.7 cents to $2.259 a gallon, the Department of Energy said Monday. Gasoline prices also tumbled from four weeks of records, dropping 4.3 cents to $2.237 a gallon, DOE said. Today however June unleaded gasoline was up 7.07 cents to $1.5807 with reports of refinery problems in Texas, Louisiana, and Kansas.

Chinese soybean futures settled higher on forecasts for smaller soy acreage in that country's largest soy-producing province, Soybean acreage in China's Heilongjiang province was expected to drop 3.1% this year, according to a local media report Monday.

General Motors reported a first quarter loss of $1.1 billion, the worst performance in 13 years and down from its $1.2 billion profit a year ago.

YoY Consumer prices in the U.K. were up 1.9%, the highest in almost seven years.

Canada's wholesale sales were up 1.1% in February and the composite index of leading indicators was up 0.2% in March

Unbelievable Sloppiness
The action is the only possible way of dealing with an unbelievable sloppiness -- the mixing of different genetically modified corn families. The so-called Bt10 corn from the US, with its resistance against the antibiotic Ampicillin is neither permitted in the US nor in Europe. The EU has not banned all US corn imports. It is merely demanding proof that the imported corn products do not include any Bt10.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Quick Overview

OPEC's President said that they will increase production by 500,000 barrels per day, starting on May 1st.

June gold was helped by comments from U.S. Treasury Secretary Snow saying he does not favor the IMF plan of selling gold to provide debt relief to less developed countries.

New vehicle sales in Canada jumped up 12.8% in February to 142,658 vehicles.

Germany's central bank said that the economy grew 0.2% in the first quarter of 2005.

The Nikkei 225 fell over 3% to 10,938, the lowest close in four months, hurt by a slowing U.S. economy and dispute with China.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

No windfall for Midwest's corn-based fuel
These days, however, ethanol-makers are getting creamed. Even as oil prices hover around $50 a barrel, ethanol has plunged by at least one-fourth since January. For the first time in memory, a gallon of ethanol at wholesale is going for a dollar less than a gallon of gas at the pump.

Honda Motor Co. expects to set an export record this year in the soybeans it returns to Japan in containers that arrived in the U.S. filled with spare parts.

In the shadow of its Marysville auto plant, the company processes 550 bushels of soybeans each hour that end up as tofu and soy sauce. The automaker expects to sell a record 1 million bushels this year and is hunting new markets in Australia. The company says potential customers in Europe and Thailand have expressed interest.

Honda began shipping soybeans in 1986
"as a way to reuse cargo containers that were returning to Japan empty".
The crop was plentiful in Ohio, there was a market for them in Japan, and the shipments were a way for the automaker to invest in a state it has operated in since 1983.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Quick Overview

The New York Federal Reserve's Empire Manufacturing index fell from 20.18 to 3.12 in April, the lowest in two years.

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index fell to 88.7 in mid-April from 92.6 in March.

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

Europe's cocoa bean grind totaled 282,682 tons in the first quarter of 2005, up 0.8% from a year ago. In the U.S. the cocoa grind totaled 101,913 tons, down 0.7% from a year ago.

The Green Coffee Association said that U.S. coffee stocks increased over 305,000 bags in March to end the month at 5.696 million bags, more than expected.

Canada's manufacturing shipments were down 0.5% in February.

San Diego America’s finest city.
Here's how abusive it is: some city officials are getting lump sums under this program of more than $1 million, in addition to $150,000 or more annual retirement benefits. The city spends $16 million a year just paying interest on the $200 million now deposited in this program. But the city spends a mere $800,000 a year repairing potholes.....But the weather is nice!

Scientists say evidence mounting that chemical in plastic is dangerous In the new report, to be published online tomorrow in Environmental Health Perspectives, scientists Frederick vom Saal and Claude Hughes say that, as of December, 115 studies have been published examining low doses of the chemical, and 94 found harmful effects.

US calls for immediate flexibility on renminbi
The US administration is calling for China to move immediately to introduce a flexible currency, a marked shift in tactics after several years of patient diplomacy aimed at nudging China towards allowing the renminbi to float.

The worlds biggest debtor nation telling another nation how to run THEIR economy.

Illegal GM maize fear sparks EU ban on US animal feeds
But Christoph Then, a Greenpeace genetic engineering expert, said lax controls in the US and elsewhere meant that Europe remained exposed to high-risk imports of illegal GMOs in wheat, rice, soya beans and rape seed as well as maize. The US condemned the ban, insisting there were no hazards to health, safety or the environment from Bt10.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Quick Overview

The number of U.S. workers filing for initial unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 in the week ended April 9, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Business inventories rose 0.5% in February, the Commerce Department reported Thursday

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that old-crop soybean export sales last week hit a marketing-year low of 128,800 metric tons with China absent from the list of buyers. New-crop sales were 143,600 tons, total soybean sales came to 272,400 tons, which was under pre-report estimates ranging from 350,000 to 550,000 tons.

Informa Economics, a private analytical firm, is said to estimate U.S. cornproduction at 10.721 billion bushels. This compares to USDA's April production
estimate of 11.807 billion.
Export sales from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for corn were 915,600
metric tons for 2004-05. This is above trade estimates of 650,000 to 850,000
metric tons.

Wheat Export sales for the week ended April 7 were a net 389,400 metric tons for the 2004-05 crop year, while 29,000 tons of 2005-06 wheat were sold, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Thursday.
The sales generally met pre-report trade expectations for around
300,000-500,000 tons of export sales.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground natural gas supplies were up 44 billion cubic feet last week to 1.293 trillion cubic feet. YoY supplies up 23%.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Quick Overview

Crude oil prices continued to fall Wednesday, dropping below $51 a barrel following a Department of Energy report showing strong inventories for both oil and gasoline.
The DOE said that:
Crude oil supplies increased 3.6 million barrels last week to 320.7 million barrels. Unleaded supplies improved by 800,000 barrels, and heating oil supplies were up 600,000 barrels. The Strategic Petroleum Reserves are now at 688.8 million barrels, close to the 700 million barrel target.

March retail sales rose 0.3%, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday, less than forecasters had predicted.

U.S. economic growth will average 3.6% this year, the fastest among the world's leading industrialized nations, according to a new International Monetary Fund report.
The IMF said that they expect real economic growth in 2005 and 2006 for:
The United States to be 3.6% for both years.
Canada to be 2.8% and 3.0%.
The United Kingdom to be 2.6% for both years.
The Euro area to be 1.6% and 2.3%.
Japan to be .8% and 1.9%.

The U.K.'s unemployment rate for the three months to February was 4.8%, up .1 from the previous three months.

The Japanese government said that their economy is improving at a restrained pace. YoY Producer prices were up 1.4% in March.

Overall trucking freight volumes fell 2.4% on a seasonally adjusted basis to 115.5 in February, according to an updated American Trucking Associations index released Tuesday.

Pandemic-causing 'Asian flu' accidentally releasedThe flu testing kits were sent to some 3700 labs between October 2004 and February 2005 by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), a professional body which helps pathology laboratories improve their accuracy, by sending them unidentified samples of various germs to identify.
The CAP kits - prepared by private contractor Meridian Bioscience in Cincinnati, US -were to contain a particular strain of influenza A - the viral family that causes most flu worldwide. But instead of choosing a strain from the hundreds of recently circulating influenza A viruses, the firm chose the 1957 pandemic strain.

We’ve spent $40 billion on "Homeland Security" in 2004 and will spend some $50 billion in 2005, and now we have a lab mailing out a deadly flu virus to thousands of unsuspecting labs - it boggles the mind.
Meridian Bioscience Backs 2005 Outlook

"While a few H2N2 laboratory acquired infections have been documented in the past, the likelihood of laboratory-acquired influenza infection is considered low when proper biosafety precautions are followed," Meridian said in a statement. "The risk for the general population is also considered low." The WHO also has said the risk of an outbreak is slight.

Ex-AIG Chief Gave Wife $2B in Shares
Greenberg resigned as president and CEO of the New York-based insurer on March 14, three days after he had transferred 41.4 million shares — worth $2.2 billion at Tuesday's closing share price of $53.20 — to his wife, Corinne P. Greenberg.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Quick Overview

Stock-index futures staged a bullish reversal Tuesday, thanks to tamer-than-expected minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policymaking session.

Gold output falls to 73-year low reported today that South Africa's 2004 gold production was the lowest since 1931.

The International Energy Agency reduced its estimate of 2005 world oil demand by 50,000 barrels to 84.3 million barrels per day.

AgRural said it forecasts the Brazilian soybean crop at 51.3 million
metric tons, down from its previous estimate of 52.3 million tons, due to
excessive rain in the main soybean-producing state of Mato Grosso. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture has the crop currently figured at 54 million tons.

The U.S. trade deficit grew more than expected in February to a record $61.0 billion, as the U.S. economy sucked in record imports and exports remained high but showed little new growth, the government said on Tuesday. The trade deficit with China actually narrowed in February to $13.9 billion from $15.3 billion in January.

Canada's exports increased 1.4% in February to C$36.5 billion while imports were down .2% to C$31.7 billion. The result was a trade surplus of C$4.8 billion.

According to International Monetary Fund the world economy will expand 4.3 percent this year as stronger-than-expected growth in the United States, China and elsewhere balances weakness in Europe and Japan.

USDA Secretary Johanns said that he wants the beef trade with Japan to resume by July. That’s nice, but what does Japan think?

Thirty-three U.S. governors are seeking to expand federal mandates for the use of ethanol as a fuel additive, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Chinese officials are visiting Brazil this week in search of knowledge on how to introduce ethanol as an additive into gasoline fuel.

Retail sales in the U.K. were up 1.8% YoY .

The United States should deploy widespread wired and wireless
gigabit networks as a national priority, according to a white paper
from the IEEE-USA
Committee on Communications and Information
Policy (CCIP). "Providing Ubiquitous Gigabit Networks in the United
States," issued 14 March, says that our nation must act promptly to
ensure that a new...

Hang in there! Time may indeed be on your side. If you can just last another quarter century. By then, people will start lives that could last 1,000 years or more..

The USDA attaché increased the estimate of China's sugar imports from 1.2 million to 1.4 million metric tons. The estimate of sugarcane and beet acreage in China was increased by 6% for the upcoming year.

For 16 years, the FDA resisted pressure to approve aspartame due to safety studies linking the artificial sweetener to numerous adverse reactions, including the development of brain tumors in animal studies. In 1977, FDA investigator Jerome Bressler released a report describing how, in clinical studies submitted to the FDA, Searle removed aspartame-induced brain tumors that developed in lab rats and placed them back into the study. If the rats died, Bressler reported, Searle would resurrect them on paper.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Quick Overview

The average retail price of regular gasoline rose 19 cents in the past three weeks to a record $2.29 a gallon as of April 8, according to the latest Lundberg Survey of filling stations nationwide.

The CEO of AngloGold is predicting a range of $400 to $500 per ounce for gold in the "foreseeable future."

OPEC's President said that they will soon increase oil production by 500,000 barrels per day to prepare for increased world demand in the third quarter.

China's trade surplus rose to $5.73 billion in March up from $4.6 billion in February. YoY exports rose 32.8 percent in March , while imports grew 18.6 percent.

U.S. slips lower in coding contest A number of developments in recent years suggest the world's tech leadership could shift from Silicon Valley and other U.S. locales to Asian nations such as China, Korea and India.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Quick Overview

We're back in operation!!

China should allow the free market to set the value of its yuan currency, and end its peg to the dollar, Treasury Secretary John Snow said during a congressional hearing Thursday. Beijing responded that US pressure on it to revalue the yuan and curb a surge of textile exports was unfair and that the United States should solve its own problems.

U.S. consumer credit rose 3.1%, or $5.5 billion in February, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday. The increase in consumer credit in January, meanwhile, was revised up slightly to $11.7 billion, the Fed said. Credit card debt increased 6.1% in February, while nonrevolving credit, such as auto loans, increased 1.3%. The data do not include home mortgages.

The Bank of England kept interest rates at 4.75 percent for the eighth month running.

Shipping industry faces shortages.
The problem now is that ship-owners will have to wait until 2008 to get any delivered with the South Korean shipyards already full with orders,"