Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. GDP rose 0.6% QoQ and 2.5% YoY.

  • U.S. employment cost index rose 0.7% QoQ and 3.3% YoY.

  • The Chicago Purchasing Managers' index rose from 48.2 to 48.3

  • Canada’s GDP was down 0.2% MoM and up 1.5% YoY.

  • Consumer prices in the Euro area rose 3.3% YoY.

  • Japan’s unemployment rate improved from 3.9% to 3.8% in March.

  • The U.S. DOE said that:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 3.8 million barrels to 319.9 million barrels
    Supplies of gasoline fell 1.5 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 500,000 barrels.
    Refinery use dropped from 85.6% to 85.4%
    Gasoline demand rose 0.4% YoY
    Distillate demand rose 0.7% YoY

  • Prudential Financial's first-quarter net income dropped 94% on large investment losses.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Quick Overview

  • According to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price index U.S. home prices fell 12.7% YoY.

  • The Conference Board index of consumer confidence fell from 65.9 to 62.3 in April

Monday, April 28, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The Chicago Fed’s regional index of manufacturing fell from 108.4 to 107.6 in April.

  • YoY Japan's retail sales rose 1.1% in March.

  • The USDA said that:
    10% of the corn crop was planted – below the five-year average of 35%.
    2% of the soybean crop was planted.
    19% of the cotton crop was planted.
    34% of the spring wheat crop was planted.
    46% of the winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent, up from 45% last week.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index fell from 69.5 to 62.6 -- the lowest in 26 years.

  • U.K.'s GDP rose 0.4% QoQ

  • Japan's CPI rose 1.2% YoY

  • (Reuters) - A cargo ship hired by the U.S. military fired warning shots at approaching boats in the Gulf; the U.S. Navy said on Friday, underscoring tension in the region as the Pentagon sharpened its warnings to Iran.

  • Bush said tax rebates that start going out Monday will help shore up the sluggish U.S. economy.

  • (FT) The US and Europe could open their markets to more ethanol from Brazil, where the impact on agriculture is smaller.

  • Texas filed an application to be exempted from the federal renewable fuels standard. The food industry prompted the state’s request to waive 50% of the state’s ethanol blending.

  • Thailand and Brazil said they won't curb rice exports.

  • YoY, Guangdong’s foreign trade volume grew 14.3% to US$149.9 billion, this compares to 24.6% China-wide.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Platinum Falls in N.Y. on Catalyst Replacement; Palladium Drops
April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Platinum fell in New York after Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co. reported developing a silver-based diesel exhaust catalyst, replacing the more expensive metal. Palladium also declined.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Durable goods orders fell 0.3% in March. Excluding transport, orders rose 1.5% -- stronger than expected.

  • U.S. New home sales were at an annual rate of 526,000 in March, down 8.5% from February's pace and down 36.6% YoY. New homes for sale rose from 10.2 to an 11-month supply.

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims fell 33,000 to 342,000, fewer than expected.

  • German business sentiment fell from 104.8 to 102.4.

  • U.K. Retail sales fell 0.4%.

  • Statistics Canada said, on April 1st, there were 13.0 million hogs on farms, down 11.7% YoY.

  • Merrill Lynch said it has enough capital to keep its dividend.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quick Overview

  • Industrial new orders for the Euro zone rose 0.6% in February.
    Euro zone index of services rose from 51.6 to 51.8 in March.

  • Canada’s retail sales fell 0.7% MoM.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 2.4 million barrels to 316.1 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline fell 3.2 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil rose 700,000 barrels.
    Refinery use rose from 81.4% to 85.6% of capacity.
    Gasoline demand rose 0.9% YoY

  • (Bloomberg) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Sam's Club warehouse unit is restricting purchases of some types of rice to four bags a visit as prices reached a record in Chicago futures trading.

  • Port of Shanghai's March container throughput rose 17.9% to a new monthly record of 2.39 million TEU, Logistics Week reported.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

From Artificial Boom to Real Bust
But we are using this time in the jet stream to profit from a vacuum in the news stream. That is, cut off from our usual sources of misinformation, we have nourished our thinking with thought. And what we are thinking about is: what if we are wrong? (Since we are often wrong, time spent considering the alternatives is rarely wasted. Often, it ends as prophecy.)

Quick Overview

  • The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales fell 2% MoM, and 19% YoY.

  • The Richmond Fed's regional index of manufacturing fell from +6 to 0 in April.

  • A member of the European Central Bank said “again” interest rates might need to be raised to fight inflationary pressures.

  • Reuters reported that YoY oil demand in China jumped up 8%.

  • Canada cut its interest rate from 3.50% to 3.00%.

  • Queues at the Panama Canal are becoming longer. About 90 ships are waiting to get through the Canal, doubling transit times to a record 53 hours from the usual 27 to 30 hours.

  • Corn traders are waking up to the fact that this year’s planting delays are getting serious.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The USDA said: 4% of the corn crop was planted, down from a five-year average of 17%.

  • The USDA said there were 657 million pounds of frozen pork in storage on March 31st, up 33% YoY

  • The USDA said that frozen bellies totaled 99 million pounds, up 79% YoY.

  • The USDA said, as of March 31st, there were 1.05 billion pounds of frozen orange juice in storage, up 28% YoY.

  • Canada's farmers intend to plant 25.109 million acres of wheat, up 16% YoY. YoY corn planting intentions are down 13%. Soybean acres are expected up 2% YoY.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Quick Overview

  • (Reuters) "I think the most important thing for the Fed to do is not just use moral suasion, but a baseball bat with respect to the banking system," Paul McCulley, managing director at bond fund manager PIMCO, told a conference in response to a question from Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn.

  • Japan's consumer sentiment index improved from 36.1 to 36.7 in March.

  • The USDA said as of April 1st, there were 11.684 million head of cattle on feed, up 0.3% YoY.

  • The Chocolate Manufacturers Association said the U.S. cocoa grind totaled 91,876 tons in the first quarter, down 5.6% YoY.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The Conference Board said that its index of leading indicators rose 0.1%.

  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's index of manufacturing fell from -17.4 to -24.9.

  • Canada’s consumer prices rose 1.4%

  • Google reports a 30% rise in quarterly profits.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. consumer prices rose 0.3% in March and 4.0% YoY. Without food and energy, prices rose 0.2% in March and 2.4% YoY.

  • U.S. housing starts fell 11.9% MoM and 36.5% YoY

  • Consumer prices in the Euro area rose 3.6%YoY

  • China's GDP rose 10.6% YoY

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil fell 2.3 million barrels to 313.7 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline fell 5.5 million barrels
    Supplies of and heating oil fell 200,000 barrels.
    Refinery use fell from 83.0% to 81.4% of capacity.
    Gasoline demand rose 0.8% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 0.9%.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. producer prices rose 1.1% in March. Excluding food and energy costs, prices rose 0.2%

  • The New York region of the Federal Reserve announced that manufacturing activity beat trade expectations in April.

  • Consumer price s in the U.K. rose 2.5% YoY.

  • Consumer prices in France rose 3.5% YoY.

  • Cargill is building a million ton a year sugar refinery in Louisiana. The refinery is expected to start up in 2010.

  • (AP) -- Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Richard Fuld joined a growing chorus of investment bank executives in saying on Tuesday that the worst of the credit crisis is behind Wall Street.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear
For centuries—millennia—farmers have saved seeds from season to season: they planted in the spring, harvested in the fall, then reclaimed and cleaned the seeds over the winter for re-planting the next spring. Monsanto has turned this ancient practice on its head.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. retail sales rose 0.2% in March, better than expected.

  • U.K. producer prices rose 6.2%

  • Industrial production in the Euro area rose 0.3% MoM, and up 3.1% YoY.

  • The USDA reports that just 2% of the nation’s corn crop is planted as of Sunday, down from the seasonal average of 7%.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Chile Thirsts for Rain as Goats Drop, Mines Face Power Cuts
Chile is in the grip of the most damaging drought in a century. The water shortage is reducing output at hydroelectric dams, pushing up energy prices and forcing the government to consider restricting power supplies to mines and factories. Subsistence farmers' crops and livestock are dying.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index fell from 69.5 to 63.2, the lowest since 1982.

  • Results from industrial bellwether General Electric missed estimates, re-igniting concerns that corporate profits would not escape financial market turmoil.

  • YoY Japan’s producer prices rose 3.9%.

  • Greenspan says the U.S. economy is in recession, adding it would be appropriate to use public funds to reverse the effects of the nation's credit crisis.

  • (WSJ) Bush and his wife paid $221,635 in federal taxes on income of $923,807 for 2007, a year that included an advance for a children's book. The Cheneys' taxes were $602,651 on $3.04 million in income.

  • Lehman repackaged some of its unsold buyout loans into a new security that it used as collateral to obtain cash loans from the Fed. Other Wall Street investment banks, known for their “ingenuity”, are expected to follow suit.

  • Europe's cocoa grind rose 4.7% YoY.

  • Statistics says South Africa’s gold production fell 28% YoY

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac looking to help those who owe more than home's worth

The program by the largest U.S. financier and guarantor of home mortgages addresses homeowners with "upside-down" loans who owe more than their homes are worth. There are now an estimated 9 million U.S. homeowners in that predicament, according to Moody's

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. The trade gap expanded unexpectedly to $62.32 billion in February

  • The U.S. Labor Department said jobless claims fell 53,000 to 357,000, less than expected.

  • The U.S. government posted a budget deficit of $311.4 billion for the first half of the 2007-2008 fiscal year -- largest ever.

  • The unemployment rate in Australia rose from 4.0% to 4.1%.

  • Japan's machinery orders fell 12.7% in February.

  • Britain reduced its interest rate from 5.25% to 5.00%, as expected.

  • The European Central Bank kept its interest rate at 4.0%.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ed Seykota and The Whipsaw Song

Commodities Rise Most in 7 Weeks; Oil, Fuel, Corn Hit Records
(Bloomberg) -- Commodities jumped the most in two weeks as crude oil, gasoline and corn surged to records following U.S. government reports signaling demand for energy and grain still outpacing supplies.

Quick Overview

  • (FT) The world's leading banks have accepted much of the blame for the credit crisis in an attempt to stave off calls for more regulation, even as the International Monetary Fund slashed global growth estimates and warned that the US would suffer a recession.

  • GDP in the Euro area rose 2.6% in 2007.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil fell 3.2 million barrels to 316.0 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline fell 3.4 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 2.7 million barrels.
    Refinery use rose from 82.4% to 83.0% of capacity.
    Gasoline demand rose o.3% YoY
    Distillate demand was unchanged YoY.
    (Oil hits record above $112 after US inventories)

  • The USDA's estimate for 2007-2008 U.S. ending stocks of:
    Corn was reduced from 1.438 to 1.283 billion bushels.
    Soybeans were raised from 140 to 160 million bushels.
    Wheat is unchanged at 242 million bushels.
    Sugar was reduced from 1.978 to 1.950 million tons.
    Cotton was raised from 9.40 to 9.70 million bales.

  • The USDA's estimate for 2007-2008 world ending stocks of:
    Corn was reduced from 104 to 103 million tons.
    Soybeans were increased from 47.4 to 49.3 million tons.
    Wheat was increased from 110.4 to 112.5 million tons.
    Cotton was increased from 59.2 to 59.6 million bales.

  • The USDA increased its estimate of 2008 beef production from 26.4 to 26.6 billion pounds, up 0.6% YoY.

  • The USDA increased its estimate of 2008 pork production from 23.1 to 23.5 billion pounds, up 7.3% YoY.

  • The USDA increased its estimate of Florida's 2007-2008 orange crop from 167 to 169 million boxes.

  • Brazil estimated the upcoming coffee harvest at 44.2 million bags.

  • Gold Fields Mineral said that 2008 gold production will remain stable, suggesting to some, that this will result in a tightening of supply.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The National Association of Realtors said the index of pending home sales fell from 86.2 to 84.6 in February.

  • Home prices in the U.K. fell 2.5% in February.

  • The USDA said that 45% of the winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent, down from 64% last year.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Quick Overview

  • Japan's index of leading indicators increased from 36.4% to 50% in February.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Iceland contagion may spread far and wide
Fitch said countries that run current account deficits above 10pc of GDP for any length time almost always come to grief. East Asia's debt crisis in 1997 erupted before any state reached double digits. Iceland's deficit is now 16pc of GDP. Latvia is at 25pc, Bulgaria 19pc, Georgia 18pc, Estonia 16pc, Lithuania 14pc, Romania 14pc and Serbia 13pc. The region will need $337bn in foreign loans this year.

Borrowing in foreign currencies was all the rage in the heady days of the credit bubble. Most mortgages in Hungary over the last two years have been in Swiss francs, with the Balkans and Poland not far behind. This is now turning into slow torture. The franc has risen 5pc against the euro since October. The real level of the debt is ratcheting up.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. unemployment rate rose from 4.8% to 5.1% in March

  • Canada’s unemployment rate increased from 5.8% to 6.0% in March
    Canada’s consumer confidence fell from 96.5 to 94.5

  • Australia's retail sales fell 0.1% in February.

  • The Philippine government proposed a law that makes the hoarding of rice a crime punishable by life imprisonment.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The Institute of Supply Managements' index of U.S. services rose from 49.3 to 49.6 in March.

  • Retail sales volume in the Euro area fell 0.5%.

  • Service index in the Euro area dropped from 52.3 to 51.6.

  • Corn rose above $6 a bushel for the first time ever in Chicago, as cool wet weather in the Midwest threatens to delay planting.
False ideology at the heart of the financial crisis
By George Soros
Instead of reshuffling regulatory agencies, the authorities ought to prepare for the next shoes to drop. I shall mention only two. There is an esoteric financial instrument called credit default swaps. The notional amount of CDS contracts outstanding is roughly $45,000bn. To put it into perspective, that is about equal to half the total US household wealth and about five times the national debt. The market is totally unregulated and those who hold the contracts do not know whether their counterparties have adequately protected themselves. If and when defaults occur, some of the counterparties are likely to prove unable to fulfil their obligations. This prospect hangs over the financial markets like a sword of Damocles that is bound to fall, but only after some defaults have occurred

Daily caffeine 'protects brain'
Coffee may cut the risk of dementia by blocking the damage cholesterol can inflict on the body, research suggests

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. factory orders fell 1.3% in February, weaker than expected

  • Weak dollar boosts Long Beach (CA) exports 36%, but cuts imports 7.6% in February.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 7.4 million barrels to 319.2 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline fell 4.5 million barrels.
    Supplies of heating oil supplies fell 1.3 million barrels.
    Refinery use increased from 82.2% to 82.4% of capacity.
    Gasoline demand was unchanged.
    Distillate demand fell 3.1%.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The Institute of Supply Management said t its index of U.S. manufacturing increased from 48.3 to 48.6 in March,

  • U.S. Construction spending fell 0.3% MoM and 3.5% YoY.

  • The unemployment rate in the Euro area unchanged at 7.1%.