Saturday, May 31, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. personal incomes rose 0.2% in April

  • U.S. Consumer spending rose 0.2%.

  • The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment fell from 62.6 to 59.8 in May,

  • The Chicago purchasing managers' index increased from 48.3 to 49.1 in May,

  • The U.S. core rate of personal consumption expenditures, an inflation gauge, rose 0 .1% in April and up 2.1% YoY.

  • Unemployment rate for the Euro area remained at 7.1% in April. Consumer prices the Euro area rose 3.6% YoY

  • Japan's consumer prices fell 0.1% in April, and rose 0.8% YoY.
    Japan’s unemployment rate rose from 3.8% to 4.0% in April.
    Japan’s household spending fell 2.7% YoY.

  • YoY GDP in India rose 8.8%.
    India’s Finance Minister described inflation at 8.1% as worrisome.
    Canada’s GDP fell 0.1% QoQ, but rose 1.7% YoY.

  • Pakistan’s central bank expects economic growth will come between 5.5% and 6% in fiscal 2008, down from 7% the previous year. The central bank forecasts that inflation would reach between 11% and 12% this year, up from 7.8 percent in 2007

  • The International Grains Council released its latest estimate of world corn production at 763 million tonnes. This is up 1 million tonnes from their earlier estimate, but is down from last year's 777 million because of wet and cold weather in the US.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. GDP rose 0.9% in the first quarter and up 2.5% YoY

  • U.S. jobless claims rose 4,000 last week to 372,000

  • Australia’s leading indicators fell 0.4% in March

  • Germany's unemployment rate improved from 8.0% to 7.8% in May, the lowest in over 15 years.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil fell 8.8 million barrels to 311.6 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline fell 3.2 million barrels.
    Supplies of heating oil rose 600,000 barrels.
    Refinery use remained at 87.9% of capacity.
    Gasoline demand fell 0.4% YoY.
    Distillate demand rose 1.2% YoY.
    Underground supplies of natural gas rose 87 billion cubic feet last week to 1.701 trillion. Supplies are down 16% YoY.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oil crisis triggers fevered scramble for the world's seabed
Is it in the interests of mankind to tap deep-sea reserves? We may have no choice. The world has consumed one trillion barrels of oil already. The second trillion is located but not yet tapped, and will take us to 2035 or so. The third trillion eludes us. Any suggestions?

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Durable goods orders fell 0.5% in April, better than expected. Excluding transport orders rose 2.5%.

  • (Bloomberg) Morgan Stanley said that Brent oil from the North Sea could ``easily'' reach $150 a barrel.

  • Foreign exchange trading volumes surged 36% from 2006 to 2007.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The Conference Board said its monthly measure of consumer confidence fell to 57.2 from 62.3 in April -below Wall Street's estimate of 60.0.

  • Australia’s, Rabobank, lowered its estimate of the country's wheat crop from 24.5 to 22.0 million tons, due to dry weather.

  • China may reduce soybean-oil import tariffs from the current 9% to boost domestic supply, analysts said.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Corn Costs Signal Biggest Beef Surge Since 2003 as Herds Shrink
May 27 (Bloomberg) -- Enjoy your next steak, because prices from Shanghai to San Francisco are only going up.

The highest corn prices since at least the Civil War, based on Chicago Board of Trade data, mean U.S. feedlots are losing money on every animal they sell, discouraging production as rising global incomes increase meat consumption and a declining dollar spurs exports.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. existing home sales fell 1% MoM to a 4.89 million-unit annual rate, the National Association of Realtors said.
    The median price of an existing home fell to $202,300 from $219,900 in April 2007.
    The number of previously owned unsold homes on the market at the end of April jumped to 4.55 million from 4.12 million in March. This represented 11.2 months' supply at the current sales pace.

  • Index of services and manufacturing in Europe fell from 51.9 to 51.1 in May.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims fell 9,000 last week to 365,000.

  • U.S. Home prices fell 1.7% in the first three months of 2008 from the previous quarter -- the largest quarterly price decline on record. YoY prices fell 3.1%.

  • The U.S. DoE said that underground supplies of natural gas rose 85 billion cubic feet last week to 1.614 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are down 16% YoY

  • Canada’s retail sales rose 0.1% MoM.

  • U.K.'s retail sales fell 0.2% MoM.

  • Euro zones industrial new orders fell 1.0% MoM and down 2.5% YoY.

  • YoY Chinese demand for diesel has increased 13%.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quick Overview

  • In its latest minutes, the Fed cut its forecast for economic growth in 2008, and warned of higher inflation and unemployment, but also signaled it was unlikely to cut interest rates again soon.

  • Ukraine has lifted all restrictions on exports of wheat and other grains.

  • Israel’s Prime Minister Olmert urged the United States to impose a naval blockade on Iran.

  • YoY Canada’s consumer prices rose 1.7% in April.

  • The U.S. DOE said:
    Supplies of crude oil fell 5.4 million barrels to 320.4 million barrels
    Supplies of gasoline fell 800,000 barrels
    Supplies of heating oil rose 400,000 barrels.
    Refinery use increased from 86.6% to 87.9% of capacity.
    Gasoline demand fell 0.4% YoY
    Distillate demand rose 0.7% YoY.

Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth
America's war against Iraq had its roots in many improving impulses. According to John McCain and Alan Greenspan, however, the taproot sank into Iraq's oil fields; America wanted to secure its access to cheap oil, they say.

Unfortunately, this program - like all government meddling - backfired. The price of oil was only $25 a barrel when the war began in September of 2003. Yesterday, it hit $130 a barrel. And the war itself is expected to cost the nation $1 trillion or more. For all its efforts, the United States secured the most expensive energy in world history. (And then pushed food prices up to their highest levels in modern times too - keep reading…)

China, meanwhile, decided to take the capitalist road. Instead, of using military force to get oil, it simply bought it on the open market. It has sent its agents to secure, peacefully and honestly, long-term contracts for oil and the other natural resources it needs to feed its ravenous economy. Its buying is driving up prices for everything. But what would you expect?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. producer price index rose 0.2% in April and up 6.5% YoY. Excluding food and energy, prices rose 0.4% in April and up 3.0% YoY.

  • The Chicago Fed's index of national activity fellfrom -.98 to -1.17 in April

  • Canada’s wholesale sales rose 0.6% MoM.

  • Japan's index of service rose 0.3% in March.

  • Germany’s Producer prices rose 1.1% in April.

  • The USDA predicts world sugar production down 2% in 2008-2009, with ending stocks down 3.5 million to 41.44 million tons -- 25% of annual use.

  • The World Gold Council said world gold demand totaled 701 tons in the first quarter of 2008, down 16% YoY. World mine production totaled 593 tons.

  • T. Boone Pickens predicted crude would reach $150 a barrel this year.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The Conference Board's index of leading indicators rose 0.1% in April.

  • Construction output in the Euro zone fell 2.2% in March and down 1.4% YoY.

  • Data Quick said home sales in southern California rose 22% in April.

  • The USDA said:
    73% of the corn crop was planted, down from its five-year average of 88%.
    27% of the soybean crop was planted, down from its five-year average of 47%.
    94% of the spring wheat crop was planted.
    45% of the winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent, down from 47% a week ago.
    49% of the cotton crop was planted, down from its five-year average of 59%.

  • The cost of scanning 100% of inbound containers to prevent terrorists smuggling into the U.S. has been estimated at more than US$500 per unit.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Barclays gets bullish over American shares
Barclays' closely-watched Signpost report says the US is at last beginning to claw its way out of trouble, while investors no longer seem spooked by every piece of bad news.

‘Superfood’ celery combats brain diseases The compounds luteolin and diosmin appear to block the inflammation that causes the brains of victims to start shrinking and dying. In animal experiments they reduced the levels of amyloid beta, which forms the sticky deposits that build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Home construction rose 8.2% in April, making the biggest increase in two years. However, the rise was driven by a surge in multifamily housing, while single-family starts dropped.

  • The University of Michigan said that its consumer sentiment index fell from 62.6 to 59.5 in May.

  • Japan's GDP rose 3.3% in the January to March quarter.

  • Canada’s retail sales rose 9.4%.

  • Hong Kong’s GDP speeded up in the first quarter, rising 1.8% from the previous quarter, and 7.1% YoY.

  • Freight cost for commodities such as iron ore and grains rose to a fresh all-time high Friday.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In particular, changes made in CPI methodology during the Clinton Administration understated inflation significantly, and, through a cumulative effect with earlier changes that began in the late-Carter and early Reagan Administrations have reduced current social security payments by roughly half from where they would have been otherwise. That means Social Security checks today would be about double had the various changes not been made. In like manner, anyone involved in commerce, who relies on receiving payments adjusted for the CPI, has been similarly damaged. On the other side, if you are making payments based on the CPI (i.e., the federal government), you are making out like a bandit.

Quick Overview

  • U.S industrial production fell 0.7% MoM, matching the largest decline since the one following Hurricane Katrina

  • The Fed’s Philadelphia's index of manufacturing improved from -24.9 to -15.6 in May

  • The Fed’s New York's index of manufacturing fell from +.63 to -3.23 in May,

  • GDP in the Euro area rose 0.7% in the first quarter of 2008 and up 2.2% YoY.

  • Japan's machinery orders fell 8.3% in March.

  • Canada’s manufacturing fell 1.6% on the month.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said underground supplies of natural gas rose 93 billion cubic feet to 1.529 trillion cubic feet.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Consumer price index rose 0.2% in April and 3.9% YoY-- less than expected. Excluding food and energy prices rose 0.1% in April, and 2.3% YoY.

  • U.S. Mortgage applications rose 2.9% last week.

  • YoY, China's industrial production rose 15.7% in April

  • Industrial production in the Euro area fell 0.2% in March.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil inventories rose 200,000 barrels last week to 325.8 million barrels.
  • Supplies of gasoline fell 1.7 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies rose 400,000 barrels.
    Refinery use rose from 85.0% to 86.6% of capacity.
    Gasoline demand fell 0.2% YoY.
    Distillate demand rose 0.8% YoY.

Dry bulk market in 'riot mode' THE dry bulk market is officially in “riot mode” this week, according to one shipbroker, as freight rates climb to record highs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. retail sales fell 0.2% MoM, but rose 2.0% YoY.

  • YoY consumer process rose 3.0% in the U.K.

  • YoY China's retail sales rose 22% in April.

  • The USDA said yesterday that 51% of the corn crop was planted, down from the five-year average of 77%.

    YoY South Africa’s gold production fell 10.1% in the first quarter

Monday, May 12, 2008

Quick Overview

  • China's April inflation rose to 8.5%.

  • China’s Sichuan province was hit by a magnitude-7.9 earthquake, the nation's strongest in 58 years.

  • YoY U.K.'s producer prices rose 7.5%

  • YoY India’s industrial production rose 3.0% in March.

  • The ISO estimates 2007-08 world sugar production at 8 million ton surplus, down from its earlier estimate of 9.3 million ton surplus. For 2008-9 they expect a small production deficit.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The global slump of 2008-09 has begun as poison spreads
The bears at Société Générale are going into Siberian hibernation, issuing an "Ice Age" alert. They have slashed exposure to global equities to a minimum 30pc for the first time ever.

Their weighting of super-safe "AAA" government bonds has been raised to a maximum 50pc. This is a bet on gruelling "Japanese" deflation. The bank expects equities to fall by 50pc to 75pc.

"Nowhere and nothing will be immune. We are on the cusp of an equity meltdown that will slash and shred portfolios," said Albert Edward, SG's global strategist.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Home truths
It is not hard to see why politicians are so keen to help. For all the hope that the worst may be over in financial markets, the housing mess is getting nastier. Nationally, house prices have fallen between 3% and 13% depending on which index you look at. And they have further to sink. The stock of unsold homes is huge and the ratio of prices to rents suggests that property is still expensive (see article). Some 1.5m households went into foreclosure in 2007, up 50% from the year before. And with 9m people owing more than their house is worth, that figure is likely to soar.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. trade deficit narrowed 5.7% to $58.21 billion in March, more than expected.

  • Canada's unemployment rate increased from 6.0% to 6.1% in April

  • USDA estimates for the 2008-2009 season ending stocks:
    Corn is 763 million bushels, down from 1.383 billion bushels in 2007-2008.
    Soybeans are 185 million bushels, up from 145 million bushels in 2007-2008.
    Wheat is 483 million bushels, up from 239 million bushels in 2007-2008.
    Sugar is 1.336 million tons, down from 1.757 million tons in 2007-2008.
    Cotton is 5.60 million bales, down from 9.90 million bales in 2007-2008.

  • USDA 2008-2009 world ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn is 99 million tons, down from 110 million tons in 2007-2008.
    Wheat is 124 million tons, up from 110 million tons in 2007-2008.
    Cotton is 56 million bales, down from 62 million bales in 2007-2008.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Greenspan says worst of credit crisis over: sources
Greenspan also said house prices still had a long way to fall and that it was unlikely they would stabilize by year-end,

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Wholesale inventories fell 0.1%.

  • The Bank of England kept its interest rate unchanged at 5.0%.

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

  • Canada’s housing starts fell 12% MoM.

  • Australia's unemployment rate rose from 4.1% to 4.2% in April.

  • In a bid to rein in soaring prices, India has extended its futures trading ban to four more food commodities.

  • Ahead of the United States Department of Agriculture's next production and stocks update, Allendale Inc. is projecting an increase in soybean stocks, a decrease for corn and the biggest U.S. wheat crop since 2003.

  • Wal-Mart Stores reported a 3.2% climb in U.S. same-store sales.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Baltic Dry Index Exceeds 10,000 for First Time Since December
``The market is very, very close to equilibrium in terms of demand and supply,'' said Alex Gray, London-based chief executive officer of Clarkson Securities Ltd., a unit of the world's biggest shipbroker. ``What we are seeing at the moment is a building up of pressure around iron-ore shipments and grains.''

Quick Overview

  • U.S. worker productivity rose at an annual rate of 2.2% in the first quarter.

  • U.S. unit labor costs rose at an annual rate of 2.2% in the first quarter.

  • U.S. pending home sales index fell 1.0% in March and down 20.1% YoY.

  • Retail sales volume in the Euro area fell 0.4% in March.

  • U.K.'s factory output fell 0.5% in March.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 5.7 million barrels last week to 325.6 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline rose 800,000 barrels
    Supplies of heating oil rose 100,000 barrels.
    Refinery use fell from 85.4% to 85.0%.
    Gasoline demand rose 0.3% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 0.5% YoY.

  • Statistics Canada said:
    Wheat stocks were down 32% YoY.
    Canola stocks were down 22% YoY.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Quick Overview

  • An index of services in the U.K. fell from 52.1 to 50.4 in April, weaker than expected.

  • The Reserve Bank of Australia met and kept its interest rate unchanged at 7.25%.

  • (WSJ) is very likely that April 2008 will mark the bottom of the U.S. housing market. Yes, the housing market is bottoming right now.

Goldman's Murti Says Oil `Likely' to Reach $150-$200 (Update4)
``The possibility of $150-$200 per barrel seems increasingly likely over the next six-24 months, though predicting the ultimate peak in oil prices as well as the remaining duration of the upcycle remains a major uncertainty,'' the Goldman analysts wrote in the report dated May 5.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The Institute of Supply Management's index of services increased from 49.6 to 52.0.

  • (WSJ) Casino operator Tropicana Entertainment is expected to file for bankruptcy protection. It would be the largest corporate bankruptcy of the year, and the latest blow to Las Vegas, which has seen gambling revenues decline and major building projects canceled or delayed.

  • (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp will likely lower its purchase price for Countrywide Financial Corp , at least two analysts said, with Friedman, Billings Ramsey saying the bank may cut its price to the $0 to $2 level or even walk away from the deal.

  • The USDA said as of May 4th corn is 27% planted. (5-year average is 59%)
Metals Surge as Rationing Cuts Power at Biggest Mines (Update1)
May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Chile's worst drought in five decades and power rationing from South Africa to China mean the price of aluminum, gold, copper and platinum will keep climbing as the lights go out in the world's biggest mines.

Zinc Price May Jump More Than 50% in Five Years, Macquarie Says
Rapid supply growth in the near term notwithstanding, ``lower zinc prices and difficulty in securing financing are likely to limit zinc mine production growth in the longer-term, from 2010 onwards,'' Macquarie said. There could be a shortage of refined zinc by 2011 ``which could become extremely large by 2012,'' it said.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. personal incomes rose 0.3% in March

  • U.S. consumer spending rose 0.4%.

  • The Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing index out at 48.6.

  • U.S. construction spending fell 1.1% MoM and 2.4% YoY.

  • YoY Ford’s vehicle sales fell 12% and sales for GM fell 16%

  • (WSJ) Commercial banks continued this week to tap extensively the Fed's discount window but reduced their borrowings slightly from last week, a sign that credit strains may be improving somewhat.