Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick Overview

  • More than 61 feet of snow has fallen in the 400-mile-long Sierra Nevada mountain range this season, second only to the 1950-51 season when a total of 65 feet fell, according to records kept by the California Department of Transportation.

  • China to build cotton reserves to encourage output. The announcement comes as farmers across China are becoming increasingly concerned that cotton prices could tumble from historic highs

  • (FT) US farmers, reaping record receipts for crops this year, are also harvesting $10.6bn in government payments.

  • Danish unemployment was 4.0% in February, down from a revised figure of 4.1% in January.

  • French budget deficit reached 7% of GDP in 2010, pushing up the country's debt-to-GDP ratio to 81.7%. France has said it will cut the deficit to 4.6% of GDP in 2012 and to the agreed EU limit of 3% of GDP by 2013.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Essar Group exercised an option to sell a 33 percent stake in Indian joint venture Vodafone Essar Ltd. to partner Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) for $5 billion, Vodafone said.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Radiation “far below” levels that pose a risk to humans was found in milk from California and Washington, the first signs Japan’s nuclear accident is affecting U.S. food, state and Obama administration officials said.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Coffee, sugar and cocoa prices will rise five- to 10-fold by 2014 because of shortages that will mean consumers getting “swamped” by food inflation, according to Superfund Financial. 

  • The speculation that an estimated 500,000 to 1 million tons of copper is hidden from the market in China is  likely inflated --  so says Commerzbank.

  • (Dow Jones) The USDA's lower-than-expected estimate for corn inventories as of March 1 fuels fears that season-end supplies will drop to a record low. Government could slash 50M-75M bushels from the latest season-end supply estimate of 675M in a crop report next week, says Rich Nelson at Allendale. Season-end supplies are already at a 15-year low, representing 18 days worth of corn, he notes.
  • New orders for U.S. manufactured goods fell by 0.1% in February

  • The Chicago PMI fell to 70.6% in March from 71.2% in February

  • First-time U.S. jobless claims drop 6,000  prior week's total revised up to 394,000

  • Chinas Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 53.4 in March from 52.2 in February

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weather warning America's housing market is in the doldrums
IF AMERICA'S housing market acts as a bellwether for its economy, then new monthly data released on March 29th by Standard & Poor's makes for particularly glum reading.
Kill teams in Afghanistan: the truth

Quick Overview

  • (FT)Russia plans to extend an export ban on cereals for several months in a move that will tighten further stretched agricultural commodities markets.
  • (FT) Nowhere is the unbridled enthusiasm for silver clearer than at the level of coins and small bars – the type of product most accessible to smaller investors.
  • (DJ)--The rally in the price of silver is running largely on ballooning investment and speculative interest rather than any improving fundamental picture.
  • Russia's gold output this year is likely to increase by 4.5% compared with 2010, to 211.4 metric tons, the gold producers union said.
  • (Bloomberg) -- Optimism among U.S. chief executive officers surpassed the highest level reached before the recession.
  • (Bloomberg) -- About 1.8 million homes that are delinquent or in foreclosure loom as additional supply.
  •  U.S. private-sector companies added 201,000 jobs in March
  • Crude oil stocks rose by 2.9 million barrels in the week ending March 25,

    Gasoline stocks fell by 2.7 million.

    Distillate fuel stocks rose 0.7 million barrels


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Living and Dying Downwind  The unleashed isotopes of concern from the damaged Japanese reactors - Iodine-131, Cesium-137, Strontium-90 and Plutonium-239 - are well known to the Marshall Islanders living downwind of the testing sites at Bikini and Enewetak atolls in the central Pacific, following sixty-seven A- and H-bombs exploded between 1946-58.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. monetary tightening will return as the key issue in 2011 and policy cannot stay loose indefinitely, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said

  • UK current account deficit grew to GBP10.5 billion in the final three months of the year, the biggest since the second quarter of 2009.

  • Hutchison Whampoa’s 2010 profit rose 47% YOY.

  • Bloomberg: Managers at U.K. oil giant BP PLC could face manslaughter charges for decisions made before the Gulf of Mexico explosion that killed 11 workers and triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history last spring.

  • Bloomberg: The cost of shipping liquefied natural gas may advance 67 percent to a five-year high as Japan replaces its crippled nuclear industry with power plants burning fossil fuels.
  • Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami and its ongoing nuclear crisis haven't affected the government's schedule for tenders to import grains.
  • Japan's jobless rate drops to 4.6% in February
  • Radiation levels in Fukushima No 2 were strong enough to prevent crews entering the area, stalling efforts to restore the unit’s electrical and fuel-cooling systems. Doses of 1,000 millisieverts per hour were detected in the water, Tepco and nuclear safety officials said.
  • Goldman Sachs: Japan's tsunami and nuclear reactor scare have put up to 20% of its meat production at risk.
  • Bloomberg: Copper will lead a rally in base metals this year as increased consumption in China reduces inventories and higher prices encourage stockpiling, according to researcher Brook Hunt, a Wood Mackenzie company.

  • Israel raises rates to 3%

  • Biggest restaurant chain? Sandwich group Subway is the new leader with 33,749 locations around the world, compared to 32,737 for McDonald’s, according to Subway spokesperson Les Winograd.

  • The prices of single-family homes in 20  cities fell 1.0% in January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. This is the sixth straight monthly decline.

  • S&P cut Portugal's credit rating to BBB- from BBB

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quick Overview

  • All Japanese ports affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern part of the country on March 11 have now reopened, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
  • (Bloomberg) -- Japan’s ruling party is considering abandoning a proposed corporate-tax cut and boosting levies on individuals to help pay for earthquake reconstruction and reduce the need to step up bond sales.

  • U.S personal income rose 0.3% in February
  • U.S personal consumption expenditures rose by 0.7%
  • The average American family's household net worth declined 23% between 2007 and 2009, the Federal Reserve said.
  • The National Association of Realtors reported that its pending home sales index rose 2.1% in February, but down 8.2 YoY.

  • South Korea's business sentiment plunged to 99.3 in April from 113.5 the previous month.

  • China's mobile phone operators added 19.83 million new subscribers in the first two months of this year, bringing the number of the country's cell phone users to 878.83 million.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quick Overview

  • A surge in radioactive contamination reportedly was detected Saturday in seawater near Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
  • Nuclear experts from Greenpeace have started monitoring radiation near the stricken Fukushima No. 1 atomic power plant. Greenpeace said it believed Japanese authorities may have been underplaying the scale of the disaster.
  • Germans throughout Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne participated in what are thought to be the country's largest-ever protests against nuclear power
  • The first signs of radioactive materials from the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan was found in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province on Thursday, China's nuclear authorities said on Saturday.
  •  RADIOACTIVE IODINE RELEASES FROM JAPAN’S FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI REACTORS MAY EXCEED THOSE OF THREE MILE ISLAND BY OVER 100,000 TIMES  Vermont Yankee, for example, contains more spent fuel in its pool than all four stricken pools at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Yet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not ordered any additional actions to protect this material.

  • The Department of Commerce revised its Q4 2010 estimate of GDP upward to 3.1%, up from its previous estimate of 2.8%. (You may want to get the antacids ready for the year ahead)

  • The U.S consumer-sentiment index fell to 67.5 in March

  • The USDA's confirmation of a large corn sale of 49 million bushels to unknown, China?

  • (Bloomberg) “The economy is looking pretty good,” Bullard told reporters in Marseille, France, today. “It is still reasonable to review QE2 in the coming meetings, especially this April meeting, and see if we want to decide to finish the program or to stop a little bit short.”
  • Charles Plosser: The Fed should hike interest rates from the current range near zero to 2.5% within a year.

  • The White House said Obama is committed to corporate tax reform, after the New York Times reported that GE owed no U.S. taxes in 2010.
  • GE's tax filing is apparently 24,000 pages long........................................................................

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What They're Covering Up at Fukushima

They say as you move away the radiation is reduced in inverse ratio to the square of the distance. I want to say the reverse. Internal irradiation happens when radioactive material is ingested into the body. What happens? Say there is a nuclear particle one meter away from you. You breathe it in, it sticks inside your body; the distance between you and it is now at the micron level. One meter is 1000 millimeters, one micron is one thousandth of a millimeter. That’s a thousand times a thousand: a thousand squared. That’s the real meaning of “inverse ratio of the square of the distance.” Radiation exposure is increased by a factor of a trillion. Inhaling even the tiniest particle, that’s the danger.
KO's Special Comment: Libya, Obama and the Five-Second Rule

Quick Overview

  • China is hiking taxes on the mining of rare earth elements amid moves to mitigate environmental damage, control production levels and limit exports. Taxes will rise to either 30 Yuan ($4.5) or 60 Yuan ($9) per ton, depending on whether the elements are categorized as light or heavy.
  • China, which controls about 95 percent of global shipments of rare earths, may start importing some of the material to meet rising domestic demand, according to Liu Junhua, a Chinese official.
  • MCP

  • The U.S. Interior Department said it would open up to mining land in Wyoming estimated to contain 758 million tons of low sulfur coal, in a move praised by the coal industry and condemned by environmental groups.

  • A collapse of the euro currency was not "unthinkable" if it comes under too much strain, Buffett said.

  • U.K retail sales fell by 0.8% in February - weaker than expected.

  • A 7.0-magnitude earthquake rattled Myanmar.

  • U.S. durable goods in February posted the biggest drop in four months, falling 0.9%.

  • The IGC estimates world grain production to rise 4.6% to an all-time high of 1.805bn tonnes. However, even this estimate, which assumed a 4% rise in sowings to a 13-year high of 537m hectares, would be insufficient to restore production above demand.

  • (WSJA) China may not be able to meet sharply rising food demand from its domestic resources, a senior Chinese agriculture official said, indicating room for further growth in imports.

Worst Texas Drought in 44 Years Eroding U.S. Wheat, Beef Supply
“Each day we don’t get rain, our potential yield goes down,” Anderson said. “If things turn perfect, I think we could have an average crop, but I’m talking about perfect from here on out. The odds of that are pretty slim.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quick Overview

  • Global refined copper supply was in a deficit of 305 thousand tons in 2010, according to International Copper Study Group (ICSG).
  • Rio Tinto expects global copper consumption, over the next 20-30 years, to exceed the total historical consumption to date.
  • Copper demand will exceed supply by 889,000 metric tons this year, Barclays estimated in a March 15 report.

  • Global merchandise trade grew 17% in Q4 of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009 reaching US$4.1 trillion, slightly up on previous quarter, reflected in air freight and sea freight volume increases. Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) led the way.

  • Starbucks Digital Network, debuts new content providers: The Economist, ESPN Insider and Mediabistro with Marvel Digital Comics coming soon.

  • A piece of drill pipe trapped inside the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer kept the device from sealing the BP well, U.S. investigators said Wednesday.

  • U.S. Crude oil stockpiles rose 2.1 million barrels to 352.8 million barrels, compared with an average survey estimate calling for a 1.7-million-barrel increase.
  • U.S. Gasoline stockpiles fell 5.3 million barrels to 219.7 million barrels.

  • U.S. sales of new homes fell 17% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 250,000, a record low. (The housing numbers are notoriously unreliable on a MoM basis) The median sales price was $202,100, while the average sales price was $246,000
    Inventories are at an 8.9 month supply.
  • (Bloomberg) Meltzer, who has written a two-volume history of the central bank, said “inflation is coming.” Although price increases are currently “buried,” Meltzer said inflation “will come out as soon as housing prices stop falling.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quick Overview

  • (Bloomberg) Goldman Sachs Group Inc. forecasts a global expansion of 4.8 percent this year, while JPMorgan calls for 4.4 percent.

  • U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said he is likely to be among the first Fed officials to press for tighter monetary policy when the time comes, warning that inflationary pressures are building.

  • OPEC said $120 oil is an “acceptable” level and will not hinder global growth.
  • Goldman Sachs predicts U.S. corn acreage this year at 92.1 million (37.3 million hectares), above the U.S. Department of Agriculture's current estimate for 92.0 million. The USDA will release its first plantings data for 2011 based on a farmer surveys on Mar. 31.
  • U.K. index of factory orders rose to 5, the highest since March 2008, from minus 8 in February.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quick Overview

  • The National Association of Realtors reported this morning that existing U.S. home sales fell 9.6% last month and prices dropped to the lowest level in nine years.

  • Citigroup announced a 1-for-10 reverse stock split and says it plans to pay a penny-a-share dividend.

  • The US Treasury Department is to begin selling off toxic assets worth an estimated $142bn, in an effort to close another chapter of the financial crisis.

  • The average British household has seen its real-terms income fall by 1.6% in the worst three-year squeeze since the early 1980s, research suggested today.
Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball. Further evidence of Barack `Obama’s “Sputnik moment”, you could say.
The megaquake connection: Are huge earthquakes linked? "If you have a quake of, let's say, 6.2 or larger, every sand grain on the planet is moving to the music of that event," Stein says.
(Kurzweil) How an MP3 can be used to hack your car
Hackers could gain access to a vehicle’s computer systems remotely, security experts from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington have found.
In one example, cell phone hardware installed in luxury cars was attacked, allowing the team to inject malicious code into the car’s electronic controls. In theory, hackers could then sell the car to a thief, giving them its location and unlocking it remotely. The team also managed to take control of the car using a Trojan app on a phone that used an Android operating system and had been paired with the car’s Bluetooth system.
The researchers were able to show that software embedded in an MP3 file could install itself into the car’s firmware, enabling similar exploits to those above. If the car had a self-parking system, it could in theory be driven away by the hacker.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Quick Overview

  • The U.S PPI rose 1.6% MoM, the most since June 2009. The core measure, which excludes food and energy costs rose 0.2%

  • New U.S. housing construction fell 22.5% in February to 479,000 units, just above the record low set in April 2009. Building permits fell 8.2% to a record low.

  • The U.S. current account trade deficit fell 9.7 percent to 113.3 billion U.S. dollars in the last quarter of 2010, the smallest imbalance since the end of 2009

  • The Eurozone annual inflation rate was is 2.4%

  • The British unemployment rate increased to 8.0 %

  • March 16 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve officials signaled they’re unlikely to expand a $600-billion bond purchase plan as the recovery picks up steam and the threat that inflation will fall too low begins to wane.

  • Portugal’s debt rating was cut by Moody’s to A3, four steps from junk.

  • GOP voted to stop the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Japan was warned over nuclear plants Wiki Leaks cables show.

  • Republicans are fast tracking a bill to bar federal funding of National Public Radio (In an emergency meeting)

  • 3/17 USDA announced the sale of 4.3 million bushels of old crop corn to "unknown destinations" this is probably China.

  • Salt prices in China jumped to ten fold in some cities on the false belief that it can guard against a possible radiation exposure.

  • The quake-tsunami-radiation-struck regions account for 6% of Japan's total agricultural land and 10% of the paddy area.

  • AIG said first-quarter catastrophes including the earthquake in Japan will cost the company about $1 billion.

  • AT&T agreed to buy T-Mobile  from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion

Monday, March 14, 2011

No updates this week.

Meltdown at Fukushima
The boiling-water reactors at Fukushima — 40 years old and designed by General Electric — have spent fuel pools several stories above ground adjacent to the top of the reactor. The hydrogen explosion may have blown off the roof covering the pool, as it's not under containment. The pool requires water circulation to remove decay heat. If this doesn't happen, the water will evaporate and possibly boil off. If a pool wall or support is compromised, then drainage is a concern. Once the water drops to around 5-6 feet above the assemblies, dose rates could be life-threatening near the reactor building. If significant drainage occurs, after several hours the zirconium cladding around the irradiated uranium could ignite.

Then all bets are off.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Quick Overview

  • (FT) AIR, the first of a handful of specialist catastrophe modelling agencies to release its Japan estimate, predicting losses of anything from $15bn to as much as $35bn.

  • In coming quarters the quake is likely to mean more demand for copper. Japan accounts for around 5% of global copper demand.

  • Inventories at U.S. businesses rose 0.9% in January.

  • The Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index fell to 68.2 in March from 77.5 in February.

  • China's CPI rose 4.9% YoY in February 2011

  • Michele Bachmann in a talk given to an audience in New Hampshire said the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired in their state.
  • A state of emergency was declared for all 77 Oklahoma counties as warm, dry winds fanned on the flames. Temperatures soared into the upper 70s on Friday in parts of Oklahoma, which is around 15 to 20 degrees above normal.

  • State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley has resigned after he correctly called the Pentagon’s handling of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is detained at the brig at  Quantico,“ridiculous,counterproductive and stupid.”

  • (Xinhuanet) -- A Chinese government adviser has recommended that the country use some of its 2.85 trillion US dollars of foreign exchange reserves, to buy more gold.
    Li Yining, a senior economist at Peking University and a CPPCC member, says China should use the precious metal to hedge against risks of foreign currency devaluation.
    Despite many academics making similar calls, an official with the country's foreign exchange administration recently said it wasn't possible for China to make big purchases in the spot gold market. He said that was because the government is afraid of squeezing out ordinary buyers, and pushing up the gold market prices.

  • DJ reports up to 20% of Japan's grain may be destroyed

  • When asked if the nuclear power accident in Japan could prove to be a turning point for the industry, Immelt (sorry but I’ve got the attention span of a flea) said: "There is now almost a 50-year track record of nuclear power that people can look back on and make their own judgments about."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quick Overview

  • Monetary contraction by the EU has set off a fresh spasm of the Eurozone bond crisis

  • U.S. first-time jobless claims rise by 26,000

  • The USDA estimates:
  • US wheat ending stock at 843 million bushels vs 818 last month
  • US corn ending stocks at 675 million bushels, unchanged from last month. World ending stocks at 123.1 MMT
  • US soy carryout at 140 million bushels. World ending stocks 58.33 MMT.

  • The USDA increased its forecast for Florida's 2010-11 orange crop by four million 90-lb. boxes to 142 million boxes. Each box yields 1.57 gallons.

  • Moody's lowered Spain's bond ratings to Aa2 from Aa1

  • China posts $7.3 billion trade deficit in Feb.

  • (Dow Jones)--China is likely to re-enter the copper market as a more significant buyer of the metal in the second quarter, at a time when global supplies are forecast to be in a deficit of 500,000-600,000 metric tons.

  • The Bank of England has held rates at 0.5% for the 25th month in a row, despite inflation running at 4% - double the target rate.

  • U.S. foreclosure filings dropped to a 3-year low in February.

  • Reports of Saudi police firing on protesters added a new worry.

  • Starbucks (SBUX) is trading at an all time high.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

No update today

Quick Overview

  • Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced a bill that would repeal the 45 cents-per-gallon ethanol tax credit.

  • Sleep-Deprived People Make Risky Decisions Based on Too Much Optimism. A night of sleep deprivation leads to increased brain activity in brain regions that assess positive outcomes, while at the same time, this deprivation leads to decreased activation in the brain areas that process negative outcomes, say scientists at two Duke University medical schools.

  • The U.S. government has recovered 70% of total Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) disbursements, said the U.S. Treasury Department

  • The United States remains the world's largest manufacturing economy, generating 1.6 trillion dollars of output, 11 % of the country's gross domestic product, according to a report. "Industrial restructuring has intensified, making U.S. manufacturing more competitive than ever," said LACEDC Chief Economist Nancy D. Sidhu, the report's author. "The U.S. share of global manufacturing has remained at or above 20 % for most of the past two decades.”It is a myth that manufacturing is disappearing from the region and that all operations are moving to countries with low-cost labor, the report noted.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Oil markets brace for Saudi 'rage' as global spare capacity wears thin
The world's economic fate now hangs on the success of Wahabi repression

Quick Overvview

  • Japan’s January core machinery orders rose 4.2% MoM and 5.9% YoY.

  • The French trade deficit in January widened to 5.89 billion Euros (8.21 billion U.S. dollars) from 5.6 billion Euros (7.8 billion dollars) in December.

  • YoY import cargo volume through major us ports is expected to be up 11 % in March, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker Report.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Quick Overview

  • (Bloomberg) -- China should use economic and administrative measures to curb the production and exports of corn-based products including starch and alcohol, to guarantee supply to livestock and poultry.

  • China will boost its meat and sugar reserves and expand the scope of commodities reserves, the Ministry of Commerce said.

  • Saudis mobilize thousands of troops to quell growing revolt.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Global harvests of corn and wheat may fall short of demand again if the La Nina weather event persists through July, tightening global grain supplies, according to forecaster Telvent DTN Inc.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Russia’s ban on grain exports means the country’s farmers will plant the fewest wheat fields in four years.

  • (FT) The US Mint has reported record sales of silver American Eagle coins in the past two months. Sales hit 9.7m ounces in January and February combined – more than was sold in an entire year in 2005.

  • The U.S unemployment rate fell to 8.9% in February, down from 9.0% the previous month.

  • Moody's downgraded Greece to B1 from Ba1, and kept its outlook negative.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Quick Overview

  • Trichet said on Thursday that the ECB may raise interest rates next month due to mounting inflationary pressures

  • The global sugar market will be in deficit for a third year said Czarnikow. The shortfall expected is 3.7 million tons.

  • The U.S. Energy Department said crude oil inventories fell 364,000 barrels to 346.4 million.

  • First time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 20,000 to 368,000 in the week ending Feb. 26.

  • MoM retail trade volume in the Eurozone gained 0.4 % in January

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Next Update Thursday (THINKING)

I Can’t Think!
The Twitterization of our culture has revolutionized our lives, but with an unintended consequence—our overloaded brains freeze when we have to make decisions.

Quick Overview

  • The ISM’s factory index rose to 61.4 from 60.8.

  • Bernanke said downside risks to the recovery have receded, and the risk of deflation has become negligible.

  • Ford February US sales rose 14%. GM's US auto sales rose 46%

  • The global cocoa market is forecast to swing into a surplus of 119,000 metric tons in the 2010-11 crop marketing year compared with a revised 66,000-ton deficit in 2009-10, the International Cocoa Organization said.

  • Gold prices rose to within $10 of their record high on Tuesday, while silver hit a 31-year high.

  • (Bloomberg)Russia, the world’s biggest palladium producer, is shipping the smallest amount of metal to Switzerland in 15 years