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Friday, February 24, 2017

Count Your Pants and Shirts

Financial Review

Count Your Pants and Shirts

DOW + 34 = 20,810
SPX + 0.99 = 2362
NAS – 25 = 5835
RUT – 9 = 1394
10 Y – .03 = 2.39%
OIL + .77 = 54.36
GOLD + 12.10 = 1250.30

The Dow Industrial Average hit another record high close, its 10th record in a row, its longest run of record closes since 1987. Not counting record closes, the last time the Dow logged gains for 10 straight sessions was March 2013. The S&P 500 finished up a fraction of a point and just short of Tuesday’s closing record of 2,365. The benchmark index set an intraday record of 2,368.00 before retreating.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said today that he has asked his staff to explore having the U.S. government issue debt maturities as long as 50 years or 100 years. In an interview on CNBC, Mnuchin said he was not ready to make a “formal announcement” of a 50-year or a 100-year bond.

Mnuchin repeated it was the Trump administration’s goal to have Congress complete work on a tax-reform package by August. Trump has promised a “phenomenal” tax plan by early March to cut business taxes. Paying for that “phenomenal” tax plan could require an equally phenomenal rate of economic growth that experts, including the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, say may not be possible.

Mnuchin said the administration is aiming for a 3% or higher annual growth rate, but said it make take a couple of years, probably 2018, before we see an “engine of growth” from tax reform and regulatory relief.

Mnuchin says the Treasury has no plans now to label China a currency manipulator. Later in the day, Trump called China a “grand champion” in currency manipulation.  Mnuchin also agreed with the sentiment that the stock market is a report card for how the Trump administration is doing. “Absolutely,” he said, “It’s a mark-to-market business.”

And in the first month, the administration gets the grade of a solid A. Of course, it still has a long way to go to match the 17.4% annual gains sported by the Clinton Administration. And Mnuchin should be wise enough to realize the market is fickle.

Axios reported that President Trump‘s infrastructure plans may be pushed back until 2018. Axios, citing Republican sources, said that putting off any consideration of these plans would give lawmakers on Capitol Hill more breathing room to deal with a legislative calendar that already includes a Supreme Court nomination, tax reform and repealing Obamacare.

Several construction stocks did not fare well today. Shares of Fluor, Eagle Materials, Quanta Services and Vulcan Materials all dropped at least 1.5 percent. U.S. Steel’s stock dropped more than 7 percent.

The Justice Department has rescinded a memo issued by the Obama administration that phased out the use of private contractors to run federal prisons.

The president met today with company executives to discuss how to create jobs, which is nothing unusual, except that five of those companies are laying off thousands of workers as they shift production abroad. Those companies include General Electric, Caterpillar, 3M, United Technologies and Dana. The big idea from the execs was to cut the business tax rate.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose slightly more than expected last week, but the four-week average of claims fell to its lowest level since 1973. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 244,000 for the week ended Feb. 18. The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, fell 4,000 to 241,000 last week.

The American Petroleum Institute reported an 884,000-barrel decline in U.S. crude supplies last week, a 893,000-barrel decline in gasoline stocks and a 4.2 million barrel decrease in distillate inventories.

Official inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows a build of 600,000 barrels, that was less than expected. Last week, EIA’s report put crude stockpiles at a record high of 518.1 million barrels. This week’s figures were for a total inventory size of 518.7 million barrels, still above seasonal limits.

Oil producers, in and outside of OPEC, have largely kept their promise to reduce collective output by 1.8 million barrels a day starting in January to tackle a global supply glut. However, a steady increase in US crude production and inventories is stoking concerns that global supply remains bloated despite these cuts.

The United States is expected to become a net exporter of natural gas on an average annual basis by 2018, per a recently released Annual Energy Outlook update from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The transition to net exporter is driven by declining pipeline imports, growing pipeline exports, and increasing exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The United States is also projected to become a net exporter of total energy in the 2020s, in large part because of increasing natural gas exports.

Low energy prices during 2016 forced Exxon Mobil to lower its estimate of its proved oil and gas reserves. The company had to shave off nearly 15%, or 3.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent, of untapped crude. It comes a day after ConocoPhillips de-booked more than a billion barrels of its oil sands bitumen reserves, citing weak global energy prices.

Wind plant manufacturing is the fastest growing job sector in the U.S. economy — and this employment has been concentrated in the “Rust-Belt” states, pivotal in swinging the presidential election. Similarly, domestic solar companies are growing 12 times faster than the overall job creation rate in the U.S. economy.

In total, renewable energy sector employment in the United States grew 6 percent in 2016 to 769,000 jobs, while employment in gas, coal and oil exploration and extraction combined fell 18 percent, to 375,000 jobs.

European budget carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle said it would begin flying single-aisle planes nonstop from the U.S. to Europe starting in June. The initial flights will connect Edinburgh, Scotland to Stewart International Airport in New York, Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island, and Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Connecticut.  The airline is promising fares as low as $65.

McDonald’s diners will soon be able to quench their thirst for as little as a dollar. Starting in April, soft drinks of any size will cost a buck, while McCafe specialty drinks will sell for $2. McDonald’s has been looking for ways to boost profits and sales, making its popular breakfast items available all day, and recently rolling out a smaller and jumbo-sized version of its iconic Big Mac.

Jack In The Box missed estimates by 7 cents with adjusted quarterly profit of $1.18 per share, and the restaurant chain’s revenue fell short of forecasts as well.

The Model 3 electric sedan remains on schedule and will reach production of about 5,000 units per week by the end of the year. Tesla reported a wider-than-expected loss of 69 cents per share, compared with the consensus estimate for a 43-cent loss. CEO Elon Musk also announced he will likely seek more capital from investors.

Carlos Ghosn, longtime CEO of Nissan who saved the automaker from near-collapse, will leave his current post to oversee Nissan’s alliances with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.

Square lost 4 cents per share for its latest quarter, smaller than the 9 cents forecast by analysts, while the mobile payments company’s revenue came in slightly above estimates. Square saw a better than 34 percent jump in payment volume compared with a year earlier.

Nvidia shares closed down 9.3% after a round of bearish analyst comments prompted investors to take profits from the high-flying chip maker, which has more than tripled over the past 12 months. Instinet downgraded the stock to reduce from buy, while BMO Capital Markets cut its price target to $85 from $100.

Shares of HP Inc. rallied 8.6% after quarterly results topped Wall Street estimates.

Also, shares of First Solar led S&P 500 gainers, rising 11%.

Shares of L Brands sank 16% after the Victoria’s Secret parent late Wednesday issued weaker-than-forecast guidance for 2017. Might be feeling the pain from slowing mall traffic.

Hormel Foods shares lost 5.4% after the food company cut its earnings forecast for the year following a sharp decline in profit from its Jennie-O turkey brand.

Kohl’s Corp. shares, which had traded higher earlier after earnings beating forecasts, closed down 2.1%.

The Powerball lottery jackpot reached $435 million last night. A winning ticket was sold in Indiana. For the rest of us – back to work.

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