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Friday, 29 April 2016

US Economy Just Sputtering Along

U.S. economy stalls in first quarter as activity weakens broadly

U.S. economic growth braked sharply in the first quarter to its slowest pace in two years as consumer spending softened and a strong dollar continued to undercut exports, but a pick-up in activity is anticipated given a buoyant labor market.
Gross domestic product increased at a 0.5 percent annual rate, the weakest since the first quarter of 2014, the Labor Department said on Thursday in its advance estimate. Growth was also held back by businesses stepping up efforts to reduce unwanted merchandise clogging up warehouses.
Cheap oil, which has pressured the profits of oil field companies like Schlumberger (SLB.N) and Halliburton (HAL.N), remained a drag, sending business spending tumbling at its quickest pace since the second quarter of 2009, when the recession ended.
Almost all sectors of  the economy  weakened in the first quarter, with housing the lone star.
"The economy essentially stalled in the first quarter, but that doesn't mean it is faltering," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. "Some of the restraints to growth are dissipating. Growth is likely to accelerate going forward."

China’s Biggest Oil Company Posts 52% Decline in 2015 Profit

Total oil, gas output rose 1.8% to 259.5 million metric tons China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s biggest oil and gas producer and the parent of PetroChina Co., said profit fell 52 percent as lower oil prices punished global explorers. Profit last year fell to 82.5 billion yuan ($12.7 billion), the Beijing-based company said in a statement on its website Wednesday. The unlisted, state-owned company didn’t specify whether the profit is pretax, gross or net. Revenue fell 26 percent to 2 trillion yuan, while oil and gas output rose 1.8 percent to 259.5 million metric tons, it said. “We properly dealt with all the risks and challenges and steered the company from the model of chasing speedy expansion to a model focusing more on quality growth,” Chairman Wang Yilin said in the statement. CNPC owns oil and gas assets in politically unstable areas, including Sudan, and controls 86 percent […]

Saudi Aramco sets financing plans for industrial push

A surge of volatility in China’s once placid commodities futures markets has rattled industrial players who use them for hedging, with some taking losses or cutting exposure, driven out by a flood of speculative money from hedge funds and retail investors. NEW YORK Expectations for chemical company earnings have been boosted by a combination of lower crude oil costs during the commodity’s slump along with strong demand for plastics that are used to make everything from shampoo bottles to grocery bags. LONDON Major oil companies’ first-quarter results have so far not been as bad as feared but volatile trading operations and a likely fall in production mean any respite could be short lived. NEW YORK Oil prices jumped about 3 percent on Wednesday, hitting new highs for 2016 as the dollar weakened after the Federal Reserve announced it would leave U.S. interest rates unchanged. HOUSTON Exxon Mobil Corp […]

New oil discovery in Gulf of Mexico

 Otto Energy Ltd., a company with headquarters in Australia, said it made an oil discovery in the Gulf of Mexico that was productive enough to keep drilling. The company said it ran through columns of oil at its SM-71 well in the Gulf of Mexico and decided to deepen its drilling activity to ensure the entire targeted region will be evaluated. The cost to drill deeper, the company added, is within the original spending target. Matthew Allen, the company’s managing director, said he was “very encouraged” by the results so far. Otto Energy describes the prospect as part of a regional “low cost, high-chance-of-success” opportunity in […] 

Since mid-2015, corporate earnings and the S&P 500 have been moving in the complete opposite direction. Last time they had a complete negative relationship, it was back in 2009—when the stock market crashed.

Stock Market Crash: These Charts Are a Grim Warning for Investors

3 Charts Investors Shouldn’t Overlook

Mainstream stock advisors will never tell you this, but it’s true: the odds of an economic collapse and stock market crash in 2016 are stacking up higher each day.
When I want to know where the stock market is headed, I look at three indicators and they are very powerful predictors over a longer-term period. Those indicators are copper prices, corporate earnings, and how investors treat utilities stocks compared to technology stocks.

Stock Market Crash

Please look at the chart below of copper prices and the S&P 500. At the bottom of the chart, I have plotted the correlation between the two.
Since at least 2013, copper prices and the S&P 500 have had a positive correlation. You see, the stock market is generally considered a good indicator of economic growth/industrial production. And with copper being an industrial metal, the positive correlation between the two makes perfect sense.

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