US FINANCIAL MARKET
U.S. Stocks Advance as Jobless Claims Rise – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- U.S. stocks rose Thursday, lifted by gains across the S&P 500.
- The broad index rose 1.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.9%, or about 270 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.7%. Ten of the S&P 500’s 11 sectors were recently in the green.
- Global markets have been volatile this week amid a streak of mixed economic data.
- A report Thursday showed the number of new applications for U.S. unemployment benefits rose to a six-month high last week, a sign that growth in the labor market is slowing down.
- Investors widely expect economic data to weaken as the Federal Reserve continues raising interest rates in an effort to rein in inflation. What will be key, analysts say, is how quickly or slowly the data worsen.
- Many are hoping that central bank policy will pull inflation back from multidecade highs without tipping the U.S. into recession.
- Investors will next watch for Friday’s employment report. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expect U.S. employers to have added 250,000 jobs in June, down from a rate of 390,000 in May.
- In bond markets, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was recently at 2.956%, up from 2.911% on Wednesday. Bond yields rise when prices fall. The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell slightly from a week earlier to 5.3%.
- Overseas, the British pound rose 0.7% against the dollar after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson stepped down, following a 36-hour period in which more than 50 ministers and senior government aides resigned.
- The pound remains near its weakest level in years and is down more than 11% against the dollar in 2022.
- The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 1.8%, while Germany’s DAX index rose 1.9%.
- European markets have calmed in recent days after the Norwegian government intervened to end an oil workers’ strike that threatened to more than halve the country’s gas exports, a key source of energy for the region.
- In commodity markets, oil prices rebounded after dropping below $100 a barrel earlier in the week on fears that a looming recession will reduce demand for crude. U.S. crude was last up about 4.9% to $103.33 a barrel.
- Asian markets broadly gained, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 up 1.5% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.8%, with Samsung Electronics shares helping drive gains.
- Samsung’s stock rose 3.2% even after the company suggested its string of record results is expected to end as economies slow and inflation rises.
Samsung Electronics’ Run of Record Results Stalls as Global Tech Boom Fades – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- Samsung Electronics’ string of record results is expected to end, as the global tech boom slows amid rising inflation and economic uncertainties.
- On Thursday, the South Korean tech giant—which had reported record revenues in the past three straight quarters—forecast a 11.4% rise in second-quarter operating profit from the prior year. Revenue for the April-June period is expected to increase year-over-year by 20.9%.
- Samsung reports full results later this month. It expects second-quarter operating profit of 14 trillion South Korean won, roughly equivalent to $10.7 billion, for the quarter ended June 30. That compares with 12.6 trillion won for the year-earlier quarter. Revenue is forecast at 77 trillion won, up from the prior year’s 63.7 trillion won, the company said.
- Analysts polled by S&P Global Market Intelligence were on average expecting 14.6 trillion won in operating profit and 76.9 trillion won in revenue.
- Samsung was earlier expected to have shipped 68 million smartphones during the second quarter but is now likely to have shipped 62 million to 64 million units, according to Counterpoint Research, a tech-market research firm.
- Total smartphone shipments world-wide were once expected to grow this year by 5% from 2021, according to Counterpoint estimates from March. Now it forecasts that industrywide shipments will fall by around 3%.
Memory-Chip Prices Fall From Pandemic Highs – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- Prices of memory chips, stuffed into nearly every electronic gadget, enjoyed a meteoric rise throughout the pandemic. Now prices have come down to levels that suggest the demand boom is likely over.
- The average contract price for a major type of memory, called DRAM, fell by 10.6% during the April-to-June quarter versus the prior year, the first such decline in two years, according to TrendForce, a Taiwan-based market research firm.
- Memory chips are used in everything from automobiles to smartphones to refrigerators. They represent about 28% of the $595 billion semiconductor industry, which includes microprocessors and image-sensor chips, according to Gartner.
- The other major type of memory, called NAND flash, which provides content storage, has seen prices fluctuate over the past two years, according to TrendForce data. They were up again in the opening months of the year due to a contamination issue at two flash-memory factories, which temporarily lowered supply.
- DRAM, which represents nearly three-fifths of global memory sales, began to fall on an annual basis in recent months. But further declines are coming:
- Average contract prices of DRAM are projected to slide by 21% in the July-September quarter from the same period a year ago, while similar prices for NAND flash during the same time frame are expected to fall about 18%, according to TrendForce forecasts.
Apple Ratchets Up Security Tool for iPhone Users Targeted by Sophisticated Spyware – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- Apple is preparing a feature meant to secure its products against some of the world’s most sophisticated spyware.
- The tool, dubbed Lockdown Mode, is intended for the small number of users targeted by spyware favored by state-sponsored hackers. When used, it will limit the abilities of apps, websites and features for security purposes.
- On an iPhone, for example, it will block most message attachments, as well as incoming FaceTime calls from people the user hasn’t previously had a call with.
- Apple will soon begin rolling out the Lockdown feature for testing before wide release this fall in as part of its new operating systems for iPhones, iPad tablets and Mac computers.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
Inflation Fears Drove Larger Fed Rate Increase in June – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- Federal Reserve officials agreed at their meeting last month they would have to raise interest rates faster and to levels high enough to slow economic growth because of the worsening inflation picture.
- Officials voted to raise their benchmark rate by 0.75 percentage point in June, the largest increase since 1994, and several officials have indicated since then that they are prepared to support another such increase at their meeting later this month.
- “Participants concurred that the economic outlook warranted moving to a restrictive stance of policy, and they recognized the possibility that an even more restrictive stance could be appropriate if elevated inflation pressures were to persist,” the minutes said.
- The minutes showed an unusual level of agreement among the 18 officials who participate in the policy-setting meetings: All but one supported the 0.75-point increase.
- More broadly, officials last month saw risks that inflation would stay higher for longer than they had previously anticipated.
- The minutes revealed growing unease among policy makers that the recent period of high inflation could change consumer psychology in ways that sustain high inflation.
- Economists believe expectations of future inflation can be self-fulfilling, which means the Fed could be required to lift rates to levels that push even harder on the monetary brakes if those expectations rise.
- Officials last month saw signs that consumers’ and businesses’ longer-term expectations “could be beginning to drift up to levels inconsistent with” the Fed’s 2% inflation goal, the minutes said.
U.S. Jobless Claims Rose Sightly Last Week, Staying Near Prepandemic Levels – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- New applications for unemployment benefits edged higher last week, but still hovered near recent lows, indicating the labor market remains solid as the economy shows signs of slowing.
- Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, rose to a seasonally adjusted 235,000 last week from 231,000 the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday. The figure stands just above the 2019 prepandemic weekly average of 218,000, when the labor market was also strong.
- The four-week moving average for claims, which smooths weekly volatility, inched up to 232,500 last week, an increase of 750 from the previous week’s average.
- Continuing claims, a proxy for the total number of people receiving payments from state unemployment programs, rose to 1.4 million in the week ended June 25 from a revised 1.3 million in the previous week.
- Continuing claims are reported with a one-week lag.
U.S. Trade Gap Narrowed in May as Imports of Goods Slowed – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- The U.S. trade deficit narrowed for the second straight month in May, as a decrease in goods spending by American households held down import growth while exports of energy products increased.
- The trade gap in goods and services shrank 1.3% in May from the previous month to $85.5 billion, the Commerce Department said Thursday, down from April’s revised $86.7 billion.
- Imports rose 0.6% to $341.4 billion, driven by a rise in crude oil imports. Exports rose 1.2% to $255.9 billion due to increased exports of crude oil and natural gas.
- Imports of consumer goods fell $1.5 billion as a result of Americans’ cooling appetite for goods purchases.
Mortgage Rates Fall to 5.30%, Reflecting Recession Fears – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- Mortgage rates recorded their largest decline this year as investors raise their bets that the economy is headed for a downturn.
- The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 5.30%, mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac said Thursday. That is down from 5.70% last week but far above 3.22% at the beginning of the year.
- Monthly mortgage payments remain at the least affordable level in years. The typical U.S. household will spend an additional $400 on its mortgage payment each month than it would have in January, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
- In April, the typical American household would have needed 41.2% of its income to cover monthly mortgage payments, according to the Atlanta Fed.
US, Allies Discuss Capping Russian Oil at $40-$60 a Barrel to Cut War Financing – Bloomberg, 7/7/2022
- The US and its allies have discussed trying to cap the price on Russian oil between $40 and about $60 a barrel, according to people familiar with the matter.
- Allies have been exploring several ways to limit Russia’s oil revenues while minimizing the impact on their own economies in discussions that began in the run-up to the Group of Seven summit.
- At the summit in Germany on June 28 leaders agreed to explore options to cap prices by banning insurance and transportation services needed to ship Russian crude and petroleum products unless the oil is purchased below an agreed price.
- The range spans from what is believed to be Russia’s marginal cost of production and the price of its oil before the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the people said. The Biden administration considers a cap of $40 to be too low, two of the people said.
- The latest data shows that China has doubled in the three months ending in May what it spends on Russian oil, gas and coal. India shelled out $5.1 billion in the same period, more than five times the value of a year ago.
EUROPE & WORLD
China Considers $220 Billion Stimulus With Unprecedented Bond Sales – Bloomberg, 7/7/2022
- China’s Ministry of Finance is considering allowing local governments to sell 1.5 trillion yuan ($220 billion) of special bonds in the second half of this year, an unprecedented acceleration of infrastructure funding aimed at shoring up the country’s beleaguered economy.
- The bond sales would be brought forward from next year’s quota, according to people familiar with the discussions, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly.
- It would mark the first time the issuance has been fast-tracked in this way, underscoring growing concerns in Beijing over the dire state of the world’s second-largest economy.
- The debt would mostly be used to pay for infrastructure spending, an old playbook that policy makers are using to boost an economy hit by Covid lockdowns and a housing slump.
- The funding would add to 1.1 trillion yuan in new support for infrastructure announced over the past few weeks, as President Xi Jinping’s government tries to get the economy back on track toward achieving its annual growth target of around 5.5%.
European Gas Extends Scorching Rally With Supply Fears Mounting – Bloomberg, 7/7/2022
- Natural gas in Europe headed for the longest stretch of daily gains in more than nine months as persistent fears of deeper supply cuts by Russia spread through the market.
- Benchmark futures, which have more than doubled their value over the past month, surged as much as 9% for a seventh day of increases. The crisis has also sent power prices to record highs as Moscow’s tightening hold on energy supplies brings the risk that Europe may struggle to keep the heat and lights on this winter.
- A key pipeline from Russia to Germany is supplying at just 40% of its capacity and is scheduled to close for seasonal maintenance starting next week.
- Russia slashed flows through the link last month, citing technical issues with turbines that need to be serviced in Canada — with one already stuck there following Ottawa’s sanctions against Moscow.
- German Economy Minister Robert Habeck urged Canada to release the turbine before the Nord Stream maintenance begins, which would remove an excuse for Moscow to continue capping supplies.
Boris Johnson Resigns Amid Scandals but Says He Will Remain U.K.’s Prime Minister Until Successor Is Found – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- Boris Johnson said Thursday that he would step down as British prime minister, following a wide-scale rebellion in his party, capping an astonishing fall from grace for a politician who once looked poised to dominate U.K. politics for years.
- The step bookends an extraordinary 36 hours in British politics in which more than 50 ministers and senior government aides resigned, leaving the British government in a state of paralysis.
- Flanked by remaining members of his cabinet, his wife and senior officials while standing outside Downing Street, Mr. Johnson was unapologetic and didn’t refer to the scandals that brought him down. “I want you to know how sad I am at giving up the best job in the world. But them’s the breaks,” he said.
- Mr. Johnson ultimately was felled because his lawmakers could no longer trust him to tell them the truth. Earlier this year, Mr. Johnson was fined by British police for breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules by attending a party in Downing Street. He had spent weeks assuring Parliament no such parties took place.
- Most recently, Mr. Johnson had to apologize for appointing a deputy chief whip despite knowing he had a history of allegedly making unwanted advances toward men, a debacle that proved a final straw for many in his party.
Shell Says Fuel-Refining Margins Could Add $1 Billion to Quarterly Earnings – Wall Street Journal, 7/7/2022
- Shell said it expects strong second-quarter profit from higher fuel-refining margins that could add more than $1 billion to earnings, while forecasts for sustained high energy prices boosted the value of its oil and gas holdings.
- The London-based oil major said Thursday that it expects the outlook for energy prices will allow the company to reverse between $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion in impairments it took early in the pandemic, when sagging demand had a big impact on energy-price forecasts.
- Shell provided the guidance Thursday ahead of second-quarter earnings scheduled for July 28. The company said that overall marketing and sales profits in the second quarter will be higher than the previous quarter but in line with the second quarter of 2021.
- The company said it projects higher overall refining margins in the second quarter despite an expected loss from chemicals refining in the period, reflecting price inflation that is eating into profit margins from refining those products.
- The increased fuel-refining margins in the quarter could add $800 million to $1.2 billion to earnings for the period, the company said.
China unveils plans to spur car demand, may extend EV tax break – Reuters, 7/7/2022
- China on Thursday announced a raft of new steps to spur consumer demand for cars, saying it would consider extending a tax break for electric vehicles and outlining plans to build more charging stations and encourage lower charging fees.
- The plans, announced by the Ministry of Commerce as part of a joint statement with 16 other departments, boosted shares of Chinese automakers, with Geely surging 6% and Great Wall Motor rising 4%.
- The commerce ministry statement did not make a mention of any extension of subsidies for what China calls new energy vehicles – a program that has been credited with supercharging the sector’s growth.
- Twenty-five years after her execution, Pope Calixtus III annulled the heresy charges brought against Joan of Arc. (1456)
- William Blount of Tennessee became the first U.S. senator to be impeached. (1797)
- Commodore John D. Sloat occupied Monterey and declared California annexed to the United States. (1846)
- The United States annexed Hawaii. (1898)
- An Elvis Presley recording was played on the radio for the first time. (1954)
- President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor for the Supreme Court. (1981)