U.S. and World News
- Japan’s Shinzo Abe traveled to Mar-a-Lago to meet with President Trump on Tuesday to discuss trade and a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Japan wanted to discuss the United States renewed interest in re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the possibility of Japan’s inclusion in the exemption of steel and aluminum tariffs with other United States allies. Japan was also concerned that they may have been excluded from nuclear negotiations with North Korea after President Trump made a decision to meet with Kim Jong-un without first conferring with Shinzo Abe. The two-day summit concluded with no deal being reached on the TPP, no exemption for Japan on the steel and aluminum tariffs, and a stronger agreement between the two leaders on North Korea.
- After more than 60 years of Castro leadership in Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel was elected the next president of Cuba, a widely expected result. On Thursday, Raul Castro announced that he is stepping down and Diaz-Canel was elected after 603 out of the 604-member National Assembly had approved of him. Raul Castro will remain head of the country’s Communist Party until the next scheduled party congress in 2021. Miguel Diaz-Canel stated that he will reform the economy to improve the communication between the government and the people while preserving Cuba’s communist system.
- The markets finished higher this week. The S&P 500 rose 0.54% and closed at 2,670.14. The Dow Jones rose 0.46% and closed at 24,462.94. Year to date, the S&P is up 0.45% and the Dow Jones is down 0.40%.
- Yields moved much higher for yet another week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 2.80% and 2.96%, respectively. The 10-year Treasury yield hit its highest level since 2014.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil rose again this week by 1.15% and closed at $68.10 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices are up 13.29%.
- The spot price of Gold fell this week by 0.76%, closing at $1,335.96 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 2.55%.
- Initial jobless claims declined 1,000 to 232,000 for the week. The largest declines were in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The four-week moving average moved up 1,000 to 231,000. The pace of layoffs still remains very low.
- The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index moved higher by 0.9 points to 23.2 vs consensus expectations of 21.0. The increase was led by the employment component and the average workweek component.
- Retail sales increased by 0.6% in March versus expectations of a 0.4% increase. The increase was led by auto sales and slightly held back by falling gasoline prices.
- Retail sales ex-autos increased 0.2% versus a median forecast of 0.2%
- Retail sales ex-autos, gasoline, and building materials increased 0.4% versus a median forecast of 0.4%
- Housing starts rose 1.9% in March to 1,319k, short of expectations of a 2.5% increase. The rise was driven by multi-family starts.
- Building permits rose by 2.5% month-over-month in March to an annualized rate of 1,354k compared to a median forecast of an unchanged month-over-month figure.
Fact of the Week
- Marijuana sales in Colorado generated $506 million in tax revenue for the state, through June 2017. In 2014, the first year it was legalized, the state generated $76 million in tax revenue from marijuana, nearly double the $42 million that was generated from alcohol sales in the state. The deficit in Illinois is $148 billion as of 4/20/18. (CNN Money, US Debt Clock).
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