Oil, Brexit, Fed market funding: Wealth Economic Update September 20, 2019

U.S. and World News

  • oil-1090135110_370Weekend drone strikes on the heart of the Saudi oil industry forced the kingdom to shut down half its crude production, amounting to a loss of 5.7M barrels a day, or roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil. Yemen’s Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels claimed credit for the attack, saying they sent 10 drones to strike at important Aramco facilities, including the world’s largest oil processing plant and a major oil field. The disruption sent WTI futures as much as 15.5% higher overnight to $63.34, the biggest intraday percentage gain since June 22, 1998, while President Trump authorized a release of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as necessary. For the global oil market, the 5.7M bpd Saudi halt is the single worst sudden disruption ever, surpassing the loss following the Invasion of Kuwait and Iranian Revolution.
  • The stakes couldn’t be higher given the current Brexit turmoil as Britain’s highest court begins hearing arguments today on whether the government’s decision to suspend Parliament was lawful (judges in England and Scotland previously came to contrasting conclusions). Boris Johnson argues that he asked the Queen to prorogue the lower house in order to introduce a new legislative agenda, but critics accuse him of attempting to stymie debate and push through a no-deal Brexit before an Oct. 31 deadline.
  • Policymakers have been thrown another unexpected curveball as cash available to banks for their short-term funding needs all but dried up on Monday and Tuesday. That forced the New York Fed to make an emergency injection of more than $50B, its first since the financial crisis, to bring down key short-term rates that had spiked to as high as 10%. Fed traders will be back this morning to restore calm by offering another $75B of cash to the market.


  • Markets receded slightly this week. The S&P 500 was down 0.5% and closed at 2992.03. The Dow Jones fell by 1.05% and closed at 26,935.07. Year-to-date, the S&P is up 21.04% and the Dow Jones is up 17.49%.
  • Yields came back down after a pop last week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are yielding 1.6% and 1.715%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude soared after the attack in Saudi Arabia. Prices rose 5.9% and closed at $58.09 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices are up 27.92%.
  • The spot price of Gold gained 1.87% and closed at $1,516.29 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 18.23%.

Economic Data

  • Existing home sales rose by 1.3% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.49 million units in the August report, against consensus expectations for a 0.7% decline. August home sales rose for both single-family units (+1.2%) and condos and co-ops (+1.7%). Sales increased in three of four regions, led by the Northeast (+7.6%), and followed by the Midwest (+3.1%) and South (+0.9%). Sales declined in the West (-3.4%).
  • The level of housing starts increased to 1,364k in August above expectations for a more moderate increase. Single-family starts increased by 4.4% while the volatile multi-family category increased by 32.8%. August housing starts increased in three out of four regions, led by the Northeast (+30.5%), and followed by the Midwest (+15.4%) and South (+14.9%). Housing starts were flat in the West.
  • Building permits increased 7.7%, above expectations, with a 4.5% increase in single-family permits alongside a 13.3% increase in multi-family permits. Permits increased in the Northeast (+26.9%), Midwest (+14.5%), and South (+11.0%), and declined in the West (-7.8%).
  • Industrial production rose by 0.6% in August, against consensus expectations for a smaller increase. Manufacturing production rose by 0.5%, driven by a 0.6% increase in ex-auto manufacturing and offset by a 1.0% decline in auto manufacturing. The capex-sensitive business equipment category rebounded 1.0%. The utilities component, an input into consumption in the GDP accounts, rose 0.6% further, after rising 3.7% in July. Industrial production growth in July was revised up by 0.1pp to -0.1%.

Fact of the Week

  • The median household income (adjusted for inflation) was the highest ever recorded in the USA at $63,179. It was the third consecutive year (2016-2018) that the USA has produced an all time high in adjusted median household income. Prior to 2016, the record high was set in 1999. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann, CFP® – (630) 844-5730 –  rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Steve Meves, CFA® – (630) 801-2217 – smeves@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson, CFA®, CFP® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Mike Cava, CFA®, CFP® – (630) 281-4522 mcava@oldsecond.com
Mike Demski – (630) 966-2430 mdemski@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg, CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com

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