U.S. and World News
- During a press conference, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that he has seen “significant evidence” that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory and alluded to the possibility of a restructuring, stating “how we restructure … supply chains to prevent something like this from ever happening again”. Another U.S. government official stated that the United States is “turbocharging” the previously put in place initiative to remove global industrial supply chains from China. Some examples of action that could be taken are tax incentives and re-shoring of subsidies for companies doing business in China. The United States is not alone in this initiative as other large trading partners such as India, Japan, and members of the European Union have set aside funds for incentives to companies doing business in China. The United States is also considering creating an “Economic Prosperity Network” (EPN) that would consist of trusted trading partners such as Japan, India, Australia, and others to work toward balancing the economic, political, and security imperatives so that there is less reliance on China for supplies.
- Several states across the country are beginning the process of reopening their economies, while others remain under shelter-in-place orders. Governors are taking different approaches with regards to reopening business as the number of daily new coronavirus cases falls lower. Most states have already unveiled plans to open by Memorial day weekend, however, there are strict social distancing guidelines that must be followed in retail stores and restaurants. Governor Cuomo of New York, the most severely affected state, announced plans to reopen parts of the state in a lengthy 12-step process. Businesses in Georgia must continue to operate under social distancing and enhanced sanitary guidelines until May 13th, and the State of Emergency will expire on June 12th. Governor Kemp of Georgia was openly criticized by many, including President Trump, for his decision to prematurely open business within the state.
- Markets spike higher this week. The S&P 500 jumped 3.56% and closed at 2,930. The Dow Jones rose 2.67% and closed at 24,331. Year-to-date, the S&P 500 is down -8.69% and the Dow Jones is down -14.03%.
- The yield curve steepened this week, with short-term yields falling and long-term yields rising. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are yielding 0.32% and 0.68%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude rose higher again this week. Prices surged 24.30% and closed at $24.59 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices are down -59.70%.
- The spot price of Gold rose 0.35% and closed at $1,706.41 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 12.46%.
- Initial jobless claims fell by 67,000 to 3.2 million and the four-week moving average of claims fell by 861,000 to 4.2 million. Claims rose by 36,000 in New Jersey, 32,000 in Maryland, and by 19,000 in Connecticut. Claims fell by 302,000 in Florida, 69,000 in Georgia, and by 66,000 in Alabama.
- Nonfarm productivity fell 2.5% in the first quarter versus expectations for a decline of 5.5%
- Factory orders fell 10.3% versus expectations for a 9.7% decline
- The ISM non-manufacturing index fell by 10.7 points to 41.8 versus expectations for a reading of 38.0
- Private sector employment in the ADP report fell by 20.2 million versus expectations for a decline of 20.6 million
- Nonfarm payrolls fell 20.5 million in April versus expectations for a decline of 22 million
- The unemployment rate came in at 14.7% versus expectations for a reading of 16.0%
- Average hourly earnings rose by 4.7% versus expectations for a 0.4% increase
- Wholesale inventories fell by 0.8% versus expectations for a decline of 1.0%
Fact of the Week
- In the 3 years through 3/31/20, the number of US households (both owners and renters) has increased by +5.5 million to 124.4 million. The number of owner households has increased by +5.6 million to 81.3 million while the number of renter households has declined by 0.1 million to 43.1 million (source: Census Bureau).
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