Friday 31 May 2019

Black Friday Today?

Baltic Dry Index. 1097 -10   Brent Crude 66.03

Never ending Brexit now October 31st, maybe. 
Nuclear Trump Tariffs Now In Effect.
USA v EU trade war postponed to November, maybe.

“History shows that countries in conflict have seen that such conflicts can easily slip beyond their control and become terrible wars that all parties, including the leaders who got their countries into them, deeply regretted, so the parties in the negotiations should be careful that that doesn’t happen. Right now we are seeing brinksmanship negotiations, so it is a risky time.”

Ray Dalio, founder and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates LP.

With the markets totally blindsided, President Trump yesterday threatened to blow up the Mexican economy. What that would do to illegal immigration into the USA is unpredictable, but I think it would add millions of Mexicans to the thousands of central Americans trying to illegally migrate into the USA.

Even for the erratic President Trump this is a new first, reneging on the USMCA, the new NAFTA, even before it got ratified. Pretty soon, who will waste time trying to do anything with the Trump administration?

Below, did Trump just trigger another Black Friday? Probably (hopefully) not, since saner heads are likely to talk Trump out of this before June 10. But market sentiment is a very skittish thing. Blindsided markets have especially skittish sentiment. What blunders lie ahead on Trump’s upcoming European D-Day remembrance trip?

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.

John Kenneth Galbraith.

Trump to impose 5% tariff on Mexican imports over illegal immigration

May 31, 2019 / 12:41 AM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States will impose a 5% tariff on all goods coming from Mexico starting on June 10 until illegal immigration across the southern border is stopped.

“The Tariff will gradually increase until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied, at which time the Tariffs will be removed,” Trump said on Twitter. 

In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said the tariff would increase to 10% on July 1, 15% on Aug. 1, 20% on Sept. 1 and to 25% on Oct. 1.

“Mexico’s passive cooperation in allowing this mass incursion constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States,” Trump said in the statement.

“Mexico has very strong immigration laws and could easily halt the illegal flow of migrants, including by returning them to their home countries,” he said.

Asian automaker shares hit as Trump threatens Mexico with tariffs

May 31, 2019 / 1:39 AM
TOKYO (Reuters) - Shares in Asia’s major automakers and their suppliers sank on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to slap tariffs on Mexican imports next month, potentially affecting vehicles made in Mexico and sold north of the border.

Trump, incensed by a surge of illegal immigrants across the southern border, said late on Thursday a tariff of 5% would be imposed on all goods coming from Mexico, increasing gradually each month until reaching 25% on Oct. 1, unless Mexico takes immediate action.

The move is likely to hit a broad range of industries, but the auto industry looks particularly vulnerable as many global carmakers manufacture vehicles in Mexico to take advantage of its cheap labour, trade deals and its proximity to the United States, the world’s second-largest auto market.

“Margins are so thin in the U.S. market right now that there’s no way that any automaker is not going to pass on these tariffs to their customers,” said Janet Lewis, an analyst at Macquarie Securities.

“The unknown factor is the impact on suppliers, as components can move back and forth between Mexico, the United States and Canada up to 20 times before they make their way into assembled cars.”

General Motors Co is the biggest car producer and exporter in Mexico, and its global peers Ford Motor Co, Volkswagen AG and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV also have manufacturing presence there.

In Japan, shares in Toyota Motor Corp fell 2% while Nissan Motor Co and Honda Motor Co fell about 3%. Mazda Motor Co took a bigger hit, tumbling nearly 7%. All four automakers operate vehicle assembly plants in Mexico, producing roughly one-third of the vehicles made in the country.

In South Korea, Hyundai Motor Co and affiliate Kia Motors Corp fell 1.1% and 4.2% respectively. Hyundai Wia Corp, which supplies auto components to the duo, fell 5.2%.

“Although we have to wait and see whether the U.S. tariffs plan will be really implemented, this is negatively affecting investor sentiment,” said Chang Moon-su, an analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities in Seoul.

Oil set for biggest monthly fall since November as trade conflicts spread

May 31, 2019 / 2:12 AM
SYDNEY/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Friday and were on track for their biggest monthly fall since November as trade conflicts spread and U.S. crude output returned to record levels.

Front-month Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $66.28 at 0311 GMT, down by 59 cents, or 0.9%, from last session’s close. 

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $56.08 per barrel, down 51 cents, or 0.9%, from their last settlement. WTI earlier marked its lowest since March 8 at $55.66 a barrel.
The drops mean that crude oil futures are on track for their biggest monthly loss since last November.

---- U.S. President Donald Trump ramped up trade tensions globally by vowing to slap tariffs on all goods from Mexico, firing up fears over economic growth and appetite for oil.

The Mexico trade dispute adds to a trade war between the United States and China, which many analysts expect to trigger a recession.

“All is not well with the economic world, at least according to bond and commodity traders,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at futures brokerage CMC Markets in Australia, wrote in a note published on Friday.

“These (price) moves signal deteriorating sentiment about the outlook for global growth,” he said.

Shrinking China factory activity, faltering exports inflame economic anxiety

May 31, 2019 / 2:12 AM
BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s factory activity in May slumped into a deeper contraction than markets had expected, heaping pressure on Beijing to roll out more stimulus to support an economy hit hard by a bruising trade war with the United States.

Friday’s weak manufacturing readings, which follow a recent raft of soft data across the retail, export and construction sectors, could inflame concerns about the risk of a global recession and push more central banks to adopt an accommodative monetary stance.

The official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 49.4 in May from 50.1 in April, data from the statistics bureau showed. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast the PMI to be down a notch at 49.9, below the 50-point mark separates expansion from contraction on a monthly basis.

Factory output expanded at a slower pace as new orders - a gauge of domestic and foreign demand - fell for the first time in four months. Export orders extended their decline for the twelfth straight month with the sub-index pulling back significantly to 46.5 from April’s 49.2, suggesting a further weakening in global demand.

“Export orders dropped back particularly sharply, which suggests that Trump’s latest tariff hike may already be undermining foreign demand,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics.

While China’s exporters are feeling the pinch, Friday’s data showed import orders also contracted at a quicker pace, reflecting softening demand at home despite a flurry of growth-supporting measures that were rolled out earlier this year.

Ex-China central bank chief says progress at Xi-Trump Japan meet 'difficult'

May 31, 2019 / 3:01 AM
BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump are likely to find it “difficult” to make major progress toward ending their countries’ trade war when they meet at a G20 summit in Japan in June, a former Chinese central bank chief said on Friday.

Trade tensions between Washington and Beijing escalated sharply earlier this month after the Trump administration accused China of having “reneged” on its previous promises to make structural changes to its economic practices.

Washington later slapped additional tariffs of up to 25% on $200 billion (£158.6 billion) of Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate.

Trump has said he is planning on meeting Xi during the G20 summit, set for June 28-29 in Osaka, though China has not formally confirmed this.

Dai Xianglong, who headed the People’s Bank of China from 1995-2002 and remains an influential figure in China, told a seminar in Beijing that China-U.S. trade friction was a long-term issue.

China has approached the trade talks with the principles of equality and cooperation, whereas the U.S. approach has been “bullying and America First”, Dai said.

“It’s hard to reconcile these,” he added.

“I expect that at next month’s meeting of the leaders in Japan it will be difficult to achieve major progress.”

Finally, you know it’s got to be really serious when the financial industry GIANTS are worried about the trade war.  The old saying used to be “when trade stops, war follows,” though that ended with World War One. Below one of the biggest giants of the financial world, ever so politely tells Trump and Xi to stop it, and stop it now, “beggar thy neighbour,” beggars us all. Sadly, as with the run-up to World War One, I don’t think that anyone’s listening in Washington, District of Crooks.

Ray Dalio says brinksmanship is pushing U.S.-China conflict to a ‘risky’ level

By Mike Murphy  Published: May 29, 2019 7:19 p.m. ET
The founder of the world’s largest hedge fund says the clash between the U.S. and China is bigger than just a trade war, and the U.S. may be escalating it to a dangerous level.

In a LinkedIn blog post published Wednesday, Ray Dalio, founder and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates LP, said the U.S. is “weaponizing export controls” with its move to shut off U.S. supplies to Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co.

Dalio noted that the move could lead to China retaliating by shutting off the supply of rare-earth metals to U.S. companies, a “critical import” necessary for the manufacturing of mobile phones, night-vision glasses, gyroscopes in jets and LED lights, among others.

Dalio also explained that the trade war is just one part of a greater conflict.

“It is an ideological conflict of comparable powers in a small world. It’s about 1) China emerging to challenge the power of the U.S. in many areas and 2) these two countries having two different approaches to life — one that’s top down and one that’s bottom up,” he wrote. “These conflicts extend to American and Chinese businesses, technologies, capital markets, influences over other countries, militaries, ideologies, and most everything else.”

Dalio said both countries are moving toward being less dependent on each other. “That is a big deal because it is a major, multi-year undertaking that will take resources away from other development,” he said, adding that the uncertainties caused by the conflict will be “major disruptors” to people, companies and governments.­

“It is difficult not to marvel at the imagination which was implicit in this gargantuan insanity. If there must be madness something may be said for having it on a heroic scale."

John Kenneth Galbraith. The Great Crash: 1929.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

Today, more Huawei fallout, not necessarily to Uncle Sam’s advantage. Trump’s US bullying is increasingly generating global push back. Is trade war or trade negotiation the best way forward? Ask Ray Dalio for the answer.

Mahathir says Malaysia will use Huawei 'as much as possible'

Date created : 30/05/2019 - 07:19
Malaysia will continue using Huawei products "as much as possible," bucking a global trend prompted by security concerns and a US ban on the Chinese firm, the country's prime minister said Thursday.

Mahathir Mohamad, speaking at a conference in Tokyo, acknowledged the security concerns but said they would not deter Malaysia.

"Yes, there may be some spying. But what is there to spy (on) exactly in Malaysia? We are an open book," the 93-year-old said at the Future of Asia forum.

Mahathir said Huawei had access to research "far bigger than the whole of Malaysia's research equivalent."

"So we try to make use of their technology as much as possible."

"Everybody knows, if any country wants to invade Malaysia, they can walk through, and we will not resist because it's a waste of time," he added.

His comment came after a wave of controversy over the Chinese telecommunications firm, which has been hit by allegations of espionage and faces a US ban.

A number of countries have blocked Huawei from working on their mobile networks and companies have stepped back from the firm after the US ban, citing legal requirements.

The spat comes as the United States and China raise tariffs in tit-for-tat moves along with blistering rhetoric accusing each other of unfair trade practices.

Mahathir warned about the heated exchanges between Beijing and Washington, which come as the powers and their allies lock horns in the hotly contested South China Sea.

Mahathir said the United States and "the West" must accept that Asian nations now produce competitive products, and should not "threaten" business rivals.

"Yes, I understand Huawei has tremendous advance(s) over American technology even," he said.
"The US must compete with China. At times China will win, other times the US will win," he said.

He warned that the tense relations between the US and China might impact the situation in the South China Sea, where China claims sovereignty despite rival claims from other regional nations.

And he urged calm in the area, warning that small incidents could easily escalate into violence.

Chinese computer research body to cut ties with division of U.S.-based IEEE

May 30, 2019 / 2:31 PM
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Beijing-based technology research group The China Computer Federation (CCF) is suspending communications with a U.S. based engineers’ association in the latest example of fallout from the U.S. embargo on phone maker Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL].

The CCF said on Thursday it would suspend dealings with the publications division of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a day after the latter confirmed it will bar Huawei staff from participating in certain aspects of the peer review process for its research papers. 

The conflict between the two organizations highlights how trade restrictions imposed on Huawei are reverberating in the broader scientific community.

Washington has accused Huawei of being tied to China’s government and has effectively banned U.S. companies from doing business with it for national security reasons.

In a post published on the Chinese messaging app WeChat, the CCF criticized the IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc), which publishes research reports, for its decision.

“The IEEE was once considered an open international academic organization, an academic community of practitioners in the information technology field, with members from all over the world, including China,” the CCF wrote.

“But this time we regret to see that its Communications Society (ComSoc) has restricted the activities of its members on the grounds of local laws, which seriously violates the open, equal and non-politicized nature of being an international academic organization.”

The CCF said it would suspend collaboration with ComSoc and called on CCF members to cease contributing to ComSoc events or research reports, and to refrain from reviewing its papers.

On its website, the IEEE lists the CCF as one of its “sister societies.” Since 2016, the two organizations have jointly given out awards to computer scientists under the age of 40.

The IEEE did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

"Tariffs don't work. If anything, they hurt the economy because if you're a typical American worker, you have a finite amount of income to spend. If you have to spend more on the necessity products that you need to live, you have less to spend on the services that you want to buy. And you definitely don't have anything left over to save.”

"So we should try and make the goods as cheap as possible. And we don't produce the goods in the United States; we import the goods from other countries. And if we could produce the goods as cheaply as other countries do, we would produce them in the United States."

Gary Cohn.  President Trump's former director of the National Economic Council.

Technology Update.
With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported. Is converting sunlight to usable cheap AC or DC energy mankind’s future from the 21st century onwards?

Scientists discover why a promising cancer drug failed in clinical trials – and how to fix it

Michael Irving  May 29th, 2019

As promising as some treatments are in lab tests, unfortunately they don't always meet hopes when translated to the real world. Now, scientists at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have investigated a class of cancer drugs that failed in human trials, and found out why. Better yet, they went on to identify another drug that could finally make the treatment work.

Cancer cells are known to use all sorts of underhanded tricks to survive and spread in the body before the immune system can shut them down. To pull off all these extra processes, the crafty cells need to boost their protein production, which they do by ramping up activity in the proteasome. This system acts as a kind of recycling machine that breaks down old proteins into amino acids and rebuilds them as new proteins.

Realizing this, scientists developed drugs called proteasome inhibitors, which as the name suggests, disrupt that cellular machinery and prevent cancer from getting out of hand. Tests in the lab on cultured cancer cells proved effective, but frustratingly, when scientists tried to replicate that success in animal models and human patients, the cancer quickly developed resistance to the drugs.

The researchers on the new study set out to investigate why this might be the case. To do so, they explored the gene expression of thousands of tumors and hundreds of cancer cell lines, with a particular focus on those that have developed resistance to proteasome inhibitors. Ultimately the key seems to be related to how and where cancer cells are producing energy.

It turns out that these resistant cells have switched energy sources away from glucose and more towards the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. The researchers confirmed that by manipulating the metabolism of cancer cells so they depended on the mitochondria – sure enough, these cells became immune to proteasome inhibitors.

From there, the researchers went on to discover that an existing anti-cancer molecule, named elesclomol, is effective against cancers that are immune to proteasome inhibitors. They found that this molecule binds to the gene FDX1, preventing the gene from encoding a vital enzyme in the mitochondria. Since these crafty cancers are now relying on the mitochondria, that makes elesclomol effective against them – although for some reason, the molecule needs to be bound to copper to work.

The research brings new hope to the fight against these particularly malicious tumors, and the team says the general principle – investigating changes in metabolism – could help unravel new treatments against other drug-resistant cancers.

The research was published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.
Another weekend and a worrying one for US farmers in the grain belt, struggling to catch up with planting of corn and soybeans. We have hit a very early weather market this year in US grains. Too wet in to many areas for too long, is one of the problems though an ideal June might yet rescue the day. But with hurricane season here, there’s still plenty more that could go wrong.
Too hot very early, in the great USA southeast. With temperatures already hitting the 100s, all kinds of crops (and animals) will quickly start to get stressed, and we still have June, July and August to come. Don’t go away. This needs careful watching all summer. If a trade deal is somehow done between Trump and Xi, with China returning to buy US soybeans, will 2019 end up being a year of beans in the teens due to the weather?  Have a great weekend everyone.
"Get a good night's sleep and don't bug anybody without asking me.”
President Richard Nixon. To re-election campaign manager Clark MacGregor.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished April

DJIA: 26,593 +51 Down. NASDAQ: 8,095 +89 Down. SP500: 2,946 +55 Up.  

The S&P has reversed to up largely as a result of the Fed falling into line with President Trump’s demands, but with President Trump wanting to be judged by the performance of the stock market and the Fed’s Plunge Protection Team now officially part of President Trump’s re-election team, probably the safest action here is still fully paid up synthetic double options on most of the major indexes. This could all go very wrong very fast.