Frame this Kodak moment; I agree with President Trump as he calls NAFTA the worst trade agreement in American history. We have been on this trajectory since 1961, and NAFTA was the foot on the gas of a car crashing through plate glass…
Trump now wants to fulfill one of his core campaign promises; to make better a deal for American workers. The Trump administration will begin to renegotiate NAFTA on Wednesday with counterparts from Mexico and Canada. The first round of talks are to kick off in Washington, D.C. hopefully, this goes better than his efforts to repeal and replace, well, you know…
Ignoring the past as prologue…
While every president likes to pretend that the jobs issue is the fault of the last administration, Trump blames NAFTA for millions of lost jobs and thousands of shuttered factories in America. Nonpartisan congressional research concluded in 2015that NAFTA didn’t cause a jobs exodus, although many other studies have concluded the exact opposite.
About 14 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business advocacy group. But roughly 800,000 jobs were lost to Mexico between 1997 and 2013, to the Economic Policy Institute, a research group. Moreover, this study leaves out jobs lost to Chinese and Indonesian workers.
Trump even credited his tough talk on NAFTA with getting him to the White House. Trump supporters have reported that they voted for him in part to see him renegotiate better deals. Although, he never really said how on the campaign trail so it’s not clear exactly what Trump plans to do to get that “better deal.”
When U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer outlined the administration’s NAFTA objectives in July, he included a top goal which was to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, which last year hit $63 billion.
A spanking like last summer?
Last summer, when Candidate Trump went to Mexico, he looked like a chastised toddler standing next to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto when his “build the wall” rhetoric was at full tilt, only to be re-energized two hours later by his base at an Arizona rally. Could this be a repeat?
Trump’s ultimate aim is to increase the number of American factory jobs. One possible way to do that is to force companies to produce more parts in the United States. There is a key part of NAFTA known as “rules of origin.” It means a certain percentage of parts in a product, such as a car, must originate from North America.
For example, 62% of the parts in a car sold in Mexico, Canada or the United States must come from there. The Trump administration has hinted it could raise that percentage and that it plans to more strictly enforce the standards for rules of origin. However, trade experts caution that forcing more parts to be made in America could mean car prices go up.
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) August 14, 2017
Trump’s team also runs the risk of contradicting the very trade deal Trump has bashed. Experts say his administration’s list of NAFTA objectives is nearly identical to key parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Trump withdrew from that deal before it became law, but not before making his opposition to it a center piece of his campaign, sounding more like Bernie Sanders…But U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says TPP’s sections on labor and environmental standards are a “starting point” for NAFTA negotiations with Mexico and Canada.
Trump promised Americans he would bring together the best negotiators to get a new deal. He appointed Ross, Lighthizer, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro to lead on trade policy. Meanwhile, Lighthizer tapped John Melle, a career USTR official who was not nominated by Trump, to lead the talks. Melle was on the original USTR staff in 1993 that helped get the deal across the finish line in Congress. NAFTA became law in 1994.
So much for the swamp and that sort of thing…Sleep tight.
Las Vegas Sands Once Again Recognized as World Leader for Climate Change
Las Vegas Sands has again been recognized by CDP, the international nonprofit environmental disclosure platform, on the Climate Change A List. This is the company’s fifth year in a row to attain a leadership position for Climate Change, a distinction shared by only 2% of disclosing companies.
“The CDP provides a comprehensive framework that continues to inspire us to become leaders in our industry and provide guidance for strategic direction,” Katarina Tesarova, senior vice president of global sustainability at Las Vegas Sands, said. “Among the thousands of companies that were scored this year, Sands is one of a very small number from around the world to make the A List. We’re proud to be recognized, and we will continue to work towards additional reduction of our environmental impact.”
Through Sands ECO360, the company’s award-winning global sustainability program, Sands has reached several environmental milestones, all contributing to its placement on the Climate A List. The iconic ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is the first Asia-Pacific region museum to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, and The Parisian Macao achieved LEED Silver certification for newly constructed buildings – the first building in Macao to receive this distinction. Additionally, the implementation of 38 energy-efficient ECOTracker projects are expected save more than 48 million kilowatt hours of electricity every year, through LED lighting upgrades, energy savings campaigns focused on consuming less electricity and more.
Sands has participated in the CDP environmental disclosure platform since 2012, starting first with reporting on climate change initiatives. Achievement of the Climate Change A List highlights the company’s work towards cutting emissions, mitigating climate risks and building integrated resorts responsibly.
The company has also retained its leadership in corporate sustainability with its most recent recognitions on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and America’s Best Employers by Forbes.
Dow Jones Industrial Average Breaks 29,000 For The First Time in History
Slight gains send Dow Jones Industrial Average above 29,000!
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 29,000 points for the first time and the S&P 500 index hit its second record high in three days Wednesday.
The milestones came on a day when the market traded in a narrow range as investors weighed the latest batch of corporate earnings reports and the widely anticipated signing of an initial trade deal between the U.S. and China.
President Donald Trump and China’s chief negotiator, Liu He, signed the “Phase 1″ deal before a group of corporate executives and reporters at the White House. The pact eases some sanctions on China. In return, Beijing has agreed to step up its purchases of U.S. farm products and other goods.
“This was telegraphed well enough that the market is kind of looking through it and toward the next phase and what that means,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at Globalt Investments.
Health care stocks accounted for much of the market’s gains. Utilities and makers of household goods also rose. Those gains outweighed losses in financial stocks, companies that rely on consumer spending and the energy sector.
The S&P 500 index rose 6.14 points, or 0.2%, to 3,289.29. The index also climbed to an all-time high on Monday.
The Dow gained 90.55 points, or 0.3%, to 29,030.22. The Nasdaq composite added 7.37 points, or 0.1%, to 9,258.70.
Smaller-company stocks fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 picked up 6.66 points, or 0-4%, to 1,682.40.
The benchmark S&P 500 index is on track for its second straight weekly gain.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.78% from 1.81% late Tuesday.
While limited in its scope, investors have welcomed the U.S.-China deal in hopes that it will prevent further escalation in the 18-month long trade conflict that has slowed global growth, hurt American manufacturers and weighed on the Chinese economy. The world’s two largest economies will now have to deal with more contentious trade issues as they move ahead with negotiations. And punitive tariffs will remain on about $360 billion in Chinese goods as talks continue.
With the “Phase 1” agreement now a done deal, investors have more reason to focus on the rollout of corporate earnings reports over the next few weeks. Earnings have been flat to down for the last three quarters, and if the fourth quarter meets expectations, it should be around the same.
However, analysts are projecting 2020 corporate earnings growth to jump around 9.5%, which is why traders will be listening this earnings reporting season for any clues management teams give about their business prospects in coming months.
“We’re expecting a reacceleration in the back end of the year, so any (company) guidance that brings any type of skepticism to that could threaten the recent rally we’ve had and the gains that we’ve accrued in the past few months,” Buchanan said.
Health care stocks powered much of the market’s gains Wednesday. Several health insurers climbed as investors cheered a solid fourth-quarter earnings report from UnitedHealth Group.
The nation’s largest health insurer, which covers more than 49 million people, said its revenue rose 4% on a mix of insurance premiums and growth from urgent care and surgery centers. Its stock rose 2.8%. Other health insurers also moved higher. Anthem gained 1.6%, Cigna added 1.5% and Humana climbed 1.9%.
Technology companies also rose. The sector is reliant on China for sales and supply chains and benefits from better trade relations. Microsoft gained 0.7% and Advanced Micro Devices gained 0.8%.
Utilities and consumer staples sector stocks also notched gains. Edison International climbed 2.5% and PepsiCo rose 1.7%.
Financial stocks fell the most. Bank of America slid 1.8% after reporting weaker profits due to the rapid decline of interest rates in late 2019.
Energy stocks also fell along with the price of crude oil. Valero Energy dropped 3.3%.
Homebuilders marched broadly higher on news that U.S. home loan applications surged 30.2% last week from a week earlier. The pickup in mortgage applications reflects heightened demand for homes and suggests many buyers are eager to purchase a home now, rather than waiting for the traditional late-February start of the spring homebuying season. Hovnanian Enterprises jumped 6.4%.
Target slumped 6.6% after a disappointing holiday shopping season prompted the retailer to cut its forecast for a key sales measure in the fourth quarter. The company said weak sales of electronics, toys and home goods crimped sales growth to just 1.4% in November and December.
Benchmark crude oil fell 42 cents to settle at $57.81 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, dropped 49 cents to close at $64 a barrel.
Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.64 per gallon. Heating oil declined 3 cents to $1.88 per gallon. Natural gas fell 7 cents to $2.12 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold rose $9.70 to $1,552.10 per ounce, silver rose 25 cents to $17.92 per ounce and copper fell 1 cent to $2.87 per pound.
The dollar fell to 109.91 Japanese yen from 110.00 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1150 from $1.1128.
Markets in Europe closed mostly lower.
Uber and Hyundai Are Planning to Offer Flying Taxi Rides by 2023
At CES 2020, Uber and Hyundai showed off a full-size mock-up of a flying taxi that both companies hope will be ferrying you above congested city streets by 2023.
The electric plane, called Uberdai, will carry a pilot and three passengers up to 60 miles, at speeds of up to 180mph, slashing journey times and helping get cars off the road. Eventually the craft will be automated, but for now the two companies are focusing on manned craft.
The flying taxi market is starting to get pretty lively. Last year, Boeing began test flights to test the safety of Boeing. Next, an electric aircraft with passenger pods designed to travel up to 50 miles, and Bell Helicopter unveiled the Bell Nexus, which the company hopes will “redefine air travel”.
The difference with Hyundai’s plane is its partnership with Uber, which is a name synonymous with ride-sharing throughout much of the world, and already has the infrastructure in place to offer flights as an option alongside trips by car, bike, scooter, helicopter and even submarine.
Ready for lift-off?
Uber has been aiming for the skies for several years now, teaming up with various aerospace companies to build a fleet of mini aircraft. At the Uber Elevate Summit in June 2019, it revealed a concept created in collaboration with Jaunt Air Mobility – a business that’s aiming to create a fully autonomous aircraft by the end of 2029.
This design was a cross between a helicopter and a plane, with a rotor to get it off the ground, and wings for gliding once airborne to conserve power.
“It’s called the compound aircraft, and what it’s doing is really trying to get the best of both worlds of hover and high-speed efficient flight,” Uber’s head of engineering Mark Moore said at the event.
Uber intends to launch its first swarm of flying cars in the US and Australia in 2023, with schemes planned for Dallas, Las Vegas and Melbourne. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more over the coming months.
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