10/14/2019

News

Weak Consumer Spending Presents a Puzzle

The U.S. job market is booming and workers’ paychecks are growing thanks to a tax cut and raises. But Americans hunkered down on spending last month, a puzzle for an economy that leans heavily on their willingness to consume. Sales at U.S. retailers fell 0.1% in February, marking a three-month slide. Much of the decline […]

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China’s Exports Surge Despite Trade Tensions

China’s exports surged unexpectedly in February, further widening its global trade surplus at a time when the Trump administration has put a special focus on the U.S. trade deficit with Beijing. Chinese exports jumped 44.5% in February from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said Thursday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal […]

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California export trade gets off to strong start in 2018

Coming off a strong 2017, California’s merchandise export trade maintained momentum rolling into 2018. Golden State businesses shipped merchandise valued at $13.7 billion in January, up from 3.2 percent $13.27 billion at the start of 2017, according to Beacon Economics’ analysis of U.S. trade statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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U.S. Trade Deficit Widened in January to Post-2008 High

The trade deficit widened further in early 2018, a deteriorating backdrop to President Donald Trump’s ramped-up efforts to close the gap with the help of tariffs. The U.S. trade gap in goods and services expanded 5.0% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $56.60 billion in January, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was […]

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Manufacturing in U.S. Expands at Fastest Pace Since May 2004

U.S. factories expanded in February at the fastest rate since May 2004, indicating sustained strength in manufacturing as demand remains solid, figures from the Institute for Supply Management showed Thursday. The latest advance extends a series of healthy readings in the survey-based measure of manufacturing that’s being fueled by improving global economies and firm business […]

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Low Food Prices Are Hurting Farm State Economies

Farmers are producing too much food, holding down prices and holding back economies in states with big agricultural industries.

South Dakota and Iowa are the only two states in the country where gross domestic product fell in the second quarter. Ultra-low crop and livestock prices stemming from a global oversupply have squeezed farm incomes, pulling down Iowa’s GDP 0.7% and South Dakota’s 0.3% from the prior quarter.

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Trucking Companies Boost Big-Rig Orders on Rising Shipping Demand

Trucking companies are bumping up orders for new big rigs, anticipating that 2018 will be a banner year for shipping demand.

Trucking fleets ordered 32,900 Class 8 trucks, the kind used on long-haul routes, in November, according to ACT Research, which compiles industry statistics. That was up about 70% from a year earlier. The last two months were also the strongest since the start of 2015.

Fleets are adding capacity as strong economic growth fuels surging volumes of freight through the nation’s transportation networks. Trucks are in high demand to carry record imports from ports to distribution centers, move machine parts and heavy goods for manufacturers and merchandise during the holiday shopping season. Shippers are paying higher rates as capacity tightens, creating an incentive to put more trucks on the road.

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California exports dip

California’s export trade dipped in October, according to a Beacon Economics’ analysis of U.S. trade statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Foreign shipments by California businesses totaled $14.82 billion for the month, a nominal 2.6 percent decline from the $15.21 billion recorded in October 2016.

The state’s exports of manufactured goods fell 4.6 percent to $8.87 billion from $9.30 billion one year earlier. Exports of non-manufactured goods (chiefly agricultural products and raw materials) ebbed slightly by 0.4 percent to $2.31 billion from $2.32 billion. Re-exports, meanwhile, rose by 1.7 percent to $3.65 billion from $3.59 billion.

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Will Tesla Die for Lack of Cobalt?

Wedged between iron and nickel on the periodic table, cobalt has suddenly emerged as the electric car killer. The once-obscure metal, a critical part of batteries, has nearly tripled in price since last summer as concerns grow about whether there will be enough cobalt to meet demand. The ingredients are certainly there for a shortage. Output is concentrated in the politically unstable Democratic Republic of Congo and refining is dominated by China. Demand is set to soar as companies from Tesla Inc. to Volkswagen AG ramp up production of electric vehicles.

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America’s Retailers Have a New Target Customer: The 26-Year-Old Millennial

The biggest single age cohort today in the U.S. is 26-year-olds, who number 4.8 million, according to Torsten Slok, chief international economist for Deutsche Bank . People 25, 27 and 24 follow close behind, in that order. Many are on the verge of life-defining moments such as choosing a career, buying a house and having children.

Companies looking to grab a piece of that business, however, have run into a problem. This generation, with its over-scheduled childhoods, tech-dependent lifestyles and delayed adulthood, is radically different from previous ones. They’re so different, in fact, that companies are developing new products, overhauling marketing and launching educational programs—all with the goal of luring the archetypal 26-year-old.

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California exports edge upwards

California accounted for 11.4 percent of the nation’s overall merchandise export trade in August. Through the first seven months of 2017, the state’s exports are running 5.3 percent ahead of last year.

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U.S. manufacturing activity hits 13-year high; construction spending up

U.S. factory activity surged to a more than 13-year high in September amid strong gains in new orders and raw material prices, pointing to underlying strength in the economy even as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are expected to dent growth in the third quarter.

The economic outlook was also bolstered by other data on Monday showing a rebound in construction spending in August. The acceleration in manufacturing activity and the accompanying increase in prices could harden expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in December.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity surged to a reading of 60.8 last month, the highest reading since May 2004, from 58.8 in August.

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China’s booming electric vehicle market is about to run into a mountain of battery waste

China’s push to promote electric cars comes with a lot of benefits for a country that suffers from terrible air pollution from its reliance on fossil fuels. But there’s always a downside—electric car batteries are toxic if not disposed of properly, and China’s on the verge of having to deal with a slew of batteries that can no longer hold a charge.

In just a few years, China has become the world’s biggest electric vehicle market, with the help of subsidies. It saw 336,00 new electric car registrations (pdf, p.12) in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency. That includes both battery-only and hybrid models. Including other types of vehicles, China says it sold a total of half a million “new energy” vehicles last year. This month, China also said that it would eventually phase out sales of all fossil-fuel cars.

That fast-growing market, however, is also producing batteries at a faster rate too. The average lifespan of a lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) battery, the dominant type in China’s electric vehicles, is around five years, according to Li Changdong, chairman of the Hunan-based Brunp group, China’s top electric car battery recycler in 2016 (link in Chinese). Most batteries installed on electric vehicles during the 2012 to 2014 period will be retired on a large scale (link in Chinese) around 2018, Li told the Beijing-based newspaper Economic Information Daily.

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Port Truck Battle Drives Off Costco

A labor dispute over the classification of truck drivers who shuttle goods to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has caused at least one local company to lose a Fortune 500 client.

Carson-based Pacific 9 Transportation Inc. no longer counts Costco Wholesale Corp. as a customer as of late August. Alan Ta, chief operating officer of Pacific 9, declined to give specifics but confirmed that Costco is no longer a client.

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State merchandise exports slip a bit in July

In what has been an up-and-down year, California businesses exported merchandise valued at $13.3 billion in July, down a modest 1.5 percent from shipments valued at $13.51 billion in July 2016.

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