OPEC+ agreed to a surprise new oil supply cut of about 900,000 barrels a day at today’s meeting. But oil prices fell anyway. Turns out that nobody believes that the organization will deliver on its promises. Members including Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq pledged the extra reductions after an online meeting, OPEC said. And Saudi Arabia promised to continue its unilateral 1 million barrel-a-day cut through the first quarter. But, critically, the cuts are voluntary.
At least the hand-over-fist selling of lithium stocks stopped for a day. Albemarle (ALB), the big and low-cost producer, did experience another 0.43% drop today, November 29. But that was still way better than the 6.3% plunge on Monday. And shares of Lithium Americas (LAC) and qm (SQM) managed gains of 1.38% and 0.98%, respectively. There’s no mystery to the drop. Lithium prices have continued to fall. As o Monday, Chinese prices for lithium carbonate have dropped 20% so far in November and 75% for 2023 to date.
Shares of General Motors (GM) are up 11.39% today, November 29, on news that the company will boost its dividend by 33% (to 12 cents a share from 9 cents) and repurchase $10 billion of shares. I’m selling my position in the stock in my 12-18 month Jubak Picks Portfolio. That position is now down 10.03% since I added it to the portfolio on October 4, 2022. I don’t see anything in this report that changes the fundamentals of GM’s car business. Yes, the company demonstrates today with its biggest-ever buyback plan that its legacy gas-powered vehicle business throws off tremendous amounts of cash. Now. But the company has pulled back on many of the expensive investments that would have brought GM into the electric vehicle future.
China’s limits on graphite exports, a key ingredient in electric car batteries, go into effect this week
Meetings between presidents come and go, but China’s efforts to capture the high ground in technologies for the future economy–and to defend that ground once captured–just go on. On December 1 China will begin requiring export permits for some graphite products, another attempt to control critical mineral supply in response to challenges to its global manufacturing dominance. Beijing’s move to restrict graphite exports will have a disproportionate impact on foreign makers of electric vehicle battery components who have not yet shifted to using as much synthetic material as Chinese counterparts, industry insiders and experts told Reuters.
The pace of improvement in the U.S. inflation rate is set to slow in the coming year. According to the economists surveyed by Bloomberg in its latest monthly outing, the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index-—-the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation–will still be running at a 2.5% pace at the end of 2024. That’s up slightly from the 2.4% prediction in last month’s Bloomberg poll. Importantly it’s still significantly higher than the Fed’s 2% target inflation rate.
Hedge funds are unwinding some of their overweight positions in technology stocks after their concentration in the sector reached record levels, according to Goldman Sachs. Net selling in tech, media and telecom stocks last week was the most since July, Goldman Sachs wrote in a note today. Information Technology (XLK) and Communication Services (XLC) were the most net sold sectors, Goldman said. And, among subsectors, sales of software stocks, chips and chip equipment and interactive media and services “were by far the most net sold.” The outweighed buying in IT services and media.”
Oil declined for a third day with U.S.benchmark West Texas Intermediate falling another 0.73% to $74.99 a barrel. International benchmark Brent crude fell 0.65% to $80.06 a barrel. OPEC meets on November 30 and there’s good reason to doubt that the cartel will agree to cut production even in the face of falling oil prices.
I expect a week heavy with Fed-speak with the Federal Reserve’s pre-meeting quiet period due to start on Saturday, December 2, this week is the central bank’s last chance to shape market sentiment before the December 13 meeting of the Open Market Committee. That’s the Fed body that sets interest rates, just in case you’ve forgotten. The December 13 meeting date also includes the release of the quarterly update of the Fed’s Dot Plot projections on interest rates, inflation, GDP growth, and unemployment for 2024.
The US-based venture capital funding deals fell 40.6% in January-October 2023 from that same period in 2022, according to GlobalData’s Financial Deals Database. In dollar terms venture deals fell by 43.56% year-over-year.The US accounted for 35% of the total number of venture capital funding announced globally during January-October 2023. Meanwhile, its share of the total disclosed funding value stood at 48.8%.
Initial claims for unemployment fell by 24,000 to 209,000 in the week ending November 18, the Labor Department said n Wednesday. That was the biggest drop since June. Continuing claims, the number of people continuously receiving unemployment benefits, slipped to 1.84 million in the week ended Nov. 11. That was the first drop in two months.
No turkeys here in Italy so we’re making a pork roast with rosemary. At a farmhouse in Umbria with friends for the holidays. Someone saw a wild boar today on her walk in the vineyards. Back in Venice on Saturday. Back posting tomorrow. I wish everyone a great holiday.
China’s financial regulators are drafting a list of 50 developers eligible for a range of financing. In addition China’s biggest banks, brokerages and distressed asset managers have been told were to meet all “reasonable” funding needs from property firms. Plus the People’s Bank is trying to move up lending plans for the year and to provide at least 1 trillion yuan ($137 billion) of low-cost financing to the nation’s urban village renovation and affordable housing programs. Seems like a lot of money. And it is. But it may not be enough.