Before you get too excited by that headline, note that a 30% hike in the dividend at Wheaton Precious Metals (WPM) will bring the payout to just 13 cents for the first quarter of 2021. But that’s still, as my grandmother used to say, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. At the least it’s a vote of confidence by the company’s board of directors that they see strong revenue and earnings growth in the year ahead. Wheaton Precious Metals doesn’t actually do any mining itself. Instead it purchases a stream of production from miners of precious metals and cobalt.
U.S. GDP growth slowed in the fourth quarter, gaining just 1% from the third quarter. For the full year the U.S. economy contracted by 3.5%. That makes 2020 the first time that the economy has contracted for a full year since 2009 and the Great Recession. At the bottom of that recession that economy contracted by 2.5%. 2020 is also the worst year for economic growth since 1946 when the economy shrank by 11.6% as the country demobilized after World War II. Consumer spending slowed in all 15 categories tracked by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The sectors that had powered the recovery in the third quarter–restaurants and hotels, for instance–reversed. The growth in spending on cars and health car also slowed from the acceleration in the third quarter. So why is this good news as far as the stock market is concerned?
Does news that U.S. will let Russia’s big aluminum producer avoid sanctions remove this wild card from commodities and stock markets?
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said today that Russian metals giant Rusal, could get sanctions lifted if Putin-connected oligarch Oleg Deripaska relinquished control. The Treasury also gave Rusal a five month extension as it considered Rusal’s appeal of the sanctions. Commodity prices–especially aluminum–fell on the news.
The dollar continued its fall today after European Central Bank president Mario Draghi voiced minimal concern over the rise in the euro. That currency topped $1.25 for the first time since 2014. The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index jumped 0.9%, its biggest leap in more than a year.
On Sunday the Chinese government announced that the headline Consumer Price Index (CPI)rose at a year over year rate of 1.8%. Economists had expected a 1.6% increase. The August rate was the fastest pace since January. Core CPI, that is without the effect of volatile prices for energy and food, rose at a 2.2% year over year rate.
West Texas Intermediate was down 2.74% to $48.90 a barrel today as of noon New York time. International benchmark Brent crude was lower by 2.60% to $51.73 a barrel. The drop in West Texas Intermediate brought the price per barrel below the psychologically important $50 level. Oil had already tumbled 5.7% in the last three trading sessions.