May 21, 2019
WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND HERE
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of man’s first step on the Moon, see Earth’s only permanent natural satellite like never before. A New Moon Rises is a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian and features amazing, large-scale, high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface taken over the last decade. Captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), the images are stunning: from historic Apollo landing sites to towering mountains rising out of the darkness of the lunar poles. Exhibition is at the Huntsville Museum of Art now through August 11th.
THIS WEEK’S ECONOMIC DATA
- Weekly jobless claims dropped more than expected to 212,000 after the second week of May.
- Housing starts rose 5.7% last month.
ECONOMY AND EQUITY MARKETS
Stocks dropped sharply on Monday following China’s retaliatory tariffs, but rebounded later in the week on news of delayed auto tariffs and strong earnings from two blue chips.
China sold the most U.S. Treasuries in more than two years in March amid uncertainty about a trade deal with the U.S. Over the past week there has been renewed speculation whether China may sell its U.S. debt in retaliation for increased tariffs on $200 billion of its exports. Despite the drop in Treasuries holdings, the world’s second-largest economy remained the largest U.S. creditor. On the other hand, Japan raised its Treasuries holdings to $1.1 trillion, the highest since November 2017.
INSIDE THE LOOP
Innovation and Transformation – Researchers are developing a smartphone app that, with the help of a simple paper funnel, might help parents detect fluid buildup in a child’s ear — one symptom of an ear infection. The app is still experimental and would require clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Early data published in Science Translational Medicine suggest the smartphone can perform as well as an expensive test in a doctor’s office. In fact, the scientists report an 85% accuracy rate. They are currently in the process of seeking the FDA’s approval to market the app. The agency would require more studies to gauge the app’s performance and reliability.
Great American Companies – Online crafts marketplace Etsy Inc. aims to boost sales with machine-learning technology from Google. The company’s website carries more than 60 million unique items from 2.2 million sellers. The relevancy of the website’s search returns is critical: More than 80% of search-based purchases come from the first page of results. Search improvements, including machine learning capabilities, have helped add $260 million in incremental gross merchandise sales over the past two years, according to the company.
Dealership on the Rise – Costco sold 650,000 cars last year—a 25 percent increase from 2017—making it a bigger car retailer than AutoNation, the country’s largest automotive dealership group, which sold 548,561 cars.
Box-making Machines – New robots at Amazon warehouses are capable of assembling 600 to 700 boxes per hour. The machines, which cost $1 million each, could be installed in 55 U.S. fulfillment centers. One robot would replace 12 employees.
Tuesday: Existing home sales
Wednesday: Federal Open Market Committee minutes
Thursday: Weekly jobless claims
Friday: Durable goods orders
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“A page of history is worth a volume of logic.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
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*Economy and Equity Markets…(Source: The Wall Street Journal)
*Fixed Income…(Source: Reuters)
*Innovation and Transformation…(Source: National Public Radio)
*Great American Companies…(Source: The Wall Street Journal)
*Dealership on the Rise….(Source: BusinessInsider)
*Box-making Machines…(Source: Reuters)