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A Little Economic Data Finally

It’s been a few days since we had economic news of any real meaning to me – I want employment data and of course we get a little taste each week on Thursday at 7:30 a.m. in the way of initial jobless claims. Last week we saw 217,000 claims-and the forecast is for 220,000 this week and I would be happy with 230,000-a little softening, but not disastrous. Remember last month we had a softening jobs picture with only 150,000 new jobs created in October and the unemployment rate up to 3.9%–and while I hate to see folks without jobs I am convinced Powell is focused on this number as one of his main interest rate determinants. Next week we have CPI and PPI being released so we will have some meaningful data.

I see interest rates are kind of flattish this morning with the 10 year treasury at 4.54% up 2 basis point. Equity futures are up a tiny amount–could it be that we have a 3rd day that is kind of quiet? I’d love it.

Oil prices are now down around $75/barrel for west Texas intermediate. It was only 6 weeks ago that we hit $94/barrel. An indicator of a softening economy? It is nice to pay $3.00/gallon at the pump versus $4.00. My wife’s Infiniti QX50 requires premium fuel and at the higher prices paying $60-$70 for a fill hurts–I never get my credit card out when I am with her at the gas station–she is on her own.

Did you see the SiriusPoint (SPNT) earnings last night in the “headlines of interest“? Very nice and improving sharply for this insurance company. I have a small position in their 8% reset rate preferred (SPNT-B). Today I am adding to that position. This issue has a reset in 2/2026 which should make this an issue that will be called on this date-of course no one knows for sure. The reset is 7.298% plus the 5 year treasury rate–yikes. The issue is 1 notch under investment grade (BB+ from S&P and Fitch) and is qualified and cumulative (unusual for an insurance company). At current pricing this has a current yield of 7.98% and a yield to first call of about the same–perfect for me.

I also note that U-Haul reported yesterday–earnings were down mainly based on reductions in folks moving–no housing supply, plus high interest rates equals reduced revenue. Regardless of the reduction in earnings they still ‘coin money’—6 month net earnings of over $500 million plus non cash charges of near $400 million. I note this because of the U-Haul Investors Club in which we have 2 smallish IRA’s (total of about $45,000) so I like to keep an eye on the company.

So it is 30 minutes until news (1st time unemployment claims) so let’s get the show on the road.

15 thoughts on “A Little Economic Data Finally”

  1. Tim;
    In California it costs about $60-$70 for half of a tank, just paid $5.49 a gallon for regular this morning.

    1. Interesting I live in the Conejo Valley in Ca. We have (2) independent stations selling gas @ $4.79 and all the majors selling @ $5.39? How can that be???

      1. I suppose it’s like you want the brand name or the store brand, might be the same quality, might not.

      2. PDI, Small world. Used to live in WLV south side of lake. Left in 2021. So many great memories of our 33 years there. You’d be amazed how many neighbors we now have in NC from CA. Latest arrived 2 months ago after they retired from Amgen. Regarding gas, Costco gas here today is $2.90.

        Best to you.

    2. How much of that $5.49 goes to the government and what do they use it for? Yesterday paid $3.23 at NY Costco and get 4% back on my card.

      1. California pumps out the highest state gas tax rate of 77.9 cents per gallon (cpg), followed by Illinois (66.5 cpg) and Pennsylvania (62.2 cpg). The lowest state gas tax rates can be found in Alaska at 9.0 cents per gallon, followed by Missouri (17.5 cpg) and Mississippi (18.4 cpg).

        1. At a Autobahn in Austria it was 2.15 a liter for 95 octane. Think that’s about $8.00 a gallon. The bus driver was from Bratslavia and he said you can find it in the city around $5.30 a gallon but I wasn’t able to check that.

          1. Way back when, my brother and I were tooling down a dark stretch of the Autobahn and the bonnet peeled up and molded to the shape of the windshield and the roof. Stayed there for a couple of seconds. It felt like an eternity though. Then it peeled away from the hinges and sailed off behind us. Either that was some brilliant automotive design engineering or the machine was pretty much a rust bucket. Going fast, you think? It was an old (even then!) Fiat Sport Spider or something that preceded even that model I suppose. Ga$? I think we put it in with an eye-dropper if this sojourn down Memory Ln serves me well. Do they still allow idiot Americans to drive the Autobahn without speed limits?

        2. Bill, don’t forget that CA also has a big “global warming” fee (cap and trade) that everyone refuses to describe as a tax. There is also the additional cost in CA gas to meet CA state specific pollution standards (CARB).

          Article I saw early in the year said that the “real” total tax (and other gov.fees, mandates, etc.) on gas in CA is about $1.09 a gallon.

          Gotta love living in the people republic of California.

          1. Private,
            That is true and we still have potholes all over the highways. If it weren’t for living by the ocean I would have left long ago, lakes and rivers are ok, but nothing like the Pacific.

    3. Bill S – yes I know CA is higher—but you are all ‘rich’ us midwesterners are poor folk.

      1. Tim:
        Ha, not rich, but a bit wealthier thanks to you and all the others on this website. By the way, isn’t Warren Buffett a “Midwesterner” ?

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