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.