Member Briefing November 28, 2023
New Home Sales Dropped More Than Expected in October as High Mortgage Rates Ate Into Demand
New home sales fell further than expected in October—a sign that mortgage rates’ rise to 23-year highs pushed some buyers out of the market. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of contract signings to purchase new homes fell to 679,000 in October, down from a revised 719,000 in September. The 5.6% decline—the first drop since August—was sharper than expected: economists had expected a 5.1% decline from September’s preliminary rate to roughly 721,000 sales.
The numbers illustrate how rapidly rising mortgage rates weighed on home buyers. Mortgage rates measured by Freddie Mac climbed to nearly 8% in October. mortgage rates have been falling with the 10-year Treasury yield through much of November as market participants expect lower inflation and easing monetary policy in 2024. Mortgage rates measured by Freddie Mac fell to 7.29% last week—the lowest level since late September.
War in Israel Headlines
- Israel and Hamas: The Latest News – The Guardian
- Israel, Hamas Agree to Extend Truce Deal by Two Days - WSJ
- How Hamas Built a Force to Attack Israel on 7 October - BBC
- Negotiators Close to Agreeing Extension of Gaza Truce, Say Egyptian Security Sources – Reuters
- Who Are the Released Hostages? - BBC
- Could Gaza be the Next Hundred Years’ War? – The Hill
- Elon Musk Tells Netanyahu He Wants to Help Rebuild Gaza After War- Axios
- Interactive Map- Israel’s Operation in Gaza – Institute for the Study of War
- Map – Tracking Hamas’ Attack on Israel – Live Universal Awareness Map
War in Ukraine Headlines
- Ukraine and Russia: The Latest News – The Guardian
- Ukraine’s Push into Russian-Occupied Territory Was Bold — But a Breakthrough is Far From Guaranteed - CNBC
- Finland Plans More Measures to Stop Asylum Surge from Russia Border - Reuters
- Putin Has Staked Russia’s Resources on Victory in Ukraine. Can the West Match Him? - WSJ
- Ukraine to Change Conscription Policies in Drive to Sustain Fighting Capacity – The Guardian
- Blinken Will Highlight Ongoing Support for Ukraine in Europe This Week -US Official – US News
- In Russia, War and Fear Trouble One Presidential Hopeful - Reuters
- Internet of Tanks: NATO Courts the Tech Scene – Politico
- Interactive Map: Assessed Control of Terrain in Ukraine – Institute for the Study of War
- Map – Tracking Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – Live Universal Awareness Map
Giving Tuesday 2023: When Is It, What It Means and How You Can Help
November is a busy month for many people, from family gatherings to shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. But once the holiday rush is over, there's another day to look forward to: Giving Tuesday. The day of giving back is Nov. 28 this year, and it's a great way for people across the country to think about their communities and to help those in need. Since its inception 10 years ago, the movement has raised billions of dollars for nonprofit organizations across the spectrum, whether it's for at-risk youth, the environment or pet adoptions.
And while the money is incredibly significant, there are other ways to help besides giving cash: You can volunteer with a nonprofit, for example, or donate your old clothes to a shelter. You can even just be kind to your neighbor. If you're interested in giving back this holiday, here's what you can do for your community on #GivingTuesday.
Black Friday Spending Was Strong. How People Pay for Gifts Is Upending Retailers.
U.S. retail sales on Black Friday rose 2.5% from last year, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures sales in stores and online. The result was helped by gains in purchases of jewelry and apparel as well as spending on sporting events and at restaurants. Foot traffic at U.S. retailers rose 2.1%, with health and beauty brands seeing double-digit-percentage increases from last year.
Offered by retailers from Neiman Marcus to Target, store-branded, or private-label credit cards as they are sometimes called, have suffered from the yearslong shift to e-commerce and the temporary store closures during the Covid-19 pandemic. That is because most customers open such accounts at cash registers inside bricks-and-mortar stores. The cards, which typically can only be used at a particular chain, have been a lucrative source of revenue for retailers as merchandise sales have slowed. But the stream is drying up as Americans carry fewer cards and increasingly finance purchases with buy now, pay later providers. Interest rates surpassing 30% on some retailers’ credit cards aren’t helping, according to analysts.
COVID 19 News - Structural Brain Changes Detected in Novel Long COVID Imaging Study
New research to be presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting is the first to reveal microstructural brain changes in long COVID patients compared to fully recovered patients and uninfected subjects. The findings indicate long COVID symptoms can be associated with changes to specific cerebral networks.
The research utilized a relatively new brain imaging technique called diffusion microstructure imaging (DMI). The technique tracks the movement of water molecules through brain tissue to deliver a high-resolution picture of the microstructures of the brain. Looking generally for brain lesions or abnormalities, the researchers detected no notable differences between COVID patients and those uninfected. However, zooming in on the microstructural brain differences revealed significant alterations in the COVID cohorts.
Biden Convenes His New Supply Chain Council and Announce 30 Steps to Strengthen U.S. Logistics
President Joe Biden on Monday will convene the first meeting of his supply chain resilience council, using the event to announce 30 actions to improve access to medicine and needed economic data and other programs tied to the production and shipment of goods. “We’re determined to keep working to bring down prices for American consumers and ensure the resilience of our supply chains for the future,” said Lael Brainard, director of the White House National Economic Council and a co-chair of the new supply chain council.
Among the 30 new actions, Biden, a Democrat, will use the Defense Production Act to have the Health and Human Services Department invest in the domestic manufacturing of needed medicines that are deemed crucial for national security. The Cabinet agency has identified $35 million to invest in the production of materials for injectable medicines.The federal government will also improve its ability to monitor supply chains through the sharing of data among agencies. The Commerce Department has developed new tools to assess risks to the supply chain and has partnered with the Energy Department on the supply of renewable energy resources. Shipping companies are beginning to use new data resources from the Transportation Department on freight logistics.
Xi, Biden Will Skip COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai
Some 70,000 people including national leaders and Pope Francis are expected at COP28 as it opens Thursday, in what could be the largest United Nations climate summit ever. Schedules released by the White House for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris showed neither heading to Dubai this week. Biden's engagements include a trip to Colorado to highlight US investment in wind energy, a meeting with the president of Angola and the lighting of the national Christmas tree.
A US official confirmed that Biden was not planning to attend COP28 this week or during a second window close to the end of the talks on December 12. China’s Xi Jinping won’t be at the climate gathering either. India’s Modi, UK’s Sunak and French President Macron to attend.
China's Industrial Profits Growth Slows, Keeps Stimulus Calls Alive
Profits at China's industrial firms extended gains for a third month in October, albeit at a slower pace, suggesting more policy support from Beijing is needed to help shore up growth in the world's second-largest economy. The 2.7% year-on-year rise sees profit growth narrow back to single-digits, following an 11.9% increase in September and a 17.2% gain in August, putting pressure on authorities to extend further assistance to manufacturers as soft global demand continues to dog policymakers heading into 2024.
For the first 10 months of 2023, profits slid 7.8% from a year earlier, narrowing from a 9% decline in the first nine months, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Monday. China's economy has struggled to mount a strong post-COVID recovery as distress in the housing market, local government debt risks, slow global growth and geopolitical tensions dented momentum. The NBS said authorities should "focus on expanding domestic demand and inspiring businesses," in a nod to factories' trade challenges.
Delivery Giants - Amazon is Eclipsing FedEx and UPS, and the Gap is Growing
Amazon.com has grabbed the crown of biggest delivery business in the U.S., surpassing both UPS and FedEx in parcel volumes. The Seattle e-commerce giant delivered more packages to U.S. homes in 2022 than UPS, after eclipsing FedEx in 2020, and it is on track to widen the gap this year, according to internal Amazon data and people familiar with the matter. The U.S. Postal Service is still the biggest parcel service by volume; it handles hundreds of millions of packages for all three companies. A decade ago Amazon was a major customer for UPS and FedEx.
Before Thanksgiving this year, Amazon had already delivered more than 4.8 billion packages in the U.S., and its internal projections predict that it will deliver around 5.9 billion by the end of the year. Last year Amazon shipped 5.2 billion packages. UPS has said that its domestic volume this year is unlikely to exceed last year’s 5.3 billion, which includes packages delivered to customers through the postal service. In the first nine months this year, UPS handled around 3.4 billion parcels domestically. FedEx’s domestic Express and Ground parcel volume reached around 3.05 billion for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2023.
Read more at The WSJ
GOP Braces for Internal Battle Royal Over Government Spending
Lawmakers in both parties are predicting a GOP battle royal over federal spending at the start of the election year as Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) struggles to balance the demands from House conservatives demanding fiscal reforms with keeping the government operating. The new Speaker was able to prevent a shutdown earlier this month without massive repercussions to his leadership.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and other conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus are signaling they won’t give Johnson another free pass — even though he has limited power to get his way, given the Democratic control of the White House and Senate. Some House conservatives say the $1.59 trillion discretionary spending cap that McCarthy agreed to is far too high, and they have called for cutting it by $120 billion. Johnson was forced to cancel floor votes earlier this month on three different spending bills because of divisions within his conference.
New York Extends Statute of Limitations for Filing Claims of Unlawful Discrimination with the Division of Human Rights
On Nov. 17, 2023, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed Senate Bill S.3255, which amends Section 297 of the New York Executive Law by extending the statute of limitations for filing complaints of unlawful discrimination with the Division of Human Rights (DHR) to three years. Prior to this change, the law provided a three-year statute of limitations only for claims of sexual harassment and a one-year statute of limitations for all other claims of unlawful discrimination.
The new statute of limitations will take effect on or about Feb. 15, 2024, and will apply to all unlawful discriminatory practice claims that arise on or after the effective date. The extension of the time to file administrative complaints of unlawful discrimination is yet another example of the state’s efforts to strengthen employee rights and protections. Employers will likely see an increase in the number of complaints regarding discrimination in the workplace. Employers should be sure to consult with legal counsel to prevent and address any claims of unlawful discrimination.
Global Steel Output Flattens
Global steel output inched upward (0.5%) from September to an October total of 150.0 million metric tons according to the latest summary released by the World Steel Association. The new total represents a comparably small (0.6%) increase over the total reported for October 2022, and it raises the year-to-date total for 2023 raw steel production to 1.57 billion metric tons, essentially even (+0.2%) with last year’s 10-month output.
The narrowing volume of output suggest declining demand – in line with the World Steel’s recent short-term forecast for global steel consumption, predicting that 2023 demand will grow just +1.8% year-over-year to 1.814 billion metric tons. Compared to 2022. China is one country where output declined during October, down -3.8% from September to 79.7 million metric tons. Indian steelmakers produced 12.1 million metric tons of raw steel during October, 4.1% more than during September and 15.1% more than during October 2022. Steelmakers in the United States produced 6.8 metric tons of raw steel during October, 1.5% more than during September and 3.4% more than the October 2022 total.
Global Automakers Turn to China for EV Lessons
Volkswagen engineers in one of China’s electric-vehicle hubs are looking to the country’s automotive industry for clues about how to speed up manufacturing and beat back local rivals in the world’s biggest auto market. The German automaker has long been the number one manufacturer in a market dominated by gasoline-powered vehicles, but it has been losing market share as China’s market turns electric. It is now trying to figure out how to compete with upstart Chinese makers that can roll out good, affordable and highly digital electric cars—and do so in a third less time.
The move highlights a significant turnaround in the politically sensitive, employment-heavy auto industry. Whereas China once struggled to match, much less master, Western know-how in engines and drivetrains, it is now Western companies that need to learn from China. This shift carries implications, not just for China’s market—where domestic carmakers account for around three-quarters of EV and plug-in hybrid sales—but also on global manufacturers’ home turf. China’s EV manufacturing methods, suppliers and digital technology could permeate global carmakers.
OPEC+ to Start Meeting at 1300 GMT on Thursday; Talks Continue
OPEC+ is still negotiating ahead of an oil policy meeting on Thursday, sources said on Monday, a gathering analysts expect and some OPEC+ sources say will consider further output cuts to support the market. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia, known as OPEC+, will begin its online meetings to decide oil output levels at 1300 GMT on Thursday, according to a draft agenda seen by Reuters on Monday.
The meeting was delayed from Nov. 26. OPEC+ sources said this was because of a disagreement over output levels for African producers, although sources have since said the group has moved closer to a compromise on this point. Several analysts have said they expect OPEC+ to extend or even deepen supply cuts into next year in order to support prices, which on Monday were trading just above $79 a barrel, down from near $98 in late September.
US Commercial Service Trade Event Partnership Program: Hannover Messe
The US Commercial Service invites manufacturers to join them at the US Pavilion at Hannover Messe, the premiere industrial automation trade show that brings together industry leaders, innovators, and key decision-makers under one roof. Showcase your brand, products, and services to a targeted audience and gain unparalleled exposure.
Benefits of Exhibiting in the U.S. Pavilion include:
- Visibility: BE SEEN The USA brand means quality. Put your brand in front of a highly targeted audience actively seeking new solutions and partnerships from the U.S.
- Networking Opportunities: CONNECT with industry professionals, potential clients, and partners by being part of the U.S. pavilion.
- Showcase Your Products: STAND OUT. Demonstrate and display your latest products and services to a global audience.
- Location: Tell potential customers or partners…. To meet you in the U.S. Pavilion which is centrally located.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact: Mark Cooper