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U.S. Market Weekly Summary - – Week Ending 09.21.2018

The Free Press WV

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.8% this week and reached a new intraday high as the materials, financial and energy sectors led a broad climb.

The market benchmark ended the week at 2,929.65, up from last week’s closing level of 2,904.98. The measure posted a new record intraday high at 2,940.91 earlier in Friday’s session, but moved slightly into the red on the day by Friday’s close, ending the session down 0.04% from Thursday’s close.

The index’s weekly gain came as the latest slate of economic data showed weekly jobless claims fell last week to their lowest level since 1969 while the total net worth of US households rose by nearly $2.2 trillion in Q2 to a record $106.929 trillion, marking the 11th consecutive quarter of increasing US wealth.

Leading the S&P 500’s weekly climb, the materials and financial sectors added 2.3% each this week, followed by a 1.9% increase in energy. Three sectors ended Friday’s session in the red versus last Friday: Utilities, down 1.5%, real estate, down 0.4%, and technology, down 0.1%.

The materials sector’s advance was supported by gains in copper futures. Among the gainers, Freeport-McMoran (FCX) shares rose 6.7% this week as S&P Global Ratings raised its rating on the miner’s senior unsecured debt to BB from BB-, saying the upgrade “reflects our view that the Heads of Agreement among Freeport, Rio Tinto, and Inalum (PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium—an Indonesian state-owned enterprise) is a significant step toward securing the ability to operate in Indonesia over the long term.“

In the financial sector, gainers included CME Group (CME) which added 1.1% this week as Berenberg raised its price target on the stock amid an increase in the firm’s estimates for the derivatives exchange operator’s earnings in 2019 through 2021. Berenberg said it boosted the estimates to incorporate electronic-trading platform provider NEX Group, which CME has a pending deal to acquire.

Prudential Financial (PRU) shares rose 4.8% this week as its board approved the appointment of Ken Tanji as chief financial officer, succeeding Robert Falzon, who was named vice chairman of the financial-services company.

The energy sector’s advance came as crude-oil futures reached their highest close this week since mid-July. Among the gainers, shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) added 2.7% this week while shares of Chevron (CVX) climbed 3.2%.

On the downside, the utilities sector’s drop came amid concerns about negative impacts from Hurricane Florence. Decliners included Duke Energy (DUK), which said Friday it shut down its 625-megawatt natural gas LV Sutton plant in Wilmington, NC, due to flooding of the Cape Fear River. Shares of Duke Energy fell 2.3% this week.

A 3.0% weekly drop in the shares of Consolidated Edison (ED) also came as the company said one of its units has agreed to acquire a Sempra Energy (SRE) unit that owns 981 megawatts AC of operating renewable electric production projects. The purchase price is $1.54 billion and the projects have $576 million of existing project debt, Consolidated Edison said.

Trump’s Trade War Hits the Lobster Business

The Free Press WV

The American lobster industry is starting to feel the pinch of China’s tariff on US seafood as exporters and dealers cope with sagging prices, new financial pressures, and difficulty sending lobsters overseas, the AP reports. China is a major buyer of lobsters, and it imposed a heavy tariff on exports from the US in early July amid trade hostilities between the two superpowers. Exporters in the US say their business in China has dried up since then. Wholesale prices for live lobsters have also dipped a bit as dealers have lost markets. Prices in July and August were both slightly less than the same month in the previous year, business publisher Urner Barry reported.

One exporter, The Lobster Co. of Arundel, Maine, resorted to laying off four people, which constituted 25% of its wholesale staff, says Stephanie Nadeau, the company’s owner. “I can cut my variable costs and tuck my head in and see if this storm passes,“ she says. “What they’ve done is made it so everybody is fighting over the remaining customers. Price goes down, margins go down.“ China applied the tariffs to a suite of American seafood products, including tuna and crab. It made the move at a time when many Chinese are acquiring a taste for American lobster. China’s American lobster imports grew from $108.3 million in 2016 to $142.4 million last year, and the country barely imported any American lobster a decade ago.

Here Are the 5 Most, Least Valuable College Majors

The Free Press WV

It’s desirable to do what you love for a living—but it helps if what you love pays decently. Bankrate did its due diligence for future college students, looking at US Census Bureau data for 162 degrees that ended up producing labor forces of at least 15,000 people, all with a mission to find which majors prove most valuable (at least in the monetary sense). Here, the top five degrees, their average annual earnings, and the unemployment rate for people with jobs in that field:

  1. Actuarial science: $108,658; 2.3%
  2. Zoology: $111,889; 1.4%
  3. Nuclear engineering: $108,591; 1.8%
  4. Health and medical prep programs: $130,308; 2.3%
  5. Applied mathematics: $105,679; 2%

Read on for the least valuable majors.

  1. Fine arts (miscellaneous): $40,855; 9.1%
  2. Composition and speech: $44,211; 4.9%
  3. Clinical psychology: $51,022; 4.8%
  4. Cosmetology and culinary arts: $42,362; 4.7%
  5. Visual and performing arts: $43,996; 4%
See how other majors fare HERE.

Unemployment numbers slightly less bad in August

The Free Press WV


West Virginia’s unemployment rate declined by one-tenth of a point in August to 5.3 percent.

The number of unemployed residents fell 800 individuals to 41,300. Total unemployment, however, is up 800 people compared to August 2017.

The biggest month-to-month gains were 500 positions in trade, transportation and utilities and 300 in manufacturing, while 400 positions were lost in mining and logging.

The national unemployment rate is 3.9 percent.

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