Tag Archives: markets

Milwaukee’s Growing Power hosts winter market

Since mid-fall, the fourth annual Growing Power Winter Market has been taking place in Milwaukee.

The second half of the 2016-17 winter market season will begin Jan. 7 at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive.

Growing Power, an urban farm, has earned national recognition for its mission to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for all people in the communities in which they live.

A Growing Power goal  is to bring together vendors from Milwaukee and the surrounding area to form a local market where the Silver Spring community can shop for fruits and veggies, as well as handmade crafts, goods and products.

Founding vendors include Lopez Bakery, Vadose Orchid Jewelry, River of Dreams Meats and Don the Farmer.

New vendors are joining the market every week.

If you go …

 

What: Growing Power Winter Market.

Where: 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee.

When: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, through March 25.

Globalization took hits in 2016; Will 2017 lead to more?

Globalization, the path that the world economy has largely followed for decades, took some hefty blows in 2016.

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union have raised questions over the future of tariff-free trade and companies’ freedom to move production to lower-cost countries.

Borders are back in vogue. Economic nationalism is paying political dividends.

“We want our country back” was the rallying cry of those backing Brexit, a sound bite that had echoes in Trump’s “Make America great again.”

The rise of Trump and the triumph of Brexit had their roots in the global financial crisis of 2008.

Eight years later, the world economy has still not yet fully gotten past that shock to its confidence — people are nervous, some are angry, and many are seeking novel solutions to their problems. Next year, there’s scope for more uncertainty with elections in France and Germany.

Here’s a look at the year’s top business stories for 2016:

BREXIT SHOCK

In what was a sign of things to come, Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum in June. The decision came as a surprise — certainly to bookmakers and many pollsters who had consistently given the “remain” side the edge — and means Britain has to redefine itself after 43 years of EU membership. David Cameron resigned as prime minister after the vote and the new Conservative government led by Theresa May is planning to trigger the formal process by which Britain exits the EU early next year. There are many shades of potential Brexit, from an outright divorce that could put up tariffs on goods and services, to a more amicable parting that sees many of the current trading arrangements kept in place. The pound’s fall to a 31-year low below $1.20 at one point is testament to that uncertainty.

 

TRUMP CARD

Pollsters and bookmakers got it wrong again a few months later when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential election. Whether he translates his “America First” platform into action following his inauguration in January will help shape the global economy for the next four years at least. Trump has railed against long-standing trading agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, and vowed to punish China for the way it devalues its currency against the dollar and to tax U.S. firms that move jobs overseas. He has also laid out plans to bring America’s creaking infrastructure up to 21st-century standards, a new spending pitch that has the potential to boost jobs — but which could also lay the seeds of higher inflation.

MARKETS MARCH ON

Trump’s victory did not cause the bottom to fall out of the stock market rally that’s been largely in place since 2009, when the world economy started to first claw out of its deepest recession since World War II.

In fact, both the Dow and the S&P 500 rallied to hit a series of record highs. Stocks have also benefited from a raft of big corporate deals this year — executives are seeing takeovers as a fast way to generate growth in what is otherwise a low-growth global economy disrupted by non-stop technological innovations.

Notable deals in 2016 included the announcement of an $85 billion merger of Time Warner and AT&T and the $57 billion takeover of Monsanto by Germany medicine and farm-chemical maker Bayer. The $100 billion takeover of SABMiller by Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch InBev was also completed.

FED FINALLY DELIVERS

During his campaign, Trump criticized Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, saying she should be “ashamed” of the way she’s run policy since taking the helm in 2014. A year ago, the Fed appeared set to follow up its first interest rate hike in nearly a decade with three or four more in 2016. But there was no move until Dec. 14, when the U.S. central bank raised its main interest rate to a range between 0.5 percent and 0.75 percent. Many factors explained its hesitation to raise rates, including unease over the global impact of China’s economic slowdown and uncertainty surrounding the U.S. election. But with the U.S. economy continuing to do better than most developed countries — with unemployment below 5 percent and inflation on the way up — the Fed finally delivered another hike. The markets are predicting another three or four increases next year. Those expectations have helped the dollar rally, especially as other major central banks persevere with super-loose monetary policies to breathe life into their economies.

CHINA’S KEY ROLE

As the world’s second-largest economy, China is playing a bigger role in the functioning of the global economy. Nowhere was that more evident than in the early months of 2016, when jitters over the scale of the slowdown in China caused wild swings in financial markets. Stocks took a pounding while commodities tanked, with oil skidding to 13-year lows, as traders factored in lower demand from resource-hungry China. The slump in commodities weighed heavily on economies like Australia that are big exporters of raw materials. China’s economy is ending the year in relatively good health as authorities try to pivot the economy’s focus from manufacturing to more consumer spending. But Trump’s promises to take a tough stance in trade will be of concern to Beijing.

OPEC TAKES A STAND

For the first time since December 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut its production levels in 2016. November’s cut, soon followed by more cuts by non-OPEC countries like Russia, helped push oil prices sharply higher. At over $50 a barrel, benchmark New York crude is markedly higher than the near 13-year lows around $30 recorded at the start of 2016, when investors focused on high supply and concerns over an economic slowdown. The oil slump helped put several crude-producing countries into severe recessions, including Brazil and Venezuela, and even saw wealthy Saudi Arabia cut back on spending. The question for 2017 is whether OPEC — and non-OPEC — countries can deliver on their production promises. If they do and higher oil prices stick, that will push up inflation in the global economy.

IT JUST GRATES

One of the major reasons why popular sentiment has turned against governments has been a growing distrust of elites. Perhaps nothing illustrated the issue more than the “Panama Papers,” a leaked trove of data on thousands of offshore accounts that helped the wealthy, the powerful and celebrities shelter their cash from the taxman, often without breaking the law. Critics say these tax schemes are the core of a system that gives an unfair advantage to big corporations and the wealthy. Outrage grew in the U.S. when it was revealed that Wells Fargo employees opened up to 2 million bank and credit card accounts fraudulently to meet sales goals. Bank employees also allegedly moved money between those accounts and created fake email addresses to sign customers up for online banking.

It just grates.

Trump again raises possibility of not accepting election outcome

The long and contentious race for the White House between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump hurtled toward its conclusion on Tuesday as millions of Americans cast ballots, with only hours left to vote.

Clinton led Trump, 44 percent to 39 percent, in the last Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll before Election Day. A Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation poll gave her a 90 percent chance of defeating Trump and becoming the first U.S. woman president.

In yet another twist to the race, Trump on Tuesday again raised the possibility of not accepting the election’s outcome, saying he had seen reports of voting irregularities. He gave few details and Reuters could not immediately verify the existence of such problems.

The campaign focused on the character of the candidates: Clinton, 69, a former U.S. secretary of state, and Trump, 70, a New York businessman. They often accused each other of being fundamentally unfit to lead the United States as it faces challenges such as an arduous economic recovery, Islamist militants and the rise of China.

Financial markets, betting exchanges and online trading platforms largely predicted a Clinton win, although Trump’s team says he can pull off an upset victory like the June “Brexit” vote to pull Britain out of the European Union.

Trump’s candidacy embodied an attack on America’s political establishment. Clinton represented safeguarding the political order.

A Clinton presidency would likely provide continuity from fellow Democrat Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House, although if Republicans retain control of at least one chamber in Congress more years of political gridlock in Washington could ensue.

A win for Trump could shake some of the basic building blocks of American foreign policy, such as the NATO alliance and free trade, and reverse some of Obama’s domestic achievements such as his 2010 health care law.

Voting ends in some states at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, with the first meaningful results due about an hour later. Television networks called the winner of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections at 11 p.m. or shortly after.

Voting appeared to go smoothly despite allegations in recent weeks from Trump that the electoral system was rigged against him. He told Fox News on Tuesday he had seen reports of voting irregularities.

Asked if believed the election would not be over on Tuesday night, Trump said: “I’m not saying that. I have to look at what’s happening. There are reports that when people vote for Republicans, the entire ticket switches over to Democrats. You’ve seen that. It’s happening at various places.”

Local media in Pennsylvania reported that voters in several counties in the pivotal state had reported that touch-screen voting machines had not been recording their ballots correctly.

Republicans in Pennsylvania also complained that some of their authorized poll watchers were denied access to polling sites in Philadelphia, local media said.

The Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump also sued the registrar of voters in Nevada’s Clark County over a polling place in Las Vegas that remained open on Friday during an early-voting period to accommodate people, many of them Hispanic, who were lined up to cast ballots.

A Nevada judge on Tuesday rejected Trump’s request for records from the polling site. At a court hearing, a county attorney said election officials already preserve records.

Trump has vowed to crack down on illegal immigration and end trade deals he says are harming U.S. workers.

Trump seized the spotlight time and again during the campaign with provocative comments about Muslims and women, attacks against the Republican establishment and bellicose promises to build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico to stem illegal immigration.

MARKETS UP

The Dow Jones Industrial Average index ended up 0.4 percent as investors bet on a win for Clinton, who Wall Street sees as more likely to ensure financial and political stability. Mexico’s peso hit a two-month high on Tuesday on the expectation of a loss for Trump, who has vowed to rip up a trade deal with Mexico.

Trump was expected to draw support heavily from white voters without college degrees.

Clinton was likely to draw support from college-educated voters and Hispanic and black voters.

Major bookmakers and online exchanges were confident Clinton would win. Online political stock market PredictIt put her chances on Tuesday of capturing the White House at 80 percent.

Trump advisers say the level of his support is not apparent in opinion polls and point out that the real estate developer has been closing the gap with Clinton in surveys in recent weeks.

An early indicator of who might prevail could come in North Carolina and Florida, two must-win states for Trump that were the subject of frantic last-minute efforts by both candidates.

Races in both those states were shifting from favoring Clinton to being too close to call, according to opinion polls.

Democrats also are seeking to break the Republican lock on control of the U.S. Congress.

A strong turnout of voters for Clinton could influence Republican control of the Senate, as voters choose 34 senators of the 100-member chamber on Tuesday. Democrats needed a net gain of five seats to win control. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are being contested. The House is expected to remain in Republican hands.

Trump reveled in the drama of the negative presidential campaign but the spotlight was not always kind to him. The release in October of a 2005 video in which he boasted about groping women damaged his campaign and left him on the defensive for critical weeks

2015 market winners, losers: Tech soars, old guard stumbles

In a flat year overall for stocks, there was still plenty of excitement to be enjoyed — or endured — by 2015’s biggest winners and losers.

It was a year to make old guard companies shudder.

New media companies like Netflix, which rose 142 percent to notch the biggest gain in the S&P 500, became more valuable than established media companies like CBS. Amazon eviscerated traditional retailers like Macy’s and Walmart. And energy and materials companies were flattened by weak demand at a time of abundant supplies. The biggest loser was Chesapeake Energy, down almost 80 percent in 2015.

The Dow Jones industrial average, dominated by long-established companies in traditional industries, was down 1.2 percent for the year through Dec. 23. The Nasdaq composite, with its heavy concentration of technology companies, is up a respectable 6.5 percent.

Here are the stories behind some of the stock markets biggest winners and losers for 2015.

ANOTHER STAR TURN FOR NETFLIX

Netflix has enjoyed top billing before: it was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 in 2010 and 2013, and it more than tripled in value both years.

But another big year in 2015 pushed the company’s value past established media rivals like CBS and made it about the same as Time Warner. The streaming entertainment service had 69 million subscribers at the end of the third quarter, and almost a quarter of those signed up in the last year. Netflix also continued to win fans for shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “Narcos.” The company says its service will be available in 200 countries by the end of the year.

AMAZONIAN PROPORTIONS

E-commerce giant Amazon celebrated its 20th anniversary with results that sent investors into a buying frenzy. Amazon was the second biggest gainer in the S&P 500 for the year, up 114 percent through Wednesday. The company is on track to report more than $100 billion in revenue in 2015 and it has started to turn in higher profits more frequently despite a loss in the first quarter.

Its stock surge pushed the company’s market value past that of longtime competitor Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart stock fell 29 percent in 2015, which made this Wal-Mart’s worst year since 1974, when it had fewer than 100 stores. Wal-Mart was the Dow’s biggest loser.

“This year seemed to mark an inflection point for Amazon,” wrote Christine Short, an analyst at Estimize, who said Amazon was “almost solely responsible for the downfall of big box giant Wal-Mart.”

Macy’s and Staples also were among the 20 biggest losers as fewer shoppers trekked to stores and bought more goods online instead.

Amazon is now in a battle with the other high-flying stock of 2015: Amazon and Netflix are rivals in creating original entertainment for subscribers. This year the two snagged almost 50 Primetime Emmy nominations between them. Netflix shows received far more nominations but Amazon’s shows won five Emmys to Netflix’s four.

WARCRAFT GETS A CANDY CRUSH

The third biggest gainer in the S&P 500 was Activision Blizzard, the video game maker behind “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft.” It rose 93 percent as it moved to expand into the sweeter side of games. In November the company agreed to buy King Entertainment, the maker of the smartphone hit “Candy Crush Saga,” to strengthen its mobile games business. It is also working on a “World of Warcraft” movie and a TV show adapted from its kid-focused “Skylanders” game.

The rest of the top ten winners in the index were a mix of companies representing several industries, including the video graphics chip maker NVIDIA, the payments processor Total System Services, the website domain name company VeriSign, and Spam maker Hormel Foods. First Solar also made the top 10, getting a major boost when Congress extended tax breaks for solar installations in December. 

THE BIGGEST LOSERS

Six of the 10 biggest losers in the S&P 500 were energy companies, led by Chesapeake Energy, Southwestern Energy and Consol Energy. All three are dependent on the price of natural gas and all fell between 75 percent and 80 percent this year.  Nine energy companies in the index lost at least half their value.

A big reason: Mother Nature. An extraordinarily warm fall and early winter in the U.S. is slashing demand for heating, and half the nation uses natural gas to heat their homes. Natural gas supplies were already high coming into the winter. That combined with low demand pushed natural gas prices to their lowest levels since 1999 in mid-December.

The rout in crude oil prices that began in mid-2014 deepened in 2015, pulling down the value of oil company shares and the performance of the overall stock market.

All this pain for energy companies is good for consumers, who are now enjoying low prices for gasoline and shrinking heating bills.

There were four non-energy losers in the S&P’s bottom 10.

• Mining company Freeport-McMoRan fell 68 percent, hurt by slowing economic growth in China that reduced demand for raw materials.

• Watchmaker Fossil Group lost nearly two-thirds of its value as fitness trackers grew more popular and the Apple Watch was launched.

• Chipmaker Micron Technology fell 59 percent as consumers continued to turn away from personal computers.

• Casino operator Wynn Resorts fell 54 percent because a corruption crackdown in China has dampened the enthusiasm of high-rolling gamblers in Macau, an important location for Wynn. 

Netflix joining program lineup of 3 cable-TV providers

Netflix’s Internet video service is about to join the programming lineup of three small cable-TV providers in the U.S., a breakthrough that acknowledges the growing popularity of online entertainment.

The agreements with Atlantic Broadband, RCN Telecom Services and Grande Communications gives Netflix’s subscription service a channel on the TiVo boxes that the three cable services provide their customers. Netflix will debut on Atlantic and RCN on Monday and then will expand on to Grande’s service by end of next month.

Collectively, the three cable-TV services have about 820,000 subscribers scattered through nine states and Washington D.C.

Although that’s a small fraction of the cable-TV market, the deals represent another milestone for Netflix Inc. as it tries to make its Internet video service more like premium channels such as HBO and Showtime.

Netflix already had landed spots on the cable-TV boxes of services in England, Denmark and Sweden, but hadn’t been able to make similar inroads in the U.S. until now. The company’s nearly 36 million U.S. subscribers typically have to buy a separate device, such as video game console or a player from Roku or Apple Inc., if they want to stream video on to their TVs. That method usually requires a separate remote and an additional step to flip over to a different TV input to see the picture.

Now, Netflix will be like any other channel on the cable-TV dial except that it relies on a high-speed Internet connection to deliver its video.

“We think this signals a new generation of cable-TV service of offerings,” said David Isenberg, Atlantic’s chief marketing and strategy officer. “It’s a watershed moment.”

He likened what Netflix is doing for Internet video to what HBO did for cable-TV when that service began transmitting through satellites in the early 1970s.

Netflix has been striving to become more HBO-like since it expanded upon its DVD-by-mail service and began offering Internet streaming seven years ago. In the past two years, the Los Gatos, Calif., company has been featuring more original programming, such as the critically acclaimed “House of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black,” to persuade more U.S. subscribers to pay $8 per month for its service.

To help pay for its rising programming costs, Netflix plans to raise its prices by $1 or $2 by July. The higher prices initially will only affect new customers.

HBO, which is owned by Time Warner Inc., views Netflix as such a competitive threat that it has steadfastly refused to licenses its old TV shows, such as “The Sopranos” and “The Wire,” to the Internet video service. Those HBO shows instead will be streamed through a rival Internet video service offered through Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime shipping service as part of deal announced earlier this week.

“HBO fears Netflix’s growing industry power,” BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield wrote in a Thursday blog post. “We suspect HBO wanted to balance Netflix’s growing media industry hegemony by helping to bolster their largest direct-to-consumer … competitor – Amazon.”

Unlike their partnerships with HBO and Showtime, the cable-TV providers aren’t offering a Netflix subscription as part of their bundled packages. People will still have to open a Netflix account through the company’s website or mobile application, although Atlantic is trying to make that process easier by offering a way to sign up on the TV screen.

Netflix is still hoping to be added to the programming lineup of a major cable-TV service. It seems unlikely that Netflix will make its way onto a cable box offered by the biggest service, Comcast Corp any time soon. The relationship between the two companies has grown frosty because Netflix is opposing Comcast’s proposed $45 billion purchase of another major cable-TV service, Time Warner Cable Inc.

RCN Telecom has 440,00 subscribers in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Leigh Valley, Pa. Atlantic, which is owned by Canada’s Cogeco Cable, has 230,000 subscribers in western Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Miami Beach, Fla. and Aiken, S.C. Grande has 150,000 subscribers in Texas.