MH Daily Bulletin: January 3

January 3, 2023 • Posted in Daily Bulletin

News relevant to the plastics industry:

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Domestic Markets

  • The daily average for new COVID-19 cases fell to 57,504 last week from 69,623 the week before, while average fatalities decreased to 361 from 422. Trackers suggest that recent counts could be understated due to the holidays, as evidenced by rising hospitalizations and intensive care cases. 
  • XBB, a new and highly infectious strain of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, has quickly spread to account for over half of all infections in New York City, CDC data shows.
  • The dollar gained about 8% in 2022, its best year since 2015 on the back of a string of interest-rate hikes and fears of a sharp slowdown in global economic growth.
  • Just over half of U.S. states are showing signs of slowing economic activity, a key threshold that often signals a looming recession, according to the St. Louis Fed. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of economists at 23 major financial institutions expect the U.S. to see a downturn this year.
  • Wall Street’s three main indexes booked their first yearly drop since 2018 as the Federal Reserve imposed its fastest pace of interest-rate hikes in four decades. In percentage terms, all three indexes saw their worst performance since 2008, with the S&P 500 down 19.4%, the Dow down 8.8% and the Nasdaq down 33.1%.
Back-to-Back Down Years Are Rare for the Stock Market
  • S&P 500 companies spent a record $561 billion on dividends in 2022, a trend that is expected to continue this year as more companies that suspended or cut dividends early in the pandemic resume payouts.
  • Wages for workers who stayed at their jobs rose 5.5% in November from a year earlier, the biggest gain in 25 years of record-keeping as more companies offer big raises to retain workers in the tight labor market.
  • December marked the first time in five months that U.S. small businesses said it has become easier to find workers, according to a Wall Street Journal survey.
  • Tech companies laid off workers in 2022 at the fastest pace of the pandemic, cutting over 150,000 jobs. Big U.S. tech firms are seeing growth slow in their cloud units as increasingly cost-conscious firms work to optimize their data needs.
Amazon, Microsoft & Google Dominate Cloud Market

International Markets

  • In the latest China news:
    • A top Chinese public health official warned of widespread COVID-19 outbreaks across the country’s more vulnerable rural areas as millions of citizens prepare to travel home for the coming Lunar New Year holiday.
    • Concerned over the lack of data from China on potentially new COVID-19 variants, many of the world’s major economies, including Britain, France and Canada, imposed new testing requirements on travelers arriving from the nation. Belgium will start testing wastewater from planes arriving from China, while Morocco banned all travelers from China outright. 
    • China’s yuan closed the final trading session of 2022 at roughly 6.95 per dollar, down 8.6% on the year for its worst annual performance in almost three decades.
    • China’s manufacturing, services and property sectors all weakened sharply in the fourth quarter due to COVID-19 disruptions, resulting in a likely economic contraction, according to a spate of new business surveys. Service-sector and manufacturing activity plunged the most since February 2020.
    • A months-long decline in China’s home prices accelerated in December, reflecting persistently weak demand despite a rash of support measures.
  • A third of the global economy will likely be hit with recession this year, including half of the EU, according to the International Monetary Fund.
  • The U.K. is expected to see the worst recession and weakest recovery of major global economies in 2023, British economists say.
  • A months-long contraction in the manufacturing output of Germany, France and Spain slowed in December, indicating the worst has passed, according to surveys from S&P Global.
  • Germany’s finance minister expects inflation in Europe’s largest economy to slow to a pace of 7% in 2023, still well above a 2% target.
  • Spanish consumer inflation hit 5.8% in December, the slowest pace this year thanks to lower electricity prices.
  • India’s rupee ended 2022 as one of Asia’s worst-performing currencies with a fall of 10.14%, its biggest decline in almost a decade. The nation’s manufacturing activity, meanwhile, closed the year with strong growth, according to S&P Global.
  • Brazil posted a record $62.3 billion trade surplus last year on a 19.3% rise in exports, led by the agriculture and livestock industries.
  • Following an eight-year economic collapse, Venezuela’s economy grew almost 18% year over year in the first three quarters of 2022, according to its central bank.
  • Japan is boosting payments to families who move out of Tokyo in a bid to reduce overcrowding and reverse decades of population decline outside big cities.
  • Hong Kong home sales fell 40% year over year in 2022 due largely to strict pandemic measures that kept the island’s borders closed for much of the year.
  • Indonesia removed all remaining COVID-19 restrictions last week.

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