December 28, 2017 Market Outlook

U.S. Oil Trading Hit Records

As volumes in U.S. contracts are outpacing growth elsewhere, financial oil trading is booming and hitting records this year. Based on Thomson Reuters Eikon’s trading data, 2017 volumes for U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) will hit a record of nearly 150 million. This front-month future is the most exchanged contract.

The said volume is more than double the 71 million trades for spot Brent futures which is the international benchmark. The U.S. crude output has surged nearly 70% over the past five years. There is a visible trend showing in market open interest, the number of daily open contracts across all months, where WTI started edging ahead of Brent in September.

Apple and Amazon Venturing into Saudi Arabia

Reliable sources informed Reuters that Apple (AAPL) and Inc. (AMZN) are in licensing discussions with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The two big U.S. corporations are keen on investing in Riyadh to support Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s push to give the conservative kingdom a high-tech look.

A source confirmed that Apple was talking with SAGIA, Saudi Arabia’s foreign investment authority. Although both companies are already selling products in the kingdom via third parties, global tech giants have yet to establish a direct presence. Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing division, is leading the discussions for Amazon. They will be competing in a market currently dominated by smaller local providers like STC and Mobily.

About 70% of the Saudi population is under 30 and frequently glued to social media. Luring Apple and Amazon would further Prince Mohammed’s reform plans and raise the companies’ profile in a young and relatively affluent market.

Apple Gets Wish from Reduced Repatriation Tax Rate

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is finally getting his wish after years of asking Washington to reduce the company’s repatriation tax so they can bring back billions of dollars held overseas. Apple is the biggest cash hoarder by far.

By the end of the most recent quarter, Apple had $268.9 billion in cash and marketable securities. More than $250 billion of the total was held outside the United States. With the enactment of the tax bill into law, observers are curious whether Apple will make good its promise to return the money to its home country. The world’s most valuable company has been widely criticized for continuing to rely on tax havens.

Bitcoin Slumps as South Korea Eyes New Regulations

Bitcoin continues to be volatile as the South Korean government clamps down on the cryptocurrency. According to Coindesk, the value of bitcoin plunged more than 10% to below $14,000 on Thursday morning in Asia.

The head of the country’s financial regulation agency, Yonhap, told reporters that the bitcoin bubble will burst later. The government will be putting in place measures to cool speculation in bitcoin. Included in the measures are a ban on opening anonymous virtual currency accounts and new laws giving authorities the power to shut down digital currency exchanges.

Power Outage Shuts Down Rides in Disneyland

Rides in Toontown and Fantasyland at the 85-acre Anaheim theme park was shut down. A power outage that lasted for several hours hit Disneyland (DIS) at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, disrupting several popular rides during one of the peak weeks of the year. Crews were able to restore electricity to Toontown by noon, and all affected areas by 4 p.m. The electrical failure was caused by a transformer.

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