January 15, 2018 Market Outlook

Brent Crude Hits $70 Per Barrel

Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, rose to $70 a barrel on Monday with support from the ongoing output cuts led by OPEC. Also, Brent seems unperturbed by the rise in drilling activities in the U.S. and Canada that could lead to higher future output in North America.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $64.53 a barrel, up 23 cents. Both benchmarks last week reached levels not seen since December 2014, with Brent touching $70.05 a barrel and WTI reaching as high as $64.77. According to ANZ bank, rising oil prices is indicating the market is tightening.

Airbus Edges Boeing in Jet Orders Anew

For the fifth time in as many years, Airbus won its annual order contest with Boeing (BA) in the global jet market. Airbus overtook Boeing in the closing weeks of 2017 due to frenetic selling. However, doubts remain over the future of its flagship A380.

The European plane maker said on Monday net orders after cancellations rose 52% to 1,109 aircraft in 2017 versus Boeing’s 912 net orders. In their head-to-head battle, Airbus posted 1,229 unadjusted orders compared with Boeing’s 1,053.

Ford Announces New Plan on EVs

During the Detroit Auto Show on Sunday, Ford CEO Bill Ford followed up last week’s announcements with a new one. The U.S. automaker disclosed that it will significantly increase its planned investments in electric vehicles to $11 billion by 2022 and will have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its model lineup.

The initial target is an investment of $4.5 billion by 2020. Ford executives said the sharp increase now includes the costs of developing dedicated electric vehicle architectures. Ford’s engineering, research and development expenses for 2016, the last full year available, were $7.3 billion, up from $6.7 billion in 2015.

Lego Set Sights on Chinese Children

With the slowdown in sales growth in recent years, privately-owned Lego is now teaming up with Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. to jointly develop online games and potentially a social network aimed at Chinese children.

The Chinese market their bright spot with sales growing 25% to30% in 2016.  On Monday, Lego said the partnership with China’s biggest social network and gaming company is aimed to create a safe online environment covering content, platforms, and experiences tailored for Chinese children.

The Danish toymaker is competing with Barbie maker Mattel Inc. (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS), the firm behind My Little Pony, for a share of the $31 billion toys and games market in China.

Chip Boom Might Soon End

After a blistering year-and-a-half long surge, the  falling of memory chip prices are worrying investors. The concerns were amplified following the disappointing profit estimate by Samsung Electronics Co. Investors are betting the chip boom would extend for at least another year.

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