Global Investing

Three snapshots for Monday

The NAHB U.S. homebuilder sentiment index held at 28, below economists’ expectations for 30.

Apple will initiate a regular quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share in July and will buy back up to $10 billion of its stock starting in fiscal 2013.

Energy leads the way for commodities this year, but with a big divergence between the components – gasoline sitting at the top while natural gas sits near the bottom.

The missing barrels of oil

Where are the missing barrels of oil, asks Barclays Capital.

Oil inventories in the United States rose sharply last week, with demand for oil products  such as gasoline at the lowest in 15 years and crude stockpiles at the highest since last September. Americans, pinched in the wallet, are clearly cutting back on fuel use.

But worldwide, the inventories picture is different – Barclays calculates in  fact that oil stocks are around 50 million barrels below the seasonal average. And sustainable spare capacity in the market is less than 2 million barrels per day. What that means is that the world has “extremely limited buffers to absorb any one of the series of potential geopolitical mishaps.” (Barclays writes)

A big difference from the picture at the start of 2012. With the global economy weak, analysts predicted OPEC would need to pump 29.7 million barrels per day in the first quarter, more than a million barrels below what the group was actually pumping. Logic dictates inventories would have started to build.

Cost of expensive gasoline measured in SUV sales drop



Are high gas prices killing Americans’ love affair with gas-guzzling SUVs? Looks that way.

In April, SUVs and light trucks took their smallest share of total U.S. vehicle sales in nearly nine years, and dealers sold more new cars than trucks for the second month running — the first time that’s happened since 2001. While many factors have teamed up to torpedo sales of high-ticket vehicles like SUVs — tighter credit, a tough job market, slumping real estate values and a generally soft economy — the fact that pump prices have soared to a record aren’t helping, as the chart shows.

This trend might not easily reverse in May. Gas prices are up an average of 3 percent in the first two weeks of the month, with the latest weekly average pump price setting a fresh record of $3.72 a gallon, according to the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.

The magic of seasonal adjustments: You’re paying less for gas


Been paying more at the pump lately? Not to worry. It’s just a figment of your imagination, new government data shows.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that gasoline prices fell last month by 2 percent. This was the very same month when crude oil prices surged 11.7 percent and there was NO pass through at the pump? Hmmmm.

Meanwhile, another branch of the very same U.S. government, the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, contends average retail gas prices actually shot up 9.5 percent in April from March. Whoa!