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Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has warned that the US economy could soon fall into recession.
In an interview with Bloomberg News at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha this morning, Musk said it appears “more likely than not” that the US economy enters recession in the near term.
Asked about president Biden’s prediction that a recession was “not inevitable” despite rising inflation, Musk pointed out that it will happen eventually… and quite possibly soon.
“A recession is inevitable at some point. As to whether there is a recession in the near term, I think that is more likely than not.
It’s not a certainty, but it appears more likely than not.
Musk isn’t alone. A poll of academic economists earlier this month found that nearly 70% predict the US economy will tip into a recession next year, as the Federal Reserve lifts interest rates aggressively in an attempt to cool inflation.
During the interview, Musk also said Tesla plans to cut its salaried workforce by about 10% over the next three months, which will work out as a 3.5% cut in total headcount.
“Tesla is reducing its salaried workforce roughly 10% over the next three months or so. We expect to grow our hourly workforce. We grew very fast on the salaried side, grew a little too fast in some areas”
Musk added that supply constraints were the biggest brake on Tesla’s growth, rather than competition from rival automakers.
On his planned takeover of Twitter, Musk said there are still a few “unresolved matters”, including the issue of how many bots are on the social media platform [earlier this month he threatened to walk away from the deal]
And asked whether he would support Donald Trump in the next US presidential election, Musk said he was “undecided at this point on that election.”
Time for a recap.
Growth at UK factories has slowed, with bosses reporting a slowdown in output and new orders. With demand cooling, fewer manufacturers expect to raise prices over the next quarter.
British consumers have been hit by the sharpest increase in grocery bills in 13 years. Supermarkets are around 8.3% more expensive than a year ago, adding £380 to the average spend on food this year.
The Bank of England’s chief economist has predicted that further interest rate rises will be needed to cool UK inflation.
Tesla’s Elon Musk has said it is ‘more likely than not’ that the US will enter recession soon. Economist Nouriel Roubini, and Goldman Sachs, have also voiced concerns that a downturn could be near.
The US housing market has continud to cool, with existing home sales hitting their lowest rate in almost two years.
Food giant Kellogg Co is splitting into three companies, sending its shares up almost 3%. Kellogg plans to focus on snacks, and will spin off its North American cereals division, and its plant-based foods.
The hospitality industry has warned that today’s UK rail strikes will cost restaurants, pubs and other businesses £500m in revenue.
Footfall in central London to 1pm today has been 27% lower than last Tuesday and in city centres outside of the capital it was down by 11.2%, according to retail analysts Springboard.
The commodity trader Glencore has pleaded guilty in a London court to seven counts of bribery related to its oil operations in several African countries.
Rolls-Royce is to give more than 14,000 staff a £2,000 payment to help them cope with the soaring cost of living, the first time the engineering firm has made such a move.
EasyJet cabin crew unions in Spain have called nine days of strikes in July, threatening to add to a summer of disruption for airline passengers.
Stock markets have clawed back some of last week’s heavy losses, with the UK’s FTSE 100 up 30 points or 0.4% in late trading, and solid gains on Wall Street.
We’ll be back tomorrow morning, when UK inflation could climb to a new 40-year high…. GW
Just in: Sales of US homes fell last month as the once red-hot housing market cools.
Sales of existing US homes (excluding new builds) dropped by 3.4% in May to the lowest rate since June 2020, during the first wave of Covid-19.
That follows a 2.6% drop in April, as rising US interest rates deter potential buyers.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, predicted that home sales would fall further:
“The impact of higher mortgage rates are not yet fully reflected in the data.”
Prices kept rising, though, supported by a lack of supply. The median house price hit $407,600 in May, up 14.8% on May 2021.
Coca-Cola’s chief executive James Quincey has warned that companies are facing a “very painful” three years from a geopolitical and macroeconomic point of view, Reuters reports.
Efforts to move to a recycling-oriented circular economy will have to be made “in the face of what is likely to be a very painful next zero to three years from a macroeconomic and geopolitical point of view,” Quincey told the Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Summit conference in Dublin on Tuesday.
Stocks have opened higher in New York, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 460 points, or 1.5%, at 30,349 points.
Fiona Cincotta of City Index remains cautious, pointing out that markets just had their worst week since 2020.
High inflation and aggressive central bank tightening raised fears of recession last week sending stocks tumbling to levels last seen in 2020 in the pandemic. The S&P fell 5.8% dropping into a bear market, down over 20% from its early January record high. The fact that the market has entered a bear market doesn’t mean that it will stop falling.
In fact, today’s rise isn’t a risk reset at all, fundamentally nothing has changed since last week. It isn’t unusual for stocks to rise after a heavy selloff. Given that a recession isn’t fully priced in there could well be more decline to come.
US growth slowed sharply in May, according to a closely watched survey from the Chicago Federal Reserve.
The Chicago Fed’s national activity index weakened to +0.01 in May, down from +0.40 in April. That suggests economic growth declined in May, with only a marginal expansion.
Overnight, Goldman Sachs economists cut their US growth forecasts and warned that the risk of recession is rising.
The Goldman team now sees a 30% probability of America entering a recession over the next year, up from 15% previously.
If a recession is avoided, there’s then a 25% ‘conditional probability’ of entering a recession in the following year.
That implies a 48% cumulative probability in the next two years versus 35% previously, Bloomberg explains.
Kellogg’s split comes at a particularly perilous time in the industry due to rising costs, both for labour and for material, points out Associated Press.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed grain prices higher and this month, the U.S. reported that inflation is hitting four-decade highs.
Last fall, about 1,400 workers at Kellogg’s cereal plants went on strike for nearly three months before winning a new contract with immediate, across the board wage increases and enhanced benefits for all workers. In March, few hundred other workers at a plant the makes Cheez-Its won a new contract with 15% wage increases over three years.
US food giant Kellogg has announced plans to split into three companies, as it focuses on snacks.
Kellogg, which began in 1894 when W.K Kellogg created Corn Flakes, has announced it will spin off its North American cereals and plant-based food divisions in two new companies.
Shares in Kellogg have jumped over 6% in pre-market trading, as it become the latest major US firm to break itself up.
Kellogg says the snack division made $11.4bn of net sales last year, or about 80% of total sales. It is focused on global snacking, international cereal and noodles, and North America frozen breakfast.
Brands include Pringles, Pop-Tarts, Kellogg’s breakfast cereals, Frosties, Coco-Pops, and Crunchy Nut. This business is expected to be a higher-growth company than today’s Kellogg Company, it says.
CEO Steve Cahillane, who will become chairman and CEO of the global snacking company, says splitting up the company makes sense:
“These businesses all have significant standalone potential, and an enhanced focus will enable them to better direct their resources toward their distinct strategic priorities.”
The names of the new businesses haven’t been decided yet.
“The North America Cereal Co.”, brought in $2.4bn in net sales last year, and will operate in the U.S., Canada, and Caribbean.
“Plant Co.”, which includes the MorningStar Farms brand, had $340m of net sales last year, and will be focus on plant-based foods.
In the past two years major U.S. firms such as Johnson & Johnson and General Electric Co have both announced splits.
Back in the markets… European stocks are holding their earlier gains, with the UK’s FTSE 100 now up 0.8%, or 56 points, at 7177 points.
Investors are anticipating that Wall Street will open higher, after the Juneteenth holiday on Monday.
A positive start to New York trading would be a relief after the S&P 500 plunged into a bear market last week.
But with recession fears swirling (as Elon Musk has shown), the economic picture is still troubling.
Hani Redha, multi-asset portfolio manager at PineBridge Investments, characterised Tuesday’s moves as a “bear market rally,” caused by a “psychological desire” for a shift in the market mood.
“It doesn’t really change the bigger picture of growth slowing down and tightening financial conditions,” he added.
“That combination still remains the overarching theme, which is pretty challenging.”
Recession worries are also rising in Germany.
The Federation of German Industries (BDI) more than halved its economic forecast for 2022 this morning, predicting German gross domestic product will only grow by 1.5% this year. Before the Ukraine war began, it forecast growth of 3.5%
The BDI also said a halt in Russian gas deliveries would make recession inevitable in Europe’s largest economy.
Britain’s postal workers could soon join railway staff in taking industrial action over pay.
The Communications Workers Union has announced it is serving notice for a national ballot on pay at the postal group Royal Mail. It is seeking an inflation-based, no strings pay award.
Papers will be sent to CWU members on the 28th of June, with the result due three weks later. The results of the ballot would inform a decision on whether to take industrial action.
CWU’s deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger said, in a video posted on Twitter, that the union will recommend industrial action if there’s not been any movement on the pay claim by then.
“Today we will be serving a notice on Royal Mail Group over a pay claim, our claim for an inflation-based no strings pay award. The company has imposed a 2% pay award, miles away from where inflation is, totally inadequate.
“We will have the result on the 19th of July. At that point, depending on where we are, we will make decision as whether we need to take industrial action, and if there has been no movement that is exactly what we will be recommending.”
Pullinger added that Royal Mail’s CEO, Simon Thompson, received a bonus of more than £140,000, taking his overall package to over £700,000 last year.
Royal Mail has said it doesn’t believe there are grounds for industrial action, and that its pay offer is worth up to 5.5% [including a 2% productivity bonus, and agreement on changes to conditions such as an expanded Sunday parcel delivery offer].
A Royal Mail spokesperson said:
“We offered a deal worth up to 5.5% for CWU grade colleagues, the biggest increase we have offered for many years, which was rejected by the CWU.”
Last month, communications regulator Ofcom announced a formal investigation into Royal Mail, after almost a fifth of first-class deliveries arrived at least a day late in the year to April.
Growth at UK manufacturers is slowing and order books have softened, in another sign that economic demand is easing.
The CBI’s latest survey of British factories has found that manufacturing output growth slowed slightly in the three months to June, and is expected to ease further in the three months ahead.
Output increased in 12 out of 17 sectors in the three months to June, led by the motor vehicles and aerospace sub-sectors. But the food, drink & tobacco sub-sector shrank for the first time in just over a year.
Factory bosses reported that export order books fell back to a normal level in June, but were still above their long-term averages.
Encouragingly, fewer manufacturers plan to raise their prices than earlier this year. A net balance of 58% of firms expected domestic price growth for the three months ahead, down from 75% in May and a survey record of +80% in March 2022.
That is the weakest expectations for selling price inflation since September 2021 (although significantly above the long-run average).
Signs of weaker growth could be deterring some firms from raising prices.
Anna Leach, CBI deputy chief economist, explains:
“While manufacturing output is still being supported by a backlog of orders, growth appears to be softening.
Stocks of finished goods are now seen as broadly adequate and we may be seeing the first signs that weaker activity is beginning to slow the pace of price increases in the sector.
Manufacturers continue to report a range of challenges, including significant cost pressures, shipping delays, shortages of key inputs, and, not least, recruitment difficulties. Skills shortages remain widespread and are a key constraint on growth. All of these trends are weighing on confidence.”
There could be more disruption to flights next month, as Spain-based easyJet’s cabin staff will go on strike for nine days in July,
The workers will walk out July 1, 2, 3, 15, 16, 17, 29, 30 and 31 to protest against low wages, Miguel Galan, the general secretary of union USO’s easyJet section, told reporters this morning.
Yesterday easyJet announced it would cut its summer flight schedule, as staff shortages left airlines and airports unable to handle the increase in travel as Covid restrictions were lifted.
Supermarket inflation hit 8.3% in the past month, the highest rate in 13 years, adding £380 to annual bills as the rising cost of living weighs on families, my colleague Sarah Butler reports:
Sales fell at all the big supermarkets as shoppers switched to discounters Aldi and Lidl and bought more own-label goods in an effort to keep a lid on spending, according to the latest data from Kantar.
Sales of supermarkets’ cheapest own-label products rose 12% while Aldi and Lidl’s sales rose by 7.9% and 9.5% respectively in the three months to 12 June. Aldi’s share of the grocery market is 9.6%, less than 1% behind Morrisons where sales fell by 7.2% in the three-month period making it the biggest loser in the market.
Here’s the full story:
Despite the money-saving trend, families splashed out during the platinum jubilee celebrations, buying a third more alcohol and 35% more ice-cream than during an average week, according to Kantar.
Sales of lemon curd were also up 16% as many people had a go at making the official jubilee trifle.