Stifel Bits

August 30, 2023

The Appetizer

“Setting a superb example for the rest of the penguins.”

  • The reason for Sir Nils Olav III’s promotion to the rank of major general.  He is a king penguin that lives at the Edinburgh Zoo, and is the official mascot of King’s Guard of Norway.  More than 160 uniformed guards attended the special ceremony.

Now, on to the numbers. Drum roll, please …

  • August 24:  The day of the year that American workers most often call out sick, according to a recent study.
  • 53-54: The prime years, on average, for making your best financial decisions.
  • $78,645:  Job seekers’ average reservation wage — the lowest pay they’d be willing to take for a new job, up nearly 8% from July of last year.
  • 19%:  The decline in the average U.S. office lease size in the second quarter of 2023 versus the average lease size between 2015 and 2019, ending at 3,275 square feet.
  • 5.06%:  The yield that the 2-year U.S. Treasury note recently reached, the highest level since 2007.

Dig In
The Long Road to Election Day 2024

Considering how fast the news cycle moves, you may have forgotten that the first Republican primary debate happened already.  Eight of the GOP’s top candidates met in Milwaukee last week to trade barbs, make ChatGPT zings (wonder how long they had that one ready to go!), and vie for a couple minutes in the limelight.

According to FiveThirtyEight, debates don’t typically move the needle much in general election polling, but memorable performances can substantially change a candidate’s trajectory in a primary race … so we, the audience, get to watch candidates’ careful (or not) calculations play out in real time on stage.

Stifel’s own Brian Gardner provided analysis of the debate on the Potomac Perspective podcast, noting several key tax benefits are set to sunset in 2025.

The next debate will take place on September 27 in California, with several more expected before the Republican National Convention in July.  For now, sit back andeducate yourself as much as you can.  We’ll be watching the run-up to the 2024 presidential election closely and keep you appraised of anything that may be more than just noise for investors.

Weekly Specials

If your upcoming travel plans includetouring Italy, keep a close eye on your bill.  Tourists report some cafes and restaurants charging an extra two euros to have a sandwich cut in half or to provide an extra plate.  Yikes!

The race is on, as India became the first to land on the south pole of the moon, just days after a similar Russian rover crashed.  The moon’s south pole has a large concentration of frozen water that may be critical to future exploration as it could be used as a source of drinking water or to cool equipment.

Leaders from the BRICS economic bloc met last week to discuss expansion.  Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa represent the leading emerging market economies, accounting for 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s gross domestic product.  They announced that Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia have been invited to join the group in 2024.

In a recent Stifel Bits, we highlighted precision agriculture – the use of data and technology to optimize crop yields and minimize waste – as a potential solution for food insecurity.  So far, consulting firm McKinsey reports less than half of U.S. farmers currently use farm management software, and only 25% use precision agriculture technology.  One hurdle?  Farmers are drowning in data.

Corporate Lunch

Spotify names this summer “Bummer Summer” as sad music tops Gen Z’s searches, with “Sad” as Gen Z’s most-searched term on Spotify globally.  Probably the millions that didn’t get Taylor Swift tour tickets.

Ford drivers are complaining to federal regulators that some pickups and SUVs, including the F-150, are emitting a loud, crashing sound that resembles a “sonic boom” from their speakers.

Peloton reported another decline in paying subscribers as people trade treadmills for flip-flops in the warmer months.

Tired of being the “will it rain today or not” punching bag, IBM is saying “adios” to predicting rain or shine as it sells off its weather business, including The Weather Channel.

The family-owned sandwich chain Subway has agreed to sell its business to the private equity firm that owns Dunkin Brands, Arby’s, and Baskin Robbins.

Nvidia reported strong earnings, lifting its quarterly revenue guidance ahead of expectations and announced a $25 billion buyback plan.

Dick’s Sporting Goods shares fell 20% after the retailer cut its outlook over theft concerns and aggressive markdowns to clear out its excessive inventory.

To satisfy UK regulators, Microsoft said it will give up rights to release Activision Blizzard games exclusively on Xbox Cloud Gaming.

drawing of a table setting

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