​APPLE TOP TABLET FOR 2017








Health care costs are on a rapid upturn, and with a vengeance in 2015. According to an article in Health Affairs, nationwide spending reached $3.2 trillion last year, up 5.8% from 2014.The article specified about health care spending growth:
On a per person basis, spending on health care increased 5.0 percent, reaching $9,990. The share of gross domestic product devoted to health care spending was 17.8 percent in 2015, up from 17.4 percent in 2014. Coverage expansions that began in 2014 as a result of the Affordable Care Act continued to affect health spending growth in 2015. In that year, the faster growth in total health care spending was primarily due to accelerated growth in spending for private health insurance (growth of 7.2 percent), hospital care (5.6 percent), and physician and clinical services (6.3 percent). Continued strong growth in Medicaid (9.7 percent) and retail prescription drug spending (9.0 percent), albeit at a slower rate than in 2014, contributed to overall health care spending growth in 2015.Health care costs have an outsized effect on growth of gross domestic product and, thus, inflation. And inflation is one of the factors the Federal Reserve will examine as it looks toward a rate hike this month — the first in eight years.Affordability is at the core of the national debate on health care funding. With expense rates up nearly 6%, the ability to afford care not only becomes more difficult. It raises the friction among doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and patients.If the economy continues to recover, health care costs should continue to spike.

​HEALTH CARE COSTS CONTINUE TO SPIKE

​ARMS SALES

​The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. home prices rose 0.4% sequentially in October. Home prices rose 0.6% sequentially in September. Compared with October 2015, the inflation-adjusted home price has gained 6.2%.

The FHFA monthly index is calculated using purchase prices of houses with mortgages that have been sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

The consensus estimate for October called for a month-over-month increase of 0.5%. In September, economists were looking for a gain of 0.7%, compared with an actual gain of 0.6%.

Over the past 12 months, gains have been greatest in the Mountain states, up 8.3%, and least in the Mid-Atlantic states, where prices are up 3.6%. The year-over-year index rose in all nine Census Bureau divisions in October.

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Home prices posted month-over-month gains in seven of nine Census Bureau divisions. Prices were down 0.6% in the East South Central division and down 0.2% in the West North Central division. Home prices gained 0.1% in the West South Central, 0.2% in the Pacific division, 0.3% in the Middle Atlantic division, 0.6% in the East North Central division, 0.7% in the South Atlantic division, 0.9% in the New England division and 1.2% in the Mountain division.

Across the United States, home prices rose 6.0% year over year from October 2014 to October 2015.

​The key for retailers to keep online sales booming: Adapting to a mobile world in which consumers increasingly browse and buy on their phones or tablets. Soon many retailers will get more web traffic from mobile devices than from PCs. Updating store websites to display well on phones will be vital for businesses to avoid being left behind in the shift to mobile. That can require expensive redesigns to make sties mobile ready. Buyers using phones are more likely to abandon an order  than PC users,especially if a product is hard to view or payment method is clunky 

​RETAIL 

LESS THAN FULL EMPLOYMENT 

Americans puzzled by why unemployment of less than 5% has not caused a surge in either gross domestic product or inflation do not need to look beyond the workforce for the number of people who believe they are underemployed. It is 6.4 million, based on one traditional measure.

According to The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), these Americans are labeled involuntary part-time workers. They are at the center of a part of the workforce that some employers leverage to save benefits by monitoring work hours.

The EPI research group reports on the shift to part-time work:

A new paper by Penn State economics professor and University of Illinois’ Project for Middle Class Renewal analyst’s Lonnie Golden explains that, since the end of the Great Recession, there has been a structural shift, concentrated in a few key industries, that has led to millions more workers to be involuntarily working part-time hours when they would like to work full-time job

As is the case with many of the worst employment problems, minorities and workers in the lowest paid jobs take the brunt of the beating:

While virtually all industries employ part-time labor, the retail and the leisure and hospitality industries alone accounted for 54.3 percent of the growth of involuntary part-time employment between 2007 and 2015.

Also:

Black and Hispanic workers have been relatively more affected by this structural shift. While 3.7 percent of whites work part time involuntarily, 6.8 percent of Hispanic workers and 6.3 percent of black workers have part-time hours but want to work full time.

The jobs recovery is still spotty.

US unemployment is hovering near the lowest level in a decade, jobless claims have reached a 43 year low and home prices have surged to records. In this eight year of economic growth the number of single family homes under construction remains at recessionary levels Housing starts dropped 18.7% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million. Permits , an indication of how much construction is the the pipeline were down a milder 4.7% to 1.2 million. Monthly housig figures are choppy but the broader trend has been one of slow growth. New single family home construction has more than doubled to a rate of 828,000 home in November after bottoming at 353,000 in early 2009 Adjusting for population growth, single family construction is barely back to the prior  troughs of recessions in 1981 and 1991. Sparse construction of new houses remains one of the enduring legacies of the housing bust and is one of the biggest impediments to achieving a more balanced recovery.

Here are companies that reported notable insider selling last week.

Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) had the man at the top of the search giant selling shares this past week. Lawrence Page shed two blocks of 33,332 shares. The first block was priced at $802.65 a share and the second one at $804.92. The total for the combined trades was a huge $53,583,423. The consensus price target for the stock is $966.68. The shares were changing hands on Friday’s close at $807.80.


Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) had the founder, chief executive and board chair of the social media giant selling shares. Mark Zuckerberg sold two huge blocks of his company’s stock. First he parted with 398,431 shares at a price of $119.22. The next day he sold an additional 399,645 shares at $118.86 apiece. The total of the two sales was posted at just under $95 million. The consensus price target for the stock is $155.56, and the shares closed on Friday at $117.27, so the timing was good.

Broadcom Ltd. (NASDAQ: AVGO) also had a huge seller on the trading desk last week. Silver Lake Partners sold a total of 385,797 shares of the supplier of semiconductor connectivity solutions at a share price of $180.36. The total for the sale was a whopping $69,582,178. The consensus price target for the red-hot technology company is set at $211.68. The shares were trading at $181.94 as the week came to a close.

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) also had the man at the top selling some shares last week. Founder and CEO Reed Hastings gave up 87,297 shares of the company at $126.72 apiece. The total for the trade was posted at $$11,062,456. The consensus price target for the streaming content and entertainment giant is $124.10. The shares closed above that level on Friday at $125.59.

ServiceNow Inc. (NYSE: NOW) had a director at the enterprise cloud-based solutions provider selling stock last week. Frederic Luddy sold a total of 101,500 shares at $76.84 apiece. The total for the sale was $7,799,376. The consensus price target is $93.41, and shares were trading last Friday at $76.02.I'm interested in the  Newsletter
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These companies also reported insider selling last week: Famous Dave’s of America Inc. (NASDAQ: DAVE), Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. (NYSE: HST), Summit Materials Inc. (NYSE: SUM), TEGNA Inc. (NYSE: TGNA) and Workday Inc. (NYSE: WDAY).

Also see the week’s top insider buys at 21st Century Fox, Wynn Resorts and more.

While shareholders may be surprised to see such massive insider trades, it’s important to remember all these tech leaders have huge numbers of shares and regularly sell some. With prices also at or near all-time highs, some selling should come as no surprise.

Saudi Arabia is re-evaluating thee multibillion dollar US financial strategy because of shifts in the American political landscape, including whether to go elsewhere with the public stock debut of its state oil company.  Two events, the recent passage of legislation that could allow US terror victims to sue Saudi Arabia and the election of Donald Trump, a vocal supporter of the bill, prompted the reassessment by senior Saudi officials and outside advisers.  Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund has paused its US investments until they can figure out the implications of the bill and the new direction of the White House The initial public offering of Saudi Arabian Oil Co the world's largest oil producer  better known as Aramco tentatively set for next year could raise more than $100 billion in proceeds and rank as the largest IPO in history. The prospect has set banks scrambling for a deal that could bring in $ 1 billion in fees.


America's once dominant place atop the global arms market is slipping Although still the top seller, the US now accounts for 33% of arms exports, down from 64% of the world total in 1999. American hardware is losing out to stuff made by China, Russia and smaller powers such as South Korea. china's weaponry is becoming particularly advanced appealing to client who once bought American The headache for Uncle Sam: More weapons also curbs Washington's sway over troublesome allies

COMPANIES WITH INSIDER TRADING AT YEAR END

​HOME PRICES ROSE SLIGHTLY IN OCTOBER

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FED TO RAISE INTEREST RATES

As Christmas Day gets nearer, online retailers spend more time promoting their shipping options so customers can be sure of getting the product in time for it to go under the tree. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is no different.

The company is offering free next-day delivery on any in-stock iPhone and free two-day delivery on “almost everything else.” That does not include the AirPod wireless earbuds that cost $159 at the online Apple store and do not ship for six weeks. This past Monday the company said the AirPods would be available for delivery to customers and others by next week. Your best bet to get the new AirPods in time for Christmas is to visit an Apple Store near you next Monday.

One item Apple does have plenty of are the Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones for $299.95. Two-day delivery is Free and next-day shipping in Chicago is $17.00. 

The Apple Watch in all its various sizes and colors is also covered for free two-day shipping as are Watch accessories like 42mm woven nylon bands for $49.00. Next-day delivery is $16.00 in Chicago.

The Tech21 Evo Elite Case for an iPhone 7 Plus sells for $49.95 with free two-day shipping and $16.00 overnight shipping in Chicago.

Apple can’t undercut the prices of its channel partners but offering free 2-day shipping and overnight shipping may result in a few more sales direct to consumers. The company surely wishes it had been able to get the AirPods into stores at least a month ago. That could have been some help for the company’s quarterly results.

Apple stock traded about flat Friday at $115.82 in a 52-week range of $89.47 to $118.69. The consensus 12-month price target is $131.84.

A website called App Annie claims the Chinese downloaded more Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) apps from the Apple App Store than Americans did in the third quarter, as measured by dollars. The site calls the data a milestone.

According to App Annie:

This past quarter was full of game-changing apps and unprecedented growth in revenue for iOS. China shattered iOS revenue records with the highest reported this quarter to date for any country. China also not only maintained its spot as #1 for Games (which it earned last quarter), it is now the largest market in the world for iOS App Store revenue, earning a record $1.7 billion.

Now leading the United States by over 15%, China’s growth is projected to climb further by 2020.

The site offers a download of the full report, which is very hard to find.
As for specific Chinese interests:While revenue from Games accounts for the majority of revenue generated in China, other prominent categories like Entertainment and Social Networking are making strides and have more than tripled in the past year. Video streaming apps in China have had a major impact on the Entertainment category as a whole, and include further integrations into traditional cable spaces with investments in smart TV and original content.

To some extent, the news should not be a surprise. A look at the Apple App Store shows the five most downloaded paid apps are games.


​DECEMBER NEWSLETTER  3 



It is not the same as leading the huge smartphone market in sales worldwide, but Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will hold that distinction among tablet manufacturers, with a full quarter of the market next year.

According to TrendForce, Apple will be leading a shrinking market:

The downward slide in tablet shipments has moderated during 2016 because Amazon’s and Huawei’s tablets have propped up the overall product sales despite the market headwinds. Global market research firm TrendForce estimates that global tablet shipments for 2016 will total around 154.5 million units, translating to an annual decline of 8.3%. Looking ahead to 2017, branded tablet vendors will adjust their product strategies and generate demand by releasing low-price devices. Hence, global shipments for 2017 are forecast to fall by just 5.3% annually to about 146.4 million 

The research firm also expects Apple will need to take action to protect its piece of the market:

Amazon made a splash in the tablet market with extremely price-friendly products in 2015. Since then, Amazon’s tablet shipments rose sharply for two consecutive years, and its competitors have also shifted their focus on low-price models. TrendForce notebook analyst Anita Wang pointed out “To narrow Amazon’s lead in this particular segment, Apple will be introducing a more affordable 9.7-inch iPad device in the first quarter of 2017. While this low-price model is expected to be the main driver of iPad shipments for the entire year, whether it will be a hit with consumers remains to be seen.”

In Apple’s fiscal fourth quarter, iPad revenue was $4.3 billion of its total $6.9 billion. This was flat from the same quarter a year earlier

​APPLE PUSHES CHRISTMAS GIFTS

HOME BUILDERS STRUGGLE

You can expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this week, but look for it to shy away from the bigger question looming for financial markets: How does the shock outcome of the presidential election change the economic landscape?The Fed is widely expected to announce an increase in the target range for its federal funds rate to between 0.5% and 0.75% when its two-day meeting wraps up Wednesday, analysts agree. It will be the first increase of 2016, a year once expected to produce at least a couple of rate adjustments. The stock SPX, +0.65% and bond markets TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.00% have a quarter-point move baked in the cake.At the same time, Fed officials are expected to duck questions about how the incoming Trump administration’s plans for fiscal, trade and regulatory policies will impact the economy and the central bank’s policy outlook.I would expect them to keep as low a profile as humanly possible,” said Vincent Reinhart, chief economist for Standish Mellon in Boston. “They don’t want to be seen as influencing policy, either as cheerleader or expressing doubts.”The Fed has already exhibited a preference for staying out of presidential politics. It included no mention of the election in the minutes of its September or November meetings, Reinhart noted.

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen wants to avoid the recent experience of Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney, who came under fire from Brexit supporters for comments he made during, and after, the referendum campaign that ultimately ended with a vote for the U.K. to split with the European Union.And the Fed doesn’t want to whip up Republicans in the House and Senate who are eager to clip the central bank’s wings, analysts said.Fed officials are not likely to change their economic forecasts or their projections for interest rates over the next three years, economists said. At the moment, the central bank is penciling in two rate hikes in 2017, followed by three rate hikes each in 2018 and 2019. Markets scan the Fed’s “dot plot” to extract a snapshot of Fed thinking on economic and policy projections.Any forecasts beyond mid-2017 will be basically ignored by the market, analysts say. By the middle of the year, the Trump administration could have put its initial stamp on the central bank, filling the existing two vacancies on the seven-member Fed board of governors.

At the moment, the market does not expect another rate hike until June.
But there are growing expectations that higher interest rates may be needed, perhaps sooner. Bond yields and the dollar DXY, +0.14% have risen in the wake of the election in part due to expectations of a more active Fed.Congress is expected to press ahead with tax cuts next year, and rate hikes could be needed to keep this stimulus from becoming inflationary.
“The market reflects optimism about the future for economic growth, but the Fed is going to be overly cautious of latching on to that reality,” said Tom Simons, an economist at Jefferies in New YorkFor Yellen, the end of her tenure at the Fed is only 14 months away. Republican insiders think it is highly unlikely Trump would offer Yellen another term at the helm of the central bank.Analysts think Yellen won’t leave early and will follow her policy instincts until the end

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​CHINA DOWNLOADS THE MOST APPS

China's bank has stepped up efforts to drain cash from the country's financial system in the past week, as it seeks to curb excessive borrowing  and tame frothy markets. The PBOC has been guiding major state owned banks to restrict their short term lending to other financial institutions. The scarcity of funds and sharp rise in borrowing costs have contributed to a sell off in China's bond markets, which has thrived in recent months on an abundance of cheap funds available to investors. The yield on 10 year Chinese government bonds rose as high as 3%, its highest since mid June. Bond yields rise as their prices fall. Analysts say the central bank could also be seeking to relieve the recent downward pressure on the yuan by raising domestic interest rates


​SAUDIS RETHINK INVESTING IN US

​CHINA HEATS UP COOLING EFFORTS