The clock is ticking, TikTok, TikTok…The U.S. Government is closing in. Congress is taking action to ban TikToK, with many congressional representatives speaking out against CEO Shou Zi Chew, TikTok, and ByteDance. Mr.Chew was grilled repeatedly by members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R Wash.) accused TikTok of being a tool to manipulate America, adding that it should be banned. As you ‘peel the onion,’ examining what TikTok is, and just what TikTok represents, an interesting scenario emerges. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, along with two other programs, CapCut, Video software, and Lark- another app. All three apps are totally controlled by ByteDance, and all three filter all data to ByteDance, totally owned by the Chinese. In the U.S. with 150 million Americans using TikTok, imagine the personal data the Chinese Government collects and utilizes, data that reveals every personal aspect of its users. “The Chinese-owned social media platform’s parent company ByteDance is required by Chinese law to give the government access to all data, including search and browsing history, facial ID, voice prints, texts, location, and photos, “ says Kim Komando, nationally syndicated writer and contributor to AP. She’s calling for a complete ban in America.
Sunday’s surprise OPEC announcement didn’t faze Monday’s market, as the Dow Jones plowed ahead 327 points, while the S&P 500 moved up 15 points, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq settling back 32 points. Saudi Arabia and other members said they would slash output by 1 million barrels a day, beginning next month. By Wednesday Brent Crude was gushing ahead reaching $89.94 a barrel, and strong. Tuesday’s market saw all the indices shedding value. More concerns looming ahead for investors and traders are the cut-back in oil production and the labor announcement of job openings declining 9.9%. “That drop in job openings is suggesting a cooling off even before any tightening credit conditions from banking stress,” said Jake Remley, senior portfolio manager at Income Research and Management. After a ‘vivacious’ first quarter, the start of April (second quarter), is suggesting market participants are ‘backing off,’ a bit, having ‘digested’ the banking crisis and coming to grips with ‘sticky’ inflation. At Wednesday’s close, Treasury yields slipped, with the 10-year falling to 3.303%, after showing good resilience during the banking debacle. Investors and traders are now looking for ‘bright-spots’ and reasons to build optimism.
Gold ‘stays strong’…edging up to a high of $2,120.95 Thursday and looking more and more like the ‘haven’ it is in these unstable times of uncertainty. The recent interest in gold has driven prices higher with a stronger demand. As we have discussed many times, investors always turn to the ‘shiny metal’ as a haven of safety in uncertain times, with recent events calling for such measures. Thursday’s gold closed at $2,020, with bullion and gold mining stocks in demand. As the session closed, all indices were even, as the week closed early, in observance of Good Friday.
RUMBLINGS ON THE STREET
Michael Barr, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision, in Congressional Testimony, Barron’s “Whenever you have a bank failure like this, bank management clearly failed, supervisors failed, and our regulatory system failed.”
Tae Kim, Writer for Barron’s, “In Washington time, it’s unlikely that any ban takes place before 2024. But given widespread media coverage and growing anti-China sentiment in Washington, there is–now more than ever–a real path to a TikTok ban.”
Martin Rats, chief commodity strategist at Morgan Stanley, WSJ “OPEC probably needs to do this to stand still,” said Mr.Rats. The decision “reveals something, it gives a signal of where we are in the oil market. And look, let’s be honest about this, when demand is roaring…then OPEC doesn’t need to cut,” he said.
Marija Veitmane, head of equity research at State Street, WSJ “I’m in the camp that bad news is bad news,” said Ms.Veitmane. “This week, we’re getting this realization that we’re avoiding a banking crisis but economic fears are still there. We’re going from financial crisis to cyclical slowdown.”
Luc Filip, head of investments at SYZ Private Banking, WSJ “The fight on inflation is not over. If inflation from energy prices starts to rebound again, that won’t be a good scenario for central banks,” said Mr.Filip.