June 4, 2009

Thursday, June 5, 1930: Dow 272.44 +1.26 (0.5%)

Assorted historical stuff:

Forest fires burn 30,000 acres in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and thousands of acres in “a score of widely separated sections of the Canadian Northwest.”

The average size of the family farm unit in the Great Plains region has grown tremendously in both acreage and total investment. For example, in 1916 Montana had about 35,000 wheat farmers. Today it has less than 14,000 who are handling more acreage. Over one million farms are predicted to receive electric service in the next four years.

Committee of European bankers to meet in New York with the Mexican finance Minister to consider the resumption of payments on Mexico's debt.

And you thought daytrading from your front porch was cool - Stock order received from a traveller on the Graf Zeppelin, transmitted from the radio station on the airship.

The New York Hide Exchange ended its first year of operations successfully.

Market commentary:

Market action is dull (transactions are 1.5M-2M shares/day), but leading stocks were firm (“displayed a quiet undercurrent of strength”) in spite of bad news from U.S. Steel yesterday and bad sentiment about the trade situation. Strength in U.S. Steel, GE, oil, and Liquid Carbonic (“the largest factor in manufacturing and distributing carbonic gas and soda fountains”).

Market largely being made by the average trader, big professionals doing very little on either side.

Traders are complaining that price fluctuations have been so narrow that “even the most nimble operators have found it difficult to scalp a profit on either side.”

Brokers and financiers “seem to think the business depression has touched bottom, and the next turn will be for the better.”

A usually bearish market observer “currently sees nothing but bullish signals through studying fundamentals, current movements, and technical indications.”

Economic news and individual company reports:

Commodity price index hits a new low. Average of 87.8, 2.8 below April and 3 below March. Declining commodities include tin and refined sugar.

Daily electric production in April was up 1% over March, reversing the usual seasonal decline; indicates improvement in business conditions.

Continental Baking reports that earnings are almost back to 1929 levels over the 5 weeks up to May 17, after having been down about 35% for the first 15 weeks. Sales have recovered while flour costs remain low.

National Cash Register reports orders in May up 81% over April though still 25% below May 1929.

Goldman Sachs down to a new yearly low after omitting quarterly stock dividend.

Gillette earnings running far ahead of last year. “If one could guess what the decision will be in the Gillette patent suit, he might make a lot of money in the stock.”

Chrysler shipped 40,644 units in May, 26% below May 1929 but 8% ahead of April.

R.J. Reynolds hiring substantially to increase production of Camel cigarettes.

Glidden (paint) 6-month earnings to April 30 down 63% over 1929 – decline in automotive business and inventory losses on raw material price declines.

Sears-Roebuck sales running slightly below 1929, expects earnings for 1930 to be below 1929.

New building and engineering contracts for the New York metropolitan area totaled $96 million for May compared to $101M for April and $99M for last May.

Musical comedies and revues:

“'Fifty Million Frenchmen.' A gala and racy exhibit, with a few inventive departures and some Cole Porter songs well sung.

“Flying High.” An excellent chorus dancing to good tunes around that comical Bert Lahr; for shock-proof audiences.”

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