EPA Is Forcing Consumers To Switch To Electric Vehicles

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In his podcast addressing the markets today, Louis Navellier offered the following commentary. 

If you wish to listen to this commentary, please click here. 

The Labor Department reported that the PPI declined -0.5% in March and rose 2.7% in the past 12 months (down from a 4.9% annual pace in February).

This was the largest monthly drop in the PPI in almost three years (since April 2020) and the annual rate is now running at the slowest pace in over two years (since January 2021). Wholesale energy prices plunged -6.4% in February, while wholesale food prices rose 0.6%. 

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Excluding food, energy and trade margins, the core PPI rose 0.1% in March and 3.6% in the past 12 months (down from a 4.5% annual pace in February). 

Wholesale service costs declined 0.3% in March, which is very good news, since it had been stubbornly high in previous months.  Overall, the March PPI report signaled that wholesale inflation is cooling, so the Fed is not expected to raise key interest rates further.

The Labor Department reported that the CPI in March rose 0.1% and 5% during the past 12 months (down from a 6% annual pace in February). The good news is the CPI is now running at the slowest annual pace in nearly two years (since May 2021).

However, the core CPI, excluding food and energy, rose 0.4% in March and 5.6% in the past 12 months (up from a 5.5% annual pace in February).  Energy prices declined 3.5% in March, while food prices were unchanged. 

The real estate component, namely Owner’s Equivalent Rent, finally moderated and rose 0.6% in March, down from 0.8% in February. In the past year, Owner’s Equivalent Rent has risen 8.2% and represents about one-third of the overall CPI.

Interestingly, used vehicle prices declined 0.9% in March and have fallen 11.2% in the past 12 months. Overall, the headline CPI was great, but the core rate remains stubbornly high, so until Owner’s Equivalent Rent cracks, consumer inflation will persist.

Growing Doves, No More Hikes?

The FOMC minutes were released on Wednesday and revealed that there were a significant minority of FOMC members that did not want to raise key interest rates at the last FOMC meeting due to the banking turmoil. These FOMC minutes also revealed that Fed staffers predicted a “mild recession” later this year. 

Overall, these FOMC minutes revealed that a minority of FOMC members are dovish, so in light of the latest CPI and PPI data, plus lower Treasury yields, I expect that the Fed will not hike key interest rates further.

The Labor Department on Thursday also announced that weekly unemployment claims rose to 239,000 in the latest week, up from 228,000 in the previous week.  Continuing unemployment claims declined to 1.810 million in the latest week, down from 1.823 million in the previous week.

The four-week moving average of unemployment claims is now running at 240,000, which is the highest level since late November 2021 and may cause the doves on the FOMC to be a bit more assertive.

Regarding Friday’s retail sales report, we want to see if consumers were still spending in March, since after an explosive January, retail sales dipped in February. 

Ironically, due to a manufacturing recession, based on the ISM manufacturing survey for the past five months, the only way for the U.S. economy to grow is if consumer spending via retail rales remains strong.

Forcing Switch To Electric Vehicles

EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced in Detroit new EPA emission limits that would require as much as 67% of new vehicles sold by 2032 to be fully electric. These new stricter regulations are effectively a death blow to internal combustion engines and even more restrictive that the current regulations mandating EPA emissions. 

The new stricter EPA emissions on light and medium-duty trucks would take effect in 2027 and become increasingly strict each year through 2032.  Specifically, the EPA is proposing that emissions decline 18% in 2027, 13% in 2028, 15% in 2029, 8% in 2030, 9% in 2031 and 11% in 2032. 

These EPA regulations are designed to force consumers to essentially switch to electric vehicles (EVs). It will be interesting the reaction from Detroit and other automotive manufacturers. 

It is reasonable to speculate if automakers can possibly comply with the new EPA rules that will force all vehicles to be electric within a decade. A Tuesday NYT article said the new EPA rules are expected to force that EVs make up 54% to 60% percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030, and 64% to 67% by 2032. 

Further, the world only makes 10% of the lithium that the EPA will require under these new emission rules. Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE:SQM) is the second-largest lithium mining company in the world and should benefit from the new EPA rules. 

However, shortages of lithium, nickel and cobalt have made EVs more expensive than vehicles with internal combustion engines and are preventing new EV manufacturers, like Lucid and Rivian, from reaching profitability.

Coffee Beans: Tea Party

China is not only the largest exporter, but also by far the largest market for tea in the world estimated at almost $100 billion, more than six times the size of second-ranked India with total sales of $15.7 billion. Japan, the United States and Brazil round off the top five. Source: Statista. See the full story here