California Mess and Crude Oil Supply

California Mess and Crude Oil Supply

California’s budget troubles are not going away.  Moody’s Investor Services warned the Golden State it faces a “multi-notch” downgrade to its credit rating if the legislature does not produce a budget that closes the $ 24.3 billion deficit.  The state’s current A2 rating is the lowest rating for any state’s general obligation bonds.

China is going all over the world to lock up supplies of key commodities.  This is just the latest example of the Chi-coms flexing their capitalist muscles.  It is not a level playing field, our laws require companies to only do business with certain countries, and cannot pay bribes.  China goes anywhere, ignoring human rights, and plays by no rules except “Do the deal”.

Durable goods orders were up in May for the second straight month.  Orders for non-defense capital goods jumped 4.8%.  This was the biggest jump since September 2004.  These two good economic indicators set an optimistic tone for the market this morning.  New home sales fell, but investors seemed to ignore it, until the FOMC announced they were going to leave rates at 0.00 to 0.25%.   The Fed announcement and accompanying notes caused a sour note, and the market sold off into close.  The Fed’s notes concerning inflation and a slow recovery raised concern.  20-year treasuries dropped like an anvil on thin ice. 

The biggest non-news was the EIA (Energy Information Agency) report on petroleum.  Crude oil continued its inventory depletion that has been the norm since the beginning of May.  We had one weekly increase in inventory (week of 5/29), but the next week we dropped more than the previous increase.  Crude oil closed down on low volume.   The market does not know how to handle the inventory news.  Gasoline inventories continue to build, suggesting that buyers are disappearing at the present pump prices.  It could also be refiners taking advantage of hedging opportunities.  Buy crude now and sell gasoline on the futures market for delivery in August.   Gasoline inventory went up 3.9 million barrels; crude oil inventory went down 3.8 million barrels. Refiners will cut the price of gasoline to move it (unless it is hedged). This puts additional pressure on the refiners, as they will have to squeeze their crack spread (markup in refined products). This would probably not be a good time to own refiners.

One year ago, crude inventory was 301.8 million barrels; present inventory is 353.9 million barrels. Keep in mind that this is down from over 370 million barrels of inventory just a couple of months ago. The inventory line is getting closer to last year’s levels. That is bullish, while there was demand destruction due to high prices last year; present prices are much lower and not to blame for lower use.   Most believe the economy is holding down use, which will increase as consumers gain confidence in their financial situation.  Present gasoline demand is about 200,000 barrels less per day than last year.  One other important fact, did you know we import over 10% of the gasoline that we use?  This acts as an anchor on our refiners prices.  Overseas refiners do not have the same environmental laws, work regulations, or safety requirements that our companies have.   One bearish fact out of the weekly report was that crude oil imports were up 247,000 barrels last week.  Imports had been moving down, in accordance with OPEC reduced production quotas.  If OPEC wants $ 80 oil it seems like a good bet to agree with them.  I do not like leaks in the dam of supply.

John Dalt writes about the stock market daily for online investors. His MarketToday e-letter is sent to subscribers of galtstock. You can subscribe at http://www.galtstock.com

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Walking in Sunny California

Walking in Sunny California

Palm Springs

The affluent area of Palm Springs is an oasis in the midst of the desert, decked out with boutique bars and family restaurants it provides the perfect base in which to start your USA walking holiday. Elvis was certainly impressed with the location and chose it to be his and Priscilla’s secret honeymoon hideaway. But with the secret now out, you can take a walk around America’s greatest singer’s private boudoir, in which amongst other sights you will be shown the escape route that Elvis and Priscilla used to flee to their wedding in Las Vegas.

Whilst here you may also want to take a trip in a traditional 1940s’ Stearman aircraft, which offers unparalleled views over Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. You’ll definitely feel the wind in your face as you travel back in time to the Cowboy-days of 1943; you can even purchase a DVD of your flight to show to your friends and family when you get back home.

Indian Canyons

Palm Springs is the gateway to the Indian Canyons, an area which simply must be experienced on a USA walking holiday. Although it is lesser known than some of the larger National Parks, such as Yosemite and Sequoia, the destination offers plenty to see and do. Many people travel here to visit the 15 mile long Palm Canyon, with its own indigenous flora and fauna. The rugged canyon is flanked by beautiful Californian fan palms, which provide the perfect contrasts to the barren landscapes below.

The Andreas Canyon is just a short walk away, and the trek here takes in 150 different species of plants and many more unusual rock formations. However, the highlight of this American walk is likely to be the metates and bedrock mortars which you will see carved into the rocks of this region. Centuries ago, these were used for preparing food, but from looking at the glorious, unspoilt landscape of the Indian Canyons it would appear that very little has changed since then.

Yosemite National Park

When you take a walk in America’s most renowned National Park you will be rewarded with breathtaking views out over the High Sierra Mountains. Yosemite is best known for its waterfalls and the largest of these is the Upper Yosemite Falls at 1430 feet. The waterfall is the most powerful during the spring months when it can be heard thundering throughout the valley. The giant Sequoia trees are almost a must see whilst on your USA walking holiday and the largest in Yosemite is a lofty 600 foot high There are three separate Sequoia groves within the National Park; the biggest of which is the Mariposa Grove, which contains 500 trees. If the Sequoias particularly interest you then you may want to take a tour with a specialised guide in order to discover more about the planet’s tallest life form.

With so much to see and do, you’re sure to have an incredible time whilst on a USA walking holiday and with all the contrasts that the region offers a walk in America’s Golden State certainly has something for everyone.

Tony Maniscalco is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Ramblers Worldwide Holidays. Operating since 1946, Ramblers Worldwide Holidays now offer over 250 holidays in more than 70 different countries. They are dedicated to providing the very finest walks America can offer at the best value prices.

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Natural Sights of California

Natural Sights of California

California is the third biggest state in the US and stretches over 163,000 square miles. Its sprawling surface area and coastal location makes for a diverse climate and ecological landscape, which means that whilst some areas are arid and desert-like, others are far cooler and temperate. With European tourists eager to escape the Eurozone this summer, and more and more airlines offering cheap flights to San Francisco, here is my guide to some of the standout natural sights of the region.

Death Valley
The Death Valley desert is one of the hottest places in the western hemisphere and is the location of the highest recorded temperature, 56.7 degrees Celsius, measured in 1922. Located in the south east of the state, Death Valley National Park is visited by over 700,000 visitors a year who come to see the inspiring landscapes and ancient geology (some rocks are said to be billions of years old). As a consequence of its harsh environment, the valley is home to a host of unique animals such as the coyote and pupfish.

Redwood National and State Parks
Humboldt and Del North counties are located in the north east of the state, and are home to a great number of redwood forest and other areas of natural beauty – collectively known as the Redwood National and State Parks. The redwoods in the area descend directly from a species that grew 20 million years ago, though what remains today (almost 40,000 acres) is just 2 percent of what would have existed pre-civilization. Although there are no hotels or motels within the parks, nearby towns such as Orick and Crescent City offer sufficient lodging for visitors.

Lake County
Lake County takes its name from Clear Lake, the largest natural lake (68 square miles) entirely in California. Aside from being a quiet and tranquil destination for nature lovers, the area is also famed for wine production, an industry that flourished until prohibition in 1920 but has been re-established since the 60s. The county is also home to a portion of Medocino National Forest – a prime destination for recreational activities.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is located in the central east of the state, and stretches over 1,100 square miles. Despite its great size, the area that is mostly visited by the 3.5 million people each year is Yosemite Valley – a portion of the park that stretches over about 7 miles. The valley is popular due to the number of trails and the diversity of natural and geological sights within the relatively small area. Rock formations and cliffs such as El Capitan and Sentinal Rock offer inspirational scenery whilst the area boasts a Mediterranean climate.

Sarah Maple writes about how to book cheap flights and package holidays.

A Unique California City

A Unique California City

The combination of a location surrounded by the Pacific, the charm of Victorian architecture and a thriving cosmopolitan metropolis make the city of San Francisco a popular tourist destination. Located in northern California where the mild Mediterranean climate draws hundreds of visitors all year, the San Francisco Bay area is famous for the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf. Summers may be cool and foggy and winters mild with occasional rain but many days are sunny and perfect for exploring the distinct regions that encompass the City by the Bay.

Public transportation from the airport includes a modern rail system, BART, that drops passengers into the mid city regions. From the financial district and Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, Nob Hill and other districts can be reached either on foot or by bus or cable car. San Francisco is a great city for walking if moderate hill climbing is not an issue and the breathtaking views at the hilltops provide the reward.

Much of San Francisco developed during the 1849 gold rush period where wealthy miners brought their winnings to town. The quaint Victorian era row homes are stacked up and down the streets and feature bay windows, a signature local style. Cable cars travel through these steep neighborhoods taking riders from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown. The most curving street in the U.S., Lombard Street, can be seen at the top of a cable car stop.

Hundreds of Chinese people came to work on the railroads during the 1800’s. Today, Chinatown ranks as one of the highest Asian populations in the U.S. and stretches through several densely packed city blocks. The fragrant aroma of Chinese food, the dozens of import shops, herb and food markets make this unique region a tourist’s delight.

On level land, Fisherman’s Wharf runs along the harbor for several miles. Numerous restaurants offer oysters and fresh seafood to go or a chance to sit down to an elegant meal. A large sourdough bread factory creates the favorite staple of the 49’rs. Souvenir shops line the Embarcadero and also at an outdoor mini-mall known as Pier 39. Visitors watch piles of black seals lying on the docks and hear the sea gulls overhead. From the harbor, several cruise excursions take tourists around the bay. The island of Alcatraz, once a forbidding prison, makes an interesting half-day trip.

No visit to San Francisco would be complete without a look at the famous Golden Gate Bridge that spans from the city to Marin County. The expansive Golden Gate Park (larger than New York’s Central Park) contains walking paths, botanical gardens, flower conservatories and museums.

The city is known for exquisite cuisine and each district has a unique ethnic focus. In North Beach Italian restaurants line Columbus Street and offer everything from pizza, veal parmesan and tiramisu. Along with sourdough bread, Ghirardelli chocolate is a S.F. favorite and the landmark factory and shops are at Ghirardelli Square near Fisherman’s Wharf. On the north side of town, many contemporary French and California style restaurants are found in the Pacific Heights district.

For more information on San Francisco, visit http://sanfranciscodeals.travel.

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Enjoy Encinitas Beaches in California

Enjoy Encinitas Beaches in California

The town of Encinitas, located in San Diego, offers over 6 miles of beautiful beaches. You can do anything in Encinitas, such as running, jogging, playing volleyball, swimming or surfing.

 

If you’re into fitness, you’ll get a great workout at Stone Steps Beach. The author ran these stairs 5 times every morning when visiting and was in the best shape of his life. These awesome leg-building stairs lead down from the bluffs to the ocean offer fantastic views to enjoy while you work out. At high tide the ocean laps the bottom of the stairs, at low tide, the beach is up to 300 feet wide with lots of room for volleyball.

 

Swami’s Surfing Beach was put on the map by the Beach Boys song Surfin USA. It’s only four blocks from Moonlight Beach. You can walk the beach to Swami’s or drive down old historic Highway 101. The best surfers in the world still surf Swami’s every day – it’s almost a right of passage for surfers. You can also often scuba divers just offshore from Swamis at the Encinitas Marine Life Refuge, our own underwater park.

 

Moonlight Beach is only a three minute walk from the my favorite place to stay when I visit: the Inn at Moonlight Beach. Stone Steps Beach, Beacon’s and Grandview beaches are not far from the Inn, all within walking distance or a brief drive up Neptune Avenue.

 

Anyone can learn to surf by taking surfing classes with world-famous Kahuna Bob, an icon in Encinitas. You can find him by Googling Kahuna Bob Surfing.

 

Moonlight Beach is my favorite beach in Encinitas because it has lifeguards, a big playground, easy-to-use parking lots, safe play areas for the kids, fire-rings (popular year-round), showers, clean restrooms, extensive beach rentals, a snack bar and, one of the best sandy beaches in all of Southern California.

 

Carlos Hunnefeld travels regularly to southern California. His preferred Encinitas lodging is the Inn at Moonlight Beach. The Inn’s hosts wrote their own Encinitas Restaurant Reviews located on the Inn’s website containing personal ratings of the great dining in the little town.

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