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Today in the Market (3/18/2024)

Good Morning! On Monday, tech stocks surged in anticipation of the crucial Federal Reserve rate determination as investors set aside concerns about stagnant interest rates to concentrate on optimism surrounding advancements in AI.

The S&P 500 increased by 0.63%, while the Dow Jones saw a small gain of 0.20%. The NASDAQ, however, witnessed a surge of 0.83%.

WE WERE APPROVED!

Electric vehicle manufacturer, Canoo Inc. (GOEV) has recently received approval from the U.S. Department of Commerce to designate its Oklahoma City facility as a Foreign Trade Zone. The endorsement signifies a noteworthy achievement that will expedite Canoo’s strategy for manufacturing electric vehicles in the U.S., enhance the profitability of individual units, and facilitate a swifter journey toward reaching the breakeven point.

What does this mean? The Oklahoma City facility of Canoo presently has a workforce exceeding 100 employees and is projected to sustain up to 1,100 well-compensated manufacturing positions when operating at maximum capacity. The designation of a Foreign Trade Zone enables the complete removal of customs duties on vehicles sold to customers abroad, as well as the postponement of customs duties on imported components used in domestically sold vehicles.

What about the economy? Canoo’s manufacturing presence will generate attractive direct and indirect employment opportunities and foster the growth of the advanced manufacturing industry in the central region of the U.S.

COCOA PRICES SURGE

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The demand for chocolate is significantly surpassing the available cocoa supply, resulting in a sharp increase in cocoa prices that will inevitably lead to higher prices for all the yummy chocolate treats in supermarkets worldwide. But how bad is it? The benchmark for cocoa futures reached an unprecedented $8,018 per metric ton, marking a 25% surge from the previous week and a 215% increase compared to the previous year.

Why is this happening? The surge in prices has forced major African cocoa processors, responsible for transforming raw cocoa into a usable form for chocolate companies, to reduce production due to their inability to buy beans. This is being caused by recent harvests being unfavorable due to adverse weather conditions, bean disease, and a long-standing local investment in new tree development.

What does this mean for customers? Well… according to market research firm Circana, there was an 11.6% increase in prices for chocolate products at retail stores in the U.S. in 2023, as compared to the previous year. On top of that, confectionary companies Hershey (HSY) and Mondelez (MDLZ) have cautioned that they will be compelled to transfer the burden of increased cocoa expenses to consumers.

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