1. U.S. equities edge up in premarket trading, with investors largely betting the Federal Reserve won’t raise interest rates further when the central bank convenes next week. The S&P 500 is up 0.33%, while the Nasdaq Composite is 0.24% higher. U.S. government bond yields tick up, with that of the 10-year Treasury hovering just below 4.3%.
2. Oil prices continue to climb higher, with West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. oil benchmark, climbing above $90 a barrel for the first time since last November. Club oil holdings Coterra Energy (CTRA) and Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) are up 1.48% and 0.88%, respectively, in early trading. Here’s the Club’s take on oil’s 10-month highs.
3. U.S. wholesale inflation climbs more than expected in August, according to the Labor Department’s monthly producer price index. At the same time, U.S. retail sales come in higher than predicted for last month, the Commerce Department reports, though the gains are largely driven by higher gasoline prices.
4. The European Central Bank raises interest rates by a quarter percentage point, bringing its deposit rate to a record-high 4%. The increase is the ECB’s 10th-conesecutive rate hike.
5. British chip designer Arm Holdings, owned by SoftBank Group (SFTBF), sets its highly anticipated initial public offering at $51 a share, valuing the company at over $54 billion. At this price, there’s not a lot of room for error. The firm will start trading Thursday on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol ARM.
6. The European Union launches an “anti-subsidy” investigation into China’s electric-vehicle companies, with Beijing calling the move “blatant protectionism.” Will Europe go 27.5% tariffs on Chinese cars? This could be a real issue for China.
7. China’s central bank is cutting the reserve requirement ratio for all banks, except those that have implemented a 5% reserve ratio, by 25 basis points from Sept. 15, in the government’s latest effort to prop up its faltering economy.
8. Jim Farley, the CEO of Club holding Ford Motor (F), rejects allegations by United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain that the automaker is not taking bargaining seriously ahead of a Thursday night strike deadline. Here’s the Club’s take on how a union strike could impact Ford.
9. KeyBank raises its price target on Chip designer Cadence Design Systems (CDNS) to $290 a share, up from $270, while reiterating an overweight rating on the stock. The firm’s call comes after KeyBank analysts met with early users of the company’s new AI-enabled EDA design portfolio. Cadence is a partner of AI chipmaker and Club holding Nvidia (NVDA).
10. Wolfe Research upgrades ecommerce firm Etsy Inc. (ETSY) to outperform, from peer perform, with a $100-per-share price target. The firm cites “many paths” for Etsy shares to outperform over the next 12-18 months.
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US grid-scale energy storage installations soared in Q2 2023
The US battery energy storage market added 5,597 megawatt hours (MWh) in the second quarter of 2023, a new quarterly record.
The grid-scale segment of the industry drove the market with a record-breaking 5,109 MWh in Q2, beating the previous record in Q4 2021 by 5%, according to Wood Mackenzie and the American Clean Power Association’s (ACP) latest US Energy Storage Monitor report.
The grid-scale segment achieved 172% growth quarter-over-quarter. California was No. 1 among states with the most grid-scale energy storage installations, with 738 MW and a 49% share of installed capacity.
Wood Mackenzie projects the grid-scale segment to be the main driver of the market in its five-year forecast from 2023-27, accounting for 83% of total installations, or 55 gigawatts (GW).
ACP’s VP of research and analytics, John Hensley, said:
The energy storage market is on pace for a record year, as utilities and larger power users increasingly turn to storage to enhance the grid and improve reliability.
The market is on pace to nearly double annual installations despite supply chain challenges and interconnection delays, and will continue to grow quickly in coming years.
Community, commercial, and industrial (CCI) installations, at 107 MWh, were higher than any quarter in 2022 but couldn’t keep pace with the huge spike in Q1 installations, resulting in a 53% quarterly decline. However, the segment is still up 25% year-over-year.
Residential storage saw its second-straight quarter of decline at 381.2 MWh, behind Q1’s 388.2 MWh. California saw the biggest decline, decreasing 17% quarter-over-quarter and 37% year-over-year.
Vanessa Witte, senior analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s energy storage team, said, “We still project strong growth for the residential segment in our five-year outlook, reaching a total of 8 GW in 2027. However, the CCI segment continues to fail to meet growth projections and we have downgraded its five-year growth forecast by 28% to 3 GW.”
On Friday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $325 million for 15 projects across 17 states and one tribal nation to accelerate the development of long-duration energy storage (LDES) technologies. The DOE has set a goal to reduce the cost of LDES by 90% by 2030.
Photo: Jupiter Power; Graphs: US Energy Storage Monitor Q3 2023 | American Clean Power Association, Wood Mackenzie
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Tesla releases update on Optimus robot with video looking like CGI
Tesla has released an update with progress on its Optimus humanoid robot with a video that almost looks like CGI.
Optimus, also known as Tesla Bot, has not been taken seriously by many outside of the more hardcore Tesla fans, and for good reasons.
When it was first announced, it seemed to be a half-baked idea from CEO Elon Musk with a dancer disguised as a robot for visual aid. It also didn’t help that the demo at Tesla AI Day last year was less than impressive.
At the time, Tesla had a very early prototype that didn’t look like much. It was barely able to walk around and wave at the crowd. That was about it.
But we did note that the project was gaining credibility with the latest update at Tesla’s 2023 shareholders meeting earlier this year.
At the time, Tesla showed several more prototypes that all looked more advanced and started to perform actually useful tasks.
Tesla has now released a new update on Optimus with a video showcasing the ability of the robot to sort objects autonomously:
Like the latest versions of Full Self-Driving, Tesla also notes that Optimus is now being trained with neural nets end-to-end.
The video shows that Tesla is again making progress with the Tesla bot, which looks more refined in this update. The mechanics look more stable with a prototype balancing on one foot.
The video even looks CGI at times, but everything points to Tesla actually having those working prototypes around its offices.
In a previous update on Optimus, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed that the “Optimus stuff is extremely underrated.” The CEO said that the demand could be as high as 10 to 20 billion units.
He went as far as “confidently predicting” that Optimus will account for “a majority of Tesla’s long-term value.”
There’s no clear timeline for bringing the product to market, but Tesla is expected to first use it in its own operations.
Quick Charge Podcast: September 23, 2023
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