Markets Overview

  • ASX SPI 200 futures up 0.5% to 7,222.00
  • Dow Average up 1.1% to 33,840.17
  • Aussie down 0.8% to 0.6742 per US$
  • U.S. 10-year yield rose 2.8bps to 3.6094%
  • Australia 3-year bond yield rose 4.6 bps to 3.06%
  • Australia 10-year bond yield rose 8.6 bps to 3.38%
  • Gold spot down 0.9% to $1,781.58
  • Brent futures up 2.5% to $77.99/bbl

Economic Events

  • 09:00: (AU) Nov. CBA Household Spending YoY, prior 7.4%
  • 09:00: (AU) Nov. CBA Household Spending MoM, prior 0.9%
  • 10:30: (AU) Dec. Westpac Consumer Conf SA MoM, prior -6.9%
  • 10:30: (AU) Dec. Westpac Consumer Conf Index, prior 78.0
  • 11:00: (AU) Australia to Sell A$150 Million 0.75% 2027 Linkers
  • 11:30: (AU) Nov. NAB Business Conditions, prior 22
  • 11:30: (AU) Nov. NAB Business Confidence, prior 0

US stocks advanced with investors gearing up for Tuesday’s reading on consumer prices. US Treasuries ended Monday lower, erasing earlier gains.

The S&P 500 rose 1.4%, notching its best session in nearly two weeks. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 also climbed more than 1%. Treasury yields rose, with the 10-year rate around 3.61%. The dollar advanced.

All eyes will be on the US consumer price index reading on Tuesday, which is expected to show prices, while still high, are continuing to decelerate. The S&P 500 — in a best-case scenario — could rally as much as 10% on a softer CPI reading, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s sales and trading desk. However, the chances of that happening is about 5%, according to their analysis. A cooler inflation reading from the prior month spurred a 5.5% daily surge, with the index notching its best post-CPI day ever.

Other News

Supply-chain snarls have now hit one of the most boring documents in anyone’s filing cabinet — the car title.

“When I first heard of this, I said, ‘What?’ ” says Bob Wheat, general manager at Village Ford car dealership in Dearborn, Mich. “It was just a total surprise to me.”

Already, the auto industry has dealt with crimps in supplies of chips, batteries and even the oval blue badges that Ford Motor Co. puts on trucks.

Now, some states are warning that the specialized paper used to print vehicle titles has gotten hard to find. Government agencies are rationing stashes and extending wait times for flummoxed dealers and car owners.

The problem isn’t with the states that issue the documents. It is with the companies that make the paper, which contains features such as watermarks and security threading to prevent counterfeiting. Consolidation in the industry has reduced the number of companies making it.

Dealers usually need titles to transfer ownership to buyers, and car owners need them to prove legal ownership when they register them, resell them or trade them in. Insurance companies typically require them to process claims.

These days, Mr. Wheat says, he has to be careful not to buy vehicles from other dealers unless they can produce a title, not wanting to get stuck trying to get one himself. Without a title, the car can end up sitting on the lot collecting dust.

Isaac Armstrong, who works for an electrical cooperative and lives in Garden City, Kan., bought a motorcycle from a friend in Oklahoma, and then waited around five months for the title to arrive. He had to miss a motorcycle journey to South Dakota with his dad. “I think it’s crazy,” he says. His father took the trip without him, and all Mr. Armstrong got was some photos.

Other baffled consumers have been taking stock on a Reddit thread about the paper pinch. “Finally got the title. Exactly 18 weeks and 3 days after purchase,” says one poster. “Pure ridiculousness.”

Title paper may be the least flashy paper around. No one says, “Oh, I’ve got to title-wrap some presents.” Even title paper’s initials, T.P., are already taken — by bathroom paper.

“It’s one of these things that’s like everybody’s touched it probably at some point but you don’t realize the complexity that actually goes behind it,” says Andrew Palmer, director of sales for labels and forms at R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., one of the largest printers of title paper.

William Huston, of Sturgis, S.D., heard about the title-paper difficulties when he was trading in his Dodge Challenger for a Ford pickup. The new truck was at a Colorado dealership, but he needed South Dakota to produce a new title after a lien with his credit union was released.

The dealership resorted to a workaround — a power of attorney agreement that gave the dealer the ability to sign the title once it was available, says Mr. Huston, who works in farm equipment sales. “It really wasn’t something that surprised me knowing everything that’s going on in the world today,” he says.

State officials in Michigan, South Dakota and Oklahoma have taken steps to conserve supplies, including giving priority to buyers who require a title to sell a vehicle, and asking dealers to hold off on applying for a title until after a purchase is final, the officials say.

Robin Shrake, a county treasurer in South Dakota, has been hearing by phone from angry and confused drivers, including some who have lost their titles, since the state’s department of revenue revealed in November that title paper would be in short supply until next year.

“This is so out of our hands,” says Ms. Shrake. “We cannot do anything about it without paper. This is like making a cake without eggs.”

In urgent cases, the state’s department of revenue is fast-tracking title printing, turning around approved requests the next day, according to a department representative.

Michigan’s Secretary of State, the entity that handles titles, has gotten more paper in recent months and is considering switching to different paper types to avoid future problems, according to a spokesman.

Some two dozen states, including Texas and California, are using more digital vehicle titles, reducing their need for the paper.

Shortages of all kinds of paper became more common during the pandemic, in part because paper makers pivoted to producing cardboard packaging as online shopping surged.

Demand for other kinds of paper, such as those used in offices, declined as more customers moved to electronic documents and media, say paper industry executives.

Those changes led to a wave of paper mill closures and consolidation, leaving fewer producers of title paper.

Today, there are only two main producers left in the U.S., according to industry executives.

Those two companies labored to meet state-specific demands, says Peter Houston, a sales representative for Rolland Sustana Group. “It was literally 12-14-hour days for months where I was working to backfill all of these needs.”

Some users began stockpiling the paper, straining mills already struggling to meet orders, says Paul Schweitzer, president of CompleteSource Inc., which prints vehicle titles for several states.

“In my 40 years, I’ve seen shortages and lead times,” he says, “but nothing like it is now.”

(Wall Street Journal)