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Gold price down more than 1% as Fed's Jerome Powell scarifies inflation for economic growth – Kitco NEWS

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Editor’s Note: The article was updated to reflect changes in prices.

(Kitco News) – Gold prices have pushed back into negative territory after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that the central bank will let inflation pressures creep higher.

In his much anticipated speech at the annual Jackson Hole central bank summit, Powell said that the U.S. central bank will target average inflation and put emphasis on ‘broad and inclusive’ employment.

Looking at inflation, Powell said: “following periods when inflation has been running below 2 percent, appropriate monetary policy will likely aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time.

“In conducting monetary policy, we will remain highly focused on fostering as strong a labor market as possible for the benefit of all Americans. And we will steadfastly seek to achieve a 2 percent inflation rate over time,” he said.

Commodity analysts have noted that rising inflation will continue to push real interest rates lower, a key driver for long-term gold prices. After quickly rising to the daily high of $1,987 an ounce, December gold futures then plunged down to $1,929.70 an ounce, down 1.17% on the day.

Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC, said that markets have been anticipating the central bank’s shift in monetary policy and bond yields are pushing lower to reflect the Federal Reserve’s shift to loser monetary policy.

“The change means that the central bank will be more willing to stimulate the economy even as the unemployment rate falls, specifically leaving the fed funds rate at the effective lower bound for longer than previously expected.

Although the Federal Reserve is looking for inflation to rise above 2%, during the question and answer portion of Powell’s presentation, he tried to temper some market expectations. He said that he expects inflation will only moderate overshoots and that they won’t be permanent.

Along with lower bond yields, gold is also seeing a boost as the U.S. dollar index drops below critical support around 93 points.

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Tesla’s Battery Day Letdown Risks $320 Billion Stock Gain – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Tesla’s Battery Day Letdown Risks $320 Billion Stock Gain

(Bloomberg) — Tesla Inc.’s highly anticipated “Battery Day” fell short of expectations that helped fuel its $320 billion surge in market value this year, with Elon Musk outlining grandiose goals that will take time to pull off.

The chief executive officer laid out a plan Tuesday to build a $25,000 car and cut battery costs in half over the next three years. Analysts said while the technology and manufacturing innovations outlined were impressive, Tesla’s valuation already reflected its ability to disrupt and that investors may be let down by the lack of surprises at the much-hyped event.

“With the Battery Day in the rearview, we think there is a lack of upcoming catalysts and are cautious about demand given the recessionary environment,” Robert W. Baird’s Ben Kallo wrote in a Wednesday report naming Tesla a bearish “fresh pick.”

That was echoed by Patrick Hummel, an analyst at UBS with a “neutral” rating on the stock, who said in a research note Tesla’s leadership in battery technology and costs is fully valued into the stock. “Given the high expectations into the event, we think the market will initially respond negatively to the relatively long timelines of the innovations and the lack of granularity,” he wrote.

Tesla shares fell 5.4% to $401.19 as of 9:50 a.m. in New York. The stock has soared about 400% this year.

Musk, 49, said Tesla wants to eventually produce 20 million cars a year. He described a series of innovations that include using dry-electrode technology and making the battery a structural element of the car. Those incremental and longer-term advances belied expectations for a blockbuster leap forward, which Musk himself played up in the weeks leading up to the event.

“The challenge with the stock is that everything they are talking about is three years away,” said Gene Munster, managing director of Loup Ventures. “I think traditional auto is in an even tighter spot, but Tesla investors want this tomorrow.”

Vertical-integration improvements — from making its own battery cells on a pilot line at its factory in Fremont, California, to owning rights to a lithium clay deposit in Nevada — are designed to allow Tesla to cut costs and offer a cheap car as soon as 2023.

“This has always been our dream from the very beginning,” Musk said at the event showcasing Tesla’s battery technology. “In about three years from now, we are confident we can make a compelling $25,000 electric vehicle that is also fully autonomous.”

Halving Battery Costs

Musk, 49, is teasing prospects for a cheaper mystery model without ever having really delivered on the $35,000 price point he had long promised for the Model 3. Three years after Tesla started taking orders for the car in early 2016, the CEO announced plans to close most of Tesla’s stores as a cost-saving measure, allowing him to offer the car at that cost. He backtracked 10 days later, and the cheapest Model 3 available now is $37,990.

Making a truly mass-market electric car and boosting Tesla’s current annual production to 20 million cars will require vastly more batteries than are currently being produced from a handful of suppliers around the world. So Musk plans to expand global capacity by manufacturing battery cells in-house to supplement what it can buy.

“Today’s batteries can’t scale fast enough,” said Musk, who is driven in part by the need to find sustainable energy sources. “There’s a clear path to success but a ton of work to do.” Musk said the gasoline-powered internal-combustion engine will one day be obsolete.

Musk described an “incredible series of innovations with varying levels of difficulty,” said Venkat Viswanathan, a battery expert at Carnegie Mellon University. While battery-manufacturing advances are feasible and deliverable in the three-year time frame, Viswanathan thinks that chemistry developments will take a longer.

If the planned innovations pay off, vehicle range could increase 54%, cost could decrease 56% and investment in gigafactories could decline 69%, said Andrew Baglino, Tesla’s senior vice president for powertrain and energy engineering.

BloombergNEF estimates Tesla’s pack prices were $128/kWh in 2019. A 56% cost reduction would bring prices down to $56/kWh. In addition to the pilot line for battery-cell production in Fremont, and Musk said the company also will make cells at the factory that is under construction in Berlin.

Battery Cell ‘Leap’

Most global automakers have shied away from making their own battery cells, citing the high investment costs and their lack of expertise in an industry dominated mostly by Asian electronics manufactures such as Panasonic Corp. and LG Chem Ltd.

Musk said in a tweet Monday that Tesla will need to start producing its own battery cells to support its various products, even as it ramps up purchases from outside suppliers. He wrote that the company expects significant shortages of cells in 2022 and beyond unless it ramps up output of its own.

“I’m really surprised that they’re taking that leap themselves,” said Tony Posawatz, a consultant who led development of General Motors Co.’s plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt and now sits on the board of Lucid Motors Inc., a Tesla rival. “I think this is going to be a bit harder than what they think, and I don’t think we’ll see a lot of volume out of that for quite some time.”

Tesla’s most important and long-standing partner on batteries is Osaka-based Panasonic, but it also has smaller-scale agreements with Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., or CATL, in China’s Fujian province and South Korea’s LG Chem.

Read more: LG Chem, Panasonic Slide as Tesla Looks to Lower Battery Costs

The highly technical Battery Day presentation included several nuggets of news that were overshadowed by the talk of cathodes and electrolytes. One example: The “Plaid” version of the Model S sedan — with a range of 520 miles — is now available to order, though the vehicle isn’t expected to go on sales until late 2021.

Tuesday’s three-hour event began with the annual shareholder meeting, held outside to allow for social distancing. Shareholders sat in Tesla cars in a parking lot, beeping loudly instead of cheering as Musk spoke.

Investors voted to re-elect Musk and chairman Robyn Denholm to the board and voted against resolutions that would have required more transparency about human rights in the supply chain and the use of arbitration with employees. One shareholder resolution, which requires Tesla to adopt a simple majority vote, did pass.

Musk told shareholders he expects to see deliveries grow on the order of 30% to 40% this year, reaffirming Tesla’s forecast at a time when automakers are struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. “While the rest of the industry has gone down, Tesla has gone up,” he said.

Tesla has said it anticipates delivering 500,000 vehicles in 2020, up about 36% from 2019. In July, the electric-car maker said achieving that goal would be “more difficult” due to a pandemic-related production shutdown early in the year. Global sales are projected to drop about 17% this year to 75 million from 90 million last year, according to research firm LMC Automotive.

(Updates with additional analyst comment in fourth paragraph and opening shares in fifth paragraph.)

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Tesla’s Battery Suppliers Feel Shock From Musk’s Cost-Cut Push – Bloomberg

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Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk cast a shadow of uncertainty over the sales prospects of his suppliers in Asia after unveiling a push to lower the cost of batteries for electric vehicles and underscoring the point by signaling that it will eventually start producing its own cells.

Shares of LG Chem Ltd. slid as much as 5.5% in Seoul, while Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. dropped 4.7% in Shenzhen and Panasonic Corp. dropped 4.3% in Tokyo. The world’s three top EV battery makers all supply Tesla, according to Bloomberg’s Supply Chain Analysis.

The maker of the Model S, X and 3 electric cars will still need to increase battery purchases from the trio but still sees “significant shortages” from 2022 if it doesn’t start producing itself, Chief Executive Officer Musk said in a tweet.

Read more: Musk Sets Lofty Goal for $25,000 Model With Tesla-Made Batteries

Speaking at Tesla’s much-awaited Battery Day event at a plant in Fremont, California, Musk also said the company plans to manufacture a $25,000 car in about three years’ time. The substantial discount compared with the company’s currently cheapest model at $37,990 is to be achieved by halving costs for batteries, the most expensive component in EVs.

Atul Goyal, an analyst at Jefferies Japan Ltd., lowered his rating on Panasonic to underperform from hold, saying Musk’s announcements increase the downside risks for the Japanese electronics maker’s unprofitable battery business.

“This is likely to put Panasonic (and other suppliers) under pressure to catch up to Tesla’s technology/process and to reduce costs,” he said. “With added pressure to improve efficiency and/or reduce costs, Panasonic may need to step up more R&D and is unlikely to have pricing power, even if Tesla’s in-house cells are not ready to replace Panasonic cells in the immediate term.”

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Panasonic’s shares are down 10% this year, as the coronavirus has hurt profits across its business lines. Meanwhile, CATL Ltd.’s shares are still up 85% and LG Chem’s have almost doubled on high expectations for Tesla-related business. LG Chem’s stock has dipped recently however on its plan to split off its battery business, snubbing retail investors that had bought the stock on the EV theme.

Yayoi Watanabe, a spokeswoman for Panasonic, declined to comment on Musk’s remarks. “We value our relationship with Tesla and look forward to enhancing our partnership,” she said.

— With assistance by Yuki Furukawa

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    Tesla aims to make breakthrough cell at half the cost, could supply other automakers – Green Car Reports

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    Five years ago, Tesla’s collaboration with Panasonic in building its massive Nevada Gigafactory was widely seen as somewhere between an overcommitment and a full-on boondoggle.

    The Gigafactory has already proven to be one of the smartest decisions made by Tesla. It assured control over its electric-car battery cell supply, as it ramped up the Model 3 sedan and then Model Y crossover, and helped isolate Tesla from the cell supply issues that have plagued other EV makers.

    Tuesday, Tesla announced a new kind of leap ahead. It plans to produce 100 Gigawatt-hours of its new cells by 2022, and 3 Terawatt-hours (3,000 GWh) by 2030—numbers that now put the 35-GWh output of Gigafactory 1 in perspective. Furthermore, supplying other automakers with Tesla cells is a long-term possibility.

    As CEO Elon Musk had prefaced on Monday, the company will continue to increase its battery cell purchases from Panasonic, LG, CATL, and possibly other partners supplemental to that ramp-up of Tesla’s own cells—all on the way to what Musk sees as a long-range global target of about 20 million cars per year. 

    Tesla Battery Day vertical integration overview

    However the new cells—conspicuously absent in physical form as they were at Battery Day—are positioned to be a game-changer. Tesla sums that they could result in a 54% boost to energy density and range, a 56% reduction in cost per kWh at the pack level, and a 69% reduction in overall investment per kWh.

    Based on the timing, the gains in energy density, previous hints from Musk, the cells are likely to be installed in the Semi, the Roadster, and possibly the Cybertruck.

    Part of the reason Tesla saw the need to go it alone in reconceiving its cells was that even as its products reached greater scale, the battery cost curve was leveling and not improving quickly enough. As Musk and Drew Baglino, senior VP for powertrain and engineering, explained in their Battery Day presentation, it also saw a future in which battery factories, even at 150 GWh each, couldn’t scale up quickly enough to meet anticipated global demand. 

    Battery Day. - Current Gigafactory scale not sustainable

    Battery Day. – Current Gigafactory scale not sustainable

    Musk called the series of decisions surrounding the new cells as enabling “a new trajectory in the reduction of cell costs,” with differences that the company can start to realize in about 18 months and in fuller effect about three years out. 

    One of those decisions involved focusing on a new larger-format cylindrical cell. Tesla considered that as it made cells larger, Supercharging and thermal issues become more challenging. But it found a sweet spot at the 4680-format—or 46 mm wide by 80 mm long, versus 21 mm by 70 mm for the Model 3 and Model Y—with a shingled spiral material and tabless structure permitting a shorter electron path and easier manufacturing. 

    Cross-section of future Tesla cell

    Cross-section of future Tesla cell

    Tesla says that the 4680 cells offer a better power-to-weight ratio than smaller cells. Each one packs five times the energy and six times the power of Tesla’s smaller cells, with a 16% range boost enabled. Just the form factor itself represents a 14% cost reduction.

    Its cell manufacturing to make these uses an adapted form of the straight-from powder dry-coating process pioneered by Maxwell Technologies, a company acquired by Tesla in 2019, although Tesla says that the process has already gone through four iterations since then. 

    That process alone allows a reduction in footprint to just one-tenth the manufacturing area for the same energy content, and promises to reduce the energy spent in manufacturing by about the same. 

    Tesla also outlined cost reduction and streamlined, vertically integrated processes for obtaining the cathode and anode materials, and noted a simplified pure-silicon anode addition, and a new process through which it hopes to yield refined nickel for the cathode with zero waste water and extract lithium with sodium chloride (table salt).

    Future Tesla battery tech will halve costs

    Future Tesla battery tech will halve costs

    In this quest for greater vertical integration, it’s also transitioning to tackle battery recycling in-house, adjacent to the Nevada Gigafactory. 

    Adding in the savings from other decisions, Tesla says that it is working toward being able to produce a Terawatt-hour in the space that it took to make a Gigawatt-hour previously, and less space than what Tesla was otherwise currently envisioning for 150 GWh. It would also save 18% in costs per kWh at the pack level.

    A so-called pilot facility, capable of producing about 10 GWh of the new cells, is around the corner from Tesla’s Fremont factory, while an actual future plant would make them on the order of 300 GWh. 

    Tesla is aiming for high-speed, continuous-motion assembly, and its ownership of Grohmann and Hibar will allow them to internally design and coordinate all the necessary production machines and processes. 

    Future Tesla cell will make energy, power gains

    Future Tesla cell will make energy, power gains

    Although the Tesla presentation showed whirring cell-making machines and an industrial setting, it didn’t actually show the pilot cell process.

    Later in the presentation, Musk confessed why, perhaps: that the process isn’t quite there yet. He described the manufacturing process as “close to working, but not with a high yield.”

    Those pressures of scaling up amid the challenges of scaling something completely new haven’t stopped Tesla before. And it didn’t stop Musk from suggesting that Tesla could transition to the role of cell supplier in the future.

    “It’s definitely not an intentional effort to keep the cells to ourselves,” he said. “If we can make enough for other companies, we will, we will supply them.”

    “Most companies, things slow down,” Musk said. “In this case, they’re going to speed up.”

    You can see the full presentation below.

    [embedded content]

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