The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for December, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $353.0 billion, a decrease of 0.3 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, but 5.4 percent (±0.5%) above December 2008. Total sales for the 12 months of 2009 were down 6.2 percent (±0.2%) from 2008. Total sales for the October through December 2009 period were up 1.9 percent (±0.3%) from the same period a year ago.
Now remember, Census has some funny methodology in that they don’t count sales unless both the prior and current month is returned by the same store. This means they overstate sales during declines in the economy, and understate them during expansions.
Looking inside the report we see a number of surprises in the year-over-year numbers.
Electronics were down – so much for the so-called "strong Christmas sales" in that category that everyone on ToutTV has been crowing about.
Food and beverage purchases were up – price inflation?
Gasoline was up huge, accounting for a huge percentage of the year/over/year increase all on its own. Gee, that happens when the gas price goes up a lot, right?
Indeed, while there were positive changes in other categories (online was up 10%, as just one example) gasoline sales increased in dollar volume by thirty-four percent and accounted for a stunning $8.7 billion of the total $17.9 billion increase – roughly half.
What’s there to like in here? I say "little or nothing" – gas sale increases are not positive, they’re negative as most gasoline demand is inelastic (you need it to get to work) as is food.
The bright lights, such as they were, had clothing up 5% and general merchandise up 2%, both annualized.
Rather uninspiring when one considers that the inelastic components were the big movers on the positive side and that’s not good for discretionary spending capacity.
Overview of retail sales in November. On the surface, retail sales exceeded expectations, but there are a few underlying problems--for instance, increases in gasoline prices, sampling changes, and an unclear effect of a seasonal adjustment. - Ilene
Sales at U.S. retailers rose more than expected in November as consumers spent more on gasoline and a wide range of other goods, data showed on Friday, raising hopes of a self-sustaining economic recovery.
The Commerce Department said total retail sales increased 1.3 percent last month, the largest advance since August, after rising by a downwardly revised 1.1 percent in October. It was the second straight monthly gain. Sales in October were previously reported to have increased 1.4 percent.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales gaining 0.7 percent last month. Overall sales in November were boosted by strong receipts from gasoline stations, increased purchases of motor vehicles and parts, building materials and electronic goods among others. Gasoline sales surged 6 percent, the largest increase since June.
Compared to November last year, sales were up 1.9 percent, the first year-on-year gain since August 2008, a Commerce official said.
The Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose more than expected last month, up 1.3 percent in November after a gain of 1.1 percent in October. The November gain was the biggest increase since a 2.4 percent surge in August and brings the year-over-year change (unadjusted for inflation) back into positive territory for the first time in 15 months.
This came as something of a surprise to analysts because retailers across the country had been reporting lackluster sales during the holiday shopping season so far.
Though the overall increase was paced by a 6.0 percent gain in gasoline station sales, due largely to higher gasoline prices, gains were broad based, only three of the 13 retail sales categories posting declines. Excluding gasoline,
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Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
When I need to clear my mind, I put on my beat-up Saucony sneakers and drive to nearby Deer Lake Park in Burnaby, British Columbia. After a couple of miles, though, as my body gets into a rhythm, my mind wanders back to the thought that occupies it for hours each day: where will this market go next?
And I’ve thought a lot about what went on this summer. Since June 1:
•S&P 500 is up 2.7%, having set a new record high in September;
•MSCI World index is down 0.5%;
•10-year Treasury yield is down from 2.54% to 2.50%;
•Brent Crude 0il is down 12.8%; and?•Gold is down 2.2%.
Today the Institute for Supply Management published its monthly Manufacturing Report. The latest headline PMI at 56.6 came in lower the August 59.0 percent and below the Investing.com forecast of 58.5. The September level was the lowest since June.
Here is the key analysis from the report:
(ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "The September PMI® registered 56.6 percent, a decrease of 2.4 percentage points from August’s reading of 59 percent, indicating continued expansion in manufacturing. The New Orders Index registered 60 percent, a decrease of 6.7 percentage points from the 66.7 percent reading in August, indicating growth in new orders for the 16th consecutive month....
Dallas County Health Officials earlier noted at least one person who had been in contact with the first US ebola patient was also being tested for the deasdly virus. They subsequently backed off that statement (oddly). Governor Rick Perry will be holding a press conference later today to calm the public we are sure, but in the meantime, the CDC has issued a helpful Q&A to ensure Americans continued to fly, spend, and consume at their leisure and don't worry about the plague...
The CBOE Vix Index topped 17.0 and the highest level since early-August on Monday morning amid declines in U.S. equities to start the trading week. The volatility index is off its earlier highs to trade 5.0% higher on the session at 15.65 as of 11:30 am ET. Options volume on the VIX is hovering near 360,000 contracts, or just more than 50% of the average daily reading of around 660,000 contracts. Calls are far more active than put options, as evidenced by the call/put ratio up above 4.2 in morning trading, perhaps as some traders position for volatility to stick around.
Large call spreads traded on the VIX today caught our attention as one big optio...
Yes, the market showed significant weakness last week for the first time in quite a while. In fact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average moved triple digits each day. But it was all quite predictable, as I suggested in last week's article, and certainly nothing to worry about. Now the market appears to be poised for a modest technical rebound, and longer term, U.S. equities should be in good shape for a year-end rally. However, I still believe more downside is in order before any new highs are challenged. Moreover, market breadth is important for a sustained bull run, so the challenge for investors will be to put together broader bullish conviction, including the small caps.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, re...
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Ebola is spreading too quickly for Ebola-vaccine makers to conduct typical studies of safety and efficacy on experimental vaccines. Instead, vaccines will be tested for basic safety, but then deployed with protocols devised now in order to test for efficacy essentially on the field. Testing has to be expedited because the situation in West Africa gets worse every day while there are no approved vaccines or other treatments.
The chart below is from a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine showing estimates of the virus's trajectory projecting out to November 1, 2014. If current trends continue...
Despite the various opinions on Bitcoin, there is no question as to its ultimate value: its ability to bypass government restrictions, including economic embargoes and capital controls, to transmit quasi-anonymous money to anyone anywhere.
Opinions differ as to what constitutes "money."
The English word "money" derives from the Latin word "moneta," which means to "mint." Historically, "money" was minted in the form of precious metals, most notably gold and silver. Minted metal was considered "money" because it possessed luster, was scarce, and had perceive...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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