As of the end of last week, the Internal Revenue Service had received 13.3% fewer tax returns from individual filers than last year (42.5 million versus 49.0 million). Moreover, visits to the IRS.gov website are down 16.2%. All this has put a crimp in tax refunds, which are down 14.4% versus last year ($103 billion versus $121 billion).
Got a tough-to-shop-for millennial on your Holiday list this year? That’s not just your problem. Marketers, retailers, and consumer product companies feel your pain. What do these younger consumers want, anyway?
After eight years of trying to see recovery where there was none, the constant spin of sunshine will very likely disappear on January 20. It is ironic in one sense since it is this very disparity between mainstream “reporting” and actual economic conditions that contributed to the Trump victory in the first place.
European shares dipped and U.S. equity-index futures (-0.3%) pointed to a lower open as traders questioned the stability of the Italian banking sector ahead of next weekend's referendum as well as the longevity of the Trumpflation rally, pressuring the dollar. "It's a bit of a pull back in the dollar," said Societe Generale strategist Alvin Tan. "The fall in oil is pushing back U.S. bond yields and that is leading the consolidation in the dollar.. there is more scepticism about an (OPEC) output cut now."
Confirming the pessimistic outlook on this holiday's spending season, Reuters reports that according to its own spot checks as well as those of reporters and industry officials, "store traffic remained subdued across the country."
Having soared to fresh 13 year highs in a quiet overnight session on thin liquidity due to the US Thanksgiving holiday the dollar pared back its weekly advance with modest profit taking after traders wondered if the rally has gotten "too stretched." European shares were fractionally higher, with Asian stocks and US equity futures rising and both the Dow Jones and the S&P set for new all time highs.
According to a Reuters poll, some 63%, or nearly two-thirds, of US adults did not plan to shop on Black Friday this year. Some 32% said they plan to finish about half of their holiday shopping on that day. As a result "shocked" US retailers are doing everything they can in their scramble for market share.
One provocation follows another against the endless drumbeat of Western media reports about “Russian aggression”. The war preparations greatly reduce European security and the chances for revival of constructive dialogue between Russia and NATO – something Russia has been calling for so many years. Instead, the bloc is doing its best to provoke an arms race with unpredictable results.
It’s difficult to make a case for a great holiday sales season or robust third quarter GDP based on the Cass Freight Index which shows shipments sank 0.4% for the month and are down 3.1% from shipments a year ago. As Cass warns, the "glimmer of ‘less bad’ hope in August" was "false hope."
Ever since merchants changed out payment terminals last October in order to comply with new rules and accept chip cards, merchants are seeing expenses relating to debit transaction fees increasing, in some cases as much as 20%. The reason stems from transaction terminals being set up to steer transactions in such a way that will generate the most revenue for the data processing company...
Yesterday was the last day for hedge funds to submit their Q4 13-F filings, and the biggest reactions this morning can be found in the stock of Kinder Morgan which rises 9% pre-mkt after Berkshire reported a new stake. Autodesk also gained 2% post-mkt yday after Lone Pine took a new position. Several funds boosted or reported new stakes in JD.com while Jana Partners reported a new stake in Valeant. Both Icahn and Einhorn trimmed their AAPL holdings.
We can hear the mainstream media now - "Great News Everyone!! The American consumer is back" - online sales on Black Friday rose 10% to $1.7 billion which ComScore says shows "strong spending." The only problem is - which we suspect will be oddly missing from the mainstream narrative, as ShopperTrak reportstotal sales on Black Friday crashed 10% to $10.4 billion. While blame has been placed on early opening on Thanksgiving, that is false too since spending on that day also plunged 10%. So, the sales news is unequivocally bad - which is hardly surprising given the collapse in consumer confidence.
The just concluded 13-F bonanza shows that "some of the world’s top hedge fund managers scaled back their U.S. stock investments last quarter as markets tumbled." Below, courtesy of Bloomberg, is the full summary of what the most prominent hedge fund names did in Q3...