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...
The perennial hopes of a strong retail shopping season are once again upon us. Given the current deflationary backdrop, small business spending pessimism, the sharp decline in imports and weak wage growth, it is quite likely that actual retail sales will likely disappoint the NRF's forecast of a "shopping season significantly above the 10-year average." But it is truly important to remember that for retailers all #BlackFridaysMatter
Despite the absence of bad weather, good weather, port strikes, and snow, The National Retail Federation today slashed its retail sales forecast for 2015 from 4.1% growth to just 3.5%. Sales grew at a 2.9% pace in the first half of 2015 and hope remains that the next 5 months show growth of 3.7% (with same store sales growth revised lower). The excuse reason for this markdown..."spending has been hampered by lackluster growth in our economy. Much of that blame can be shifted to Washington where too much time has been spent crafting rules and regulations that almost guarantee negative consequences for consumers and American businesses alike."
It's a miracle... give the worst creditors access to cheap money for longer-and-longer terms and hey presto... 'expensive' stuff is available to everyone. Retail sales modestly beat expectations in November (+0.7% vs +0.6% expectations) - sending USDJPY spiking to confirm what great news this is. The driver of all this exuberance... Vehicle sales +1.7% MoM. Oddly, for all those prognosticators looking for windfall tax cuts from the oil price plunge, gasoline station sales dropped only 0.8% MoM - not exactly the consumption-boosting exuberance every talking head proclaims.. These numbers appear to be clearly in the "Fed wants to hike" narrative.
Houston, we have a problem-er. With a third of S&P 500 capital expenditure due from the imploding energy sector (and with over 20% of the high-yield market dominated by these names), paying attention to any inflection point in the US oil-producers is critical as they have been gung-ho "unequivocally good" expanders even as oil prices began to fall. So, when Reuters reports a drop of almost 40 percent in new well permits issued across the United States in November, even The Fed's Stan Fischer might start to question his lower oil prices are "a phenomenon that’s making everybody better off," may warrant a rethink. New permits, which indicate what drilling rigs will be doing 60-90 days in the future, showed steep declines for the first time this year across the top three U.S. onshore fields: the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford in Texas and North Dakota's Bakken shale.
First it was Shoppertrak, then it was the National Retail Federation, then it was IBM, and now, with its own set of internal data, here is Bank of America slamming the door shut on US retail spending as a source of Q4 growth, and proving once and for all that the extended Thanksgiving-weekend, and the start to US holiday spending season, was the biggest dud since Lehman.
Prepare to hear much more of the "retail spending slowed down because the economy is just too strong" excuses today, used most hilariously by the NRF on Sunday to explain the unprecedented 11% collapse in the 2014 4-day holiday weekend spend, when pundits "justify" why Cyber Monday sales were only the latest proof the US consumer - that 70% driver of US GDP - is being crushed day after day, pardon, basking in the warm glow of America's centrally-planned golden age. Here are the facts: Internet holiday shopping rose only 8.1% on Cyber Monday yesterday, usually the busiest day for Web shopping as people return to their desks after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This was a big miss to expectations, and is less than half then growth posted just last year, when online sales grew at 17.5%, according to IBM.