US FINANCIAL MARKET
- U.S. stocks were little changed at the open on Monday, in the wake of eight straight weeks of gains and ahead of data which could provide some clues on the strength of the economy.
- Heavy discounting took a toll on U.S. retail sales during the Thanksgiving weekend as shoppers spent almost 3 % less than they did a year earlier. One bright spot this weekend, according to the data, was e-commerce as online sales soared.
- The National Retail Federation (NFR) estimated the average shopper spent $407.02 over the weekend, or 3.9 % less than during the same weekend last year, because of lower prices.
- But total spending was expected to reach $57.4 billion for the four-day period – which includes Black Friday, down 2.8 % from $59.1 billion over the same weekend in 2012.
- The NRF said 141 million people went shopping at least once during the holiday weekend, up from 139 million last year.
- ComScore, an analytics firm, said U.S. online sales rose 17.3 % on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, outpacing sales growth at brick-and-mortar stores.
- The most visited e-commerce sites in order were those of Amazon.com, eBay, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target, ComScore said.
- Amazon.com has no intention of bowing to pressure from striking workers in Germany, its second biggest market behind the United States, and is more worried about bad weather hurting Christmas deliveries, its country head said.
- E-commerce sales in Germany are seen growing 12 % for the full year to 33.1 billion euros ($45 billion), expanding an even faster 15 % in the Christmas period.
- Amazon employs 9,000 warehouse staff in Germany plus 14,000 seasonal workers and sales there grew almost 21 % in 2012 to $8.7 billion.
- Amazon.com is testing drones to deliver goods as the world’s largest e-commerce company works to improve efficiency and speed in getting products to consumers. CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the plan on CBS’s “60 Minutes” news program in the U.S., showing interviewer Charlie Rose the flying machines that can serve as delivery vehicles.
- The U.S. Supreme Court stayed out of the multibillion-dollar fight over Internet sales taxes, leaving intact a New York law that forces Amazon.com to collect money from customers in that state.
- Bank of America will pay $404 million to Freddie Mac to resolve all repurchase liabilities on home loans sold to the government-controlled mortgage company from 2000 to 2009.
- Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, is testing new advertising technology that inserts up-to-date commercials into past episodes of TV shows that are available on demand. The new technology is meant to give TV networks a way to earn ad dollars from earlier episodes. Currently, most advertisers only pay for ads watched live or within three days after a show airs.
- Hilton, the lodging chain bought by Blackstone Group in 2007, plans to raise as much as $2.4 billion in its U.S. initial public offering (IPO), the most ever for a hotel company.
- The commodity slump that spurred bear markets in everything from gold to corn to sugar this year will deepen by the end of December as prices head for their first annual loss since 2008, if history is any guide.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
- The U.S. manufacturing sector expanded at its fastest pace in 2-1/2 years last month. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity rose to 57.3 in November – its best showing since April 2011 – from 56.4 the prior month.
- The forward-looking new orders index jumped to its highest level since April 2011, rising to 63.6 from 60.6. The employment index rose to 56.5 from 53.2 to reach the highest level for the subindex since April 2012. Production rose to 62.8 from 60.8.
- Robert Shiller, who won this year’s Nobel Prize for economics, pinpointed the U.S. stock market and Brazilian property market as areas of concern. “I am not yet sounding the alarm. But in many countries stock exchanges are at a high level and prices have risen sharply in some property markets,” Shiller said.
EUROPE & WORLD
- Increasing demand for manufactured goods drove global factory activity higher last month. Markit’s Eurozone Manufacturing PMI rose to 51.6 last month from October’s 51.3, a two-year high.
- Germany showed factories there had their best month since mid-2011.
- Italian figures showed manufacturing there also picked up speed.
- France’s PMI fell to a five-month low of 48.4 from 49.1.
- Spain’s sank back below the 50 break-even mark after spending the last three months in growth territory.
- A similar indicator for Britain, outside the euro zone, was much stronger. At 58.4, it easily topped the highest forecast and is showing the strongest growth in nearly three years.
- Chinese PMIs suggested resilience that augurs well for Beijing’s plans to gear the economy more towards domestic consumption and away from investment-led growth. The HSBC/Markit China PMI edged down to 50.8 in November from a seven-month high of 50.9.
- Japan’s PMI, released on Friday, pointed to the quickest manufacturing growth in more than seven years.
- Japanese companies raised spending on factories and equipment in the July-September quarter, but the slow pace of increase casts some doubt on the strength of capital spending that is needed to help sustain economic growth. Companies’ sales rose 0.8 % in the third quarter from a year earlier, the first rise in six quarters.
- Exports by industrial powerhouse South Korea showed virtually no growth last month. Overseas shipments by the world’s seventh-largest exporter rose just 0.2 % in November. Growth of sales to China, the United States and the European Union all slowed whereas exports to Southeast Asia’s 10-nation ASEAN bloc posted the worst decline since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the data showed.
- Moody’s raised Greece’s sovereign rating to ‘Caa3’ from ‘C’ on Friday, saying it expected the debt-laden nation to meet its 2014 budget targets and that its recession will end next year.
- More than 20,000 workers from European aerospace group EADS took to the streets in Germany on Thursday to protest against restructuring plans they fear could cost thousands of jobs. EADS, part-owned by the French and German governments, is planning to combine its defense and space subsidiaries next year and has said it might sell some operations. EADS has about 140,000 employees around the world, of which about 50,000 are in Germany.
- India’s current-account deficit narrowed to the lowest level since 2010 as gold imports cooled, offering a potential boost for the nation’s currency. The deficit was $5.2 billion in July through September, less than the $21.8 billion for the prior quarter.
TODAY in HISTORY
- Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor of France in Paris by Pope Pius VII (1804)
- The first controlled nuclear chain reaction was demonstrated at the University of Chicago (1942)
- Barney B. Clark became the first person to receive an artificial heart in a transplant operation (1982)
- Enron Corp., under CEO Kenneth Lay, filed for bankruptcy (2001)
Sources: Reuters, Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, Bloomberg, CNN Money.
This information has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable, but no representation is being made as to its accuracy or completeness. The information provided should be used only as general information and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The economic forecasts set forth in the material may not develop as predicted. All indices, such as the S & P 500, are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.