U.S. retail sales surge as Americans kick off holiday shopping, brighten economic outlook
U.S. retail sales surged in October as Americans eagerly started their holiday shopping early to avoid empty shelves amid shortages of some goods because of the ongoing pandemic, giving the economy a lift at the start of the fourth quarter.
The solid report from the Commerce Department on Tuesday suggested high inflation was not yet dampening spending, even as worries about the rising cost of living sent consumer sentiment tumbling to a 10-year low in early November. Rising household wealth, thanks to a strong stock market and house prices, as well as massive savings and wage gains appear to be cushioning consumers against the highest annual inflation in three decades.
“It’s more important to look at what consumers do than what they say,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “They are concerned about higher inflation, but they are still in good shape and are continuing to spend.”
Retail sales jumped 1.7% last month, the largest gain since March, after rising 0.8% in September. It was the third straight monthly advance and topped economists’ expectations for a 1.4% increase. Sales soared 16.3% year-on-year in October and are 21.4% above their pre-pandemic level.
Several of the top U.S. retailers this week have noted an earlier start to holiday shopping. While this could lead to declines in November and December, economists and retailers expect holiday sales this year will be the best in a while.
“Today’s numbers show that consumers are getting a jump on their holiday shopping,” said Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation in Washington. “We continue to urge consumers to shop early and shop safely, and we fully expect this holiday season to be one for the record books.”
Retail sales are mostly made up of goods, with services, including healthcare, education and hotel accommodation, making up the remaining portion of consumer spending. The nearly two-year long COVID-19 pandemic has caused an acute shortage of labor, delaying deliveries of raw materials to factories as well as shipments of finished goods to markets.
October’s broad increase in sales partly reflected higher prices as monthly consumer inflation surged 0.9% in October, which boosted the annual rate to 6.2%.
Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher on the data and also as Walmart forecast a strong holiday quarter. The dollar rose against a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury prices fell.
Retail sales: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/movanldarpa/retailsales.png
Sales were led by motor vehicles, with receipts at auto dealerships advancing 1.8% after gaining 1.2% in September. The rise reflected the first increase in unit sales in six months, as well as higher prices. The tight supply of automobiles because of a global semiconductor shortage is driving up prices.
Sales at service stations increased 3.9%, boosted by more expensive gasoline. Online retail sales rebounded 4.0%. Receipts at building material stores advanced 2.8%. There were also increases in receipts at furniture outlets as well as sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores. Sales at electronics and appliance stores rebounded 3.8%.
But sales at clothing stores fell 0.7%. Sales at restaurants and bars were unchanged despite an ebb in COVID-19 infections, driven by the Delta variant. Restaurants and bars are the only services category in the retail sales report. These sales were up 29.3% from last October.
Economists speculated that either high inflation was forcing consumers to cut back on eating out or that spending had permanently shifted in favor of goods.
“If services spending has largely recovered, strong goods demand increasingly looks to be a structural shift in consumer preferences, rather than a temporary COVID-related outcome,” said Andrew Hollenhorst, chief U.S. economist at Citigroup in New York.
Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales shot up 1.6% last month after rising 0.5% in September. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Adjusting for inflation, retail sales are up at a roughly 5% annualized rate from the third-quarter average.
Core retail sales: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/gkvlgdayzpb/retailcore.png
Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity rose at a tepid 1.7% rate last quarter. Economists at JPMorgan boosted their fourth-quarter GDP growth estimate to a 5% rate from a 4% pace. Goldman Sachs raised its estimate by 0.5 percentage point to a 5.0% rate. The economy grew at a 2% rate in the third quarter.
The economic picture was further brightened by a separate report from the Federal Reserve on Tuesday showing manufacturing output surged 1.2% last month to its highest level since March 2019, after falling 0.7% in September.
“The economy has thrown off whatever lethargy it might have had in the summer, and it is growing quite strongly,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania.
Businesses are also making steady progress replenishing depleted inventories, which should help to keep factories humming and support the economy. Business inventories increased 0.7% in September, a third report from the Commerce Department showed.
Business invetories: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-STOCKS/lgpdwnaznvo/businv.png
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)
The close: TSX notches biggest gain of 2023 as stocks rally on U.S. jobs data, debt default deal
U.S. and Canadian stocks closed higher on Friday after a labour market report showing moderating wage growth in May indicated the Federal Reserve may skip a rate hike in two weeks, while investors welcomed a Washington deal that avoided a catastrophic debt default. It was the biggest gain in seven months for the TSX, with energy and financial shares among the biggest winners in a broad-based rally.
Bond yields spiked as a risk-on tone to markets had investors shunning the bond market.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq index surged to a 13-month intraday high and posted its sixth-straight week of gains that mark its best winning streak since January 2020.
U.S. job growth accelerated in May but a surge in the unemployment rate to a seven-month high of 3.7% as more people looked for employment indicated labour market conditions were easing.
The jump in the unemployment rate from a 53-year low of 3.4% in April reflected a drop in household employment and a rise in the overall workforce. A bigger labour pool is easing pressure on businesses to raise wages and helping decelerate inflation.
Average hourly earnings climbed 0.3% after rising 0.4% in April. That lowered the year-on-year increase in wages to 4.3% after an advance of 4.4% in April. Annual wage growth averaged about 2.8% prior to the pandemic.
“While it appears to be a hot number on the actual number of people employed, the wage rate is not increasing as fast,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh. “That is a softening effect and is this the mythical soft landing? Looks like that.”
The data brought relief to investors who mostly expect the Fed to pause hiking rates at its policy meeting on June 13-14. It would be the first halt since the Fed started its aggressive anti-inflation policy tightening more than a year ago.
But some pointed to the much hotter-than-expected jobs data as a sign the Fed still has not yet tamed inflation.
“Our view is and has been that the market is completely wrong on assessing what the Federal Reserve is doing,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Hermes in New York.
“The market’s perception is that this economy was going to cool, inflation was going to collapse and the Fed was going to turn around and start cutting interest rates. That’s wrong.”
Fed funds futures showed a 66.6% probability that the Fed will hold rates steady in two weeks, down from 79.6% on Thursday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury climbed to 3.70% from 3.60% late Thursday. The two-year Treasury yield, which moves more on expectations for Fed action, jumped to 4.52% from 4.34%. Canadian bonds saw a similar jump in yields.
Markets now await data on key consumer prices a day before the Fed’s rate decision.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 352.38 points, or 1.8%, at 20,024.63, its biggest advance since November 2022. For the week, it was up 0.5%.
“It is all these little factors that the market is holding on to, looking for any reason to be bullish and they’re finding it,” said Philip Petursson, chief investment strategist at IG Wealth Management. “It’s definitely risk-on today.”
The TSX energy sector rallied 2.8% as oil settled 2.3% higher at US$71.74 a barrel ahead of a meeting of OPEC and its allies this weekend.
Suncor Energy Inc was up 3.2% after the company told employees it plans to cut 1,500 jobs this year.
“It appears that some activist investors are trying to make Suncor more efficient over the long term by getting them to cut costs and that’s good to see for investors,” said Greg Taylor, chief investment officer at Purpose Investments.
Heavily-weighted financials rose 2.1% and industrials were up 2.2%.
The real estate sector also advanced 2.2% as data showed home prices in the Greater Toronto Area increased in May from April and sales rose sharply.
In contrast, shares of Canaccord Genuity Group Inc fell 6.8% after a management-led consortium said its C$1.13 billion take-private offer may not result in a deal.
In the U.S., the Senate passing a bill late on Thursday to lift the government’s US$31.4 trillion debt ceiling avoided what would have been a catastrophic, first-ever default.
Passage of the vote eased investor concerns as Wall Street’s fear gauge, the CBOE volatility index, fell to its lowest since November 2021, down 1.1 points at 14.6 points.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 701.19 points, or 2.12%, to 33,762.76, the S&P 500 gained 61.35 points, or 1.45%, to 4,282.37 and the Nasdaq Composite added 139.78 points, or 1.07%, to 13,240.77.
Shares of Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc and T-Mobile US Inc declined after a report said Amazon.com Inc was in talks with the U.S. telecoms to offer low-cost wireless services to its Prime members.
Verizon slid 3.2%, while AT&T and T-Mobile declined 3.8% and 5.6%, respectively; Amazon gained 1.2%.
All 11 S&P 500 sectors advanced, with the materials index leading, up 3.4%, and the consumer discretionary sector, housing Amazon, close behind, rising 2.2%.
Nvidia Corp slid 1.1% for a second day of declines after briefly entering on Wednesday the elite club of megacap stocks valued at $1 trillion or more on hopes artificial intelligence will deliver significant future returns.
But Nvidia’s almost 170% rise year to date highlights investors face of a market dominated by the out-performance of megacaps while most other companies tread water.
“Nobody’s really explained to me how they’re going to make any money from it,” said Michael Landsberg, chief investment officer at Landsberg Bennett Private Wealth Management in Punta Gorda, Florida. “A company like Nvidia going up so much in such a short period of time, that doesn’t make any rational sense.”
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 4.75-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.73-to-1 ratio favored advancers. The S&P 500 posted 15 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 74 new highs and 40 new lows. Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.05 billion shares, compared with about 10.58 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
Reuters, Globe staff
Gold prices struggling as 339K jobs created in May but unemployment rate rises to 3.7% – Kitco NEWS
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(Kitco News) – The gold market is trying to hold its ground within striking distance of $2,000 but could face an uphill battle as the U.S. labor market remains healthy and robust.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by 339,000 last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The monthly figure was significantly above the market consensus estimate of 193,000. April’s employment data was revised up to 294,000 jobs.
However, looking past the headline number, the report said the unemployment rate rose sharply to 3.7% missing market consensus calls of 3.5% for May. The unemployment rate it at its highest level since December 2022.
The gold market is seeing some selling pressure in initial reaction to the latest employment data. August gold futures last traded at $1,993.90 an ounce, down 0.08% on the day.
The report also said that wage growth rose in line with expectations, rising by 11 cents or 0.3% to 33.44 in May.
“Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.3 percent,” the report said.
While the gold market is seeing rising selling pressure, the latest employment data is not having much impact on interest rate expectations. According to the CME FedWatch Tool, markets still see a more than 65% chance that the central bank leaves interest rates unchanged when it meets later this month.
However, according to some analysts, the robust employment data indicates that while the central bank could pause, it has not yet finished raising interest rates. Some analysts have that this this longer-term shift in rate expectations could weigh on gold.
One-quarter of Air Canada flights delayed Friday as schedule recovers from IT issue – Yahoo Canada Finance
More than one-quarter of Air Canada flights experienced delays on Friday as the airline worked to return service to normal following a technical malfunction the previous day.
Air Canada had warned travellers early Friday morning they should be prepared for further flight disruptions. In its daily travel outlook, the carrier said that while its IT system was stable, flights may be affected at nine of Canada’s busiest airports, including Toronto’s Pearson, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.
Thursday’s outage led to more than 500 flights — over three quarters of its trips — to be delayed or cancelled on the day, creating what the airline said were “rollover effects” just prior to the weekend.
A total of 144 Air Canada flights, or 27 per cent of the airline’s scheduled load, had been delayed Friday as of around 4:30 p.m. EDT, along with 33 cancellations, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
An additional 56 flights with Air Canada Rouge saw delays, one-third of its daily load, plus 23 cancellations.
“Air Canada has stabilized its communicator system and it is functioning normally. However, due to the effects of Thursday’s IT issues on our schedule, some flights may be delayed this morning as we reposition aircraft and crew,” it said in an emailed statement.
“Customers are advised to check the status of their flight before going to the airport. Our flexible travel policy remains in effect for customers to change their travel plans at no charge.”
The airline did not clarify when it expected its flight schedule to fully return to normal.
Thursday’s disruption, sourced to the system used by the airline to communicate with aircraft and monitor their performance, came one week after Air Canada grounded its planes for about an hour when the same system experienced a separate issue.
That day, 241 Air Canada flights — 46 per cent of its trips — were delayed, according to FlightAware. Another 19 flights were also cancelled.
Air Canada said it has been in the process of upgrading the communicator system.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2023.
Companies in this story: (TSX:AC)
Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press
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