Because John wasn’t working a “real” job last year, we didn’t send traditional Christmas cards. To some, we did send electronic cards. Despite the reduced waste and savings of electronic cards, they seem less personal and, well, traditional. We’re sending traditional Christmas cards this year.
Kinda like Thursday’s dinner, this week’s news was a combination of binge and purge. Monday gave us nothing worthwhile.
The week’s first report was the Commerce Department’s second estimate of third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) released on Tuesday. Third quarter GDP was revised up to 3.9 percent from the previous estimate of 3.5 percent, but its final reading is still projected to be down relative to second quarter’s final GDP reading of 4.6 percent. The increased estimation is due to a combination of smaller decreases in private inventory investments than previously thought and increased personal consumption expenditures and nonresidential fixed investments.
Then, the Conference Board released its November Consumer Confidence report, which showed a marked decrease to 88.7 points from October’s downwardly revised 94.1 points. Both the present situation and future expectations components were down. This triggered a short-lived market sell-off and it was of concern to retailers heading into Black Friday.
Exacerbating holiday shopping concerns, initial jobless claims, released by the Department of Labor on Wednesday, saw an increase of 21,000 to 313,000 applications. The four-week average that irons out week-to-week volatility increased 6,250 to 294,000. On a positive note, ongoing claims dropped 17,000 to 2.316 million.
Wednesday’s glut of news then gave us the Commerce Department’s October Personal Incomes and Outlays report, which saw personal incomes increase 0.2 percent on top of September’s 0.2 percent increase. Wages and salaries increased 0.3 percent after September’s 0.2 percent increase. Personal spending did increase 0.2 percent after September remained flat over August. Personal spending was led by the service sector. This suggests that, heading into the holidays; consumers are more willing to spend a little despite some long-term concerns.
The University of Michigan released its November Consumer Sentiment Survey results. It dropped 0.6 points since October’s mid-month reading of 89.4 points and increased 1.9 points from October’s final reading of 86.9 points. The current conditions component, due to lower gas prices, led the increase, while the future expectations component increased slightly.
Thursday was Thanksgiving and the markets were closed. Whether you celebrated with friends, family or with some alone time, we hope it was a tasty day. Most of the finance world was in a tryptophan induced coma on Friday and nothing worth reporting was released. Anyone that was awake was playing tackle shopping at the mall. First accounts of Black Friday returns are tepid. While that’s tough for retailers, it may be good news for consumers.
All in all, the economic news continued its modest improvements. Wages and salaries are slowly improving, which is a positive sign. While we hope everyone enjoys a great gift-giving season, we hope consumers continue the current trend of cautious spending.
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