Monday Dec 05, 2022
Monday Dec 05, 2022
Job gains showed a nice increase of 263,000 in November which easily topped the estimate of 200,000. Leisure and hospitality remained a major leader with job gains totaling 88,000 in the month as the sector continues to battle back from Covid. This sector still remains 5.8% or 980,000 jobs below February 2020. Retail trade and transportation and warehousing were the standout losers in the report as both sectors saw a decline in payrolls. Retail trade fell by about 30,000 jobs as general merchandise stores saw employment decline by 32,000 jobs and electronics and appliance stores saw employment decline by 4,000 jobs in the month. Transportation and warehousing had a decline of 15,000 jobs in the month. I was somewhat surprised to see these two sectors decline considering it's the holiday season, but the excess inventory levels could be weighing on employment as retailers could be trying to focus on expenses including labor and transportation and warehousing. The item I believe weighed most on the markets was the increase of 5.1% in average hourly earnings. It surpassed the estimate of 4.6% and it could give the Fed more ammo to continue on its rate hiking path as it tries to bring down inflation. I do believe this should not be a major concern for the Fed because, like inflation overall, I think wage gains will begin to slow to a more normalized level next year as the job market decelerates.
Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE)
The PCE, which is known as the Personal Consumption Expenditures, came out at 6% for October over the last 12 months. As we had predicted months ago these inflation indexes would show signs of easing. This is why there has been some recovery in equities. The PCE is what the Federal Reserve looks at in regard to interest rates so there probably will not be any surprises going forward. We continue to believe that inflation will slow down and if you’ve been out of the market and in particular the right equities since summer you have missed out. There are still some opportunities to get back in for quality long-term investors but sitting on the sidelines for the next 6 to 12 months based on current data will be a mistake.
National Retail Federation (NRF)
You’ve probably heard that this is not going to be a great Christmas for retail. But as we say many times in our posts and other commentary, it’s important to understand what is being said and how it is being said. The estimate by the National Retail Federation (NRF) for holiday sales is expected to be between $942 billion to $960 billion, an increase of 6-8% over the $889 billion in 2021. This was a 13.5% increase over 2020. If we look back to 2019 when the economy was pretty strong, and everyone felt good, the NRF said holiday sales were $716 billion. Comparing the low end for 2022 of $942 billion, that’s a 31.6% increase from 2019. It does appear holiday shopping has gotten off to a good start considering the record of 196.7 million shoppers from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. This topped last year's level of 176 million shoppers and easily surpassed the NRF's estimate for 166.3 million shoppers. I don’t know about you, but I think those are pretty good numbers, all things being equal.
The SEC, also known as the Securities Exchange Commission, had a busy fiscal year, which ended September 30th. Their penalties were up 67% from the previous year, hitting an all-time record of $6.4 billion. I wonder where that money will go, or will it get lost in the tangled web of government administration? The money is supposed to go to a fund that either protects investors, a fund that refunds investors who lost money, or the third option, the US treasury general fund.
Harrison – “Change for charitable donations this year”
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